Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Soft Core Deep in my Soul

There is a small,
soft core
deep in my soul,
where my shame 
and embarrassment live,
and I haven’t been able
to banish him
from who I am.

I’ve covered him 
with a shell of
confidence and competence
but he still

All these years 
of acting like he wasn’t there
or that he wasn’t 
are taking their toll.

he is demanding attention,
and he threatens
to expose my secret
with tears that will not 
stay hidden
and feelings that will not

I am held hostage 
by these emotions,
unpleasant and embarrassing
as they are.

I keep trying
to float back in memory
to understand his genesis,
but like a dream,
it slips away
just when I think
it is within my grasp.

He didn’t do anything
but he still feels 
shame and embarrassment.

Whoever he is
I need to make peace
with him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Just Keep Going

That first night
after I moved out,
minutes dripped
agonizing and slow,
and I kept thinking
“she’ll call,
any minute now.”

By the 11 o’clock news
I was resigned,
eyes red and puffy
and I play-acted
pretending to sleep,
realizing this new
world would take time
to become mine.

The brief, pathetic life 
we’d made 
you traded away 
for the White guy
who made more money 
than me,
and his promise 
of a fantasy life 
and left me prey 
to another woman,
who wore evil intent
like her body splash.

She was also 
looking for someone 
to fulfil her fantasy life
and she thought she’d found it
in me,
but I was just 
numbing myself
with her attention
and her pale, freckled bosom.

That ended badly as well,
but she wasn’t going to be 
a victim,
and she accused me 
of rape.

That was 1994,
and again,
time did its 
predictable thing:
it just kept going.

One day to the next
like the waves on the sand
ever repeating,
ever repairing
ever after.

just kept going, 
no respecter 
of people,
nor pressure,
nor pain,

and there I learned
the lesson and the secret 
to making it through
that hellish year:

just like time,
just keep going. 

[Posted for - prompt: from a place of pain.]

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

He Wore Blue Velvet

They wrapped
the baby
in blue velvet
because he was
a boy.

he wear pinks
and pastels
and argyle
and gun metal gray
because he is
a man.

[Based on Prompt "What's Your Birthday" - the song is "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton, #1 on September 27, 1963, the day I was born. Thanks to for the idea.] 

What Falls Away

 These days
I find myself
falling apart
My arms are tired
of trying to hold
myself together.
My body keeps telling me
in aches and groans,
“what are you
holding onto that
My exhausted brain
unfolds his director’s chair,
squats his weight
upon it and exhales:
“Let it fall away.
This body wasn’t meant
to last forever,
so what makes you think
your will is any stronger?”
I don’t want
to let everything
fall away,
just the
old, flaky, dead
makes up more of
who I am
every day.
So I’m letting it all
fall away;
if it cannot stay affixed
of its own strength,
then that’s Life saying
I don’t need it.
But still,
way deep down inside
the pilot flame is still lit,
the rhythm still beats,
the juices still flow,
and I realize
the Great Interconnection
as I breathe in
the same air as
Socrates, Jesus and Groucho
and bathe in the same rain
as a delicate hummingbird,
a breathtaking mountain,
the pebbles in the stream.
Help me
to easily let go
of what
I no longer need
remain steadfast
and strong
and true
to that which
never falls away.

Friday, September 24, 2021

"What Race are You?"

The conquerors
came to my mother’s door,
kicked it in
and invited us
to accept Jesus
at the tip
of a sword.

What could she do?
They were on a quest,
a holy mission
guided by The Great Commission
and imperialist avarice.

and repeat.

With each new soul,
each hungry, crying mouth,
with every generation,
the original sin
was watered down,
until eventually
there were enough
that they qualified
for their own
ethnic checkbox,
their own profile-able

Fast forward
centuries and continents
what is your race?

Father was
a Spanish rapist
a Christian murderer.

Mother was
a humble Indio,
a surviving stoic.

I am not half-White.
I am not half-Indigenous.

I am mixed
and troubled
by my father’s cruelty,
by my mother’s strength.

My blood is
and so is
my race.

Thursday, September 23, 2021


We had 
a simple popsicle
between us.

I asked her
“do you want 
to split it?”

“No, but 
I’ll share it.”

She knew 
I’d eventually

This is the difference
mine and ours,

and I pray 
it informs 
my every interaction,

and this was how
she used 
a simple popsicle
to teach me
a profound lesson 
in loving. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Waiting in the Fog

My daughter says
“you need to write again 
and tell everybody where you’ve been.”

I’ve been nowhere in over a year,
cherishing anything safe and dear,
but these thoughts of mine aren’t even clear, 
so often I dwell in a cloud of fear.

I went out into the world again
revisiting places I hadn’t been, and 
while many things looked how they used to look,
even the bookstores had fewer books.

Everyone zipping at their pre-COVID pace,
like the pandemic was elsewhere in outer space,
except half the people had covered their face.

The other half stupidly danced along
defiantly ignorant, like nothing was wrong.

I never thought we’d live this way,
year after year, day after day.
My heart ached from all the memory,
and I wanted to go back in history,
be free from this pain
like it used to be,
but my wish went unanswered,
it just haunted me.

So where’ve I been?
in a fog for a year,
waiting for my spark
to come back around here.

Friday, March 05, 2021

First Impressions Matter

One of my earliest memories:
standing in line 
with my parents
at some amusement park
or public place,
(that's how early this memory is),
and I was holding my father's hand.

I was so little
probably 2 or 3
and I was just immersed 
in the experience
so much

I heard my parents 
from behind me
"What are you doing?"

So I looked behind me
and there were my parents

so then whose hand
was I holding?

I looked up 
and saw a beatific 
face of a chuckling,
African-American man,
just smiling at me,
amused at this mystery child
holding onto his hand.

That image of smiling grace
is fundamental to who I am.

All my life,
as a Mexican-American,
I've never felt anything
but kinship,
for African-Americans,

and I wonder if
that smile had something to do 
with it.

First impressions matter.

The Sound of My Voice

I would sing you
love songs
all day,

but you don't like 
the sound of my voice,

so I still sing them
to you

but it's just
in my mind,

where I imagine
you love
the sound of my voice.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


 In the turbulence
of passion,
moistened skin, 
400 thread sheet count, 
I am happily,
wondrously lost, 
my imagination
and lustfulness 
trying to keep pace
with my heart rate.

After all these 
years, days collected
and stacked
high and haphazardly
as fall leaves 
in November,

this intensity,
this raw disinhibition,

saying things,
moving in ways
that can only 
be earned
through time,

to a climax 
of orgiastic,
timeless ecstasy.

One Last Nice Moment

New Year's Eve
ticking over 
2019 to 2020.

I find my 23 year old 
who is diagnosed with 
borderline personality disorder
in the kitchen.

I gently hold her
by the shoulders,
look her squarely 
in the eye and say

"Well, on the good side,
God didn't take 
either one of us this year."

She stifles a smile
and tries not to hug 
but doesn't try 
too hard.

Finally caught,
she dismisses me
with a derisive


That's a good way
to wrap up