Robbery

I drink coffee,
A little girl screams.
I walk to the balcony
To peer over the street
In either a wave of humanity
Or morbid curiosity.
It’s difficult to know
In the moment. She is
running with red hair
Like fire behind her, echoing.
Behind her a woman walks,
Hair colorless, with a
Grocery bag and a gait that is
Too calm for the situation.
She confers with the downstairs
Neighbor while the girl disappears
Out of sight. And this is how
Violence passes, unseen and
Ever present.

Conde de Bonfim

I feel like a ghost, my
Presence is acknowledged yet
Contested. In conversation,
Words grow like mushrooms
In my mouth and I am helpless
Like a child, eyes wide in anger
Rage-biting fear.

So many words choked in my
Throat, my tongue swells, and
The explosion comes. In English.
Against the wind. Against the
Battle cry of my own beating heart
That sweats in the hot sun,
Wondering if veins are like
Portable roots. It is not culture
Shock so much as withdrawal.

Pater/Son

We are all drawn to Paterson
In the eternal dance between
Father and son
Baptized and blessed under
Electric waterfalls
Time doesn’t move but
We age slowly
Buildings crumble and fall
Like skeletons the
Skin of this city peeling
Unknowingly
I would burrow into the
Silken history of
Hard work and calloused hands
But there are things to do
And there are suns to set
And there is no place
For us here

Culture Shock

And in a rush a
Lifetime of loss rushes over me
Flooding my body
With the excessive echoes of ghosts
Convulsing in the sorrow of memories
That never existed
I swam here
Over saltwater oceans of tears
Nearly drowned and still
Nothing sits before me
Nothing changes on the waves
Of loneliness
In isolation we face
The emptiness of our
Deepest selves
With both wonder and cowardice