march 2010

she’s got you high

i felt joy bloom
in my heart
but then
its petals grew
far too large,
and i choked.


something for my mother

though i am strangling myself
in these strings, and i know
you are more than eager
(more than eager)
to lift your scissors and snip,
snip– i know too that
those occasional tugs i sense
are not in my head.

i know you fear that
they are all that hold us together
anymore, and that i’m scared
to free myself of your net
lest there be nothing to catch me
the next time i fall.

i think, however
that if i loosen myself gently–
if i am persistent,
and you are patient, we will discover
that the only thing we need aprons for
is to splatter paint on canvases
(though i am still of the mind that
paint is much better on clothes).

my mother’s music

when i was a fetus, furled and floating
dreaming in an earth-soft place,
my mother played me music.

i was raised from the womb
in a mantle of sound, shimmering
golden and warm about my shoulders,
crowning the dark tufts
that would someday become the stubborn mane
i still wrestle with today.

my mother’s music followed me:
on car radios as we moved from state to state;
strummed on my grandmother’s vocal cords
as we washed dishes;
in old school cars booming past on the street.

my mother’s music put me to sleep at night
when she worked late, and couldn’t sing to me herself.

i race through this world with my mantle of sound
secured to my shoulders and fluttering in the wind
of my wake,
hurtling through time and space as i grow up
and away from my mother,
held fast to her heart by these rhythms.

i fall asleep to the sounds of her music and mine
interspersed, thick blankets of hip hop and rock,
sheets of classical and pillows of pop,
beds of reggae and flamenco and zydeco
in rooms of techno and gangsta rap.

celtic music frames my windows
and jazz locks the door.

every morning i will wake in this place,
safe in sound, alive in melody,
carried along on the strength of my mother’s love
and the current of her music.

matin en classe d’anglais

early morning nausea twists my stomach;
i am wracked by bile clawing its way
up the raw ladder of my esophagus
like becky sharp in the 1880s.

i hear whispers–
they finger my earlobe so sensual
and slice the skin with shining keratin-moons
and the rustle of clothing– in broad daylight,
how dare you– burns my skin
in vicarious shame.

i fold and flicker in silence.
i am curling paper, gray-lined
and ignited by this sickness,
burning slowly into shadows;

i pray to be swept away quickly,
as if i were never here.

a song for liliana

the distance between my lips and your cheek,
your funny acerbic mouth
has never seemed quite so great a chasm
as when i stood shivering over you this morning,
my heart in my throat, every cell of me aching
with the need to kiss you awake
and you rolled over and threw up your arms
as if shielding yourself.

i know you had no idea what was happening,
but it warded me off just the same and so
i ran on tiptoe back to my desk, sat down
and wrote you this poem instead.

i’m pretty sure you’re never going to see it.

let it all come to you

please, sir,
miniscule, hands oustretched
and dirty,
supplicant to his supplier

can i

i am the life form composed of thorns
like futuristic natural armor:
my components are 75% defense mechanisms,
20% anger and
5% human.


have you ever noticed how difficult it is
to admit that tenderness is not a foreign country,
that you are not impermeable,


that yes, those are battle scars on your back
from a war not yet ended–
that you need help,
that you need love

that you need




i will remember you as the aftertaste of cigarettes
and soft lips flushed bloomshade in early morning light.
i will remember you as a childhood not lost
as wonder alight in eyes like the river,
glinting amber in warm sun.

i will remember you as night.

i will remember you
as my first shaking terror-rage in the wee hours,
the smell of marijuana lingering on your clothes;
i will remember you as the moon in daylight.
i will remember you as blood on white sheets in a cheap motel
and my first taste of cum.

i will remember you as dreams, as tears, as grudging giggles,
unwashed clothes and angel mouth; i will remember you
as desire, as long lashes and wild hair
and smelly socks. i will remember you as vomit in the parking lot
and kissing you anyway,
as the river in darkness,
as every packet of my oatmeal devoured in munchie-rage.

i will remember you as a kiss
in a dewy field at four a.m. with bare wet feet,
as reckless driving, as singing aloud along the interstate.
i will remember you as procrastination and delinquency.

i will remember you
as if you will never be forgotten,
as if you will live always,
as if love is the only virtue there is.
i will remember you as my first,
as my third, as my only;
i will remember your body shaking against mine
and your skin in golden light.

i will remember you, dirty angel boy,
as reckless love and heroism,
as sex, as anger,
as the moon,
as you–

my mad baby boy,
i will remember you.