Sylvia

Dirt roads make a lot of noise
On dry days
I always feel like a giant
Moving the earth with each step
But no one ever hurries away
It used to startle me when I was younger

I move through the playground of the old school
Like it is a maze
I hate them when they are so empty
I can almost see children from the past
Staring like empty shadows
You can almost hear them yelling

Down the hall
Here’s where you feel like
A giant
Paintings along the walls
Shoes echoing
It’s almost like a hospital
Only different
It doesn’t feel sterile
It feels like something else
A thousand shadows ….

Through the door
And there she is
Sitting
On her knees
A little girl
What’s her name ?
Damn I wrote it down
What was it
Started with an s…
Rachael ? Carol ?
Sylvia …that’s it.
She’s looking at national geographic
Suddenly I feel old
Very old
And very tired
I’m only 25
I’ve worked with the president
I’ve worked with the media
I’ve seen the war
Now
I’m seeing a little girl
That I’ve been looking for
For three months
And I feel old ….

I sit down
She brushes her hair out of her face
And turns the page
It has elephants
She looks up at me
Only when I ask her if she likes elephants
“They’re my favorite “
She says
And I see her brown eyes
But they feel grey

I see the American flag outside waving
I look at her
It’s a good day for September
But it feels hollow
My name is John
I like tigers
And rabbits
I don’t know why …
They’re pretty cool though

I sit down beside her and start drawing
Inside the book

How’s your day going?

She stops
And looks at me
Shrugs her shoulders
“Not so good…I cried earlier”

What made you cry?
I ask

“The flag”

Was it when you were saying the pledge?

She looks at the elephants

“Yeah I guess it was…”

It’s ok…you can talk about it …
What happened then?

” I saw soldiers
And a fence
And I couldn’t breathe
And then I woke up”

Mr shepherd!!
A woman’s voice brought me back
She’s tall
And sharp
And her voice has far too much
Energy in it
But she acts like she’s calm
And tilts her head
And touches her chin when she talks
“You can’t be in here! You were not permitted to be in here!”

“I have to go
But I want to play again
Sometime
Could I stop by ?
Talk some more?
Maybe there’s vampires or something else?”

“Yeah I guess so …”
She stops
And then takes a deep breath
Crinkles her nose with a look
Of determination
“And could you bring a book
Your favorite one?”

I smile
“Yeah I can do that,Sylvia”

Sunday

It’s after church
And I can hear my best friend
Carol saying something
About how religion isn’t anything
But a crutch
And we all came from nothing
And it gets on her nerves
This doesn’t bother me though
I’m used to it
I’ve been in church
I’ve seen people praying in tongues
I’ve seen my grandfather handle snakes
I personally don’t care to handle either
I think it’s very personal
A relationship with God is personal
Or at least mine is …
I don’t know
I doubt myself a lot
So what do I know

I’m thinking
As I watch Sylvia’s family leave the service
And I look over at the flag

And Carol says something
“You can’t
Write this you know…
They’ll hang you for it…
Aren’t you afraid?”

I looked at her
And for the first time in a long time
I didn’t feel anything
“Maybe I’m more afraid of what happens if I don’t write it…”

So I’m typing
The story of Sylvia
And how
150,000 families
Were
Taken by american troops
To 10 american enternment
Camps in the furthest corners
And most remote regions of the
Country
Without due process
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the deportation and incarceration with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942,
For any and all people
with Japanese ancestry to be excluded
From the entire west coast.

I’m typing about how she saw the American flag every morning
From the inside of a fence
And said the pledge
“With Liberty and justice for all”
I’m typing
About how this nation
Is only as good as the good men and women who put feet to the fire
I’m typing about how it is as bad
And fallible as these same people
We are flawed

This is the story of Sylvia
One of
The last American girl’s
She sees vampires
In playgrounds
And talks to the antichrist
Over lunch
She sees shadows of elephants
Outside her room
She’s a little girl who saw
Her flag from the inside of a fence …
Until 1946

I’m typing
Because I’m more afraid
Of what happens if I don’t

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Censored

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you’re
A book
At my door step
Bearing
a
Capitol S
I have the bruises on my skin
Where you had words
Left better unsaid
They are my favorite
Held breath …
I want to take you slowly
feel your danger
I want to read you from
The inside
highlight
Each page
where you’re coming apart

And if it’s getting colder …
I’ll bring you to the fire
Till the sweat runs
And
We’ll start over again

Circle

There’s a room
At the end of the world
Where your dreams
Go to rest until
You sleep again…
There’s a space
Without a void
And in there
We walk until we soar
There’s a star
Without a name
That hasn’t been discovered yet
There’s an ideal
Of what and when and how it’s been
But we will never be here again

The Journalist

Kathryn stood in the garage
Looking at all the old books
In boxes
One bright yellow one caught her attention
Pulling it out …
National Geographic
She suddenly remembered
Sitting in the center
Of the classroom
Turning pages
Of old National Geographic’s
Dated 1910 or more …
This was her favorite part of the day
Miss Day allowed all her students
To look at any book in her room
And she took full advantage
Of every shelf lining the wall
Some books only had black and white pictures they were so old …
On her birthday
Miss Day gave her
A teacup
And told her she was the only student
Who ever read any of the books…

Now here she was
Working for an newspaper
And going through
Someone’s garage ….
She sat down and started turning
Pages …

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Something good

Christmas
Christmas music
Old Movies
Binge watching your favorite shows

All those charities that give you food
And clothing
(I was that kid many times growing up
So if you ever gave a dollar to the guy ringing the bell at Walmart
Thank you )

Cooking for more than yourself
Discovering gelato
It really is better than ice cream
Being with people you love
Doing absolutely nothing together
Going out
So you can come back in
And do more of nothing together

Trying a new wine
Book stores
Typewriters
Letters
Good morning texts
Late night kisses
And that’s just a few

Origins

1
Someone wrote
Israel was better off without a Jew
And I thought about
How we try to write
Profound things
And we try to turn
Pain and blood and ash
Into poetry

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Steve Schapiro
The Worst is Yet to Come, New York, c. 1968

2
I want to write simple things
Because I’m tired of the way we
Create new things
I’m tired of the way we collect
I don’t see star dust
In my skin
That’s the thing
I see ash …
I’m ready to grow old
I’m ready to do nothing
I’m ready to sleep
3
Someone once wrote
That artist just want to be seen
They want to feel safe
And I would have to agree
Safe
Is a very good thing
Free to express
And even just – be
I think we all
Are slowly becoming un-young
And we need safe people
4
I can have very dark
Water
Running deep inside me
I can have fire in my eyes
I can be silent
And I can speak …
She has so much soul
Burning like iron
In her blood
I love her
In a way
That I don’t even
Can’t even…
She see’s me
That’s all I know

The Astronaut’s Wife #3

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Origin (unknown)

Log 2055
Day (1000)
There are no more
Planets
There is only
Blackness
Here at the edge of space
Has time ….reversed itself?
Is space closing in on itself?
There is a darkness to space
That connects to your humanness
I made a connection
On our last planet
They actually asked about us
They had deduced us
To ash
Merely archaic and crass …

There is a room
In my dreams
It’s always closed

I think I should open it
I feel like I have the key
K,I need to know what to do….

Present

The screen flashes
It’s projection
Shining
In my eyes
And I can see her
Sitting at the table
Drumming her fingers
And looking
At me in that very content
But indifferent manner
And I know
Inside what she’s going to say
She did this while we were dating
She did this in college
I’ve seen it before
You see
You are not matured by years
You are matured by Damage
And
What I can tell you
about life
Is simple
It is processed
In the body
Like pain
And that’s all you need to know …
She drums her fingers
The screen flashes
My chest convulsing
I’m on the floor
And her voice
Echoes through
The emptiness
Here in space
until all I see
Is an empty room
The curtain
the door ….

We vaccinated you
With the Phoenix trial…
This destroys the human cells
Rebuilding them to behave
Like a virus
Continually recreating themselves
Adapting
At an accelerated speed
To their environment

But
It’s a slow process
And the body
Well
It dies…
when you wake up
You will not be the same
Our probe
Was never the vessel
It was the species
Inside the vessel
You
You are the probe
I’m sorry dear
I know. ..
Space is lonely
And you are in pain
But that’s just biology
It happens
Let it go
you have to walk through
That door
This has been my goal
And my dream
You can’t be
All your heroes
You are not Jim kirk
There is no earth
There is more space …
Walk through the door ….

All I see is fire
my body breaking down
Inside
all I feel
Is the wind in the curtain
All I see is the door….

End