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Time Capsule

They felt the wind on the down of their necks.
After the murders, children
in the town dreamed of houses

melting into the sky.
Fear built its hive inside them.

But as they grew
their memories dwindled

like their bicycles that became too small to ride.
The graves
lay buried beneath the trees’

shadows. Parents split
and moved away. One sister
survived. One witnessed the dark ceiling
of every midnight

fall into her thoughts.
Reminders kept surfacing: a red bike
hooked to a chain link fence,

a note folded in a pocket
and put through the wash
until she couldn’t read it, until

it was grit between her fingers. But
she knew — You will only be a ghost

sliding through the trees.
This crumbling. Once upon a time
she sank her foot into the shoulder
of a shovel.

All of Us, Whatever We Are

Remember the time you watched your uncle
prepare to enter the woods to hunt? The uncle
hunted with a bow and arrow, he greased
his boots for waterproofing, he wore
a brilliant poppy for a hat. You did not go
to see the breath billow from the mouth
of the uncle past the brush of the brown moustache,
or pause when he paused, knee raised, knuckles
loose, ears prickling. You stayed at home
and hoped for the deer and the uncle to miss
each other, to dance in different parts of the woods,
you didn't know how hunting worked. You imagined
saltlicks and deerblinds and crooks of trees
and cracks of branches. It was all out of books.
The books fell down around them, man and animal,
a flush of russet leaves, and landed without sound.
You went on turning pages, and they went on
stepping silently, and the arrow waited, eager
for the string to touch its lip, for the air to dare
to bite. In you and in the deer and in the uncle
the hot blood ran after its own scents, trailed
by its own pursuers, the hearts made their fists
and opened their mouths over and over.
In the uncle's hand, the arrow felt
indifference, as the knives and bullets
and needles and steering columns all feel
indifference. We are dry, now we are wet.
It is warm, but it will soon be cold, the body,
the blood, the idea of you hovering there
as the last of the life leaks away. Where
does the warmth go? We try to track it down,
to find it lurking in the dark trees, coax it
into sunpools, hope it stares at us
with enormous eyes. We want to touch
its little feet, to turn the soft tongue from side
to side. We move through snow and bear up
under wind. We blink the frost from the lashes,
we flex the thumb going numb in the chill. We want
the beating thing that lies beyond the reach
of our barbed touch. We want chance to spin
the dial, we want the arrow to thread
the gnarled trunks and hit the heat in the heart —

We run to it, bracken snapping, shouts
of wonder in the ringing air. We hold the heat
a moment, its muzzle wet, and then we feel it
moving off, a shuffling shadow with no edges
cast by a cloud that is not there. And you look up
and the uncle looks up too and the deer
with its amber iris stares along with you
and everyone sees sky and endless space
and the unstoppable cold comes dropping.

why a Cuban living in the NW isn’t going to write about rain or salmon

right off — there’s already enough rain
I’m not inviting it into my poetry

salmon—this fish whose body
torques up ladders —
has enough problems

if you’re Cuban
and wind up in the Pacific Northwest —
the ecstasy of your dreams is pocketed until August —
the only month of certain heat

you troll the Asian produce stands
for malanga, scotch bonnet peppers,
and the elusive green plantain

you wait months for the only Desi Arnaz CD in the Seattle Public Library’s holdings —
even though there aren’t any other holds

At Dungeness Spit

Rushing toward the ocean tongue
Along the lip of land

I am what my friends feared

Grit traded in for grains of sand
My city soil scattered in Northwest winds

Twice despised for behavior unbecoming—

Unable to leave the cascade light
Unwilling to claim the shadowed coo of pigeon’s songs as my only note.

Variation on a theme

I’ve worn them once
my wedding shoes
dyed red, more and yes red
the way a strike against
the tip of a match ignites
and pomegranate rubies
stain a thousand secrets worth
Adam did not fall for jewels
but for the juice of a fruit
like the crimson Fujis I harvest
each fall from my backyard tree
when rusty leaves layer the ground

Korean War

You are the North and I am the South.
My tanks aim for you. I shoot you a thousand times.

Your missiles launch into my oceans. You raise monuments to scorn me.
You eat clams cooked in gasoline.

I drink milk and cider. I raise skyscrapers of businessmen.
You build towers of empty rooms. You refuse me from where I am most loved.

I clean a wintermelon of its guts and seeds cling to my wet fingers.
Aren’t you the North, and I the South?

Phantom, disease, you’re trembling. There is no patience in my country.
There is no safest place in yours.

The heart stiffens at the sound of church bells. I wonder where you sleep now.
You are the North and I am the South.

I cannot see the sky beyond the ceiling.
I cannot forgive you for cutting me out.

I see all my ground, and you, walking over me—before you were
the North and I was the South.

A photographer captures a mass execution on film.
Men and women tied to posts, blindfolded—Korean spies.

The man nearest to the camera fiddles with his blindfold
until it rests comfortably over his eyes.


1. Say No Lame!

Say no lame! Say we care. Terror can’t tell
and bears a crown in the kitchen, may we?
Who cares: cunt can’t battle, key won’t tear.
Ugly decay, care for Pa and tell, we lonely.
So jail men care, met a lavish man, met a landlord.
(Eggpisode loiter ha! Advance don’t at all, assuming mellow)

Me, countless, out to tear. Sane no, lend me.
Say I can’t rain, end me.

At least sit well, we command:
Men say he but tally saying no, lame!
Who can respond. None say none! My wind, way low.
Lie, Egg, more lonely and bare, a callous lock.
Truly true Lass pause and care.

Allow oat to chant:
Let me say align, align,
Titan of Adam, you seem dense.
Let me say in-law, in-law
I won’t lay an eggy egg.

2. Say You Less

Say you less, lay.
Let’s say we yoke you.
You wrote: lard land more, you’re ever less, weep for you.
Epi-sale and jot well, lame.
Leave! Let’s land, she’s none, a lone planet.
Come, have a long life and then glow-glow.

Delete you last.
Kick her trimming.
Kick her trimming.
die you!
Some land more. None land far.
Pa, you kill none, paw-paw.
Tad late, sit and read.
Tad late, doubt what you’ve read and ban joints of cliché .

Robin’s yokelet glossary aka cover Ma’s envy.
Epi and phony, view well, limber.
Solely in case, mate more so.
And then hatch later, event very parent.
Come and lay me low.
See your coop jingle and then accept sherry.

Leave! Who cares: bake her.
Who cares: natal and body, discipline is an art of rank.
Who cares: care free epi-power, it is a type of power.
Who cares: a blasé son brags, a technique.

3. None Say None

None say dumb, none say none.
Yoke behind and be fair, only to piss on.

Call Ma, arrive as we care to come and watch you comb.
Save and grin, wee and we, Hen revolts and bets on awe.
Ravine lone mankind, ravine luscious sex.

Duet in-law chills and then blames flan.
He’s dirty, lays share and then cares drawl surface.

Beware-beware girl, might and navel can fray.
Mate and then sing, fate and then fake.
Read louder, only the gruel lacks and swells.
Let me think, say grinning could only cap our way.

Pie pie rye beyond your sale: what do man and planet doubt about?
Fly beyond and land more: domain plan is forgot about.

Fuckingness and then sexy do agree.
Met a jerk and then laid a proper yoke.
Call Ma, discipline organizes an analytical space.
Say we, find an epi-norm, land more, tally more?

4. I said to Me

Me, me, river.
Then Egg, I taught: the key to baggage is tot and tot
and the disciplinary space is always, basically, cellular.
Send mass, send lard, send game, end, let go.
Same, lay me there, I said to me.
Revel in bland night and permit joy, boy.

How can I say for we?

                                             Sac à la King, really, add pinch of salt.
                                             Carry your noun pre-dead!

5. Sac à la, Really

Sac à la, Really, none say none.
Egg-nagged Pa repented: Say very, none say dumb!

Ailing Pa cannot pee, pie pass for all, care for cheese?
Really! Really! land more!
Sac à la King feigning contract, rat trap!
Really! Really! land more!

Beyond day, not yet. Say more aka partly combed Lad
Yes, Pa. Retake mothball. Really. Day more, die more.
Really! Really! land more!
Sac à la King feigning contract, rat trap!
Really! Really! land more!

6. Ah! Pie

Ah! Pie tall and wit-late. Epi-pep, sit well
like Pie, taste and count languid-land.
Lay, care, locate, possess and then
care about land-me, why?
Midday! I solely laid beyond nit for jerk!
Midday! I then read to achieve wifely.
I name lame, kind and lame, recite to fetal bland Man.
Boy. I grin and care, clean later,
recite size to him: The Lonely and the Restless.
(I lament solely coyly to universe and you.)
Say now, say this is a noun for Pa, none Man?

7. Oh Tizzy

Oh tizzy of tame-boy, do vent joy,
oh tizzy come and land more, oh tizzy convey
none on land…?
Oh tizzy rain more, oh tizzy make man thought,
oh tizzy same thought,
oh tizzy lay off thought, oh tizzy layaway thought…?
— I say sac, I mourn, taught by govern and lay.
I say layout the treatise! —
Kind of lone-man? Kind of late sing-along?

                                             Chuck baggage merrily
                                             Chuck baggage and then miss you

I solely lay beyond nit for jerk.

‘Ten thousand saw I at a glance’

I can’t recommend writing
letters to gods olden or
now—they’re all traitors
at some point, serfdom

us their garbled txts via rep,    via courtier  copywriter
                                                          via *courier
experiments in
                 I didn’t mean
                 to say

architect  sophistry  supercomputer  skyrocket

in sufficiency
          *authority,                               in obstructions.

Lab coats spook me with their pen-headed hedges,
their blanknesses.

We are held together by a line
of discs. Filled like a donut,
doctor said. Id est,
sacs of sweet & jam
waiting to burst.


I dislike being seen through.

Time calls Place, who pretends not to be there,
doesn’t pick up, dials Time
back  & leaves a joke message about being
trapped in elevators, batteries
dying—     static  something      static
& every other
                        what?      I can’t here.
I’ve left
                                           some billets-doux wrapped in paper.
            One like a rope
            from the animal’s throat.
                                          One like a fist
                                          from its heart.

The old butchers insist on truths, lest there be mis sed conceptions:

     “Throat”     “Heart”

Both fare but old-fashioned.
Frequently, they come “connected”—
the “heart” in the “throat,”    the “fist” “wrapped” with “rope.”
The “heart” favored, so
more dear,
more        courtly

Like sweet little breads, our delicacies, too,
gradually disappear after turned out to grass. So let us

                  nod to one another
                  like “friends.”

(When lonely, I fill up
with souvenirs, trombones.
My fist can hold 10,000 balloons.)

It seems there is no rest.

I download & hide
                  in a “cloud.”

I split the giant.

What does a lamp do in the dark?
Because the black bulb does not look right to live in.

No, Narcissus!
Rise. In place of remembrance,
be “productive.” Divide. Fill, fill—
fill the contract.

Stuff the emperors with donkeys.
Slap little penguins in     the katy
                                               the great the neat the near the best
                                               the nasty the jay
                                               the * * * * *

Punch in. Log in. Do not forget to save,
post. Transfer. Other things

remain classified, too powerful to look in the face.

Emotion. Spring. Daffodils. Stillness. Dust.

We Walk A Heart Around Lake Union

and you point to buildings and streets
that bear the scars around your own:
the elementary school that taught you
difference and its consequences; the law
firm where twenty-five years later your daily
prayer and hijab reinforced the lesson.
There, the bus stop where you last saw
your brother, out of his mind and out of your
reach, his mouth an open sore.
We’ve talked many times before about
what it means to be noticed, to be
threatening and invisible at the same time.
In this way, we are sisters. We stay close,
two brown women walking together.
This city’s always been very segregated
and it’s true that when you walk north
the prices rise and the faces pale.
We touch the Scotch broom and lilacs
erupted in spring, notice the renegade ferns
growing upon the stumps of old docks.
All along the water’s edge, we note the glorious blue
made bluer by the hulls of gleaming white boats;
upon a hillside suffuse in green, amid artifacts of rust,
people fly kites, edging out over the skyline.
On your left! Bikers zoom past us, their spandex,
the shine of their helmets, rejoicing.
It’s true that people here are different
when exposed to the sun; they crowd
the sidewalks with strollers and wagging dogs.
Sunglasses, then. Smiles and hellos.
We pass condo after condo, clustered houseboats,
marinas of artisan sailboats, luxury yachts.
Who are these people, we ask, looking in.
All day you’ve spoken the landscape of your life
as we walk among places that no longer exist —
neighborhoods reconceptualized and fenced off.
This city does not want me.
What do we do when the ground we claim
as home changes beneath our feet?
Landscape, layered. You can look back,
remember the stories beneath all this shine.
We part ways upon a freshly paved greenspace.
In the shadow of History and Industry, people
play bocce on gravel among orange café seating.
Beneath an awning along the water,
a man carves a canoe from salvaged cedar.

From landscape / heartbreak


the baby rats decide they don’t want to be rats don’t want their tails to slap another in a place of gutter & scurry home. The rats have decided they will not eat their way to comfort or take a red eye on a jet plane. The baby rats have seen their parents do this & they don’t want to be caught in the maze of disappointment & therapy three times a week. Their mother has told them not to be part of the rat race, not to rat anyone out & not to give a rats ass about anyone who does not show proper love because no one wants to be a back alley bitch no one wants to end the night with pink eyes & trial medication.

Waking Up Strange

Don’t sleep in a parked car.
You awake, windows fogged, hands on the wheel,
the dash and controls suddenly foreign,

like a safe word repeated too often. What queer
drives brought you here? You hurtle ahead but the car
is still. You wake up turning the wheel

and avoiding its meaning. Turning a pink plastic wheel.
Pounding a rubber clown horn like a little girl. And harbor strange
fears of waking up driving. Of waking up lost. You awake in a car

and can’t find your car. Turn the wheel and it locks. You’re an alien.

Previously appeared in Tar River Poetry.

Argument Waltz with Pessimistic Drowning

After I try to give you happiness
    what you unwrap is box
    of yellowjackets, stinging

nettles, and jellyjars filled with broken glass.
    This is not for the cottonhearted.
    This is for the man who holds fire

between his fingers and calls it love.
  We are burnt
  toast and prism jam.

We are rubbing ourselves
    with the underside of a fern
    trying to make the stinging stop.

There are remedies everywhere—
    from beekeeper’s honey to handmade
    soap—we are told what to hold

near our skin. We are the stained
    towels and the sainted
    bohemian monarch that can’t fly.

Or doesn’t want to.
    I place a constellation in my hand,
    then complain about the burning.

Life weighs me down when I am tired.
    Let’s not pretend we have rocks
    in our pockets. Though I always pretend

I am the novelist and you are the river.