APRIL 2009: Poetry Month
If you are new to the site, here are the basics:
I update this home page occasionally with highlights about recent and upcoming events.

Visit the Calendar for details on current, upcoming and past events.

Visit “Words & Work” for samples of my written poetry, audio files of spoken word, and info on workshops.

Poetry chapbook, the space between, recently nominated for the California Book Award, is available now at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia, SF, http://www.mtbs.com or online at http://www.amazon.com.

Audio CD of theatrical work, Pagbabalik, available at Arkipelago Bookstore, 1010 Mission Street, SF.

This month, I’m participating in the “Poem a Day Challenge” to celebrate Poetry Month. Check here for selections weekly. Enjoy!

Poem a day in April 2009

April 1, 2009

we are children of seeds, cast towards sun
gusted and carved by I am the only one
or are we borne from burls, pressing through soil
rising in rings, hardened from toil?
– Aimee Suzara
April 2, 2009

When she roamed the Santa Cruz boardwalk, twilight,
before the ferris wheel jolted into giggles and shrieks, that time
when stars are squinting children opening their eyes, she

was not sure if it was the dream again:

the Green Tortoise had left her off at a diner or a grocery store,
she could not remember which, after she peeled out of the cocoon
of her sleeping bag

somewhere between the bearded hippie and the other bearded hippie,
the piles of Guatemalan prints and hemp necklaces, redwoods

she walked, sandals on concrete, she imagined she felt the earth,
through the still-slumbering town, and homeless men beckoned,
gave her the tricks of “sleeping out”: which storefronts or alleys,
to avoid cop-sweeps

she must have looked like one of them, or could she?
in this dream that was not a dream,
her army-surplus pack, tie-die shirt, tattered bellbottoms
rainbowed with patches, hair unkempt, she was eighteen,

a Filipino anomaly, imagined shape-shifter
riding the wind,
drifted to sea.

April 3
The problem with being a poet

is that
every flash of color, whiff of spice, the glimpse
of a woman’s furrowed brow as the elevator doors
shut, no image
remains unrecorded,
no face forgotten. nothing’s
devoid of meaning,
every memory’s marked.

the problem is
dreams are as safe or unsafe as waking,
and sometimes we can’t tell the difference.
it’s a little like losing it, but we know
how to do it daily.

the problem is
I may not know you, but I will try
through my relentless imagination,
and my keen empathy.
this may feel uncomfortable.

the problem is that
life for a poet is a constant state of unrest,
and ecstasy.

everything is subject to interpretation,
vision and revision.

and they don’t like that about us.
April 4
PROMPT: animal

Yesterday, a bumblebee stumbled into my apartment.
it blithered and bluzered into closed window-glass, seeing
a false way out, and I,
concerned it might hurt me, spoke to it
as though it might be calmed by my human jibberings.

Bumblebee lost its vigor, rested in sad sill-corners
and I wondered if it was dying.

Bumblebee, I said, we are too alike. Flash of yellow,
maker of sweetness, industrious, relentless, you seek
until you hurt yourself. Daughter of the sky, still bound
to the earth, do you ever pause
to witness your own grace?

After a while, I
gathered my bumblebee’s tired body into a cup,
placed her the porch. she shook her wings. I turned away.
And when I looked back,
my friend had flown.
PROMPT: landmark

“Positively No Filipinos Allowed”
read the famous sign in Stockton, CA, 1930s
where manongs were seen on par with dogs
scraping earth to feed white America.

I am not from that wave of migration
but the sign still draws me there:
I prepare myself for pilgrimage
to touch the faded walls,
crumbled foundations, piece together
what may have been
and may well have been.
April 6
PROMPT: Something missing

It’s an extraordinary day. Sun
wraps me in warmth, hues me in
honey. I’m smiling. Belly’s full
and I don’t have work tomorrow.
Only thing missing is my sorrow.

April 7
PROMPT: clean or dirty poem

“Ano – is she from the bundok?”
cackles the movie-star looking guy with too much hair gel
to his friends with designer sandals and toenails.
I’m wrapping a towel round my waist after sunbathing,
beach near Tagaytay, the kind
where you pay an entrance fee
and local fishermen are not allowed in their own sea.
I think: but there’s nothing wrong with being
from the mountains
and the color kayumanngi is beautiful and unavoidable but no
this is one of the insults a Filipino can give a Filipino
because we have become savage to ourselves and
whitening soap is more plentiful than plain.
We can thank the Spanish for four hundred years of parasols and paleness,
the ‘Kano for a hundred years of American flags, SPAM and military bases but it’s cool
things have changed
or have they

I take the towel back off
get some more of that dirty sun
and it feels good
oh so good.