How is it the Scandinavians always look so clean cut
and put together –
even their drunks look like day traders
everyone over here is a mess, and they look the part
the patchy beard, the glazed eyes, the tatters
arguing with mailboxes and coming to blows
taken away by cops that look worse than them,
this must be what Rome looked like in the final days
cobblers wearing shoes on their hands
and worshipping them as gods
everyone throwing lead on their faces
and fornicating with broken chariots,
but not the Scandinavians, no –
they were once considered the barbarians
can you believe that?
Have you seen how clean their streets are?
Some of the streets even clean themselves,
I saw this documentary about it.
Here, we have sinkholes with yellow lines.
And everyone is too hungover to care anyways.
Or strung out on crack, prostituting their children
in bus terminal bathrooms.
And the Scandinavians ride bikes everywhere
so as not to hurt the air.
Here, old ladies are mugged and raped
for five dollars.
Babies dumped in public toilets and left for dead.
I’m sure the Scandinavians have their problems,
everyone does –
but you never see them,
just pretty blonde girls with their pretty blonde men
feeding the ducks down by the water
which you guessed it,
Crown of thorns
leaping into sound
frequency of the undying
visit thee in solitude
winding upon wandering stars
brightness shuns you
lie in the dark- spread
out on veiled roses
daisies bloom in the soul
as thorns stake the mind
blood mixed with dew
don’t let morning’s rainbow
falter the pleasure
of night’s virtue
sleep, baby talk, dust covering my eyelids.
No need for covers, blankets,
sunscreen, sand is my pillow.
hurls into Arizona sky,
survival shifts gears,
momentum becomes a racecar driver
baking down on cracked,
makes Prickly Pear cactus
open to visitors just a mirage,
cactus naked spit and slice
rubbery skull, glut open
dreams, flood dry.
Western cowboy wishes, whistles, and movies
valley one cup of cool, clear, fool’s desert gold
dust refreshing poison of the valley.
Bring desert sunflowers, sand dunes, bandanas,
leave your cell phone at home.
Remember my face, when you look up in bed
through the skylight, the net lace –
I’m the sucking goop between galaxies there,
spread thin like emollient blackcurrant jam
feeding seeds to our stellar satellites.
You could try to finger me, but you can’t anymore,
I’m soft and flighted, wider than the night
and inset with the sparkling stars of life.
And yet – you chose her, and strife,
and all the unknowns of a broken life,
a twister from our warren; that dense space
I’ve been compacting with memories just your size,
honeys, jams, and a wife the size of the sky
bringing in the Sunday news and hot, morning brew.
It’s taken me seven years to write about the roughness of your hands.
I wondered if this is what my grandfather’s hands would have felt like
holding mine when we met for the first time, unsure if it’s okay
to touch me like a doll, unsure if he could kiss me on the forehead like he’s
known me at all. I only remember a single phone call. Seven years old.
My mother told me to hold the phone and say hi. I wanted to drop the line.
One day, you would make it to America or I would be bold and find your home.
I imagine bringing you a plate of rice, looking at the callouses that cling
to your palms receiving my gift, me understanding you had a lifetime of
work and it is time for a meal. For a little rest. Finally, you’d become real.
What did your hands do when you weren’t eating?
I’ve missed out on a lifetime of you.
I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you to what I only knew
and couldn’t say enough about with the limits of my seven-year-old
mouth. I always wished I could have said some more. You’ve been resting
now for sixteen years. I hope it’s quiet and dry where you are so
you can hear me think about your life. You jumped at me, a grasshopper
walking the house you helped build. The dream after I touched the outside
of your casket, so white, my grandma’s ashes resting near you, in a vase.
I’m hardly closer to where you came from, the first time away from mom
and dad in a country where my tongue is still stupid and slow. This Rich Coast,
Costa Rica, lending an old man’s hand to me.
This country tries to pull me closer, into a volcano’s peak.
I wonder which of the old men’s smiles were the kind you would have give to me.
I hold on tightly and rise like a sack. If only I could see you when I got older.
For now, I cling to your voice, the words raspy and smooth,
and my words, stuttering, “I can’t wait to meet you too.”
It is something to understand
you share the space between the sky
and the land
the time that falls from jumping
the beat of breathing
the peak and plunge of the sun
But as stone to grain
from mist to rain
it’s another thing to change
There is something unusual about this morning
The bed leans at alien angles without you
I rub the sleep off my cheeks, staring back at your side.
The covers are pulled out and cattywampus,
like you’d just crawled out of bed, but you didn’t.
You are in Hong Kong and haven’t called
I spoon sugar into my coffee and wait for that phone call
It is bitterly cold as I look out through the window
memory cues when the wind blew in our faces
love messages written by winter on our cheeks