Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I’m at the age where people talk about houses,
houses and homes, and houses that house
their housewares and homegoods. And maybe it’s here
where I admit that I don’t know how to have a house.
Not sure about the paperwork or what “in escrow”
really means, and isn’t everyone losing their houses?
Even the White House is worried, and no matter how
hard anyone holds on to their house, their households
are shaky, and then there are those shows about housewives
that seem to have enough house to share with everyone,
enough hours in the house to share, and though I love
my houseplants I’m afraid they might be apartment plants,
some of them already want bigger plant-houses because
they’re so happy, and I am happy, and that’s because I do
know how to make a home. It starts here, with this simple
building: I make an O with my arms and hold my household
in my breath, I imagine stingrays and marlins swimming
up my steps and you’re here, and there’s a good dinner
on the ceiling, and a fireplace in my hips, and I lay
down my skin by the door, it reads, Welcome Home.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The Best Button
“If I ventured in the slipstream/Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack/And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me? /Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down/In silence easy” --Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
I’ve been listening to the album, Astral Weeks for weeks now,
so much so that a friend calls and says, It really is turning into
Astral Months. And Bob writes to say that he’s been listening to
the same album for five years so maybe, I’m just getting started.
The way you think this could either go on forever, or stop now,
or how you find a safe place to lay down and before you get really
comfortable, you’re already nostalgic for here, already miss where
you just came to be. I’m just getting started on wanting things
to go on—eating past hunger, kissing past the point
of no return, swallowing the whole sky when you look up to
see the birds go by, thinking they’re angels, and here’re the clouds
again, and darkness past the point of regular behavioral glooms,
and it’s the spinning that’s so satisfying, though it’s no longer
on a record, it’s the way it asks nothing of me, or the way it
exists in another time, and it keeps giving me something,
the way most live people can’t keep giving, because it’s exhausting
and so hard to give all the time. And who am I to ask someone to
fill my singular, impossible need? Give me a little more here.
Wait, take it all back. It is the noise we’re making, that tree
making noise, this voice making a noise in my jeans, up in this
plane, where for three hours now, I’ve pushed repeat, repeat, repeat
and it’s become my favorite button, my favorite pet of an item.
So much so, that I’ll think I’ll use it more. At the end of the
slipstream’s whoosh of breath, I’m going to push it, push my
little button so the song comes on, this time louder,
this time, no one will lose their job, or have to go on broke and scared,
and this time, no one will get stuck on the other side of the world
dying and scared, and this time everyone will have button, a button
made out of blood cells that lives on tiny beats, a button that
looks like a heart, and we can walk around and push each other’s
buttons and these good buttons will be on the outside, and people
can see if our button needs pushing, will know just when to touch
us right here in the chest, to turn us on all over again.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Practicing Someone Else
She tucks the thick sound into
her pocket and takes it to the street,
she’s going to stay all day in someone
else’s voice. She’s a tremor, a nerve,
a border crossed with a big toe.
Once, she kissed a kid who died
and even his lip-print bristles on
her bouncing skin still, now, here.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Though I veer in the direction,
of cool bloom, of crater and rise,
dare the past to deepen its pit,
the careful judge of days machining
the mind, and I’m not afraid of animals
nor afraid of lasting, still, I’m afraid of
my teeth in my own mouth, the way
they click and grind in my head,
but always behind my back.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(For Deborah Digges)
“I thought I could grow old here,
safe among the ghosts”—Deborah Digges
I had a big love who liked to jump
out of airplanes. Did it twenty-three times,
all before he was even twenty-three. Every time
he’d go (sleek body swept up in the slipstream),
I’d give ultimatums to the sky, rack up
agnostic deals to the unfaithful blue.
But the best part was when he’d come home,
wind-burned and vibrating, pull a note, a note
from his pocket and read me what I would have
read if he had died. And I liked it, words
folded into my obstinate palms like I had won
something this time. Then, when he found out
that mainlining cocaine was cheaper than
paying for plane rides and I became a parachute,
I began making my own notes. Notes for him
to come home, demanding notes, loving ones,
and they worked. He flew in through a window
and handed me his head on a platter of notes,
what remained of the altitude’s gifts.
Today, a news notice told me that a woman
whose words I loved, whose sound rung out
like an air-horn in the spine, was found fallen.
And it’s no good. No good at all. Shuffling I go,
and want to bring all these pages. Come, let’s
curse this gloomy going, let’s hold a handful
of her notes like holding hands. Come let her
welcoming sans serif-fingers make a sort of harness,
some magic flying thing, let’s thank some left-over
god for what’s left, these notes, these words,
this inheritance of risk.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Ada and I are both HUGE fans of her work and have spent many wine filled evenings reading her poems aloud to each other, finishing with, "THAT'S what I'm talking about!" I love the way she risked being so unfashionably emotional and clear. Full of longing and mourning and humor, her expansive yet tightly crafted lines read effortlessly. It's like eating a whole box of See's candy--that easy and that delicious. And there's always a genuine, intelligent surprise in her poems--about why we're here, suffering like we are--that makes me feel better. Especially when it hurts. Deborah Digges didn't just teach us how to write, she taught us what it means to be a human being.
We absolutely loved her.
There is not enough silence in this cavern of telephones.
When do you expect you’ll arrive, this coming you speak of?
The world crawling in your lap.
Years now and we’re still at war,
and what comes back? Who opens the door?
Let them in just a little bit
while you’re making the bed.
The lights go up on his horizon
and all is not forgiven, city blocks full of our undoing.
It’s too much with the world shrinking
and here is Africa between your ribs and full of starch and silver.
So go there—bring a well of help on a cloud of cash
and the highest hope to be beyond human, to save even yourself.
All the trips are not far enough,
Overwhelmed by the world in a dirty dish—the water turned stranger on the run.
Trouble is we’ve grown so fond of our flesh and homes.
Who’s wearing the front page on her naked chest—no one.
Bring back the tricks, the camera man and his bowtie,
I miss the taste of tin and brand-name snacks.
My umbrella’s not big enough for this—
All these angels falling down to pieces.
Enough about the weather, real lives are being lost.
And I’m tempted to throw myself out the picture frame.
But this suit is so nice and her thighs are right here.
I’d make you a card if I thought it would outlast the second we had.
Evacuate that heart of all its longing and silence beats,
When do I get to become a song, on the valley wind?
Not soon enough. But soon.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
To the quaking bird on high, wing-deep
in the wired light, to the quick-stepping
ghost following me, to the camera’s catch,
to the beauty’s bridge-walking demons,
to you, to you, to you.
To the fake heavens stuck in a real wish
for saving, to the valley’s mounting pour
of thick longing, to this vibrating hymn
where we rock, to the carpet’s sly beg
to lie down, lie down, lie down.
To my wanting and my not wanting
and the carousel in between. To the complicated
dream-speaking mouths, to the quiver of truck
tires on Carriger’s gravel, to star-counting in dust,
to the hour, the hour, the hour.
Terrible beauty, I address you. Every live
thing in me is widening its loving fangs, is aimed
at the tenderest skin, but cannot take you on.
What’s left is the feathered acacia teasing
the heart gone mad with blessings.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Once, when I jumped off the bed
At sixteen, full-force fist at my first love.
Once, in Germany, my seventeen year-old
Shoulder slipped out of its hard new syllables.
Once, in Spain, in a tiny tent heated by two
Slick bodies. (My arm numb for seven days straight.)
Once, in my father’s car, almost driving,
The seatbelt’s reach wrenched it raw.
In Albuquerque, when every part of me
Was unhinged like a worn-out cotton wood,
At a pool table, in a firefly-filled clasp,
Putting on a coat, putting on an attitude.
My shoulder doesn’t want me, or rather
My humerus doesn’t want my scapula.
But I want my shoulder, just how it is,
It’s not broken. Funny, what it does is, it aches.
It wants to go backward, a targeted tug
On one side, a leashed-beast, pulling for release.
The first time it happened, I was twelve
Heard it snap in the middle of a friend’s pool.
I swam one-armed to the lip, quietly cried.
Then, I shook, and it clicked in, my trick.
I never told anyone, cold all day in the sun,
Tiger towel, squeezing my left hand for feeling.
It felt good, as if finally I had my own secret,
A crack in my being, a shiver I could name.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Avocado walls in a district office meeting
have a lot to say, a lot to add about
educating students in the early seventies.
I wasn’t born yet, but I wish I had been part
of that day’s discussion. The one where someone
said, “The only thing Mexicans are good for
is stealing hubcaps.” And my father, a new
principal, stayed silent. The man who said it,
laughing and leaning up against the pale green
room like a plastic figurine in a fake place called,
“Outside.” I don’t know if everyone laughed,
but they might have, let’s face it, they did.
I do know that, the next day my father stole
all the hubcaps off that man’s car
in broad daylight, in the parking lot
of the elementary school. It’s one
of my favorite stories, though what I want
to know the most, is how good each
hubcap felt—a useful thing taken
and made a better-tool, rooted so deep
in a man’s pride that the weight made
the wheels stop spinning, its sole purpose
born into a fierce standing still.
Monday, April 06, 2009
You’re telling me about your cactus
and the orange tree and I’m three
thousand miles away, but not really.
You’re saying something about fires
in the licking wind, in your cringing skin,
and I’m so selfish. I think, get to the part
about me. The part that makes me
feel something, the part where I’m
on fire too, the part where you think
I’m three thousand miles away, but
actually I’m face up on your lawn
watching the cactus catch fire,
its punk-tough spines fighting
a losing battle against all that heat.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
That the world has been doing its thing
for a very long time, is a comfort. A pill
in the marmalade of breakfasts since
the beginning of the rotation. Start here.
You’ve done everything. Even the really
really bad stuff. And so have I.
So when we walk into the backyard
and stare out into the dim distance
of our neighbors, we know they’re
watching us. For good reason,
for good reason. But the good too,
we’ve done that. Loved. Opened.
Everyday, I wake up and think,
“Today I will attempt to be
exceptional.” But instead I get tired
and fall asleep. Maybe my
exceptional skill, is waking up.
And again, again. Start here.
Your good love suits you,
like a suit of good love.
It’s not just that the barking
pierces the skin, but
that you like the skin
a certain shape. Last
night I called you,
“angel head,” instead
of “angel face.” But
it’s because I meant
your whole head,
(which included the brain
not just the face).
In the pictures, your
suit is like someone else’s,
the way I pretend to
wear your good love
sometimes, when no one
is looking. Put it on
in the mirror. Make
kissy faces, and pout.
Then I put it back,
the invisible stitching,
the stiff ache of distance
Friday, April 03, 2009
When the lava dome was over, like history,
after Mount St. Helens and Cougar Mountain
were conquered, after there had been streams
and lost in the woods, I got strep throat, like a tool,
had to take the Greyhound bus back
to responsibility and straight up-and-down A’s.
Fever dream in the front seat (“Sit in the front,
next to the driver.”), the woman who asked
if I was okay, touched my forehead, said,
I looked like her family. Her family,
a Pacific Northwest tribe. And I wasn’t.
But she insisted. And hours later she went on,
my body slumped over an old backpack,
my throat blistered with give-up.
The kind of give-up you get when you’re 19
and think it’s still an option. Like, just stopping
is an option. She was saying something about magic
and how sometimes you just get a sense
of things, and I thought that was true.
The first boy I loved; I met him in the back
of a Roundtable Pizza where he was making
things disappear for a whole room of us
twelve year-olds, and he was made of magic
and carried fake roses and real rabbits
and I loved him for real, for real, for real.
She talked about how my tribe, in Mexico,
in Aztlan, was also a part of her tribe,
from the same coast, the same ground, she knew
when I got on the bus that I was her people.
She gave me a grape soda because I couldn’t talk,
and told me to look at the trees and how,
didn’t I feel like I had known them forever, and how
I probably had, and how people had been
here before too. I sipped my grape soda
and for miles of interstate I was so full
of love that for a minute, I forgot who I loved
most, as if I had lost the hierarchy.
It scared me. Made the whole world seem too
unorganized. I needed rank and file, a system of
loving. This person is number one, a fake rose,
a top hat. She put her hand on my forehead again.
My fever was breaking. A soldier got on, and
someone said, “we’d get there faster if we didn’t
keep stopping.” A grove of trees. A grove of homes.
And I couldn’t tell who I was wishing well, or
even if it mattered. So I said, “I'll miss you,”
to the window’s nothing and didn’t care
if it said it back.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Because we didn’t want to kill
anything, we covered the baby
scorpions with a mason jar, slipped
a white paper underneath their
segmented metasoma, their twice
moulted ecdysis and left it
on the counter. Eight scorpion
babies (one for each of our years)
twisted up like they were spit
from hell’s white hot mouth
and asked to bear some angry
weight. We stared at them,
human-eyed, and wrote a note:
Their grimaced carapaces
looked into ours, until
we turned our young backs
to the jar of nightmared boos
and quick-footed, we fled
to the mountain’s tall rye grass
to release the live things inside
of us. Our own brood of crawling
young cold-blooded stingers
aching for a chance to remain
jar-less, to live this one life
un-captured, ready to blow
the lid off any atmosphere.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Shake it. Like a tree.
Like a blossoming tree,
a young one who's doing
this all for the first time,
whose blooming buds hurt
as much as they shiver,
whose love is so big
it wants to spread it all over
the great state of California,
wants to be every state’s
state tree, wants us all
to be in the state of tree,
the state of tantrum and
buzz, the state of, Take me!,
the state of, C’mon, C’mon,
let’s burst open everywhere,
leave bits of ourselves like
tongues in the world’s ears.
If you don't know anything about NAPOWRIMO, you must not be a poet.
So I'll explain briefly: NAPOWRIMO stands for National Poetry Writhing Iguanas Mojito, which is fairly self explanatory. It was invented by Santa in, like, the 1800s. And Ada and I have been doing this since the dawn of time. You (if you are me or Ada) write a poem every day and share it with the world via the Interschnitzel, or you keep it silently, even greedily, to yourself.
Some people (and 100% of all prairie dogs) say NAPOWRIMO is killing poetry by making it go swimming too soon after eating. To those people I say, "I'm trying to watch JEOPARDY! Isn't there a new Harry Potter DVD you could be dancing to right now or something?!" And that usually does the trick.
Ada and I aren't the only ones who do this, though we may be the only ones who insist on doing it naked. NAPOWRIMO sites are all over the place, like on the blog for Bloof Books, where there are like 1000 poets posting and podcasting. I hear kids love podcasts. I'll probably phone a poem in one night if I'm drunk.
Thanks for having me, Ada, and befouling your blog this way.
Strap on your poetry pants, whoever you are, and let the games begin!