Mountain Night

I want to get lost in the moon,
Silver and swirling stars above
With you, lying on dewy grass

I want to get lost in the wind,
Gentle and smelling of night
With you, deep in the mountains.

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The Invisible Woman

You see my face,
but my name escapes you

See the work of my hands,
but my toil evades you

The smile on my face boasts of humility,
but behind it, tired eyes are hoping you see.

I service in silence
Anonymous is my name.

I have no outstanding achievements
No title to claim.

In secret, my tears have watered my face
pining to be known, to be given a place.

My Father, who sees me,
Has counted each deed

Not once did he miss me
when I helped fill a need.

What good to me are a man’s affirmations
compared to impact I’ve had for a Holy Nation?

How fleeting the pleasure
of mortal man’s praise

In light of my God’s;
The Ancient of Days’.

I am known,
yet regarded as unknown.

Wytheville

I will return to my ridge and mountain
Skylines at sunset, with

Mint chocolate ice cream and
Christopher’s green eyes,

The sound of his guitar plucked softly
Still echoes in my memory

Through the valleys and shadows of
My little hometown,

Sipping red wine by moonlight, I will laugh
With a dear Mommy so missed,

Enjoy your own adventures in some other place
As for me? I’m just staying home.

You think you know what death is like

You think you know what death is like because once
you let a mouse rot on the landing for three days
before you called your landlord, and now
on rainy days you image you can smell
that stink on yourself. Don’t you know
you only feel this way because you miss the sun?
There are too many things wrong with the world
for you to keep crying over holes in your dresses,
and those things you won’t forgive yourself for.
I think you’d be happier if you just drank less,
pretended less; if you walked more.
You’ve spent so much time on buses staring
at the fake friends inside your cell phone
I’m not sure you even know what this city looks like.
And you never remember to look where you’re going.
When you walk down the street, you spend so much time
staring at the ground that your body is covered
in bruises shaped like lampposts, and what
does that say about you?
For once in your myopic little life, look up.

Speechless Wonder

Hide me in this giant house of cards
With people who smile and laugh
Like my early childhood church family
Reciting their convictions so well

Hide me in your welcoming words
With loving gestures and advice
Like unconditionally loving friends
Would reach out whenever they could

Hide me in the unacknowledged gamble
With myself and yourself and the world
Like lovers, with their story at the mercy
Of a writer’s pen, in speechless wonder.

Addiction

For a friend.

I find you alone in the graveyard. There are
no words for the slump in your spine, only
heavy breathing – sweat – and the shovel
hanging limply from your hands, as we stand
together over the grave that you’ve dug.
You can’t take your eyes off the six-foot
hole in the ground so I grab you around the waist,
drag you away from it. There are no words
for the devastation in your lungs when you tell me,
I’m sorry, I did it again. We keep coming back
to the place of your destruction, but I’ve seen
what’s waiting for those who press on —
and I am not afraid of the struggle.
I know this feels like dying again and again
with every pill, every swallow, every time
the skeletons of the past take hold,
but under the dirt of the grave on your arms
there’s a man I think is worth fighting for.

New York, New York

The black pavement emanates warmth
As do your bright eyes at dawn, looking
Pensively at the world through a hotel window

Your lips form these small tired smiles,
Together, in the dirty summer air, we must
Map the maze of the towering skyscrapers

Windows sparkle like stranger’s stories,
Ride a train to eat chocolate ice cream,
Hold my hand as we sail past the statues

Then with the taste of green tea bingsoo
Lingering, mingling, with your pretty lips
Kiss me by the light of a setting July sun

Free banana uyu in hand, cheeks aflame,
Catch a bus to become lost in a sea of goers,
Get up early again to board the next plane,

Wash it down, crystal clear soju in a plastic cup,
Survey the familiar lights, so mesmerizing
The outcome is meaningless yet desirable, anyway.

Noche en Paraguay

in my dreams there are seas
of yellow grass;and the dirt of the road
is red like the blood
of unconquered Guaranis

we scrub nuestros trapos;the giant sapos
croak, no predator
to make them afraid;and the stars
are spilled across the canopies

of avocado trees
a streak of existence — galaxies
like arroz con leche, cold
under dapples of guayaba leaves

and all is humanity, all is tranquilo,
ch’amigo, vení y sentate
un rato, come drink with me
the tereré of solidarity

holá, come share mbaracuyá–
it’s as sweet as my name on his lips;
and the fruit of passion will always recall
clear nights on land in the yellow-grass sea

Listen to the recording:

Regret Smokes a Cigarette

A rough draft, recycling some lines from an earlier poem (which was also a rough draft). Putting words to thoughts is hard, guys.

Regret is a thing that gets stuck in your shoe;
tastes like a sour plum, bursts
when you least expect it to.
It follows you on the street for three and a half blocks,
shouting, “Hey beautiful, come back!”
Sits on low brick walls with its hand out,
staring at you accusingly.
It corners you in back alleys —
“Hands up! Give me everything you have” —
and sits rotting in piles in the corners
of gardens that would be beautiful,
were it not for the pitiful stench.
You can chant all the mantras you want,
ohm’s and ah’s and bows to the earth;
you can change your name, cut your hair,
run all over the city,
but then you turn a corner and regret is there,
at the end of the block,
leaning in a doorway.
Regret smokes a cigarette.
Looks like someone you know.