ways of knowing (138)

certainty’s a razor’s edge

pressed lightly across skin


i draw a line along

the length of my arm


tracing a blue vein

a way in a way out

(May 4, 2021)

as the world burns (137)

the turn was not a turn

you saw with my eyes

I blinked it vanished


she said no it was

not as you said

the way I knew it to be


the ragged lines spoke

with stranger accents

skewed cognates


the way was only 

the way here

the sole path here


the sky cleared

the sky stormed

the rain was dry


the way here was

the only way here

only me here now


I only know

this language

the words come to me


by birth

by chance

by god


she said yes but

not as you said

only what I said


it was the way

I knew the way

the way I said

(May 3, 2021)

palimpsest (132)

tension slips between

skin and flesh

as skillful as a fishmonger’s

blade slices down

the length of an eel

with one stroke

a practiced motion

without thought

like a priest at prayer

each wooden bead rolled

over fingertips in sync

with the slow muttered vowels

one patterned moment

moving toward the next

with endless patience

as the next ritual waits

for the candle to be lit

the words to flow

less with meaning

than as a balm

to still disquiet

(April 14, 2021)

The Gentle (Penetrating, Wind)

from “Renditions of Change,” a work in progress

To be there. To bear witness:

one tells one’s story— That’s all!

That is how evil falls— Again

and again— tell one’s story.

(June 5, 2019)

The Arousing (shock, thunder)

from “Renditions of Change,” a work in progress

A door blows open;

I wake to a storm.

A familiar room whirls

in disarray. Fear dares

for someone to speak.

(May 17, 2019)

Oppression (exhaustion)

from “Renditions of Change,” a work in progress

If one can accept

the slow rain, one 

must acquiesce

to the flood. I do not

know what to say, or

what to believe

between the lies

which bear down

daily like a press.

Yet, even exhausted,

I still step out

singing the sun.

(May 14, 2019)

Breakthrough (Resoluteness)

from “Renditions of Change” a work in progress

Speaking truth to myself

is difficult—as to power,

just more dangerous: no

compromise with evil,

nor abatement.

(April 10, 2019)

Following

F

from “Rendition of Change” a work in progress

The stories I teach

open a space.

Our day demands

patience and rest.

Following our talks,

my students leave,

their candles leading 

away into the night.

(February 9, 2019)

Possession in Great Measure

from “Renditions of Change,” a work in progress

As I teach my students,

I try to be honest

in who I am;

yet, fear

I’m a fraud.

Teaching’s resistance:

how to read,

analyze,

break meaning from words–

then rewrite

in the students’ voices

without becoming

a lie that exalts

the life

they are not.

(February 7, 2019)

Things I would Not Wish on Anyone

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after Lucille Clifton

 

I wish them disdain

I wish them questions

in a new town

that does not speak their language

 

I wish them to lose

their beloved stuffed bear

because the dogs can smell

the Rio Grande

 

Later let them learn humility

as the man’s arrogance

drips condescension

like venom

 

Let them think they don’t belong

Let them be turned away

 

(July 11, 2018)