Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The breaths

heave up and

wait. . .

The rise and fall of my father's chest
and his red woolen sweater,

my eyes watching his closed ones and
their flutter,

The day rattling out, an engine cooling,
out of oil, belt falling off.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Ground Rises Up.

Today, my Seattle looks like a big apple. Spots of green where the leaves can't make up their minds when to fall, birds not yet pushed out of the nest by their mothers. Not yet. There are spots of red when a passing semitruck flashes by, whirling up a concoction of wet and crunchy, from the leaves fallen in gutters, from the bus stops. From the piles of orange and red resting by leaf blowers.

And sometimes this apple has moist damp puddles full of bruises my feet avoid. Walking down the hill the boulevard north of the cemetary, I realize my boots aren't weatherproof as I feel slow infiltration seeping into wool socks, their gray fibers turning black with the wet dark water. The shoes I wear sinking into the mud around gravestones, around the base of an oak tree, into the muddy grass, gone brown.

For me, Seattle has turned a corner, made its decision. Today Seattle made up its mind, handing itself over to me over the counter at my local bakery, the jaded cold hands of my barista giving me chocolate brown crema in a cup, asking for cream.

My hands cramp with the cold and I know. The corpses in the ground rise up and smell it too--not because it's Halloween, but because their bones feel the warm chill of fire that comes in the sky, that stares back down at them when they look up at the leaves. Today, this city is alive.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Excerpt, "She Dreams of Better Times."

We could write all these things down. How grandma yelled out her hunger and pain into a bowl after grandpa died, her, shoveling the cereal flakes into her gaping mouth. “Well, I’m hungry.” Not ten minutes after he died, my mother tells me. Spoon after spoon. Flakes fell like soggy snow, pressed into the linoleum by her trampling diminutive sneaker feet, by the funeral home workers carrying out the dark body bag to their hearse. The flakes were vacuumed up later after they dried and latched on, maybe by my aunt or by my mother, eyes damp and swollen, the insides of the vacuum groaning out guttural sighs. Are we done yet, they asked us. Enough already.

Your grandma’s makeshift playroom housed many a cousin, many an aunt and uncle who didn’t mind sleeping on the floor. No skin rubbing, no blue rambler love making happened. The foundation’s cracks remained unshaken by orgasm or by earthquake. The house formed a pale postage stamp collection with the other ramblers, other elderly couples, their visiting children, their pink lawn flamingos and wind chimes. There were blow up mattresses on plush carpet, emerging from the storage unit after an annual sleep next to the croquet set. The sheets on the queen-size bed were neatly kept and smooth. The slippery pink roses on the bedspread kept tamed and clipped like manicured nails.


Once I went through the drawers of the desk in that room. Stamps. Thumb tacks. Cuff links. All kept, but not in order. I cleared off the dust with my fingers in the yellow daylight that made its lazy way through the venetian blinds, I made dust drawings with young fingers.

If you looked down the hall you could see the slanted light, golden through the shades, telling your young brain the time of day. You can smell the warmth of the concrete despite the air conditioning. Yellowed dog-eared pages rested on the pressboard shelves, a dark oak once stylish in the seventies.

Her toenails, crooked and yellowing, remind me of how my mother’s look now. Now I cringe when the old toes are clipped. I can’t watch her being helped into her apartment—third floor, Ya-Po-Ah Terrace—by my by her caregiver Diana, by my mother and Aunt Mary. We swat at the fruit flies, hoping that killing them will give grandma more time, make her see the rotting fruit on the pocket sized counter. Make my mom not ever have to give grandma a bath, not ever.

Monday, October 11, 2010

With Love and Apologies (sans proper formatting.)

If it has felt like such a long time
since I love you blue and watery
—I’m sorry;
it was not in my plans
to go without telling you for long,
what I hope obvious.

Do my eyes do enough?—
My deadened skin and rough feet might have
rubbed your surfaces the wrong way or


just maybe
you got the message
I sent you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tolerating the Believers.

God is not bullshit,
but this class is
with its lines
its angles burdensome. God is night storm.

If I sit here
for one hour
and a half, I will hear
about mustard seeds and saccharine

and maybe--perhaps
God will teach this class for you,
not with nice felt cut outs, bob hair cut
but with electrocution of heart, o God

give me a downpour of water.