July 2009


Maybe it’s the simplicity of her singular suit

resisting dismissive labels of ‘girly’ or ‘cute’.

Maybe it’s the hotness of tweedy butch

that turns her watchers’ knees to mush:

Even straight married ladies

seem to be going crazy

singing this particular pundit’s praise

saying she’s “a real role model for the gays”

But while I’m thankful for role models

who can dismantle the old twaddle

of Pat and FOX News with ease and elocution

I’d prefer a slightly wider distribution

of role-model-fodder on American TVs

besides Ellen, Wanda, and MSNBC’s

hot mixer-maven, out-token Mister Cronkite Junior;

how ’bout six or seven outspoken sister wonk-dykes to join her?

Don’t pretend

you didn’t look

you gave me that kind of lingering look we’re not supposed to

trade; we’re supposed to behave

read books by Danielle Steel, prefer touch

to sight, imagine to feel

inaction instead of want, supposed to wait

for Mr Right to come

sweep us right off our feet, but I warn you

my desires are quicker than him and not so neatly defined

they are unrefined liquor that burns your lips

from the shot glass rim down to the pit of your stomach

so admit it

while you still have the excuse of

a tongue loosed by liquid fire

I caught the corner of your eye with the tip of a smile

glimpsed the spark, a live wire within

and even though we both know the flavor

of sin, of not supposed to

of what good girls don’t do

with every drop you’re looking braver, tired of stop

and no in a voice that quavers

tired of shame instead of savor, you’ve had

enough

of good guys acting like bad guys and bad guys

always tricking the good girls and what

is so bad about looking

and feeling

about believing in something that burns, yes,

but brings

so much light and

so much warmth

The albino pigeon doesn’t even try to run away.  Doesn’t rise in a
land-mine blast of feathers and flutter when I approach, doesn’t scurry flat-footed
towards the safety of curb or tree. There is little surprise in its amber-bead eye
as it cocks a questioning glance, pausing in the grass
between sidewalk     and street—a bright spot
of pillow-stuffing white against a
backdrop of weedy green—instead,
it looks weary, perhaps
asking:
Are you
the next one to make a target
of me today? To set your sights as if
standing out from the dust and weeds renders
my life immediately forfeit, as if I am made
out of clay, and only exist     for your sporting pleasure?

On the Fourth of July, Pilsen erupts
with sound: Mira, mama,
the fireworks! the little girl gazes,
all skinny neck and slack jaw, up at
the explosions, her face skylit
in orange and red.
Sideline-spectating parents drink Tecate or Miller Lite
on sagging front porches, inhale
barbecue smoke and brimstone, and those
who have work tomorrow may suffer
through a morning headache, but
it’ll be worth it.  Tonight
they are celebrating
the independence of a country that
holds citizenship tight like a Roman candle
whose bright stars burst
just above their heads.  They are but spectators
here where children grow taller
than their parents, speak
in accents foreign but familiar from TV; here
where success is measured in car payments, computers
not in last names
or quantities of land.
Tonight the firework-pops keep babies awake
remind some neighbors of militias and gangs
others of independencias commemorated on a
different date; but for this night at least,
Pilsen celebrates, and no one
goes to sleep early.

Metal Kings

Train tracks here run so long
lose them in sight
they shimmer
vaporized like a
mirage in sunlight; rust together
and twist into sinew, muscles flex every time
a train rumbles past

Speaking a cluttered tongue of
click clack and squeak, the wheels
thirst for oil;
gravel thirsts for green;
weeds push up between the ties only
to bow their heads
when the next king of the tracks roars
fast

While deep underneath,
deep under the rumble
and thunder
of speed fleet on its electric metal wings,
the bridges weather
years of weight;
concrete wrinkles and cracks, shows its age;
paint peels like sunburnt skin

But this kind of
bone doesn’t heal by itself
metal and cement don’t renew like sun with
the turn of the seasons
and if neglect or disaster stops these
thundering kings in their tracks
weeds will raise
spiky rebel heads and
reclaim what was theirs
before steel raked long finger-nail lines across
this land’s skin