Home, Through the Muted Screen
My black bear dog sleeping all day long
Nestled in a corner of the kitchen,
Against the green leaves of potted plants,
Overgrown as window shades
To hide the heat of summer
Or glare of winter’s day.
Or is home a memory of days
With siblings running on the beach of waterfronts,
On boardwalks laughing, eating cotton candy,
Talking of our daily conquests?
Heat radiates through windows,
Warmth fills the sun drained dusty day.
The laughter of my daughter’s eyes
glitters miles away through computer graphics.
even as warm and fuzzy rays
Wrestle my despondent doldrums,
tussling the muted screen that wrangles fuddled images.
Yet suddenly, her singsong voice, her vale,
Her voluptuous vapor bantering
force me to forget my mundane life,
and she comes alive, splendor in that little box,
electronics transforming me into completion
at the sound and chatter of her song.
In answer to your Battle Lines
As I read your battle lines, I am consumed
by the loveliness of rhythm, sound, and lyric,
forgetting that words speak sorrow,
introspection and sometime hurt.
How can I trace the browns and whites of those ancestries,
the contour of your days and times of long ago
when you played as a child with other golliwogs and rag dolls,
laughing crying smiling growling,
yet inside all this time you were thinking about those battle lines inside you,
that deep brown cicatrix,
that darkness, that difference, that oddness that made you so you,
that made you so lovely?
Yet you did not see that,
you just stared at those deep tan lines
that sheltered your musky secret…
So I wonder now why I did not tell you.
I had my secret tan lines too,
my trouble with language with homeland
With people not accepting that I was
thinking something inside me
but I was saying something other,
that I was smiling bemused beaming happy,
yet I was black inside, hidden:
My sister Lupi always told me I was darkness.
She hated my poetry.
She loved its sway, its nuance.
She loathed it mostly because she said it was someone other
who wrote those words.
It was not the laughing me,
the me of the mischievous senses,
the telling marauder of tales,
the intoxicating bold entrancing eyes
wrapping entwined seductions of love songs,
but a dark somber other she did not know.
And I scared her.
I grasped that my terminologies had such effect on people;
My meanings caused loved ones so much pain.
Hence, I blocked even my most intimates from seeing my illusive missives,
my scrambled considerations,
and I wore my meditations on the inside,
much like your tan lines
that faded deep down into the reaches of your white.
Time passed on and I kept writing,
yet it became secretive, taboo,
a bleakness not meant for common girls,
not destined for thinking girls,
not intended for girls who wanted day-to-day fineries and wine.
Eventually I forced myself
—consciously and conspicuously— not to write.
At first it was hard.
It pained me when I would wake in the middle of the night
and I would scramble for that pen and paper
and scratch in darkness
words that poured out of me without thought,
but then I would stop myself and say
no, I cannot.
And as I would
and time wore onward,
it became easier,
just like your tan lines that faded
and you thought your “brown pushed deep within”.
Life continued and took on other meanings.
Literary musings gave way to baby bottles and scraped knees.
Those gave way to soccer games and coaches,
bassoon concerts and choir recitals,
all things teens and growing children do.
So I forgot all about my tan lines.
And my musings…
Until I read your own.
So now that I look back and read with loveliness
and dreams about your battle lines,
And though I grasp these tan lines will never leave you—
just as they never quite left me—
I do realize
they might become faded for some time.
They might show you the “boundaries of battle played out,”
they might even show you “where the sun has never lingered,”
but they will come back,
inescapably, unavoidably, undeniably
They will return because they have never left you.
And they will embrace you,
loveliness and deep,
because these battle lines are always there,
These tan lines are the permanent reminders
that we are not dark, but we are deep,
and we are, always, truly meaningful.
Being an academic not paid enough for my trouble, I wanted instead to do something that mattered: work with asylum seekers. I advocate for marginalized refugee families from Mexico and Central America. This labor is heart wrenching, yet satisfying. It is also quite humbling and has eased my own sense of displacement, being a child refugee, always trying to find home. In parallel, poetry is my escape: I have now published in Acentos Review, The Raving Press, Rigorous, Indolent Books, Chaleur Magazine, Memoir, Poxo Press, Chachalaca Review, The Evansville Review, K’in, the Laurel Review, Down in the Dirt magazine, Twist in Time, Selcouth Station Press in England, Fron//tera from Spain, Literary Yard in India, Cosmographia Books, the Watchung Review, and Black Mountain Press. I also have photography published in Acentos Review and the Bozalta Collective, digital photography with poetry at UC Davis, and art exhibits in NYC and Dallas, which include my sonnets and photography. Lastly, I have several more pieces upcoming in the next few months in various other journals. I hope you like my art; it is a catharsis from the cruelty yet ecstasy of my work. Through it, I keep tilting at windmills. Besos, not borders. This is her first feature on the Fictional Café.