You signal with your eyes, permission. It’s a look that twists my heart. My epinephrine increases, inhibits insulin secretion and my blood glucose rises. Hands roam mountains and valleys. Hips become handles. We scatter clothes across the room. Our thoughts are scattered. Down isn’t the floor, it’s the opposite of high. My breath is caught between my lungs and your tongue, darting across mine. Pain flirts with pleasure. Whoever said lips taste like strawberries is wrong. They taste much better than that.
Do the tiny footsteps of ants make a sound?
When we concave their hills I can’t hear a sound.
Hands, wrapped around your fingers. Eyes
closed. A baby’s first cry is a sound
Never forgotten. Like the silhouettes of bodies
burned. Does the bomb still make a sound?
Take two waves, equal in frequency, opposite
in amplitude. Silence can be created from a sound.
Sometimes I forget I’m speaking in another language.
To me, my thoughts always make the same sound.
Shuffling papers, typed words on pages
even when never spoken, they still make a sound.
It’s a free country, whose prices are skyrocketing,
skyrocketing with the number of secrets.
Pick up pamphlets proclaiming promises,
but look how the fine print demands your liberty.
Everything is written in the same language,
the exchange rate for a few dollars.
Pieces of paper riddled with numbers, dollars
burn through pockets, leaving scars with pain skyrocketing.
The poor and huddled masses all speak the language,
exchanging on the black market fragments of skeleton secrets.
Torch in one hand, book in the other, let’s ask Lady Liberty
why the cobblestone was pressed with broken promises.
Collect the torn shreds of scattered paper promises,
recycle, dye, reprint, now you have dollars.
Hear the cracks ring through the bell of liberty,
sending a sound shockwave skyrocketing,
blowing the dust off old, forgotten boxes stuffed with secrets,
lies that became incorporated. We all cry in the same language.
A father speaks to his daughter in the language
of soccer games and zoo trips. Shattered promises,
fill the gaps between their hearts, fueled by secrets.
Problems he tries to fix by handing her a few dollars.
His excuses keep coming and her frustration is skyrocketing.
She desires greener pastures, to run away with liberty.
In Korean it’s jayu. In Russian it’s svoboda. Liberty
translates to the same message in every language.
Liberté, the distance between oceans is skyrocketing
as worn hands struggle holding glass promises.
La libertad! Paper sons are born spending hard earned dollars,
confusing pesos with dollars, their lies with their secrets.
The walls are willing to whisper your secrets,
silence can be exchanged for handfuls of liberty.
A binding contract, you’ll get paid with dollars.
The ultimate truth: it’s the universal language.
Homes are built on a foundation of hollow promises,
with no door to escape, and the scaffolding is skyrocketing.
Freiheit! Voices skyrocket into one language,
tearing holes in liberty where promises lied,
it all costs something. Dollars buy secrets. Dollars hide secrets.
I grabbed your hand when no one was glancing
but you were waiting, causing constrictions
of my aorta. My legs were dancing.
Epinephrine increased my convictions.
Remember that cold winter night when we
hid from the snow, filled my room with laughter?
Together we laid on my bed, a sea
of blankets between us, but then after
you left me broken and hallowed of blood.
Winter consumed my skeletal structure
my marrow turned liquid, poured out a flood,
causing white snow to loose its luster.
Your apologies can’t refill my veins
Waiting for you replaced organs with pain.
It’s been one year.
A new coach and some new players
but the game is the same,
pass the ball, slide tackle instinctively.
Focus on slight movements of hips,
the way a player’s weight shifts.
Not a single one will get past you.
Wear your jersey like the scars you carry.
No longer torn, all that glitters is gold.
The heart clenches in anticipation.
Take a deep breath. You are home.
At the whistle, begin again.
It’s been six months.
This foreign country is a temporary home.
Touches still tentative, but your mind is sharp.
Don’t let the ball get torn from your legs.
Your team is counting the strips of tape
holding you together. It’s frustrating seeing
them timidly pass balls in practice,
waiting around to catch you.
It takes time to get back,
but you will be better because of it.
It’s been three weeks.
Every step is agony, fire worthy of Hell.
You must carry the burden on one leg,
cry behind closed doors and watch
your team grow without you.
Take one step
and another before crashing.
Feel the stitches torn from your knee.
Get back up. Fall again. Want to sit on that floor forever.
Get back up. Your team is waiting.
It’s been two minutes.
Struck in the knee you collapse
into the grass. Scream. Louder.
Time stops. Your captain signals the trainers.
It is cold in their shadows.
Put your hands over your eyes because seeing
is believing. Let them strap you to a stretcher,
strain your leg while hopes of gold
fade from your vision.
Why was it you? You were there.
Can you ever get back? Is this the end?
Even sound leaves an impact
a trace in the air that meets your ear. A planned impact.
Shuffling feet on grass can crush
the hills of ants whose homelands impact.
Bombs leave silhouetted scars,
bodies slip between cracks in politics. Man’s impact.
Vist a foreign land for a week.
The aftermath of a butterfly’s wings?
Can we ban impact?
Finally able to withstand the sharpness of tongues.
Stop walking on eggs shells. Demand impact.
When a King turns his head, let the letters roar.
Revolution makes a grand impact.
Sitting at a tiny plastic table, between microscopes
and glass bottles of corrosives,
his son lets a mouse he named Ralph crawl up his arms.
Sliding on a lab coat, the father faces his back
toward his son and pulls out subject 402.
It’s his weekend. A quick shot to the heart
is all it takes. He puts it back in the cage.
Watches it expire. Takes it out, again.
A slice of time exposes internal
organs, projecting them to the world.
Look at the heart, swollen red,
those tiny lungs unable to exchange oxygen.
His son spills crackers across the table, sharing with Ralph.
Tissue samples are cut, placed in fragile vials,
labeled and set aside.
Disposes the hollowed corpse.
The boy is hungry, clutching his stomach dramatically.
Eat your crackers.
The boy squeezes the mouse. The mouse
clamps his teeth on him until he is flung from the hand.
Ralph slinks into the background
while the boy cries fat tears, his wound extended.
He is like a man dying of a thousand terrible things.
The man grabs subject 403.
Twisting his uninjured arm around his father’s left leg,
he stains the lab coat with mucus.
Go sit down.
He sniffles, pushes over a stool and climbs to its apex.
Go sit at the table.
He leans into his father’s light.
The broken body with its skin pulled back, pieces of metal
It’s Ralph! It’s Ralph!
No it’s not. Go sit down.
He throws himself into the table. Swings his arms.
The vials smash. The microscope crashes.
A scalpel makes contact with the wall.
Subject 403 is catapulted.
To the boy, the body seems to come alive in the air.
But it is motionless on the ground,
Trapped by broken glass.
I am late.
And as I am running down metal halls, past metal doors
hoping that the internal gravity works in my favor,
imagining the force of nearby planets
turning shards into shooting stars,
I imagine her sitting alone at the table last night,
wondering why I never came home as I promised.
She’ll have dinner cooked, the finest meat and my favorite beer.
Eventually, she stops waiting.
I seal off the east wing,
watch the right engine hide stars with its last breath,
push men into emergency pods,
watch the shadows of space creep cold into my heart.
The stars have never looked so menacing.
I am late.
She’s dressed in white, form fitting fabric
whose end blossoms like a flower
that cost me two months salary, but it was worth it.
The music plays, apprehensive in her heart
as she imagines me surprising her with late entry.
She practices her reaction in the mirror.
The last pod shoots away,
as I attempt to force the corpse of a vessel
away from puncturing a scar across the land.
The heat of our descent will boil the blood from my hands
before I am sure.
Yesterday, I turned twenty-one.
I was born in July, but I can smell the holly of winter
and graduation is a block away.
Two months ago, I was sixteen,
trying to figure out high school and imagining
the person I was going to be.
Twenty years ago, I was ten,
boxing up my life and meeting friends who took basketball
just as serious.
Once upon a time, I was six.
As biology dictates, at some point I was even younger
But time is a dream I cannot grasp
I am not the same person I was then
as I am not the same person I was five minutes ago
if only due to the way my actin slides
and the way my mitochondria only carry
my mother’s DNA.
Slow and passive,
that’s evolution, not revolution.
I still feel like an ant
with a barrel of gasoline
waiting for a spark to set it
Let’s go on an odyssey, an epic
we’ll never forget. Let’s turn the world upside down,
fall into the sky, fly at light speed
and wish on white dwarfs and red giants.
I don’t want to wait for the time it takes light to travel
across a vacuum. Take my hand and we’ll reach
farther than footprints on the moon, brush off the dust
and jump. Impossible is the space between our fingers.
Let’s sail across the ocean, feeding fish and taming sharks.
We’ll swim to the depths, tickle coral,
watching polyps break free.
I want to learn to glow like jellyfish,
lose my eyes to detect predators.
We can lay out on the sand and let the sun turn water
Let’s shrink to atoms and build proteins,
untwist DNA just to watch it coil into chromosomes,
increase ATP just to expend it.
Did you know one electron makes oxygen a free radical?
It builds up in your system just
to break you down.
I’ll be your helicase and you’ll be mine.
We’ll replicate, transcribe, translate.
When we were young, Carlos and I
were knights, taming dragons and slaying witches.
People told us we’d become disillusioned
with the world.
Carlos asked what disillusioned meant.
I told him it meant they’d stopped believing in magic.
Carlos told them to build a bridge and get over it.
When we were older, people told us it takes money
to make money and we’d never make any
by giving it away to bums on the street.
We never wanted to get rich, but we knew everyone else
thought they did. Carlos always said
with a little bit of energy you could get a lot back.
You have to wait for old bonds to break to allow new ones
It was true, we stopped believing in dragons,
but we found magic in the way
two snowflakes are never quite the same,
time stops when they first fall,
how people can create something out of nothing,
nothing out of something,
and the way change starts with a penny
but when saved up, becomes dollars.
A Jersey girl came along
and I started to think about angles of yaw
needed to take flight,
how the force of a kick skirts
the delicate line between winning and losing.
I’ve seen it all before, but not like this. Besides, seeing
has nothing to do with believing.
Corneas can't capture the vibrations of molecules or excitations
of electrons. Champions defy biology,
overcome gravity and I believe what goes up
does not always come down.
I want to know the point where focus takes control
of epinephrine, who’s cascade is initiated by the roar of a crowd,
but negatively regulated by doubt,
when to take a long shot or build up slowly.
I want to live the difference between accuracy and precision,
taste the dirt, become painted with bruises and scorch my heart.
A flag is heaviest when you carry it,
lightest when it’s raised,
worn as a cape and allowed to wave in the wind.
Countries aren't build, they're created created
denying muscles oxygen but allowing them to taste gold.
It's ability to conduct electricity astounds me.
It’s not about alchemy
but transforming sweat into tears,
fixing nitrogen, reducing triglycerides.
Not all reactions need light, some create it.
It’s only over when there’s not enough energy for activation.
B is for boy,
the neighbor I met at an age
too young to remember.
My best friend and co-conspirator.
Remember the time we tried to bury
your mom’s car
with sand from your sandbox?
we were chased by bees,
discovering your allergy?
B is for blue
Power Ranger at Halloween.
I was pink.
Then one day you moved.
When we met,
nearly twice as old as when you left,
I saw mischef in your eyes
and it was as if time never passed.
But so much had.
I was not the person I remember.
Neither were you.
But we picked up the pieces.
We moved beyond.
The man slips a gun into his waistband
because its cold embrace makes him feel
protected. In this country,
a few pieces of lead are more powerful
than words. (Not that the man can read anyways).
He watched his school disassembled brick
by brick. (Not that he learned anything anyways).
His teachers used class to sleep
and rumors say a boy, Jonny,
got jumped for opening a book.
Twelve people walked by before
calling the cops, who responded an hour late
because they were on lunch break.
The only math worth knowing
is that of the street: how much to buy,
the price to sell.
The probability of making it to supper depends
on judgements made
in the slice of a second and the block you walk.
The probability of supper depends on what you
are willing to give.
Everybody has a price.
Billboards advertise change
but the only thing that changes for him
In a country with so much
promise, the man is hidden in crevice,
pushed between cracks of the system,
where promises are scattered
glass on the streets he walks.
He is forced to gamble
with odds against him.
A is for apple.
The one that doesn’t fall far
from the tree.
The one that hit Newton
and helped him discover gravity.
The apple of my eye for all of time.
It’s the first word I learned
and the first picture I drew.
It’s the first food I picked,
eating donuts and drinking cider in the fall,
watching the leaves turn brown.
A is for airplane.
The first time I was too young to remember,
the second I was on my own,
watching skyscrapers become pinpricks
and wishing I had never left.
A is the first letter of the alphabet,
the start of something new.
It’s a way of thinking,
a way of learning.
It is just the beginning.
Please stand by
as I set fire to my past,
because the past is never
how you remember it to be
and the future is never
how you want it to turn out.
I hold our story over an open flame
and hear no objections.
It was never torn
but you scribbled over it
the moment I turned my head.
Friends don’t let friends fall apart
but I watched as you watched me
turn to ash.
One day you’ll come,
searching shelves for our book,
only to find that I’ve disposed of it.
Time turns all things moldy
and the cold, damp space we left it
just drove it to completion faster.
Keep standing by
but you can’t get it back.
At night when I lay in bed
I hope that you wil hold me and whisper
everything will be all right,
everything is all right.
I hope that the child we share
cares less about the meaning of words like
but more about
love, justice, equality.
I wish for our daughter to always
have the courage to speak her thoughts and feelings
but also have the wisdom to know when to say them
and how to say them.
I wish for our son to only
raise his fists in congratulations and to take
both winning and defeat graciously.
I want our daughter to know that she can like pink
but she doesn’t have to like pink
and our son to know he can like football
but he doesn’t have to like football.
I want our children to have dreams
and fear to lose them,
to know that the grass is not always green
on the other side,
to know struggles so that they may overcome
but to never know despair.
When you hold me at night
I want to have faith
You have been potted in fear
but bloomed in adversity,
spreading seeds of hope.
You cross pollinated with justice
between equity and equality.
We did it pressed between bedsheets
when no one was home,
our hearts increasing our blood flow.
We did it in the sand,
rough and coarse,
matching the timing of the waves, letting the moon
put us in the spotlight.
We did it in the back of your car,
shaking and fumbling, we unbuckled hesitation,
while Destiny’s Child played on the radio.
For a moment, I was nine again,
but your fingernails dragged me back.
The seats smelled like cheap burgers,
For a moment, I wondered if this is something Beyonce would do.
But only for a moment.
We did it without realizing what we were doing,
or how it would change us.
One day, we found ourselves,
different from who we wanted to be.
The wind never blows
in the direction I want it,
so I’ve learned to move forward
by walk backwards,
ignoring almost everything.
The problem is
I can never see where I am
until it’s where I’ve been.
While I’d rather not plan where
sometimes I turn around and let
the wind spit dirt in my face.
Because sometimes I can take it.
Because sometimes I can spit it back.