Tea with My Meme

(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

We sit around the foldout table as your kitchen
fills with the aroma of Earl Grey and reruns

flicker on the TV, saying you only remember
an episode when certain scenes show up.

Feeling like our time is melting faster than the ice chips
bouncing inside your cup, I start showing off my hand drawn comic

where the story has us save the universe from an evil race of space slugs;
mentioning how I spent all weekend coloring inside the lines

and having dad double check my spelling before writing the words
with Sharpie. Jumping out of my seat to run circles around the table,

yelling about how awesome the suede uniforms look
while you take the Marlboro Reds from your purse,

pop one in your mouth, flick the yellow BIC, and then take a drag.
As I see you exhale, your skin begins to melt:

your glasses slide off as your ears and nose soften into ooze,
splattering the tan linoleum floor; your hands glop toward the table,

pooling as you hunch over; your face, a muck of crevasses;
your bones crack, crumble, then sandstorm out the second floor window.

A smoldering pair of lungs rest on your chair
as the TV continues to flash. Suddenly I remember this episode.

Remembering light breaking through vertical blinds,
numbers radiating from a display beside your golden hair,

your chest bobbing up and down like ice chips,
a tube running out from your throat.

Suddenly dad is there. I shove my face into his red shirt,
soaking my tears before trying to hide under a table.

Suddenly family surrounds me; cousin Tommy holds my hand.
Their mouths move, but there is only silence.

Are you okay, babe? She asks,
sitting outside the Coffee Depot

as I stare at the tealeaves swirling
in my mug, You’ve been really quiet.

She rubs my knee, puffing on her cigarette.
I look up, unable to say

as I notice her make up
beginning to run.

Spaghetti Westerns with My Father

(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

for Steven J. Hooker

As we watched the sheriff win a gunfight with a man
whose life probably didn’t pan out the way he had hoped,

collapsing face down under the high noon,
my father shares the film’s sentiment of justice served.

But once the lawman says what little he needed to
and trots his journey back to where he lays his head

I couldn’t help wondering what he was returning to.
If, at every sunset he rode into, every lone cactus

and tumbleweed he passed, he would see the faces
of the men he turned to belt notches

staring at him like cattle before supper; spurs sunk in the soil,
boots worn as if running was all they had known.

Or, after leaving her more times than chambers emptied,
whether his wife considered him a dead man;

not so much to prevent his silhouette
from appearing in every lantern flicker

or the bodies propped up in the mortician’s window
from resembling him,

but more a shooting star wish to spare his soul
from the duty that made his heart as hard as a badge.

Before the final shot faded into credits
I turned to my father and asked, who really won?

And with a stern look and a blank stare,
he replied, the man with a clear conscience.

Funk & Fire

for SCUL

Traversing the dark,
shouting "Bust a Funk" as we
pedal personaes,

Echoing each their
own safe return—not to home
but a self yet found.

May our ship's glow pale
in comparison to the
fire which propels us.


I loved you from afar
on this island I call “myself,”
watching you travel across a dark sky
to light the night.

When you were here
the sea shined a blue I never knew
and once you left the beauty stayed,
reminding me of you.

I knew your name yet never called,
expecting you to return as easily as you came;
now I scream in hopes you’re near
but you are too far to hear.

Wherever you are,
a cascade of hue surely following,
know that it was you who showed me the day
and nothing could take such a lesson away.

Past the Mountain Ridge

Let us go into exile,
tame the ghosts who hold our feet
for where we stand
we cannot see past the mountain ridge.

Let us make our lives
no longer mere moments
but our moments, entire lives;
whisper our tales to the ancestors,
make them honored to share the sky.

Let us forge our children from the earth,
take a piece of the sun and place it inside them,
explain how there are no lords here;
we hold even the soil as siblings, as ourselves,
for when we make our return
we are held as softly.

Let us see our final day standing,
our last breath coming
as the first time air entered our mouth.
Carry what we leave to the rituals,
offer our thanks for it was a noble vessel.