Poems

Poems

Eucharist

The communion bread, dipped in grape juice
and after skipping dinner, is as sweet
as her kiss was at the asphalt’s edge of her
grandmother’s August driveway.

I swallow as the hiss and piano
from a cassette she mailed to me in the fall
play over the memory, but even an adolescent
music box rendition of “The Hands of Time”
is better suited for dying
football player scenes.

There was no soundtrack for our moment, nothing
but the pounding of my heart and perhaps a satisfied
sigh from her older cousin who, with her dark ringlets
and high school curves, had as much of my attention
a few feet down the drive, smiling at us after she
had guaranteed the moment with a sisterly nudge.

I want to take another piece of bread, soak
it and savor it as I walk back to my chair,
before the music and Eucharist end.

Instead, I try to remember the taste.

Mauricio’s Cab: Track 1

Feeling the need for a scene with more interesting neon.
Luminous gas patterns I can’t decipher; mystery glow
legends of a city I haven’t yet met with its sewer-deep
stories behind night market glances at a stranger,
weary-ridden by Lonely
with her willow tree hair,
tequila whispers
and empty kisses.

Needing the feel of a scene with asphalt warmer
than where I can’t recall the last time I saw the streets
breathe, but wind leaves my lungs white and congee thick.

“There’s no neon in the desert. You’re talking crazier
than the last time I gave you a ride.”

“I’m sober tonight, Mauricio. Can we hear
‘I Started a Joke’ again?”

Regarding the Rapture: May 21, 2011

“We can just hitch a ride from Jesus
to Vietnam and loot some for real phở.”
A. C.’s plan was better than my idea
to scavenge the city in her neighbor’s
left behind jeep for the phở of the righteous
and raptured.

The cicadas liked her plan, too. Their Martian
War Machine approval from the trees pushed
me along 40 West toward a Friday night
stadium bleacher view of pomp and circum-dance,
decades later but same as mine, maybe more mosquitoes,
on the eve of the beginning of the end.

I don’t remember my dreams that night
after walking the football field, after eating
the chili cheese fries, after the graduate
in a wheelchair, pushed by another, made
me think of Wayne, how I pushed him
from class to class for a year, maybe two.
He had an electric wheelchair by graduation,
probably the same one as when he died before
our five-year reunion.

I woke with no sleep burn images or night
whispers to wrestle or forget, but only the same
thirteen year metal buzz that pulled me back east
after a stop at a roaming Vietnam Memorial
off the highway in Camden.

58,000 souls on that wall, over two million
more written on jungle leaves, rice paddies
and in the ashes of thatch huts. Even more
engraved into diamond hills, patterned
in poppy fields and traced in sand and oil.

Maybe Jesus, A. C. and I can drop
by Alameda and pick up the radio
prophet. Over a steaming bowl of phở đặc biệt
we can explain to him he’s over-thinking
the matter. His math is useless.

The only tools he needs are a calendar,
a blindfold, and the gravity it takes
to drop his wrinkled, Kool-Aid
stained finger on
any
day
at all.

Broken Easter Trees

20110424-055348.jpgIndeed strange weather,
Em agreed as I transmitted
from an asphalt spring water
lily pad among broken
Easter trees.

Plastic lilies will remember
this wind long after we’re dirt,
years past my last breath,
a whisper empty of the beautiful
truths that shook treetop leaves
and almost reached my ears.

And an airport road, where
buzzards land more than planes,
will echo the Khmer melodies
and snake guitar from an April
moon when I swerved around
vagabond deer, but accelerated
headlong into my ghost days.

“This is how a lake should begin,”
that’s what I’ll tell Em when we
talk about the water-filled hole
left where a tree couldn’t take
what the sky had to say.

“Who needs dynamite and dams,”
I’ll likely slur, “when you have strange
weather and buzzards in the wings?”

I’m Not Interested in the Chemistry of Kisses

I’m not interested in the chemistry of kisses,
only the taste of you on a night broken
by the asphalt music of sirens and helicopters,
finished in a round of water meter hopscotch
in front of a stranger’s house with a fireplace
that makes your hair smell like a bonfire,
miles from any field worthy of such a burn.

Listen.

I have to tell you,
I no longer have much of a stomach
for gut-burning nights.

I’ll never miss the grip
loosened by the pitch and yaw
of cocktailwinds; the friends
are always true and the ride
is, more often than other, hell-of-a.

Still,

My taste is turning for salt
and tomorrow, for the water
that touches two highways named “One,”
for the sand where I’ll write our story
next to a basket boat waiting for the tide
to lift both into a sea that cares
nothing about our chemistry
or that of our kisses,
water that only wants to carry us

until

we no longer float or breath,

until

our story sinks beneath the bellies
of bottom beasts we never met,

until

the basket boat fisherman alone remembers us.

Rose in Huế

Her name meant Rose.

Her kiss was nothing more
than a fleeting and tender
second, soft against a cheek,
permission to breathe
the same breath that comes
in the still moment you stop
to watch a firefly busy
thicket without trying
to decipher the message
flashing there in the leaves,
the truth you know you should
receive, but instead forfeit
for a quiet, floating Christmas
light minute in a warm, June breeze.

Her name meant Rose and it’s 9:24 am there.

October Goes Down like Whiskey

Full grown Moon Rabbit’s got my bones
restless. Stoplight shadows stain my skin;
the streets wail between the slow autumn
transmissions of summer’s orphan crickets.

The smell of death rattle leaves mingles
with the sweet, hopeful scent of perfume
along a neon sidewalk midway
with its roundabout carousels
and flashing life flight chopper rides.

“Mao?” She smiles, leaning on the bar.
“Not mao enough,” I mumble, I think.
I’m not sure if my lips part enough
for words, breath or just the next shot.

It’s been a long year with rumors
of an early rapture.

Tomorrow there will be a sad accordion
and glockenspiel breaths where pumpkins
listen on a fire escape, their  jack-o-scenes
as forever as our best moments.

Still, we can celebrate.

Lose your mask for me this holiday
and I’ll shed my yesterday skin.

Drink with me and I’ll tell you everything.