T’nalak

Beyond textile, a translation.

Spirit dreams.
Turn left,
here.
I saw-heard it,
this pattern I’m rendering
with my hands
still asleep
still receiving
messages from the other side
the opposite end of the well
that had blessed
my womb
and that of my mother.
My mind-feet sleep-weaving,
still walking towards
that place I’ve seen,
been shown by someone I
recognized from another world,
friend of my ancestors,
or maybe the protector
and benefactor of Lake Sebu,
or maybe my future daughter
who would touch the red
and black dyes long after
the hemp fibers have dried,
and retrace the steps
my mind-feet are now taking.
It is possible to inherit
memory, to tuck instructions
into the blood. My people
have found a non-violent
way to fight extinction: we
write our lives in cloth in
an alphabet that can’t be taught.
Sacred interpretations next
to your skin, that you
take off like the night.
You will own a part of me
and the soul-map that made me.
Here in the weft of the abacá
that is second nature to
my callused hands, the same
hands that farmed the dirt
for food, caressed flesh
to profess my love, here
among the fever shapes,
a union and a death
and the melody of being.
It will have the teeth marks
of my yet unborn daughter.
My family has thanked the spirits
for you, for the visions that
will spur your pursuit of
that place that has no name.
You have your own mountain,
your own war, your state
of unrest. This shall be
your benediction, your passage
into the room from where
that unnamed song you hear-see
is coming. Circle of gold
cinching the waist of
the muse at dawn.
Edges that survived the fire.
And a history that
takes no sides.

Young Woman at the Met Cloisters, NYC

The light frames your face
just so, chiaroscuro of
soft sunlight and remembering
dyeing the strands of your hair
with touches of persimmon,
diffusing into the unaltered
sky behind you.
There’s a hierarchy to things,
much like the crossing
of colors as messages
through a photograph:
honesty before war, perhaps,
the rising of the tide
before the nakedness.
I don’t assume you walked
across all those years unscathed,
though the feathers you shed
from becoming to being
found the right stones
on the worn path
to nestle between.
Ballet shoes and an autumnal
beholdenness to horses,
felt-tipped hours drawn
on a digital map,
X marks the spot.
It defines you by not
entirely missing you,
as does the afternoon gold
over your left shoulder,
the world on the precipice of
either revelation or ruin
held at bay by your
intelligent eyes.

A Syllabus of Our Virtues

Give me some space
for my thoughts to be
right or wrong
give me some time
to know what I’ve chosen
you call me sister
but I can’t breathe
you’re too close to my process
your morality is secondhand
and airtight with artifice
and I can’t move too well
in this tiny space
you have permitted for me
to ask questions
well I have some that might
make you uncomfortable

like do you care about the truth
or just the parts that fit
the narrative you’ve constructed,
like do you feel weak
sometimes, and grateful
for being little
and not having all the answers,
like do you ever wonder if you
were capable of a greater love
just removing the labels
and finding strength
in the contradictions

like can you maybe hold off
on talks about heaven and hell
for one hot minute
to recognize the gray sky
is streaked with the blood
of rogue realities
and the freezing rain knows
the taste of all our sins

you call me your sister
but all your songs are so
perfectly sung there are no
riffs for me to call my own,
for me to become truly human
so you can forgive me
instead of judge me
for what I’ve done

You Miracle

It’s OK if you don’t find it right away,
the bridge that allows that song
you’ve carried as a temporary response
to the hunger, to cross over to that
coveted beauty that in the brutally
truthful nights only appear as illusion.

It’s OK that you’re clothed in an
undistilled kindness, one that doesn’t
really protect you from the rain,
that there are more words out there
your faith finds abrasive than there
are words that make the flowers grow.

It’s OK because there is fertile earth
in the spaces between the immovable
and the irreversible, because among
the burnt offerings, torn letters,
and the cheap cliché of tears
broken down by living, sincere living,
there is enough salt and sadness and
soul and serendipity and softness for you
to happen, and the chorus at the pit of
your stomach will sing itself, and the
words will carry things closer to their
rightful places: asking to awakening,
believing to being, island to intuition.
To indomitability.

The Young and Eccentric Sun

I don’t want to be
that negotiation,
that yin and yang
with clean-cut edges
of life arriving
in increments

I don’t want to be
that symmetry
of knowing and undoing,
the landscape where
the tamed madness of
the sky flatlines
and it’s taboo to elect
innocence over jadedness

for I do not love to fall
within the bell curve,
I love that outlier love,
that spike in the stats love

and I dream in exceptions

I am an exponent
of a past life

give me a destiny
sealed with omniscience
as the sum of my choices
but with a little corner stage
and a blank page
to accommodate
an ad-libbed springtime,
an uncontrived connection
with another lost soul
who is friends with the thesaurus
and eats bebop for breakfast

turn me into
a radioactive verse
that rips through
the concrete monochrome,
pulls up the blinds and
stumbles on greatness
like a drunk in the rain

devil’s advocating
in concentrated doses
to expose the purity
of your truth,
of every truth

I’d like to
yarn-bomb the status quo,
seduce wildfires and become
the swirling, unpredictable
passion of desert storms,

the oblation,
the second wife of reason,
the spontaneous dance aboard
the train to revolution,
the badass ending
and the clamorous call
for encore

Righteous Indignation and her Long, Dark Hair

Like a phosphorescence,
locus of commuted light-
ness, ruth and raw instinct
spreading their legs
to freedom,
…….giving birth to power.

A starved medium being
methodically claimed
by the radiance of
the unmistakable.

They tell me the resistance
is female, and of that
I have no doubt.
Compassion is a dress
of heirloom roses
with all the thorns
turned inward;
revolution is equal
parts amniotic water
and blood.

There are dominant,
delicate theses
in those voices—
dreams aborted
from unslept sleep,
burdens of loneliness,
maternal roar.
You won’t get apologies
from the curve of
those hips, nor
from the throttling
of the status quo.

As in phosphorescence,
the rage is luminous
because it used to
be forbidden.
Give it time and
the justice arbitrated
in the streets will
feel like home.