Archive for poetry

Se hizo luz

Ya no busco la luz de tus ojos

para que alumbre mis caminos

ni la luz de la certeza de amores pasados, de caminos trazados, de suenos a destiempo

La luz emana de mi piel cobriza

La luz emana de mis dedos agiles

La luz emana de mi espiritu guerrero

de un poema desobediente y fugaz

del baile de sonidos sobre mi lengua

Se hizo luz.
Me hice luz.

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Craving the darkness: thoughts on straddling borderlands

Missing “home” is usually shorthand for a number of assumptions:

1. Home is singular, static, permanent

2. What is missed: usually people, food, a favorite shop, the smell in the air, the energy of the place

“Home” to me is a fluid concept.  The curse and the blessing of my early enculturation, my colonial roots, equally at home on either island, manhattan or boriken, not quite at home in one without the other.  Shifting between the epitome of urban, metropolitan, teeming, and the pristine pulchritude of beaches called virgin in the gringo’s travel brochure.  Just as I am equally at ease with either tongue, English or Spanish, but one never fully complete without the other.  Some things you just can’t say in English.  Some things take too long to express in Spanish.

When I have my cravings for what I usually call “home” that moving target that resists roots, fosters wings, and dreams return to, what I miss the most is unexpected.

I miss the dark.

I miss darkness so fiercely it makes my skin crawl if I think about it too much.

I miss unyielding, unrelenting, unapologetic dark draped nights.  I miss walking out my door at night and stepping into darkness so absolute I can barely find my hand in front of my face.  I miss looking up and falling into thousands (millions?) of stars.  I miss the brilliance of a half moon illuminating stark black.

Here the sky is never fully dark.  Urban living (and a delectable touch of smog) gives the sky a sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie yellow cast.  I marvel when I catch sight of an errant star, straining against the residual urban blaze to shine down on me.

And yet I fall in love daily with the violent blue skies, so blue it hurts my eyes, so blue I hold up a flower as an offering to the sky to see the contrasting spaces of blue between brilliant petals.

I miss rain.

On gloomy days I ache for the release of a summer’s storm.  I miss the sound of rain pounding on rooftops, miss the puddles, miss the explosion of color and light following a righteous storm.  I miss the compelling wetness, dancing in between drops, moist rivulets running down my brown skin.  I miss the birds dipping into puddles, preening and guzzling.  I miss the anticipation of rain, the buildup leading to the gradual satisfaction of pouring rain.

And, when I allow myself to think about it, I miss my mar caribe.  I miss the way it caresses me and holds me, so different from the pacific’s cool hold on my soul.  And yet now I know that I will never be free of the pacific, never be far from it.  I know that it is in my blood now and that, just as the atlantic, brighton beach in a blizzard, icy waves pounding uncertain shore, el mar caribe soothing warm lapping at my bronze flesh, witness to years of dreams, joys, pain, now my heart has also tasted pacific salt: cold shock of the oregon coast and stubborn insistence to make myself welcome, southern california beauty, kissed by the waves sevenfold welcoming me and claiming me.  Home expands as a concept within me.
“The past and present wilt–I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.” Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

and furthermore:

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

My multitudes straddle fronteras, cross unexplored borderlands, nestle into unexpected pockets of ‘home.’

Mi patria es solo una, but home I build as I go.  An odd amalgam of caribbean breezes, socal cumbia, nyc beats, parisian decadence, chesapeake stillness, rushing boise river murmurs, california expanses of birds of paradise, and those pretty purple flowers whose name I don’t even want to know.  I’d rather name them myself as they tumble down to carpet the ground I walk on, sweeten the air as I pass.  Hope flowers.  Esperanzas.  Suenos.  Ilusiones.  Alma vida corazon.  I name them as I walk beauty on beauty.

With so much radiance and light around me, it’s the stillness and darkness that I crave.

Pasos

There are times when my footsteps fall heavily. There were dark times when I struggled to walk from my bed to the bathroom, felt like lead was flowing through my veins, angry heavy resentful painful numb hideous lead.

And there are times when I skip down life’s paths and stretch my arms out to embrace the sunshine on my upturned face.

And there are times like now when my steps are in between FUCK! and Yay! Syncopated rhythm of pain and hope, fear and confidence, loss and adventure. Ow! Ow! Ow! Blessed blessed. Ow fuck! Don’t wanna! Yay! What next!?!

Within the space of minutes I shift. And even that is okay. I’m still moving and there’s no stopping me now. I am looking at the world through new eyes. I am strong in new ways. I am capable and defiant in new ways. It’s my time.

I love this feeling of anticipation, this knowledge that amazing things and people and opportunities and love are coming into my life.

Mis pasos firmes marchan adelante.

I love the feeling of sand between my toes.

I love the feeling of hot pavement under my thin sandals.

I love the soaring grounded feeling of delicious high heels.

I love the way my steps trace dreams on the ground as I dance.

I love the way my body moves.

I love the certainty that my steps are taking me on great adventures.

As is often the case, a poem/song came to mind:

Caminante, son tus huellas

el camino, y nada más;

caminante, no hay camino,

se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino,

y al volver la vista atrás

se ve la senda que nunca

se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante, no hay camino,

sino estelas en la mar.

~Antonio Machado

Spring

It was Winter

and your kisses were the antidote to snow

Taste of Spring to come

melting on hot tongue

It was Winter

and I clung to the promise of

tomorrow on your breath

laid my head on your chest

set aside shivering fears

at rest

Then waking

frozen to the core

the hope of you

a distant fiction

fading before its time

sepia melting into white

dreams of dawn dissolved in darkness

I’m stammering goodbye

when you’ve already left.

That taste of Spring

the only treasure

left in the end

waiting for my time to bloom.

Mis pies

Mis pies

Conocen este camino

My feet know

My hips recognize

As they swing down magnolia

reconocen escuchan mis pasos mi ritmo

I hear it

Susurrando mi nombre

Suspirando en mi sangre

Insistent

Persistent

I recognize myself in the faces around me

Caras que sonrien

Caras que saludan

Caras que me ven

Me reconocen

I see myself in the explosion of pomegranate seeds

Tickling my senses

Color

Sweetness

Abundance

Ripe and sensuous

Reconozco

Recuerdo

Lugares que no he pisado

Canciones I’ve never heard

But my heart sings along

Mis pies

Conocen el camino

Alma

Corazon

Esperanza

Haciendo camino al andar. 

Head high

En alto

Spirit grateful

Camino

My steps

Me llevan al mar

Me llevan al futuro

Unknown

Ripe

Delicious

Luscious

Divine.

Scribbling Woman’s Reflections

Last Thursday’s reading was pretty interesting. I had chosen my material on the basis of my own comfort level and with some feedback from a few friends. When I sat down on the floor to listen to people’s readings I realized, I hadn’t considered the location and the crowd enough. See, it’s not exactly a poetry slam. It’s not a bar or a cafe either. It’s Borders. At the MALL.

So, I fretted and looked through my backup material looking for stuff that would be less, er… shocking.

The poems I had selected to read included “Antillana Streets” (the first stanza ends with limp dicks and the refrain includes the words “mutherfuckin'”), “Gynecological Blues: A journey of SELF examination” (featuring the “Battle Hymn of my Vagina”), “Day in Her Shoes” (relatively tame one), “I was a Lesbian child” (did she say lesbian?), and a fragment of “Re-generations” (which featured relatively little outrageousness).

What is remarkable about this situation is that I don’t usually self-censor. I also don’t get nervous about reading. I love reading. But suddenly, sitting on the cold floor next to a reading virgin, I felt a hard knot of anxiety tighten in my gut. When one speaker got up there and used the word boobs and a mother took her two children away I realized, this was NOT my crowd.

Fortunately, I got sucked into the readings: Ellen Pratt’s story was absolutely wonderful and so courageous. She described sitting in a church and I kept wanting to jump in with the Amen!s as she read. I had tears streaming down my face by the time she finished. Jocelyn Geliga’s poetry was incredibly powerful and painful. And I cried too. Cathy Fleck read some beautiful poems about her brother’s death many years ago. Cathy Mazak read about the shore and I loved picturing the sandcastles she read. A young woman whom I don’t know early on in the reading did a piece about a homeless person that was great: as part of the reading was a sung lullaby piece. Good shit!

So, my turn comes and I had not decided which poem to open my set with until I got up there and thought: “Fuck it!” I am sure the staff of the mall will be laughing about the crazy woman in borders singing about her vagina at 10:00 PM for a while! LOL

I think I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to pursue publishing. I think I’m ready to let go of my pieces. Part of the reason I’ve always liked reading better than publishing (although I’ve only published in a series of poetry postcards so far) is that when I read and I perform my own pieces, I have control. I am not sending them out into the big bad world with their lunchboxes and leaving them to their own devices. But, I think I’m ready to start trying to publish. I know some of my shit is good enough to put out. It’s still a bit scary. A lot intimidating but exciting nonetheless. Remind me I said that last bit when I start piling up rejections! LOL

Scribbling Women

Self promotion time:

I will be reading at the Estación Literaria next week.

The theme is “Scribbling Women” featuring women from the faculty who will be reading unpublished work. I am very much looking forward to hearing everyone’s work as well as reading a lil sumpin.

We’ll be at Borders from 7:30-10:00 on Thursday the 20th of April.

Reflections on a yellow tinted sky

Shooting through layers of growing
darkness settling
into blue
purple clouds black against
shrinking horizon
yellow inverting
sunset
ominous brightness from darkest despair
giving rise to honey tinted moon.

Thea Leticia

Hungry Poem

My hunger
is hungry
for pizza and beer
while I nap
on a hot summer’s
beach
in July.

No, this is not my greatest but it’s my latest LOL I wrote this in class (teaching) as an example of the kind of anything goes writing I expected for an exercise. And it has grown on me since this afternoon. It has a certain haiku-esque quality to it.

Poetry and condoms?

The poem for the day, but I don’t think I want to keep this one in my pocket:

The Pope’s Penis
Sharon Olds

It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
clapper at the center of a bell.
It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
halo of silver sweaweed, the hair
swaying in the dark and the heat — and at night
while his eyes sleep, it stands up
in praise of God.

I’m not sure about this as a poem (although I do like the last two lines) but the subject matter is certainly, err… provocative? No. Not quite. Interesting? Noooooo. Unusual. That’ll do. I don’t often think about the papal penis so this was my paradigm buster for the day.

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