Poem Titles I’ll (Probably) Never Use

poetry

“Compressed Carbon” 
“Afraid of the Dark” 
“Homegoing” 
“The Color of the Sea” 
“613” 
“Socially Adaptable, but I Digress”
“Rose Petal” 
“Some Trust” 
“Groups of Three”  
“Articles and Prepositions” 
“Why you have ten toes instead of eleven and other such oddities of life” 
“Albert and the Infinite Abyss” 
“Killed by the King of Spades” 
“Amoretti”
“Wink and a Gun” 
“Jumping the Check” 
“Never Met a Weekend I Didn’t Like” 
“So Constant, So Monochrome”
“Enstasy” 
“Learning to Walk (Again)”

Pedals

poetry

Life is a street
On which we travel
Pedal over pedal spins the wheel of our years;
The end lost in futures,
They fly into our pasts,
We only watch their memoirs, stop/start.

Freighted with bitter,
Crimsoned with sweet,
We skitter around potholes to our bright potential;
Their cunning edges,
Their filthy centers,
We never shall know. And the bicycle as it goes
Navigates away,
Each one is overcome
Each beyond the turning spokes.
We alone pedal
While time journeys on,
The pedals churn wheels, though the memories remain.

“April is the cruelest month”

poetry

with flowers springing
ever which way
leading to joy, happiness,
serendi-piteousness;
all along the streets
suddenly they appeared,
as if out of nowhere,
coming forth from their dark confines
experiencing the outer-airs
with thoughts of “this is the life”
and unspoken thoughts,
even to themselves, of
“things are going to change,”
leading to springing dreams
of quitting it all,
returning to the wild,
as they cut their grass
trimmed their hedges and
kept the wild at bay,
except for in a memory
of a time when coming over the mountain
they saw a valley
filled with flowers
“red and yellow black and white
they [were] precious in” their sight
and through the flowers flowed
a stream from which they drank,
without fear or tablets,
and felt the icy cold water flow,
making their teeth hurt again
even in the memory
of the water rushing down,
down, down, down, down
through their depths
washing away the inner accumulated filth.

balikbayan

poetry

in front of him bagumbayan field lies still
the sun still low in the east
casts long stone shadows from tall green leaves of rice
spiky shadows from silent green palms
gentle parabolic shadows from horizon hills
all standing still undisturbed by time
sensing it’s time inhales (deeply)
damp shadowy green morning air
imagines the frozen shadows he can’t see
(those of the men and women lined up in his periphery
those of the eight filipino soldiers behind him (or of their rifles)
those of the eight spanish soldiers behind them (or of their rifles))
his hands reach to his neck
straighten the tie he bought in madrid
both hands then brush his once black suit
grayed and frayed from lack of light
and too much dust these last few days
(inside breast pocket still holds her desiccated sampaguita)
he grips the brim of his hat tips it slightly in the fashion
raises his chin lengthens his shadow
sees in the distance farmers watching
(standing still hands on hips casting shadows)
he feels a breeze gather on his right cheek
watches the world wake from its shadowy sleep
the green rice field now sways in slow undulations
green light green green light green green
hears then sees the rustling palms soft rustle
the farmers (now bored) bend low return to work
a pair of kingfishers flit by in sharp arcs (one chasing the other)
the unset shifting shadows stripped of their permanent sense
wind then whips his hat off his head he hears a shot
then feels it (a sudden burn (like all his favorite lines of poetry))
then feels nothing but sees the blue–more red but still blue–sky
without a cloud to cast a shadow.

Alchemic

poetry

Sprigs of spring,
uncut, uneven,
twitch in the breeze,
I distribute myself in particles
abandoning anchoring roots.

As the oak watches the world,
stony in its indifference,
so I slip into the wind
airily ignoring.
Nothing is as quiet
as the blossoming redspire pear,
as the wisps of cirrus
reforming.

The surrounding red brick buildings
hold their tongues as they always have.
Infused in the soil, I feel everything.
The nervous skittering of the squirrel.
The slow shifting of growth.
The soft weight of supine bodies,
like fingers checking a geologic pulse.

My molecules
having drifted so far,
the shadowy rustle
of last fall’s leaves.

Time and Space

poetry

1

Entered the room; entered his lingering life,
Shelves with comics and baseball trophies,
Photographs taped to walls.

Quiet dust erupted at the weight of a body on the bed;
Springs protested with hoarse creaks;
Action figures stood sentinel.

    Eyes closed
    Images arose;
    Us at eight
    Drawing ‘till late.

    I used his blue
    He took my red;
    We filled the page
    Emptied our heads.

    The TV played
    Midnight shows;
    We were absorbed
    In the floor below.

2

Jesse, I asked the silent room,
When did we lose that world?
Tell me, please.

    Upon, upon the sun-starved ground,
    In the forest that we had found,
    Far from the houses that crowded our thoughts,
    Far from the people who shouted us silent,
    Under the branches that shielded us from God–

I opened my eyes,
To the pale glow of plastic stars
Stuck to the ceiling;
I contemplated constellations.

3

Moved from the bed.
Pulled out a dormant dresser drawer.
Examined a painted shell.
Ran a finger along the teeth of a comb.
Sniffed a bottle of cologne.

    Recall the road five summers ago,
    When we drove to Mexico without a map.
    Like falling leaves desiring the ground,
    We followed any way that led south.
    Once the signs were all in Spanish,
    We turned west seeking the sea.
    Finally arriving at a brown-grey beach,
    We were surprised to find it nearly empty;
    A man struggled to push a cart along the coast,
    A pair of seagulls drifted mournfully just offshore,
    A cold wind swept sand in our eyes.
    Amarillo, he said, pointing.
    I followed his finger to a kite,
    Palpitating above the horizon.

A River

poetry

Pour out, sweet mercy like a stream
Your ways bring waves
No longer in my own power to stand
But for yours, and only yours

Pour, steadily pour, through all land
Your stream becomes a sea
No longer without footsteps to follow
But for yours, and only yours

Pour onto parched tree and forest
Your water brings reprieve
No other grace can touch me
But for yours, and only yours

Pour a thousand days in me
Your endless cup spills out
No heart can find peace but your arms
But for yours, and only yours

Trespassing

poetry

Like thieves, we stole through the night.
We waited for the last pair of taillights to pass
and then crossed the street in the vacuous silence of their wake.
You were several steps ahead,
familiar with the way.

The school was immutable in its brick slumber.
We pressed our faces to cold glass and peered
into darkened classrooms populated by slouched shadows.
Emergency exit signs reflected gently in waxen linoleum,
lingering like lipstick.

We continued to the back of the building,
half carried on rebellion’s breeze,
half scared we’d see the principal or a cop or my mom.
Our steps scraped echoes from the parking lot pavement,
we exhaled momentary contrails into the autumn air.

This is it, you said, as if to God,
in front of a tall conglomeration of metal vents and conduits,
set in gravel, surrounded by chain link fence.
You began to climb and I followed,
the delinquent rattle of our ascent shaking the evening calm.

The rooftop surprised our feet with skull-sized stones.
The deep knocks of their shifting gave our steps new meaning
as we moved across the sky.
You sat confidently on the ledge,
took a cigarette from your front coat pocket and lit it.

It was then I nearly pushed you,
my head flashing with lightning rage–but it passed.
I sat a few feet from your oblivious form,
requested a cigarette, and surveyed the sleeping town
from those three stories
that seemed like thirty that night.

i, too, pass emotive gasses from my buttox america

poetry

I am the shackle-free brother
they send me to flatulate in the washroom
when friends visit
but i laugh
losen my belt
and relax.

tomorrow
i’ll be in the dining room
when friends visit
nobody’ll dare
ask me to
“cut the cheese in privacy”
then.

besides
they’ll see how comfortable i am
and be humiliated

i, too, am america.

the rabbit

poetry

A rabbit let us say
a brown furry rabbit

that hops through
the morning grass

returning to her mate
returning to her man

the one she truly loves
and shakes her bottom

almost never for his
sake and she’s certain

she’s never wrong as
in this way and that

she’ll raise her kids
on every continent

available and out she’ll
run to learn something

new and then to hop on
back the way she knows yes a

rabbit let us call her
a hot brunette rabbit

The Lyger

poetry

Lyger! Lyger! burning bright
In the midst of a fight,
What skilled artist tragic
Could draw thy skills in magic?

In what distant land or place
Did thy perilous form take shape?
On what inspiration were thee based?
What the paper could have thee encased?

And for the purposes of meeting a girl,
What maestro of pen could thee unfurl?
And when thy form began to take shape,
What the dressing of thee in a cape?

And to be sure thee did not suck,
What the pencil? What the fuck
Were the thoughts on his mind,
While he starred off, as if blind?

When he danced with all his might
Were thee only or a friggin blight?
Did he smile his drawing to see?
Did he who drew Pedro draw thee?

Lyger! Lyger! burning bright
In the midst of a fight,
What skilled artist tragic
Could draw thy skills in magic?

Little Exercise

poetry

Think of a crowd gathering for an execution
like an explosion playing slowly in reverse,
listen to it inhaling.

Think of how she must look, the sentenced,
hands bound, chin set, stone gaze cast somewhere
indefinite on the horizon beyond gunmetal waves,

where a ship may be disappearing,
its sails filled with chilled wind, waving goodbye
beneath an overcast sky, bored and impassive.

Think of the blade, blood-stained and worn
impatiently hanging, suddenly revealed
as the child’s scapula.

It is quiet for a moment. Then it sighs, slices
comes to a sudden wooden stop–
mortal dam unstopped, her blood reaches short for the sea.

Now the people passionately cheer
eyes alight, fires in smoldering faces,
squeaking and gibbering into the midday.

Think of someone on bent knees in an empty church
hands held in supplication, quivering lips mumbling desperate prayers;
think of him as on a precipice, permanently.