Monday, July 17, 2017

July and Other July's

I want to write more prose or maybe more prose-poetry. in any case, I think I'd like to share more of myself here.

Here is something I wrote this morning. It's my attempt at turning memory out of the mundane. I think that's what writing might be for. So much of life is mundane, but writing ignores that. I have this feeling what I write is pretty useless, that I don't have any more memories to turn to and I've used up all that's slightly interesting about my life. Maybe this is true, maybe not. This piece of writing is about the summer my mom rented a garden plot and moved to Georgia for a few months so B and I took over the watering. There's not much I remember about that summer except those days we walked to the garden, how hot it was. So hot it actually hurt to be outside.

Maybe I will add more to this story.

We grew peppers in the garden plot four blocks away, their waxy bodies drooped near the ground well into July. Later on we heard those bees died - the ones you used to watch in the white boxes, hands on top of knees, bent down close to their busy world. We filled the birdbaths while robins waited on the iron fence, heads titled, wary of anything humans do. That summer something cracked in the heat. Certainly those days propelled us to move East even if we didn't know it at the time although I think I might be combining months now, everything rolling together into one long, lazy July. It must have been another summer I remember, my mother and grandmother sitting on the front stoop laughing, drunk when drunk still seemed okay - a normal afternoon in the Midwest, dusk rushing in making the concrete steps cool under our feet, cicadas offering the first notes of their symphony.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Singing Beach

Under your skin
The multitudes
Of slow millennium

Gulls run after
Empty crab shells

One blue horizon meets
The line of another
Humble world

This salt, this body
Born from some
Patient afternoon

Falls home again

Anatomy of a Homeland

For you who learned to listen to the sounds of placelessness,
Tongue pressed against the ridge behind your front teeth,
Huffing through the H or the N. For cooks smoking near
The back door, menthol sticking to the folds under coat cuffs,
Home for a moment in the lilt of their own words, plastic chairs
Tip toward the shade. For the mud and sand in Nogales, heavy
In your pockets, that stayed far too long on your fingertips.
This land that wouldn't rub off onto the bed even if your thighs
Touched, hands brushed the sheets, sweat from July rolling through
The ridges in your palms. For your children who sleep at the shore
Of one nation, under waves of another, the blue world of two places.

For hidden legacies, three last names, bruises where you're missing.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


"take a moment to be grateful for what you have been given - to really receive what you have received. Grace will grow"

-- S. Blondin

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


every chance encounter led to
you, made of what has been -
a history that lived between hips,
thousands of years that shaped
your eyes, the irises, the color
of your skin. you are a map, 
a lineage, rib after rib.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Locusts or A Letter to My Mother on Her Birthday

Perhaps it was a season of locusts, the summer
Of roaches on the sidewalk just after the sun went down -
Their hurried brown bodies glinting off the street lights.

Inside we are opening windows, pushing out air, hot
From a winter of solitude. I danced for you one night there,
Sliding across the floor, making sense of things in the seams
Of the wood under my feet. After I left, you heard demons
In the sirens at the Catholic school next door, humbling thieves.

I imagine you ask for cigarettes reluctantly, brushing hands
With the men who give them. I recall the times you opened
Your mouth wide and asked me to look at your teeth, crooked
In the front. I think you are lucky to be have been born this way.

There are plants in the courtyard I cannot name, ants line
Up at the dog's bowl, light-dappled brick, more dimples
In my thighs, loose skin when I wave my arms, muscle too.

Nothing keeps,


Friday, June 2, 2017

On Writing

I returned tuesday from a trip to missouri. it was hard. it was as hard as I thought it was going to be and then some, but there were good moments, and one especially perfect day. It also made me realize how right I have been to spend a year writing about my family there. I'm working on a manuscript called "the geography of generations." I feel like it's almost my duty, at least at this point in my life, to write about my people. writing about them comes so quickly.

I think there have been enough years between then and now to look at my growing up differently. I am so grateful for the opportunity to keep doing this work. it is like mending things through writing and I hope, someday, other people will find some healing in it too.

I write so I won't forget the details, the pulse
Of loneliness, a robin outside my sister's window.
I write just as my mother goes missing for two days.
I write her back to us in the thread of things, her hemline,
The trip we took to the Ozarks, restaurant patio hanging
Over limestone cliffs, her body shielding me from
The whoops of men on the river. I write as we lose
Precious objects; flowers pressed into books, a half -
Finished quilt made from scraps of baby clothes, the color
Of the kettle on the stove. I write against the floors
I swept in apartments on the south side of St. Louis.
I write on the gas bills, the leaves of a willow, under
Sheets that get sweetened by sleep, the sound of night
Bugs whirring in the grass under the windows - quiet
Rumblings of a thousand lives I will die recalling.