Eodem die

bacteria invades and
infects Los Angeles,
leaving it with a thick
congestion of the chest.

silenced by coughing fits,
the city opens its mouth
but phlegm distorts the
history it tries to tell.

only ears forced to concrete
can make out the steady
heartbeat of the city.

knees scrape against the sidewalk,
blood dripping in synchronization
to the sound of screeching metal

some pray,
others beg,
but all live out

their nightmares -
real or
perceived.

Tussocks of grass

Tussocks of grass,
two socks on the cement beside
the washing machine, and the wrong colors
,
have I ever been in love?

Where grape leaves are the largest leaves
in the garden, but
twining the bare air,
crawling on hands and knees,
where grape leaves are the softest shade
of dereliction, a veiny
corrosion,
don’t say love.

I pluck out things
that are hard to talk about
,
one item in particular,
it’s getting to me.

Plucked out,
try to say sublime,
and sound like a three-year-old,
plucked out,
the world gives you lip service and, behind
your back, a
snickering
, I’m sorry,
don’t say love.

Daddy

 

Mommy wakes me up for school by singing “Good Morning to You”

                       

                                    She wakes me up to work by pulling my blanket off

 

I like Eggos on Fridays with syrup and milk

           

                                    I don’t get breakfast because I didn’t whisper the words he asked me to

 

We pray in the car for my spelling test

 

                                    I pray that it doesn’t hurt today

 

I tell myself it’s going to be a good day

 

                                    I tell myself that it’s going to be a bad day

 

Miss Tamra tells me to sit with my table group

                                   

                                    He wants more than me

 

We read in a circle and color our worksheets

 

                                    We put on little dresses that make me feel dirty

 

Mommy drives me home and I play with my dolls

                       

                                    We whisper to each other in the room until he enters

                                   

I hear the front door open and I run down the stairs

                                   

                                    His boots smack angrily on the tile floor

 

I call out for daddy

 

                                    He makes us call him daddy

 

The Zone of Orphaned Humanity

Sliced open by his overgrown toenails,
the corroded canvas slip-ons
cling to his calloused soles.

Stumbling down 1st Street,
he whispers to every lamppost he passes.

Don’t forget who your children are.

Stopping to catch his breath,
he squints one eye closed
as his body sways
to the sound of silence.

Lifting his head,
he places a crooked finger
in the stale air and
traces the pattern of the steel
lattice towers that stand proud in front of
the distanced Los Angeles skyline,
as if he were an artist painting
the city’s visual pollution into existence.

Draping his body over the bridge,
he looks down into the city’s river
that he no longer
can baptize himself in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tall-Poppy Syndrome

How tall are the poppies where you are?

 

Where I’m from when a poppy grows too tall

You cut it so the others don’t attempt to rise that high

 

Where I live now, the tallest poppies suck the life from the roots of the shortest

But somehow everyone still loves the tall poppies

 

I think I’ll be a wildflower

And never think about my height

Weaving

The woman writing in the window is no longer there

She doesn’t walk through the farmer’s market on Saturday

To buy her tulip seeds

Nor does her long skirt get blown up from the

Subway steam

 

No, she doesn’t sing in the garden

With dirt making residence under her nails

She doesn’t sit with her left leg tucked under her right

Birthing poems to elevate her burdened words

 

She doesn’t wrap her fingers around your neck

And press her forehead to yours

To look into the shadows of your eyes to tell you

“It’s gonna be alright.”

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Heat-Exhaustion

It got so warm

poems didn’t come out of me anymore

except

in sweat

clammy, damp

salty

poems

dripping from me

exhausted, beat up

poems

 

I didn’t know this heat

I was from a rainforest.

Brown // Water

It is brown above me, brown below me
and there’s so little brown around me
where the hell did these blondes come from

what sunless hole were these albinos born in?
This place is not safe for humans, clearly,
They are terrified to go outside
Or else sit in incubators to ensure their darkness
To blend in with the air and the sky and the ground
Below me and around me

And the sea is gray and gray and gray
With sealed-in surfers lying down and lying on shore
“You missed it, honey, that perfect wave”

There is a reason God stole the sky from the sea
And I lost the ocean
I lost the ocean
I lost the ocean
To this massive empty lake
With invisible islands
Of floating trash
Where I assume the white people come from

Where the hell did all these….
And can’t they see the world is brown and brown and brown 

I lost the ocean.

 

 

 

 

Nocturne

Could
the hours reconvene at hours
when light and earl grey mingling
are thoughts’ preambulation,
when senectitude graces
a solitary corner of the moon
that is itself absent
or in the azure as reminiscent
of a misplaced sock

Could
it be knowledgeable to say
night is not the same as its counterpart,
windowsill doorstep,
Zora Neale Hurston
Earnest Hemmingway,
as the bindings
nuzzle each other
in the armoire’s calm quiescence

Could
burning into the curtains
the white of lunar dapplings
be figments of cosmic teleology
dispossessed of origin,
at least until something
decants the self
from time and space
and maybe matter too,
then lets eyes or not eyes see
how blight is rhapsodized
in a bird singing the eons ci-devant,
how hearing cannot place
an aubade or serenade yet discern
the indwelt effervescence,
the microwave tinging
to avow the water heated,
for oolong perhaps
with a slab or two
of strawberry-jammed
toast

City Sin

A madness arises slowly,

Like the skyscrapers off the 110

My bones don’t really know me

As I settle into the city’s sin

My mind numbs gently

As the smog creeps in