me quemas

“inhale, in hell there’s heaven.” – Frank Ocean

i used to warm my hands by you,
a fireplace. it was easy to forget that fire burns
from up close. i rationalized my burns as
markers of intimacy–once, I felt my hands
burn into ashes, and the pain warmed
your absence. remnants of me mingled with
memories of you and
i almost forgot about loneliness

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80’s family portrait

a 6 foot tall young man squints at the camera.
wispy brown hair frames his sun burnt face
and his thick moustache, as coarse a broom,
sits upon his lips. he wears a white polo shirt
and baggy blue jeans. sandals with socks.
his gut hangs over his belt. he is my father.

beside him is my mother. she is brown like almonds
and has puffy hair like lucille ball. she is a petite woman,
and her smile overwhelms her face. burgundy lipstick
shines her lips. she wears an oversized sweatshirt
with an enamoured taz and his wife–mrs. taz playfully
responds in bold, yellow letters–oh, you devil!

they are fearless. confident about tomorrow.
the world is moving and they are the only ones
standing still. they are young and in love.

waiting

i look for you everywhere:
online, on the metro, at the corner store,
outside my house, where i saw you last.

it is midnight and i still look. i check outside the window,
beyond the door, on my phone–i don’t see you. i
keep looking not knowing if you want to be found.

i surrender to the ease of my bed sheets.
the smell of you lingers
on an old pillow and
i find you

midnight dreaming

a home with large windows. wooden floors. a backyard where yellow roses frame a view of an empty ocean. there is an abundance of stars that glisten in the water. this is one of the many dreams i’ve whispered to the moon, who is full of secrets. secrets that don’t need to be said aloud.

she watches me try to balance being a good daughter and being true to my desires. she knows how badly i wish the two would overlap more often.

she warns that such freedom is loneliness.

i remember a time i laid below the night sky. the plethora of stars reflected endless possibilities: home with large windows. writing poems in mexico. coffee with friends. walking on portugal beaches. sipping wine in italy. bountiful sleep in the arms of my lover.

a shooting star combusts across the sky, and i wonder if this was a dream, too.

paper

you’re that detached, controlling lover,
whose eyes follow me everywhere
and remind me that i need you. i wish
that i didn’t have to rely on you so much,
and that i could make decisions without
consulting you. you warn me that to keep our
relationship steady, i need to make sacrifices.
i need to think about us.

late at night, this makes sense to me.
you’re everything, but you’re nothing.
you’re money.

the quiet

your absence echoes confusion and clarity
in my head. our love felt so real that
i didn’t notice its fragility; petty arguments
crumbled compassion and
mistrust clouded understanding.

the echo deepens until i envision the cosmos,
where dead stars whisper riddles that are
the secrets of life. the echo throbs and
i meditate over our past, hoping to decipher
a riddle on love, a riddle on our truth.

the riddle melts into the strings of constellations
and weaves itself into the empty fabric of
our night sky. in its emptiness,
i almost forgot to remember–
i am free.

unwanted intimacy

the gaze held me. its small, brown eyes
explored the sand dunes of my body,
and wondered if touching me meant that
i would slip smoothly through his fingers,
like grains of sand.

his fingers, unfamiliar winds,
smoothed my sand dunes away
and exposed the hidden jewel
beneath my beloved desert.
the jewel that glowed with
the vivid brilliance of desert life.

when he took the jewel,
the desert drowned him in her
floods of anger.

but,
the desert is merciful.

he lived.