Memories of You
I thought of you this afternoon,
laughing with your entire body
slightly curling over as you let
yourself lay bare its expression
of unconfined happiness. You were
intoxicated with life despite not having
much. Safeguarding the inner child
whose gaze witnessed the rising sun
and not puddles left by drenching rain.
Bitterness failed to castle your core
although negativity, a foreign invader,
always crushed at the edges. Even
Victoria, your two-timing ex-wife
who siphoned your youth couldn’t bury
you into a casket of despair. Instead,
you picked up Grandpa’s mallet
and chisel to replicate the world
into miniature wishes. The 1935
Mercedes Benz 500K Luxury Roadster
you carved for me as a keychain.
I found it, still splendid, no abrasions,
no missing parts, just the perfect
rendition of my one-day dream
that you placed in my palm. Driving
top down and waving my happiness.
You laughed as you pointed to the shirtless
man pushing a wooden wheelbarrow adorned
with Mercedes hubcaps and painted insignia.
On the front, planks horizontally stacked up
forming a horseshoe that kept merchandise
in place. Even the dirt poor have fancy dreams.
I am aware of this infinite connectedness
bridging ancestral heartbeats to counter pulse rhythms—
some perfect, some imperfect. Touch is a residue,
an aura of understanding lingering like an echo.
My umbilical cord buried underneath
a cotton silk tree. I wonder if my raging
headaches were due to the violent blows
of axes that brought down my twinning tree.
Am I losing my roots for being uprooted?
Is being uprooted like shedding skin, or
is it like missing a limb, or one of your kin?
I am prodding the ground to find
the filaments of constraint.
My tears are for the passage of time as I try
to remove a rock impeding my heartbeat. I no longer
have a pole to hoist my flag—no fluttering,
just faint posturing from a remembrance of being.
Must I welcome this breeze that dries out my tears?
My eyes, still red from watching hungry mouths
unable to sing the national anthem. Must we surrender?
Our country’s future no longer visible on the deeds.
My blood came from this land of yams, okra, and sharp
machetes that knows how to bring down robust
trees. But, it is raining where I am standing—
mud to my ankle, I am worried of calcification,
to be encased in amber waiting for an archaeologist
to unearth me. Raindrops are like tears
of children seized and waiting at the Southern border
bawling for their mother’s breasts.
What kind of brigand’s brigade places children
in boxes where they must foreclose their dreams
in a country of neon dreams? Nationalism
is not a moral virtue. Yeshua fed the many with little.
Am I dreaming this up? Dreams can be hacked.
Buried in the mud, I must muster strength
to take off my shoes. I walk barefoot towards a bridge,
the shore lights of the past are lit with Tiki torches.
Am I dreaming this up?
So far, I am roped to a nightmare, I refuse
to be zombified. Correct, I live here and my love
is here; friendship cannot be established
with a barrel of anger. Touch me to know me.
Tulile, a Strange Fruit
For Claude Jean Harri
Not far from the cane fields,
the old you that was,
a shoe-less shoeshine,
hangs like a windless flag.
Limp—blue jeans, faded red shirt.
The palm trees whisper as death
greets the sun. The old you that was
whimpers at the end of your tied legs.
You only see your feet,
bare and swollen.
Among the witnesses and the clicking
cameras, you sense my presence and tension
and reveal the blue flame of hate fuming
from faces of men whose boots you’ve buffed,
shined until your black face turned to rags.
The spasms of your body mimic a macabre tango
tangled by ropes in Santiago de los Caballeros.
Tulile, what’s the use of prayers?
I’ll ask Billie to sing for you
a Caribbean strange fruit that grows
on a flaming tree at a public park
in Hispaniola where schoolchildren halted
their laughter to hiccup with the town.