Many Years Later

Many years later, she saw him standing
in the cereal aisle of AJ’s Fine Foods.
He was reading the nutrition label
on a box of frosted flakes, still wearing
his mucky white converse with no shoestrings.

It was nearing seven. The blue between
two clouds grew paler but never vanished.
A bulb of white light quivered, and kept on
quivering still on the blank store ceiling.
Without a sound she turned away to see

if she has found everything she wanted.
Somewhere over the baking supplies aisle,
two shopping carts bumped into each other,
two strangers, mumbling soft apologies,
carefully went on their separate ways.

 

Originally published on January 9th, 2016 on my old blog.

A Thousand Nightfalls

The the first ray of darkness cuts a nightly swath
through our metropolis, the sun bleeding its warmth.
What have we done to deserve such wrath.
A pale star scurries across the purple twilight.
A single mother rushes home through traffic to her wailing child.

What have we done to these saddened spots
here and there underneath the graffiti walls,
which upon inspection turns out to be
misplaced youths and mushrooms that grow
quietly under the bone-white moonlight. What have we done

to the man sitting alone in the bar, disappearing
bit by bit, untouched gin, loneliest thing. He lives
quietly without attachments, like a blown dandelion seed,
listening each night to the drips of espresso, pretending
it’s rain, it’s rain in the green terrain! What have we done

to these driftwoods floating into our harbor – candlesticks
for our glittering candelabrum. There are no elms or songbirds,
only jagged steel pegs and a postal code. Stars plummet
to our bedsteads like death. What have we done
to deserve these bursts of bright lights

falling like blessings, falling
like a thousand radiantly gilded mornings.

Love

Through loving near, you have loved afar.

A stray dog stuck his head
into a garbage can, eating candy wrappers,
searching for white bones and a mother,
hiding bruises behind his ears,
wanting a home, maybe a long year
of bread and silence, having seen
too much of this world…
You ran home and hugged your pup
who was born tiny as a lily bud,
raised in your palm, an innocent nook
in your summer bed, not knowing
what home is when his whole world is a home,
and through loving him you have loved all lost souls.

A waitress bent over ketchup and spilled beer,
a lonely swan in greasy apron, shedding five drops of tears,
her girlhood, and a button, for overdue rent,
a center stage dream, and endless arabesques,
nicotine-stained face, someone calling her name,
table number eight, two men and a milkshake,
and she pirouetted, pirouetted to her fame…
You ran home and hugged your baby sister
who turned sixteen in a new dress, an autumn-eyed belle
with a nightingale voice, in love with a boy
with piano fingers, who wrote her long poems about seashells
and eagles, and all the pretty rhymes belonged to her,
and through loving her you have loved all fleeting youths.

An old lady went to the market
with a four-wheel-walker, hair whiter
than the cloud, each wheel in place of a child
gone into the world and could not come home
for supper; an empty nest, clean floral tablecloth,
two canned soups, a loaf of bread, three bells
tolling for her day, and slowly she went, slowly she went…
You ran home and hugged your mother,
kissing her hair and lines into surrender, like all mothers
she told you not to worry; not about her nor the others
entering this season, smaller than winter leaves,
trembling in life’s wind. You gripped her brittle bones to sleep,
and through loving her you have loved all greying mothers.

 

Originally published on December 3rd, 2015 on my old blog.

The Upstairs Neighbors

The daddy must be gnawing at the bones
of the mommy who coos, coos and coos
over the crying baby who makes a boo-boo, like all nocturnal families

do, oh they do, don’t they, they do

the clunkity-clunk, the yakity-yak,
and the bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,
the happy rigadoon and a mouse at two

in the half-moon bedroom. I’m running out of
sleeping capsules, my tricolored silencio!
Red, white and bright starry blue. Saviors of America.
I mean, insomnia. No, really, I do
mean my nebulous wakefulness
at half past two.

Tell me what I should do, do, do
to stop my roof from – boom! boom! –
falling down. The woeful spinster clomps, clomps, clomps

clomps down on my papery skull. Why wouldn’t she take off
her wooden shoes? Is she masking the echoes

of the owls’ raucous hoots?

Up, up, up
into the reddening sky
I see them go.

They are all in cahoots!

 

Originally published on October 29th, 2015 on my old blog. 

The Island

On a warm Wednesday I went to Ellis Island alone. That morning I poked the yoke of my husband’s sunny-side-up, and burnt his toasts on purpose. On hands, on knees, on chafed discontent, I crawled all the way to Miss Liberty’s crowned head. I’ve often had dreams like this. Blue veins of oceans pumping salt-water into my wounded canoe. I shall never make it to her alive, I’ve traded my paddles for the low simmering kettle expectant of boiling so I could thaw this damn chicken for the dinner party where I shall be red-lipped, high-heeled and properly elusive. But I shall never make it to her alive, not this moment when the jungle-red sun has been hushed, and my soapy hands are clasping the soiled collar of an ill-fitted and tedious shirt with such stubbornness. I scrub it into moonrise whiteness, so white that I could almost start over in my weightless sleep. My dream takes me to the island – the stone – lipped woman married to the hands of the mason who sculpted her into perfect stillness. I touch her bare petrous toes, they are cold as my own. She is close – so close that the burning torch in her hand could almost be mine.

 

Originally published in Sweet Tree Review, Winter 2016.