Brooklyn Bridge

Maybe it’s time I delete you from my text messages;

Maybe it’s time I scrub you from my skin,

the kisses you would have planted down my neck.

 

I can close my eyes and see you in your black tank top,

the sun warming our backs,

a dozen freckles sprinkled on your shoulder.

 

The things I would do to that constellation…

the stories it could tell if I connected each star

with my finger, or kiss by patient kiss.

 

The sparks that fly between us are almost as bright,

lighting up my hope against my better judgement.

 

And since I cannot erase the stars from the sky,

I will take a snapshot of that moment in my mind,

maybe save it with my screenshots.

 

I’ll hope that this time next year,

I’ll meet Earth’s orbit where I saw you last:

on a beautiful bridge, with a beautiful boy

 

Remembering what it was like

the first time I read a poem that breathed your breath,

traced the marks that line your skin,

 

Felt the smoothness of your lips against mine—

while specks of light danced on your Brooklyn face,

the way the sun welcomes the stars home.

 

September 26, 2019

Litany

The thing is…

it depends on how you define environmentalists.

 

If you define them as the recyclers and the “good-doers,”

the vegan eaters who see nature as something outside

of New York City’s walls, then I am with you, my friend—

I am tired of them.

 

Don’t get me wrong,

I nod my head to them—

but I bow my head, low,

to those teaching me

in this moment of climate catastrophe,

as my mom figures that, “Yeah,

my fall flowers may die

in this 90 degree late-September heat

but they look okay, now,”

that this is a fight for justice.

 

Look up the social pyramid

and you will see them:

another man with bottom line on the mind,

another woman standing up for him.

Another man calling out why feminism is

“A scam. We’re all equal here.”

 

It’s in the oil.

It’s in the system

that we were all born into.

It matters how we got here, oh yes.

It matters how we fight so that our children,

our children’s children and their children, stay around.

Can you really see them, Mr. and Mrs. Man, from way up there?

 

The system was rigged long ago,

and we have so much to carry already.

Shame is too heavy.

We need our hands to fight;

We need our voices to scream.

 

We need our eyes to see into the very near future,

into a world where the insects lay dead* and

and the birds in the morning don’t sing like they use to

and the fish in the ocean don’t swim like they used to

and the bread on the table don’t taste like it used to

because we cannot go back.

 

We can only hold those high up fuckers accountable,

rebuild,

and move on.

 

Industry heads, government leaders, blog readers: we are way past deciding whether climate change is something to be “believed.”

A highly recommended read: https://popula.com/2019/08/19/the-case-for-climate-rage/

*and a note: https://e360.yale.edu/features/insect_numbers_declining_why_it_matters

 

September 24, 2019

Letting the Memory Settle

As we skipped rocks at Walden Pond in steady rain,

you told me I just needed practice,

that my outstretched hand needed to move

in one single, continuous motion.

You selected each stone with care, inspecting

their flatness as if choosing flowers for a date,

only to send them off into the gloom, certain

of their own uncertainly paced descents.

I laughed at your advice, my voice skipping

rhythmically despite my un-thrown stones.

We were part of our history class field trip,

and you asked, “Why does the water

only reflect parts of the trees?” I shrugged,

letting the question settle into the pond and practiced

questioning what parts of you I could see:

lone like a stone, easing me away with each ring

of water that expanded to meet the trees;

you alone, like Thoreau, without me.

 

Unknown, 2014

Only In My Head

Does anyone else

realize how fast

we are moving,

or is it just me?

Railroad cars,

and subway cards,

and price limits,

and band tickets

all so much to buy

I’m not sure who has the time

and courage

to yell, “Stop!”

Just fucking stop already.

I channel my thoughts to my 17 year old brother

awake,

in bed,

on his phone,

under a VR mask,

playing the switch

(or whatever it’s called these days).

Yes, play Pokemon Go, my boy,

but don’t live Pokemon Go.

“They think I’m happy,” Yeah, Joe.

“They think I’m happy when I’m sad.”

That’s all this social media is about.

I may speak, write, live directly,

but I can be patient about it.

Do not write me down as just another name,

another number, to walk into a room of strangers,

check my pocket three times for a ghost buzz,

see no notifications, selfie instead, and move on.

Instagram? Marketing.

Facebook? Self deprecating.

It all doesn’t exist until we make it exist,

that’s what Steve Jobs, a Steven Jobs,

said, some time, some where.

The Internet is a place like any other;

no wonder we move so fast to keep up,

living in two worlds —

I got enough on my mind,

a bi gal wondering what to do with all this love.

Be patient, spread it ’round;

don’t squash it and run.

 

This all happens in my mind, 9AM,

on a subway car: cold yet humid,

crowded yet silent

on mustard yellow seats

pretending to be chairs,

heads down,

money away,

screens up.

 

August 28, 2019

 

Thank you Jonas Brothers for inspiring this poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZnBVfSGdqk

My Gold

Because how can you read the news, my Jo?

How can that shit be your day job?

The day glaciers melt and

people teach machines to

teach other people

about the same machines and

sitting in my rose garden all alone

can lead to murder and

taking a soda without asking

and running out the door

can lead to murder and

you can meet a love of your life

and realize that everyone

is human, and that no relationship

or person will ever be perfect and

that in spite of all the “good shit”

going your way, you can still feel

lonely and out dated and

so damn curious about the future

that you just don’t want to know anymore.

 

How can anyone guarantee family?

I got so god damn lucky.

 

How can anyone read my lips

and promise neutrality?

Everyone’s always gotta have an opinion.

 

We live on stories, so we might as well

accept the truth and move on.

 

If truth is the end of a rainbow

I am never going to see,

I might as well pray to it

and acknowledge its existence anyway,

know that Spinoza will help me find my way,

that Julia will help me find my way,

and that this god damn one beautiful Earth

that has done nothing but save our sorry souls

one lifetime after another, promising renewal

and never quitting, never disappointing—

it lives in me. In you. In us.

 

After I read the news,

I have to remember:

my first mother may one day be all I have left,

but she is everything…

before I got here, now, and long after

you and I are gone.

 

Thank you for giving me the chance to live on, to see a few stories play out,

and know that while the foreground is temporary, the background holds,

sacred,

secure.

 

August 19, 2019

Time, Reflected

The feelings I write,

the feelings I give

today I ponder time

and a clock strung with string

and the powerful men

of tomorrow

when I take a stake

in my own power,

honey,

when I sip tea and drink juice

(smoothies, preferably)

I feel mad at times,

and worried at times

past and future “tick” by

but present

molds,

holds,

unfolds

in the up-down motion of an eyelid,

the snowflake melting on your palm,

the silence when dad shows up

but not mom.

It is in these spaces that time was invented,

and dreams were had

where forgiveness was a portal

within a portal

and sand did not make the hour glass –

it was the ocean that made the glass,

the sea whispering home

as I recount

powerful men,

and the flipping of coins,

and the thrill of a poem

well ended.

 

inspired by the work I saw at chanorth art residency: https://www.instagram.com/chanorthartresidency/

cover art: https://www.instagram.com/dannibellandostudio/

 

July 29, 2019

Watching strangers on the subway

I find a spot to stand on the train

and it feels like a paradise,

spaces between strangers sock and shoes

and sweat and stories—

let me keep my distance.

Although there is a tiredness to it.

I was taught I could do any damn thing,

and I believe it: I feel my uniqueness

lifting me up as a I walk,

swarming around in my veins

a home for the hive, bees going extinct

but I know where the honey is:

it’s right here, honey.

 

Touch the water.

Tell me about it in 10 years when your city has none

a reality not yet created yet so tangible I want to reach out

and touch it, drag it back to now so I connect my future son-

in-law to my sink, so he can grab a bucket and fill it,

empty it, fill it, empty it into Chennai, into Cape Town.

 

I know New York will follow one day

does my specialness stand a chance? Does our ability

to find our race and run it define our character,

our identity,

our existence

the years that have been dripping by,

like water from a faucet,

like honey from a hive.

I know that I cannot solve any problem alone but where do I

start? Tell me where to put this water and these bones and I’ll do it.

Just promise me someone will be here when the flowers bloom.

 

June 28, 2019