Canvas of Words poems

Two original pieces written for Canvas of Words‘ event Preserving Our Roots, October 2014.

wild girl, you tell me you do not
believe in history
you want to be
as the greenest plants
as the brightest sunshine
you want to wander barefoot
even on the city streets
you want to write rumi
in sharpie
you want to believe.
sometimes, wild girl
you know it’s easier to
belong nowhere
rather than
because nowhere
doesn’t give you anything
to miss.
sweet child..
maybe you can’t find
your roots
because your roots
are in the sky.

wild girl, where did
you come from?
girl, this is where
you came from –
not DNA
or crooked timelines
but heart.
the heart
heaving with the arrow
the heart
spinning as the compass
the heart
igniting like
firework spark and
paper lantern –
i spent my whole life
in the same place..

killer queens ¬–
i can traverse
these streets
with eyes closed
peel back each layer
after layer
of memory,
staining my fingers
with the tart red blood
of my visions and dreams.
i pluck this arrow
from the heart of me
and thrust like dagger
into timeline –
the clouds come
pouring out.
the words come
pouring out.
my roots
are in the sky..

i am the daughter
of typewriters and paint cans
of astoria, LIC and my father’s land
i can’t talk without moving
my hands and i
want to feel
mama you were scared to have a voice
back then now your
voice bellows like sacred and dad
you smashed jaguars with the
same hands you now plant
flowers with.
is it any wonder i want to
crash this hourglass
on the sidewalks i cracked my
knees against
as a child
everything comes back
to those holy days.
the writer and the rebel,
my archetypes
converging here
like sunlight flashing down
through the tracks
of the “el.”

i am the daughter
of typewriters and paint cans
book-smart but
rock & roll –
the house on 14th street
where she watched by
the window
the dirt floor house
in polignano
where he was born.
this is my radius
my sustenance
my cage, my key
my first, my only
this neighborhood
where they met
this neighborhood
i just left
to chase
love into the arms of

you can take the girl
out of queens
but you can’t take
queens out of the –

wild girl, still you
where your
home is?
how it somehow
bumped out and down
through cracks
of ache in page margins..
spending all your
crying into hollows,
digging for beginnings,
sweet child, i
say again:
your roots
are in the sky.

and wherever you go –
promise me you’ll know
that home is not a place
it’s the people
who taught you to
turn that
to the clouds
and wish and dream and
hope as big
as the feeling
that put you here.

how many times
have they
opened up their
chests and
meant it?
told you from the day
of your birth,
no matter
where you go –

i love you
up to the sky.

wild girl –
is where
your heart is.
is where you will
always belong.

these are the last words i will
write about my mortal
this is what my ancestry
tells me.
you see i’ve had a lifelong
battle with gravity and when
you were
given the sky at birth
you expect nothing less.
the universe
speaks to me in metaphors
and when i bleed i
place my hands
over my heart
and turn golden.
this is what
my ancestry
tells me.
the boundless
is where i come from.
second star
to the right
horses busting through fences
the splintering
of the wood
their gallop
into the distance
the purity of
their wildness
is in me too.
i am not
from any place
on a map..
and once i feared
losing myself
but now i know
that’s impossible
once i feared
losing myself
but now i see
i am always
in flux.
the splintering
of the wood
the purity
of the intent
the push
that makes it real.
that is what
my ancestry tells me.
and when i bleed
my pain is
six-sided and
like the points
on a flake of snow.
i want to
go back
where i came from
but i am already
where i came from.
the cracks in the
edges of
petals of
a rose.
try to uproot me and
you’ll find
my roots
are in the sky.
don’t try
chase me
don’t try
dissuade me
from this power
i know
i came from.
“thou art that”
i am this
and these
are the last words
i will write about
my mortal life.
there is
only one
lineage and
it leads from
the tip of
my tongue to
the root of
my heart
and snakes up
like a glittering vine
curling around
the lotus
of the moon.
they told me
i could be anything
so for my next trick
i will be everything
by being
only one thing:
a burning
the center
of god’s chest.
i have the strength
to rise again.
this is what
my ancestry
tells me.

poets work is never done

A piece from a blog interview I was asked to write, responding to the question:

What colors do your ancestors speak in?

people who know me might have already expected this, but they speak to me in RAINBOW… red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet..

red like my dad’s favorite color. every year, easter eggs dyed faithfully in that color. fiery red like my dad, the aries. the battering ram.
orange like my costume in the 5th grade play that inspired my family to continue outfitting me in citrus. their support of me, cheering in the dark of my elementary school. the huge bouquet, even though i wasn’t the lead role.. orange like excitement of my first real theatre on the stage.
yellow like the sun flashing down from the tracks of the “el” on broadway in astoria. riding around in the back of the car, nose pressed to glass. double parking in front of parisi brothers for italian bread. yellow like my main drag, my home – no matter where i go..
green like my little sister’s eyes. and my eyes. the trees we laid under by the river, swaying. the two of us broken off from the world – wanting nothing more than to touch grass and climb trees. green like wildchildren.
blue like my mama’s eyes. ice crystal blue like true clarity – she makes sense when nothing else does. eyes that pierce with a knowing beyond this world.. blue like perfect snowflakes. christmas, her favorite season – the blessed day of her birth..
indigo like twilight, the shadows, and stars. all of us standing on the deck of the house upstate. family time we fight for as we grow older. we all have worries. obligations. stress. fears. but we stand together.. indigo like the night. pure like wishes for more.
violet like my nana, of course, my nana. the matriarch. the firecracker. the queen. the purple flower in my hair, the sassiness she gave me. violet like the bloom in my chest that never stops growing. never stops longing. never stops trying to live a thousand electric lifetimes in ONE, just like she did..

my ancestry is a rainbow – iridescent like the light that lends itself to memory.. warmth through the ache stretching back with burning, grateful, restless, wild fingers – to hold on through the storm, hold on to where you came from.. technicolor like the prism in my heart.

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