Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Month: April, 2015

29/30: ASK THE WIND, CLOSED FISTS DON’T GET HELD

If you uncurl your fist against
Sixty miles per hour wind, outside
the driver-side window, you change
the weather pattern of your whole life. This afternoon,
half of my arm extended into the April air,
like the last good idea I will ever have. I open my hand,
like a valley, and gratitude arrives early, gathers, into a river.
All of it, earned. All of it, mine.
Today, I think of what the wind picks up,
and include myself within this strange history of elemental hustling.
I open my hand and become an expert at temporary emptiness.
I open my hand and the possibility of touch travels
back to me like music, for once.
This time, I open my hand and the wind
picks me up, carries away the rocks stealing me from the surface,
from sunlight, all these stones stacked into a sturdy sadness,
but I can feel my hardness eroding into a whisper,
disrupting silence softly like a hum yet to happen. Alas,
this soft skin of my hand, finally a sail, an open invitation. Alas,
the wind whittles my heart into an instrument. Alas,
I open my hand into the pouring wind and my heart lifts
out of the dust, is recast into the sky, is light like the April air. All of it—

Mine.

28/30: AND ONE FINE MORNING—

In front of me is a poster of Gatsby’s silhouette,
reaching for love’s green light lost across the bay,
and this image is made with every word
from his most famous novel,
and I can feel the
length of my own famous longing curl with my spine
each morning I rise, tomorrow is already
showing in the way my ribs do after I
turn to the other side of myself, after I
breathe deeply, the way April does with the rain.
It’s funny how every motion forward takes me
both further and closer to what I am.
Listen,
love’s green light across my own stormy bay,
the moment you see my outstretched arms,
know,
it will not last.

27/30: SUNLIGHT IS MY FILTER

Here is my body.
The heart inside my chest
is not a hypothetical, but non-fiction
like when walk into Half-Price Books
and buy a book at-half price.
From the window next to me,
the horizon is under-construction
each morning, the downtown sky begins anew,
another crane creates a new sky
line to look above, while beneath,
so much is going on. Look, to your left,
a man sleeps beneath Texas 527-Spur.
In front of you, your law school,
a building of privilege set in stone,
you walk out the doors and your head
is heavier with something new, what’s with reason
all of a sudden? Has this always been the standard?
I say law student
When I mean trial by fire
The amount of smoke lost in my chest
makes me want to replace my lungs like engines.
Intellectual curiosity
has ten syllables between the two bodies, and I find
comfort in the pieces needed to make a thing whole.
This day is a mouthful until I know I am not alone. Look, to your right,
Another man lays his body out on the sidewalk as if
he were only a shadow dozing off into the cement,
His eyes finally closed beneath the weight of all he has
lost in the slumber of improvement, in the name of
new buildings growing up just tall enough to block out the sun,
as if their bodies were meant to absorb negative space—the lightest form
of darkness.

26/30: CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL FOR NAPAL, ROOT MEMORIAL SQUARE, WITH A TRUMPET

The breath entering the trumpet
is not the same as the breath
that leaves the trumpet.

The brass body of a trumpet
has the physiology of grief.
Both are an instrument,

Enduring the fractured sickness of breathlessness
until this miraculous sound leaps out, the falling sky
dismembered no more and finally, something broken goes unforgotten.

A black man beneath the green screen paneled gazebo
fills Root Memorial Square Park
with his own-echoed-lung composition.

His breath swam into the trumpet the same way
sadness always enters unexplained, and always, upon exit,
glides through the swamp of ache, finding a way to

Avoid the eulogy of what’s always at stake,
but this week alone, too many of us are losing,
this week together, too many of us have a history of loss.

I speak to a man from Nepal
who gathers with his Nepalese community
to remember too many who have been lost.

He tries to explain the catastrophe
Asks if I know what happened
I want to comfort him with something

More than sympathy, assure him I’ve listened
to NPR, have read the reports but what does
this failed attempt at understanding have to do

With knowledge, with his knowing desecration
of his most beloved, the homeland his heart
occupies outside its own quaking body

The earth dismembered in its
fractured sickness, the toll
of the dead rise but the bodies that remain

Are still trying to sleep
Are not yet done weeping
Are lighting candles for the shadowless.

Here I am, caught in a nation’s weeping
The Spirit of the Hero wants to fill my fingers
but if etymology has taught me anything, it’s this:

All around, flowers, plants, the scene
smiles in green, attests to
the effectiveness of spiting death.

If you listen to the colors of spring speak, they’ll tell you:
Through the history of evolution,
Photosynthesis is the earth asking for forgiveness.

25/30: RIGHT SIDE OF THE DIRT

What’s really unbelievable is that
Chinese alchemists, who in all historical likeliness,
were men,  had to draw a brainstorming map once,
write a to-do list, had breakfast meetings,
together, in a room, and ultimately,
Gave themselves directions
on how find and brew and intermingle
all the elements necessary to create
the elixir for immortality, which they
probably intended to drink, obviously.
Had a plan to outmaneuver death!
To stay on the right side of the dirt!
They say it was supposed to be the great last trick of the alchemist!
Then, the sparks began to flower.
They discovered gunpowder.

24/30: ODE TO SUBRIDENT, SORT OF

I can’t leave my street/ without turning into an Ode/ I want to write beauty disembodied/ then proceed to explain/proceed to blush/ at my deconstruction/ devastated by the simplicity of my lust/ but before me/ A form I recognize/ Breathlessness is what the afternoon brings/ Praise my lungs/ unafraid to bloom/ Praise the colors of spring/ beauty embodied/ unafraid of gloom/ Wouldn’t that be something/ But I have left my street/ The name of my neighborhood is the Shenandoah Valley/ I do fear evil/ I do fear death/ The road before me is callous with wind/ Among this vast expanse/ Darkness goes unrestricted/ among the Storm Systems/ siphoning faith like the wounding of color/ The sweeping exhilaration of thunder/ unloosens the stitch/ in my side/ My toughness collapsed/ My collection of light/ cracked open/ for all to see/ the nucleus of marbles/ each particle pinballs to create a stronger thing/ Have I spoiled the mystery/ Has anyone seen me before the warm heat rises/ before the cool air quiets/ before the sun riots/ before the masquerade of the storm/ has made you forget your own flesh/ but this too shall pass/ but not before the spell is cast/ Look/ up ahead/ the horizon is unhaunted/ Look/ before you/ my heart/ Unhunted

23/30: PART ONE

At first,
You don’t cook out of love.

You cook out of necessity.
If the body is a temple,
The gospel is grocery shopping.
You cook what you can
depending on what you have
but mostly you cook
for hunger
because you are hungry
because none of your brothers are home
you are six and alone
the apartment is dark
like the false concept of manhood
Your mom is working late
Your mom has a date
with a man
and your brothers fight
like men
but you are six with nothing in your stomach.

The expression
“Close mouths don’t get fed”
assumes food is on the table
Ready to eat
You want to cook, to take
something fresh and
turn it anew with purpose.
Or maybe it’s more simple.
The free lunch at school was too predictable
but at least it’s breakfast, at least it’s lunch.

You cook
because your hands have the tendency
to create, the repeated history of
obnoxious disobedience runs
through your bones but
have you ever trusted
a cast-iron skillet
with all your might,
ever felt the quiet organization
of what you want turn soft like
onions sautéed in slow sugar
like the moon moments before total darkness
ever felt the pang of craving
turn you into a creature caught
in the ritual of rising steam,
ever put a plate
in front of a room full of people
feel the silence boil over brilliant
ever see the meal disappear
along with the legacy of growling,
which chooses
to crawl through bodies without apology
as if the mouth is no place for forgiveness.

22/30: EXPORTING EMPORTMENT

Please tell me how to never fall apart.

I think the birds coo
in their bird language
along with me
in mine
to the post-storm sky
that grounded the
both of us for days.
Truthfully, I am alone
and the air is sweeter this way.
The best part of my day is
being unsurprised
at the number of new flowers
now belonging to me.
I tell myself,
don’t forget
renewal
is all
about remembering
If timing is everything,
the exception is love.
Ugh.
Right?
Love is human like me
because like me, love is both
precocious and stuck in traffic.
If I check the record, no one’s
ever been on time with
a haunted heart.
Embrace the meantime, then.
Meanwhile, the mass of what
I miss can corrupt
anyone’s favorite color.
The point of life is to
spite disappointment.
Believe in the spectrum of disruption.
The precision of loss
is a fallacy.
The second serving
means you thought
you needed more
and you did.
Falling apart is stupid but
inevitable.

If you believe in anything
wholeheartedly
then fractions don’t apply,
being less than
is the epitome of fiction
Because you said so
Because self-assurance
manifests, nonetheless.

The gorgeous yawp of the soul
goes right pass the lips.
Say,
you know what an
osculary is?

21/30: PEABODY PEABODY JOE

Legend has it
Peabody Peabody Joe
sprung up
from the dirt
on a Sunday
and survived
on peanut butter
sandwiches
for years.

Peabody Peabody Joe
could catch
a catfish fastest
His secret bait:
Extra Crispy
Bacon.

Peabody Peabody Joe
rode a bicycle
for fifty miles
with two flat tires
but
Peabody
don’t stop
when stop
makes sense.
Peabody
was in love
maybe.
They say
Peabody Peabody Joe
never missed
a birthday,
Peabody Peabody Joe baked
a cake a day.
Peabody Joe
kept candles
in his pockets
but always
went swimming
anyway
especially
on the fourth of July
Peabody Peabody Joe isn’t American
but he is the every man
the way he
ate a steak
the way he
watched the
sunset
Peabody Joe
didn’t know any
better
Peabody Joe
had a wild mouth
but spoke slow
cause his tongue
pretty much was
peanut butter
but what are
you going to do
language is
sticky

20/30: THE FRAGRANCE INSIDE MY CHEST

I hear you say things before you say it

Translation:

I can make voices in my head.

Translation:

There are voices inside my head.

Translation:

Get out.

Translation:

You left me, why do
you refuse to give
back the key, which
doesn’t actually fit
to my heart, but that’s
not the point, the point
is what you break each
time you enter without
telling without asking
without every lasting
why don’t you ever last
why do I ask questions
I know the answer to
why am I writing a poem
with you as the only character
why have I broken the
fourth wall if there is a fourth wall

Translation:

Yesterday I broke
the wall in my head
when I walked past
a wall of flowers
all called Jasmine
and Jasmine is mine
and Jasmine is a
house-guest who
smells like forgiveness

Translation:

So that’s what the
fragrance inside
my chest is called

Translation:

I have to lie down
if I think about
the weight of what
goes unsaid in my head

Translation:

Doubt endangers salvation.

Translation:

Self-Renewal
is the second name
of Spring.