All these years, and her
midnight lines still slice
right through the daily roar of traffic,
revealing the roots
beneath, all the sprouting smiles.
Back home, you kneel, thinking
how you have never seen
yourself in a better light than
when before her eyes.
They place you so very far and beyond
the mumbling flesh or babble of bones.
She speaks in a certain silence,
for hers is a love outside words,
rising and falling
under your hand, pressing
together the seam of your side,
stretching way out past the corners
long after she has
left the room.
-For Frida. We miss you terribly.
You come in kernels of
sunlight and raw maize. I press them to my tongue
so that your voice may flow through me,
a torrent of honey. It alone speaks
when she could not see another god amidst the
clouds, she was planted waist
deep in the dirt while our hands were filled with
For days after the laden rain she
bowed before the sky,
the flies dancing around in praise of her
And of our betrothal to War.
We now carry his plot of homeland,
our own youth supplanted by
the rising bellies below.
Soon, a new night shall cry for warmth.
With her I will share your
As the title suggests, this piece is meant to be a a companion/successor to the first poem I wrote about he subject, ‘At the Back of Our Minds’. To date, of the 276 schoolgirls of Chibok who were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, only 57 have escaped. One of the girls, Amina Ali, was found safe, with child, in May of this year. In an interview, she gave an account of her experience as a captive. I used the details of this account as an inspiration for this poem: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36653222. Let us not forget those who still remain far from home.
and your face
at the bottom of my bowl.
I drown you in a sky of cream, yet below
there is this wretched wailing of beaters
as they careen to and fro,
jabbing wildly at your impassive
Until peaks begin to form.
Now the beaters and I,
silly little selves,
we are swimming in
mountainous sighs birthed
by the universe.
She rescues her stray parts,
folds them back into the whole.
We savor sweet billows of humble pie on
the way to a knock at the door.
For we cannot.
It is already bloodied,
cursed to repeat the fate of a namesake who
fell, riddled with betrayal,
to the floor of the Senate theatre.
Give us Quintilis, the original month,
so as to lift rogue rains of lead from the streets.
There are promenades to resurrect from
beneath the tread of errant machines,
marketplaces to be defused of improvised
outbursts of fury.
simply wants to circle a town square
without losing his head.
Hasten the arrival of the 31st day, so that
tomorrow may shed its foreboding.
From your patio you see
the asphalt serpent.
She passes hurriedly,
searing the surface,
with wasps of conquest
bullfighting upon her back.
You close the gate.
You sink your roots into the earth,
kneading the years,
stroking the centuries,
sipping the amber
that they whisper to you
It is not that the buzz
never nibbles at your insides.
You simply know
you want to grow upwards,
and that you are here, after all,
to bear fruit.
Desde tu patio ves
la culebra de asfalto.
Ella pasa de prisa,
chamuscando la superficie,
con avispas de conquista
toreando sobre su lomo.
Cierras la verja.
Te hundes las raíces dentro de la tierra,
amasando los años,
acariciando los siglos,
sorbiendo del ámbar
que te susurran
No es que el zumbido
nunca te mordisquee por dentro.
Simplemente sabes que
quieres crecer hacia arriba,
no hacia afuera,
y que estás aquí, después de todo,
para dar frutos.
-For Mercedes/ Para Mercedes
You may be washing your cocktail glass with
care at the sink but
is about to spit out its fourth tile this month.
Her lip flaunts the blank spaces on the map.
Surely by now you’ve also noticed the lizards making a revolving
door out of the A/C unit in the corner and how
the courteous hosts that they are
fuss and flit about
determined to unload you of that
cumbersome coat of flesh
before you enter the sinkhole opening at your chest.
Pay no mind to Conrad
(he of little faith).
Let the Fibonacci spiral fold you into the black
that those verdant hands offer you a
that the simian howls are terrifying only
for their unguarded honesty
that the sweat that rolls out of every pore
just like the afterbirth you wore
when the very Mother first placed you on her
-Gracias a los cariñosos y sabios costarricenses, expertos en La Pura Vida
(Thanks to the loving and wise Costa Ricans, experts of the ‘Pure Life’)
I must say
I did not picture our destination so green
nor so spacious
Peace now percolates
wrapping up the booms and blasts in fat bubbles
whisking them far away to the surface.
I dig my toes into the rejoined community of
the bow of the bathtub
hearty chunks of a neighbor’s wall
all atomized like clay pigeons
for the sport of antediluvian urges.
Another yellow blimp lumbers by
baring its obscene yellow belly
bloated and writhing with more bodies.
We have lost El Bab
and everywhere else the land looks upon us with the
weary eyes of a bitch, her teats teeming with pups.
Only the water greets us with outstretched arms.
The open sea.
The other day while I was driving I caught an interview on NPR
with Christopher Catrambone, the founder of a non-profit organization that rescues migrants in the Mediterranean (http://www.npr.org/2016/05/31/480100272/
hundreds-of-refugees-die-in-shipwrecks-in-the-mediterranean). What was relayed in the brief conversation jerked me out of my rosy little life for a moment and reminded me of the extreme human suffering that persists after more than 5 years of war in Syria. In an 8 day period at the end of May of this year, at least 1,000 people lost their lives at sea in an effort to migrate to Europe. This is apparently one of the “deadliest periods” to date of the migration crisis. Such is the loss that there is not enough deck space on the rescue ships to hold all of the bodies they are retrieving from the ocean. In essence, as Mr. Catambrone asserted, “the Mediterranean is, again, becoming a cemetery.”
This poem attempts to provide a voice for the many who have perished at sea. It is dedicated to the Syrian people, and to all refugees who are struggling to find a place where they can feel at home again. They cannot be forgotten.