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.


Teach me how to not despair

(for my children. for r and his.)

Teach me how to not despair.
Remind me again
that life is a series of mathematical
and all I have to do is find y.

I already have paper and pen.
I can
turn numbers into stories
stories into actions
actions into hope
hope to love
and live

Sit with me,
in the high noon glare,
our bodies warm from sun heated rocks
beneath, watch me unravel the mystery of an equation,
with child-sized amazement duplicating,
quadruplicating, octuplicating, doubling
into the distances of my imagination.

And when I cannot find my way,
teach me to trust
that inside each problem
already is the answer
I seek.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last Sunday I went to a funeral

Last Sunday I went to a funeral.
Q had died in her chair,
looking out her window.
Father Keith gave the eulogy.
He said, "I knew her for many years. She loved to sit
by that window, waiting
for the day to pass.
He paused, then said, "It is with amazing grace
that we may last the length of days.
For this we should give thanks."

Does he know
the insufferable ways in which days
go on and on?

I will give no thanks
to the length of days
I endured.

I will lay face down
deep in dirt and weep
for the 13 Sundays that have passed
without me.

There is a woman waiting.
There is a woman wanting.
She died with that waiting.

if you must be silent

Love, do not call to me.
Do not say to me the feelings that vex your heart at night
when you miss me most
half asleep and half drunk,
only when light breaks make silence your armor,
and sentiments harden like laid bricks baked in the sun.

If you must be silent, be silent
all the days.
Be more silent than night.
More than a muted cry.
Aimless wandering.
Hurt gone numb.

Love, if you must
be silent.

Monday, November 7, 2016

I imagine telling you

"The house was quiet and the world was calm."
The poem reads.
I read and think, it is.


Tonight I wear your bangles to bed.
I wanted to glue them on the wall, make roses or bubbles
and watch them float but instead
I put them on and stretch my arms, feel lightness in their soft tinkling, as if
sounds can conjure up love as it
fills up the space next to me.
I imagine you
tied my hands to your hands,
like the book I'd torn apart
then bound the pages again,
and put them all in a box

I imagine telling you about Luis Rivera.
I imagine saying, I went on a date with Luis Rivera,
we hung out in his apartment, ate tacos, and listened to death metal music.

I imagine telling you, days later, I went on another date with Luis Rivera. This time we drank
shots of tequila, I stuff my hands inside his back pockets while he slid his hands up my legs.
His hands were soft.

I imagine telling you, weeks later, that for such soft hands Luis Rivera could really play the guitar.

I imagine telling you, months later, that we went on walks through the woods, it's fall here
and the trees are
We sat in coffee shops on Sunday mornings.
I showed him how to roll his undershirts to save space
while he told me about his anxieties and the medications he's tried,
their side effects, why it takes him so long to cum, and his worries
about being fat.

I imagine telling you, I have not heard him sing until now. He's good.
I imagine telling you, Luis Rivera is good.
And if I am lucky, I imagine I would also tell you,
I have learned to love Luis Rivera.

I imagine telling Luis Rivera about you.
I imagine saying, I left him my heart--he doesn't want it
because he doesn't know what to do with it. I left it there for him
on the hills of Oakland,
under the brush of an unmarked bush.
I haven't been back to get it.

I haven't imagined what Luis Rivera would say.