Thursday, May 26, 2011

Es Mi Culpa

It is 10:00 in the morning in New York
But my watch says 4:00 in the afternoon
because it is 4:00 in Madrid.

This is my fault,
I know that,
trying to carve something
out of nothing,
trying to keep some part of it with me
because back here,
all the news is bad and
there are moneylenders
inside our temples.

The sun in Madrid doesn’t set
till 10 or even sometimes later,
when we waited at Finnegan’s.
Where the bartender told my friend
that my husband
has a good kind face.

I think it must be easier to fall in love
in Madrid, with it’s language and it’s laugh,
with the way she tosses her hair and says
excuse me and goodbye.
She hates Picasso and for that,
I love her with her sunglasses and her beer mug.

Maybe it is just that there is more time,
in Madrid, more time to sit and talk and be told
We are not Americans. More time to make them understand
why the poor choose leaders that abandon them.
Why the poor believe the lie. More time
to teach them dirty words in English and
learn them in Spanish.

Maybe time is slower there, a lazy winding river
so that when he pulls the waiter aside and
orders more beer,
we are saving second, minutes
we are keeping them in our pockets
we are storing them under our tongues.

And the days are not doorways
we pass through blindly,
they are things we eat and keep
and carry with us, onto that plane,
and over that ocean.
It is 4:00 pm in Madrid,
the sun is high
and it will stay that way
because I know that at 10
or even later
that sunset, better than any sunset
I have seen over Staten Island,
that sunset in Madrid,
will break your heart.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Flight to Madrid

This is the life we have written.
We chose carefully, drawing second by second,
as we move through the airport,
our luggage in hand,
our eye on the clock.

We stop for beers
and food. And then another beer.

We walk down the ramp,
our ticket scanned,
the flight attendant says
hello, with a wide smile
but she doesn’t look at us,
as we inch

and sit down, prepared for this journey.
This is the life we have written together.
The buckle snapped,
my water and journal with me.
We line up, the plane rolling for so long
I wonder aloud, are we driving there?
You smile, and take my hand

and then the worst part,
the speed and wobble and pressure
and I think to myself
most accidents happen during takeoff or landing
and then I try not to think about that.

This is the life we have written
and I say to no particular god
if it is going to happen, please
let it happen on the way home,
after I have already laid a hand on
the crumbling stone of an ancient church

after I have already tasted and drank
and kissed.
After I have laughed and talked for hours
with old friends, now real.
After I have already watched from
the train window that city leave me
and the country find me
after I have already climbed those stairs
and fallen into bed exhausted.
If it is going to happen,
let it be after,
I pray
to no particular god.
And no particular god
doesn’t answer
but later there is a hot sunrise
over so much blue ocean,
that I don’t care anymore
about anything else.
This is the life we have written.
What will happen next?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Christ, he said, I’m so sad.
So very sad.

And he’s right,
there will be no more
toasts, no more sitting
on the little hard stools
of Finnegans, his favorite
Irish pub in Madrid,
no more “What did you do today?”
as we tell him about
seeing Guernica
and the dibujos
madre con hijo muerto
and the one with horse,
his tongue like a dagger,

or when we went to Toledo
and told him about the winding streets
that belonged to el Greco,
how we got lost even with a map,
but found a little cerverceria and had a caƱa

or when we tried albondigas and drank wine
back at Cerverceria Alemana
where just days before we had all
sat outside,
our skin getting redder, our laughter getting louder
as Oscar grabbed the waiter and ordered another round.

Christ, I’m so sad, he says again, shaking his head.
I hug him and don’t want to let go.
This is goodbye.
Keep writing, he says, pointing at us,
before he walks through the gate
of the Biblioteca Nacional.
I watch him through the iron bars, his shoulders slumped,
his head down and think,
this can’t be it, this can’t be the end
before running down the sidewalk to the next gate,
and calling his name,
He looks up, a small sad smile,
Adios, I yell,
waving frantically,
because I don’t have any other words
because the ocean is about to stretch between us
Adios my friend.

Monday, May 23, 2011


-for Aida

She asks me to say the word again,
watching the way my tongue touches
the back of my teeth and then the pucker of lips
the open sigh, then the kiss again.


It’s my favorite English word,
she tells me, tucking her hair behind her ear.

It is late in Madrid, but still
early enough for more drinks.
We are standing on the street corner
as her boyfriend rolls a cigarette
ducks his head down to light it.

I love that word, she says again
and I think how much I love the word
love when she says it, the heavy A sound
as if here, on this side of the ocean, love is stronger,
something that will take hold of you
and drag you down.

Yes, let’s go, her boyfriend says, his teeth holding down
the thin paper cigarette and we cross
the street, weaving our way through the warm night.
I reach back,
taking my husband’s hand in mine.

Overhead there is a plane,
and I try not to think of the people,
seated in the little seats,
reading or sleeping,
covered in red blankets, their heads tilted
to the side,
so high above us,
that we four, on this street,
are only fiction to them,
only temporary
because I want this night
and this week
and these stories we have shared to last
much longer than I know they will.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Being Alive

This right here,
this is
everything I know about being alive.

You stack dishes, like luggage,
you lock doors,
you lean against them,
push to make sure they are closed.

One day your friend will die,
and it will leave you sad and weary
with thousands of tears still inside.

One day you will realize you never
got what you wanted

or you will get it
and that could be worse.

This is everything I know about being alive.

You will walk through Monday to Tuesday
and then it will happen again.
You will dream – those long late night dreams where the egg is in your hands
and the ocean spreads before you separating you from the land and you wait
on this little raft knowing the water is safe but you don’t climb in.

You will fight and talk,
you will hold hands and remember the hand of the man
you held 20 years ago
and then you will stop thinking of that.
You will remember the days that passed
and then try to forget them.

If you are lucky you will see another country,
or create something.
And then you will sit in the chapel,
waiting, your hands together,
waiting. The casket up front will shine, just a little.

This is everything I know about being alive.
Tomorrow I’ll tell everything I know about living.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bloody Ocean

It comes in buckets.
It comes in rainfall
dotting the sidewalk.

It comes in the tide,
the blood in the ocean.

It comes out of the faucet,
the tap,
out of the drinking fountains.

Our fingers and faces,
and also
their fingers and faces
stained pink
and red, the color of the desert sky
the color of the sun setting
over this broken city,
the color of starvation and hate
the color of the blood on the cross
in every clapboard church
in this country
and every temple in that
and every mosque in theirs,

and here
one more body
into the ocean,

a stone
a well

Monday, May 2, 2011

Turning Thirty Four

There is food in the pan,
and the smell fills the house,
making my stomach growl.

I walk barefoot
one foot in front of the other
down the hardwood floors

from the kitchen
to the living room
with you

and we remove clothes,
my mouth finding yours
our palms
come together
and apart

and together again.

The soul
tells a story
that no one sees,
the tale of
these two people

over time stretched like an equation
carried from point A to point B

Point A when I was only twenty,
an abstract thing and now

thirty four

the skin freckling, the arch of the foot,
growing flat.

Two people

Yes, over time.