Sunday, May 28, 2017

No Poetry Today

No Poetry Today

Yesterday was mourning doves nesting in the cedars,
woodpeckers on the old black walnut trunk banging out
a living, the rain tribe dancing on all the roofs in town.

But no poetry today.  Maybe tomorrow, if thunder beings
roll on through.  Maybe the day after, if sunflowers pop
their heads up like curious animals, scenting a new wind.

Today is tears and ashes. Today is funeral dirges, regret
sour as old milk, the clink as we sweep up broken glass.
Cleanse our souls with fire, prayer, but no poetry today.

Probably tomorrow we’ll make a mosaic out of leftovers.
No doubt, tomorrow has cardinals in amongst the cherries,
mockingbirds dropping songs like little tsunamis of love.  But

no poetry today; I couldn’t stand the hope in it.  Ban all
beautiful beings and things for 24 hours: let us grit
our teeth, eat ugliness like a cure for loss of dear souls.

Poetry is on strike today.  Poetry can’t get out of bed.
Poetry wants to close her eyes against knives and death,
bravery sacrificed to the cowardice of small hearts.

You don’t deserve me, Poetry growls.  She’s right. We don’t.
Perhaps tomorrow, forgiveness will rise like a sonnet.
Day after tomorrow, I could bear it. But today, goddamn it –

no poetry today.

Deborah A. Miranda

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the Food Lion Parking Lot

Your dog is smiling at me! Look,
she’s giving me the biggest grin.
Is it okay if I pet her? Hey, you’ve
got another one back there, too –
aren’t they just the sweetest
things. Oh, I don’t care about
that – yes, you’ve got ice cream
on your chin, baby – the vet,
huh? She likes that, right behind
the ears, don’t she. And you,
mister, you’re just a love pig.
Oh, I miss my dog! I had the gentlest
pit bull. Sam. He was just
the color of sand. We lived
on the beach then, a dear
little place in Florida. I think
I loved that dog more than
I loved my boyfriend. Ex-
boyfriend. One time I found
that dog curled up, sleeping
with my son on the floor …
my son was all cuddled up
with Sam, had his arm
wrapped around that dog.
Oh I miss my dog! One day
he just disappeared. Pretty
sure my boyfriend sold him;
he was jealous. Men. Pit bulls
are usually good dogs, you know;
it’s people who’re bad. People
just ruin ‘em. I have PTSD,
so I could get a companion dog,
if I wanted one. But I live over
in the Vista Apartments, rules
say small dogs only. I like big dogs,
don’t you, like these cutie pies?
And sometimes my pain is so bad,
I couldn’t take a dog outside
when it needed to go, so … I don’t
have a license anymore, I can’t even
get over to the shelter and help out
with baths and walking like I used to.
My friend picks me up and we go do
our shopping together, like today.
Well, thanks for letting me love
on your dogs. You’re blessed
to have ‘em. Look at that smile!

I’ve seen this woman so many times
before, in so many small towns,
wearing so many skin colors;
some with nicotine-stained teeth,
some with full sets of white dentures,
some, like today, with just a few stragglers
left behind, unsteady survivors of a terrible disaster.
I’ve seen these women in grocery store aprons,
in sweats, scrubs, old t-shirts and flannel jackets,
jeans and hoodies. They’re working two
or three jobs, or struggling to get by
on disability. They’re walking home
from the Dollar Store, arms heavy
with yellow plastic bags full of cans
and day-old bread. Their mouths set
in straight lines, heads down, hair streaked
with silver, or dry from a lifetime
of home-perms; hands scarred, rough,
calloused, mapped like back roads
most folks never see. And their eyes? Oh,
their eyes. Squinting, side-eye,
blank, always looking somewhere
else. Blue, brown, green, hazel,
black, doesn’t matter: an animal looking
for shelter. Eyes that only ignite
like jewels, open wide with pleasure,
when they see dogs smiling at them
across a parking lot in late spring,
or early fall, or in the heat of July.
I think it’s that – unlike boyfriends
or sons who grow up or bosses who yell
or DSHS case managers or any number
of life’s unfathomable bullies – dogs,
dogs offer love for love’s sake,
accept touch for the sake of touch;
dogs have never hurt them.

           - Deborah A. Miranda

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Searching for Sanctuary

Old Coyote said
this is what’s on my mind:
set the world on fire,
start a bloody feud.
It wouldn’t be illegal.

After the buffalo there is no history,
he said.
I’ve lost all the fucks I have to give.
Taking down a statue does not erase the past.
Just listen:
that alone is reason to get up and try again tomorrow.

Your responsibility as a storyteller?
This is what it looks like:
marks of silence and displacement crossing generations,
purple sages for bees and magenta Buddleia to attract butterflies,
birds spilling across the clouds.

I stole that, he said,
from the inside out –
just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

Found an outdoor altar, Old Coyote said.
A good thing.
I held it in my hands.
So fucking beautiful,
I had to avert my eyes.

Humans invent the divine,
he said: Can’t take it out of them
when it is that deep.
If you thought I was fierce,
they are still in the fight;
a threshold people,
so damn mad.

No excuses:
there is no more history
until we meet again.
Catch me;
sing a song to a child you love.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a good day.
I’ll be there.
What’s on your mind?

I'm still writing a poem a day - since April 1st.  Not so long in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes at the end of the day, I run out of steam, and haven't written anything. Today was one of those days.

So I trolled my Facebook page and started typing up lines that struck me as interesting; I chose randomly, going back several days, until I had about 40 lines.  I triple-spaced the typed lines, printed, cut them into strips, and laid them all out on a table.  From there, it was a matter of moving the lines around for about 30 minutes.  Margo put together a couple of lines for me (it was hard to keep her away!). In the end, I massaged a few places where a line needed some help to actually fit, but the final result is mostly as I took the lines from FB.  

Maybe you'll recognize your line here!  If so, thank you. I needed a little inspiration. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

When My Body is the Archive

When my body is the archive, researchers leave their tracks all over my language, my religion, my inheritance.

When my body is the archive, my stories belong to someone else.

When my body is the archive, gatekeepers don’t like to share their passwords.

When my body is the archive, someone else always gets the by-line.

When my body is the archive, my grandmothers are data proving our inevitable demise.

When my body is the archive, I am an uncomfortable anomaly, a ghost who has gone from exotic creature to pain in the ass.

When my body is the archive, you still insist your way is the right way to read me.

When my body is the archive, nothing is sacred.

When my body is the archive, secret doors respond only to my fingerprints.

When my body is the archive, I hear the sound of a million untold stories clamoring for release.

When my body is the archive, I carry my research with me everywhere I go.

When my body is the archive, the archives are no longer paper, ink, pixels, specimens, statistics, tenure-fodder, or conference abstracts.

When my body is the archive, the archive sits down beside you on the plane to that Indigenous Symposium in Frankfurt.

When my body is the archive, the archive raises its hand to ask about historical trauma, interrupts your presentation on pre-contact gender roles, rips the headdress off your child at Halloween.

When my body is the archive, the archive goes home with me at night, takes up ¾ of the bed, forgets to take its Metformin, asks if I want the rest of that chocolate donut.

When my body is the archive, the archives become flesh and blood with a salty genealogy, a hunger for truth, a weariness of the bones –

and you understand at last:

the archive was never inanimate

the archive was never dead

the archive
was never

Deborah A. Miranda