The smell of sweat that pours from every pore,
detoxifying flesh subject to work,
a brief escape from life where guidelines lurk
in every shadow and at every door.
New England was my home for years before
New Jersey, where I figured (like a jerk)
that freedom was somehow a likely perk
of New Life, with new places to explore.
Well…I sweep through a classroom, pick up trash,
and chase down students to keep them engaged
(to their great annoyance). My sweat goes splash
on the green rubber, my spirit uncaged.
Now there’s sweat in my eye, white lights aflash.
I perspire and therefore am not enraged.
The days pass by like daggers in the breeze
while nights sink low into the muddy ground
caressed by deer that stalk without a sound
at dawn to eat the leaves that hang from trees.
The sidewalks look yellow and time does freeze
under the street lights as your thoughts rebound
against your mind’s edge like ships run aground
only to slip back towards unconscious seas.
You see the waves drown you: shadows of leaves
on swaying branches, black against yellow
on top of gray concrete, on countless eves.
As you edge home clueless, your talent grieves
your murder by time. A neighbor’s cello
pours its dirge from a house with rotten eaves.
I want to live a timeless existence.
This life of time will kill my sense of self.
If not my my mind will mutilate itself:
suicide of a heart shorn of patience.
I’m serious. I’ve lost my sense of sense
as my senses rebel against my self
and my heart weighs down its bodily shelf.
I crave collapse and loss of sentience.
But enough of me. How are you, my dear?
The autumn air is sharp, the leaves are red,
and the crunching of leaves is all I hear.
Forgive me the dark things that I have said.
It is that apple picking time of year,
and we can’t drink warm cider if I’m dead.
The desire to run has re-entered
my body; should I also be surprised
that words have come back whole and mobilized
from foreign thoughts, fluid and de-centered?
I long for novel thoughts that flow un-mentored
by past experience, destabilized
by a current of reckless dreams devised
against a life where liquid thought is censored.
But to renounce my earthly possessions
and depart tomorrow for distant lands
would be the height of my life’s aggressions.
So I continue to tie up my hands
in life and work and baneful expressions
of rebellion against my life’s demands.
If the taxista, Don Jesús, was right,
our planet simply recycles itself
as we perish, congealed in amber bright
island sun and time slide off the clouded shelf.
Timeshares for me? I’m just chillin’, hermano,
I just want to kick back and watch women
flailing rhythms in the water guano
falling from their eyes – where is Chris Colón?
We need that first and most feral tíguere
dance instructor giving lessons a trueque
espejitos por oro, bartered bruises
when sky meets sea the time confuses
Until we meet again. Until we meet
Against the world’s mirror we meet defeat.
I must ask myself, who are my people,
by whom do I define this life’s journey,
on the mezzo cammin’ up the steep hill,
who must climb with me, who should concern me?
Is tribe defined by family connection
or by similarity of interest?
shared passion or blood ties: which does know best
the path of my pulse, my heart’s direction?
But at the end of the day, why bother
if life is ultimately lived alone,
and the destination always unreached?
If no one asked me to tell my story
then my journey’s hollow, echoless tone
would leave all walls between two hearts unbreached.
The best is when the air is tremulous
with the humidity of bubbling broth
while exotic vocals gurgle and froth
over the beat making time emulous
of space, which can saturate our senses
and make time appear redoubled, sacred
and life is lived as if off the fake grid
that is shaped by time and all its tenses
But time always wins – tomorrow’s Monday
I die inside of pure acknowledgement
of the freedoms yielded while on the clock
I must relive the trauma of Sunday
and write these words as self-admonishment:
time’s the threshold to your self-auction block.
Throwing off my skin for selves I quickly hate,
I have shunned all compromise and commitment
and all good fellowship, my life is time spent
in fugue from blessed time, I write around my fate.
In a new port I promptly pursue escape
in the frigid sea of failure, salty and fierce,
but then I’m saved, with scant breath and frozen tears,
by some project’s fresh embrace, warm eyes, and dry cape.
By now very sick of the feel of foreign threads
choking my sense of duty in my chest and throat,
and also tired of fake routines learned by rote,
I am desperate to forge a pathway that spreads
the open sea before me, inviting me to float
in my own flayed skin, my most seaworthy boat.
I’m too sleepy to write, but let’s plunge in
to this artichoke heart lines, lime rhymes,
and vinaigrette verse stirred with a truncheon
that I took from the Law due to my crimes.
I don’t know what is happening in this life
or outside as the fall finally takes hold
of my throat as it slides its sugar knife
across my Adam’s apple, mealy and cold.
And I’m out of scarves, too, until I wash
my sweatery load, but the machine stains
the clothes from overwork; I want to cry,
but I say “Geronimo!” just like Bosch
and I dive right in, while the planet wanes,
into the pile of leaves where the brave die.
My students make it rain with Uno cards,
a creative solution for the lack
of ones in a community “Spanish,” “black,”
where broken windows become broken shards.
What exactly does that mean? I don’t know
except that rupture begets more rupture
and that space for life is space for culture
“You ain’t gotta leave, but it’s time to go.”
That’s right: I’m kicking all dust to the curb
so my ashen lungs can take in the sight
of post-industrial sunrise over white flight,
where bus exhaust, Black & Milds cloak the herb.
The heavens made it rain on Sunday night.
We rupture the ruptures to set things right.