NaPoWriMo, Poetry

NaPoWriMo: poems 7-11

i am totally flaking out. i had to catch up, in haiku. and not particularly strong or powerful haiku, either. just… rushed, keep-up-with-the-challenge haiku.

so here it is.

i should note that these are interconnected.

(for d.n.l.)

poem 7 – haiku

if prison’s a whale
and your cell, its belly, be
Jonah. wash ashore.

poem 8 – haiku

i know why you need
to circumvent Ninevah:
you’ll find mirrors there.

poem 9 – haiku

fear not reflection,
for in every flaw, there is
awe, grace, and power.

poem 10 – haiku

prisons are, themselves,
the criminals, molesting
all they claim to help.

poem 11- haiku

for the newly freed,
smog is as glorious as
tropics’ salted breeze.

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NaPoWriMo, Poetry

NaPoWriMo: poems 4-6.

poem 4: missions

And then I took you to dinner
because I was used to paying,
every meal an apology for
the way you were raised:

I’m sorry your father left you.
I’m sorry that when he returned,
you were already Ellison’s
man underground, mind half-
Hoovered into oblivion.

Love can be retaught.
You can be deprogrammed.

Like all the other nights, you dined,
relishing saffron rice, ripping
naan into swaths, staining
your ample lips with curry: no
worries.

and later—
when we kissed, I took in
the garlicky grin behind that
mouth so used to secreting away
your truths and I thought:

I should’ve been a missionary,
the way I invade these ancestral villages
and offer the men my salvation.

 

poem 5: untitled

these are not the mud plains
where we met, two mongrels still black enough
to belong to the fields, where we were freer
to court and forge cabals in cottages of straw.

i am sure we are different, though
i cannot speak for you, whose voice is
little more than a wasp’s hum
every seventh summer now.

once, not long after you left, i was hitched
to a plow and made the Molly mule
Zora meant only as metaphor.

i knew then why we never married.

these are not the mines where they found you
and i asked for you, opened and autopsied.
i still dream of your lungs, so
marbled with soot that their blood
hardened sleek as obsidian.

that time, you vowed a return
as a soldier of fortune, as the driver of
a westward-facing wagon:
and you will have bonnets
and petticoats a-plenty;
you will know the shuddering
cool of a parasol’s shade.

belief was impossible to conjure;
reincarnation is not an erasure.

poem 6: morgue

i do not know why
i was called to identify your body
after your overdose in the alley
behind Yummy’s with that girl in the
yellowed gingham dress.

but when i got there, i was told
that i was your emergency
contact and i suppose it made sense
that i would be. we were
so close once that i held
your DNA, stroked the strands
as they gathered themselves
into a hardy little core that
siphoned life, long after you left mine.

i should’ve felt more distress
than i did, looking down at the
milky crust scaling your irises
like acid caking corroded batteries
but Lord, it would be years
before i could fathom
that death would be more permanent
than my belief in you.

And then I took you to dinner

because I was used to paying,

every meal an apology for

the way you were raised:

I’m sorry your father left you.

I’m sorry that when he returned,

you were already Ellison’s

man underground, mind half-

Hoovered into oblivion.

Love can be retaught.

You can be deprogrammed.

Like all the other nights, you dined,

relishing saffron rice, ripping

naan into swaths, staining

your ample lips with curry: no

worries.

and later—

when we kissed, I took in

the garlicky grin behind that

mouth so used to secreting away

your truths and I thought:

I should’ve been a missionary,

the way I invade these ancestral villages

and offer the men my salvation.

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NaPoWriMo, Poetry

NaPoWriMo: poems 1-3.

April is, of course, National Poetry Month. Last year I participated in the 30/30 challenge, writing 30 poems in 30 days. I’m trying it again this year, but I decided it on a whim, on the 2nd. So I’m a day behind. Every 3-5 days, I’ll post a digest of the few poems I’ve written (so as not to inundate you with daily posts). Occasionally, I may include some commentary, but that’s still up in the air. Let me know if you’re interested in the process; I’ll pontificate if it’s wanted. *shrug*

Anyway, here are poems 1-3, written between April 2 and April 4:

poem 1: surfeit

but tonight, let us feast
at the table of what wasn’t.
we will dine on the scraps of
an undercooked love,
use old letters as our linen,
dip our fingers into
the cleansing bowls of all
our ancient secrets. we
will sip hours on a claret
of could’ve-beens,
and at last, when our
rack of regrets is served
we will get through the brine
and the sinew. then, we
will suck dry the bones.

poem 2: picture day, overton elementary: chicago, 2011

(for ukailya lofton)

1.
the candies crinkled
and clacked in her plaits
and the smacking of seven-
year-old lips filled with
blue raspberry
cherry and
watermelon bliss
whipped down the full
length of the hall.
ukailya was having a ball,
green apple grins glossing her
mouth as she waltzed
from class to cafeteria,
cheerily letting her friends
pluck the low-hanging fruit
in her hair. and there, with
the promise of plentiful
wallet-sized keepsakes
of the day she was deemed
the sweetest girl in school,
she skipped into computer
class, the sparkle of flash
bulbs alight in her eyes.
come here, sweetie, her teacher
cooed like the serpent of Eden,
comb your hair into your face
with your fingers. it’s cute.

2.
strip her of anonymity.
auction her to the avatars
and trolls, who skulk
beneath bridges and
grab for young girls.
and when you have sold
her off, left her susceptible
to an echoing hall of taunts,
return to your post, where i
hope you are haunted, by
the wilt of her smile as
she says: “I feel sad that
she put my picture on Facebook.

I don’t think she liked it.”

poem 3: gleaning

i am no Ruth and you,
no Boaz, but were you
a silo, i’d scale your walls
and climb in, gather your sins
into baskets, trudge them out
to the threshing floor.

(our lives are more than the
parables preached about them.)

i’d linger on each stalk and lament
that the interesting bits of you
must be blown off by the winnowing
wind of a Savior who requires
pure grain for an unleavened bread.

(i would envy your weevils.)

but eventually, i would sacrifice
you for harvest; that can’t be
helped. some day, you will be
that perfect loaf and i will be a fish
divided for the throngs.

(we are not yet where we belong.)

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