Friday, June 5, 2009

My Assignment

for Linda

She asks me to find something beautiful
in this ongoing distress

and so I will tell her, and you, my friends,
that life on the other side of the world from you

springs, lush and green, wet dragon breath,
up from every crack in the muddy walks--

it climbs trees, it smokes out of shiny leaves
in fire orange flowers that shiver

like a horse's haunch, it scatters the flooded sidewalks
with trampled kisses.

Last night, Lizzie and I shared the bed,
stretched out under the churning "air con"

while wind howled rain against our windows.
Snug together, we cherished our closeness,

this haven high over the hooting, barking, cockadoodling city,
and listened in the dark to David Sedaris

burble on about roosters--what they say
in different cultures, how he uses that question

to break the ice in a new country, asking his cab drivers
to enlighten him,

("I will have to ask the guards,
tomorrow," I said, "what the roosters say here"),

his voice filling our room with
another familiarity, a gossamer thread to that

other life, the old life we've put off for a while,
sharing another expat's wonder at the world's

absolute wideness.
We're dizzy.

There are days when we lose track
of who we are and where we're going,

walking in circles,
rained upon, our umbrellas

snatched inside out, exploded,
by sudden, laughing winds.

Every day, our brains crack open
like this

and the massive world jumps
inside us, takes us

over--how can we help but be
stunned? It's monumental, this

universal racket, this screaming wide
connection, this birth and rebirth.


  1. This is what I've been following your blog to see - this look at where you are from your poet's perspective.

    Do you remember hanging out with Vince Gotera when he came to be the New Start visiting poet all those years ago? I'm remembering his poem "Aswang," as I think about your sad ghost.

    Despite all the glitches - small and large - I envy you.

  2. FWIW I think you would have kicked butt teaching that grad level poetry workshop...