Daily Archives: April 21, 2017

Green Street

Bodies on fire on Green Street:
once leafy and pleasant, it
now has become
a scourging field.

You smell this smoke
and are initiated into
an intimacy with those
whose bodies are burned

as well as with those
who burn them.
It is now
a relationship,

a greasy coupling among
actors and those
acted upon. If you think
you can leave Green Street

in horror to regain
some level of innocence,
think again: sniff, breathe,
cough it out, vomit, it matters

not at all. You cannot detach
from it, just as every lover
leaves a mark within. Even if
the trees recover, even if 

a canopy of life
returns here,
you will be a partner
in these deaths

forever and
will never pass 
this corner again
without holding your breath.

Trying All The Keys In All The Locks

Hard to believe now, 
but when I was a child
I spoke more
of my mom’s Italian 
than English, knew 
all the Russian she knew,
and could mix it with 
my dad’s sprinkling
of Korean, Chinese, 
German, and Apache 
as needed.

I lost them all
in elementary school
where they made me
an English-only exclusive
and it worked so well that
when I got to high school,
as hard as I worked,
I could not get past Mr. Albert
and junior year French.
Never made it out of 
the replacement Spanish class,
either.  What little 
of each language I can recall 
still tangle in my mouth
when I try to use them
just to pronounce names 
of people and places.

I’m as monolingual
(and thus as all-American) 
as all get out,
one ossified adult
turned to stone
in the coils of

a colonizer’s words,
sentenced to
their sentences, 

wondering who the hell
that kid was
who once moved
so well
among his given languages
that he felt at home
in the fullness of the world,

wondering if all the poems
he’s read and written
and spoken since
were just keys stolen
from the warden 
to be tried in every lock 
until he and his tongue
once again
got free.