Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jazz, for Once

Her staccato shoulder raised, shifted,
grappled by a stranger's hands,

Her eyes two slim and subtle
wounds like music notes,

and you wonder why they dim the lights
and let the saxophone blurt out its high-pitched
out of air gasp.

Your arms are tilted
branches too tranquil
for a bird's nest

but you sway quiet with the glass
in your hand like a guitar

and gulp this rhythm back

Friday, August 19, 2011

Malaga [Viajeros y Suicidas III]

Bulbous and incoherent. The sky is the bluest eye. Hills full of huddled buildings like glimmering teeth sit facing the vast curves of the Mediterranean shore. Each mountain has its coat of fog, just enough to make it seem implausible, a lingering shadow, perhaps Africa on the horizon, depending on the light, and on the height.

"Did you see it?", asks one of the teenagers in a thick Andalusian accent. (L'a vi'to?)

"Did you see it? From the balcony."

The impulse: teenage testosterone. Not to mention Andalusian character. Another boy starts to climb the rock toward the balcony, not even watching his limbs as they grapple the sharp edges and the wall slits his skin - could it be callous? The more we suffer watching him, the happier and more motivated he becomes. His smile widens at the thought of having our attention.

Tan skin plunges into waves lapping in the hollow bottom below the rock. Their skin is as dark as octopus ink, but the plump boy climbing the rock has light blue eyes you can almost see through.

He has reached the top, and stands on the verge carelessly with one hand on the balcony's white balustrade. The groups attention from 70 feet below makes him giddy. He jumps the balustrade into the balcony.

"Do it, pussy!"

The boy raises himself onto the center column of the balcony, which has the approximate dimensions of a matchbox (from the group's angle), and even the young girls cease to make sound. The atmosphere gets tense like when you see an air hostess panic mid-flight.

Four seconds the boy's body scrapes the placid blue backdrop between Europe and Africa. The fifth he spends underwater, a lingering shadow, no more breathless than the rest of us, his eyes in deepest camouflage. We wait to scream.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On an airplane. [Viajeros y Suicidas III....maybe]

Did an eskimo family build their home out of my mistakes?
Out of those tears that mixed with sweat on summer nights
When we would fight about the heat, about the fights?
Or did my failures trap the children in the school
And force them to become more than they should
When all they wanted was to feel inside their palms
The cold levity I lost
And let it go?

And in what famous lake did all my friends' funerals drown?
Or are they bathing in that pond behind your house
Giving life to all the fishes you would count?
Did they carry us that day inside the raft? In that
Thundering white water symphony
That could have once been dead silence
In a levitating dream
Turned into disease.

And is the difference between layered and convective clouds
Just the difference between our sadness and our joy?
Does nostalgia form cirrostratus and dejection stratocumulus?
And in what type of cloud are all the miles down the road,
Away from home and away from love,
Away into the shattering stones of maturity's song
Whose rhythm we could follow
But never found?

And why does the sun dissolve our pain
Just to let it fall on us again?

Into the ocean of my parents' suffering and release
I swim,
I live.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Before You Begin

Again and again the same thumb,
Again and again the same circle,
The same infinite path that
My skin enters and escapes
Trying to find that old Bob Dylan song
My mother would play when she did chores
Waiting for my father.

The song I would sing along with
Before I learned to speak its language,
Before I knew that he sang about me,
But not me then, and not me now.

Everything continues to escape me
In its eternally ephemeral way,
But this song remains somewhere
In this same infinite path,
Waiting for me to find it and to sing it,
Again and again contemplating
How long it will have to spend
Waiting for my father.

If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

London [Viajeros y Suicidas II]

The night was slowly dying. After a long walk I found the right bus stop to get back to the hostel for the night. There, the tall buses swept past formidably close to the edge of the road, so close you could almost feel the cold on the Plexiglas, the breath of your darkened reflection.
The bar I was coming from had at some point been a church. I was unaware of the reason it had been converted but I remember thinking about faith, about endurance, about how seemingly nothing ends up how it begins. I thought about futility, about premeditated futility. I thought mostly about failure.
I walked to the back row of the bus and sat against the window. The man sitting in front of me turned around and smiled. He must have been in his late 20's. A dark red splattered violently on the whites of his eyes, yet his pupils glistened innocently like a child's.
"Bus at night is free," he said with a complacent smile "and I can drink here too." Having said this, he pulled out a half-empty glass of beer from inside his shirt and showed it to me, careful not to place it in sight of the driver's mirror. His immediate honesty did not bother me but initially amused me.
He told me he was from Liberia. He had just come back from Tokyo, where he had gone to visit his girlfriend. I wondered what had landed him here, what role this place had in his triangular travel.
"I came here for woman. She was my teacher, in Liberia," he said with a chuckle, looking down at the bulge his glass made under his shirt. "She was really in love with me, man." His story began to intrigue me more. I asked about the teacher but he would only respond vaguely and ambiguously. The only thing I knew was that she was not the woman in Tokyo and that she somehow had splayed that red on his eyes. They looked like a Pollock painting, more sullen.
He talked about his family. His father had gone blind at the age of 12 and of his life after that I only know that he had two sons, that he endured. His brother (i.e. the brother of the man on the bus) was still with him and helped him move from place to place to maintain his current relationship with the absent Japanese woman. For this the man exuded shameful gratitude, appearing embarrassed by his own lack of independence.
"I am a teacher now," he then said. He became silent, staring out into the street as it passed us, his eyes not focusing on anything, motionless, as if focused on the glass and not the muted exterior of this (his) momentary self-awareness.
At my stop I got up and the man again smiled at me.
"No hard feelings, man," he said, calmly, as if speaking to someone else.
The bus drove off, its headlights forming translucent triangles in the night's visible darkness.