Bubbles

Their ephemeral delicacy makes them glow like stars in the wandering breeze. Her arm doesn’t wave as high as it used to— arthritis claiming the freedom of her limbs. But she waves the bubble-gum pink wand slowly back and forth across the sky, painting the world with sweet, soapy bubbles. It’s been 25 years since her wife’s funeral. Gradually, the number of people who love her wonder has dwindled. So she calls to the skies, the earth, to claim her translucent, effervescent paintings before they

Pop!

I can’t say no

A hospital waiting room

full of silent sickness

— a sour, curdled space. 

Meaningless sex. 

Distrustful, hesitant, weary breaths

hang in-between careless caresses.

I’m aware that if I breathe in too deep,

our slinking loneliness and desperation

might curdle me too.

So I become the bed

the sweaty sheets wrapping 

over your desolate thighs. 

I don’t think I like 

the way your mouth tastes, 

but I kiss you back anyway.

I’m a patient, 

waiting for my name to be called.

For some recognition of my 

fragile, fragile identity. 

Passive intimacy

I first walked past the apple core

during a dreary morning way to work. 

The core of a bright fuji apple

looking artificial 

on the edge of a dull concrete bridge 

scattered with trash. 

Days passed

the core slowly wilting. 

A body without a burial

amidst littered humanity.

regardless of 

brittle winter new england weather 

rolling over 

that dull concrete bridge, 

the apple stayed.

“Who ate the apple?”

“Why did they leave it there?”

I wondered every morning.

We grew a passive intimacy, 

like strangers who share a bus route.

Familiar only in looks, fleshy stenches, and wrinkled skin.

Chiaroscuro

A jumble of wandering umbrellas

paint splotches of rain inside the city.

Street gutters roll thick with wet garbage 

offering discarded philosophies to fat rats.

I dream of traveling in the spring

sunshine warming my soggy bones.

But the shadow of an alley drips 

shaping the portrait of an empty man:

“You’ve wandered too far from consciousness, my dear. 

It’s time to wake up.”

The gardener

Parietal, occipital and frontal lobe

fused together —a big green waxy watermelon head.

A mandible and maxilla connected by corn,

golden glistening teeth that roll his mouth every time he laughs.

He cries bright-red strawberry tears 

when he finds a pumpkin crushed by hungry deer,

or radish leaves nibbled on by curious rabbits,

or tomato plants starved by obnoxious aphids.

Day after day he works his crops, 

protecting them like they are his children.

Clavicles cut from celery stalks,

scapulas peeled from cabbages.

He picked the plums and apples from his trees

stacked them together to form his vertebral column.

Every day when the sun shines brightest in the sky

he bends backward, 

letting the sunlight enter his welcoming bones;

A sunflower of most peculiar creation. 

Ribs ripped out of the ground, 

carefully cleaned carrots that wrap around his torso. 

Protecting the area of 

what could be, 

what should be,

his heart and his lungs.

Late at night, as he stares up at the galaxy of stars, 

he imagines he can hear the “Ba-bump! Ba-bump!” 

of his loving, lonely heart. 

He swings his hoe with his cucumber humerus,

pulls weeds with his sweet potato radius and ulna.

Fingers plucked from bunches of snap peas that click, click, click

as he delicately touches his gardening tools.

Hip-bone and scrotum,

sweetly sliced cantaloupe.

But the sugary drips of his pelvis attract ants while he sleeps.

So every morning he dusts off their curious pinchers,

carefully making sure not to squash them. 

Femurs built out of zucchinis 

lifted by tibias and fibulas of squash.

Fragile patellas bend to pet a fluffy neighborhood dog,

kneecaps carefully carved out of onions.

Potatoes dig into the soft soil as he walks;

large, clunky, wobbly feet. 

He used to have cherry tomato toes,

but those were eaten by mice a couple of months ago.

As the summer grows into fall, 

a bountiful harvest season blooms in the garden.

He took care of his crops well. 

But the summer heat pruned his corn mandible and maxilla.

The plums and apples of his vertebrae bent,

melting, rotting in the sun.

Now his snap pea fingers can’t quite grip the hoe

—or rip out the weeds—

and his potato feet

take root in the soil. 

The approaching winter calls the gardener’s bones

to take rest with the earth,

to sleep with the snow.

He finally rests his weary watermelon head.

Knowing that when spring comes

this will all start over again. 

Closer

I stare at the trees, watching them sway.

And yet, I search closer;

the way the branches fold in the shadows,

the pine needles bending,

melding to the wind.

And yet, I search closer;

closer, closer, impossibly closer,

to the mitosis of our cells dividing,

all at once beautiful and tragic.

Black boy joy

lying on our backs,

staring at the sunset caught in-between bricks,

we pass a joint,

soggy from our lips,

the acrid taste of backwoods leaving burnt echoes in our lungs.

Down the hill a few men have gathered around in a circle,

playing with the hip-hop beats bouncing from their speaker.

Freestyle rapping.

I look over at you and I see you grinning.

“Black boy joy,” you say simply,

grabbing the joint from my fingertips.

I blow out the smoke I had been holding in,

letting the setting sun get covered in a smoky haze,

if only for a moment.

Laundry

Her little arms can’t fit around the whole pile she raked up and she tips over, falling headfirst into the heavy leaves. She breathes in deeply, letting the decaying earth rest in her lungs. She giggles and rolls over in the pile, looking up at the trees glowing with sunlight, a mosaic of flame spread along her sky. An orange leaf sways, controlled by the soft breeze like a marionette, until it lands on her nose.

She tries picking up the leaves again, using her arms as a shovel and waddling into the house. Her dad comes out of the kitchen, following a trail of dirty leaves dragged through his house.

“Luna?” he asks.

“Hi dad!”

Sitting cross-legged in front of the washer is his daughter. Watching the leaves tumble around in the soapy water. Soon the leaves will clog the draining filter, their thin fabric ripped in the rinse cycle and caught in the machine. But for now the man sits next to his daughter and watches, a technicolor whirl of soap and leaves.

Unrequited love

I’m sitting in a bus crossing over the Charles River,

looking at the buildings stacked over each other like legos,

the old man next to me sneaking sips of whiskey underneath his mask,

complaining about people who talk on the phone on the bus,

to a woman currently on the phone,

speaking in tones given to a lover.

She tries to ignore the whiskey man,

but he’s impatient.

This man,

drinking his whiskey,

trying to find love by denying its existence.