Ghost Ship

I feel my feet on the ground. They are my feet in goodwill shoes, in fresh white socks. I push down, feeling closer to you.

As our birth month approaches, I grow older then you ever imagined. Wish you had a grave I could toss myself on. Leery of convention. No way to grieve suicide without anger. I settle for a candle de la virgin and daily morning prayers for your rocky soul.

I remember my feet in my shoes, my hands on my lap, they are my feet, they are my wiggling toes. They are my fingers and nails, painted grey today. My stiff joints and solo prints. I couldn’t stop you.

You got out first and warn me away when I come too close to your wake. Your wind driven ripple’s rock me slowly back to a more forgiving shore. I see your ship, no longer adrift, as you wave from the stern and sail slow. Engulfed in fog. Waiting for the next time I need your skeletons misty counsel.

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A Question of Faith

Note: Folks have been asking about my spiritual choices a lot these days. Which is is fine, I am always open to questions. And poetic explanations.

in the beginning

I believed in family ties,

friendship unending,

community commitments.

until humanity, two by two

turned broad backs

on that little girl

in her rough blue coat,

walking these soaked woods.

cracking life

under worn work boots.

next I believed in revolutions

until I met revolutionaries.

now I believe in Allah ( صلى الله عليه وسلم )

and walk hard

with a trusted few

to travel this forest well

ready, at a moments notice

to walk into the sun

of a world reborn.

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Island Cowboy

for Howard

I go home

slowly these days.

each return

is to morn another

absence.

death upon death

rip at my roots tenuous

grasp on the rock, leaving

feet dangling,

fingernails clutch,

slide down glacier boulders

unable to hold.

childhood memories

glitter, the kids I watched

raised, no longer recognize

my smile and elders pass

25 miles an hour

and out of sight.

as a kid my voice hid

but I listened to the words

that shaped the island we all whirled

life out of, you too kept your voice close

but I knew the stories trapped

under your sweat stained,

always tipped

once white hat

were the ones I earned to learn.

there always, in your chair

at community dances, oxygen tank in tow

transparent cord never slowin you down

I watched with respect

learning: dignity, kindness, diligence

through your cocked bushy eyebrows

the always wave over truck steering wheel

as I passed on my bike

shouldering school books through the woods.

lost lives

become frozen words,

action, memory

we always wish there was more to say

trapped between storm windows.

you weathered each gale

life threw at you, thumbs cocked

in creased leather belt,

pointed boots digging

their weight into gravel turned mud

and that particular accent.

the shape your thoughts took

when you let us share them

lingers,

as our island ghosts

return each drizzly day

to feather their comfort

down on our shores.

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Sick

Sick

I don’t have an eating disorder.

I just have to trick

myself into eating

salt

hot sauce

take a breath

force it down.

I don’t have an eating disorder

I just forget to eat.

I don’t have a disability

I just walk slow

wake in pain

every 3 am

brain awake,

body asleep.

I don’t have a disability

I just can’t move some days.

I don’t have a mental illness.

I just can’t speak

brain fuzzy

as my sadness

steals all my words,

hides them behind the cans

on the top shelf of my childhood kitchen.

I don’t have a mental illness

I just loose my voice.

I am not sick.

I force myself up

pry my arthritic hands open

and into gloves.

Go to the fields.

Make that white mans money.

I pick your food

and go home hungry

I don’t have an eating disorder,

you don’t give me time to eat.

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passing privilege

your hate

follows me

down every abandoned road

inside each tiny diner

questions follow my wake

as they have since girlhood

your mouth wonders

what I am

exactly.

what languages I speak

exactly.

where my parents are from

exactly.

your eyes search,

as they have when I cut

my hair real short

and wore those collared shirts

you move aside for me

you let me pass through

and hurl the insults

and beer cans

after

when I am almost out range

your hate stares

eat

into me now

in the library

when I stop to fix my scarf

after class

when your engines roar

way to fast

for this school zone

and yes

I could change my last name

I could let my hair down

press it straight

bleach my dark brown blond

I could hide my love

I could have married young

but my siblings can’t

squeeze themselves

into boxes you can

easily decide into

woman enough

man enough

my sisters and brothers

can’t make their skin into tone

that would make you

uncomfortable

when they are murdered

and left in the street to die

my students cant erase

the parts of them

that make you think of terrorist

in their young beards

their black head scarves

so I will pray when it is time

I’ll hold women’s hands in public

I will keep speaking Spanish whenever I can

and you can look to the heavens for forgiveness

I am tired of your eyes

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we will walk by

you keep talkin

that English

and shell keep walking

past you in Spanish

like these word puzzles

mean anything I the rain anyway

like you can even hear

the broken lines

of two colonial languages

from that high seat

you keep talking

in English

she’ll make tamales

and offer them by the roadside

like you would know

how to eat our culture

without swallowing it whole

like you could even taste

or name the peppers anyway

you keep talking that English

she’ll keep her own religion

all the way

cards, candles, incense

prayers thrown on stones

that separates us from the dirt

like you weren’t the cause

of her desecration

like you weren’t doing

it with purpose anyway

you keep talking that English

she’ll keep her kids home

when she can

learn in the woods for a day

learn from the roots,

the translucent leaves

like you wouldn’t send

them to jail anyway

like you don’t

just chop all our forests down

you keep talkin that English

she’ll keep her shoes

off in the house

garlic braded

in the kitchen

habaneros singing

on the comal

you keep talkin that English

we will walk by

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three fall poems

Coming up

I’ve said all

the sad things

and must start

with happiness

you too Libras

still alive

after so many attempts

so strong

after so much terror

so brave

after so much hate

so living

after so much death

I cannot imagine

anything more beautiful

then you too

Libras

laughing together

in our old town

the one we

all came

to adulthood

inside and through

walking

wheatpasting

running

smoking

true, you two

bring out everything

worth it in me

I too, am smiling

in your memory.

Hurting Us

don’t fucking tell me

“hurt people hurt people”

he chose to

come into my baby room

when I was 3

he chose to

hold a gun

to your head

and turn you over

he chose to

call you to his room

that day in 5th grade

he and he choose

to take turns

when you were too tired

to fight back

we lie in this world

and cannot change our oppression

hurting together

but we choose

and that

is the moment

between salvation and destruction.

Living Room Wars

I see you

arms up

claiming the world

I see her

in my memory

as his belt

lands again

on 3 year old

bare back

light brown skin and blood

I see the red

bomb flares

I see the skeleton houses

I see your death

and our rebirth

as we visualize

eachothers memory,

cling together

for lost childhood

for lost children

for it to end

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