Notes on Inherent Traits
I’ve have become you. I replicate your style of tower heels and little black dresses;
I suck Camel Cigarettes till smoke discharges like factory fumes from my lips;
I guzzle down cheap spirits till I’m dancing with paper-thin linen curtains;
sway to the symphonies of Chopin and Haydn till they noose around my sanity;
make love to suave saxophonists who seduce with the raw moan of Coltrane’s Naima.
But still, I’m crushed by the relentless maw of emptiness.
This must have been your sentiment after hearing an old man on his hospital bed
confess, between dry breaths gasping for life, that while sheltering my family
from the creeping tide of war, he coldly exercised their demise.
You must have questioned the meaning of it all–leaving them to fight abroad–
let guilt bathe you in its agonies, even as you leaped to greet the concrete street below.
It’s morning. I let the light of acknowledgement kick start my stalled emotions.
Donning my dusty habit, I take to back-country roads with unanswered purpose
as civic cars grumble past, and life itself fades into shades of silver, grey and black.
By the wet, leaping dance of lake waters,
we wrote our futures in the air.
Silence doesn’t show itself in a vacuum;
it must be fashioned and embraced.
We built and accepted this stillness,
siting before a peeled-paint, crimson porch,
a tree bowing over moss-hued lily pads,
dressed in bark brown and mint green
and a motionless fish torn open from within.
I wondered then if you knew, or cared,
as you sat there in a wheelchair and brace,
that I spent last night with your best friend;
as if the pain of injury, aborted aspirations
and a six month rehab stint felt like death
enough at age eighteen.
Stretched tight, like a belt
across the North Shore waistline.
A double-verse of city and town,
where factory shells and mill hollows
whisper industrial secrets
to blacked-out storefront windows.
A stimulating multi-ethnic maze,
where Monroe Street
feels like Boston’s Latin Quarter,
while pubs on Broad
have the Irish taste of Southie.
A raw jewel flaunting its gritty allure,
where the promenade on Lynn Shore Drive
points its green and sandy finger
into the Atlantic’s indigo abyss,
where what seems constant
are the saints and a stranger’s front porch,
offering up itself as a peeling front row seat
to watch one’s life transfix in stasis
or set sail to a sanguine horizon.
These three haiku came out of my experience working for food justice and access in Boston over the school year.
He asks for food.
my wallet’s empty
is my heart full?
No SNAP Accepted.
recalling the barren fridge