My poem Dead Hands published at This is Poetry

This is Poetry
a project of The Literary Underground

theliteraryunderground.org

Dead  hands

Dead  hands

The dead reach out across the desert,
burned like bricks by the enemy sun.
Beyond the corpses,
a litter of bottles emptied of life
makes a trail to the border with its gaudy signs.

Down the highway,
a panel truck hides its contraband behind a locked door.
Inside the odor of bodies warns the night sky
to open its arms to death’s bounty.

The desert stretches,
a merciless sea of boiled blood waiting for the coming sun.

Only the desperate
believe the lies of the coyote.
(Coyote tricked the Holy Ones out of their fire
and gave it to the People along with this scorched earth.)

Somewhere the names of workers are written
like beads between fingers.

Somewhere fields still and quiet
wait for dead hands to harvest poisoned fruit.

 

“Dead hands” was first published in Chrysalis and later in Unlikely Stories 2.0 and Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press)

 

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My poem Him all Jack Kerouac and shit published at This is Poetry

This is Poetry

a project of The Literary Underground

http://theliteraryunderground.org/

Him all Jack Kerouac and shit

Him all Jack Kerouac and shit

him all Jack Keroac and shit
his biography an artist’s cliche
oh he told a good anecdote yes
took her to his garrett to see the view
she let him dry her with skin and lips
all happy in the moment he kissed her hair

her all this is only just for now you know
an ephemeral spring so drink up fast
when it ended she hardly noticed lost
so was she in grief for pretty words
mirror shards piled like minnowy regrets
all caught up in the moment she almost knew

“Him all Jack Kerouac and shit” was previously published in I Am South (Virgogray Press).

My poem I am South published at This is Poetry

I am South

I am South

Once there were women who made many kings
by taking their mates
The tacit memory of them inhabits me
like stones left to mark my way
Blood of northern tribes undeniably runs
through my body
My hair is reddish and my skin pale
with caramel flecks
But I am South

Gravity pulled me from north to south
to find some truer self
South is where I learned to swallow
Pablo Neruda like rum
Where time stretches out like a bus trip
in exotic lands
And South is where I both swear and sweat
in Spanish
There is antiquity here everywhere
and I have become part of it
Inscrutable past etched across desertscapes
like ghost buttes
The scattered detritus of other lives lived
and other loves
Effulgent planes and circles circling out
through time and space
like ephemeral water

The humid kiss of desert stones
I am South

 

an earlier version of “I am South” was previously published inI Am South (Virgogray Press).

Speak the Language of the Land includes three of my poems

Speak the Language of the Land is the first of what will be an annual showcase of talented poets, presented by the Lummox Press in conjunction with The LUMMOX Poetry Anthology and the Angela Consolo Mankiewicz Poetry Prize(courtesy of the estate of Angela C. Mankiewicz and her husband, Richard Mankiewicz).

Order your copy here

Summertime rain

         for Oseye

Swing clarinet blinks neon in a foggy afternoon.
Black wings take to the carmine sky. A cry rises
loud enough to be heard on the other side.

Flash of black limbs spread deep into ruddy earth.
Another son dead 50 years before his time. Another
Mama looking hard for some good to find.

A spontaneous wail stretches from the golden gate
to the one made of pearl. Despair travels a highway
that ends in unfriendly waves.

Either way, waters cold or warm still drown the same.
Every mothers’ sun rises on a world black with pain.
Every breath becomes a sob.

Every mothers’ son lucky each day he doesn’t die.
Flesh like Black Palm. Skin like Walnut. 
Every time another son gone

every mother joins in the silent sigh. 
Nothing as cold as a summertime rain.

#####


Cruising the Alameda

After hearing Douglas Kearney’s “Alameda Street”

Down on Alameda, close to Azcarate, a 1955 Bel Aire. A stretch of chrome splits pink from white, ends in fins.
The color of Bazooka, that gum wrapped in a comic,
goofy boy’s face covered by a turtleneck.

A bass beat from a purple T-bird rattles storefront windows.
Good boys pretend to be bad, white cotton shirt over khakis,
almost a uniform. Pack of Lucky Strikes in rolled up sleeve,
sleek groomed hair.

Grandmas cross themselves, not sure if the bad boys just pretend. Intimidated bookkeepers on their way to work lock the car doors. Attracted, but not fast or loose, secretaries check their lipstick,
touch their hair, flash big I-Love-Lucy smiles.

If I Daddy hears me laugh louder than Bobby Fuller on the radio I get, What did your mama tell you before she let you come along, baby? What she always says, I chime, be a little lady. I look down,  imagine white patent leather shoes,

pink flowers on an Easter hat bobbing in time to rock and roll,
scalloped anklets embroidered with tulips. I repent laughing too loud,
still looking at the boys in the corner crowd. Eyes on my tennie shoes,
I hum along with the radio and vow,

When I grow up, I’m going to laugh out loud. When I’m full grown,
I’m going to brag of how I cruised the Alameda in a bubblegum car,
speaking Spanish to Daddy, English to Mama, and Spanglish to friends.
All the time loving the drama of bad, bad boys.

#####

Your smell is a glove

That splash of secret smile, so rare, such sweet victory. That flash caught by fluke in response to something I said  The Cramps blasting up to the open sky, wintry and hot.  The beat takes over my body and the words happen
without premeditation. I need a new wardrobe now.  I still feel the flannel gown I had on 20 minutes ago,
the snuffled tears dried by the desert air of my bedroom.

You move fast, both behind the wheel of a car and walking
through a doorway. Christening my lips with something
both sweet and bitter. I caress my face with speckled
knuckles. Your smell is like a glove.

A neon desert the only sea

A neon desert the only sea
1.
Awareness moves to the right
Electric asters line a green sky
Brake lights baffle the eyes
(Are you paying attention?)
Traffic moves to the right
Think of Louisiana—
Think of Japan—
People disappeared
Structures on stilts still
can’t out walk the waves
Fissured world shifts in its sleep
as sure as the earth beneath your feet
This may be the only world we know
Secrets and lies in camouflage
The stranger’s smile all teeth and eyes
Detainees in your back yard
herded like cattle into the corralón
Downtown old men still hide
numbers tattooed on their wrists
or nopales on the forehead
Catastrophe is our only home now
Dying cougars shot more dead
Unknown bodies beneath the ground
Spying soldiers spread across the sky
A neon desert the only sea
Even metals gone to driest dust
Hear the sound of air through shell
Scent of water glosses the lips of statues
Birds in tree tops sing departure
(There’s about to be an accident)
Our Mama on the wall wears green and blue

She stands on the moon
Blots out the sun
2.
Birds gather in tree tops praying
for all the people dead and gone
Dancers dance with feathers and shells
Mama’s starry cloak shelters her Son
with the nopal tattooed on his forehead
Pray for mercy
Pray for the woman who lives in a car
The detainees in our own back yard
Men with guns at every gate
People disappeared on the river edge
deprived of the solace of rivers and rocks
Our Mama damp with migrant workers’ sweat
Lights wander the other edge of darkness
Nothing sure but this earth beneath our feet
(Are you paying attention?)
Secrets and lies with teeth and eyes
This is your home now
Another day another catastrophe
It’s the only world we’ve ever known
Earthworks break into thunder claps
Random red lights baffle the eyes
Birds falling from the dying blue
Lost fish floating in the dying sea

 

From my book Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press, New York 2014)

Previously published in I Am Not a Silent Poet