Genealogy Dream


 

Genealogy Dream

To recall but not recall: family, the swift curve
of evolution’s arc. One moment your knuckles
scrape the earth’s surface, and the next you’re
pinpointing mortar fire by satellite phone. Or,
having plowed the field by hand, you fertilize
with human dung (no swords in this hovel),
only to wake into a dream of high rises and
coffee served steaming by a blushing ingenue
who morphs into an uncle, killed in China
on the wrong side of the war, leaving his
sister still mired in grief six decades later
under the Texas sun. On this end of memory’s
ocean, we know poverty and its engendered
disrespect, neighbors’ children warned not
to play with you, for fear that the family’s
lack of nickels would rub off and contaminate,
that your belly’s empty shadow might spread
down the unpaved streets and envelop even
those who don’t need to share a single egg
for dinner. Years later the son will celebrate
his tenth year by suffering the indignity of
a bloody nose and a visit to the principal’s
office, a gift of the sixth grader who would
never again employ “Nip” to disparage
someone, at least not without looking over
his shoulder in fear of small fists and quiet
rage. Which half measures harder? In one
hand, steel. In the other, water. I pour green
tea on rice and recall days I’ve never lived.

 

“Genealogy Dream” was first published in August 2018  in Issue 4 of Lost River literary magazine. Many thanks to editor Leigh Cheak for taking this piece.

 

Self-Portrait with Umeboshi (with recording)

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Self-Portrait with Umeboshi

Our resemblance strengthens each day.

Reddened by sun and shiso,
seasoned with salt,

we preside, finding
comfort in failure. Or does
the subjugation of one’s flavor for another’s

define defeat? The bitter, the sour, the sweet
attract and repel

like lovers separated by distances
too subtle to see.
Filling space becomes the end.
What do you learn when you look through the glass?

Knowing my fate, I say fallen. I say earth.

 

Ah, simplicity! When I was a child my mother would occasionally serve rice balls in which a single mouth-puckering umeboshi rested at the center. These have long been a favorite, but I admit that umeboshi might be an acquired taste. Commonly called “pickled plums,” ume aren’t really plums but are more closely related to apricots. I cherish them.

“Self-Portrait with Umeboshi” first appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series (August 2014), was included in the subsequent print anthology, Self-Portrait Poetry Collection, and also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

 

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Music: “Senbazuru” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Poem in San Antonio Express and The Houston Chronicle

 

 

Waiting for the Hole to Fill

I keep twisting my ankle
in this never diminishing
hole, no matter how much
soil I shovel in. If your eyes
grew wider would you
capture light in a separate
peace? Would this green
turn blue while the dirt
concealed the emptiness
and the wind shuffled
through this hollow form?
The air doesn’t respond
but I await the answers.

 

* * *

I’m delighted to report that my poem “Waiting for the Hole to Fill” was recently published in two Texas newspapers. I am grateful to poetry editor Jim LaVilla-Havelin for taking this piece, and for his enthusiastic support of poets and poetry.

 

Recording of My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m.

 

 

I was honored to read “My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m.” yesterday at a celebration of local Pushcart Prize nominees at Irvington Vinyl and Books in Indianapolis. Read the poem here: The Indianapolis Review.

 

 

 

 

This Turning

turning

 

This Turning

what one says
depends not on
words the wind

begins it does
not end but
lends itself to

an end this
turning may be
an answer the

sound of intent
so concealed a
word displayed is

only a word
not an end
nor the beginning

 

magnets

Another oldie from the eighties. It seems that even my poetry was thinner then.

Ghazal of the Bullwhip

 

Ghazal of the Bullwhip

Who hears braided tongues lashing the glare still?
The language of pain writhing through white air, still.

Or herding cattle you pop and crack above the horizon,
pastoral and flowing. But sharp, a sonic nightmare, still.

You ask how love blossoms through decades and more.
That look, a caress, the perfect words – all quite rare, still.

Oh to be a larks head knot, strengthening when used.
Delicious hitch, unmoved water, tight square, still.

I fall, you fall. We fall together in pleated silence.
The inevitable loop of the captive’s bright snare, still.

No gods today, but voices trickling through my skull:
Bob, Bob, they say. Not again. Even you should care. Still!

 

* * *

In response to a comment, Daniel Schnee dared/challenged me to write a poem about a bullwhip. To make it interesting I decided to combine his theme with my latest enthusiasm, the ghazal form.

 

This first appeared on the blog in September 2017.