choking tropics

waiting to depart                                     the room we arrived,
uncertain which gate                                 screens won’t update.
she said it was                                 not a cultural experience,
the maids,                                       the service with a smile,
the menu,                                          prices in U.S. dollars.
excess                                            overflowing the absence
washed-up onshore,                                   discarded at sunrise.
you can have it all      on this island       in the middle of everywhere.
cloaked women                                              sweep our trace
inhale smoke                                                 blown oversea
what a miracle it would be                        to make it out breathing

 

in/to

Mental diagnosis felt like an act. A script I shouldn’t have played into. Some do. Some need to. Those whose function cannot find place. Like mine at the time. But I was passing through—turbulent heartbreaks, growing pains, clashes with Hims—and mistook role for reality. I overthought my relation to it, that joy and suffering, and tied it to a being beyond. I regret that now. Or at least can see it as it was: seeking, clenching, grasping. Am I nothing more than a need to reach? Maybe. I’m human. Some childlike essence that shows in contours when ignoring and blurring details of pores. Take off my glasses and focus on the obscure. The fuzz. That uncertainty between me and it. Subject in/to object. Still disoriented in space, lost along the way, I may trip a few times too many, but that’s okay. Because it’s only and not me at all. 

heart of glass

A teary night. Heartbroken morning. Put on some tea and sat. Forced myself out the apartment. Biked to the studio. On my way, I noticed a smashed vase in the gutter. Like broken bubbles. The sun hit those curves and even the sharp edges reflected softness into my eyes. It was just a brief glimpse. Thought about stopping to take a photo, to capture the feeling—shattered. With puffy eyes that glistened like all those pieces. But I was late, so I sped past and thought I’d return later. I practiced. Got coffee with some others. Listened to them. We spoke in and out the night before. Removed myself from it. That thisness. And then, as I smiled and waved goodbye, I decided to bike back to that glossy mess and take a photograph, but by the time I returned, it had been swept away. Only one shard remained.

Grandmother

GloriaBaseballmom.jpg

This is my grandma Gloria in a photoshoot for the Daily Breeze newspaper in Redondo. A Little League story. She was born in South Central LA in 1922 as Gladys Esther Tremain, but later changed her name to Gloria and added the ‘e’ to Tremaine, a Cornish, French-given name meaning ‘Three Hands.’ She altered many things, apparently she even fibbed about her age to slice a few years. I like to imagine her reshaping reality in all sorts of little ways, in an LA still pouring its concrete. An LA that too was reimagining its vision of the future. I see her driving a rectangle along the Esplanade, a car like a boat, wearing cat-eye sunglasses, feeding her pet tarantula, skinny-dipping in Big Bear, eating eclairs my grandpa brought for her office breaks in Malaga Cove, taking the ferry to Catalina, spiraling around the kitchen in big skirts, calling in her boys for dinner, collecting deliveries of fresh Wonder Bread at the door. Her nephew drove that polka-dotted van all his life. Wonder what they’d think about my sourdough-eating ass. I never met her, she died in 1974 of ovarian cancer. My dad and uncle were just teenagers. But her forward outlook remains. I think about her all the time—especially when I see my cousin Amber—and like to imagine, as she would’ve, that we are very close.

debate

Staring out the window of an eleventh-floor conference room. Beyond glossy tables topped with glasses of water, the sun sets over Melbourne. She never looks the same. Skyline always seems to change. Haven’t been here long enough to recognize what was, let alone how it becomes. Alas, I distract. Watching red and white pass, to and from flowers and the hive. In a split moment, into those lights, I feel detached from this life. Will anything we say here translate there? What to make of a tower. Bathing in philosophy while people without water. Sliced by fences. Strip-searched of rights. In here, few cushioned. Sipping. Talking, thinking, reading, and writing. Arranging thoughts, growing fields. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here. I mustn’t belong. Not—able—enough. But who is to say who gets to stay? An amniotic slip, gasping for air. Between pockets of meaning and earning. Where are they going? Home to families or alone in boxes. Nowhere and everywhere, staring into a screen, just like me. That space I crave, pushing every him away. Curling “Learn Spanish and Leave” into the margin. Not complaining, just debating. What a fucking gift: to be a student. But what’s the point trying to hold a line? Seeking a PhD? Injecting Latin. Punctuating rationality and morality. The letters and numbers don’t add up. An insufficient balance = halted reach. Or can it seep from seats into policies? Alter the next for this planet. Where’s the ripple? Bouncing on a grid, sliding through that divine intersect, I giggle. Prefer poetry. But isn’t it all when the last petals fall?

may be

maybe too soon to understand
maybe each used other as a means to our own misguidance
maybe we weren’t ready for It
maybe I like to clean up just to make a mess
impossible to see before a turn
to name the before
could have sworn we felt without words

maybe we’ll recollect these scattered selves,
restrengthen the illusion
becoming ends in and of ourselves.
find that place there’s nowhere else to go,
for now just keep going and going

maybe I think what may be too much.
certainly we’ll never know.

ride

cycled the whole city
river to the sea
terraced lanes my map’s never seen
but didn’t shed a bead of sweat
cheeks just got a little red
negotiating gears
to coil her chain
thinking back, peddled so fast
I didn’t feel a thing riding into that crash
locked in bed the next few days
wading within some psychotic break
until leaving again
for another spin