Inner CourtNot too many years ago
conviction grew from the inside out.
There were roots and thick chewy shoots,
bright and fragrant blooms surrounded
nothing hushed or indignant.
I came following you
into the pungent embrace of a black lace mantilla.
Every question, each objection clipped away too hastily
now drags behind me.
I lay here blank and silent
tending broken branches lovingly,
breathing deep the banished baby sister
of ripened incense.
Truth BecomingNo one tells the truth
but those who become it
and they are not many.
They are not many who are brave
They are not many who are innocent
They are not many who are lowly
They are not many who become truth.
Creator and NarratorCall me the narrator, that is all.
Not smart for knowing what Ive been taught
holy for wanting to save my soul
or humble for having been humiliated.
Dont commend me for all I know
when its all I ever knew.
Dont congratulate my learning spirit.
Teach me how and why, show me Who.
Love IsLove is nowhere near a roaring heart.
Its beat is actually slow and smooth and warm.
Love is not your insides torn apart
but worry washed away by honesty,
forever new yet comforting
like youths sincerely perfect awkward charm.
Made of HolesClear-skied Arizona June
was a time of beginnings for the earth
on his backdirt trampoline
somewhat new but still
all made of holes like all he owned
he was worn before his time,
had seen too much and had
too many holes
I tried to fill at first,
let him collapse and share
the echo of his first and deepest wound
filled with burning tears
for a man of five
already made of holes.
ColorlifeBrown and sturdy
only sparsely chipped
caked intricately with
the soft thickness of time.
Apprenticeships array of changing pigment that began
with aging brown
(displayer of the desert scene
horses, cowboy land)
Frayed and staining
from gray into new
viridian green and ultramarine
phthalo-cobalt tips of blue.
permeating hardiness of passion was the gift
given to the frayed
(template sail boats calmly drift
as tender waves unfurl)
small and waiting
each new lover educating
number 10 Grumbacher, M.
generations founded praises shifting through the whole
(spots of light and mystery of iridescent time)
Subtle shades of years I, layered
Different DaughterHere I stand on tiptoes, barely managing to peer
into the bottom edge of this steam-clouded bathroom mirror.
My quiet eyes are searching
for some sense in this straight hair
covering two cheeks too fat,
a nose too wide for skin so freckled fair.
I play in browning grass, a kingdom free
for princesses of old
dressed in soiled floral sheets
but sister princess laughs
at my small eyes and massive teeth.
Soon school begins, a strange new world
last name look-a-likes of every race.
My sisters former teachers say Im bright
but none can say they recognize
my chubby little face.
I was ten when Mama told me
Daddy wasnt daddy and my eyes
were Asian eyes, and they were yours.
Anger spilled from them for my ten years,
an inside joke, a breathing lie.
Now I stand on bare feet here and stare
at a face no longer strange but very rare.
Still I continue searching for
shards of Chinese glass,
pieces you have stolen from
my clouded bathroom mirror.
Knee DeepDaddy reminds us knee deep
youre only allowed to go knee deep
as we load Mamas Buick with threadbare towels
and PB and Js wrapped in foil.
We agree hes crazy, of course,
but I'm me and I plan to obey.
Just cool enough, when we arrive, for fun.
Just warm enough to turn the endless strip of shining sand
to coals I sprint across to the beat of a drum
a mystical foreign sound like an infant memory
the epic song of a tangerine bum
in blue-jean cut-offs.
By the time I reach the shore
my feet are whining for cool clear water
and smooth sand floor away from rocks.
Further out I wade
to you, waste deep and laughing
and beckoning me.
I dont notice the tide's been rising
'til it touches my chin
covers your head in an instant and
you reappear and Ive just enough time
to shove you onto the sandbar and
all I know is a rushing burn in my nose
and a voice that's screams my name from every direction.
ChildhoodThe paint on the porch was never not peeling.
The cats were never full.
The grass was always brown.
The trash on the floor stood still.
We ate from the table once a year
(rice-a-roni and pumpkin pie)
with forks that didnt match,
on plates we never seemed to have to buy.
And those were the best years
when money meant candy,
free time meant playtime,
and playtime was made up of paper
and oldtimey things.
I couldnt yet hear the booze
in my fathers voice
or see it in his eyes.
I had no idea of my mothers impurity
and freely forgot her pain.
It was what I didnt have
and didnt know
that kept me happy.
It was childhood.