Early Spring in Duncanville, Texas

        It started in death and in a way everything does. Around three weeks before my first week of law school, I was a witness to my Aunt Jodie’s will. The somber man in the glasses was the first attorney I met that I hadn’t worked for.
       I wondered how many expired dreams were sitting half-drafted in his briefcase. At one point, the corner of a page raised its hand as if to speak, but I imagined it was a groundhog. If the will saw its shadow, then I’d have six more weeks with Jodie, and, if not, then she’d have an early, eternal spring. Early spring sounded better. Early spring sounded temporary; I thought back to summers where I didn’t even notice spring had happened. I pretended death could be this sweet if it wanted to.
       Sitting next to Jodie, reminded me of my limited interactions with the landscape of Texas. I looked at her, and she was a field of bluebonnets. My parents used to thrust my sister and I into that light blue sea of blooms that undulated without wind every Easter. I’d sit there, eggs in tow, with a smile dripping like melted candy, while I waited for the camera to click so that I could bolt back to the car away from the bees. I never understood why you can’t see bees in bluebonnet photos until I saw Jodie that summer. Death was a bee lurking around her body, and Jodie had used her hand with fingers soft and encompassing like Texas night to swat at it once before. That time it flew away, and this time it lingered, but, like all the photographs of children frozen in bluebonnets, our eyes will never spot the bee. A desperate hum will brush our cheeks. We may giggle, cry, or run, but we won’t see it coming. I pictured a congregation of old mouths spitting out death like an empty sunflower seed shell onto to the concrete floor of a screened-in porch, while the goodness of life slid down their throats to be digested later. Meanwhile, outside of Dallas in some unnamed heaven, Jodie was standing stark and blue against the highway waiting to welcome the next generation of children (because I’m starting to believe that is what we all are until we die).
       On one of my visits, Jodie handed me a bag of frozen rhubarb. Ronnie’s family had come from Nebraska with homegrown rhubarb and he deserved a pie; my granny, I was told, would know the recipe. This is when I learned that death is intuitive like folding pie dough. You add enough flour until it looks right, roll it out thin enough, and bake it until it looks like life’s last sunset—you’ll know it when you see it. My grandmother’s hands had kneaded plenty of dough, but this one wouldn’t stop sticking to her fingers. None of us were ready to let her go. “Add more flour,” my grandmother barked, “and quit taking up so much room in the kitchen.” I forgot that baking was the business of birth, death, and anything we decide to celebrate in-between. I forgot that this pie would be the last one we would bake her. I forgot that this pie wasn’t even for her. I washed my hands, but didn’t change my clothes before we dropped off the little tin pan.

***Please read the rest of this piece at my new blog http://www.insidethecavalcade.com

Moving Day

I’m moving my blog. I needed a cleaner space as I start to put up more of my work and toy with starting an online lit mag. I migrated my current followers to the new blog site, but will probably continue to post simultaneously for a little while longer.

Thanks for reading!

Immortal Andalusia

	
Immortal Andalusia 

the peafowl
digging in the ground
soft, round bodies		
shifting the dirt around

“One died last year” 
when the weather fluctuated 
forty degrees 
(I immediately noted at least three barns; broken as they were, but well insulated—just like bodies in the south) 

the peafowl’s feather is important in Catholicism
the aspiring park ranger added something about Krishna
all while I flipped through the Flannery O’Connor’s Review 
anticipating the ghostly croon of the dead bird 
to accent the names of the contributing writers
all soft, round, and digging
in their chicken wire cage

What was I doing in Milledgeville? 
touching a dead mink, picking up a fifteen pound weight, 
and learning about mosquito hawks

	Flannery wouldn’t have done this
	she had wise blood

Mine was just rolling through 
thick mud
	like a cripple within me
	sauntering
	and drenched in sweat
never to decay like the flesh of a peafowl

Baltimore

	

Baltimore

Set him up
Box him

Bring him in for the right
	Bring him in for the right	
Syncopated grunts
	Clap 
	Clap
	Clap

We need that Floyd
Come on Floyd
	Last round
	We NEED that
You told ‘em
You told ‘em
When was the last time you told them? 
	He hit him every time
COME ON FLOYD
30 seconds bro
	He’s trying now
	He’s gonna get it
FLOYD knows boy

You ain’t get nothing
You ain’t ever got nothing
All your work, the whole world knows your name, and you got nothing. 


10
10 seconds
That’s game. 
\	Game time. 

If they fair
Hes got the W
Doing it the whole fight

Last five. Last Five
Canelo fight, 
Any number of nameless fights forgotten. 

ONLY FIGHT

The wait. It’s the most grueling in sports.
The evaluation. 
67 more punches

Pacquiao 
Was he there? 
PLAN--
Lost it when the fight started. Little flurries of punches scattered like snow were evaded and piled up in the ring. 

America sat. 
(That’s debt
That’s debt)


148 punches. NO WAY 
Crown me
CROWN ME
HE YELLED IT AT ME

I got a bone to pick
DON’T CHEAT US
Still undefeated.	
(I swear I heard STILL I RISE)

Children screamed,
Bets were won, and 
Tavaris lost his shirt; black jesus-- arms spread in my library
	(When did his shirt come off?)
Hugs round. You with FLOYD?
YOU WITH FLOYD
Unanimous 
STILL UNDEFEATED 
He had moments in the fight
I had myself in the pocket
	Tough competitor, my dad, my dad
But Pacquiao too

I never wanted to win a fight as bad as this fight

Was it worth the wait?

When the history book is written world champion

Most likely a good party later tonight. 
Thanks for being here.

Wipe off the mat
(clean the streets)
Tomorrow they’ll say
Mayweather didn’t come to fight and Pacquiao wasn’t aggressive enough. 
The New York Times will ask if boxing is too violent for this day and age. Again. 
And the rest of the no-name boxers are keeping time with their ropes
waiting for the ring to tell us who won. 


	


The Tattletale

	

The Tattletale

My mother told me money
	should be spent, but wisely

My father told me money
	should be saved 
	--unless you need gas, 
	then it is just as expensive 
	to drive on the top half of the tank
	as it is to drive on the bottom half

My uncle told me
	don’t talk to that boy

My sister said
	talk to that boy 
	--but don’t tell mom and dad

My friends said
	talk to that boy and that other one too, 
	climb this tree, 
	share my wine, 
	and remember that time….

My grandmother yelled 
	she’d clean my mouth out
	(and she did, my sister too, that saint)
	
My grandfather was silent 
	but he’d hand me a tin can of Copenhagen to pack
	before his fingers would ruin my work
	tap, tap, tap, rummage, chew, spit
	(worm dirt—someday I will join you)

My new grandma
	asked me why she was surrounded by old people
	in a home 
	for old people
	and then told me not to forget real music

My other grandpa
	probably asked me how the price of corn was shaping up this quarter
	and then reminded me that successful careers can be forged by dumb luck 

My niece told me
	she’d be right back
	--to be patient
	and hold her stuffed animals

A drifter told me
	women don’t look real anymore
	(I’m still not sure if I was excluded or included in his manifesto)

Macon assured me
	that if I “made it” as an artist  
	they would be my fertile crescent
        --at least they did it for Otis Redding

Atlanta told me 
	to move to California
	I belong there
	(not knowing that California is tired of being the jagged coast of longing) 

Rabun Gap told me
	that whenever I’m ready to settle down
	its hills were waiting for me

And that man in Rabun 
	called me, born of Midwestern plain
	coated in rust red dirt,
	City Girl

That boy informed me
	we were falling for each other
	and ran before I replied
	(an old man told me to think before I speak)

The universe told me
	hang tight
	you are tiny
	I swallowed you whole before anyone knew you would exist
	
but 
No One told me  
	where the good luck went
and I often 
	think 
	at night
	it keeps them up too

	


Gordon

	

GORDON
I.	

You picked yourself bald
	little tufts
	of
	grey
vibrant patches of green

and I could picture sitting down 
and resting in those patches
walking across a volcanic ash bald spot and never noticing the difference
	just observing the changes in the landscape of your skin
	as you cling tightly to a bulbous nosed Santa doll 
	in a Tupperware box
	
	flapping aimlessly, frantically
	and then settling in 
	gripping the edges 
	determined to pick at the seams of life 
wherever you saw them
	--couches and blinds, goddammuht 
leaving nothing but shards for the rest of us
as you squabble on the perch
humming and tapping some unrecognizable rhythm
	
naked in the soul of things

II.

I imagine five years of peace
under the influence of tide, wind, and sand
where seasons leaked and screeched forward like a bat 
curling into winged cocoons and hanging from your bedroom window
(and that isn’t how I choose to see you—like the way we pick out a beautiful feature on an ugly face and
	focus on it
until the entire face is transformed; that is how you are)

heaven, hell, and the blues
vast and whole
punctuated by clucks

gentle clucks
angry clucks
a coop of night enveloped by chicken wire
	the volatility of the sound that binds you
escaping and occupying the space that silence once used to stretch its legs
where the resounding flap of your wings 
bounced abstractly
	like jazz
down the sidewalk
	--concrete and reverie goddammuht
	dropping like feathers
	as I drip into the down of you

	naked in the soul of things
	   
III. 

I saw you in New York City 
on the shoulder of the bull
surrounded by awestruck, swollen feet
with the non-tourists barreling through the crowd

they were more likely to notice you 
but they didn’t 
because the city had taught them that pigeons and tourists were all the same
	more obstacles in the landscape of their lives
	petrified trees pliable, sweet, and brittle breaking through the black slush  
I hear you stayed there

you found a woman through a window in the Bronx
who left day old bread on her porch 

you were on your way to Canada 
when you saw
a blush of daffodil yellow light up the brick
and you flew that way instead

you clung to the railing waiting to see another bloom of that light
(you’d grown out of couches, blinds, concrete, and reverie)
you heard a plate smash 
and a cry that joined the sound of the city subtly 
like the break of dawn 
into the hands of men like communion wafers
saturated with tears that fell onto cornflower blue china

a loose yellow ribbon letting her hair fall like curtains over the scene
	you rested your wings
	she tied up her hair and swept the dishes
	
	she turned the knob on the radio
	her finches bobbed along stupidly in their cage
        as your green wings flapped against the window

naked in the soul of things

the city dropped like a yoyo suspended from a strand of gold dangling from your beak
	
	naked
	and 
	in the soul
	of Everything

as the finches bobbed stupidly along