My song is a sacred scream

“…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.

Love & Smiles

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.

Four Haiku in A Minor

I.

Dusky summer haze

Powders the darkening hill

Tops on fire with ash

 

II.

The crow flutters west

Loose from the flock flying east—

Rising dark star flees

 

III.

A spider web strand

Serpentines up, severing

The day from dark night

 

IV.

Salvation, only

One lemony lick away

From Salivation

A Bird’s Song

Majestic—bejeweled:

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.

Last Spring

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.

Dusk Over Pier A Park, Hoboken

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,

Distanced.

 

The clamor of the city’s rattle

Squeezes tight the pulsing blood:

Heals 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.

Birching the Dust Below

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.