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.

Sister Moon

Mother, mother,
what have you done with my sister,
the other burnt charcoal white moon
from the same pear-shaped room
where I flew out like a bald bird
singing O love love be all mine.

Her life would have been mine;
her first cry would have woken the mother
in an iceberg, let alone you; her songbird
twittering of notes calling me sister sister
would have echoed through my bedroom;
if only the night queen loved her baby moon.

But mother, your night never needed a moon.
It was lit up by bottles and cries that weren’t mine.
I went into the wood, into the witch’s hutch-room
of black air, blacker than all of your hair, mother!
There I lay awake holding the soft form of a sister
who had gone to sleep like a sweet milk bird

nested inside all this love, my tiny bluebird
of a sister, my otherwise happiness, a full moon
melting into sixteen candles, pink-rose face of my sister
blooming into yours, and I denied everything to be mine –
all your trembling bells and stubborn curls, dear mother.
You laughed and said I was the blueprint of the room

where you’d lie down to die someday, a coffin room
from which you couldn’t escape. A caged bird
forever singing blues and lullabies, O mother,
you were the canoe that sunk under a waxing moon.
But the crescent of your face fell into place with mine;
your freckles tacked to my nose like love, like my sister

never leaving the nook in your shoulder. My ghost of a sister,
a longing with elbows and knees, tiptoed from my room
to yours every starless night. This game of mine
couldn’t save me from sadness, just like a bird
couldn’t take off from your canoe under the moon
without wings; without the bells of a mother.

My happiness, your absence, my sad white paper bird
gone into a world stained by the light of an eclipsed moon.
We’ve both been so alone in our blue rooms, haven’t we, mother?

 

Originally published on December 28th, 2015 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.

Old Man and An Apple

Old man, the bite has taken away so much.
Your deformity makes me laugh.
Out on the ledge I left you –
I left you without a hole to hide in, red face shriveling
under the sun’s glare, browning slowly in despair.

It’s not easy to explain the things in your world.
If you couldn’t be swallowed whole like a fawning cherry,
then you shall suffer to be sliced into appropriate sizes.
I’m no god of yours. But I could be a mouth,
a stem, a colossus, or the orchard from which you come forth.

Old man, the blood you bleed is sweet.
Your anemic face stares up at nothing.
Of my own body you remind me –
You remind me of my own worm-eaten flesh, tossed
into the cruel October air, browning slowly in despair.

It’s not easy to explain the things in my world.
When your core grows bitter you will understand me,
until then we are two apples hanging onto the same tree.
Who is this god of ours. Is he a mouth,
a stem, a colossus, or the orchard from which we come forth.

 

Originally published on November 17th, 2015 on my old blog. 

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.

Seventh Piece (Love’s Paradox)

There, five inches above your rosy skin, is a hand,
a gesture, a hesitation, a tired bird looking for a nest, my hand.

How infinitely close Pluto is to his gold-haired Sun.
How infinitely far you are to my uncertain touch.

Why have we come to this, darling love!

On this cold blue evening we are as close as two stars,
and as far apart as you are in my arms.

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. 

Sixth Piece

You see how –
one moon
orbits one earth,
against all reasons, unaware
of beginnings or endings,
witnessed by a universe
of joyous stars.

And that is how –
I have always loved you
under the constant moon
as we walked down
the long, thin, twinkling
orange grove –
I have loved your bashful smile,
against all reasons, unaware
of beginnings or endings.

The Great Pine In Our Land

Between sunrise and bedtime,
everything is believed and therefore
blessed. I come from a bleak land
where the sun never lingers
long enough for us to trust
the open arms of darkness.

Sometimes night comes so fast,
like galloping steeds bearing shadows,
that children forget hunger
and kneel down to pray

around the towering great pine
in the middle of our land where
an old man hums a tune as he
gives his faithful dog a piece of three-day-old
bread. The pigeon comes and snatches it away
from the old man’s palm before the dog
could open its mouth.

The scene repeats itself when fish is absent
from the oceans.

Repeats itself when roses are unreturned
to the gardens.

Repeats itself when the dog remains hungry,
and the pigeon fattens by flour and stolen glory.

And above the circle of our praying children,
the scene repeats itself in the obedient bones
of our fathers, in the yellowing skins of our mothers,
and in the collected debris of our patient existence.

And it won’t stop repeating itself
until the distance is undone
by the lifetime of a poor laboring snail;
until it’s sunrise when everything is believed
and therefore blessed.

The old man, sitting under the great pine
in the middle of our land, never stops
giving bread.

The Pathos of An Attic

I rarely go up there anymore.
Too many shards and tatters
jutted out, like an obtusely ill-grown tooth
scraping the membrane
of my tender memories.

Those days were young
like an unbroken promise, we sat up there
together in a great chair that could fit two,
with a book of fables that never rung true.
Our kisses went on under July’s sunlight,
against all possible endings
and the moon.
Quiet ripples of endless summer nights,
and her dress was drenched in sweet wine.
She was made of ringlets of laughters,
made of the scent of an apple orchard.
She was made of all good things
that slipped through my fingers.

I rarely go up there anymore.
Why would I?
To sit in that empty chair,
and gather pots of dirty daffodils?
To read those moth-eaten letters,
and utter sentences with no arrival?
To be scolded by that cranky old piano
desperately missing her touch?
Or to be drowned yet again in the immense silence,
still more immense without her?

All day I rummage through the other parts of the house –
the den’s nose, the kitchen’s fingertips,
the bedroom’s tear ducks.
All day I rummage through my body
for a sad corner, for a cigarette,
for a blue dream without her presence,
until the attic is as far as she is to me,
a distant nebulous star.

At nightfall, I sit upon the broken staircase,
palms dusty, sorrows over.
The wind quickens to a new horizon.
I see myself forgotten.

I love her still among those shredded things.
But I rarely go up there anymore.

 

Originally published in Visual Verse, Vol 02 – Chapter 12