The following are five featured poems beginning with a series of three poems
I wrote on the day my daughters where born.
April 7, 2008, Oakland
“The Day my Daughter was Born”
My daughter was born into a room of wise women.
She brought with her Memories of the ancestors:
The stars in her flesh;
The seas in her tears;
Memories of mammalian compassion
When she searched for her mother’s breast;
Memories of the first people
Wandering out on to the African plain,
Of painting the inside of the cave
As she did inside her womb.
She brought with her Memories of Ellis Island, where they told her to remember no more,
And the Middle Passage, which she never could forget.
My daughter was born from a womb of boundless wisdom.
She could have shared all this, I’m sure.
But after looking up at me, She simply cried.
Knowing one’s audience, they say, is a sign of wisdom.
September 18, 2013
My daughter leapt into the world
After nine months of uterine back flips
(and back pain)
Writing graffiti on the walls of her womb
Head-first-diving into life like a supernova.
My daughter dove into existence
on a day when all over the world
people were dying before they lived
not paying attention to their wide, wondrous world.
She cried out to them
(I heard her)
Wake up! I am here!
My daughter brought forth her world on a day like any other:
the wide, soft earth cried out beneath the suffering of her children
who–some of them–took their blink-of-an-eye existence & danced upon suffering
singing Calliopean songs of rebirth.
Even on the day her father tearfully called his mother
sitting by his brother’s deathbed.
We needed some good news, she said.
My daughter brought forth an entire universe
from her speck-of-dust soul–
We had waited so long for her:
Since the day I saw her mother,
on that porch,
drinking homemade wine
So many years ago
Since the day when I watched my own little brother
(my daughter will do better than I did)
come home from the hospital
Since the days when the ancestors wandered over seas and mountains
to lose themselves
and to find
Still longer, we have waited:
Since the days when the entire universe was written
in a single book
–the original speck-of-dust–
& danced its dance, sang its song
& wrote its new poem: stars pressed across the sky
(is this what you painted on the walls of your womb?)
& now, you are here:
Like the rest, you will get only a blink of an eye
(I cannot lie)
but we’ve waited for you so long
to sing your Calliopean song.
We needed some good news:
& you are it.
(full of surprises)
May 27, 2015
I am catching you
Drops of blood on my hands
Dripping through, onto the floor
Eight pounds of cosmic slop
Hurling herself through space
From one world to the next Into my arms
13-or-so billion years after,
the Universe threw itself into existence
you throw yourself into my arms
only my hands between you & the cosmic abyss, endless nothingness: the toilet
I catch you
Like Franco Harris in ’72, the “immaculate reception”, an unexpected & joyous arrival
Like Sonny Liston, catching Ali’s hook in ‘64, unseen like thunder, sending him crashing
to the Earth with 400 years of anger
Like Mother Earth catching that asteroid, 65 million years ago,
the apocalypse & birth of mammalian love
Like quintillions of galaxies, each with quintillions of stars, caught the light from the
birth of the cosmos, crashing & coalescing & shining, like you.
Like the elements from the dying mother stars were caught by her first born sun
The light and life of the Earth Of you & of me.
I am catching you, as you fall
The first to hold you shivering & confused
In this big, cold world. & I only ask you this:
When I fall fail—as many times as there are stars in the galaxy—will you catch me
like I am catching you?
For my brother
Rochester, NY, 2013
What did you dream about, brother
In those last days
When you lay there
Tubes sticking out
Your only friend?
Did you dream of the days
When I would come to your room
And sleep on the floor beside your bed?
Did you dream of the knowing
That can only come from a brother?
What did you dream of, brother?
When strangers told you
As you lie prone
The question for which there is no answer
Becomes the answer to every question.
I dreamt of regret
For lost years
For remembering the days
When I would come to sleep on floor beside your bed;
For knowing, the knowing
That can only come from a brother,
But letting years get in the way;
I dreamt of the terror
Of not seeing sons grow up.
In these long, lonely days
I hope you dream of your sons:
The big one
Loving the little
And coming to sleep
On the floor beside his bed.
I am the dark matter of my dark mother, burning deep in space;
I am the salty ocean of my tears,
tears shed for a world of possibility and despair;
I am the story of my ancestors, and the imagination of my daughter;
I am memories of the long journeys, of stories told in darkness by the fire,
and in the moonlight;
I am the cave paintings, and the handprints on the womb;
I am being born each moment,
new and fresh.
I am the parched Earth, the crying skies;
I am Imagination,
tapestry of humanity’s yearnings for the future,
depth of my own uniqueness.
And I am the dying Earth,
crying for the memory of the gifts she gave us,
of the struggles of my mothers.