- American, and: Until I Get Back, and: American Birthdeath Sequence, and: Blood-Slow Riot, and: John 1:1
I was afraid of my love for her because of the way she looked into the camera,like long ago she taught herself to belong there. I want to be more than what you call rica,she says and winks at me. I look off and smile. If you don't know how to be meanyou might be meaner than you think. One night I got neara borderland called Maniabut Homeland Security crammed the tunnel in my chest with a moon-thick reamof rain-stained music. Music like a mareblinking her eyes. My body sung songs that could never be mine. My body ached, tried. I ranaway and stayed 1,000 paces from their guard tower, crouched in the sugar caneGrandpa swore he'd never touch again, much less harvest. Now I understand: palliative careis what you give to what you know you love and what you know is dying. Each lie sweet creampoured fresh from our mouths, dollops left on one another's tongues, an ever-melting ice –lover leaving love, give up. Throw what's left in the skillet, boil the last box of rice,and teach the little ones how to use the macewe bought on sale at 7-11 for the medieval struggles around our neighborhood home. America,I'm not so much afraid to say the words I love you. I just don't want to be niceanymore, considering the bone-sick skies buried inside your ire. [End Page 1]
UNTIL I GET BACK
George Ford came up $10,000 dollars.
His Great War-veteran, chicken neck-wringing handsrelax, take the shape and weightof soft black marble, only when he reaches downto graze the ear of his grandson:doe-eyed and awestruck. A bud of simple violence.
Young grandpa George finesses a slim rollof ten crisp $1,000-dollar billsinto that child's wondrous hand—that child will becomemy father—and speaks low: hold thisuntil I get back. Charm. Confidence. The ceremony of the newgrandson and grandfather. Learning the quietof one another. Mid-century.
His gait a well-worn labor, fallen leaves,a slick flutter downthe smooth dip in the porch stairs
then road then gone.
I was born in the glintbetween them. That wordless achethat came late, spent, afterlife and the money.
My father as a child held impossible greenfor him, rolled tight as a sworn secret—a mute promise built into the blood—and there was no way for him to know,the man or the child,what is born of silence. [End Page 2]
AMERICAN BIRTHDEATH SEQUENCE
They stole my baby out the jailI never saw him againuntil I saw him everywhere—even all over your faceeven in you
It took white gravel, her shout, his brokenwrist, midnight, and two cigarettes to be ready to witnessthe world thrown in blue light.
Silence, hands, awareness, moons lifting my raw body then, my legsfalling out of the stone-muted room. Fearfelt right. Cavernous absence the color of my mind's
blank sky. My spirit tauton its hooked shadow, each cricket, each smattered
blade of grass tilted pastwickedness, when touch becomes a sickness— wind-frantic—
as frantic as the eyes (so many eyes) in competition for what
remains blood-colored, unsounded. Hiddenin a wood— [End Page 3]
Wait until you see it and you may never see it swell: embodied distance and soundgathering momentum from quake, debris, deeper cold human water. More motion beholden to time, it slaps the surface of you, carries whatever calls you homeaway with you, makes you flotsam with the tide. Muscles no longer matterto the body swallowing the body irreverent of light. Physical ragenot raging, but realizing; the way just enough ocean is prone to eclipse resistancethe way you know you won't be seen again, fragile, anonymous sud in the American undertow—one wet...