Poetry of a Child Immigrant
fingernails skid off piano keys as easily
as her mother language rolls
off her tongue
she does not know how to play debussy
just as she will never learn
to love english
madre told her both were to be
necessities in her life
it was true
the syncopation of golliwog’s cakewalk
would haunt the rooms she
carried herself into
as gold and god and glory punctuated
the english of her
sobre mi she would say
then she would pause as if nothing
important was coming
all that was left were hammers on trembling
strings and musical notes left
droning until empty
until the english provided relief
flooding back in a
Explaining the Marangoni Effect
The literature of my body floats through water until it does not.
See it sink now, edges uplifted: an attempt to tread through, a last
message from the living. Skin is rolled and peeled as pieces of maple tree
leaves rise to the surface. All are level with pen’s paint on dead detritus
now elapsed. Time also floats, though upstream, like steeped mate tea
leaves back in the kettle after pouring. Vortex currents, you tell me,
as if to explain this defiance of gravity. Holding up your glass, I peer
into the drops that collapse and run back down in rivulets of bourbon
tears. You say strange words of capillary tension as if that will be enough
to devour this echoing time. Then you tell tales of stirring milk into our
coffee, of blowing smoke rings, of watching whirlpools form in bathtubs
to be eddied down deep. The story about the kerosene traveling
up the wick to ensure slow, steady burn was my favorite. Or maybe
it was the one about hibiscus leaves swelling so they could leach
into water, diffusing outward. Time stalled until it did not. You say,
Come, let me read you, as you take my free hand upwards in yours.
Father Tells Me
of times when being brother was the hardest chore
to complete. of light switches clicked off
plastic gliding against its mother:
the socket that postulated darkness over warmth
as if to question the stipulations of writing to god.
of note-taking and note-making the letters u and i
never sitting together unless he was quitting.
of favoring pens over a pencil
as his father did
with sons over a daughter three permanent joys
over one erasable fear.
of gliding ink
glib with knowledge of estrangement
wanted to be the last of
familial communication but instead the words
still lying on his chest asleep.
of having too much to do to be able to run away
of having a wife.
of having a daughter.
of turning away a brother
the stench of alcohol on brother’s lips marring the inky line between wanting
and needing help.
of signing the death certificate with his last good pen.
of only having one brother after the funeral.
of mailing thank you letters envelopes with ink
bleeding then ink skipping
an ellipsis of moments carried by
and carried over voices
some not quite making it to