no quarter

i was born from a wound
ripped open womb

i was born a wound
from my mother’s engorged womb

we left the hospital bloody
ripe with centuries of battles unsung

no museum documents
this unrelenting war

on veterans day we are not honored
for emerging still living from its trenches

we, the survivors
honor the scars of our breaking

i write this without a mothertongue

my paper bag face magnified
mercilessly in the looking glass.
honey slides seamlessly down my
features searching under its golden
hues for the tangle of my history—

never look a gift face in the mouth.
i drool, letting it dangle dangerously
over the porcelain—ravenously
hunting for traces of homelands
etched into the crevices of my reflection.

late at night

i wait for that magic moment when
pain and my exhaustion meet,
and exhaustion triumphs.

when i feel the emptiness that surrounds me
the hole i’m in looms
the darkness brings questions and doubts
the weight of my history bears down on me

late at night
pain and i
create and destroy
and i, the fool,
chase sleep

next time (for james)

next time
i hope i am a farm beast
born in hay
to callused hands.

with my legs under me
i stand in the grass
munching and sunning.

we lean into one another
side to side
our warm bodies
a sense of home.

sun, hay, feed
hands, brush, stroke
morning, day, evening.

quietness in the dim
stars in the sky
ground below me
i trust in life.

and when my time comes
i wish to be held firm
by calloused hands
in love and death.

quick, quiet, firm
my flesh becomes nourishment
and i go back to god.

if this poem

if this poem

if this poem was a magpie
it would steal your jewelry
and leave you laughing

and if it was a feather
it would glide gently across
your exquisite face

if this poem was made of gold
my love would melt it into
a luminescent puddle

and if this poem was made of fire
it would keep you warm
all your days and nights

and you would never lose your way
because it would be a beacon
drawing you into your god-self

if this poem was a rose
its fragrance would mesmerize you
and its thorns trace lovely pain trails

and it would never wither or die
and it would always give you
just the right balance of agony and delight

if this poem was my hands
it would happily caress you only when
and whenever you wanted it to

and it would wear leather gloves
whenever you wanted a spanking
and hold you when it was over

if this poem was a balm
it would reach inside you
and soothe your deepest wounds

if this poem was the sea
it would carry you on its back
to all the continents of your ancestors

and it would rock you at night
while you slept with the sea lions
and planned your next adventure

if this poem was a book
whenever you opened it
you would learn whatever you needed to know

if this poem was a chariot
you would always ride in style
and there would always be room for friends

if this poem was a shirt
it would hug you and shape you painlessly
into the boy in your mind’s eye

and if it was a hat
it would keep you warm in winter
and never go out of style

if this poem was my eyes
it would always gaze on you
in wonder and awe

and if this poem was my tears
you would drink them and be healed
of all the shame this world has forced on you

and you would bathe in the saline water
and be cleansed of everything wrong
anyone ever said about you

and you would never believe their lies again
and you would know only grace
so that just your splendor would remain

if this poem was my love
it would fill this city with longing
and no one would go to work

and everyone would wander the streets
searching for the answer
to satisfy their soul’s sweet call


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i define my selves as metamorphosis, more about
frantically flapping wings, erectile
singing hymns and prayers of peace. tiny in this cruel empire, information pills
i move out from the heart in each precious moment.

across oceans are my people whose olive flesh is beautiful,
radiant. it is more than bruises darkening like blackberries
smashed onto flesh that comes in my name. i know apologies
are useless, so i must maintain the beating of my wings.

together our heartsongs may save us. but is it too late?

cain and abel


does not the broken
sand dollar have it’s own cracked
beauty in wholeness?
cain and abel

oh hope, refractionist
you tenacious thing
you tiny sun
you parasite

you crumbling cliff
you weeping willow
you rescuer

oh despair, generic
you blanket
you cloud
you lover

you dark cave
you heart attack
you murderer

tiny seed in me
you make me dream
in color, in hues
i cannot comprehend

you roll around
my deep places
illuminating my dark desires
baring my despair

leave me alone!
i cannot afford you
or your treasures

quit lighting up my insides
you pervert!
no one wants to look in there

you lonely creature
you make me dream
the same hopeless dreams

you crawl around
my deep places
clutching my dark desires
gnawing into my ugly past

leave me alone!
i cannot afford you
i’ve got work to do

you child
you beast
you broken heart
no one wants to look at you

you haunters
you terrors
you lovers
you brothers

if you are under the weather and the weather is pummeling you

pain is symbolic of something.
pain is a directional isthmus.
there is a goal.
any specialist can tell you that.
you poor suffering, ignorant, pounding thing.

don’t be embarrassed!
you didn’t know!
that belly stands for an arrow
a monstrous, thrilling arrow.
the inferno of your nerves are the bridge.

pain is an unreasonable vibration.
pain is a bad songwriter.
pain dismantles syntax.
pain chews bones and brains.

don’t be embarrassed!
if you go astray
if you fear there is no end
if your bridge is underwater
and you can’t swim
if your nerves whir noisily
and you cannot hear the conductor.

pain will persevere
you will persevere

“The pain is in the world. It’s out here; it’s going to get you, no matter who you are.”
-Wynton Marsalis

for the child who should have been me

for the child who should have been me

oh my baby
i will touch your soft throat
it will not hurt this time
i will stroke your insides

there are no razors
at the ends of my fingers
i am soft, opisthorchiasis like you

i will never choke you while you sleep
i will try not to hurt you
we can cry together.

we cannot be one
i should have been one
we should have been together

i’ll never be able to look into your eyes
but i can hold you.

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