“Coming to Freedom,” “Noguchi,” and “Gypsy”
dressed in white
your deep eyes pierced the daylight
*Araminta, defender of the people
when you crossed the line to freedom, the stars opened up all around you
something in your heart made you pause, turn around, breathing
“Aut Pax Aut Bellum,” “Three Sisters,” and “Quiet the Celebration”
Mother needles & threads her way into conversations,
as she does with everything,
& there, piercing
the cotton weave of our family, her place secure.
“Death Means Not Sleeping,” “Ghazal from a Bottle,” and “On Tuesdays”
How do you keep on getting out of bed each morning?
A bed that is half empty since the day your husband died.
A life that seems like a flight of stairs missing a step
and you always seem to trip on that one.
“Cantúa Creek,” “Joaquin,” and “Mustang Running”
First explored by Spanish Army troops
From Mission San Juan Baptista,
Led by Jose de Guadalupe Cantua,
Son of a prominent Californio Ranchero
In the 19th-century Mexican era
Of early California history
“Rambling Rose,” “Jake: The Best Dog in the World,” and “Truly Madly Deeply”
The car I grew up in
Was a 1960 Pontiac Star Chief
Four-door sedan hardtop
In a color my Crayola 64 box called Flesh.
Even at a time when most cars
Came in a wide variety of vibrant colors,
This one stood out.
“I will not die,” “Wednesday,” and “calendar”
last Wednesday night
on the phone
I want my kids
to know you
as you leaned toward
the darkened future
“In the Tidal Pool,” “Weathering,” and “A Vespa Ride”
First at sunrise,
Then at sunset
You ebb away
leaving me suspended.
My kaleidoscopic charms
laid bare at the altar
of jumbled cowries,
flowers of the sea,
Duck & Cover Season
I was looking at the guitar amps in the Cumberland Street Pawn when Janie Sizemore crashed her car into the front of the shop. She’d struck two American Pekin ducks waddling through the main intersection. She’d tried swerving to miss them but ended up running them over anyway and hopping the curb and smashing the pawn shop’s only front window.
Tommy looked in all directions before confirming they were completely alone on their hidden path in the woods. They had never done something so risky in public before. They knew getting caught for Public Display of Affection would have consequences. But due to his mother's recent shift change, he couldn't hide his relationship behind closed doors anymore. Regardless, they were sixteen, in love, and couldn’t fathom being separated.
Teethmarks protrude, even now, from the skirting boards of his childhood home. Gnawed memories and pitfalls of what once was, yet persists now only in peripheral reaches, dusty nooks and edges. He’s learnt to resist the urge, or the medication has straight-laced him to perform as wider society deems fit...
Long Short Story
Spring semester, my senior year of college, I won Jenny Muller in a game of Trivial Pursuit. The winning question was, What Native American tribe assisted the Corps of Discovery through the winter of 1804–1805? I couldn’t believe my luck. With the question or the prize.
Flesh and Ghost
Ghosts have terrible memories. Turns out that the physical body is integral to particular recollections. Mass, matter, moving through space, imprinting on the world; being imprinted upon. Art has helped me bridge that gap (of not having a body); allowed me an entry point. Music, movies—literature especially—flesh things out. The imaginative world anchors me. Still. There’s always something a little slant to my impressions of the past. My young moments among the living.
Just Be Nice
I was still stoned when I got back home that Saturday – the first Saturday we had a family dinner planned since I’d gotten my license the previous year. We, well, my mom planned this dinner to welcome my dad back from his first tour of duty as a trucker. I was late. And my mom told me so.
We watched things change everywhere else in the world, but we never expected the whirlwind of change that showed up one day on our doorstep. (In our case, me, Mom, and Dad). The change came in the form of a little Rumpelstiltskin of a man carrying a black valise and a clipboard. (Odd, I thought, that he didn’t have a computer or smart phone.) He said he was from the Census Guard of The New Order, and that I was obliged to answer honestly. I didn’t dare ask who was doing the obliging, mostly because of the elephant-gray vehicle moving slowly down the street.
A Cypress Tree Has No Shadow: Chapters Three and Four
SYBILLA steered Justina by the arm out of the office and down a hallway of high, dulled walls that looked shadowy even in daytime despite the frail radiance of bulbs in widely spaced, brass chandeliers. There were few people around; mostly Palestinian staff with UN identity badges around their necks going from office to office. Others – Justina took them to be refugees – appeared to be drifting aimlessly.
Autobiography of the Bomb: Chapter Eight
He was at a gathering in Berkeley at the spartan home of a man named Peters. The cigarette smoke was mixed with alcohol and the hot breath of conversation. Peters was a physician who had escaped from Dachau. He had seen things. He chose not to speak of it unless someone was being particularly pigheaded or willfully ignorant or smugly uncaring, and then he spoke in such detail that he commanded the room with the authority of a Greek messenger. “I am come from Thebes with news I dare not speak.” “Speak, man, and you shall not be harmed, I vow.”
Cynthia had withdrawn, wrapped in a shroud of bedsheets, exhausted by weeping. In the darkened room, sounds were somehow louder — the rain, a car swishing by on the street, the faint barking of a neighbor’s dog. Water dripping from the eaves and mumbling in the downspout beside the open window. Six days since Maylin drowned. Tomorrow they would bury her.
Dismantling Rollo Bay
Here, in a wallpapered room under a dark mansard roof, the voice of the wind outside lifts and twirls memories in me of the humble farmhouse that I once called home. Still my heart’s home.
It’s in Rollo Bay, only thirty miles down the road. But a lifetime away. Tomorrow I will go there.
Baseball and Ballet
Parents want the best for their children, unless they’re psychopaths (the adults, I mean). But sometimes what a parent wants is what they believe is best, without recognizing where a child’s head and heart really are.