Living in the Past

My grandmother’s garden with rabbits eating her plants, my grandfather waking up at

five in the morning every day to make his social rounds.

A handmade first communion dress, magnolia trees in bloom,

unwrapped Christmas presents, stepping on a metal rake and lying

in a tub as my foot bled

My father playing chess in every spare moment, how I could here him thinking about chess

when he was on the phone with me.

These phantoms of moments and people dissolved

the way I imagine losing a finger might feel as if it’s still there when it really is not,

is how they linger

New You

An inventory of New Year’s resolutions:

I’ve woken up earlier,

taken my dogs for more walks,

bought more books to read,

ate less chocolate

then slowly fell into the habits of my existence

I’ve heard neuroscientists see less and less a science for free will.

What power is there in these beginnings

we repeat

hopelessly ourselves each time.

City Traffic

Ejected through concrete conveyer belt future

that collapses what I imagined

identical capsules swarming like trained tadpoles

I once believed was observed from above


No one

There’s exposure in the kind of performance that’s made

for anyone and everyone

of an unknown, or imagined version fabricated

to convince you

to accept, to love

a constant state of transmutation


Someone I wasn’t before I came here

imagining another version from this place, of myself

or someone else entirely

how would I be different

would I like the parts I have now or new ones

would I hate the sight of an American tourist traipsing through my world

my other life unknown.

between crawling and running

Breathing is the only autonomous system in our bodies we have control over.

It feels a little like breathing, to move through life without thinking

until there’s resistance


All stories I told were believed

with blind faith —

A tenant reading my cards for a quarter

or seeing a tall black man with purple shoes outside my window —

met with interrogations, concern

Leaving me in a paralysis of shame unable to admit my fiction

finding honesty through aimless guilt



“The cold tears of her father

have made a hill of ice.” Robert Duncan


He left the cold for subtropic

it hardly ever freezes here,

snow is reminisced

seems years ago it fell and melted

as soon as it hit the ground


Warmth can’t save anyone

it doesn’t go deep enough

Our bodies are 98 degrees of moisture and bone

trying to stay alive


I don’t know if I ever saw him cry except

for when he watched movies

It’s the only place I saw real snow


How to Leave

Longing forward can lead us to land


All the places we’ve been before

like an obstacle course in a dilapidated grocery store

we cannot leave


Longing forward can lead to land


If we follow instinct

or is that keeping us trapped here

where we talk about wanting to leave

falling ceiling tiles and molding papayas

refrozen exotic ice cream in sealed packaging


long forward to find what you ran from

through refrigerated decay of longing


A place without decisions of where to end and begin because

the continuous perimeter of water embraces and erodes

gently holding, safely floating