Youth takes the higher registry
In cackles, screams, and laughter
Meant to call down parents
And assert strong needs and wants
Because there is no other thing
Than the immediate, the now.
There is no more authentic representation of grief
Than a child who does not realize
Tomorrow is tangible.
In youth I seem to recall
Being able to sing well,
Well enough that even adults would listen.
I like to think it stemmed from my ability
To howl with indignation as a toddler,
Though never with the kind of sheer mad fury as my sister,
Who slipped and ran headlong into a corner,
And became possessed by the furies
At the level of her discomfort.
I can still see her raging eyes,
The little bleeding bruise in her forehead.
In time, the high-pitched sounds fade
As feet become steadier
And minds more sure of themselves.
I would not want to go back to the mad sounds of childhood.
I would, however, happily take back my
Ability to howl out my feelings.
What I remember most is the weight of faith you carried.
Centuries of faith.
The thickness of it, thicker than the incense
The countless spiritual atoms floating in your space
Made everything seem heavy,
Yet somehow also uplifting.
If there was a place for faith
It was under your grey arches.
There are taller buildings, but none reach like you.
Your frame yearned to be taller, and in reaching
You took us all with you, upwards.
I do not doubt we will look up again.
I pray we will.
The empty space inside my head
Is vast, but ever shrinking
I find I bring my focus back
With patient, conscious thinking
Or else I stare at something bland
And let my hands meander
Perhaps they’ll write a shiny phrase
And my brain will take a gander.
I haven’t looked down at the keys
Which I know sounds most outlandish
Would you be kind enough to look
In case there’s something I accomplished?
4.11 Love and Bouldering
If I’m a bucket
You’re a crimp
We make an interesting climb
I’ll take your arms
You’ll need my fingers
We’ll make it up just fine
I’ll hold your feet
You take my toes
While we’re both in our prime
And when we’re up
We’ll trace back down
Let’s chalk it up to time
“Today is a different look for you.”
I anticipate the compliment.
It’s the most flamboyant blue I own.
The bravest thing I can wear
In this world of black slacks and neutral forms
Is a skirt the color of lapis
Printed with symmetrical golden crescents.
When I bought the bolt I was warned it would be risky.
It’s a difficult print to work with.
The little tailor mimicked the a-line photo,
Then added big pockets on the sides.
It’s out of my comfort zone.
“Normally I can pick you out, but today
you look like everyone else.”
I mentally stutter before responding.
I look like everyone else…
I’m dressed like a color block in a children’s picture book!
Then I remember where I am.
It takes Africa to make cerulean mundane.
My American muted purples are luxurious here,
Here, women wear rainbows.
To stand out is to blend in.
“But it’s nice that you’re trying something new.”
4.9 Keeps Dancing
I hope that little boy keeps dancing.
I hope the music does not leave his arms,
Even after they’ve grown long and wiry with hard work.
I hope that no one scolds him for dancing,
Tells him that men don’t spin.
I hope that little boy looks up again and again
And starts to beat his feet against the ground,
Throw his head down and his chest up in jubilation
Just for a moment now and then
Just enough to find pleasure.
I hope that little boy grows to be a man
Who dances in the streets every now and then.
It’s a stale room.
Bullets on a countertop.
Thick glass and blinking lights.
A green and pink bag sticks out,
Levity in a serious place.
I call him on it.
The best kind, he says,
The only kind I eat.
Can I have one?
Under the stares of the men in stars
I pop a sugar-dusted gummy.
Haven’t had candy in days and
It makes a difference.
Damn fine sour patch, I say,
But I like the bite of the regular.
Fire burning on the camera,
Far off from the room.
He laughs, this young man.
More for me, as he flips a switch.
Duty in his motion.
Treats for a good boy.
My name is proficient, businesslike.
It has the ability to be punctual.
It requires little effort.
Yet when sighed in pleasure, or called in happiness,
My ears gloss over the familiar corners of my identity
And turn my name into a new conglomeration
Composed of unfamiliar vowels and consonants.
I cannot hear my name spoken in joy.
It sounds foreign, a strange sound of exaltation.
That surely cannot be my name.
You cannot be referring to me.
That would mean that my name has other capabilities
Beyond my standard identifiers.
Who is this person you speak of?