Big Round Eyes
A tiny body, black hair
separated from her mother
given into foster care - at birth
because that is the deal
arranged between agencies
and a woman signing papers
her thumbprint bleeds DNA.
In Guatemala City, I meet
my daughter for the first time
she is ten days old, I hold her
in my left arm while washing clothes by hand
three of us sleep in one bed, a few hours at a time
for two weeks, then my wife and I return
without her to L.A.
It is summer, hot, on this side of the fence; forms needed
to be signed, notarized, stamped, legalized, photo copied three times, then authorized
again - driving all over town; a month and a half later, my wife decides to live
with our daughter until immigration
papers clear; we fly back
receive temporary custody
from a Guatemalan court.
I complain about the procedure, as do others.
Some look at their child, then leave
touring the country on their own
not to waste a day in waiting
until the baby’s legal status will be cleared
by hands that sell some of the fallout produced by hate and greed
back to where the smoldering fires have been stoked
calculatingly - it is anticipated to look good
on someone’s balance sheet.
Quetzals, pyramids, blue lakes, and pretty colors
armed Coca Cola trucks. One day
on our way to a village of weavers, blood smeared faces
stained clothes, lined up against a wall
a short glance and then we look away
bargain for fabric twenty minutes later.
At first, we stay with a family in town, a physician’s
home always locked, like all the houses with glass shards
cemented into the top of walls, and with cell phones
every move reported back and forth.
“Don’t leave the house on your own.”
Beyond that, nobody mentions
the beatings and disappearances,
or maybe your head inside a bag
of insecticide, breathe deeply
while your wife and daughters are raped
the soles of your feet peeled with a machete
watch an unborn cut from the womb
that carried you in hope of the gods
to show some fucking mercy - copal, flowers, wooden saints
carried in processions through the streets.
The sound of gunfire.
We move to a hotel in a colonial town.
I carry our daughter through La Antigua
in a pouch on my chest.
She shows her face, sticks out her tongue as a greeting
wants to be seen and to look at her world
with big round eyes
but avoids lights bright and cold
a scar embedded in her first memories.
Invited by strangers, we eat and drink, for free
in elegant homes, or a meal shared on bare ground
gifts and wishes for a daughter of their country and our intentions.
High above the cities
smog mingles with the plume and the gases
ashes at the base of cinder cones
fertile lands, family feuds
women, kept as permanent guests
in bondage, toys for respectable house-holds.
The men head north, some of them make it
maybe they are mowing your lawn while you
have an argument - with your wife
about who forgot, and why, and how one could
miss paying the insurance
on a new Prius.
Chahul women at the square, my serious expression, their laughter
breaking barriers, but unbroken by having witnessed how it is to be
stripped in public, mutilated, set on fire with gasoline, or removed from life
a merciful bullet after everything has been taken that can be destroyed.
In The Darkness Of A Ladies Room
This morning, you write that chaos erupted at your office
and if we could meet for lunch a bit later - anytime with you
a quantum leap, only a few words, from being apart to feel
your body’s warmth, the gaze of your eyes, your fingers
probing the pockets of my jeans, you carefully study my face
while we sit next to each other, hungry, and the waiter asks
if we were ready, anything that delights your senses with pleasure
a banquet too rich for the angels that cannot bear the weight of love
born from wet earth, salt harvested in friction, your leg against mine
a spicy dish and hot tea, you feed me bites and offer me to drink
your cup on my lips, I stare at your breasts, firm and round, so soft
the swell rising above your low cut dress, the curves of your thighs
accentuated by tights, nylon and silk, I glide my hand over a runner
hiking up underneath the blue and green garment, I melt like the ice
in the glass of water, our reflections fused into a single expression
you hold my hand in both of yours, the table seems to lift and rise
or maybe we are at sea, heavy weather, sails secured on reef points
you touch my zipper, I watch your lips close over the straw in my drink
and then notice your one foot as it slips from high heels and brushes
my ankle, the first time aware of its presence, my body a heat, a flame
in your fire that I tend with kindling stroked underneath your panties
for you to come and claim my ecstasy, we walk into the back hallway
you open the door to the ladies room, grab my shirt, and pull me
inside, you turn off the light, I feel your arms, your buttocks, flesh
warm moistness, scented dreams, suspended in embrace, your body
the universe I explore with my skin, my tongue, my cock pulsing
against your loins, I hold my destiny, you strip me naked as I was
before I had been born, you licked your desire into the clay of mine
in a darkness, your petaled rain giving birth to everything.
A Night In Florence
My train pulls out of Roma Termini, the compartment door
opens, she asks if the seat opposite mine were occupied
proceeds to place her small travel case on the rack above
assured of approval, her scent, gold earrings, chestnut brown
hair accentuates the wave of her body, green skirt mid-thigh
designer shoes, she crosses her legs; extracting a cigarette
from a leather case, thumb and index finger trace an arc
in front of her face, she closes her lips around the filter tip
lighter in my palm, she cups my hand, steady, and leans
forward, draws in, exhales slightly upward, her breath
brushes over the top of my head, she says that on her ride
in a taxi, it flooded her body, a premonition, we'd meet.
Mesmerized, I agree, of course, my thoughts caught by
her sequined short sleeve top tightly fitted, keeping her body
in motion, tongue that skims the moist inside her mouth
shoulders rolling, her breasts play with the fabric, she
rearranges her legs and then tells me about her son
mentions her husband, that she must return but for this.
One night in Florence, that she needs to know, how it is
passion unrestricted, large-eyed question, dark lashes, high
cheekbones, willful chin, lips full, olive skin tone, silk-soft
skilled hands applied the perfect line on arched brows, then
I touch her leg and say that I, too, sense the heated tension
charges of a storm advancing, she says, come with me
the hairs in the nape of her neck, irresistibly rising, I say
yes, has she experienced this before, no - only this day
she wants her body to remember, the night to be a window
when she returns to her child, a husband, shutters closed
villa on the shores of a lake, northern Italy. Do not fall
in love she has been with what she misses, I want to fuck
her steam stoking my fire, the train pulls into Florence.
We brush against each other, her loins press into mine
lust swelling, she bends one leg, braces her foot on the seat
pulls me tighter, my hands on the back of her thighs
desperately fleeing time, kissing hard, she strokes my head
we come to a stop, let's go, she says, to a hotel close by
I help with luggage, shoulder my bag, slide the door open
she walks the corridor, ahead of me, I follow, tied to her
brown hair, white top, green skirt, hips moving, in heat
on the platform, she turns around - I hesitate, the train
a wailing sound, her gaze motionless, steel doing tracks.
Marked by the deadly shades of a prayer
house and garden behind ancient walls
stone for stone a tomb, hooded garbs
afraid of being touched by what is sought.
I look outside the cage. A night.
Dissolved in your red moon liquid,
I hear you moan my name and feel you
reach for the trembling canopy of sky.
Leaves falling, sun, water, light
swirling eddies, the song of birds.
And we climb the furry edges
on new shoots pushing forth.
The storms only calming, not diminished
gathering new strength in what I had been
trained to worship but not to live
What you offer to me now.
What it can do when I look at you rest
the tip of your index finger curved
over your thumb, a gate to hymns
never sung before, when you curl
your toes against the soles of your feet
I am washed innocent
When in deep thought,
you close your rainbow eyes.
When you open them again
to tell me about, a revelation:
The hair peeking from my nose
it lets you know what it’s like to be
With god, born from a sparkle in Your smile.
Beyond The Jagged Coastline
I'll cut out god's eyes
to make him feel that
which he only knows about
in his office of wisdom.
You, naked and dripping wet
watch the kelp, it bobs up and down
in this pleasure galaxy
falling, adrift on our barge
grind my ashes to the bone.
Already beneath doric columns
blood-leathered boots and
nailed to the streets, I saw you
hold the cards, spread them
anew with your limbs
in daphne-scented fields.
Your reed hunger I uncoil
in your wild rose dirt marshes
I rise, my face against the moon
hung to the rails, fuck me innocent.
Gladly, I free-dive
your dark cotton well water
stripped completely bare
shred me to pieces
for me to abandon
what is only food for the blind
ferryman's eyes reflecting
round tables squared
meals that stuff the throat
with dowry stones.
What else can I hurtle against
the stingray-shot but make you roar
with satisfaction and find the spots
that send you burst into giggles
that leave me smiling still
when by the roadside I stand
and wave and watch you
The poem "Beyond The Jagged Coastline" has been published in Penne Ante Feud, issue #13. To view or to purchase the book on amzon.com: