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.

HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2009:
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.

POEM A DAY:
This month, I’m participating in the “Poem a Day Challenge” to celebrate Poetry Month. Check here for selections weekly, and go to older pages for previously-posted poems. Enjoy!

Poem a day in April 2009

APRIL 15
We, too, made America

We are the little brown brothers
and the mail-order brides.
I’ve been told we make good wives.
When company comes, someone always
tries to guess where we’re from.
But we chuckle, with a sparkle in our eyes.
We crossed the sea
and danced with time.

Tomorrow,
we’ll be at the party
when company comes.
Nobody will dare ask which
place we clean, which garment we sew,
which man we married, as if they know.
We’ll ask the host,
please bring me a drink.

Besides,
they’ll see how tall we stand.
We may be small,
but we stand grand.

We sowed the seeds and soil we tilled.
Tended your wounds and paid the bill.
Gave you our ports and cleaned up after.
Dusted our hands with song and laughter.
Jumped in the pot and turned it over.

We, too, made America.

– Aimee Suzara, 4/15/09
After Langston Hughes’ “I, too, sing America”
PROMPT: take a famous poem and change it.

APRIL 16

hot pink

hot pink forgets where she came from
too much time in neon bulbs and
fumes of spray paint
too many My Little Pony hairdos and
vacations on eight-year-old shoe laces.
she’s been the rubber bands on braces and
the vinyl seat on bicycle banana seats
spent lifetimes in sweets with artificial coloring:
easter cookies and cupcakes from Safeway.
hot pink needs a getaway.
she has amnesia and needs to know
where she came from.
maybe she should get acquainted with
these hollyhocks in my yard and
the ice plants bursting beside the sea.
what about these anemones?
see, mesh netting in 80s socks is her family but
she needs to trace her ancestry.
hot pink is having an
identity crisis.
let’s set her free.
(PROMPT: a color)
APRIL 24

Gomukh (Cow’s Mouth)

Hundreds of sacrifices cannot produce that merit which men of restrained souls are capable of acquiring by bathing in the sacred waters of Ganga…By holding that sacred stream, touching it, and bathing in its waters, one rescues one’s ancestors to the seventh generation.
– From The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section XXVI. Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

We are walking through clouds
towards the Cow’s Mouth:
elevation leaves us woozy,
cold enters our bones that shiver together.
Rocks glimmer with fool’s gold
over and under the shimmering Ganges.
We become goats cliffing and hedging
crags and shards and sands
cold air spiking into our lungs;
we tote backpacks,
lug big boots and wool socks.
It’s strangely warm inside our thin jackets.
And the old woman we dub “Mata”
takes her pilgrimage slow and shoeless
no burden upon her body swathed in white,
only a small brass pot
to fill with holy water from the mouth.

The scraggly man who calls himself priest
gives my female company a slimy sense
urges us to follow him,
drink chaya at his hut.
I don’t trust him in his claim
but the chaya is hot and spicy in my belly.

One thing we all have in common:
eyes wide and shining
naked of history,
as we near the glacier of myth and lore,
spilling out the ancient river that has birthed a million prayers,
dripping like gold, all the way down the valleys
all the way through Rishikesh and the sadhus bathing,
all the way through the country and the dots
of pilgrims dipping,
blessing births and marking journeys,
all the way to Varanasi
the flowered corpses ushered along narrow paths
to drums and orange sheathes flying in its wake,
the corpses blazing into ashes.

We look towards the glacier steaming
a massive wall of ice stretching mind.
It seems it is the source of all these clouds,
these mountains, valleys,
the fool’s gold,
the priest,
the chaya,
Mata
and all our joys
and all our sorrows.

Our hearts gape open as they only can.
There are no words but those
that have been said before:

Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.

– Aimee Suzara, 4/24/09
(PROMPT: a travel poem)