When Fear Died In Honduras

alone in a shed
Honduras night en el campo
the countryside, half a mile from
others, people, mestizo
Spanish-speaking

the sound of my cot terrifies me
squeaking silence, my lockless shed
man after man, I imagine them
one bearded, one drunk, one twice my size
each coming through the door to kill me

fear, as my knees push into the cot
10pm, How long will I be afraid? I wonder
Will I stay up all night pondering my demise?
Will anyone hear me struggle, hear me die?
20 years old, not ready to go

but this goes on for forty minutes, maybe an hour
until finally
He’s not coming in, this fear
and if he does
I will kill him, or he will kill me.
simple
then fell sound asleep

What Is Football?

What is football?
days watching men collide
between beer commercials
hours spent, taken by
network television

What is football?
toss the pigskin, eat grilled meat
tailgate with chubby fans
wearing jerseys in parking lots
full of charcoal and puke

What is football?
weightlifting, combine, chalk lines
running 40 yard sprints
hands reaching out, cradling
touchdowns, drunk cheers and jeers

What is football?
sleep-deprived coaches studying
film, like planning D-Day’s invasion
toradol shots blocking pain to
endure injuries that linger lifelong

What is football?
bull in the ring, he got his bell rung
concussion, brain banging, cells dying
headaches, depression, careers over
hobbled husbands, broken bodies

Pontiac

my daughter already talks about the
car she wants an Audi, new, shiny
that her friends will admire like
her iPhone with apps that take
wrinkles out of faces in photos

I tell her about my maroon
dented station wagon, Pontiac
1986 Michigan-made to barely
last past puberty

I parked it with pride
my piece of remembering
that life is unreliable
always ready to
start then stop

blind to history my daughter
will never know the struggle of
driving a car that quit, gave up

for her they don’t exist
like rotary phones
like an indigenous name
turned into painted steel

Writing in Bed

exhaling visible emotion
ink onto page
alive each night if
only for these moments
toes touch sheets happy

the hours before are done
no more plodding through city
streets in laced up leather
free naked now
words moving across the page

composition notebook
indenting with cursive letters
pressing down, scribbled lines
fragments of thought
searching for truth night after night

sometimes finding things
like an old Hot Wheels car in
the sandbox, pull it out
examine chipped paint
try to recall when it was lost

describe what it looks like
loose front tire, red Camaro
“this is it,” I think
to reclaim, touch memory
unearth myself, the buried parts

Stream of Consciousness

Coming up blank, nothing here, finished Hillbilly Elegy, decent book, important message, but I find myself more drawn to the lyrical, the spiritual, the poetical, the not so logical words that dart around the page like a mouse in 3am’s bread drawer, that is me though, evader of the legal profession, where my sister and dad took constitutional refuge between the lines on the field, far from where I sit up in stars looking down on fireflies blinking in the long grass, with toads jumping into the pool when my grandma and grandpa are away-summer nights daydreaming about this, rearranging truth into fragments, run-ons like some kind of Kerouac adventure, Ginsberg howling out, making sense of the nonsensical, half-truths are what we grasp at, the beyond where life exists or we imagine it so.

My 9/11/01

the second tower went down
when I was in the car
heard disbelief, NPR like me
unable to stay calm, explaining
the before of white shirts waving for help
specks of humanity jumping out of windows
their hail hit while
I was eating my cereal flakes

at school, televisions on in every room
sirens rushing sound all over screens
the towers falling over and over again
repetition like practice, it happened, it happened

“what does this mean?” I asked my students
as if they knew
“we are going to war,” one said
he wasn’t wrong

I put my classroom flag out in the hall
duct taped it up for all to see
half-staff in my mind
everything in disarray
some TVs stayed on the whole day

kids asked the one teacher from Manhattan
who she knew there
almost excited to hear loss firsthand
like watching people on CNN
holding photos of sisters, mothers, dads
the missing
the forever gone

Termites

drywood, reddish
they swarm toward
warm light, winged sunbathers
wriggling in rays
then dead on the floor

more come each day
invisible, their home is
nowhere and everywhere
we live with them
they live with us

chewing our house
they must be
but all i see are
their bodies strewn about, then
sucked up by vacuum

they will all die
when the big tent comes
mobile gas chamber
insects
enemies