Prose Poetry Prose

and there silence was no more

Negative

What is a negative space? A spare room, a backlogged, forgotten, half-past yesterday, an outside of a paradigm, a mean word. It is the opposite of the paint colored lemon curd, or even that soothing gray with the even bump of newly paved road to San Fransisco, or Hawaii wanting to leave but nulled by a vacuous spare, trapped in forever blue. It is the no. Empathic. Repetitive. Exhausting whatever is left between two close walls in a small city out of nowhere in the middle of midwest, in wetlands, or tundras. It is the closed, locked, untouched door with a missing knob which no one cared to look for or fit something else in to. Because the answer is not that same shade where sunny days are born. Because it is not what you expect but continually presents itself like it is quo. But it is not. It is not. No, it is not.

Can’t Get Past that Color

I always believed in the good of people.

I meet them here and there and smile,

offering my hand of friendship, or advice,

or an encouragement because I believe

if you are nice, people can be nice back.

Sometimes, it is hard to hop to the idea

that people are nice because many times,

they can not see past the dark brown eyes,

and dark brown face, and dark brown arms

offering a hug, and offering a shadowed smile

with only the whites of my teeth showing.

Many times, just because people can not hear

the familiar regional accent they are used to

all their lives, people who talk like foreigners

or by reason of deduction or just by way of

outright rudeness of asking if they are from here,

are not worth listening to

because they are not from here.

Not of the same color.

Or not have watched the same

cartoons in their childhood, and have believed in

the same skewed mentality of the

systematized compartmentalization of people

sanctioned by the government every time

they are asked to check the box of which race one belongs to,

then what you have to say does not matter.

It does not matter not because they have nothing else to say.

Or they do not make sense,

but because they can’t get past the color.  

Oh, no. Not everyone means it. Some people do it

without thinking. Without being malicious

or coming across as mean. But they do.

The tone of voice can change from comfortable

to an enunciated sentence like they are talking

to a total ignoramus.

They do not talk to their kindergartener this way,

but they do to the Guatemalans,

to the Chinese, to the Mexicans, to the Filipinos,

or to the Vietnamese.

Not everyone thinks you can not get past

the entry-level jobs such as

the strawberry picker,

the potato chip sorter,

the grocer of ethnic wares,

or the mopper at the back of a dingy fast food place.

If you are lucky, you can open your own restaurant,

but only within the confines of your culture.

Because some can’t get past your color. 

I always believed people can be good, and decent, and kind.

But someone told me, this is not true.

Someone told me that you have

to work hard to be decent, to be good, to be kind.

It is sickly funny that these never come naturally.

What comes naturally are the things

that make people sad.

If we ask those who we think are different from us

about their struggles, their frustrations,

their challenges, we can be surprised that

we have so much in common.

Same goes with the color of the blood

beneath our different skins.

I think I heard this somewhere.

I have said it long enough that I believe in it,

just like the gullibility of my unwavering hope

that people can be good. But most are not.

It is a challenge to live in a life not my own.

Not in a pretending-to-be-other-than-me type of life,

but in a life of transplantation where this plant can never belong

even if it believes with all its heart to embrace the change, trying to produce seeds

always believing, always having that steadfast hope that

there is still good in people. 

Impeded

There are things she can say but won’t, can’t. A prodding refusal of a spilt cup. These are black things that are floating in her imagination like specks of dust only she can see. Only a view from her own narrowing perspective. Tunneling to a focus too hazy to pinpoint exactly. There are words waiting to be said. Passively turning into an over-active activity in her. Churning. But she won’t. Can’t. Refused to. How can she? When sages and owls, coo their mantras of “you are better than that”. Sometimes, these adages are her muzzle. Following the old road of silence, until the time passes. People forget. Others get trapped into wordlessness. There are message gaps in this world too wide to bridge by words. Widened by ignorance. Set by apathy. Condescended by words restrained into mere nods and false praises when the truth is not. Why are people afraid to hear what can be said? By the clock, building walls. Defeaning the constant rattle and pounding of facing the sometimes wild tide and sometimes gentle ebb. Why do they bleed so easily? Building gates and differences like the crisscrossed fence obscuring the other. There are things she can say but choose to write instead. In a whispered secret. In a frustrated act of yelling. Never really letting the sound out but it does. Silently imploding inside of her. Quietly wishing she can say what she wants but can’t.

Can’t.sleep.sisters

They always told their mother the sun was still up. They can’t sleep while it’s early. Can’t while the sloppy joes are warm slapped on a third eaten sammich and they laughed hysterically. Or chuckled in embarrassment at the melted half true cheese swinging on dirty, muddy colored noses. They dared not look at their father while he caught the days scores on nets and yellow calls interchanging between channels of fish and balls all in gibberish. Yes, somewhat in English.

They never told their mother of the dying moth under their beds in plastic bottles like caterpillars crawling on their pillows. Turning lights on and off. Carrying them in flight. In vivid reds and purple dreams. Or the scratching nameless critter that lived in walls, familiar in closets, miles between cabinets and pink night lights, managing to swish the breezeless taffeta hung from windows which welcome the sun light, or sunset, or the flickering street light. And. They never told their mother of the snickering and babbles and chuckles when all she wanted was for them to sleep.

If History Revised Itself

If history like a man who constantly  revised himself like marked paper, changed, completed, reorganized, then what are the lines that fill the many pages but imaginations. You are  history. A long gone song with a title I could not remember echoing within the vicinity of my mind but never fully there. Never arriving. Never leaving. A lingering, an itch, a once fluff over the slim ray escaping the half closed blind letting a little warmth but still blows cold. If the former becomes the crumbling mold of the curves and form that hug the idea of you, then what are the many paper cinders I hold in my hand that once held a certain content but never revealed marrow, nub, and truth. The many archives stacked, powdered in dust, unremembered become the notion that reside in a region roughly beyond my grasp. With verity, like man, history constantly changes his story.

While Watching The Play

the acting was fab,

staged, lighted, clear reverb, blocked,

faces, lined eyebrows.

did she unplug the iron?

there goes her last nicest shirt.

 

Day 11 Napowrimo: Tanka

Ah Yes, I Know Margaret Atwood

Ah yes, I know Margaret Atwood,

I can drop her name in conversations

I can quote her books, or are those just short stories,

I’m not so sure.

Who introduced us? He did.

That gray-bearded gentleman who sits in front of

me. He’s the guy who hates the red pen.

The reddest pen there is. But this is not

about him. It’s about Margie.

Yes Margie. That’s what I call her.

I don’t know if I can, she never

really said. But I call her Margie

anyway. I think I met her under a

hot summer’s day. Something like

lemonades, yes, cold, sweaty lemonades,

contemporary literature, essays, and

reading assignments. Nope, she was not

my prof. Neither was she a visiting

lecturer. The sky was blue. It never

gets blue in Ohio, all the time. So,

I remembered her name when we

met. She extended her left hand. Oh,

wait, is it the right hand you use to

shake hands? I can never tell. I

just smile and extended the opposite hand.

Sometimes, I look at my hand when I

shake people’s hand. How different our

skin tones are. But their fingers and my

fingers both write the same words.

Only, Margaret, err, Margie,

write hers in better order. And mine?

My stories are never any more linear

than this one. But I did meet Margie once.

Once. Through the byline of her book.

Now if only I can meet her in person.

Day 10 Napowrimo

Why Do We Write Poems At All?

As mysterious as that moment

when she looked back and

reread all her old poems

she cringed at the audacity

of the speaker who used the

word audacity for audacity’s sake

the pages crimped on corners,

the corners veined from crumpled use,

The words were, well…just words,

letters connected mirroring

her brain’s confused neurons

punctuations paused by semi colons

like the small struggles she goes

through every now and then

just like…you know…that time

when she was scared to look

herself in the eye because she

was too rude to people who never

really thought she was rude at all

they took one look. Head to toe.

Toes to head. And decided

just like the poem, it was not

worth reading one pause over.

 

For Day 9 Napowrimo

 

And then Roger Decides to Leave and Only his Voice in my Head Remains

All your life you listened to voices.

Vocal voices. Verbose. Written. Verbal.

Loud and soft.

If you pay attention to the person talking to you, you will hear past the words

they weave together to form an idea,

a question, a declaration, a nonsense.

They will tell you what they feel by the way their eyes slant

towards the corner when mentioning someone else’s name.

Or how the wrinkle deepens when they frown

or smile. Or the bland, blank look of somber air

like a pale leaf hanging on the last branches of the autumn tree.

But they will speak.

They will speak in words.

In voice. In a song. In silence.

In the many complicated fabric of the movies of their lives.

In the roads and bumps they acquire or choose.

Or the light yellow ray with which they surf on their happy times.

They are the wind that constantly howl.

They are the noise that keep you awake in the night.

They are the static that wouldn’t go away

from an old television from a neighbor who refuses to close his window

and you refuse to close yours.

They are insight.

Or shallow. Or gaping. Or philosophical.

But they are there.

Sometimes you hear yourself with them.

Sometimes you don’t.

Oftentimes you hear mostly them from a distance like a bad connection

from the storms that carry a thunder or two.

But they are there.

And you are here.

Listening.

 

NaPoWriMo Day 8: optional choice

 

Streets Full of Water. Please Advise.

Gram.
Madingram is 
a telegram. Someone 
sent it when they were mad.
Soulingram, a witless word indeed, 
comes with a soul. Callingram calls on you; 
he flew to Colorado as fast as he could. A poetry 
professor who professed his devotion to poetry like Petrarch 
who in turn discovered a stubby poetic form--although slightly longer 
than haikus and variations--said, "your poems should not contain the trite 
word". Soul. If then, why did you send me this telegram when I needed a 
Poem?

NaPoWriMo Day 7