Thursday, August 29, 2013

Run Like a Child (For Rachel)

I wait for my daughter
to drive her home
when she is done
with middle school.

I remember her
younger
running to the car
-backpack bobbing and
her wide happy smile –
so giddy and alive
to see me.

Now she is changing,
becoming beautiful,
trying on new
phrases and associations
like they were hairstyles.

Her wide-eyed excitement
morphed into heavy-lidded
detachment
and slow moving feet
and slouching teenaged indifference.

I would never go back
to the awkward time
she is in,
I hated checking a million eyes
for confirmation
of what I was doing.

I watch her and I pray
that her blossoming
is more confident
less tortured
than mine was

I also pray that
sometimes
she’d run like a child
upon seeing me again.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Defined by My Weaknesses

Alcoholic.
Adulterer.
Liar.
Obese.

These self-imposed epithets
create the boundaries
of my self-concept.

I cannot drink
or sleep around
or tell a lie
or overeat.

I am kept on the
paths of sobriety
fidelity
integrity and
satiety
by these labels
and by the knowledge
that a thousand prurient eyes
and the possibility
of a chorus of
sadly clucking tongues
are all waiting for
my eventual failure.

So,
for those of you
keeping score:

alcohol-
23 and a half years

adultery-
not since I found the
one that would
wear my ring

lying –
would you even believe me?

obese –
I have to diet
to be considered
"just" overweight,

and for those of you
waiting for my
inevitable failure:

I’ll concede to you
the diet
but everything else
I keep close
like a scar
on my face,
so I’ll never forget
or get lazy
or slouch back
into the darkness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weenie-Reeto!

Growing up
my mom used to 
cook leftovers and 
roll them into 
warm flour tortillas
to make burritos
out of anything
and everything.

It didn't have to be 
refried beans or rice,
it could be scrambled eggs
and bacon 
or chili colorado.

She wasn't prejudiced,
food was food.

So, here's my contribution
to the canon of Mexican cuisine:

take one 
all-American hot dog
(the higher the fat content,
the more American)
and microwave it 
for 30 seconds
on a paper towel,

and while that's cooking,
heat over an open flame
one authentic
made-with-lard 
flour tortilla,
and allow it to burn
just a little bit 
like Grandma Trini used to,
and then say 
“the burned part 
is good for you,”

next, unwrap a slice
of American cheese 
and place it 
on the tortilla,
top with the hot dog 
and zap it another 
30 seconds,

then squirt it with
a line of ketchup
(or catsup),

 and roll it up
(don’t forget 
to tuck the bottom in, 
a rookie mistake)

and presto,
you have a weenie-reeto!

The perfect 
all-American snack 
for hungry 
culturally-assimilated 
Mexicans
everywhere!

Es delicioso!

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com where my poetry vatos rock it weakly, but not weekly!  Orale, vamanos!]

Friday, August 23, 2013

Off-White

In pictures with Browns
I look White,
and in pictures of Whites
I look Brown.

Torn between two cultures
feeling like un tonto.

I grew up watching
the Brady Bunch
but listening
to Cheech and Chong.

When I caught a cold
I learned that chicken soup
is ok,
but menudo with
freshly ground oregano
worked better for me,

and a tricked out
Chevy lowrider
beat an SUV
hands down for me.

Pride in my heritage
didn’t start
with achievements or icons,
it started
when I was
no longer embarrassed
that I wasn’t
something else.

Not quite White
Not quite Brown:

Proudly, defiantly

Off-White.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Return to Sender (For Brian Miller)

The blonde cheerleader
tracked me down,
a schlumpy, Mexican freshman,
to retrieve
the carnation and note
intended for
her boyfriend, the quarterback,
who just happened
to share my name.

With eyes averted,
I handed her
the torn-open envelope
which contained
her delicate cursive:

“I want to suck
your big brown machine.”

Welcome to high school.

[Written for #MeetingTheBar at dversepoets.com - it's Brian's birthday, so write him a present!]

Time and Luck

Drive and desire
they'll tell you
are what you need
to make it.

Also time
and luck,

the two dimensions
over which we
are powerless,

because the greatest
of all could be
on their way to
their
appointment with destiny,

and they'll miss their stop
or will be mistakenly shot
in a drive-by
or will have finally slept with
the right connection
who unexpectedly had
that 2nd heart attack
his doctor warned him about.

So while I try not
to whip myself
over my lack of
drive and desire
I also do not hold
God
accountable for the
breezy passage of time
or for the luck
bad and good
that visits me.

The fame machine
is very random
and waiting for it
is another form of
playing the lottery.

I'd rather enjoy it all
in this moment now
scratching out my insides
for someone other than
myself.

In case I am
unexpectedly found
dead at 42

perhaps these writings
will be my triumph
over my absence
time and luck.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Raincloud

It all seems so important
when you're standing in
the eye of the storm
with sweet memories
love songs
and heartbroken promises
blustering about you.

Instead of looking in the mirror
and asking "why me"
look at his picture
and say "poor fool".

The world is full of willing suitors
who would love to twirl you
under the starry sky
and coax out your honeyed laughter.

Every moment spent in regret
is another mile away from
the joy of the moment.

The unrequited,
the painfully knowing among us,
who make promises
to the unanswering moon,
who believe in the happy endings
of countless black and white movies,
who have loved only
to not be loved in return,
will value your worth
and give you, in kind,
the love you crave
the love you need.

The unrequited know love in its most
unashamed and unguarded expressions,
from its enveloping warmth to its prickly cold.
Although the scar is permanent,
and it gives the unblemished heart
the nobility of experience and character,
the pain is temporary.

I empathize with the sad young girls
with their precious broken hearts,
for I too have often sold myself cheaply
for crumbs of attention.

And with each day that you
walk through the pain
the end of sadness gets
closer
and the memories are less tortuous
and the rejection is less acute
and the new doorways are more inviting
and you wrap yourself in the
illusion of tomorrow just to endure today
and you pin your hopes on a thing called
Better:
"things will get better"
"someone will love me better"
"my outbursts of uncontrollable crying will get better"
"food will someday taste better"
"someday, I'll be better".
When the wounds are fresh
you can't imagine they'll heal.
They will,
and all the things that were magical before
are now merely empty reminders,
so let them go.
Yesterday got you to today
and today will get you to tomorrow
where your heart will dance again
and your eye will be unexpectedly caught again
and song will spontaneously flow from within again.
To wish for yesterday
is the folly of the lovelorn.

Make up a new set of prayers
to be answered.
In the meanwhile
treat yourself royally
be brazenly extravagant
eat what you want
dress how you feel
go out every single night of the week
and kick up your heels.
Do what you must to duck the grief
and cushion the initial shock.
The pain will be waiting for you
when you are ready
to deal with it.

In all likelihood
your beloved will return
contrite and almost pathetic,
and regrettably (for him)
it will probably be too late.

And you'll know you're moving forward
when your favorite love songs
evoke wistfulness instead of tears
and the solitude of Sunday mornings is
more tranquil than lonely
and old photographs of the two of you
bring knowing smiles
instead of frenzied plans of reconciliation.
The hope is that
someday the memories you've shared
will be divorced from their tragic endings.

Your presently broken heart
is simply a reminder of how
everything changes all the time.

Roses grow, bloom and wither.

Rainclouds come, release and go
leaving even more beautiful
blue skies and cotton clouds
in their necessary wake.

On this spinning blue planet
there is always sunshine
sometime
somewhere
someplace.

Go find your sunshine
and bask in it.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at dversepoets.com - where even a misfit like me can find poemlove.]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rachel (2003)

Rachel
came into my life
with softly suspicious eyes.

Sadly
I was only there
for the last moments
of her girlhood
because
in the blink
of an eye
she stretched out
and her soul
deepened,

and I now see her
curiously
peering into adult
ponds
and sneaking in her
toe,

but just when
I think she is
growing out of
my grasp

she quietly
reverts
temporarily
to the unsure
faun on the frozen lake
and
she curls up on
her
Pop-O

and she silently
drapes herself
over my shoulders
quietly
resting,

knowing that
I don’t require her
to be
sophisticated
trendy or grown-up.

She knows
she can be
quiet and uncertain
or even goofy
and that I will
take care of
things

for now.

The next time I
blink she’ll be
all grown up

too smart and
pretty for her own
good
with a heart
still growing

but I never fear
losing her
for she is deep in
my soul

at 11
she is already
one of the finest
people I will ever
know,

and with that
bright yellow hair
and friendly wide
smile
and soft kind eyes

she will eclipse
even the sun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Invisible Man

So many hours
of my anxious youth
were wasted
hoping that someone would
see me.

It was nerve wracking,
all that prep work
all that rehearsal.

A calculated appearance
and rarely the payoff
of a glance
or someone’s laughter
would come my way.

Now that I’m older
and there isn't anyone
to impress anymore,

I value my anonymity,
taking pains to dress down
not making eye contact
not saying anything,

because the anonymity
is as close as I can get to
invisibility:

I watch, study
all the grasping and yearning
specimens
in their vainglorious dance
-- what are they wearing?
-- why did they pick that tattoo?
-- how many warts bumps and boils
can the human neck suffer?

I smile,
content that
I don’t desire
an audience anymore,

as I slip
though the crowd,
stealth and unnoticed,
I convince myself
that I truly am
invisible

and maybe I’m
the only person here
who is truly alive.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Angry Dandelion

The angry dandelion
is on fire again
and the house is on warning.

I wish I could
slip a disk into her
volcano shell and
see the world through
her filter,

what lights the fuse
and sets her off.

Her mother and I
try to bring her happiness
but we fail daily.

The house is already child-proofed,
now it needs to be
anger-proofed.

Dear Little Blonde Talking Monkey
don’t you see
we’d love to see you
bright and breezy?
For now,
something dark and brooding
lurks in you
waiting to surprise us
like a landmine,

but do not mistake our
motives:

we love you and just want
some happy memories
for ourselves,

and I wrote this today
just in case
someday in the future
if you ever think
we didn't do enough,

this is my
pre-emptive defense.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight-at dversepoets.com - comeone, come all, and have a poetic ball!]

Thursday, August 08, 2013

She Deserves Poems

She deserves poems
and days of unhurried contentment
in the company 
of someone who brings
warmth and safety and joy,

and she deserves
a flight through the clouds,
climbing up to the sun
floating on pink balloons
and soaring past ordinary birds
jealous of her natural grace.

I would give her moments 
of perfection
lightly dipped in chocolate
polished and wrapped 
in honeyed cellophane.

I would give her
beautiful moments,
asleep beside her
praying that my adoration
was sweetening her dreams
and that my embrace
would melt away 
every single fear
so she could 
rest
selfishly - just sleep
and not worry about 
anyone or anything else.

She deserves dreams
that don't end 
when she awakens

and a dance
lively enough to be joyful
and slow enough to be romantic
to a tune 
that only she 
could inspire.

The things she inspires
are flavors and flowers
-so irreplaceable
so perfectly her.

She deserves to see herself
as I see her.

She deserves to be overcome
with blinding ardor.

She deserves a really great guy
and she deserves a poem
that captures her essence
and her beauty
a lot better than this one 
did.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turnaround

I planned
to make the
Riverside to Fresno
turnaround,
when the woman
I lived with
would be
camping
in the wilderness,
incommunicado.

I left Riverside
at 2am.
It was a six-hour drive,
but I arrived hopped on
on adrenaline and anticipation
because my paramour and I
promised each other
abstinence
to intensify our reunion.

I don't remember much,
only hazy, coital bliss.
Predictably,
we wore ourselves out
pretending to be newlyweds.

The weight didn't hit me
until I had to get back
on the freeway
for the six-hour return
that night.

My muscles were
soft and relaxed,
my mind, tranquilized,
as I sped along
Interstate 5,
into the winding
mountainous
Grapevine,
where signs of life
and freeway lights
were scarce.

In this darkness
I relived this day,
and the gentle rumble
of the highway
quietly fed
my post-orgasmic
narcosis,

maybe
everything
would be ok...

ZZZHMP!

my muscles spasmed
and a hot surge
of fear
shot through me.

Catching my breath,
my self,
I realize I almost fell asleep
at 75 MPH
on a darkened highway
200 miles away from
where I was supposed
to be.

As soon as I could,
I pulled off and
burned my mouth on
a cup of gas station coffee-
as both a stimulant
and a punishment.

I drove the remaining miles
wide awake,
wondering how soon
it would be
before I made
my next
turnaround.

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - where life and love are explored lyrically!]