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Posts Tagged ‘poems about the self’

 worse than learning

what it is

is realizing it’s the stuff

that’s getting in the way

of actually being

in the world

completely,

and worst of all

is knowing

that it’s mostly

empty space

repelling through

its charges

our merging

into everything.

 

 Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.

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You know

the many reasons

that we named you Gabriel;

.

arriving in the world

when and how you did

according to a fashion

unguided by the stars

directed by the chances

of who and what we were

.

I know my story states

there is no grand designer,

there is no author penning

lines for you to say

there are no demons coming

or angels to save the day

.

and I cannot use the devil

or eternal damnation

to turn you away

from the “dark side”

… what they call temptation

.

now that you have

no use of a soul

or a search for salvation

to easily tell you

what’s wrong

and what’s right

.

now that you know

that we may be alone

in this corner

of space and time in the night

 .

now that you’ve learned

of the treasures we’ve earned

as social loners

making culture and learning to write

.

now you’ve been told

all the monsters before

were imagined and less deadly

than the monsters we know

.

now that I’ve shown you

in form and in poem

in lines and at home

through kindness

and failure and flaws

what little I know

of the nature of laws

.

I am sure you too

you will find yours.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

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I don’t like cleaning –

and not just for the obvious reasons

like taking away from

all the nothing else I might be doing

.

it’s because cleaning reminds me

of how awfully endless the simplest

nastiest tiniest specks of the universe

are falling forever and finally landing

all over everything I own

.

even me, I am falling apart, all over

my apartment, flaking away little bits

of my skin, leaving my oils and my

stink like my cousins who live in the jungles

traces of hair and my preference for beer

.

and cleaning can take on a strength

all its own and possess me for stretches

where I’m looking for hours behind doors

meant to cover all the clutter that’s gathered

and quietly planning to take over my home

.

worst of all, cleaning can lead me,

and does now more than before,

to collections that have had real time

to marinate in the taste of forgotten

.

pictures and letters and buttons and

faded ribbons pinned to nothing

boxes that might have meant something

were I Pepys or Strong

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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pa’ mi mami

.

The first guests, my godparents,

turn the corner to begin their walk

down the driveway,

.

          (50 feet of uneven pavement

                framed between

                     my parents’ home and

                the Chinese neighbors

                        who’ve thrown away

                            a grocery bag of garbage

                     every week for 20 years)

.

… a ceremonial walkway for the invited

.

the gate left open to let what used to be

          a flood of relatives through …

but we are older

          and have lost a few to the earth

and others to unresolved conflicts

.

               (Even today, on my mother’s 60th

                         a new injury will be born

                when my middle brother

                        fails to celebrate with us)

.

I could see now, clearly what we had become

          as my father greeted his compadre and comadre,

my youngest brother,

                        (a suit wearing executive during the week,

                        in his weekend barrio wear;

                        pressed khakis & ultra-brite white tee)

pulling green plastic chairs for them to sit.

.

My godparents are frail,

          like half the crowd who will come today,

guests with measured steps and canes,

          and more still that come locked in arms

with the same person I remember them with

          from my childhood.

.

The music, Ecuadorian ballads mixed with

          Puerto Rican merengue and other

tunes from the roots of our America

.

                        (that faraway south

                                  painted in greens and grays and decorated

                        with eyes and teeth that strike out

                                  like stars in the night sky; smiling mouths

                        stuffed with bacalao and ceviche

                                  and full of laughter and Spanish)

.

Here too, the food is ready,

          paid for by my brother,

prepared by memories of my mother and

           abuela in the kitchens of the past;

my hands mix the red cebollas

          and lemons and limes and

               cilantro into nearly everything.

Everywhere there is pepper and garlic

                        mixing into the smoke dancing

                                                from the three grills we have going.

.

We brought together again,

          those people we only see at funerals now,

to celebrate what they had started

          before we existed;

leaving their childhoods behind

          they ventured out of sand dunes

and into snowstorms, unheralded;

           they traded their tiempo, every last

minute measured by train tokens

          and time cards they punched;

measured by checks that paid them

          only for their output and

never considered what they were

          really giving back to the dream

that is this America.

.

They sat around now

          frail, but victorious,

eating gumbo and platanos,

          arroz y gandules, barbecued chicken

camarones, hot dogs and

          hamburgers, topped with

ketchup and salsa picante, listening

          to the sounds of the past

exploding today in celebraccion.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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So, I’m not good enough?

     I don’t match up?

I know it’s the superheroes

     that you love so much.

They’re such tough hombres,

     even though you say

it’s not the muscles but

     the strut;

the way they command a room

     when they enter,

the quick reflexes

     the poise in dangerous situations

how they give as good as they get

     the way they defend your honor

and good name

     in their tight rayon/ lycra blend suits

with their superhero signs

     emblazoned on their chests.

But what of me?

    I’m the one with a real job.

The sensitive male

     friend who happens

to be a good listener.

     Who awakens early

to shower and shave

     to stand & pay

for an overpriced latte

     never late to a meeting or a date –

that makes me invisible?

     (wouldn’t just one superpower be great?)

So what if I get nervous

     in front of cute girls like you

that’s no reason to ignore me.

     I’ve got excellent qualities –

               I won’t wait ‘til the last moment to take action,

               I won’t disappear when you turn to thank me,

               I won’t wear the same outfit to various functions,

               I won’t hide behind a mask or cape,

Or lead a secret double life

where loving you is less important than saving the day.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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I tried to walk the streets

I tread when I was young,

stopping time and again

reviewing what’s been done

remembered where and when

the dreams I keep were born

and began to comprehend

where yesterday had gone.

I had not remained to watch

the changes going on

and now on my return

there was emptiness, not song.

The roads had all diverged

and taken everything along,

and I was just one traveler now

and very far from home.

.

 Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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Tonight, when the angels

come for me, I will fool them

into staying longer than expected.

I will give them wine

and tell them that it’s water

steal their wings when

their halos are misdirected.

It’s the only way

to get a good thing

from any angels sent to save you.

Because they know

nothing but the light

they think they live in,

angels don’t understand

what it means to

need forgiveness.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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