- Amtrak Insomniac
The train leaves its station at 3:15 am
a mile and a half away from home;
it sings and shuffles the after storm air
A nightmare hangs overhead,
takes shape like a storm cloud;
heavy air veers into my father’s room.
Like a car that won’t start, he snores
and barrels around in a king size bed
that bellows under his broken body.
This sticky starless summer night
plasters bed sheets to sepia skin.
He is stuck in a humidified clash,
battling a winged monkey on his back.
swings like the lion with the witch’s broom,
cursing aloud in that world and mine.
Tight tossing, turning and tumbling,
the air ripples like troubled water;
he is at the edge of its reflection.
Through my hollow bedroom door,
I hear cowboys shooting on the TV;
they’re probably robbing a train.
- War Child
Permission to speak freely: At a moment when dawn and dusk disappeared from the moon and sun, star crossed demons and angels retired pitchforks and halos—to slip just beyond the sight of each all-seeing eye. Fire and ice scarred the skies as one clever couple, held hands and shot down the city streets. Sticking to the shadows, they dashed off into an alleyway to catch breath. By far, their chance of fleeing death was slight, because this war extinguished the stars; and hung them from earth’s magnetic poles as street lights. Amidst all of this destructiveness, they decided to have—a picnic.
Knocking back shots of love and lust, they washed out the aftertaste of bombs and blood, tongue twisted cursed words with holy scripts until virtue and sin dirty danced under diaphragms, cooled it with class to stomach acid jazz. Drunk to the rhythms of worldly religions, they realized that though each genre wore a different name the bare baselines were still the same. And whether in light or dark, too much of either would leave them blind. So with peace in mind, they turned down the volume—and fucked. But, like bombs bursting on horizon between night and day, phases of passion faded from golden to crimson to violet to gray.
At a moment when dawn and dusk reappeared to the moon and sun, deceived demons and angels battled with pitchforks and halos to magnify the sight of each all-seeing eye. Months after, emerged their love child, but with mom and dad fighting on each shoulder. No, he didn’t grow up afraid of the boogieman under his bed because at home he was schooled to “fear and commend” two invisible men; the one living in his attic and the other in his basement. So with peace in mind, mom and dad’s theologies clashed between his ear bones; war was inevitable.
They told him “We’re just debating.” But visualize: gunfire flies from stubborn sides and soldiers convert into crickets on frontlines; legs trembling because the enemy is more accurate than planned, left chirping behind bushes because basic training advanced. And among them: a seven year old child unable to shield bones from sticks and stones because radioactive words keep burning. They told him “We’re just debating!” So shell-shocked but unrestrained, the child ran up and down the ranks—aiming his prayers at each officer point blank. He demanded an armistice to the pain but the only options offered were: point—(_____).
His parents’ arguments waged, but the worth of his welfare was too great.
With no living quarters to rest safe, he was forced to find refuge on the staircase.
And when the peace
in a child’s mind,
there is nothing fair
- No place like home
Mom returns home from work,
washes her hands, turns on her soap
and prepares the boys an early dinner.
Drawers and doors are shutting,
the smell of fish grease creeps up the stairs,
beneath me, the kitchen is bubbling.
Dad creaks out of his daily deathbed
takes a piss and thunders down the stairs
like the load of his life is too much to bare.
Mother calls me down to eat.
But I am trapped in a brilliant story
about a desert storm in Castle Valley.
clanks and scrapes
across porcelain plates.
The sink water and fan keep running.
The word BITCH is flung through the air
Beneath me, father is erupting.
Lips unbuckle. I want to say
NO. I can’t come down to eat
and be trapped in that storm
of spirit-scalding strikes.
I am tired of acting like
we are okay. He has problems. She has problems.
And I have problems with their problems.
I’ve been locking my door sinceI was six.
Fifteen years later andstill—
I can’t stop their words frombreaking
in. So I leave it open.
Our picture perfect peace
shatter like a dropped dish.
I boarded a train of thought
and now I fish in a stream of consciousness
hoping to reel out the shimmering scales of my father
and layer myself in this armor
to better understand how it feels to be a man at war
with the mirrors in your skin.
My father doesn’t want to believe
in the fun house he’s become:
His legs quake; his hands undulate
He can’t escape the corridors of his mind
where it’s hard to breathe
‘cause the clouds of crack smoke
are layered thick and sweet
enough to decay the strongest man
into a yawning hole.
He stands alone in his smoke
in a room of distorted reflections:
he is a zombie chasing a ghost;
sucking on glass chimneys,
smoking out his soul from its once fleshy home.
And his wife and son are coin machines
that hate to see him gamble with his goals.
But if he inserts a few false promises,
than the fuel of his fix will flow.
He footraces that ghost to the finish line
but it already crossed over
and he can only move closer.
In the other,
he is a raggedy deck of playing cards:
Fifty-twoyears of highs that led to lows
because his Black Jacks and Aces in the hole
like to play a different game of pick-up.
And shuffling is still his life and life is love
but for 21 years it has bled out of his Queen’s heart
becauses he’s tired of seeing him spread his cards thin.
Ands he’s been with him long enough to see the pattern of his suits:
Every diamond is dipped in blood
Every club is a “one leaf, too short” clover
And every spade is an upside-down heart with a thorn in it.
He is a royal flush of bad jokes.
The floor quakes; the walls undulate
He can’t escape the fun house he’s become.
So he smashes through each reflection
as the man in the mirror goes to pieces.
Each blood drop falling from his flayed knuckles
is a blade ripping the stitch of silence.
He stands alone in his smoke.
Yet each shattered piece below
still reflects the burden of his shame.
And the Joker laughs behind a frosted window
as the staircase my father climbs, jerks from side to side.
Moving him everywhere, leading him nowhere.
I stand in this stream with scales on my skin
wearing the weight of war on my shoulders.
A distant wind sends me the scent of rotting fish.
And I know my father is just another casualty;
a boxed up and buried ghost.
- Invisible Things
I’m 21 years old
And I’ve never seen God
my whole life.
God is love.
And I’m in love
I feel it inside.
So I’m in God.
And God is in me.
that’s in me—is me.
So God is me.
And when I look
in the mirror,
God is looking
back at me.
I’m 21 years old
and I’ve seen God
my whole life.