Sunday, October 22, 2017

Counting grief

Counting grief

Tonight I went to the neighborhood bar
to begin a ritual
 every time
my heart breaks.
It's been a while since I've been here,
since I found you,
but not tonight.

I asked for 2 shots if tequila-
1 to celebrate love
1 to end it.

I ended up doing 6-
1 to celebrate love
1 to end it;
1 to remember the hard earned lives lived,
or survived,
1 to mourn their end;
1 to hate myself
1 to love me.
All to grieve
and remind myself that this
 is life,
it will go on,
as will I.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

afternoon nostalgia


Is the dogwood tree in the backyard blooming 
Like I imagine it would? 
Is the bougainvillea vine 
carpeting the front yard with valiant 
In my memory, they are fierce. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I love you is a 3-syllables-long time loop

Still towards the end of March

I imagine it must be hard
to be you
when there is me
incessant and dogged
in my love.
I am sorry. There is nothing
I can do.

Perhaps I should not call it love.

But I tell you this:
I love you is a 3-syllables-long time loop.
For 3-syllables worth of time,
I wait.

Towards the end of March

Date: in the middle of March

each day I will gather
something beautiful for you.

between words there is distance.
It teaches me patience.
You teach me the difference.

Date: towards the end of March
To remember, I drink and dance
naked by an open window--I want
to display myself to the world.
And why not?
Am I not beautiful?
You've told me so.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

we are lucky

you and I are lucky.
we are stubborn enough
to insist that on any overcast sunday we make noise together,
watch the earth swell in the rain,
and marvel at rainbows without ends.

we insist on holding each other tightly,
and cry
for loves that have gone before
and loves petrifying before us,

afraid of hurting because we forget
we have survived pain.

and yet we still
insist on hanging on
to life despite
being not very good at it-

we are very lucky, actually.

our stubborn credulity
will save us.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

First questions

To be ready 
to love you
there are questions we first 
must answer. 
For example:
If one of us is sleepless--like I am now--
Would the other lie down too 
and tell stories, 
the number of sighs between breaths--
like the poet and his wife.* 
Will we say, "I'm right here"

when the other asks in uneasy 
slumber, "Will you stay."

*Li-Young Lee

Sad questions


How many days has it been 
Since you last wrote a poem? 
Only a day? 
Such a long day it was. 

You were busy
displacing water with your body
to measure the weight of silence 
across time. 
It was difficult. With each wave
the body moves 
and gravity disperses,
water spills and you had to do it again, 
like a sad question 
repeating itself. 

For example: 
If you miss someone 
long enough 
hard enough,
would they know? 
Could they feel it
sitting heavy on their heart,
refusing what is told
 it must accept
except you 
don't matter. 
Could they know? 

But then, why would you need them to know? 
They did not know when autumn came to these parts and leaves burned bright for days without you seeing. 

They did not know how much
you wanted to break the face of serenity walking around that lake 
stepping on grass you love,
stepping on paths you want 
to lay down on,
stepping on stones you want 
in your pockets. 
You wanted to break the smiles that must have happened.
The hands that must have pretended to need warmth. 
Tear the hair that must have turned gold in the sunset. 
Your sunset. 

Did they know? 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Advance Directive is romantic


The next time we meet, it will be at my funeral.
You should not be sad.
Say no eulogy.
I will have lived fully by then.
I will have loved generously.
I will have been fearless and kind.
I will have laughed unashamed and naked in the sun
and cried with the loneliest.
I will have fixed some broken things,
fed and sheltered, sowed and re-sowed, created and colored,
wrote some poems, and many times wandered
through rain soaked streets and forests
bursting green.
I will have been satisfied.

Don't even talk about the past. You will not know
anyone there.
Walk by my body silently, look at me.
Look at my hands and remember
how they touched your face,
caressed your body, held your head.
Look at my painted face and imagine
petals on my lips.
Remember the way I loved and let your heart swell
knowing you have partaken in it.
Drive with the others to the cemetery.
Throw bougainvillea down my grave.
Make sure flowers cover me
before the first fistful of dirt.

When all is gone, you stay.
By my grave, slowly and quietly tell me
stories of how you've loved
since I left.
And when the gravedigger comes back with his shovel,
you can go.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Songs in transit

Songs in transit: coming

I am coming back
to that place on the hill
far from the city where my lovers lie,
where I planted pieces of myself, like a garden bed
it has since grown
a different bush.

Songs in transit: en route to Oakland
In this circus country, truths
are whatever magic tricks you conjure
and language
is made
to jump hoops and juggle
You and I do not belong here.
We prefer magic without tricks.

Songs in transit: Reading 100 Love Sonnets on the plane

“Love, what a long way, to arrive at a kiss,
What loneliness-in-motion, toward your company.”
This is the second love sonnet of a hundred
Pablo Neruda wrote for his third wife.
He wrote from another country, another time,
but today,
across grasslands and north to the Rockies, he speaks
as if to say he hears me, and knows
where I am going
what I seek.
Even if I do not know them, there have always been
fools like me--
we love with willful stubbornness
because we are its progeny.

Songs in transit: this is a different body

So I come back to you--
not to the place where love happened and is gone,

where now another woman goes--no
I come back to you
a different body,
through a different door,
a different bed.

In this new place, words stay.
Touch imprints. Movements happen without noise.
Bound and shelved above our heads, pleasure

is broken down to its simplest sounds, slick and wet 
like waves.
I come back to you thicker. Nimbler.
My tongue quicker, I move slow.
Time has made me a generous lover.
For this you are both glad
and afraid.

Songs in transit: panic

 “There are many ways to carry the past with us.”

This I read at the bookstore
to stop the panic rising.

Songs in transit: leaving

I leave the key on the desk and close the door,
It is not night time, but darkness lingers.
Inside someone’s kitchen, a light is turned on.  
Perhaps an exchange of a sleepy morning kiss.
Over on the next block, Bica's coffee is opening for customers
shuffling to get somewhere
then later, to come back home.

I pull my luggage past them in the rain.
I would have gladly sat down on one of those chairs
and never get up.
But I have to catch the train
back to the city where I was born
and every day
is dying.

At the Rockridge station I get on the 6:25AM train to the airport.
It is crowded. No one talks.
We are too sleepy, too sad,
we don’t want to disrupt this kinetic energy
lulling and moving our weights forward.  

The train hums louder as it dives
into the dark underground beneath the waters of the bay,
the way my mother sang to us
when we were young and afraid of the dark--
I closed my eyes and traveled with the train
back to my mother's womb--
wet and sleepy and content.
But I have to exit soon, and the train knows.
It cradles me for as long as it can, before I am expunged,
forced to look at daylight again—
this is life.
And love is no exception.

Songs in transit: when there is no return 

Where love is born, it can also die—
this is the process.
I know.
Because love is a constant
object in motion,  it leaves
in order to come back;
without return, it is lost.
The hills of Oakland know this.

If each time we love
a little shorter,
a little less kind,
give less of ourselves,
touch not frequently,
look not too long
and don’t whisper with new awe each morning we get to wake together—
it won't come back. 

Songs in transit: I arrived but not yet home

Last night I heard the hills cry.
They felt love wander and feared it lost.
They swelled with sadness, soaked the streets.
This morning they refused to wake,
Leaving rain to say goodbye.

Rain walked me to the train.
Rain stroked my hair.
Rain wrapped its gusty arms to hug me;
I breathed in its Patagonia mountain air,
filled my lungs with abundant space--
keep my feet light.

I took it with me on the plane.
It sat next to me on the bus.
It unlocked the door and walked inside.
It saw me undress and covered me as I lie down.
Then it left me there,
in the city where I was born
and every day
is dying.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Memory on my iphone

(R. minus many months.)

My iphone memory is a time warp.
For example, it keeps remembering your name
even though I have deleted you
a thousand times,
as if it knows
there is only one thing I can remember
to forget

So I will need to delete again tomorrow
the balcony, my lips, your lips,
Oakland's sunset burning
centimeters from your fingertips.