in the coachella valley
children go to school and learn how to internalize silence
girls sit pretty with pigtails wrapped in bubble-ball hair ties
learn how to cast their eyes downward
so that when they ask the class what do you want to be when you grow up?
boys respond, i want to work in the fields like my dad
Lifting Visqueen veils spread over little darlings, selecting seedlings to set each predawn rise. We coffeed up, chewed rumors, shared ourselves wherever needed without a hint of roundworm belly, malathion burn, or pay bounce still to come.
For your ears, in your exile, in your comfort zone, in which you fly unscathed, unsheathed, into the scarlet reveries, in your scarf and hands where the hum of time seems like a downpour, or the dizzying heights of mountain crags, the sharp flashes of light that become visible in the no-longer-already night. Here in the deep darkening center, in the storm of spring or the silence and its willow tree, in the serenade on the veranda, or the poplar spires, in the furrows and the silt, do you believe the true believer may be risen from the dead? Hold the fire and the ever-transforming, the endless sky or the filthy sewage which spews out under the shadows, which they say settles the soul. You will emerge as you do, in all your manifolds, in the siege and in amongst the vagabonds and the wayfarers, the heavenly debate in the afterworld—all those among us searching for safety. Here we are heathens, the lamb and temples that rise over the hills. Yesterday had us back among you in the proud fight, where the stained glass was the mirror and shattered our pride. Earn your trust, they say. Weren’t we the ones who lifted the dead, who muttered their prayers accordingly, where every motion was a wavering—so estranged we were in the day’s end—the words, the word, the faces were etched in their smiles. Take the last sheaf of paper and hold it up to the window. Take the benevolence of any kindred spirit and let it arise. The book ends somewhere.
be honest with your psychiatrist about how the meds have kept you from cumming:
even while fantasizing about Priyanka Chopra—her cascading curls,
tumbling down her shoulders; don’t feel ashamed after your lover has suggested
other ways to be intimate: like learning how to speak Urdu so that on sleepless nights
you can recite Ghalib’s ghazals to her while holding hands near the mango tree;
on the rare chance you’re not awake, smash the snooze button;
continue dreaming about a world where you don’t perceive that therapy
is just for white folks; forget what your family says; you can’t shake off suicidal