2 18 22
thunderous birdsongs encircle.
2 18 22
thunderous birdsongs encircle.
The summer breeze wisps upwards through
bending branches, summer-dried leaves flicked
afloat, flitting their way down to the ground.
We stretch out on a sun-warmed blanket
in the backyard—cat naps—and when
rolling over to kiss, the leaves crinkle under my elbow.
The sunbeams aglow on our faces,
eyelids half-closed, sleepy blinks, the hum of
a summer day—a sweet serenade.
A chickadee, perched upon
a flowering bough,
peeps and flitters, sunning her wings.
Head held high, songs lilt, and
wings flutter. She takes flight.
In the thin-blue twilight of
the sky, we join together.
“…we have been socialized to be the keepers of grave and serious secrets—especially those that could reveal the everyday strategies of male domination, how male power is enacted and maintained in our private lives.” ~bell hooks, The Will To Change
My song is a sacred scream
Learned from listening
To my friends on our street—
“No, No, No”
The tip-tap of slamming doors.
First a mother’s, then a sister’s plea
Then a brother’s rising silence.
Their dad stood at the end of the driveway smoking a cigar;
Mother, sister, and brother were inside, the lights on.
I brushed my teeth to the rhythm of the cries and slaps that reached
Me through the open bathroom window.
The furies inside my hand brushed up and down. My gums bled.
I couldn’t stop the bleeding. I turned off the light.
In bed, I heard Papa and my mom waltz down the hallway
His buckle scraped her ear and his battered knuckle held her wrist;
—Her countenance could not unfrown itself—I didn’t need to see
What I knew. He seemed happy, and the last few nights weren’t too bad.
The whimpers and sighs subsided in time for my waltz to begin:
Papa’s heavy stomps from down the hallway rattled my baseball trophies.
His ring clinked against the metal doorknob. I covered my head. Stomp stomp, stop.
I smelled the wine on his breath, felt the slap on the side of my head, heard the ringing,
Pled “No No No,” and listened to the silence echo in my room.
The day was over when Papa left my room for his, and began to snore.
My swelling and sobs passed, and left in their place—tomorrow.
When I dripped ice cream onto my shirt, you smiled and
The sparkle in your blue eyes said, “I love that you’re not perfect.”
But I want to be perfect, to make you smile again with
One touch of my lips to the sweet of your neck.
Dusky summer haze
Powders the darkening hill
Tops on fire with ash
The crow flutters west
Loose from the flock flying east—
Rising dark star flees
A spider web strand
Serpentines up, severing
The day from dark night
One lemony lick away
Red gorgets shine like shields—black-tipped, dipped in gold.
Courting bluebirds stir the swarming insects into the sun’s rays.
A fluffy-feathered sparrow swoops down and pounces
on the ground, up with an earthworm. A lark swoops down
And pounces, up with an empty beak, then shrills upwards.
A boy, bubbling and toddling, grasps his daddy’s fingers,
Hears a bird’s song, spots the flicking wings
Among the leaves. They clap in bejeweled majesty.
The Pacific sunset refracted—
Long shadows and golden reds.
Her daughter made a sandcastle
And she felt a lump on her breast.
Home showering, cupping,
The sedated memory of
The extracted reason why
Her husband left her (alone).
Her little girl
Tied a handkerchief
On her head
Like her mother,
And played tickle-tickle with the knot of skin
At the end of the scar,
Above her mom’s heart.
Mid-day while knitting she recalled
Her surgeon’s name, put down her needles,
And kicked at shadows and the wind.
Her little girl twirled, thinking her mom was dancing.
A mother bird nests in the bowed eves;
Her young dead on the ground below.
The reddening dusk etched and balanced
Above the palisades—the sky pressed down,
The clamor of the city’s rattle
Squeezes tight the pulsing blood:
Heels click, flip-phones clack closed,
The last commuter train bumps to a stop
With the weight of the city inside.
A girl and her brother dart ahead, snapping;
Mom and dad stroll close behind, silent.
When she gets older, the girl loses her brother.
She watched the tower fall with him in it
From the same spot they darted ahead, snapping.
Two derelict men kneel down,
Lower their faces to a fresh spill
Of water on the floor, rest on their elbows,
And lap the cool water.
The tingle on my tongue,
From a late summer nectarine:
Glistening, ripe, swollen,
cracked by desert-warmed wisps.
From my lips the tiniest
syrup-rich droplet drips,
birching the dust below,
alerting the ants to swarm, feast.