CHAPULTEPEC PARK: SEPTEMBER 25, 1968
Campesinos kneel like Diego Rivera's Flower Seller,
spread baskets of lilies, irises, sunflowers
fresh from the bud as the young woman
who gathers them in brown arms,
strolls through Chapultepec green,
dreams of a lover among the helado vendors,
peanut crunchers, pinwheel spinners, futbol players.
Overhead red and yellow balloons snare
running children in their dangling strings.
She follows a winding path to a sculpture garden
where sun-warmed statues embrace in a vacuum.
Like a shadow, silence fills the plaza. An absence of sound
pulls her from a flower-filled reverie.
Her eyes widen.
She catches her breath, darts through spiky bushes
to the broad Paseo de la Reforma, now still.
No rattling grimy cars, smoke-belching buses,
with bundles and babies.
Stiff-legged soldiers goosestep in tight rows,
rifles, bayonets, bazookas against their shoulders.
At road's curve, tanks roll,
mechanical monsters, geared,
in their path. She runs.
Her sandals slap the tender undersides of bare feet
as she weaves in and out of razor straight lines,
blank-faced soldiers, blinded by command.
pounds like their boots.
Pursued by Rivera's murals, Revolutions,
memories, mothers' tales of uniformed rapes,
she tears across the avenue,
trailing ripped lilies, bruised irises,
On Wings of Silence
Sometimes when he looks in the mirror
he sees a fractured Picasso,
all those lines and brittle angles,
Up before dawn, he exercises
so he can bend to stroke the deaf dog,
to cue her when he walks to another room,
perhaps the kitchen,
or today he might leave the house,
change the air filter in his sister's
ceiling (she has balance issues),
shop for liquid soap or toilet paper
for his mother who can't remember
he'll fish with his grandson
who flew across five states
for a forty-six hour visit,
but he has to share the boy
with his ex-wife
who has a swimming pool and floats
filled with the passive aggressive
breath of her anger, so
he'll probably only get five hours.
Nothing ever quite fits.
He wonders if he can break apart
the jagged pieces of his life,
mosaic them into some kind of whole,
build a work of art from shards.
By Dede Fox
Tell me a story,
the one cradled in scarred hands,
that's never whispered its name.
Let it breathe.
Tell me a story,
swollen with fear and rage,
the one hidden in ravaged cells
singed by chemo and radiation.
Write the silent knowing,
things you wish you never knew
or dreams once forgotten,
Tell me your stories
I'll cup my hands,
drink from them, savoring
each drop in the sharing.
Unshackled Minds, anthology from Bryan Federal Prison Camp for Women
They have 3 wheelers and 4 wheelers
with front wheel drive.
says the one in the Astros cap.
He speaks in short bursts.
Mine turns on a dime,
steers like a dream,
even in reverse.
Uh-huh, nods the other
digging his fist into his pocket,
rattling his keys.
They huddle over hot red paint.
This baby has electromagnetic brakes;
Just switch off the power to stop.
Goes downhill--slow too.
See the turn signals
and dual LED headlights?
Would you believe this steering
wheel folds down? Battery's
over seven years old,
and has lifetime service.
So this what you do;
find people like me,
pick their brains.
He taps his hat
Use what you want.
A white-haired woman
hobbles through an interior door
leaning on a four point cane.
Well, gotta' go.
The wife, you know.
I wish you success.
You'll love getting yours.
The cowboy waves his baseball cap
to patients lining the faded walls
in a neurologist's chill waiting room,
throws his scooter into silent reverse
and guns it out the door.
Along abandoned streets, scorched brown
grass, brittle as pine needles. Dusty
trees drop faded leaves on empty
parks, stilled swings, vacant
lawn chairs. Smoke rises
from deserted oil drums.
too hot to cook in kitchens.
Under white skies,
heat waves from glaring highways,
rises through floorboards,
burns soles of booted feet.
Unseen drivers, behind blinding
reflections, darkened windows
and sunglasses, still squint.
Blistering sun peels skin, paint,
steams radiators, stalls trucks
along dusty roads. Stranded
riders swig bottled water,
hot enough to make tea.
Everyone prays for salvation.
Get out the broom and the dustpan.
Sweep them into a pile.
Scoop them up,
Lick them off the floor if you have to.
Fill up grocery sacks.
Fold down the tops.
Get every one.
Load them into a wheelbarrow.
Dump them into the garbage can.
Make damn sure they're gone,
Every one of them,
That confetti of excuses
Binding us like slaves in Egypt
When the Red Sea must be crossed
to find the Promised Land.
Let me blaze into the darkness
like a Sabbath candle
blue flame consuming white.
Let my blackened wick glow,
sapphire bird with an orange beak,
or my final light halo a molten core.
Let me trail undulating ribbons of smoke,
curling, forked, dancing into the void,
filling emptiness with grace.
Confessions of a Jewish Texan
more than screams from a mountain top
louder than a shrieking infant on an Express-Jet
clanging garbage can lids at 5:00 a.m.
after a night of drinking.
Silence ricochets off walls in empty rooms
reverberates, suffocates, speaks with more finality
than a cement liner capping a lowered coffin.
Silence always has the last word.
On Wings of Silence