a diversion

Grandma makes this plate, it’s called arroz con leche.
Grandma makes this plate, it’s called a flan.
I want you to have a taste of grandma’s special dish, 
they’re even better when they’re slightly chilled. 

Everyone loves to have grandma’s cooking, 
grandma’s recipes have traveled centuries. 
But they’re different, like us, showing signs of the times.
Plus amnesia, and sometimes ingredients get dropped.

Sometimes we opt for a different kind of milk, 
now Oat – but who would have thought, 
Grandma says it’s still quite good, 
and when I taste it I agree.

Momma’s garden has tomatoes, and they grow so ripe.
Momma’s garden has onions, and they’re fresh and round.
I want you to have a taste of momma’s Veggies,
they’re so much better than Whole Foods.

Everyone loves momma’s garden, 
which she plants with hands so trained,
that she doesn’t follow schedule or calendar, 
she just listens and observes.

Sometimes we do buy from the store, 
Cucumbers, berries, spinach, and greens, 
Momma says it’s okay, we mix it all
and enjoy it as one.

Dad is handy and can build, he made himself a deck.
Dad is crafty and can mount, a set of cabinets.
I want you to come and see, how Dad has made his home.
He built it with his hands, patience, tools, and vision.

Everyone loves Dad’s projects, 
they grab brews and admire, 
He never drew up plans,
it all was self-inspired.

So he put one and one 
and said that might go nice there.
He thought about what he might need, 
then he went and placed it there.

Me, I have these roots, and I can cook, can plant, 
and build stuff too. 
I want you to come and see, how all these things can make you free.
Just trust yourself, and listen close.

I sometimes failed to see what everyone else loved.
How momma’s plants would bloom,
grandma’s cooking brought joy,
and dad’s projects inspired awe.

But now I see, and I hope you see, 
we could all make something out of nothing.
with the gifts of our ancestors,
and thoughts filled with love.

parliament

We dreamed that we’d make it to
parliament on an early Monday.
Instead, we barely made it
to the corner of the street.

We passed our neighbors,
who watered their lawns,
and looked onto us
with the hope of go forth.

Go forth, youth,
and conquer them all.
Hold, in this jar,
my dreams, and ambitions,

because if they remain in this body
they surely will perish. These dreams
are hot potatoes, fried by the French.
Passed on. Or like musical chairs,

the game that taught scarcity
to kids who had too many chairs
to spare and music

that wouldn’t just play.

They’d pause it, and we’d rush to our seats.
And one and another
would fight for what’s theirs.
Then one would take seat,
the other one, beat,
would join in the crowd of have-nots.

Have nots, have you forgot?
A lesson as old as time.
That if you’re too slow,
to stop on a dime, then music will start
and you’ll be left behind.

Parliament doesn’t want,
those who can’t move to the rhythm
anticipate stops,
and ruthlessly,
harsh, I mean,
viciously,
wrathfully,
shove their way to the top.

So, sit and observe,
as Democracy erred,
we voted to somehow avoid the preferred,
but they voted amongst themselves, right?

They said who had rights,
we’d put up a fight,
they’d make us go vote
at the end of the night.

Well, we’re tired, you see.
Tired, you see. Tired,
and sleepy, to tired to be
there at the ballots voting to be free

Ah, but this story is about the cats,
who look out the window, at the world on tv.

a perfect mississippi morning

A bowl of warm oatmeal 
with frozen blueberries,
a dash of cinammon powder, 
and teaspoon of honey

A warm cup of green tea, 
the yogi variety with anti-oxidants,
a quote about love, or emotions, 
and a thought life’s sublime

A pen and a note book
to carry these thoughts, 
to savor these feelings, 
and remember my words

A tooth brush, some floss,
tooth paste, and mouthwash
I brush the top and the bottom,
then I practice a smile

A bag, my two shoes, 
my clothes for the day,
my towel, deoderant, lotion, sun spray,
my swim trunks and goggles.

A walk to the pool, 
a podcast, some tunes,
A sunrise, the views, 
of a Missississippi morning sky.

And then there’s the water, 
water, water, water, water,
water, water, water, water,
water, I love swimming

miso soup

The waters are still muddy, clouds of dust simmer beneath the glittering surface. Miso soup. Scallion bits float and dance, tofu sinks to the bottom.

The sinking feeling, the heavy fall and light stretching. Stars that are distant and past, like memories – we only see the lights that make it through. New memories still await, new futures from here to Micronesia. 

Always on my mind, feels like it’s always … me again, 4 years old, no 6, with a backpack climbing mommy’s shoulders. She carries me, her youngest, heartbroken. Poor mom, and dad – alone, sleeping in as his 20’s waste away. Lethargy stunned him, a new country with a new language, different values. Was this the life he saw? Time will heal him. I know, or so I think. 

Old grudges remain. Now nudge me in that direction, pinball machine just don’t let me fall in between, through the cracks. 

Dear God, at least I never smoked crack. I never had the chance, never had a dance with the Heroine sticker. A light flickers, hope awakens in the inner peace and I glow. What do you know? It’s not who you know… but who knows you, that’s the one who will stay.

Remember the milk in the nursing bottle. Whole measured to the ounce with the strawberry nesquick. We get tucked in, air conditioned, some man’s idea, and a cartoon fix. I liked being a kid, and the world has been good to me. 

On kids – one day, I say. But God should have a plan, is there anything else worth striving for? This is a beautiful world for our younger, and I’m now learning to fight. So that’s going to be fun, I didn’t know I had this in me,

Who was I back before? I admire so much, I won’t lie. But what part of it was me? It feels nice to write again, despite the confusion. Today feels special already, and you know why. I’ll come find you finding your way to me. 

the mind’s addict

Shel Silverstein writes poems for kids like me,
to tickle the brain, with a wait-what did he say?

that there’s different ways to see the world,
that those differences are all inside

of the mind’s addict, a user, abuser – 
a buser, I mean… 
the one who drive the bus!
from city street to city street,
and welcome all of us, 
who board, and swipe, and have places to go.

like work, with water coolers, whiteboards, and memopads
and co-workers, who come and go because turnover
and managers who tell you what and sometimes how
and want the urgent done yesterday, the important now.

but some just go down to the government’s office
to see if they could just get some help…
not help picking restaurants, 
for those are suggestion
and they mainly go find them on Yelp… 
but help like just help me please find me a place,
where I go to, and do things for work, 
or please give me money for food, 
or a place just to live… or a reason at least…

and some you see tired, and they’re headed back home, 
to their lonely abodes and their comfortable couch…
so they hop on the bus, and grab on the pole, 
and listen to tunes just to mellow them out.

oh back to ab users, abdominal users, 
the ones who go crunch with their tummies,
or drop on the floor, when meaning to thanks,
and prop on their forearm for minute-long planks.

The ab users have hardened their abs.
they use them so much, they have no more flabs.
flabs, flobs, flip, flops, 
bus comes – don’t stop.

the addict who waits, the addict appears, 
he wants to solve boredom
it’s brought him to tears. 

Oh boredom, please go, enough of you now. 
cause you and anxiety ruined the child.
ruined, ruined, ruined the child.
ruined, ruined, ruined the child.

Upside down – that’s how it all feels, 
but how do we make it feel right?

have i learned to suffer?

Have I learned to suffer yet? I think that I have. I have navigated rough seas in search of peace, and I have travelled distances long enough, obstacled enough, that measurement becomes difficult. In search of, peace? 

But have I learned to suffer? And what is there to gain from such an endeavor? Why would anyone want to learn to suffer? One might think that a more suffered soul is more calloused, like the palms of a weight lifter who has gripped steel on too many occassions. Or calloused like the foot of a traveller who has walked a journey too long.

So there is that benefit. But have I, myself, learned to suffer? Everyone says they know pain. Everyone’s pain is unique, so I may say that I have but I have not grieved. I have never experienced, and god forbid, a death of a loved one, or, and I never will, a miscarriage. That feeling of having the entire air sucked out of you like a fast-deflating balloon. Where the air goes, who knows, it just becomes a part of the rest. All that’s left is the flexible plastic that once floated and bounced and danced around, and if you didn’t watch it carefully would threaten to float away in search of… who knows…

But even though I haven’t felt the great loss, or the terrible panic, could I still say, with confidence, that I have learned to suffer? When sometimes I feel more that I have forgotten. I lie comfortably on my bed, in an air conditioned room, and my thoughts are peaceful. I write sonnets and sing them to myself, and I laugh at my own jokes. I forget about the world for long periods of time, the world of pain and suffering, the hunger, the problems, the massive death counts, and I live like life is truly worth living and the problems are far far away. 

With all of this ignorance, I ask myself, have I learned to suffer? Have I ever suffered? Sure, I cried in my discomforts. I grew troubled by lies and my inability to tell truth from truth, and it has never been that simple, but that’s what I hoped for. But I truly became ignorant, a resident of my own private oasis. I felt lonely too, but I had friends to call. So I have never been truly alone. And my dreams, so vivid and alive that sleep has been like a cheap vacation. I see the hours pass by, I see the time all at once. 

suffering

what is it like to suffer?

who can define it? 

i’m not sure I can tell you.

a lonely place

I’m afraid of becoming you, Dad. It’s been so hard to express what I mean to say, but I am afraid to end up in your circumstances, away from my children, beginning a life anew away from the one I created. What did you pray to your God when you learned that you could not hold us that night? When you learned that you will miss birthdays, first everythings, graduations, how did you react? See, that’s what I am afraid of. Not that I will end up alone, perhaps stranded in a limbo of neither here nor there, but that I will end up on the outside peering in. That I may one day be standing outside of the house where Christmas is being celebrated, and my children, my person, are no longer mine – and Christmas is no longer holiday. 

See, this fear lives inside of me – as a mark of abandonment. I grew up not really loving you, and at times resenting you. You were gone. That was all that I knew. That in the mornings, when we got up to get dressed, there was hardly ever breakfast, and there was never ever you. We rushed to grab hashbrowns at McDonald’s outside of my mom’s job. She bought me the newspaper so I could play sudoku and read about the world. We slept inside of the Montero, with the leaky roof, and the poor insulation, so my sister had to blast the heat. 

I’m afraid of losing what I still don’t have. What kind of fear is this? But understanding that so much is out of our control, and that because I never saw you fight, I never learned to fight. Did you give up on my mom? When the problems came, did you not put up a fight? I have been called out already for that, that I didn’t fight. It’s hard to understand why – and yet, I see you sometimes and you look happy. That perhaps I think it was meant to happen that way, you and mom would separate. 

All I can say is that I wasn’t there for the beginning. She was 15, you were 26. There were witnesses at this wedding. A different time, a different world entirely. But then my sister came, and shortly after me, then the separation. They say you struggled to be an adult. I struggle too. I don’t always brush and floss my teeth, but I never considered it a crime. I pay my bills mostly on time, but I forget to clean the dishes. I try so hard to be perfect, so that I don’t end up like you. So that my child, that has not yet been born, does not end up like me, like my sister did. 

But is it even in my control? I mean, what more can I do? And what advice do you have? What advice could mom have? You guard me from my history like it isn’t my right to know, so that perhaps I can avoid those errors. 

What was there to learn?


Did either of you 
ever pause to reflect? 

or did you become stuck 
in the cause and effect? 

The reason was him, 
the reason was her. 

You keep on down this road, 
and the past is a blur. 

Soon, truths become lies, 
and lies become truths, 

and no one can tell 
one from the other. 

Whose story do I believe? Maybe you are both right, and likely, you were both wrong. But it was more important to be right, even when you were wrong, and even now that sounds so damn wrong. Didn’t it matter to stay together? Couldn’t you wait for her to grow? Why’d you make it so hard for her to know that you would be better? There are only so many chances even I would have given you, Dad. 

My mom wouldn’t want me to call you Dad. My mom wouldn’t want me to call you, Dad. No contact – and the friendly reminder that you didn’t raise me, that you didn’t ever buy me school supplies, or a t-shirt even. She did so much, but she ruined all hope that you would come back one day. That you would come sit with us on the couch, that you would maybe hold her hand, and that I could see what love should look like from a couch cushion away. 

Now I can only imagine, basing the love on what I’ve read. Now I hurt the woman I love, and I become a coward – afraid of the day when I give up too soon. Afraid because some days I only want to hide under my sheets, deep under these blankets, and I don’t want to face the world. No, not like this. I want to run away from my destiny. I want to hide away and retreat. And will I do this to my junior? Will I cower when she needs me most, and then say that I am going through things? Going through things? You arrogant, insolent, bastard. Everyone is going through things. To be a father, it means you have to be there. Even when it is hard to be there. 

I don’t know how to be there. I haven’t learned this yet. I wish you would have taught me. I wish I could ask you why you left, why you let it happen this way, that I could judge you for what circumstances you don’t claim. 

It’s life. The turns of life. The misguided turns and turns and turns that leave you right where you began. Alone. 

Over in a room in a house in the Bronx, I am 4, maybe 5 years old. I watch Dragonball Z and drink nesquik sweetened milk from a nursing bottle. I am freshly bathed, loved, nurtured, and laid to rest. My eyes will close, and I will dream those vivid dreams that I have always dreamt. 

In my mind, theres a world 
free from time 
free from space, 

and in that world I venture
off to the farthest place

A place far from home, 
where nothings real
and nothings fake. 

A place where I’m alone. 

A place, a lonely place. 

a lie we tell

that i can hurt you, 

and it won’t hurt me

that i’ll be unscathed 

on your toughest day

that’s a lie we tell, 

although i am not quite sure

if i still believe it

no, not anymore

if i could hurt you, then

that day i’ll learn

that i’m capable of

so much more bad

and to live with that

it will take some nerve,

and the sadness, and

the madness and its all so painful

but when we see one as one

and two as two, and not 

one and two the same

then suffer twice as hard

and love won’t be the same

friendship won’t be the same

family won’t be the same

and all the unions, plain and plain

1=1  2=2  

1=2  2=1

zugzwang

these heavy bones; 
a collapsed chair underneath the weight of my skin
furrowed over like a long, stretched sheet
over antique furniture

thick, like a blanket of dust,
this weight strangles me,
restricts my movement, 
constricts my breath

a pod of barnacles so long entrenched
they must be rent-controlled, 
a mark left from prior generations, 

an artifact of descendence, 
a symbol of dependence?
a gift? from my ancestors

and do i need them more for myself?
for my sanity, 
that grandma’s suffering 
came down to mom 
and hers is now my own

can forgiveness exist if memory does?
do they take walks together, 
and can they share
a cup of tea?

i look into the mirror again, 
my face feels pressed into itself
leaving a smudge and

consequences, 
the ones i must face, 
because i can no longer delay 
the passage of time

she sings zugzwang, zugzwang… 
and smiles with grace