2010s · Poetry

Passing Sounds Fade

The heavy of his arm around
her shoulders, the lack of weight—
how it sits there like a machine fitting,
clock-watch piece.
The dust in his voice lies
thick under her chest.
She knows his closet is full
and the bodies are fresh
but she presses against
the door with him. Spring
cleaning is months away. It’s fall now,
so she presses her hands to his
warm coat, her hands against
his chest feel beat to breath—
beat to breath. Close her eyes
and pray to an unknown god,
pray the planes will pass,
pray he isn’t looking back.

 

First published on Cadence Collective.

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Events · Special Projects

THE TABLE presents Creating, Nurturing, Sustaining :: a reading and conversation

On Sunday, January 21st, from 3-5 pm, I will be participating in an event hosted by Karineh Mahdessian & Jessica Ceballos y Campbell & co-hosted by Angelina Sáenz.

“Creating, Nurturing, Sustaining:: a reading and conversation” invites creators, producers, curators, hosts, and supporters of readings across the Los Ángeles literaryscape to read their work, as not only hosts/creators/supporters, but as artists who contribute to the landscape in more ways than one. The reading will be followed by a panel discussion on what it means to create (readings, lit events), and how we grow community around these events (equity in promotion, investing in community capital), and how we sustain that community (publishing, relationships, self-care).

Angelina Sáenz
Art Currim
Audrey Kuo
Brian Dunlap
Cynthia Alessandra Briano
Elmast Kozloyan
Eric Contreras
Jess Castillo
Jessica Wilson Cardenas
Kelly Grace Thomas
liz gonzález
Luis Antonio Pichardo
Mike Sonksen
Natalie Patterson
Sarah Thursday
Wyatt Underwood
•••
THE TABLE Reading Series is a collection of twelve reading events executive produced by Natashia Deón, and in partnership with The Hollywood Hotel, with a mission to engage the next generation of writers and readers and fans of the arts by giving them a seat at the table; to help them to be actively engaged in the writing community by training them, giving them a space to begin, help them to reach new or estranged writers in Los Angeles, and to provide fresh outlets for writers and fans to engage and contribute to the vibrancy of the Los Angeles literary community. More info can be found at www.tablelit.com

Hollywood Hotel

1160 North Vermont Avenue in the big ballroom located on the ground floor. 

Los Angeles, CA 90029

2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

Paper Airplane

We keep gnawing at roots
sopping in alcohol.
I am full. You still starve.

You want me bath-soaked,
I need you tree hollow.
So I tear at your bark skin

until you bleed spoiled sugar.
Open my fingers and peel sunset
leaves from my palms.

Spit the pulp from my tongue,
lay it flat into perfect white rectangles,
press out every last drop of rain.

Let sunlight inhale what’s left.
Even your teeth hate
how little I want to kiss you.

As you wither, I fold you in half,
crease your edges. Nose you forward.
Refuse to watch what happens next.

First published in Paper Plane Pilots.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Gill Growing

I will give to you my lifesaver. You who are sinking in the ocean
alone. I didn’t see you diving over the edge, but you say you want
to sink under, feel the weight of ocean crush your chest. I know it
gets exhausting. I know because when I dove down as deep, I grew
gills. It was dark for so many years I stopped believing in sunlight.
Breath is memory. You will remember how music makes you dance,
but water keeps it from you. You can’t move through currents like
hallways. You, gill growing boy. I keep throwing down ropes but you
are not done sinking. You still need the weight, so I will wait for you.
Watch you from the surface while you walk ocean. I don’t know
when your arms will grow strong enough to pull yourself up, so I
give you my pen. Write me letters. Send them up on rays of sunlight.
I will keep them at my heart until you are ready to surface.

First published in Paper Plane Pilots.

2010s · Poetry

Fruit of Your Offspring

You were so damn handsome
in nineteen forty-two.
Dark hair and brown eyes
and that long Swedish nose.
You always stood upright,
taller than your own frame,
Navy man in an impeccable uniform.
Your native tongue was Testament
both the Old and the New,
always dressed in humble blue jeans
and that humble plaid shirt.

I was enamored with you—
we all were, the fruit of your offspring.
I laid at your feet and
pulled on your long eyelids.
The silver-gray brows hung like
eaves from your Swedish forehead.
You taught me calculator tricks,
I thought you brilliant and soft-spoken.
I loved the way your words trickled
out like a creaky faucet,
vowels lingering around the spigot.

I never believed in Santa Claus
so I believed in you,
in a man of few words
except what Jesus spoke.
When I remembered you,
you lived in a trailer-shack
on an orphanage in Mexico.
We would drive four hours
to see your leathered hands
and oil stained fingernails.

Then I grew up, just like three
of your five daughters.
I became a boy-kissing girl
with breasts and summer legs.
(Did they all disappoint you like this?)

The man who married your middle
child gave me his green eyes and more
than half of my bad memories.
So I looked to you to show me
your God’s unconditional love,
but you had no words—
I could not make you creak.
Instead you typed letters
on a silver-gray typewriter,
single and mechanically spaced.

There is no treasure here on Earth
but store all your treasure in Heaven.
Love not this world or anything in it.
Love not the woman who wants to be held.
Love not the girl who wants to wear lipstick.
Love not those who want to love this life,
who love their physical bodies,
and the pleasures of this Earth.

Ten typed pages sent as a reply—
verse by verse you sentenced me
to my worldly life, an unchosen child.
Love me not, my holy grandfather
for I was born the child of your daughter
who also once believed in you.

So, I turned your faucet off tight—
we all did. Your spigot left dark and dry.

Previously Published in Elsewhere Lit.

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

Yellow

I am seven
yellow-blonde girl
with missing teeth
wearing someone else’s clothes
I smile for the camera
I don’t remember
where I am
there are so many rooms
so many stops
I am never there long enough
to know if I will miss it

I keep following my mother
my brother, too, in the car
we drive for days and months
I forget the names
of all my teachers
just shadows of school yards
they say I need glasses
I have too many absences
I think this is normal
don’t all children hold secrets
like packs of gum
at the bottom of their pockets

I love my mother
I believe her implicitly
I walk in my sleep
in every different house
to find her
I am empty without her
so we keep our clothes in bags
and in the car
they are my sister’s clothes
or someone else who outgrew them

she cuts my hair short
to get rid of the lice
it’s up past my ears
I cry like a widow
yellow-blonde hair
corpses lying under my chair
I can go back to school now
the fourth one this year

twenty years later
I will return here
it will be so much smaller
the rooms will have moved
and ghosts of yellow-blonde hair
will wander in the shadows
of school yards

First Published in Elsewhere Lit.

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

My Friends Who Write Poetry

Our words swing from threads
across our chest. They pull,
unraveling thin lines into
a soft jagged mess.
Some of you fight it,
snip those frays clean,
tuck in all the evidence.
Some dig fingers deep
wearing fringe coats
long into summer nights.
I know a poet when I see
your words dangling,
dragging, spilling like
sloppy rainbows
out from our pockets.

First published in Uno Kudo.

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

Fixing a Hole

How do you fill
a chasm?With stone or wood
or earth?An artist doesn’t fill
a chasmbut instead creates
an amphitheaterand floods the space
with songSteep gouged walls
become a torsoits beating heart
begins to sing

First published in Hedgerow: a Journal of Small Poems (November 2014)

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

Frost

When do we lay these sticks down?
Having been rubbed raw of revival
no sparks enough for flames—
I am too tired to promise I’ll wait
faithful for another dawn.
You are more in love with saving the fire
than actually keeping us
warm and free from that frost that hangs
on branches above our heads—
it’s been itching at us for years.
I’m going inside the house now,
I will leave the door unlocked
but I won’t leave it open.
I won’t call out to you again.
My words caught in cold breath
as I pull off wet feet,
hang them on wires
stretching for decades.
Say goodbye in white crystal
particles drifting into the black.

First published in The Rainbow Journal (November 2014)

2010s · Poetry

Last Thread

It’s the last thread
that’s so hard to cut

The chain’s long broken
the rope’s been unraveled

I’ve swum against the currents
I’ve surfaced near the shore

The thin line’s still tangled
through ocean tide hair

It pulls out slow and shining
like a timeline of a story

so I tie it in a bow
around my finger tight

to remember
where I’ve been