Ode to the City

To the streets of new york city!
you crack and whistle and then flow
like cherry blossoms people walk downtown
colored and burning to taste your sweaty tongue

We roam through you and within you
and climax at the step from the 1, 2, 3 onto
christopher street and out into the wildness of
unity in diversity that blossoms and grows from
haitian dancers, french music makers and
a generation of youth speaking for itself in voices around the square.

Your sky cries neon lights and seagulls and from windows
we watch taxi cabs buzz down park avenue and right through
grand central station towards uptown where eagles fly
in red white and blue shopping bags and we dance
up flights of stairs to open ourselves into centuries of reality
filling the architectural madness known as the met

Central park is lined with sunbathers and dogwood flowers
while innocence plays itself out in sailboat races at the duck pond
and I feed swans aching for the white shell of childhood to return
you, the city, hold me in my fevered anguish and
soothe the fears of vacancy, or shallow waters.

And in your deepest alleys I find peace with
sewage waste and messenger boys
and crawling into an apartment on the upper west side
I can see why the world goes in so many different directions

You transform as the numbers increase; you get richer too,
from 4th to 84th the American dream changes from
happiness in frugality to the heavy weight of the dollar bill
but walking uptown, barefoot on seventh avenue,
I see myself in every block of you.

St. George's Summers

That little island off the coast of northern Florida, along the Gulf where the waves never beat or pound, but lap. The four of us almost completely isolated from the real world, save the running children and stingrays. Crossing the bridge, we'd ride wide-eyed into the southern port town of Apalachicola. Old buildings lined the bay and steamers crept through the calm waters. We sat in the same dimly lit restaurant, pelicans watching as we fed ourselves raw, butter and breadcrumb oysters. Those were the days before mom banned all raw seafood for fear of food poisoning. The oysters sizzled in their rough, blue-black shells and their slippery bodies baked in the setting sun of late summer. Little sister sat, one knee up, tanned tips fingering the oily shellfish she slipped the small gem between her watering lips. Full teeth smile spreads across her face and we all laugh at the small wonder. Mom and Dad hold their breath as my fingers begin their reach. They anticipate a complaint, but my mouth waters and I bite. The smooth surface rides my tongue; the breadcrumbs tickle my lips and the butter seeps slowly down my throat. Still holding, Mom and Dad's eyes secretly focus on me from behind their dark sunglasses. I smile at the pearl dissolving on my tongue. Staring at them through their lenses I let them know I'm fine. They smile at me, contented at my satisfaction. Mom's fingers reach for the frame of her dark lenses as the sun sets, and her eyes meet mine. In the soft moonlight she realizes the proximity of summer's end. A sigh. Smiling softly, Dad holds her hand. The darkness brings realization of the approaching fall, and as gems of summer dissolve between our tongues, we silently agree that it is time to let go.

The Miseducation of America

alive now for ten and seven years I am
just beginning to feel
what it means to really live and to
know yourself for everything you are
you are worth everything and have the potential to be
anything
I have the potential to be anything and everything I
am aspiring to be
and I know now
that I am what I am and I know what I know
because of you
you and your knowledge and your wisdom and you
high standards

im holding, im holding, and im still falling
but the stepping stones are growing closer to me now
and reaching for the no longer seems so impossible

god is light, light is good, god is good?
and now the words “refresh and gladden my spirit”
have a deeper meaning
asking for more than simply what this
material world gives and takes from us;
it is not that but it is
courage and faith

my art is a physical manifestation of my soul
playing itself out in the form of words and sentences
pieced together carefully and in flashes of revelation
reflecting the mind, body and spirit that is me
struggling to be whole and beautiful in
America
land of the free so long as it remains
(or becomes)
home of the brave
where we are not scared to stand on both feet
and cry out proudly:
”I will not be bottled and sold to this sad society,
mass produced like some clone of who I never wanted to be”
rather we will stand and state firmly
“we are redefining the world as we know it”

the choice for Americans now is not
like it or leave it
but rather
change it or lose it

America is the melting pot of the world
until it goes up in flames
and ashes are all we have left to show for this
sacred union
a country built on freedom and democracy
brutality and enslavement

red white and blue never seemed so untrue
unveil your eyes and take a look at the American holocaust
middle-class blindmerica denying the ghetto shootings
ignoring the neo-nazis and klu klux klan that wipe out the
red orange yellow blue black and tan
remove the blindfold and open your eyes

it’s our job to inform the masses of
racism: america’s most challenging issue
the disease runs deep and we are the physicians
take a look at the patient and make your diagnosis
I hypothesize that your eyes are blind to the extent of the illness
the way it reaches into ever American soul and tears out little pieces
day by day
leaving a country of empty, hating, blind men
killing and dying in white holes with black light
water stagnant and hearts heavy

doctor’s orders: replenish and re-educate
it was slaves who built those white monuments
use your white hands to build something holy
for those who died at the hands of this democratic union
their blue backs red with the blood whipped by the hands of a white man
colors of the flag fly differently with each gust of new wind

doctor’s orders: replenish and re-educate
this unlearned country.

Ode to Allen Ginsberg

i hear your howl, carnal and aching in the dark jersey nights
your poetry lives in the hills of paterson and speaks to me from
the valleys of newark's great swamp
in rockland i heard you, your bearded love and flaming heart
turned me ON

i want to walk beside you through bookshelves, through histories of
working masters as you, kerouac, williams, and blake
your dollar pocket books, black and white, sit proud
i cuddle humbly with the carpet, reading and falling
in love with walt whitman in california
picking pears up in a local supermarket
and i mourned your mother's death
and stood, reciting her kaddish, beside you

you taught me love as powerful and unconditional
i heard your voice at midnight in the streets of san francsico
and in lower manhattan i saw your shadow dance in the trees
you speak truth and passion for all the voiceless observers
you are an artist who has seen through the light

you have stared the sun in the eyes and set her down in the purple horizon
you tamed cassidy and kesey in their experimental anguish
and soothed america to sleep with poetic truth
i rose up behind you and found in you my buddha
to allen, who i found in my soul and set free
on the page.

The Beast

he never really saw it coming, I suppose. he was a lost boy who finally found a mate. rolling coolly into scotti's on main street around noon in early summer-that was his one mark of punctuality, that single day. blazing in a red T-shirt and hold camouflage shorts, he was fresh air in the humid jersey june. downtown, his car was parked in a lot behind rushing traffic. I promised I wouldn't laugh; that was the first promise I broke with him. its name was painted across the side- the beast. the rear windshield was gone, paint job was rusting off and fabric-covered ceiling was collapsing. "you promised you wouldn't laugh". "no, I'm not. it's really not that bad". "yeah, it is; I'm gonna paint it black before I go to mexico." (I lost you in mexico. I didn't know then that you would lose your heart there.) I loved to laugh at that car. we cried in that car. the memories of our youth were made in that car. stories of wheelies and the fact that the check engine sign meant you were good shape defined that car. it was a teenage car, beaten and bruised. everything about it was backwards and strange, just like our adolescence. just like our love. the first time he came in to my house at midnight I smelled cigarettes and summer air on his skin. his blonde hair shone in the moonlight and his headlights flashed down the long driveway. he was barefoot all summer and I know now that his bare feet were a symbol to me. they meant carelessness. they meant summertime. they meant he was real too. they meant I could be real with him. but he never really saw it coming, I suppose. not the reality of it. I saw the rock hard reality of it and to him it was just sand-to him it could wash away. I wanted someone that sticks. I wanted someone not scared of the storm. (I was a rock and you were the sand washing out from beneath me.) then winter came and the beaches closed and the sun set earlier and the air was harsh and cold. he was no longer barefoot and the snow fell hard on the sunlight in his hair. the beast's windows were closed and the small space was filled with musky heat. not heat of passion, heat of winter. tense heat. dry heat. and so we put on sweaters and gloves and played in the snow. but snow melts sunshine in young hearts, and it was never the same without the summertime. we were never the same as rolling through june with the windows down

The Flexibility of My Fingers

I have been told
that the flexibility of my fingers
means I am a passive girl
It has been said more than once
by palm readers and soothsayers
they show my willingness to bend
over backwards at the whim of another
"I can see it in the arch of your pinkie,
and it is obvious in the curve of your middle finger;
You are vulnerable on the inside.
You let them walk all over you, if they choose to"
I held my hand in front of me and reached
for my saline soaked cheeks
My eyes peered into theirs and I acted as though
the fortunes were wrong
I lied through my teeth in tears convincing us both
the flexibility of my fingers only means
I am an adaptive girl
and I will never admit to you
I am vulnerable on the inside.