A Good Word Like That
I do get it.
Listen, I’ve already adopted some precious sounds
For a flagless land of the mind I not only call
The Mother but also the Daughter;
I am torn between the two
In a distant field
Somewhere amid perky words
As a lessee of American English—
And I’m ready to discharge my guns
On the savage minutemen at the checkpoint.
I take them as they come, words, one by one,
At times as a pack, strays mooching
About the muy mucho dangerous borders.
Clearly they’re not pretty spaniels
Under all that clouding trouble called the sky.
Meanwhile el brain en Español
Sits there wagging its spinal cord in a show of pure, fetching want
I shall resist: I don’t ever ask of it
For an equivalent on any given word in English
Volleyed our way.
Yet watching this young girl in a movie
Translate into Spanish for her mom
I hear “Get it?” interpreted as “¿Entiende?”
Of course! To be more like that girl
And think of a good word like that. Listen—
I’m singing to my precious sounds, my children,
Spanglish, Espanglés and Englishñol
I cannot rival this piano I hear
the little twisters plunging
into dark dark chords and then up & up again so fast
If I could only suspend myself on a single violin note
like this one,
travel to Buenos Aires with my hunger
and the rumble of a piano in my stomach.
Oh if I could only play anything like this,
a bandoneón that slits through the creamy scream of strings
the tenderest knife!
That violin again a skater cutting figures in solitude
and underneath the piano
four notes bloom
I think of you, Papá.
You loathe Piazzolla and yet resemble him.
He wrote this piece for the passing of his own father.
You’re well and alone, 70 years old,
in that new house,
and it rains with the fury of tango steps.
A bottle of wine on your table.
The ghosts of dogs and a tool shack
with instruments I wouldn’t know
how to use.
The main theme is back—
Piazzolla and his bandoneón unfurl
breath in and out
out and extended, a bridge.
a son of your traditions,
you combed your hair in the reflection
of fag-cleared streets.
I want you to feel it,
please really listen
the lick of Piazzolla’s fingers
on the bandoneón’s slick buttons
a rupture in the structure of the bridge
a near collapse,
his entire band an exquisite machinery
carrying out melancholy’s orders:
Get drunk on this!
Maybe we’re bound for disaster, Papá,
maybe we’ll never understand
The Smell of Popcorn
The good news is Mark’s feeling much better
Thanks to blue caplets the size of pearls worn by small fish.
He’s talking pizza and hamburgers and other unholy foodstuff
That would enrage South Beach dieters. A visitor here
I’ve brought a typewriter and must hurry up as we’re getting hungry. It feels,
This typing the old way, like going back to a source
When my proto-poems crawled from the primordial Olivetti ribbon;
The body was innocent and unaware of the damage that lusted
After it every-fucking-where in the sugary jungles of youth. There are limits
To the source though, words I shoot down with a volley of X’s.
I don’t like popcorn but enjoy the smell as it fills Mark’s place
And the way the Redenbacher bag inflates in the microwave
Like a buttery ghost. So I will turn down the popcorn and instead
Take the rosebud green tea bearer of antioxidants Mark serves.
It is good, this tea, and the soft baked oatmeal raisin cookie
I’ve fished from the fridge, better than the kooky sun over Queens
On my way to get the medicine. I like the feeling
When my head opens up and words go rat-a-tat-tat on the page
Even if my fingers have to struggle upstream this difficult keyboard
Riddled with weak A’s and an uncertain uppercase function.
I want to think I look cool like a 24-year-old Bob Dylan
At his Underwood, minus the Afro-Mod hair and the cigarettes.
Winter flakes are due soon. Mark knits and smokes watching
Achiote seeds sizzle with the chorizo on the TV screen sauce.
I love raisins. I love the smell of popcorn in Mark’s hair when I kiss him.