Thank You For The Sundays

Something they don’t tell you is that there’s a magic garden

in every courtyard in Philadelphia.

Gardens made of glass, and tears, and gunfight.

 

And through it all, as the sun sets,

roses creep out of window-barred pots and slither to the streets –

every atom in the city chasing that faint ocean air.

 

The city of symmetry, city of two rivers – entre fontaines,

je t’aime from here to there and back again,

the Atlantic rolls between us.

 

In the meantime, I’m eating up spoonfuls of Sundays

I’m all too willing to give.

 

And in this time I’ve hidden myself in every corner of the city,

every bustle in the suburbs, here I am,

sarcastically.

 

Found in yarn stores in South Philly,

fingers running through the strands

despite the weight of cheesesteak in my hand.

 

Resting the holy hollow of my body in a Temple cot in summer;

ring around my toe and vision hazed

in vodka-sparkled saturation.

 

On my knees in a bathroom or two in West Philadelphia

setting tiles in the floor of a soon-to-be home

so a single mother can breath a little easier for a little while.

 

And out here on the Main Line,

wrapped in white sheets, a pen in my mouth,

listening to that goddamned bell toll,

 

Waiting for the gift of Sunday exploration

in the holy city of gardens and love.

A Song Of My People, Should They Accept Me

Mirror, mirror, shiver me timers,

three shots of rum and it’s not any clearer

to the people I’ll run in to later tonight,

to the pictures I’ll be taking under darkened lights,

that I was not built for beauty.

 

I was built for walking.

 

I come from a people who haven’t forgotten the roots left behind

when they were pulled like weeds, culled like beasts,

and corralled onto the path to their future.

 

I was built in their honor,

built in the image of the tears they trailed in their wake,

the tears that blossomed into the white rose: Neakita.

 

I was built to let them stand again, out of red earth from Oklahoma,

the people who crawled from a hole in the ground and into the flaming sun,

and flourished under it.

They do not deserve these scars.

 

Twenty-two hundred miles of death-dotted trails,

carrying only blankets reeking of disease, $50 to spend, and a loaded gun,

it’s no wonder there’s a grave every step of the way.

There still is today.

 

So, Lax Bro, I wasn’t built to be pretty.

And Lacrosse? More like Stick Ball, war’s little brother,

not played but fought across the plains.

Do not test me.

And don’t you dare desecrate the sport my people created

with your poor excuse for a personality.

I’ll cut any blanket you give to me in two.

 

I was built in their honor,

not to be pretty:

The gap between my teeth closed with seven years of dental work,

almond sliver eyes, cheekbones high and strong,

overlapping digits on my fingers and toes:

A, Chahta sia.

Yes, I am Choctaw.

I am of Chickasaw too, and

I was built to uncover this part of my culture.

 

So let me remember.

Lean on me while we walk together.

Katimma ho hotupa?

Tell me: where does it hurt?

 

 

Fragile Thoughts Had On Long Walks

1.

The words I hear you cannot see;

they settle on my skin like dust.

One day perhaps my skin will litter your kitchen table,

and all that you will have is this dust of me.

But for now, we are fighting the currents of pain and separation.

2.

I have told more stories than you will ever know;

becoming less myself is my source of life.

Know that I have only ever told one lie,

and it hid from you the rest inside.

I thought I wouldn’t want to get to know you.

3.

You asked me why I stand so still,

my eyes aghast and thumbs pinched in.

My neck cracks as I remember:

I will never drop my stance for you,

though one day I may come to love you.

4.

I left the rose you gave me on the shelf.

I like to think it grew old enough to feather into petals.