as they are
you might find a sheep
from time to time,
a sheep lost in her wool,
a head the herder missed
now obscured by brambles.
The herder misses this muddied cloud of wire,
a sheep that begged for sheering
but got caught in one bush after another,
nothing cleared. Now, burrs and
mats and thistles hide all periphery.
We huddle beneath the bus stop covers,
Our leaky plastic canopy saviors, we squint
Into traffic to read route displays,
The derby drivers racing to Reggaeton and Bon Jovi.
We wade through the river of Avienda Chacabuco
The cloudy water to our ankles, dark with grit
And city wood smoke, it refracts our boots,
Our green or blue laces, drifting Snickers wrappers,
Floating oil shines with the opalescence of stained glass
I’ve met people here
Who adore Neruda,
Mr. I like you when you are quiet
or perhaps more precisely
Mr. You please me when you keep quiet.
When they tell me this,
My jaw tightens
With the meeting of teeth,
My knees creak,
My wrists are pricked by
Needles and nails,
I respect these people less.
I am judgmental in my tastes
For both poetry and humans,
Being a poet doesn’t mean loving a rapist
Who writes about sentimental twilight.
after “Semejanza Inexacta,” intstallation art by Francisco Peró
Their legs apart or snug as one,
Shoulders angular in fat,
Fishing line a barely catching thing.
The sun into the underground
Cuts their edges, etches each form
As they twist slowly in the AC.
The borders cross their bodies
The streets of their arms
Ruta Cinco in yellow
I-95 in red
National Trunk Highway in black
All catching the morning glare,
Reflecting museum-goers’ mutters.
My knees gather sweat
my unbalmed heat rash,
creeks trickle down
my calves, ardent hands
stitching crooked seams.
The window units broke
again so I’ll be scrubbing yellow
from my sleeve’s insides.
I lean away,
let the moisture dry
an egg in my best shirt,
salted polyester musk heavies,
women fan their faces
with a flutter of hymn pamphlets.
John 14:6: I am
the way and the truth
and the life.
No one comes
to the Father
except through me.
Itching nylons slide deeper
to my patent leather toes.
I uncross my ankles, tilt.
Momma wills daggers
into my periphery.
Flat back against the pew.
Momma checks me every minute
without moving her head,
Better girls never cough during prayer
and never let their skirts ride up.
We leave with a blessing.
We sigh Amen.
I pluck my skirt from my thighs,
unglue my shirt,
our low heels tap down the aisle.
I get an earful of razor whispers
before we even finish crossing
the blonde grass
brittle as a twice-bleached wig.
A poet’s been spending hours online just scrolling Facebook,
hiding from her novels and half empty notebooks,
inflating a bouncy house cathedral puff huff puff
with stained glass windows of neon plastic wrap
and cotton candy stones that never dreamt of rose quartz.
She lets the battery die. The ferns guzzle water on her windowsill
opposite the neighbor’s box heavy with geraniums,
craning stems like giraffes with tongues wrapping around acacia.
A boy dribbles his soccer ball on the patio, shuffling across tiles,
erasing the scuffs of shifted furniture. He fakes out defenders
and shoots bap baff bap into the marked wall, lifting his arms
and calling goooool over chanting fans and his mother’s radio.
She smiles and shakes her head, a mist of Clorox finer
than perfume to cover parquet wax molding oranges,
she’s been scrubbing potatoes for dinner, rocks in a stream losing
their pits and muddy divots, her apron absorbing the sink’s splash.
We put lima beans in ziplocs with wet paper towels,
misted them each afternoon until roots crept from the bottoms
and sprouts emerged like dancers drawing themselves on stage.
Like a good scientist, I have been replicating for twenty years
in pots and plastic bottles and marmalade jars
until my apartment is a madwoman’s forrest.
Peach pits crack open and avocados dissolve in the dirt
and tomato seeds extend spider legs
and I grin every time like a six year old.