left boot sole

this year-long rattle in my heel, finally free

oh, little stone! where did you come from?

did you chip off a Czech cobblestone? A Parisian stair?

Maybe you found me outside that coffee shop in Boston.

There’s a streak of green on your side – is it Viennese?

Perhaps it’s Guilford moss, or from the walk in the woods around Oxshott.

you have walked with me, far,

I wish I could put you back.

Notes For a Speech (Amri Baraka)

“African blues
does not know me. Their steps, in sands
of their own
land. A country
in black & white, newspapers
blown down pavements
of the world. Does
not feel
what I am.

Strength

in the dream, an oblique
suckling of nerve, the wind
throws up sand, eyes
are something locked in
hate, of hate, of hate, to
walk abroad, they conduct
their deaths apart
from my own. Those
heads, I call
my “people.”

(And who are they. People. To concern

myself, ugly man. Who
you, to concern
the white flat stomachs
of maidens, inside houses
dying. Black. Peeled moon
light on my fingers
move under
her clothes. Where
is her husband. Black
words throw up sand
to eyes, fingers of
their private dead. Whose
soul, eyes, in sand. My color
is not theirs. Lighter, white man
talk. They shy away. My own
dead souls, my, so called
people. Africa
is a foreign place. You are
as any other sad man here
american.”

eye contact

sudden, unconventional family waiting for the bus

dripping rain on our luggages, 1am Chicago time. The pilot Matt (or was it Mack?)

says this is the first time he’s seen O’Hare like this. The woman in the red jacket agrees

and hugs her purse close. When the Country Inn shuttle pulls up, we rush

squeezing into seats, holding each other’s luggage and making room for standing.

Matt is the last one on. We bounce down the highway laughing, making jokes about

spring break and beer runs. “I need a drink!” people keep yelling as we pass

shady convenience stores. LIQUOR. BEER. CIGARETTES.

For these twenty minutes, we become best friends. I say something

and everyone laughs. The guy next to me makes a comeback. (Do they know

this is my only dream?) We pull up to the hotel’s automatic doors.

The round Texan man with a barbecue drawl lets me out first.

packed/storage: south jersey

tight chest & gleamy eyes

gaping out the window at some memories

which flow over the wide grasses

the flickering trees that flash by

as sunlight dapples, shades, twists

a hint of nostalgia, the recall

of something good. Spring has sprung

what can I fear? this is real, I think

or at least I was

loved here once

nostalgic wanderlust

I am homesick

for lengthy conversations with French Buddhists

on the sandy cliffs of Margao, where I got my nose pierced

January 2nd, 2011. I am lonely without

the tens of millions of silvery sand grains

which shimmered with the sea in the too-early moonlight

as we kicked amber beer bottles into the waves,

where they would float in, back, out…there I was

peace

finally understanding what the hippies were raving about

the wind carried my hair into the sky

and I walked into the ocean fearlessly,

looking great in my Sunday best.

Now I think I may have drowned there, three years past

I do not recognise me

gallery

weighted, wandering, I gaze at

each fleck of gold, caught in

the streaky colours that fill the walls,

carefully composed into chaos.

worries smile and crawl

out of my skin

curling up safe in a tiny triangle of green,

laying down in a perfectly shaped eye

grinning back at me.

They live there now, healed and happy

whenever i find this painting

I will also find them.

distanced hypothesizing

“poverty and death” said the classmate

self explanatory, the overused overwritten idea of something

never experienced completely known

to the point of cliche.

 –

I –  in whom these bitter texts

ring and resound like churchbells in my ribcage

painful, horrible truth

guilty of wealth, seeing that which is untouchably impoverished

– am incredulous that this hideous,

so close to my heart and home

is so easily exhausted when never encountered.

Reflections on Henry James

I can’t lie, I wasn’t intending to finish the assignment – reading Henry James’ novella Daisy Miller. After this long semester of pages and pages of readings, I was fairly worn out. However, in this case, the subject matter truly struck home, and I was captivated till the last sentence.

The story opens with a young English man, Winterbourne, as he meets an American girl, Daisy, in the city of Geneva. He is immediately taken with her, and she convinces him to meet her in Rome. Throughout their interaction in the book, there is this constant question – is she innocent and naive or manipulative and dangerous?

The cultural difference was key, in my mind. By the end I realized how I am both Daisy and Winterbourne – casually going about in foreign places with little idea of what is appropriate and simultaneously evaluating the actions of others based on my own experience.