Sunday, May 1, 2016


Royal palm fronds fall
on pavement and car windshields
wherever they like.
The throne-like base triumphs, never mind
your splintered vision


the popstar diva
was tired, a mom, 
all she wanted to do
was nap in this place 
where mostly women 
and a few chosen poets 
met poolside, and the diva 
slept like a play-exhausted
toddler, while the black poet,
a man, repeated his lines 
to me, but one line
wouldn’t translate, his voice
spoke in a pitch i couldn’t hear,
and the words, his work, 
faded as i read from left 
to right, his meaning, a secret
door i could not access,
no fault his, no fault mine,
some ideas are hard to enter
if you’re white, i told 
him i’d try harder,
he shrugged knowing
i couldn’t help myself,
and the realtor-slash-art-
collector wove conversations 
throughout the party,
while the other white
female poet made everyone
laugh, and shouted, her eyes
aha-wide: you know what 
this party needs now, a lyric 
poem, and i’ll write it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Ekphrasis: "Contentment Island" by Helen Frankenthaler

There is nothing clear,
nothing is in focus.
Turquoise shapes
wave in and out. 
We know of land.
We know of sea.
Here, they melt
into what might be 
called sky, a great
expanse shaped
by what passes through,
by what thoughts
linger.  A thin
white line seems
like an island, 
of clarity, of knowing.
A bright spot 
we want to be 
a celestial body
whether sun or moon,
it doesn’t matter
when knowing is felt,
when it comes 
without name.
What I call a line,
may be a horizon
or nothing so small.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Miracle coral

is the kind that walks on water and heals
itself, recolors its surface with hungry algae,
rises from bleached extinction, turns salt
into hydrogen, survives our dumping, our shrugging,
eyes closing and cheek turning, so our greatest
hope is now the outsider, the lottery shot, the rehab
specialist, a counselor with a god’s patience,
one who will save us, clean up our mess, treat us 
as if we’ll never run out of chances, or time,
o benevolent one, believe or perish, give us 
the inexplicable, the ineffable, the fortune to never 
want more than we own, to never use more than we need,
to turn off the lights when we leave the room, to stop writing
on the computer, to leave the web forever, walk outside,
sit in the ocean’s lap and tell the coral we need it so,
to sing to it, to make miracle a verb, to will it back to life.


Parrots cackle above
green feathers shake green leaves.
I hear nothing else.


And now, it's time for a revision of an old poem (almost the same as a new one):

As far south as I can live in my country, 
rain is theater.  It falls warm.  Thunder 
clouds tumble bowling-ball strong  
and pile like stepping stones from ocean to sky. 

When it pours, puddles form in seconds,
sidewalks melt into streets, and 
intersections turn into impromptu homes
for mosquito larvae, egrets, and cranes.  

On the other side of our island, the bay 
can’t absorb so much water, so it rushes
out of the drains and onto the streets,
surging, sinking pavement inches deep.  

The ocean is insatiable. Like the first
explorers, she wants and she wants and she wants. 
Each year, the city digs up the streets 
and widens the drains to appease her, 

to buy us time, but even the egrets know
that the ocean wants to reclaim 
this barrier island, this land of limestone 
and magic, this slip, this shallow sand-edged city, 

a comma in time.  Over a century ago, 
when mangroves held the sand in place, 
one dreamer docked and wagered 
a fortune on his vision for a place 

where people would come to forget. Here, 
we are all exiles, escapees from the coldest
regimes, the unbearable winters, huddled
like flocks of exotic birds, charmed

by the ocean’s hypnotic gaze, the palm 
trees, and the sun, a giant sequin
in a trembling sky.  Here, we are fabulous, 
a displaced ship of fools dancing 

furiously as in the final moments 
of an epic night. Our DJ is on his last song,
 and we’re entranced, we’re writhing, we’re 
beyond language, worshipping the ecstatic moment, 

the now and now and now.  Addicted 
to the sensual life, we love the soft 
scratch of sand on skin, we move  
to the music of palms divining

the wind’s song, and we taste the sun’s
feral heat as the water draws us closer,
draws us deeper, draws us into frothing,
charging waves, and into puddles 

knee-deep on this wisp in the ocean, 
in this fore-after-thought, this forever-not dream, 
we wonder how long we’ll stand 
on this sliver, this swimming

rock, this borderless barrier, American
Riviera, dream maker, shadow eraser, 
this playground for the rich and richer, this reckless 
mooring where we’ve made our home. 


Coral Reef Erasure 

In remote atolls
isolated news
of devastated coral
reefs suffered
die-off. Light
island affected, 
plagued, by widespread 
disease, death,
Much of the dead
coral covered
with fuzzy, red,
haunting algae,
horror. I know
what’s happened.
It can’t be real,
the healthiest reefs
transformed into
graveyards. The worst casualties,
more revelation:
ecosystems may not
adapt to climate 
change. Above a threshold,
irreversible, widespread. 
Language calls 
for a timeframe
sufficient to allow
ecosystems to adapt. 
Coral reefs beyond willing,
the level, the danger
zone, already too late,
the first places of dangerous
warming borne,
living animals survive
with algae, inside corals,
brilliant colors. If stressed,
coral expels algae,
bleaching kills, leaves corals
weakened, hard to 
predict, sensitive. 
We are in for unpleasant
surprises. The third
major bleaching in decades
Severe number around 
the world, not 
enough time to recover,
Changes are occurring
too quickly, ecosystems are 
changed, not adapting, not 
able to respond to high
temperatures, broken,
not as diverse. Some 
of the planet’s reefs
will fare better. Scientists
believe while a majority died,
some “miracle corals”
managed to survive,
how long?  Fate could serve
as a warning/warming for reefs,
a case study, important
to understand
that climate 
continues to change.