This Was Not a Candle Light Vigil

There were people from all over the world
there to protest at the Summit. I was

attending a lecture given by Vandana Shiva
about the crisis of water

in the 21st century. What she was saying was important,
and I was so thankful to hear what she was saying. Drums

were heard in the corridor outside the lecture hall. They kept
getting louder. All of the double doors of the room burst open

at the same time. People streamed in all the aisles. They all had red
shirts on holding candles and making gun shapes

with their hands. They were singing freedom songs
of Anti-Apartheid. My skin is white. I was young and naïve. At first,

I thought they knew I was
on the side of thoughtful and compassionate, but they didn’t notice

me at all. Everything is collateral damage to the cause. A riot
broke out. Outside the building, the South African

police were sounding. I stood still for only a second, noticing
the pregnant woman to my side. Then I ran faster than I ever have

in my life, got to watch the news about it later. The Indian woman
who was pregnant was recorded on video footage lifeless on a stretcher.


Things You Don’t Have to Read

It very honestly was horrifying. I was terrified
that this is the world we exist in. The convoy was heading
north on a red dirt road from Jo’burg

toward Limpopo. One of the vehicles had a blowout. The whole
parade had to stop. I am the only white woman in my bus/van thing

I was in with twenty unfamiliar faces. There was smoke rising
from the ground in every direction with trash and filth

as far as I could see. One of the men in charge came to
the vehicle and told us how dire the situation was. We had broken

down on top of a burning coal mine, the rubber tires will surely
start to blow more because of the heat, and it is illegal to walk on this

road. He instructed us to drink milk to clean the poison of the air
out of our lungs. This region was riddled with lung issues.

Tuberculosis. A Tutsi man, from Uganda, was seated next to me,
Beckar was his name. He gives me a glass bottle of yellow

milk. Said in an accent I didn’t understand, Drink, it
will help. At least you can

trick your mouth from coughing. I took the warm
milk. He asked me if I was scared. Indeed I was, so looking

down I told him so. I’ve heard the stories of what goes
on in this place, and I can’t understand it. But you are kind

and generous, thank you. He put his arm around me. We got on.
The tire was changed, then we proceeded in the direction of true horrors

that no fiction could make up.

Babies found in the smoking trash. Indentured
servitude. Total and complete destructions
to humanity all in the name of some guy’s profit.

Entire countries dying from indifference to human suffering.


A Moment’s Breath to Forget

Her arms are strong. Lifting the weight
off those around her: making chicken soup
for everyone sick in bed, sterilizing the house
after a nasty virus has whole families in its
clutches, kindly closing the door so no one sees
her suffer. Alone, leaning her back against
the wall, she slides down
to a squat with a quiver in her lip, weeks later,
or maybe it was years. You never can tell
when time is on its way.

Trashy Bitch Change-Up

So forgotten, or maybe forced
out of the mind—Chica doesn’t know how
they see her. She’s always blind
sighted, in some ways, by men’s behavior.
Her first memory of this was made
when she was a small child melting broken
crayons on the aluminum garbage can lid
beside of her family’s home. That was the day
home became more broken than any other word
she had learned in her short little life. Each fragment
of crayon changed from solid to a liquid grace
harmonizing each color swirling
in a pretty frenzy of broken
on that receptacle for unwanted things. Later, the word
garbage was thrown around as if had become her
name. Little white girl running with dogs
in every shade of human flesh,
having been predestined to read
markings left on trash cans. She has no means of self-
identification. Where does this road stop? Her dad said,
“Later. It’s your mother’s fault.” The family dog, Lady,
followed him into the metallic green Chevy Nova he promised
to her when she was old enough to drive. Slamming the door,
he didn’t look back. She never saw the car or the dog
again. His eyes offered no tears for his little girl
who dressed like a boy in an unconscious attempt
to give Daddy the son he wanted. That day he had
swore to show her how
to throw a curve ball. Chica never learned to pitch
any sort of ball. Indifference is a cruel
rule of order. Thirty years later, she still has no
car of her own. She’s out grown her baseball cleats
which sit quietly in a box marked “old
shit” her cat likes to sleep on.


Fullest Unfolding

Fly away. Spread my knees and open
the hips. Open hips are the trick. Just a few

more weary days, then I’ll fly away. Hands firmly

grasping the earth giving way to my mortal
skin, strong and sculpted, as I’m pointing

my toes: salutation of the sun. One leg is a reaching arrow

shooting straight in the air from the agile arch of my full
backbend ready to receive the bounty of breath.

Discretion of Indiscretions

Wasn’t… expecting myself in you, recognizing myself
and saying to myself: “Call me to come upon the earth
to continue your fights and your songs…”
~Pablo Neruda


You have to be interested in having your interest
caught, or the fish will pay no attention to your
lines. The fisherman told you so. Books can read like
flesh, but the scales can cause some slicing of the fingers
just like paper. Or if you so choose not to drop your line
in the lake, but instead you prefer an ocean of sunsets,
the book can be waves of passion
knocking on the walls so framed posters come
crashing on your heads making you laugh nervously.

Be Careful Latin Lover

Her inner peace comes from an ability to feel
alone in the middle of a crowd, so you want to take her

to Fajardo so she can see the bioluminescence of a bay,
that bay of living light. You want to show her that

a bay does not need its landscape defined by the word
Misery to have stunning sunsets, because the water

takes a life of its own when day’s done. Not even
the asesinatos are asesinatos, when they witness that beauty.