When you are outside eating lunch alone
no one is there to say ‘Bless You’ when you sneeze.
No one is there to ask you what you think
of that Bukowski poem about Hemingway’s suicide.
You don’t want anyone to ask you what you think
of that Bukowski poem. You want someone to just know
exactly what you know: the way the page fights your palm
with the breeze backing it, the way the sun highlights
the orange feathers on the sparrow’s wings
the exact pitch of the wind ringing through your ears.
The other people are irrelevant. They are busy
talking about relationships, napping on the benches,
learning to ride a bike from one end of campus to the other.
In all honesty, they would still be here, doing it all, without you;
but that feisty page, that zesty shimmer, that wind-whistle?
You’re their private audience, ascribing meaning
and worth. You are the tongue of Adam
naming things into existence.
A alumni came to my school last year and she became a poet. Her writing is amazing and so is she. She renewed my interest in poetry and writing. I’ve started writing again because she inspired me to do so. I was talking to her one night on my other tumblr (alwaysonenightaway.tumblr.com) and she told me to just write how I want to and ignore everyone else’s opinions. She told me to write what I want to, not what others want me to. She taught me the best thing for poetry is it to be read aloud.
I now write how I want to, how I want to express myself. I now write not to impress someone else, but to get stuff out of my system.
Even my most depressing work, I now hand into my teacher because of what she told me. And I must say I think it is my best work so far.
She is someone who truly inspires me.
Her name is Karolina(Karol) Manko (astronautssleepinspace.tumblr.com) and if you haven’t heard of her, you should look at her stuff its pretty amazing. And maybe she’ll inspire someone else, just as she did for me.
I am doing more stuff that involves writing now and I doubt she will she this, but(if you do I hope you don’t think I’m a creep) thank you for renewing my interest in writing.
Originally published in Miniature Magazine’s April 2013 issue.
Back in kindergarten I stood in line during recess
waiting to sip juice from a ladle in a bucket. That is
what communism does to a country.
I was a 1st grader when John asked me
why my mother smoked and how come I never
went to the Daddy Dances. All the girls had a crush on him
because his father owned a pizza shop. He kissed Pretty Ashley
during recess once, and every Friday after that
John’s father brought our class 2 pepperoni pies.
That’s called Democracy.
FOR THE SURVIVORS
I am with you in Rockland
and in Red Hook.
In your Rhode Island
culdesacs. I am with you,
racing home from the school
bus-stop to the above-average
norms of home-cooked meals
and moms that never die. I am
with you when they do.
I am with you in Harlem
and in Detroit, in Oakland,
Compton, D.C., Atlanta, Yonkers.
I am with you in the ghettos
and the grottos, the revolver
and the revolution.
I am with you,
looking in from the outside,
silenced.I am with you
in your anger, bubbling.
Milk on a forgotten flame,
flame in a forgotten forrest.
I am with you in Dublin,
in Sicily, in Warsaw, in Tel-Aviv.
I am with you in your fast-food
American drive-thru at Taco Bell,
longing for Oaxaca and the shores
of La Mansanilla. I am with you
in Cancun. Like a cancer.
I am with you in the heat of it,
freezing for lack of familiarity,
faking a forced hybridization.
I am with you at the Epson Derby,
and in the crowd at Woodstock.
In the fixed silence at the dinner
table when you announce
that you’re a lesbian, a feminist,
not going to college. I am with you
at the clinic, in the classroom,
at the Kappa-Beta-Delta induction
ceremony, in the voting booth.
I am with you
when your body begins to dry up
from the inside out and you begin
to wonder if you will ever learn to love
those thick thighs, those saline scars,
that hijab-hair. I am
with you in the ancestral blood
and the unacknowledged shame.
I am with you in Kabul, Afganistan
and Birmingham, Alabama.
In war and in sex. In birthdays
and break-ups. In debt and in love.
I am with you in the chaos
and the wake of it. In this life.
In the Death to come.
In the eternity that binds it all
together. In the atom. In the
Big Bang. In the beginning.
In the Alpha and the Omega.
In the poem and the apocalypse.
I am with you.
I am with you.
I am with you.
When it all ends,
- Karolina Manko - astronautssleepinspace.tumblr.com
‘This is the piece that I read at Housing Works bookstore. It was well-received and it was an honor to read with Philip Levine and Tracy K. Smith. ’
Love, A Procedural Analysis Of
Originally published in Toasted Cheese (March 2013)
My mouth is flooded with a fine powder
as my tongue settles to the floor
and begins breaking down piece by cracked piece.
The body is an error in the crest line,
a promise to break down at the mouth
of something bigger and harder than it.
I know of only one way to say “I love you”
but three syllables seem like a pitiful attempt
at a haunting. I long for the cavernous abyss
of you. Voluminous enough to carry an echo.
You have always fascinated me with your depth.
I often wonder if love is a plastic-bag-suicide—
—an erasure of all but breath balanced on tongue.
The presence of nothing
but raw human soul and rotting body.