On the Realization of Dreams, etc.

On the Realization of Dreams, etc.

A floor littered with empty film canisters,
you and I tangled in acetate spools.
A projector hums, chokes, and bursts into flame
in the back of the locked room.

We’ve held each frame to the light
to bend time. “Put this one on,”
you pleaded. “Maybe it will work.
Maybe we can go back.”

But I wound it wrong,
to a time of slow drives
through suburbs after ultrasounds.
Giant snowflakes and hope, light as air,
falling to the ground.

You covered your eyes and I scrambled
for the next one, and that’s when I felt
the first bit of film, taut against my bicep.

I’m pulling now, frame by frame,
time speeds up,and a family sedan
races down the mountains
from the Coninental Divide to the Pacific.

Still shots now. One sits
under a palm tree,
another by a beige strip mall,
one’s ankles are in the ocean,

wondering now, about the movie
they walked out on.
The reel of
What it Would Have Been Like
burning brightly,
and us, trapped in knots
of empty frames.

Advertisements

Jilting

Jilting

With your beard newly full
and the banks of your eyes failing,
I turned, unceremoniously, and left.

An altar of stone, countless arches
receding to the kind of tiny ache
that grows to insurmountable heights.

This, put plainly, is loss.
It’s every friend I ever left,
the time I narrowly escaped arrest

protesting some illegal war or another
only to watch it unfold in night vision
on the cable news networks of the day.

Grandiose gestures are the bricks
we hurl at inefficacy, only to wind up
pushed down, wriggling out of flexicuffs.

Please wait for me at home, as I await
processing. I swear I’ll make it up to you,
I swear this time I’ll stay and fight.

Por un Futuro Mejor

Archbishop Óscar Romero’s birthday was last week. My family marked the date with a trip to a pupusería for dinner, something I know some other friends were doing a couple time zones away. I know that the Catholic church is in the process of beatifying him, which I think is maybe how you become a saint. No longer a believer myself, I’m only glad that I was able to pray at Romero’s tomb while in El Salvador in 2002.

Americans would do well to understand that our current refugee crisis with unaccompanied Central American minors has everything to do with the atrocities against which Romero bravely preached and U.S. involvement in those atrocities.

Por un Futuro Mejor

When asked about the war
Miguel lifts his shirt to show
a tangle of scars from
a homemade bomb.

Imagine Miguel in conflict outside
el Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña,
tracing the lines on his stomach,
which is now so uneasy.

A neighborhood of sadness and struggle,
como la linea.

La Linea where he makes his home,
a sprawling slum from San Martín
to Soyapango and beyond,
a sea of shacks on a decommisioned rail line.

Miguel remembers it wasn’t always this way.
He tells a story of a boy he grew up with
who lost his legs to a speeding train.

“The existence of poverty as a lack
of what is necessary
is an indictment.”

Miguel never heard the Archbishop’s words
broadcast on rebel radio
while fighting on the other side,
but he can’t get them out of his head.

Imagine me in Morazán
outside that same museum.
Me and Miguel and Monterrosa’s ghost
and a myriad of unanswerable questions
about life and death, wealth and without
and history’s immutable thirst for blood.

Ferguson

Ferguson

I saw Dunbar’s Mask in reverse:
black journalists don’t choose the news
anymore than the rest of us.

A straight face can be hard to come by
when talking about black protesters,
majority-white police departments,
and efforts at community relations.

He imagined the press bulletin:
Terribly sorry about how we reacted
to how you reacted
when we shot and killed that kid.

This is not a justification.
I believe in stoicism
where the news is concerned.

But let’s give the newsman his due.
He kept it together until he couldn’t,
till it started to crust and sugar over.

And there, nearly imperceptible
at the corners of his mouth,
glass breaking in the night.

 

Sanford Florida Public Works

Sanford Florida Public Works

They’re ripping up the sidewalks,
Cardinal calls drowned out
By jackhammers, bobcats.

You can’t weaponize a sidewalk
That isn’t there.
No more crime scene photographs,
no more guns discharged.

This is a peaceful place –
And don’t we all deserve
Some peaceful ground
To stand on?

Soft and grassy,
Surrounded by gates
A worn path in place of pavers.

A word of caution:

This is our life.
People not from around here
Who make us so afraid
That we go towards them
Instead of away –

They don’t get a warning shot
This isn’t Tallahassee,
This is a peaceful place
Where we do what needs doing.

Bring on the jackhammers:
We’ll walk on the grass
If we have to.

I AM FONG LEE

I AM FONG LEE

Animate an arrow on a map.
Imbued with all of the cultural sensitivity
of an Indiana Jones movie.

Launch in lush Laotian jungle,
cross continents and seas,
and split
like the forked tongue
of a serpent,
or a dragon,
upon reaching the Mississippi.

One end lands in Minneapolis,
calls itself Fong Lee,
and falls, one weekend
outside an elementary school
on the beleaguered North Side.

No saint, this Fong Lee,
or maybe he was,
or maybe it doesn’t matter,
when chased on a bike
by cops in a squad car.

When rammed, run down,
when running like hell isn’t enough.

When shot eight times.

And a gun recovered later
has no prints,
no bullets fired.
Official reports attribute it
to the late Fong Lee.

The arrow’s other end
lands in Saint Paul,
on my roster.
This Fong Lee is quiet,
yet alive.

His shirt reads “I AM FONG LEE”

Poetry and politics,
Shakespeare and Espada,
and who knows if Fong
has read either man’s work?

This one gets the joke
because he tells it,
but forgive his lack of laughter:
There’s nothing funny
about having to know
that some kid with your moniker
and migratory history
was killed by cops
not fifteen miles away.

Indiana Jones only had snakes
and caricatures of Nazis
to contend with.
This shit is for real.

An animated arrow splits in two,
dead ends,
but cannot retract.
It must remain,
A red stain on a map.