it’s a wonder
how quickly those eyes
can render your borders translucent
under certain light–
Your ecosystem of 25 years,
disorder and triumph,
dimpled peaks and valleyed base
by a scan and then avert–
a calculated refocus
relocation to a smoother landscape.
And suddenly, you’re an outline,
minimized and blurred,
watching the world in parallel,
in all your fullness,
you made it to this place
of such scarcity of self.
who has endowed power like this
to those eyes?
Discretion to reduce and delete,
a narrowing of borders,
a thinning of your regions
richest with your stories,
your poems, your trauma,
your heritage, your language–
how they can
fly over you
in the first place.
They would marvel
at how easily you reconquer yourself.
You have built
the abundance in your round edges,
withstanding monsoons of those eyes,
watching their tides
deface and dismantle,
breathing back in your dimensions,
watch their shock,
watch them shrivel
in your periphery.
a textured map
of tumultuous, terrifying terrain,
your overs and unders
speckled with ingrown gems
worthy of exploration, excavation–
and when those parts of you
catch the light,
your brilliance blinds the eyes
of simple men
who can’t bear to stare at you straight.
Your body in stillness
halts the moon’s rotations,
and in motion
brings chaos to quiet tides,
tsunami to streams,
redirects the waves
with the sway of your hips,
back and forth until
your body creates a whirlwind–
you are a force of nature
and a thing of wonder
and if you find that eyes
can’t focus on you straight,
it’s not for lack of intrigue
in leagues behind and below–
they find themselves sightless,
praying to be carried
by the chaos you bring.
In certain light,
plays tricks on the eyes.
Thunderclouds at dusk
prank their patrons,
they grey: just the right shade of evening,
their rumble: a chuckle
before their heavy-handed pour.
I can breathe in pebbles
and breathe out powder,
fine dust ground from inner churning,
excavating, grating ruminations—
I’ve done it all my life.
Wake before sunrise with granite under my tongue,
still under covers,
I feel its course coat,
how these years have shaped you,
taste its metals,
how your bitterness works with you,
appreciate, in my morning meditation,
how you began fluid,
you metamorphic thing,
and let your roundness, firmness
come to be
over years, underground.
Still before sunrise,
a stretch in my diamond bones,
an inhale raising my chest,
I think how lucky I am to live with this gift—
this shattering diaphragm, a body like earthquakes,
what I can build, what I can break,
how I can sing with a mouth full of powder.
words drill their tummies with a needle
and crochet themselves
over the threads that connect
our morning breath.
Our concave sounds,
bellybuttons bounce on our sleepy string,
and good Monday
and I dreamt my leg
traced your inner thigh in your sleep,
that I imagined your naked limbs
were tree branches, barren now
in winter, bristling splinters,
but come springtime,
will bear emerald buds
and drip drip in sap—
you may make me sneeze
but if I hold you tight now
I might somehow fill me with you,
so my insides don’t fight against
the pine cones that are a part of you.
Our hi, hellos
and blessed days
weigh down the taut twine connecting us,
careen in the breeze
or ceiling fan,
straining our thin thread,
on which our good mornings teeter—
can you hear it whine under our breathing?
If our threads snap,
and these words we’ve made
downpour to our kitchen tile
like the monsoon our weatherman promised,
will you still graze my hip with your mouth
and murmur good night when the evening comes?
They ask: In what language do you dream?
In poetry, propped up with proper punctuation;
pointed and poised, periods and pauses
in their perfect places?
Do you build moon castles
with well-fashioned brick fabrications,
cinder blocks stacked between slabs of sleepy cement,
stone peaks place kisses on a star-grazed night sky,
do you see in star gazes?
Do you sway under speckled freckles,
golden flecks, sun-fire confetti
in an astronomic, catatonic
sweaty spaghetti monster sex dream
cinder block celebration,
with proper punctuation?
Poet, do you dream while standing, building,
or do you build on your back
staring at your ceiling
or up at the stars,
your mind its own muse?
What a crazy place you live.
The art of tracking breaths
before a year’s clock strikes:
boxed inhales and exhales, even oxygenation,
fresh out of studies, a future grows hips
early twenties, a crisp December sunrise
a kindling candle, a new job in Manhattan
a nest at a turning corner, retrospect, almost
recycled hiccups, cough,
double years in stagnation
yellow wallpaper edges fraying
an expired welcome, a chilled wick
a life in quarters, changeless.
This art, practiced in a coat closet,
vintage furs, memories in leather,
study from inherited time,
embroidered wheezing from an origin world
where we can handle this tapestry unmasked,
of two years lost,
disposed of with our gloves,
and twenty-five turns
when twenty-three was the last
innovation that was ours.
This art, embalmed,
with what we remember of our years:
an early twenty, December sunrise,
a bedroom-bound Manhattan job,
a smoking wick, gust from a turning corner,
tape to fraying wallpaper,
a new calendar to cover the scratches.
My favorite tree
dyed itself amber overnight—
where it found its overtone,
from muddy roots or sooty sky,
I couldn’t know—
Its covert shift, so unforeseen,
morphing in the span between
my early rest to groggy rise,
its yellow struck me paralyzed,
its vibrancy sunkissed my eyes
like it sponged daylight into its hand—
pressed its thumb into morning
and let the coming, cooling hours
coat its fingerprint.
It nicked the tail of summer
with its longest branch
to catch its golden blood
thick and heavy across its leaves—
summer will heal while it hibernates,
I will echo its memory, meanwhile—
its base still brunette,
its pyrite canopy glistens
against the bulk of it,
across the overcast of fall.
I am a ghost
and my favorite tree is a shadow
of a season in passing,
its curls gripping to the last warm day,
a call and retreat,
the dye strips its fullness—
its thinning hair, daylight in deplete reserve.
In the tunnel of my lifeline
סבתא שלי חיה, היא נושמת 1
her humming echoes,
היא ממלאת את דמי בשיר 2,
she drapes her prayers inside me
כמו חופה של ברכתה
like fresh linen clipped to a clothing line
מושעה, מתנודדת בנשיפת אלוהים, 4
She swaddles me in her mother’s fabric
המצעים שנתנו פעם לאמא שלי מנוחה 5
Yemenite threads braided by generations
מתרופפים בתוכי, מדגדגים את קו ההצלה שלי, 6
adorn my veins with my ancestral colors,
ואני חי עם כל מחרוזת בשושלת שלי. 7
8 שלח לי שקט טוב מוגן, יונה לוחשת לי
and I echo her poem, (9) השיר שלה, in music, (10) בשתיקה.
1 My grandmother lives, breathes,
2 she fills my blood with song,
3 like a canopy of her blessing
4 suspended, swaying in God’s exhale.
5 The bed sheets that once gave my mother rest
6 fray inside me, tickle my lifeline,
7 and I am alive with every string of my lineage.
8 Give me a good, well-protected silence, Yona whispers for me
9 her song,
10 in silence.
open-faced on my
lap, a prophet gazing
skyward like there’s a
sermon inscribed on my
bedroom ceiling, like there’s a
prayer to be read above us both,
scrolls unroll beside a broken fan,
blessed tiles or holy ghosts, there’s a
message to bathe in, slick like oil, drenched
and light aflame; pray with a prophet
and his doctrine glazes your lips
with a sacrosanct sweetness
melancholy minor raised up
to a canopy of spiderwebs
and chipping paint, see
the coming of the ship,
sing on love, on laws,
on joy and sorrow,
on marriage, on
How long have I been doing this?
Counted on my fingertips,
no second lost, not one dismissed.
They’re stored in some covert abyss
and can’t be missed,
they can’t resist,
with zip-tied wrists
and balled-up fists,
these moments on my fingertips–
today is on the waiting list,
today’s a clear-cut plagiarist–
when yesterday fell short, shortlisted,
today insists it preexisted,
now yesterdays are knotted, twisted,
zip-tied wristed, balled-up-fisted,
abyssed, dismissed, blue fingertips,
about today, they reminisce
and ask each other, in a hiss,
how long have I been doing this?
we made of marble our hips chiseled with amber morsels fossil resin translucent embossing our hues and metal fragments curve across our marmoreal build we made of honey cake and brown sugar clumped in an artisan bowl hand-baked claywork the uneven borders the painted face beautiful luscious like amber molasses a grove of marble walls a chest of pastries and syrup and an artist’s craft a baker’s mine we made of mowed grass and morning dew honeysuckle sweet like maple syrup to grazing things our glisten rich like artistry golden glints handpainted we are covered in sweet pollen we are grooved by earth’s metals we curve towards each other towards the sun resting to midday a slab of baltic amber illuminating our make