Daily Archives: August 29, 2014

Angel Food

Originally posted 3/14/2008.

the random blast
one block away
is just a backfire for once

and the neighbor’s reggaeton
ripping a hole in saturday afternoon
seems less loud

when there’s angel food cake
on the coffee table
for yolanda’s birthday

daddy’s home for once
instead of serving someone else’s chicken
to someone else’s guests

mama’s not looking as tired
as she usually does
after a week on the fast food register

the whole family’s here
bearing hot dishes and foil pans
full of what they’ve made for each other

someone drops some mac and cheese
in a corner
the dog gets to work on the pile

while everyone laughs and yolanda claps
her smile’s more delicious than usual
with that smidge of frosting on her chin

yolanda has a love for angels
and seven years worth of joy bubbles up today
for all these angels bearing heaping trays

of cookies and wings and old recipes
they just call “grandma’s favorite”
there’s white bread and stewed tomatoes

but yolanda’s got no business with that
when there’s sweet sugar frosting
clinging to the white crumbs on her plate

outside this room
there may be people addicted to devil’s food
and the darkness on their lips may be rich enough

but in here yolanda’s having a birthday
with her yellow dress sweetened by more
than the smear of angel food that her mother

rushes to clean away before that dog
starts licking it off her
(even though

would probably
beat him to it if she let her)

when she’s done
she turns to her sister
and says

something sweet
and a little sad
but a little more full of hope

the words are lost
in the sound
of the beating of wings

City Story

Originally posted 10/13/2009.

— after Gunter Grass;  for Italo Calvino

There is a city, and
there is a man in the city
who is alone.
One hundred eighty thousand people there
but he is alone,
so for his purposes he can say
there is no city.

A man
who is alone in the space
called a city by others
is happy there,
alone and happy.
For his purposes
the space is solitude,
not loneliness.

There is a city, and a man,
and if he sees another man
the man becomes a part of his solitude.
The city now begins to exist for him,
and when the second man is gone
he and the city become memory,
so for his purposes and ours
we must now remember a time
when a city existed,
for that time is not now
as there is solitude in its former place.

The city may now exist somewhere else
and there is likely a man in that city
for whom there is no city, and for whom
only solitude exists, solitude and happiness
at the sight of another whom he sees as
an extension of his solitude.

Here is a city,
here is a man who lives in the city,
moving among memories 
while choosing tomatoes and beer, 
paying rent to an imaginary landlord
who lives elsewhere in the city
that is in fact
a comfortable nest
woven from comfortable fiction.