burnt offerings

When we arrived at
Avenida de las américas,
we saw the sidewalks that were drawn
with the dust our fathers carried,
the burnt offerings
of their youth and bones.
Turquoise shadows,
cut into planks,
were set into the pavement
for good men to walk upon,
and where we were told
we did not belong.

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The heart is

Have we yet reached that place
where we can say we have seen
inside the chambers of
each other’s heart?

Can we say we have spoken
to each one of our beasts
we claim
as pets
as ghosts
as gods?

Who would love us then
when
we recite our lives
to each other
without a paused breath

who is left
to listen

or are we equally complicit
on
bloodied knees, unbalanced in prayer,
our fingers broken and
reaching for
and denying all
of whatever makes us divine
whatever makes us lie
and lie
and lie.

and so
the liquor store wine
is the cheapest blood
that can save us.

No. You stay
Let’s just leave
the bereavement to others
who know how to perform it
or cut it into manageable pieces
or adorn it with
whatever decomposing light
is left.

We have seen into each other’s hearts
and we are
remorseless.

Who would want us now
that are hearts are cut open?

The yellow-leafed tree

The veil between dreams

My eyes abide the blighted light
of the yellow-leafed tree.
Please set my stone here
and let us both rest.
But please stop and listen —
I know you can hear it,
the grief in my spirit,

and you see the fraying of my days,
my finite breaths
fading away.

I still lean into old memories,
away from you,
away from who
I wanted to be.

I did not expect to be loved so well.

The hemlocks

Forty years on,

she follows the path of his ghost,

a slender and thorned road

that leads to a ruined ecstasy.

Above the carpeted dirt,

she remembers the boy’s twitching mouth,

so unaccustomed to casual pleasure,

and the slow burn of tobacco between them.

The last of the afternoon light

dripped between the hemlocks

and fell upon bare shoulders.

And she, alone, still wonders

if he ever smelled the gunpowder.

Honor

call me old-fashioned

A perpetual yesterday dressed in ash;

grief, do not whisper but lay hard upon my breast, 

and ache, yes, as I reach for my faith.

Death’s sore words are set upon the tongue, but keep her, Lord,

for mercy, yes, and love.

***

In honor of my mother, who unexpectedly passed April 14/18. And I, in another country, mourn her.