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.

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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

Night Tides (poem). This is a poem written about the concept of North Africa and immanent out-migration to France, or to a state of mind that speaks to extreme despair.


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surges and tides

terrible like salt or tears

its wake of foam and fears

suspended in the gelatinous seas

and that’s how you found me –

my skin peeled back

as though we had forever

as though we would be together

as though the sweet pain of newness

would clamp its hot, tender hand over mine

and my skin would smooth over

but after the dream was over you found me –

like water left behind

in one tide pool after another

kelp and brine and

driftwood intertwined

the occasional shell

soft pulp peeled back

and smoother than skin

still craving

the memory of those tides

my empty arms and impervious surge

suspended in my gelatinous nights

Twists of Roses (poem). This poem was written when contemplating the similarities between roses, rose stems, rose thorns, and barbed wire.

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We pulled ourselves away

from the shrill tangle of lies and guns –

a small bench, a twist of roses –

the smell of sweet, green grass

and a fire burned down

into the rocks and sand

Your eyes, hot and wet,

singular coins, unblinking,


sinking into the depths of my waters

cool and clear like a first encounter

untinged by disappointment

ropes still coiled and fresh

smelling of jasmine and rain

under twists of roses

we pull ourselves further