Saturday, August 28, 2004

Iphigenia at Lunch-time
I'm exiled in a country
between two great waters
where tornados churn houses
into oversized toothpicks, in a mall
where there use to grow corn.

Lunch-time I serve french fries,
wear a uniform that lets me
nod yes or no
without needing much else, but sometimes,
I disappear into my own language,

and thinking this way,
no one would know how my questions
prey upon my mind until they become gelatin,
my father and mother still in the old country,
whose shores I may not cross.

Achilles, my husband in make-believe,
I wanted you to grab the knife
from my father's hand and stop him
from etching my throat in sacrifice.
I had hoped you'd divine

what I could not ask -- to defy a nation
gathered on the beach for history's recital.
So what became of our bravery?
You killed in battle, and I,
pouring black oil upon the altar of a memory.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Porosity of the Styrofoam Man
We bleed
into each other's cell phones.

On the bus
your life follows me,

the same man
with a package in a plastic bag.

I hear about people
you're trying to escape,

the same ones
who’re coming over for dinner.

I hear about heart attacks
and nervous breakdowns

what your friend should of done
instead of opening his big boca.

I know where you'd really like to go
if you could get a day off,

instead you went shopping
with discount coupons.

“Deals mean long lines
and no parking spots,"

you advise, "which is why
I don't drive."

(I don’t know who
you’re talking to now),

nodding for me to take the styrofoam
& remove its plastic,

maybe you tell me
to hold the date,

I don't know
which one, or if this

is about concert tickets
my styrofoam man wants to buy,

while you or he
take(s) two blue pills

how he stayed up
all last night,

like a wheel balanced
on its chrome rim shining,

and I'm feeling you,
I'm feeling you right now.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Ludlow Massacre, 1914
Her name was Little Lucy, no connection to Lucille Ball,
but visitors at the Capitol Mall didn't need to know.

She worked the crowd, flashed her dimples,
wore smoke-soaked clothes, no shoes for her,

the only familiar thing, a hooded black sweat shirt
so she wouldn't look cold, although she was way past

feeling anything since iron rain had fallen
upon her family's tent in Ludlow, Colorado,

when everything she knew had soaked into the ground.
Now she was telling them how it was her birthday,

counted eight more of her at home, spoke their names,
how she lived on the wrong side of the monument,

didn't have a single present, no, not one.
She really didn't want their rings and bracelets.

It was a game she enjoyed playing,
to make people act like they cared for her.

Time to testify at hearings,
walk past lobbyists with American flags
pinned on woolen lapels, take a number,

sit down, and wait until called.
Betty's boy, because that's what people
always had called him when he was living

with Lucy at Ludlow, took a seat in the second row
next to the rest of the delegation, wondered
when he was going to find a playground.

He hadn't come all this way
to climb a bunch of granite.
Betty's boy remembered laughter coming through

the deep muffle. Because if there was one thing
he could do with his life, that was
to keep playing.

None of the chairman
for the President's Commission on Violence
had seen anything like them,
the way they took to the podium
as though they were in a bowling alley,
and they, the 10 Senators, pins.

"Must've taken a school bus
to get you here,"
said one of the members.

But it was clear by the way
the Senator bent into his microphone,
he saw trouble.

For we are not sons and daughters of the middle class
who go to summer camps and take tap-dance lessons.

Our last day here we waited for night.
Night finally came like a wanted child.

Give us a souvenir, a piece of blue sky,
to take back with us to where the tules grow,

where Ms. Universe has corn rows,
twists, and plants stars.

You think we are children.
But you do not know who we are.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Dusk at Canyon Oaks Drive Posted by Hello
Massacre at Ywahoo Falls
We're going to the white dome
where they've never seen us before,
dragging a sled of cardboard
with a potato, grandmother's picture
in a broken nickel frame.
We stream to the Capitol
from everywhere.

We are not sons and daughters of the middle class
who are trying to make ends meet.

Our ends
only know each other
from the same mass grave.

A girl from the crowd takes hold of a guitar
and tunes hundreds of years on it,
a dry scent of nasturtium and chicory
upon her fingers, sings of children
who gather one wave after another
cresting upon the stairway
of their representatives.

We have voices,
wrapped in government-issued wool blankets
as gray as your lined faces
to tell you
we are buried
at the bottom of a cave.

Come find us
in our game of hide and seek.

Find us
where we have been forced to go,
places that have made us into adults
before we could be children,

which is what one of the boys said
elbowing his way
to the Jefferson Memorial
before any of his pasty chums
could remove their hands
from their pockets,
not being use to pockets
except on such spectacular occasions.

Why, according to him,
it was his own idea
to come to the Capitol
since everyone was getting bored,
although he'd been exploring
the water table,
measuring the exchange rate
between bubbles and oxygen.

He might decide to become a fish.
There was no law against it.
At least, none he knew about,

which is why he first walked to the reflecting pool,
drawn to water,
the creepy feeling it gave him
each time he touched his face
and saw it fall apart
there at Ywahoo Falls
with War Woman Selu-Sa-tah,
Cornblossom whose silken tassels
turned Kentucky red
where 100 children
were squashed like nits.

He didn't remember details in any order.
Something about falling water.

thinking he was not born
to become a storage tank for memories.
He is.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

On the Way Home
Bouquets of red headlights explode in my face,
petals everywhere.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Online Music We Make
It's the music we make using our words, how we sound to each other. The same way a choreographer can take a roomful of dancers standing before a wall of mirrors, and teach them all the same routine. But dancers move differently, and put something of their own bodies behind each step, the way they understand a movement, which allows us to know something of their personal expression.

So language too, when it's done up right, can become steps for our voices, without leading us to stumble. For listening and talking online is not equally as satisfying as watching a great performance. For not all partners are adept at language or can understand each other's music through a series of exchanged hints. At best, talking online can lead to dialog. At worst, to pointless one-liners that go no place, except bye-bye.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

The Book of Alien Dating:11
Maybe it makes more sense to date aliens, place a post somewhere on an intergalactic highway; I simply don't know how any two people contact each other over the Internet when all we have are words. Well, of course, there are audibles and signals and invitations to play chess, and buzzers to call a person to order themselves in front of the computer screen. But I long for a physical person.

Hopeless Alien: Hey, you out there. I saw your posting from the drawbridge.

Writergrll: You weren't too far away...

Hopeless Alien: Nah, I'm skimming in my saucer tonight. How are you doing?

Writergrll: I'm good. Good weekend.

Hopeless Alien: Nice to hear that. I was looking for your profile the other day up on the Moonsite, but lots of intergalactic weather kicking in and all I got was bounced

Writergrll: By the bouncer?

Hopeless Alien: He's not as big as he thinks he is.

Writergrll: FCOL. I thought you disappeared off the face or something. After I posted my picture I didn't hear from you. I thought it was something I didn't say.

Hopeless Alien. Not at all.

Writergrll: This endless chatter could go on forever.

Hopeless Alien. It does all over the universe. Now tell I a real alien conversing with you now or just the reflection of someone who arrived at this particular portal from some futuristic b-movie in time?

Writergrll: I'm totally overwhelmed, but I'm feeling undeveloped.

Hopeless Alien. Not by the look of things.

Writergrll: What things?

Hopeless Alien. Your breasts.

Writergrll. You mean you aliens go for breasts?

Hopeless Alien. C'mon. You must think I'm really strange.

Writergrll: Just different. But tell me. Are you a man or what?

Hopeless Alien. Not in terms of the typical species definition.

Writergrll: Oh brother.

Hopeless Alien. Not that either.

Writergrll: It's just a form of speech.

Hopeless Alien. Now you're getting warmer.
Elaine was Sick and We Couldn't Go to the Movies
A manicure with purple all-day sucker fingernails to Barnes and Noble for a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report in stacks on the front-door table (piles sounds like hemorrhoids but I'm keeping my fingers in everything these days) , to a nice steak for dinner with grilled onions and peppers, reading New Yorker magazines, Iraqi Poetry Today, and watching TV, a mixed media, a melange experience; sez Baghdad is a captive, forgotten