Oakland

Raw
fish flesh
under scales,
we dine
on words
unfiltered.
There has been
a fire,
artwork ablaze,
friend of
a friend
inside.
One way in
and one
way out,
we swallow
the glass
with brine.
Once it has
been ordered,
all we can do
is drink.
Can you help,
the old Man says,
it’s the holidays,
and everyone
with pockets
turned inside
out has
nothing left
for the woman
who asks
for just one warm
cup of coffee,
too many corners,
with hands
that pray
for giving
and not enough
givers,
and the security
man says,
I can’t reach you,
one last time
before the walls
come tumbling
down.

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Volcano

Are you dormant?
Do you lament the cooling stone
of time?  Has greenery

taken root around your once
fiery rim?  Or do you still feel
that red heat of living

churning deep inside
your bones?
We were told our lives

should be balanced.
Who wants balanced?
We want exotic.

We want flames
that lick the night.
Do not mistake me,

I will forever
fall on my knees
before the wild purple orchid,

and we will decorate
this fertile ground
with sweet pink fruits

to drip upon our eager lips,
but our hearts long to alter
the shape of the land.

Deep beneath this cone
of uncertainty
lies the red sword of change.

Fiery furnace,
burn us down.
Fill our mouths

with the taste of heat
over and over,
like the very first time.

The Only Source of Light

If I had not stepped outside
of the darkened house tonight,
I would have missed the ripple
of Jupiter behind low clouds,
and the musk of burned cedar
collecting in the eaves.  I would not
have noticed the small flame flickering
inside of my own bedroom window,
softening the walls
with an almost unbearable
sweetness.

The Artist Listens to Lila Downs

Her brush tangos
easy on stretched canvas

in rhythmic reds,
sultry oranges

to Acolba Azul.
In the blue bedroom,

Spanish blooms
inside her body,

strikes up
a conversation,

longs for
a word to describe

the glimmer
(flame?)

that is spreading out
from the darkest 

alcove
of the room.