A Native

This place, this now, you can see it

you can see what it is too, beside

the quiet border you trace around it

this is a home town too, among other things

among everything else. I was born here, 

in this empty lot, that was a hospital

in a room with one rectangular window 

packed with people I would never see again,

including my mother. Cities are cruel that way

but not all together so, there is a mother here

in the rubble and the dust, and as far 

as I ever got I came back to it, 

I learned to love it

to love myself in it. 

The west was won in a saloon

over a poker hand 

and a screaming slot machine. 

This place remembers even the drinks that were spilled 

the out turned pockets, and moment before 

the wheel stopped turning and any number 

was a winner, you had to pick one was all, 

and you did, because the charm was ammonia 

on a weary life. There was beauty in it, and I 

can remember coming home over the valley to 

an oasis of light. The stars were false

but the city was true, I felt it then, a fortune 

of gaudy joy, be this city, it said to me, 

and I was, suddenly and always a native. 
–ECW

Stray Evening

Dreaming: I walk the city
places I dare not go by day
are nigh roads lit velvet in the mists
which cloak the town;
which cloaks my trek.
This is a city in a dream
fearful but unwinding
I find the roads once closed
to me are open
so such is my mind;
so such is the way.
We go where we mean to
without hesitation
this is the gift of a dream;
this is the burden of dreamers.
A lamplight careless road,
where I can pace the median
and feel no urgency.
Places I have mapped retain their luster
despite their infinite recesses:
our starlit swinging doors.

–ECW

 

 

Mojave 

A desert underneath

The crooked line that makes the shore

Which calms and curls the sand back

To an image of itself.

The winding pull of water still

Remembers every grain of sand

It’s hot rough essence, the quiet still

At the bottom of the current

On the crest of a dune. It calls out

With a winded hush, what matters now 

Is water, what has always been, 

what will never be

Enough. A desert underneath, 

takes time to quench. 

Santa Cruz, 2016

They came to see the death
–even my mother, who turns from the evening news–
shuffled quickly to the edge and bent to better see.
The air was sweet with the prayers of strangers
and yet, they came to see the death
to witness the unyielding bay
which swells on the rocks and tempts
even the bravest to jump,
a dare–perhaps–an urge.
On this day, we stood quietly, hands wrung
while they searched for the swimmer
who was not swimming
who was surely lost.

–ECW

Europe, Summer 1997

we count first on our fingers
in bundles of five,
the places we have seen
the people we would visit
then we count from memory
the houses whose doors are yellow
standing out against rusted drainpipes
taking a second moment before
becoming grey in the passing view.

We watched the compounding skyline
which began as rooftops but became high-rises;
a wooden rendering of our own jourey,
which began on foot and boarded the railcar.
You, looking at me from behind our father’s glasses,
offer up a sigh of relief–we are moving now.
Moving on to something else.
We were young but I remember a sense of longing
an emptiness only time can fill,
following the footpaths of cobbled alleys
knowing a home-land in a place I’d never been.

–ECW

irrelevant

Blurry Long Distance Road at Night

These next few moves matter
this I know to be true
that the distance between us
grows stiff with years
and we are different now,
and we have never been this
way—far away; chasing the tail
of our twenties. I am something
in between this and then
and these next few moves speak volumes
thousands of expired encyclopedias
are shouting wait Wait WAIT!
but we are on an airplane
and the wheels are up
and our phones are off
and the last thing I said was I’m sorry
but I can’t remember what for
these next few moves matter
they are the scribble
with which we write our lives
and these are not apologies
as much as manafestos.
and these next few moves
are happening outside my body
a reflex, a habit, a whole.

—ECW

The artist and his muse

after watching a doc on johanna bonger, I thought of all the people who follow artists and make them important

I was further away from them
I could hear the murmer of their voices
But was not privileged to their words
I was further away from them
The boys on the ridge passing back and forth
memories; I was further away from them
Not ever within arms reach
But scuttling behind, curating their footsteps
Collecting their love-letters:
The brothers by the sunflowers
The artist and his muse
–ECW

Draft – apology 127

image

i want to say it all in a syllable
i want you to know that, even now
i play the plot in my head on repeat
to find something I missed
capture it’s essence
a flavor, a sour note that tasted
of lemongrass.
of the last time I ate with your family
and we ordered takeout
and listened to the secadas
–ECW

draft – wedding guests

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you asked if I would invite them
the men who came before you;
you asked like you were giving
permission the way a hand picks
a lock; cautiously with carnal
self awareness; because a locked
door is a negotiation, a compro-
mise between what is and what
might have been, a weighing of
outcomes in the palm; supple
inviting: why is it locked? what
might I never know, you asked
if I would invite them to see what
the door looked like, and if this
like so many other secrets,
was worth picking at.

–ECW

Draft – Foucault Pendulum

image

someday, when we grow up
this too will be a memory
glowing with all the passion
of a darling age; someplace
elsewhere where we’ve
kept all the dishes pristine
and all the portraits are of young
lovers -us I assume- smiling wide
enough to swallow our medicine
someday, when we are gone
from here, this place will be perfect
and we will remember everything
golden and foil-stamped
like our wedding invitations
which everyone attended,
even the people who got sick
even the people we couldn’t
squeeze in, the record we keep
will be complete, circling the dowel
coming around and around
in tidy lassajous curves.

–ECW