I opened a window back to his world
A world of “I could be’s” and “maybe”
A world of prattling prayers and possibilities
That the “me” in the mirror could not yet see
Maybe I could be a Queen…that steals all the boys’ hearts
Maybe I could be a Queen…that’s completely off the charts
That zigs and zags every which way…just like they do in all the chess games
Maybe I could be a Queen…enthroned and scheming to fill her humdrum days
Maybe I could be a Queen…of riches…all of which, I’d give away
Maybe I could be a Queen…that trades her crown for love
Maybe I could be a Queen…that never bites her tongue
Maybe I could be a Queen…dipped in blood and hard as stone
Maybe I could be a Queen…armor-clad and barbed-wire bad…to the bone
Maybe I could be a Queen, a Queen and not a pawn
Maybe all my rights of manhood could be willed away…long-gone
Maybe I could be a Queen…a lion turned to lamb
Then maybe I remember…I already am.
I’ve always believed in magic. The kind of magic that allowed a little Spanish woman from Honduras, my grandmother, to divorce her ogre of a husband and single-handedly raise two daughters on a seamstress’ income in the United States of the 1970’s, despite only knowing limited conversational English.
I believe in the magic of making something from nothing, just as my grandmother did when she stretched each dollar to ensure that her two princesses were always well-educated, impeccably groomed and treated to those mainstays of American culture…ice cream, movie outings and hamburgers, every once in awhile.
I believe in the magic of supplication. Of asking for help and summoning assistance…be it from God…or one’s family…or one’s own inner reservoirs of untapped fortitude in order to endure the otherwise unendurable. I believe in the magic of family that supports one another in those times of great need, like my grand-uncle helped his sister those many years ago.
I believe in the magic of time travel, for when my grandmother tells me of those days, the past comes alive and through the windows of her eyes I can see every tear, every fear…every unyielding hope that brought her from there to here. I make that journey with her and know that magic exists.
I believe in the magic of filling a grandchild’s Paterson-poor holidays with a treasure trove of toys bought through scrimping, saving and layaway plans. In the magic of multicolored lights, popcorn tins, a glazed ham in the oven and the symphonic strains of friends and family swirling throughout the living room of a tiny third story apartment, stretching it beyond its limits and, for that day, transforming it into the grandest of palaces.
I believe in the magic of inheritance. For that same woman’s magical strength of will has been passed down from mother to daughter to me. I believe in the magic of the undying dream, which resulted in a much sought-after home for my mother and a much sought-after son for my aunt. I believe in the magic of the seemingly impossible and the magic of transmutation, for I became what I ought to have been through the same magic that’s swelled through the veins of three generations of my family’s women.
I believe in the magic of recording this for posterity’s sake, so that this magic never disappears from the world. I believe in the magic of sharing and the way that sharing can make ideas flourish and spread like ivy…so I share this fable, born of magic but grounded in truth with any and all who will listen. I share this magic with you.
I am a yellow thing
Not pink, nor blue
I’m pinned to these wings of mine
Just as claw is to crab
And pennies are to pinchers
I am a flutterer
Not hawk, nor dove
I can’t soar or fly
I just…flutter…on by
I do no wrong in this
One can’t be faulted
For a silk-spun birth
That is it’s own reward
I bridge the gap
The day and night
Beating yellow wings against the
Shifting rings of sky
Rising higher than the worm
Yet never flocking with the birds
I, enchanted disillusion,
Make a home amidst the flowers
A cascade of kaleidoscopic calm
And swirls about like pollen
These are the highest heights
A butterfly can reach
Within the floral rows
Of amber, peach and green
Here, where color, reigns supreme
A sea of primaries
Swells the city-streets
Narrow canals – blazing blue, roaring red, yelping yellow
Streamers and floats
Too proud not to gloat
And today at least, that’s okay
Flaunting and flouncing
Bouncing higher than sky-bound balloons
I march and I step
Pound the black pavement
On three-inch heels
Fanning myself in fawning frenzy
Dainty as a Chinese maid
As the road we traverse
Simmers and the sunbeams burst
My fanning picks up steam
I’m a monsoon now,
Riding a wave under the pyramidal slopes
Of my scarlet paper parasol
United under this umbrella
Vivid with verve,
Livid with nerve
Shielded from the reverb
Of those who don’t quite ‘get’
Folk who bleed rainbows
Folk who weep wonder
Bear becomes brethren,
Trans becomes trooper,
Nudist becomes neighbor,
Pride becomes all…
Together we walk, over and under,
The brightest umbrella
On a day without rain
It’s what I am, for it’s what I’ve proven myself…to be
Groomed myself…to ‘she’
Longing for that proclamation of justification
The feather kisses of a man who’ll never stray too far away
So I prune my legs like twin bonsais
Color and contour, pad and tuck, pull and strut
Swallow down these tiny purple pills
That grant new life, even as…they threaten death.
It is what we are
Neither hunters nor gatherers…but carriers
Of life, of secrets, of tiny miseries and shallow disasters
Of benedictions and curses, of light and of shadow
Of your story and mine
Woman, twice born
I love the furry little curve of my cat’s snow-capped feet
The way her fury and quiet rage erupt
As she hunts monsters made of string
Her icy aristocracy…
The laziness of her, the gracefulness of her
The slap-happy way she is oft to be found in
The tender lapping at a stream
Flowing from the kitchen sink
The way she shadows my every move
And the way I hope she will…for always.
It wells within me like so much love
A soapy-sweet feeling, clean and care-free
Like the bubbles children used to blow
It helps me battle Scylla
And steers me through Charybdis
I never knew a hermit at heart
Could be so beloved by Fortune
To be favored with the trade wind of your friendship
The breezy zephyr of our laughs
That echo every time we meet
The easy glide I step into
Walking at your side, mirroring your stride
The deep sea of memories
Washing ashore, lapping at our feet
Every…single…time we meet.
Not just a poem (by yours truly), but also a place you can wrap yourself in when the going gets tough.
This place smells “lime.”
7-Up and King Pine
Linoleum polished to lacquer-luster
Brightly colored parrots and feather dusters
Oriental dolls with pretty China faces
Fiber optic filament lamps with ornate bases
Coral-colored curtains with gilded glass tassels
Long nights and daydreams without any hassles
Spanish “serenatas” soaring through the air
Coming from a rich, dark oak record player
It is a room out of time
With a funky retro vibe
This place is carbonated,
Sparkling bubbles, neon signs
Disco balls, vintage wines
Diamond doorknobs and 60’s girl groups
Afros, hopscotch and pineapple juice
This place stays true to itself.
Loud and lovely; garish…glittery.
Bold and bubbly, eclectic and electric
This place can not join the fold
Like the origami cutouts
And conformist centerfolds.
This place is fringe and chandeliers
This place, above all, is sincere.
It’s in my heart, a state-of-mind
And mighty fine.
It will never be more or less
It’s nitty-gritty, at it’s best.
A shade of me
Forever mine to see.