Magnolias & Mangoes
Magnolias bloom in the memory
of my past. The heat of Selma's
sun burns my fair skin but not
the eyes. Here, where hope resides;
the quiet calm of a buddhist statue
situated where there is love.
Across town, blacks and whites
don't mix. Asian women scatter
themselves like flower seeds.
Each hoping to secure their roots.
Grow in a garden overflowing with
weeds. I am their hybrid. One of
many to appear. Daddy returns from
the Vietnam War a weeping willow.
Shoulders slumped, eyes downcast
from some nightmare he feels lucky
to have escaped from. Only to return
to more hatred. Ignorance of borders.
Mama offers ripe mangoes to sweeten
the mood. Serves them with sticky rice.
Worry tucked away with sour green
mangoes in a brown paper bag.
Published in Up the Staircase, Oct 09
Georgia O'Keefe's Black Iris print
droops from the wall like a stamp
that has been licked one too many times.
Mary yearns for the sting of mint
in the envelope flap. The rush of
running her hungry tongue along
a sharp edge, its threat to cut--long
The hand-written letter in her palm
would eventually find its way
to his door, resembling a carrier pigeon
with news too important for distraction.
The wind carrying crepe-paper words
folded into intimate conversation.
It didn't matter if there was no reply.
If silence circled her heart
using a pencil with no eraser.
He would see the writing in soft pink
and know it was her. The seal unbroken,
waiting to be violated.
(published in Big Pulp, Apr 08)
On the outside,
my demeanor is calm and cool;
a magnolia quietly surrendering
its sweet scent to the putrid
odor of a world in decay.
Trapped in a grey room,
I'm the fading white on the walls.
The crystal vase sparkling when
the lights are turned off. Dropping
hints within specks of dust.
On the inside,
in the nude, I'm on fire;
an orange aster burning the marrow
in my brittle bones. Thriving
on smoky fumes and dead poetry.
Published in Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, July/August 07
He wasn't born on a Thursday
but he should have been.
Maybe the fates were drunk
that day, distending their bellies
on plum wine. Darts missing
the target with every slurred throw.
A Christian woman with tangerine
roots set his sins on fire.
Their only daughter had his toes,
his tawny doe eyes that never blinked.
She lay in silence,
leaving her name on his heart--
a chant he repeated when alone,
gathering scraps of happiness
flaking off him like snow.
When he discarded his Army greens,
I knew it was the final sign;
an omen of bad luck, empty beer cans,
and chain-smoked cigarettes.
A three-some with misery
he would engage on the road.
Steering his semi towards solitude
and a heaven he searched for
between the cracks of the horizon.
Published in Everyday Poets, 2009