lost

alki beach is crowded today. shirtless men
are softened by the sun as they
play volleyball and
children race to the edge of the ocean,
squealing as puget sound waters
lick their toes. at the beach’s center, however,
there is a stillness.
a woman faces the shore, her long black hair and
red paisley-print pants ruffled by
the impassioned breeze,
her black crop top exposing a finely wrinkled stomach.
a baby is on her hip, pointing and giggling at seagulls
as she smokes the cigarette that was gifted by
kind strangers.
she stands, immobilized in time.

remember me

Amá always said she saw spirits.
they were everywhere–even en el rancho,
in between the cacti and rivers that coiled
around mi abuelo’s bright orange home. even in
los estados unidos, en el este de los ángeles
as light and fleeting as memory. los espíritus
are everywhere, the past creeping up like
ivy on a barbed wire fence, begging for
immortality.

the lemon tree

pharmaceuticals are bullshit.
have you heard of the lemon tree?
he whispers, and reads my skeptic expression
as a preacher’s invitation:

man-made drugs don’t heal us, sister,
but our family does. the trees, the earth,
the lemon tree, have been here for
thousands of years–and it’s free.
there are no excuses, drinking lemon water
will change your life. have you heard of the
lemon tree?

i tell him i know all about lemons–
the other day i got lucky,
7 lemons for 3.99.

the self-proclaimed jesus of the lemon trees
shakes his head. he says, you don’t have
to pay to live in abundance sister.

he glances around the room and mumbles,
i’m looking for a priestess, and you can’t carry the word.

in a cotton dress he swears he dyed with berries,
he floats around the room, searching for the
undiscovered priestess of the lemon tree.

the u-district

goodwill, used bookstores, american apparel,
independent shops covered in arabian fabrics,
the scent of mellow, brooding coffee shops tangled
with vietnamese pho and ice-cream crepes
invite disheveled young adults to try-on
different identities. the young blonde with a
purple lip-stain wears white dirty bunny ears and smudges
silver eyeshadow in the church parking lot,
a broken toothed man sits cross legged on the sidewalk and
tells everyone who’ll lean in and listen:
let me give you a reading with these stones i brought
from egypt, free reading, tip what you please,
you may not remember karma but karma will
remember you. baby-faced teens wearing blue
velvet dresses and chunky combat boots smoke
cigarettes alone, staring absentmindedly
at the intersection before them. habitual gray clouds
carry inks that seep into the skins of residents
who live the lives of outcasts, a lifestyle they swear
they didn’t choose. like goods in a consignment shop,
they are stand-alone treasures, hoping someone
would find their distinctiveness.

unreadable

the scent of manure drifts in and out of
this rural consciousness
where evergreen boxed tractors trudge down
the open fields of worn pavement that
crickets lullaby. their late night ballad is
muted by spellbinding thunderstorms,
whose layover is right outside these scattered,
white, dingy two-story homes and
sometimes these heavy storms gurgle
inside our bellies or whirl the contractions in our heads–
sometimes it’s too hard to tell.