{You Are}

You are a two-legged creature
with ten toes, ten fingers, two eyes.
You live on a solid sphere
of churned-up chemicals – a miracle.
You can walk and talk and feel pain
and love others – a miracle.
Your existence changes my life,
I promise it is more than physics.
Your energy radiates in you
and off of you.
You are a miracle spilling forth
from God’s hands, rising
like a frightened bird –
but, my dear,
there is no reason
to panic.

{don’t build walls}

instead of building walls
I built a bridge

I strung together
words
as a rope
wrapping each
tight around
the next

I laid poems
as a path
resting on my words

I laced together
my cries of
hopelessness
as a railing

I built my bridge
strong

strong
so I could
walk over it

strong
so my thoughts
would stretch
and hold

strong
so my ideas
would hold
steady

strong
so my pain
would hold me back
from the empty
void
beneath

strong so I would not
falter
as I walked
the bridge
that spans
the space
between my heart
and the world

{caged bird}

music begins to play
I close my eyes

I feel
the chords
notes
and beats

echoing
and bouncing

off the cavernous
painted
ceilings of my heart

windows open

the music
pulling in
the purifying
sunlight

fresh air
pours in
brushing the dust
off the unused furniture

the lock on the door
clicks
heavy mahogany weight
swings on its hinges

wind blows through the room
reaching into the corners
lifting the curtains

and then
a piece of heavy cream cloth
falls with a
whoosh
to the polished wooden floors

and revealed
is a large bronze
cage
the catch unlocks
and the door opens

inside
sits a small bird
colorful
with a long tail

she opens her wings
her body lifting off the perch

carefully
she flies out of the hatch
into the room
and lands on the windowsill

her wings
flutter into place
at her sides

her tail feathers glimmer
in the light
while she pauses

her wings stretch out
and once again
she takes off

flying to the
sound of music

the chords
notes
and beats
of the free

{Thoughts in an Airport}

A chef passes
Grey apron, white slacks,
Saying, “Hallo, hallo?”
Into his phone

A woman in tight white pants
Yellow high tops
Rolling a floral suitcase

A bearded fellow
Blank expression, hiking boots
Wearing a large blue backpack

An older woman with a hijab
Twins at her side
Matching
Hopping along

A blond haired woman
Wearing high waisted boot cut jeans
A white crop top
Looking harried

A dark haired man
Wearing a wrinkled checkered shirt
Arms folded
Looking serious

A woman with dark hair
Pinned up eighties style
In a tracksuit

A teenage boy
In shorts
Kicking a soccer ball
Holding a phone in one hand

A young boy pushing a
Luggage cart
Animatedly and dangerously

A woman wrapped
In expansive patterned fabric
Holding a bundle of peacock feathers
Over her shoulder

A woman in a jumpsuit covered
In neon flower prints
Wearing white platform shoes
Carrying a stretched shopping bag

A man wearing a shirt that says
Ain’t no time for shaving
Jean capris

Towing a daughter wearing
A striped shirt
Bouncing along

A toddler
Losing track of his steps
Following his mom

A tall black man
With clunky boots
A big black backpack
Wearing an
Elmo t-shirt

I used to wonder why humans are so scared
Of people who do not look like them.
And yet, I sit with my back against the wall,
Eyes shifting and darting towards the people rushing
In front of me and I am scared.

They are not predictable.
My brain has become – is taught to be –
Scared of the unpredictable,
The uncontrollable.

I refuse, I say to myself,
I refuse to take part in the fear.
So even as

The man in black skinny jeans
A purple shirt
And a black backpack
Walks by a little close

I do not pull my knees to my chest
I do not avert my eyes
Instead
I smile.

Why I Write by Hand

I am a big proponent of physically writing words on paper with a pen but I cannot hide from you that I haven’t always been. There was a time, for about two years, that I wrote a lot on my iPod. It was almost always handy and I enjoyed the flexibility of just carrying my iPod. I was able to write down reminders, notes, and scraps of poetry. Eventually, however, I was urged by multiple external forces and the internal force of sentimentality to buy a notebook. I am now the proud owner of a green faux leather notebook with unlined pages and too many bookmarks.

I can tell you a few things that I love about writing in a notebook.

  1. Hopefully, one day, someone I love can find my notebook, run their fingers over the penned poems and scrambled markings, marvel at the fact that my hand was in the very place theirs is now. Needless to say, this is the sentimentality that drove me to the bookshop for the book. I still believe, however, that it is not a ridiculous sentiment. I hope to leave behind me, in this technological age, more than used memory in a device. I hope I can impart something physical to my ancestors.
  2. Words are not nearly as easy to get rid of in my notebook. Once I pen those words in, they remain. I may mark over them, but then the markings tell me that I was ashamed of the words, or I found better ones, or they were unnecessary. Whatever the case may be, the legacy of the words is infinite.
    1. Computer geeks will tell me that anything I write online is never truly gone, and I would agree. They are however much harder to find and their trail is easily erased. If I delete a word on my iPod, I will never again know what it was.
  3. Creativity is much simpler on a piece of blank paper. From a purely poetic point of view, my scope is much wider. I can make my poem look like I want it to look much easier. I can space my words without the red underlining marring the page. From a more artistic perspective, I like to think that everything on the page surrounding my poem is part of the poem. If I had to pause in the middle of the line to scribble while I thought, that was part of the process. That is missed without the blank page.
  4. Joan Didion says of her notebook-keeping habits, “Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it?” I write also to remember. And more than just the words, I want to remember the whole situation and the way I write the words is important to that. What color pen is it? Blue, black, purple? Is it sideways, messy or neat? Big, small, scrawled? Tear stained or shaky? This is something only I can know but it is something I want to know.

I am not endowed with enough authority to tell you that writing by hand is the only way to do it – but I can tell you that I have loved it and cannot imagine doing it another way.