Friday, October 30, 2009

Compass Pointing North.

Yesterday, the train came roaring down the tracks
And stopped just outside my house.

I see you outside, painting the house in crimson colors,
Red and blue and green, a yellow sunflower. You look at the sun,
Glance up at it as one would stare at a compass,
A simple strain of words, sounds, thermodynamics.

I am standing in the dirt road that leads away from the house,
Leads towards places unknown, places I have never been. Clouds flicker away
Like shadows and breathe drops of oxygen. I stand here. Looking upward,
Looking skyward, like broken roads and broken dreams that shutter down
Like butterflies, wings of grace. Lightning flickers through October skies.
The heat is intense, a heat that is like summer.

Around me, the world opens like a flower, like a quilt out of sunshine,
A darkness that pours from the streams of broken roads.
Tell me what you like.
Tell me what you hate, the words ripe and raw, shadows shinning up chimneys.
Old men push wheelbarrows, spirits roam ancient worlds and cast spells to wanderers,
Wanderers looking for things to eat.
Potatoes, salad, lemonade, I told you this distance would never do,
You told me you understand.

I am not a memory. I am a stepping stone of geometrical shapes,
I am a noun, a piece of rainbow, a shard of glass. The realness is whole. The wholeness

Is real. I am who I am within myself. I right wrongs.
Sometimes, they break me-sometimes, they put me back together again.

Sometimes, I was never broken. Dreams are written in chalk and smoky mirrors.

A man in Flint wears a brown beret,

A man in Flint wears a brown beret,
Keeps quiet about the news.
His anger is loud, he picks up an old newspaper
And swats a fly on the window. Like a flower,
It withers and fades. The bus pulled to a stop
Beside the old woman, and she climbs aboard,
All smiles and cheers. Her face is a cloud of smiles
On a stormy day. The rain falls outside.
On the beach, a man named Joseph scours
The beach for forgotten pennies,
Pennies he could trade in at the bank for twenty dollar
Bills. His mother tells him he must love Jesus,
A man who has died years before,
He must pray to him every day.
All the while, his great-aunt, Trixie, scolds him for reading
A book about the Buddha, and he lives alone.


Sebastian Monteserrio’s feet pounded through the forest, glancing behind him as he did so. The werewolves were coming fast. He had tried to steal one of the relics back from them and they were angry about it. They were also hungry. What did I get myself into? he asked himself. His demon lover, Alira Thornbane-Monteserrio, told him about a spell a long time ago, a spell that broke through the barriers between magic and man. He was not gifted in magic like his brother. He was only a loner, a Dark Knight, an agent. All he could do was deliver messages. What do I do now? He thought, grimacing. His hands flew to the hilt of his sword but Damsel had taken the Sword of Thorn again. She was the youngest Monteserrio and had it worse because she possessed greater magic, with or without a relic. The Power of the Six made him sick to his stomach. He wished the relics would disappear along with the story of Merlin and it made him feel bad to think about his beloved creator but he did and that was all he could do. The pain pounded at his mind, the constant pain of wondering who he was and what he was and why they believed so strongly that the world was created by a man with a staff. It was simply ridiculous. It was insane. It was…nothing. Sebastian breathed a sigh of relief. The werewolves stopped crying. The wind whistled through the trees and it was dark and still around him. He couldn’t see ten feet in front of him. He couldn’t see ten feet behind him. All he could see was darkness. I am a Dark Knight, he thought, grimacing. I am supposed to put myself above that. Above everything. He realized how crazy that sounded. A Dark Knight? Ha! He had left Crandek back at the monument and had not seen him since. He had seen a few Dark Knights here and there and figured they had decided he wasn’t worth it, that he was just another stupid human. Many Dark Wizards worked with the Dark Knights. At least, he thought so.


“What about Prisoner #3422?” the warden, Timothy Markowitz, asked thickly. He was staring hard at the back of the head warden’s head, wondering if the man had gone mad. He just said he was releasing all prisoners to different parts of the galaxy that was ordered by the President of the United Nations. It was vital to get them out as soon as possible. How soon could they do that with all the names they had? It was going to take all day to sort out the problem. Timothy sighed. He wanted to fly a starship, not do all this stupid crap. He didn’t even like prison. The food was awful. The prisoners were loud and obnoxious and the head warden looked like he wanted to throttle Timothy all the time. Once, he slipped and fell on a piece of ice and had to have back surgery. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
“Put him on a starship,” Johnson Jones answered with a sugary smile. “He’s no use to us. We’ve studied his intelligence scores, he’s good at math, but not much anything else. With the population exploding, we don’t have any room for him on Earth.” Johnson snorted. “We don’t have room for anyone on Earth, actually, least of all the prisoners.”
Timothy shook his head, looking worried. “This is bad. Very bad. What are we going to do?” he asked critically.
“You’ll still have a job tomorrow-if you do it right!” he snarled, and threw a paper weight at his head. It hit the wall and fell to the floor with a crash.
Timothy swallowed hard, terrified of the head warden’s weird attitude, and nodded. He didn’t want to get kicked off the planet like the other prisoners-he had never gotten in trouble a day in his life. “I just hope I’m not going to hell,” he muttered, and, shaking his head, filled out the prisoner’s release form. At least he wasn’t going anywhere. That was a plus.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The super-tram was coming in faster than I expected.
I jumped back onto the platform just in time to see it squeal to a stop next to me.
The conductor helped me aboard. “Nervous?” he asked me. He wore a gray tie and a suit. I wore jeans and a t-shirt. I shrugged. “I’ve never been to the moon,” I said.
He snorted and almost smiled. “Very few people have,” he answered. “Let me take those bags.”
He took the bags and tossed them in their rightful compartment; the suitcases landed in their rightful places in one flying leap. I was impressed. Not many people could do that.
Being a conductor must be an interesting job.
I smiled.
Not as good as my job, though.
I was a prisoner with the Department of Corrections, on voluntary leave of absence for three months. I learned my lesson. Never take a hover craft without permission. It was a federal crime on most planets.
“Please,” he instructed. “Take your seat.”
Swallowing hard, I nodded and found a seat by the window.
The conductor came over the loud speaker. “We will be arriving on the Moon in three hours and fifteen seconds,” he chirped. “Buckle your seat belts and hold on tight. It’s going to be a wild ride.”
“Three hours,” someone sitting next to me whistled. “That’s pretty fast.” He shook his head. “Makes me wonder how they build them darn things.” He shook his head again, and chuckled aloud. Hey, I liked this guy. Not more than myself, but still, he was cool. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
I chuckled. Clearly this guy wasn’t a scientist. “I’m Brian,” I said, lying through my teeth. “Brian Jones. I’m a physicist at the University of Norte Dame and I’ve heard that they use microchips in their engine-it programs the trams to move faster.”
“My name is Nicholas Lauder. How are we able to breathe oxygen in space?” he asked me curiously. “I studied astronomy for two years at the University of Michigan before I became a real estate agent, but I’ve been wondering about that.” He frowned. “It’s very peculiar. Very peculiar indeed.”
I shrugged. “Just like in a space shuttle,” I said. “That’s all it is.”
“The trams have been around for awhile,” he said musingly.
I nodded. “They sure have,” I answered.
I didn’t say anything after that. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to talk, it was that the low-gravity amps were making me sleepy.
I curled up in a ball and fell asleep, using my arm as a pillow.
A man in a dark suit came running up to me while I was asleep. Looking left, and then right, he injected me with a syringe. Chuckling to himself, he walked down the aisle and disappeared. I never felt a thing.
Nicholas shook me awake. “Hey, kid,” he said softly. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
I yawned sleepily. “What are you talking about?” I said, rubbing my eyes. “I’m supposed to give a tour of the space station on the moon.” I creaked my neck and looked out the window. Nothing but darkness. Nothing but stars. Stars as vast as the sky at home. I missed Earth, but not that much. “What about lunch?”
Nicholas frowned. “I don’t remember seeing you get on,” he said. “What’s your name?”
I looked at him in confusion. “I just told you that two hours ago.”
“I don’t remember,” Nicholas said.
“You don’t remember?” I squeaked. Clearly, this man was having a mental breakdown. He just wasn’t aware of it. I shook my head. “You know what? Never mind. I don’t care. I just have to get to the space station.”
“We’re not going to a space station.”
“Where are we going?”
Nicholas shrugged. “We’ve been stuck in a worm hole for seventeen years,” he explained. “We’re not going anywhere.” He chuckled. Apparently, he found the whole thing very funny.
I stared at him in shock and horror and couldn’t say anything else. This was too unreal. I couldn’t even blog it online like I could back at the prison. I shook my head. “What do I do now?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “There’s nothing we can do,” he explained. “Most of the people on here have some strange amnesia I can’t relate to.” He glared at me. “Including you.”
A shiver rolled down my spine. I didn’t know what else to say after that.
I got over that shock after like five seconds, especially when I realized I wasn’t going anywhere. I stumbled out of my seat and down the hall to the captain’s quarters. A green alien with tentacles was at the starboard. “It’s our prisoner,” he greeted me. “Good evening, prisoner, I hope you are well.” He looked like he wanted to kick me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let him. I wanted to find out why.
I looked startled. “Evening? I didn’t know you had day and night in space.” I frowned. “I didn’t know I was a prisoner. The only bad thing I’ve ever done is gotten a ticket for my hovercar. I was going seventy in a sixty mile per hour zone. It wasn’t a pretty sight.”
He shrugged. “We have so many crew members we decided to use it before we left.”
“Now we’re stuck in a worm hole.” I frowned disapprovingly.
He nodded, his face crestfallen. “Hey!” he said, brightening. “You wouldn’t happen to know how to get us out of one, would you? I’ll give you a gold coin. The universe is full of gold.”
I scowled. “I’m a physicist,” I said, shaking my head. “Not a magician.”
“That’s funny. According to your files, you’re a prisoner from Earth.”
“I don’t remember committing any crime.”
He sighed and snorted. “They all say that. According to our Intergalactic Laws, we have to tell you that we’re not going to judge you based on color, sex, religion, or creed, and you are welcome to work alongside the other crew members if you feel up to it. If you find a way out of this ship, we are not going to object. Do you understand?”
“In other words,” I said. “We’re all the big crazy.” I laughed. I liked being the big crazy. It sounded nice.
He nodded. “Pretty much.”
“Care to introduce yourself?”
“My name is Getta Gotta Gem. Call me Gem.” The alien smiled, and cackled madly.
“My name is Brian Jones. What kind of worm hole are we stuck in, Gem?” I asked him.
“According to our starboard, it’s one of the largest this galaxy has ever seen,” he said. “Our archives can record anything that has happened in the universe a long, long time ago, including the formation of the worm hole, but it can’t tell us how to get out of one.”
I frowned. I didn’t know what to say that would help. “Bummer,” I said instead. “Do we have any tacos?”
Gem chuckled. “We have tacos from three different galaxies. They’re in the cafeteria.”
I hurried out of the room, eager to find the cafeteria and to eat lunch.
Fun on the starship lasted about five seconds. I wandered around, looking for something to do. The crew members were more than friendly. I talked to Nicholas and Gem for three hours. I played video games in the virtual reality tank. I wandered back to the starboard, hoping to find a way back home.
“Gem,” I said. “I was supposed to start class before I got here. Have you ever tried going through the worm hole?”
He nodded. “Many times,” he replied. “We’ve tried different things to try to get us out of here, and nothing works.” He pointed to the starboard. “That’s the throttle that makes the ship go forward. There’s the break. And those buttons program the ship to do different things.”
“Like what?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “Like, star-jump. We’ve tried to star-jump once, but it didn’t go very far, only three feet, at the most. If we want to star-jump more than three feet, we need more fuel.”
“Where do we get the fuel?” I asked him.
He looked at me strangely. “Gee, you don’t know anything about star ships, do you?” he asked me. “We get the fuel on different planets. We got some fuel three hundred light years ago, and we’re always almost on empty.” He frowned. “I don’t know how to fix it. It’s becoming quite bothersome.”
“What happens to us when we’re in a worm hole?” I asked. “What happens to our psyche?”
“Psyche?” he scowled at me. “Listen, boy, we’re in this together. We can’t get out of it. Sit back and enjoy the ride.”
That’s exactly what I did.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Men of Satire.

The man with the plaid shirt speaks to me
from his hospital bed. He is trying to
change the channel on the television by himself.
He cannot rise from his bed. Doctors orders.
Cars speed by on the freeway, screeching brakes.
Old news reels flash in my brain, 1997, 1999,
worlds I have never been to.

The man with the beat up truck was taken to
the police station downtown. He is afraid of satire,
afraid of walking outside to see which dog was
barking. My eyes burn like red peonies. They're
just metaphors. Sometimes, when it rains, my hands
grab at the cold water that runs down my skin.

The man with the black glasses does not desert me.
He sees me when I get the mail, get the groceries,
when I want to dance in the rain. The man with the black glasses
finds something to do and the sadness clings to me
like a spiderweb. The wind whispers lies in the dark.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Wildflower Diaries.

Cows lull in the winter months.
The barn door bangs open, shut.
Open, shut. Winter winds move
And darkness comes weaving on a bicycle,
The stars blot my hands.

The sky is torn with bleeding fingers.
Scarecrows dot the fields like wildflowers.
Old hope fades.
My old lover says I am fading, fading.

There is death everywhere,
Even the flies feel it. They don’t like it.

Shush, says the wind. Shush.
Mandolins play on broken wings.
I am never home anymore.
I still pay the rent.
The garbage still gets taken out.
Someone tells me to hurry, hurry,
The night leaves me.

Sounds come broken through radios.
Dirt is scattered across freeways,
Highways I have never been. I am quiet.
In my mind. My husband screams at me from
The bathroom, saying we need more toothpaste.

The wind asks for quiet conversation. The clock is
A witch with no hands. I have not gotten over my own death;
My own light is quiet within me. I told you I am no one,
You never answered my voicemails.

We are done. The toast is done.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Think About It.

Tomorrow will be another day.
The sun will rise and set; the weather will be cold and rainy;
and the dog will bark, lonely, on the street. Tomorrow will be
another day. Tomorrow, my grandmother will still have cancer;
tomorrow, I will get myself lost in a bookstore somewhere, far out
north, where the wind weeps in the trees and the shadows fold
like golden wings. My mind is folded. I am jaded. I am happy
with the way things are; I am happy being me. I am happy falling,
being the loner, the drifter, the McDonald's cashier. I drift alone
in a hot air balloon, reaching on a tethered line. I am nothing. I am
me. I am worry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Light From the Lamp Post.

I don't know how to stop it.
Don't know how to stop the snow from falling
in late October, when you and I are outside,
kissing, hands entwined, looking at the lamp post,
thinking of what the world was like before lamp posts,
before buildings, before God.

A dog walks passed us-woof! woof!-a man with a stroller
lumbers by, whistling under his breath, or maybe
saying something about the young and the restless.
I don't know how to stop it.

Don't know how to keep
the cold from entering me, from becoming a part of me,
the darkness snakes around me, up my legs and spine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Animals Know.

The fox is the one who bothers me-no, maybe it is the wolf, or the owl,
or the doe, who stares at me with wide wild eyes from a bush.

The deer emerges from the woods every morning before I go to school,
at my house in Flushing, on the road that curves like a wide v.

The fox lives in its den. The water runs in its brook. Clouds scuttle
across the sky; my father breaks his new boat. Here, I sit on the porch,

leafing through dumb magazines, words crawling across my hair. Sunlight
is broken. Everything is broken.

The fox is the one who bothers me. He is the one who makes me frustrated,
like I have to paint some giant painting for him to see me, know me, understand me.

This is not like a Disney movie where everything happens the way it should. This is not Greece, or Italy, or Rome. This is Jackson, Michigan, and I am sitting here,

typing this on my broken typewriter, spinning stories so God won't know.

Sarah Is Walking Home.

Sarah is walking home from the deli,
and cradles a tuna fish sandwich.
It is autumn. The rays of sunlight has
fallen, quick, over the mountains;
my neighbor got a goat and names him Will.

Sarah is walking home, and spies a lonely kitten,
drinking from a canister of milk someone
left on their porch.

The wind sighs lonely and sad. Darkness falls
in every street corner. Fireflies come out,
one by one, and greet the darkness of the sky.
Sarah is walking home, she holds the sandwich
as if it is her last link to earth.
No one will befriend her, now.

Not even the old man
who brings her the mail, a sad, sorrowful face of
forgetfulness, a man with Alzheimer's.

She knows people are like chess pieces. She knows
people don't know about sunlight,
or how to buy new cars.

A man drives a hole in the world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dance of the Universe.

The clouds perform a dance
Of the Universe,
And the Music is a lesson we cannot hear.
The soul of voices rises from Your pain,

The pain of plentitude,
The pain of beginning.

I can’t begin to describe this lesson,
The lesson that is an unknowing,
A season of darkness in the winter months,
Shadows that reach out and shake broken hands.

The clouds. Perform. Zealous eyes,
Glare, from water. Streams are broken,
Streams misused,
I am plenty gone.

The clouds perform a dance of
The Universe,
The numbers on the hands of Time
Have stilled.

The crabgrass turns brown.
It is fall. October is cold,
Like Alaska, like Antarctica,
Cold as the darkness that is within me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just In Case.

Just in case I die before my time,
I leave you with three things:
A jar of clay,
A sculptured pony with a jewel in its eye,
And a blue hairbrush my grandmother
Made for me.

Just in case I die before my time,
I will tell you stories I have written
In pen,
Stories that are burned in tabletops
Somewhere out east,
Stories that tell of my grandfather’s pain.

Sarah told me you hated them,
Hated the words, hated the sounds
That rolled from my tongue,
I thought it was in English.

You said it was “Getthefuckoutofhere,
Your words are pained and painted.

The jar of clay was put on the windowsill
In my grandmother’s house.
She spoke of China, Ireland, Aruba.
She spoke of letters in brown boxes.
She did not speak before she died.

Just in case I die before my time,
I will leave you the world.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sing To the Moon.

Detroit was a big city filled with pollution and old men who hated the Japanese, and wheezed about the Vietnam War at lonely old doughnut shops that sat on lonely corners with street names like Franklin and Carmickle.

Maria Sanders lived with her parents in a small white house with a picket fence. She was doing her homework at the table one evening, and the light was slowly dwindling in the sky. Her mother was on the phone, talking to her Aunt Christine, who lived far away in Seattle. She was talking about Uncle Jim, and their family. They lived on a farm in Durand. Maria's third cousin, Isaac, was seven years older than she was. By the time she was fourteen, he was already out of the house and joined the military to feed his wife and baby girl, Layla, who was born seven pounds and just shy of five ounces.

Maria was half-white, half-Hispanic, and had a part time job at the supermarket, shelving food items.

Her boss, Mr. Salez, was a balding man with a beak-like nose and an odd demeanor that made him appear almost menacing. It was Saturday and Saturdays was Farmer's Market and Maria was putting milk in the refrigerators when Willis walked in. Willis was Maria's next door neighbor and he was old and fat and was a trucker from Ohio who divorced twice already and had a new girlfriend.

Maria never met his new girlfriend but she saw that he was happy with the way the relationship was going because he always bought beer on Saturday nights and he only bought beer when he was happy. Maria saw him in a foul mood twice that she could remember. Willis leafed through the magazines on the rack by the front door. A nineteen year old boy walked in, smiling at her. He looked at her with his eyes. "Hello," he said pleasantly. "Do you have any flowers here?" he asked.

She nodded mutely. The flowers must be for his girlfriend. Of course. Maria was Hispanic and never had a boyfriend. She was slightly overweight and had some freckles and wore thick, black glasses that hid her face. She said, "The flowers are back there." She didn't want to look at him, she was so mad. Why was she mad at him? She just met him. She blinked back angry tears.

Mr. Salez looked at her and chuckled. "Maria, my poppet," he said gently, lifting her chin to stare into her eyes. "You must meet my wife."

Maria blinked back tears. "Meet your wife?" she managed. "I didn't know you were married."

Mr. Salez laughed. "That's because she doesn't want anyone to know!" he said jokingly. "My Madeline is very protective of me. You can come over if you want. Forget that boy. You can have some tea cakes and talk about your friends."

"I have two best friends," she whispered.

"Good, good. Come Saturday." He smiled and resumed counting the cash in the cash register. The boy bought the flowers and left the store. She hardly noticed. She was planning what to wear.


After work, Maria went home and took all the clothes out of her closet and put them on the bed. She shook her head. No, no, no. Those wouldn't do at all. They looked old and shabby and Mr. Salez's wife was probably sophisticated. She'd heard from other coworkers that they had two other chain stores in the tri-county area and it meant a lot of money for them. Maria was only sixteen. Her mother said she needed to put away that money until she was an adult.

Maria always did what her parents said. They knew best.

The next afternoon, her mother dropped her off at the mall and Maria wandered up and down the aisles at a clothing store, exclaiming over the tank tops and dresses she couldn't buy for herself. She had thirty dollars in spending money and she could only spend sixteen. The rest was for gas and a snack. She reluctantly bought a one-piece dress that cost 8.99. The cashier, smiling pleasantly, bagged it and took her money and gave her back a penny in return. She was finished for the day and had some money left over.

Maria went outside and sat on a bench and waited for her mother to pick her up to take her home.

The Ford truck pulled to the curb and Maria jumped in and her mother dropped her off at the house before heading off to work. Work, she said, was dull and dreary and long without her daughter around. Maria smiled at the thought. One day, when she was an adult, she would have a daughter just like her mother did. She was going to name her Sarah.

She loved the name Sarah, after she read a book called Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Her best friend's name was Ellie. Ellie had long blonde hair and brown eyes and she liked to sing songs and dreamt of being a famous singer one day. Maria couldn't sing and the only instrument she played was the cello. Ellie said singing was like a language and only special people knew the language. Maria could speak two languages, English and Spanish. They mostly spoke Spanish at home.

"Maria," her father complained later that evening. "¿Qué usted está haciendo?" His face was pinched and angry. That was how he usually looked, especially after work.

Maria was in the bathroom, singing a song in English.

"Apesadumbrado, padre," she apologized, her lip trembling. "Ellie liked singing and I thought-"

"I know what you thought," Mama said. She was brushing her own short, brown hair in the hallway mirror downstairs and had come up to see about all the racket. "You will not be a singer. I don't want that girl putting ideas into your head. You must get grades on your schoolwork!" She scowled and went downstairs to make dinner. They were having pot roast for dinner tonight.

Maria sighed and went back upstairs and cried into her pillow.

The next morning she got ready to go to Mr. Salez's. She got permission from her father the day before and he was off at work already, he worked at a feed supply store called Grumley's and made enough money to pay rent and bills. Maria contributed thirteen dollars every month, to help pay for milk for her little sister, Laura. Laura was getting to be a big baby and would be going to preschool in four years. She did not want that day to come but it must come, and when it did, Maria would be proud.

Maria arrived at Mr. Salez's at four. She repeated Madeline's name in her head to remember it. Madeline, Madeline, Madeline. It had a nice ring to it. Unlike her own name, which was a normal Hispanic name for a girl.

Mr. Salez lived in an apartment building downtown; his wife was the owner. They were rich. Well, almost. She buzzed the doorbell and Mr. Salez answered. He wore brown slacks and a brown shirt that looked fresh and ironed. His hands swallowed her small ones. "Thank you for coming," he said grimly, and she followed him inside.

The apartment was made up nicely, just like a magazine. The living room had a coffee table, a long, brown couch, and a grandfather clock and fireplace. The fireplace would not be lit until winter. It was only spring. Maria saw Mrs. Salez. She was humming in the kitchen. It was a song Maria did not know. "Is that her?" she whispered, low, so he could hear.

"Of course." He pushed her forward. "Go on. No time like the present."

"Hello, Mrs. Salez," she said softly. "How are you this evening?"

"Roger!" she exclaimed. "Maria is beautiful! And so sweet! You need to hire more girls like her."

Roger rolled his eyes. "I'll do my best," he muttered. "I'll see to the cakes." He scurried into the kitchen to check on the tea cakes. A wonderful smell filled the living room.

"Tell me, Maria, do you have a boyfriend?"

Maria blushed. She didn't like being put on the spot. "Well, no," she admitted. "There's this boy, Jake, at school, and-"

She beamed. "Are you in love with him?"

Maria laughed. "I would like to get married when I am old enough. Boys are immature. I plan on getting married when I turn eighteen."

"Eighteen? Why?"

She shrugged. "Many Hispanic women get married at a young age. My father said it isn't a tradition, he says women are getting smarter these days, what with the war and all."

Mrs. Salez became serious all of a sudden. "The war in Vietnam is a terrible thing," she said, shaking her head. "Have you heard of this man, Dr. King? He speaks for all races, not just blacks."

"I have a cousin in the army," she said.

"Is he in the war?"

She looked troubled. "Last time I heard, he was stationed in Mississippi. I don't know why. They never say why."

Mrs. Salez nodded. "I suspected as much. You are too young to know, anyway."

Mr. Salez came in with a plate full of tea cakes and set it on the coffee table, sharply. That was their final discussion on war.

"It was weird," Maria said to her second best friend, Ronald Chandelier, over the phone that evening. "It was like, she didn't want to talk about the war."

"Most people don't want to talk about it," Ronald replied. "My cousin died in it and he's only 18."

"Oh," Maria said. She felt sad, suddenly. Why did nice people have to die?
"What are you doing later?" she said. "We could play baseball in the park, or-"
"I can't," he said sharply. "I have to watch Emma." Emma was his baby sister. She had not turned one yet.

"It's time for me to go, anyway. I have to do the washing." Maria hung up the phone and started singing. She sang until dinner.

After dinner, Maria went to bed, and dreamt about butterflies. The next morning, she got dressed, and went to school. Ellie was standing next to her locker.

"Ellie!" Maria exclaimed. "You're back from Seattle. How was it?"
Ellie made a face. "It was terrible," she answered, shaking her head. "The traffic was so thick, we were waiting at the light forever. Benny arrived before we got there."

"I'm sorry," Maria said. "You have a little brother now."

"I didn't get to see him come out!" Ellie pouted.

"It's okay." Maria grinned. "I am sure she will have one more."

Ellie nodded. "You are right. She loves babies. She said once she will have ten of them one day."

The bell rang. "Race you!" she said, and tore down the hall to geography class.
Maria followed slowly. Her mind was on singing. And her cousin in the war.

The war was not going well, her parents said at dinner. It looked like Vietnam was going to win. Vietnam was a small country in Asia.
"Why?" she said. "Why are they winning? Every side should win." She pushed the green beans around on her plate. The baby screamed, its face red and angry.

"Time for homework!" Maria said. She jumped up and went upstairs to her bedroom. She did not sing that night. That night was for sadness.

The next morning her mother was gone. She left a note on the table, saying she had gone off to a job interview. Maria's father made enough money, but just enough, and they needed more to keep the family together. The family was not doing well financially. Maria could only give them a little money. She wanted to give them more.

That afternoon, a letter came from Isaac's wife, Jenny. Jenny had smallish handwriting and her dotted i's looked like flowers. Isaac had died, killed in war combat. He stepped on a grenade on accident. It took off his leg and he died the next morning. Maria never felt it coming.

Maria opened her mouth. She couldn't stop singing, not even when her father came in, his face angry, twisted, and yelled at her to turn off that damn radio. They were both surprised he spoke in English. Her father rarely spoke in English.

"Looks like the war's over!" her mother laughed, and hummed a Beatles song under her breath. They went out for dinner that night. It was the first night in years. Maria could breathe easily again.

In the darkening Atmosphere.

The trees vanish after centuries,
glaciers form from huge cavernous rocks
in the ground. Snow in the Himalayas
are melting at a rapid rate;
herons settle in ponds of North America.

A change in the atmosphere, bodies littering
the ground in Hoa An, the landscape is quickly

Four years old, I was reading by firelight,
the shadow flickering on the walls. The wind
pushes me constantly, in a spiral,
I spin until I fall down.

The sun is dark. The streets are dark in winter
and summer, and a lone whale stakes itself on
the beach in California. As far as I know,
all the pelicans have gone home.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Apology to Moths.

A moth lives in the attic at night,
sneezing dully. Rabbits hop about my
backyard, three of them at once.
The stars shine in the night above me,
like shooting stars.

I am sitting at my typewriter, clickclacking
away, trying to create/make/bake something
that is more worthwhile than words.

A moth lives in the attic at night,
and eats away at my clothes every single hour
of every single second of the day,
munching happily.

My little cousin asks me if moths are like
butterflies. I tell him, "Yes, they are,
listen to the beat of their wings." He falls
asleep on the couch.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Sea.

The rocks jut from the stormy sea like eyes
that look back at me. The flowers are wilted,
like green hands growing; a man bends over a fishing
pail, and drops in a roll of quarters. The sea is lonely.
It is wide and lonely. My mother makes me sandwiches
and puts them on the table in the kitchen. Flowers
sit in the vase. The words are not spoken, they wither
like sorrowed dreams and broken things that glow,
shattered and old.

The rocks jut from the stormy sea and the sun flashes
off of them. The boat rocks in the harbor and no one
has ever gone in to shore out of darkness,
darkness that rises from shards of glass. The woman on
the beach wears tattered, old clothes she got from
Goodwill, in Ohio; Ohio was where her baby was born,

who was taken so cruelly from her. She has long
fingers; the fingers are covered in sores. She has been homeless
for a long time,
and still, the rocks jut from the sea. The sea has drowned her.

My Husband Talked To a Man With an Eyepatch.

The surgery I had lasted three hours long.
My husband was cooped up in the waiting room,
Talking to a man with one leg and an eyepatch
Over his left eye.
He said he was here for his father’s open heart
Of which he had several.
He says every day the doctor tells him
He has twenty-four hours to live.
His family takes it as a joke, now.

The doctor’s used kitchen utensils, and stitches; they said
This later, when I was in the recovery room,
Eating jello and drinking ginger ale.

The nurse’s shoes sound like whispers on
The cold linoleum.
When I watched tv,
I had to cran my neck upward to see it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Always Tries, Beethoven.

My mother asks me, "What do you want from me?"
My brother thinks I'm too old to play poker.
My sister is in Florida, learning how to be a nurse;
my stepfather is busy being in the army. I don't want.
I am. Shakespeare wrote this in his plays;
Mozart played this on his piano, back when he was a boy
and learning how to be famous, before Beethoven stole
the spotlight.
My boyfriend always tries to make it up to me by being
a hooker, by bringing home strange women who can't think
for herself.

My mother asks me, "What do you want from me?"
When I am stressed, I hide in the bathroom, reading The Atlantic
Monthly and Times magazine.

Sometimes, I give old men second chances.
Other times, I send them messages through my absence.
Everyone thinks I have a problem. My problem is everyone else.

Divided by Problems.

I planned on being divided like strangers.
I planned on shielding you from the warmth of the light.
I planned on Halloween costumes in October;
running through streets at night.
Clouds hang in the sky, the sky frowns brokenly down at me.

There's only so many problems I can take.
There's only so many wishes I can grant.
I am not a musician. Heck, I'm not even a doormat.

I am always the little problem in the back of your mind.
I am always the dent in someone's forehead,
the glare, the whisper, of shadows that moves within your mind.

I planned on being divided.
I planned on rushing rivers, scaling mountaintops.
There's nothing more you can do than to go back,
to be alone.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Glimmer of Trains.

I don’t see you solving the glimmer of
The train that whizzes by on its track,
The sheltered stones that sound on rhythms beaten
In crowded rooms.

The zebra munches happily on long grass,
Dances in a field of roses blooming.
No one is at home right now.

I don’t see you. I can’t find the sorrow
That flicks through the rain,
The harbor of night,
And the boat on the shore.
I am not what I have seen.
I solve the puzzles in the back of
I wreck places that move within
A night of shooting stars.

Someone creates drama. More drama for me.
More stress I don’t need to deal with.
Bats fly through the air and
Disappear in a cave. Cave of night,

Where are you now?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Morning I Lessen.

All the night.

All the dusk.

I walked down the street. Walked with my head up, drinking rain.

Rain falls.

Secrets about rain.

Secrets, secrets about somesuchnonsense, she whispered. Her words. curve. Sorrow is nonsense syllables.

Colors fade.

Night. Nights broken.

You. You left. Shattered, grains. Screams of ghosts. Night. Night is good. I am homeless. I am broken. Words creep across stained glass. I sit in churches. Sit, glance, seize dayz and throw them out.

Too many lines. You snarl. Too many lines like cat claws. Throw words in gutters.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On the War In Vietnam.

From the depths of the night,
I followed you, walking,
Down the path in the park.
A sparrow flies past me,
Chittering softly.

I am walking my miniature poodle,
Who I rescued from an animal shelter
In Jackson, Mississippi,
When I lived there with my uncle,
Who was dying from Alzheimer’s.

Sometimes, I could hear him crying
In his pillow,
Carrying on and on about the deforestation
In Malaysia,
About the dying, the crying,
The horrors he saw in Vietnam.

Instead, I melt slowly inside myself,
Until I am nothing but a shadow of myself,
Wishing for another heartbeat,
Wishing for the cold to enter me.
Wishing for someone other than myself.

I am gone. Just gone.

Winters in North Carolina.

The winters in North Carolina are bitter and cold.
I can’t move my hands. They are frostbitten,
Like shards of glass,
Moving in front of my face.

The sound of a dog howls outside,
Bitter and lonely,
Its eyes like two lantern flames.

I am whole within myself,
Whole within the…something.
I am movement, stiller than life,
Stiller than autumn leaves.

October comes swiftly,
Swift on its wings.