Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Asuncion (poem). From 1996 to 2000, I traveled to Paraguay approximately three times per year. Part of my enthusiasm was motivated by the desire to get to know Paraguayan women poets, their work, and their contexts. I was also motivated by the desire to bridge the cultures -- American and Paraguayan -- by setting up programs that encouraged partnering. As a result, I became involved with many programs, including educational exchanges, film festivals, art, culture, trade, and developing a free trade zone. It was a fascinating time, and I was lucky to have been able to gain an appreciation of Guarani culture, and the unique dialect of Spanish spoken there, which also reflected a certain mindset, unique to the world.

Play the podcast.


the night is hot
unbearably hot

I sleep on the floor
no breeze enters the window
traffic noises 5 stories below & night sounds
from the brothel down the street, drunken singing
accompanied by harps & guitars & songs
played over and over from a pirated CD --
the smell of diesel exhaust
settling into the pores of the city
ozone & other supercharged ions
make me long for you more
my world is between dream and day

the mattress on the floor
shudders when trucks rumble down the cobbled streets
heavy with goods undocumented & untrackable
like my mind imagining, wakeful
my body trembling in response
to memories traversing this heart of hope
& still you're half a world away

I sweat in my sleep
my arms, my legs
involuntarily searching; I do not perceive
the half-heard sound of sobbing
a young girl realizing for the first time
her body is a vehicle driven by someone else
the moment she gives up dreaming;
water splashing in the courtyard
she tries to wash the smells from her hands
the rest she gives to the poinsettia tree
its star-like leaves and yellow blossoms
rousing that dismal corner of this once-grand house,
its history
created its own oblivion.

but I am asleep four doors away;
my sheet will not peel away
the pillow will not muffle your voice
remembered from a world & a lifetime away;
we have not yet met
but soon we will; now
our moments are still on the other side of dreams
enigmatic, immaculate, joyous & sad
like starlight behind a film of clouds

when I awaken I see the dawn
cast shadows on the paint peeling from my walls
the tears that have stained my ceiling;
the mattress is warm on the cool concrete floor
your breath is already inside me
my hands somewhere brushing your neck
flowers bloom in the trees outside the window
the trucks grinding gears, the brothel silent
the daylight scents are sweet & only mildly sad;
morning is, thankfully, what happens
every day

Sunday, January 09, 2005

fringe-journaling at kramerbooks on dupont circle in washington, dc Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

"Antidote to Vanity" is a poem dealing with people who have been displaced due to war or natural disaster (the tsunami comes to mind), and who have been living in limb -- sometimes decades. It is also a meditation the writings of a 5th-century Buddhist monk who lived in the Sri Lanka / India region, who suggested strategies for undesirable mental states -- attachment, desire, etc. This is a concept that is usually misunderstood. Think before judging.

Bones poured like wax gone bad,
I descended into the fire; my personal fear comes alive
in this ravine curling sidelong the highway

flames leap from the asphaltic shale
an artesian well of fire

I think Johnny Cash & Zarathustra;
did my dad & Nietzsche have so much in common?
Ring of Fire & Self-Overcoming –
gales cannot extinguish this blaze of glory
& associated smells; Oklahoma oil in a jar from the Hunton formation
my dad talking about the well near the Wynnewood refinery
& my brother sneaking charred hotdogs off the backyard grill

all the while, I'm here in the Absheron Peninsula, knowing
I’ve been here before; many times

We are nearing an ancient temple
Zoroastrians worshipped this same eternal flame
two thousand years ago, muffled by paisley carpets

Good vs. Evil
weavers repeated flames with brilliant wool and silk
in infinite tones of scarlet, burgundy, & simple red

thousands of miles away, my aunt served her daughter's wedding cake on silver
saved by an uncle who said Berlin was like Dresden –
fire bombing was a terrible way to discipline a city
some streets burned for days, asphalt ignited
where water had been long supplanted by dirt & defoliated dreams

my heart burns
my head erupts in paisley

just that small fact that history changes
but the same earth burns
the true good is in the flame itself
purity comes from the inner core of fire

thousands of years, we sometimes discover the ancient truths
sometimes not –

it’s just that now I see the way history was & will always be…
& my bones weep
like wax
passed close to the flame