Champa


If words were fragrant
my poems would smell like champa flowers.
Heady, deep and sweet,
they smell like —
The moment I knew I would grow up
My daydreams of adventure
The dark room I adopted in my adolescence
The isolation I felt as I became someone no one else had known
The reason for my faith
My future.

If fragrances were words
the champa flower would be Shakespeare.
Songs to Krishna
carried on the breeze like soliloquies
depicting his lotus eyes
whispering softly —
I could feel you before you were real
I looked for you and found nothing
I waited for you, and you came
I love you like I’ve loved no other
I’ve seen you, but I was blind to all else
I know you like I know myself
I carry you deep inside
I thank you.

There ends part 4 of my childhood poetry series, which describes more my adolescence/early adulthood and less my childhood, but which is a huge transformative part of who I am today.

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Porches Are For Brownie


I’m all for smiling
but that woman is baring her teeth at me.
Why, Giada? Why? They…sparkle…
And Ina, I know that France
with its shops and street corners, berets and baguettes
is enchanting
but why must you tease me like that?
Hey, you. Sandra Lee
What’s in a name? You might as well be called
Sandra Dee, with your spiffy cooking ideas and
adorable cocktails.
Why does your outfit match your kitchen?
And who told you to put moss on that table?
As a “centerpiece”– more like
centipedes are gonna crawl outta that moss.
Paula! I love you, boo!
Needs more butter.
Rachael Ray, with your EVOO, you do realize that
fine dining establishments have
adopted that
on
their
menus
right?
Bobby Flay, I don’t wanna barbecue with you.
And Masaharu Morimoto, you iron chef you,
that’s some scary seafood, bro.
But I watch you all
and love you all
if only to pass beautiful afternoons
on the porch
playing cards with my grandmother
with sizzling steaks and — “I wish you could smell this”
existing quietly in the background.
Porches are for Brownie, my grandmother.
Porches and The Food Network.

 

So concludes part three of my childhood poetry series. Cheers, and all my love to my grandma, Brownie, whose delightful ring of “Cappy, darling!” brightens my day every time I call. xoxox.

Tura Lura


A chair that rocks but doesn’t squeak
and lulls me to wonderland.
A skylight for the moon to watch
my dreams that leave in daylight.
As she sings to me
tura lura
and I go to sleep in her arms
I know someday tura lura
will mean more than looking at stars.
In a twin sized bed with drawers on the bottom
too small for two but somehow managed
she held me as close as we had been
when I was possibility.
Flurries of song tickle my hair
as she sings to me
tura lura
in the nighttime,
else wonderland might be kidnapped by
a killer with cruel intentions.
But a lullaby
never says goodnight
just tiptoes into the morning.

That little gem was part two of my series of poems about my childhood. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to promise this vast quantity of hastily written poetry to you, my little muffins, but you’d better appreciate it. Also, I do know why…it was 2 a.m. and I was falling asleep as I was writing.

Cheers!

I Grew Up So Well


I may be up at 2 a.m. and it may be because I finished editing a short story I’ve been working on for a year and I may have just submitted it to my university’s literary journal so I may be having a mini heart attack but also may be feeling so accomplished that I can’t stop jittering. Y’all, I actually finished something. Conceptualized, drafted, wrote, edited, re-edited, ruminated, re-re-edited, and…submitted. This is real life.

And it got me thinking…I had the best childhood. (How’d this thought train happen? I wrote something! –> Reading as a child helped me write –> one time I wrote a crappy story about Cleopatra and my mom loved it –> My parents were so supportive –> My parents had such eclectic taste in everything –> I practically came out of the womb singing Neil Young.)

When I say “best childhood” I don’t mean “most innocent” or “happiest” necessarily. I mean I had a childhood that I look back on and appreciate, because I accidentally was a pretty insightful kid. And everything I did then, everything I was exposed to, has made me pretty awesome (if I do say so).

Want an explanation? I present you with a series of poems from my childhood, which you will receive every other day for as long as I can come up with them. They will all be first drafts and will probably be written in the middle of the night, so feel free (gently and lovingly) to offer criticisms and ideas.

We’ll begin with BLOCKS.

I drag Pops’ box blocks, dead like wooden bricks
across the oriental carpet (red spirals from somewhere I will dream of later)
and — thunk — drop rubber zoo animals from their cloth prison, only to box them in again
within the lifeless block-walls.
The harder they come the harder they fall
Jimmy Cliff sings, high and warm, as lions leap upon giraffes, teeth tearing through tendons and muscles, spurts of blood hitting onlookers.
Years later I will remember this carnage fondly
if only to laugh at my morbidity as a five-year-old
and to rent a copy of The Harder They Come
which was about drugs
according to Dad
and I didn’t know that meant violence, too, because drugs are always paired with violence
at least when desperation gets involved,
so we document it in movies that hurl knives against the TV screen.
Age 5 doesn’t allow for true understanding of desperation, but I must’ve seen it
because I replicated it
with lions
in my house.
Peace often followed, as the lions
sick with remorse and giraffe flesh
bathed in the sun, rolling in the red tide of a rug born somewhere I’d never heard of.
As all I couldn’t comprehend washed over me
heavy accents filled my ears
and mondegreen* stole my understanding, turning every sad lyric into something pleasant.
Them a loot them a shoot them a wail shanty town.

*mondegreen is the mishearing of a word, usually within a song.