B#9 (1920s)

i’ve never smoked a cigarette
after sex, but i like the idea —
so indulgent, full of smoke
and nicotine, and it makes
me wonder what type of person
i would be if i did.
though, i guess, the prerequisite
is having sex — beautiful, loving
sex full of care and kindness,
or like, sex so urgent, it’s like
life depends on it and it
has to end. maybe i
could play the part of mistress
in this charade, trauma in my hips
like a secret code and your hands
like a cipher. maybe i
could take another drag
and wind up like my mother.
i’ve never been much for giving stuff up,
but i don’t feel like i’m giving in,
and maybe sex is like that cigarette —
even when you’re done, there’s always
room for more. maybe it’s because
i’ve never smoked and don’t know
how to breathe, so instead i just wait.
i let it sit there,
untouched, unbothered,
waiting to be picked up again
like a coat in cold winter weather.


in early spring
when the frost is still retreating
its icy tendrils
from the woody boughs
where green has just started
to peek through,
i decided to offer myself to the sun
as well, knowing
that i might wilt
or burn
or starve,
but doing so because i needed to grow.
i don’t know any other way.
i’ve grown hardy
but i wish to flourish,
even in these no so temperate seasons
where thunderstorms come and go
and the earth wobbles
perilously on its axis
between hot days and chilling nights,
as if the universe itself
is against me
(i know that’s not true,
but it’s better than blaming
myself for refusing to grow).
but in these moments,
lying face up in the sun
on the prickly, wet grass
and blanketed by the rush
of wind through the palm fronds,
i feel like maybe
maybe i’m beginning
to get somewhere.


I told you I was
a million times,
counting each repentance
like a lash
taking flight
on the words “I wish”

I wish
that you could see
the mess in my head
when you shook me
like an earthquake
and all my supports
came toppling
down; I wish
that you,
drunkardly passed out
on the couch,
could have heard my cries
when I finally
felt safe enough
to tell you everything

For a figment
you are still so
and laborious
and make my arms
weak and tired,
but then I remember
that you
have to carry
yourself too,
and you must
be exhausted

Storybooks only teach us
happy endings —
they don’t teach us
how to lift
this inexorable weight


we grew together like roots entwined
from different trees that grew at different times,
our gnarly sides worn bare by passing traffic
and stripped joints flayed open for display —
our well-woven tapestry of love and pain
hung on the bitterness of a thrashing star
that crashed into our seas and divided us.
i need to know if that mosaic was worth it
to form the mural of us that grow like trees
down the wiry path from despair to joy,
if you have to brave the dark and cold
of night to feel summer’s sweet kiss.
i am not an oak, i am a willow
and you are something fair like cherry,
but we have learned to nurture
from the soil and seek out the sky.
we share our hurt and share our cries
and try to discover the you and i.


my chalupa

Like a Mexican
in southern Cali

spicy, rich, and

you got curves
in all
the right places

I wanna cover
in hot sauce

go to town



soft, silent, your brushstrokes into shapes
(and i
knew it was you)you taught me to
love, to dream
(and i loved you)
Your shadows, soft and simple slip into
and let the sky fade as we shift

and if i were willing, you’d paint
a picture of me,
lavishing it with shades(and
even then)
more shapes and hues
which I could never show

and so it goes that you are
(soft, secret whispers and sighs)
that take lift on midnight
and swing off the balcony into
shallow seas

ships hail from a harbor
not far(and i see
the sapphire in your eyes)
painstakingly painted
with glinted tints
and samples of sundry hues

and everything is you, and your hands
like open flowers
as i sense your eyes shift and
heart shake
before sudden stillness sets

(and even as you speak)
sitting on the stoop as sun
sank to trees
(even then, i knew it was you)you
flew, your brushstrokes
down my cheek


Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon

my fondest memory
as a child, i won
the second place prize

in the county science fair
for my potato project—
that red ribbon,

my proudest possession,
hung over my head
and framed my face

with delight—
who would have known
the meaning of that prize,

the feeling of being
second best at something
i didn’t even like




i live with a disease
it’s small and discrete
and hides in dark corners
with furtive glances
through narrow windows

(if you ask me,
i’d say i’m doing fine)

it’s not cancer
i won’t lose my hair
and people won’t come
to the hospital
to leave me candy or flowers

no one will wish me well
or tell me everything
is going to be all right—
who would even know
what to say anyway?

it’s not like i’m dying

i don’t need a wheelchair
i can run just fine
and most races i finish
in first or fifth
or some odd number

i have a disease
with a poker face
that never gives out hints
or divulges secrets freely,
it is quiet

it eats days, weeks, even months
of sunshine; it strips trees bare




train stop, stretch, and re-gear
the task of forward unclear

the five o’clock news reported
zero casualties, but failed
to mention the damage done
by the sixty ton wreckage

the young boy watching, too
naïve to understand the impact,
vowed “never again” and hid —
refused to dance in the rain

what was the point if
the link between him and earth
was falling?




It lay in drifted flurries on the barren path,
Covering the stones in silence –
Quieting them.

There’s something special about these monoliths –
Half-eroded, worn-out, and tired-looking…
Like they too have seen too many winters.

You’d have thought the patterned ivy
Would have textured them with twisted shapes by now,
Intertwining the gravity of repose
With the tranquility of respite.

Were their lives faithful to their testaments –
The dead still stones representing life?
Did they truly do them justice?

It settled quietly,
Covering the stones in history,
Clouding the bones in mystery.