Sitting passenger side
my small frame
jumped in the mercy
of Dad's pickup

Like the chucos
who bounce low-riders for expression
my body swayed
Silence between us--
idle beside him,
I learned the honor,
but my mind burned alive

Those white boys in the cafeteria,
I wanted to tell him,
the things they said
ask why my breasts,
if so small--caused
so much interest
and that porn photo they showed me,
the way that woman
straddled the motorcycle
bare-bottomed, dark-skinned and naughty eyed
Why did they say I would become her
in a few years?

But silence--
silence ensued,
way past my growing years
And the brand--
became symbol
Like the chucos
who bounce for expression
I came to jump head-long
into the pickups
of my heredity

first appeared in The Texas Review, 2004

Billboards & Breast Sucking Dolls

What is the role of the artist?
Is she meant to cry?

What is the role of the artist?
Is she asked to bleed?

What is my role?
Am I doomed to record?

“Black Children Are An Endangered Species”
followed by: “Breast Milk Baby: The Magic of Motherhood”

Reflections of her contemporary society,
images of what will soon become what was,
she lives in her mind,
sits immobilized at computer screens,
while still dripping from fresh bathing

The constant gravity of ink on
sheets of white
her brown fingers tapping,
her leg folded beneath to later tingle--
that nagging reminder of the physical phenomena

Of being alive there is a rub,
heartbeats and sodium soaked trails
the guttural sighs she makes
when the house is still—
when there isn’t even anyone around

to inquire, What’s wrong?


Go for that walk
Maybe you will get
to see your child run
like time
across an open field

Go for that walk
There may be a baby deer
waiting along the edge
of the gravel path

Go and hold hands
with your husband,
link arms
Stop to watch the hawk
perched in the Aspen and
listen to the panicked squawks
from the smaller birds

Go for that walk
Even if you are tired
Even if there are still
dishes to be done

Go for that walk
especially when you’d
rather write

Go for that walk
Join them so you can
be captured too
Join them so that the
picture in their minds
will hold more
than just your silhouette

August 24, 2010
A Child’s Passage into Adulthood

Should trigger fireworks in the night sky—
one splash of color for the way she jumped
and squealed in the contraband sprinkler
at that hole we rented down in Bessemer--
to memorialize the way she diaper-danced bass,
seeping in from lowriders parked out front—

There ought to be an expectant blast of light
and magic competing against a full moon.
At least one skyrocket for the soiled arms
and thinning back of the green hand-me-down sofa,
to make real the left behind impressions
of her constant to-and-fro climbs.

This transition merits Black Cat
volume. We should feel la vibraciones
in the cores of our chest cavities—
reactions físico
ought resonate.

So that, when we lie down
at night, we won't smart from
the silence this devastatingly,
thinking we missed the shower storm.

All those sparks
which fade
before our eyes
have time to adjust.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
You Name It

Each of us carries the infinite burden
of impossibilities,
a list of all we cannot
one day choose to do.

Determinism is a haze,
a firm truth that defies
clear definitions.

I cannot be an architect—
and you cannot crawl into
the cockpit of a DA20 Katana.

The longing for could-have-been’s
too easily rise to the surface.
That stamp of potentialities
which brands itself into us at birth,
and the cruelest act is its stripping—
like the many layers of dead skin
we peel from our bodies
at every wash, or like
the moving images of the
digital slideshow we frame,
transitioning one past image of
what-if’s to the next.

We must take stock, though,
inventory all fulfillment.
Think of them instead like
pages turning in this one
we chose to remove from the shelf.

Doing so, the story of a family
emerges like a beacon,
calling us back to
the fledgling binding
of shared thoughts and dreams.

It Is Difficult to Be Without a Kitchen

A light glow from the desk,
the presence of my husband,
facing an illuminated screen--

Seated at the white,ceramic-tiled
breakfast nook, my girls and I
vie for his attention.
There is a lit candle nestled into the
corner, alongside the wine rack,
and it too sends forth
its own small orb of motion--
the scent of sandalwood, inviting
but restrained from overpowering.

Overhead, a fan wields its
soft current of air upon us,
lightly taps the wooden chimes
holding their station in front
of the Frida Kahlo,
on its way down.

And above my husband's body hangs
that image of exhausted migrant
workers, huddled and seeking refuge
from the day's non-existence
in each other.

Asian patterned wall meets Mexican--
dark trim leading the way toward
Native, hugging to it, the symbolic
mosaic tile we've had for nineteen years--
bought on our honeymoon,
shaped and painted to represent the
two-fluted wedding vase.

We are each of us
sucking on freshly cut pineapple,
while our bare legs call to the
coolness we know exists in the
layer beneath us--
instead, tonight,
we choose the unity
of this kitchen's

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