Kiss Mark

Goody two shoes, you still cannot
dispel the magic that protects you from being
touched by a lightning bolt.
You are oil slipping through a sea god’s hands. A bitten fruit
whose seeds are untouched.
Do not forget
how you once wove a garment with your prayers
as you stripped before the eyes of the wild,
letting course hands run through
your breasts, your thighs–
pulling them into depths of consciousness
as you were being plunged into oblivion.

 
Now that your task is complete, your offerings have reached the deity you serve
and you retreat safe into your space
intact, unaffected.
Sleeping
as rain pour in heavy torrents
burying the land that sacrificed you into a deluge.

 

Let the storm rage, as your own seep out of your pores
break into the cracks of your character-
a mask of timid smiles and coerced amens.
One day these bite marks will heal
and the kiss that sealed you from being touched
will fade as the mist clears away.
Yes, the land will be fertile again
and you will rise like any other women
to plough
to sow

Tropic of Cancer

Pride-nourished bones:

An ivory head

cut clean and chiseled, crammed full of highway street smarts

smoothening the traffic of the senses.

It sits straight on the spine

made up of countless women’s cartilages,

a lumbar trail for the uninitiated,

stepped and compressed

to compensate for that extra rib.

Pelvis juts out in calcified defiance,

taunting anyone to a test of strength

tries to hide its soft parts within its sharp edges

honed by years of fear for an unknown intruder

that might just be herself.

All these weight are shouldered by these thighbones

trained to hold the added baggage

that my upper extremities refuse to put down

(I still had room for another pound in my heart).

 

I am proud of my home.

These bones

have built this self to stand tall,

strong in itself, strong on its own

A bedrock amidst the shifting sand.

 

But like all houses unfazed by summer storms,

mine begins to simmer inside.

 

A spark of lightning at the base of the skull

creeps a long way down to my spine.

It lingers at my loins,

feeds at my thighs

until my body roars to an uncontrollable furnace

a never dying pyre for the self.

It gnaws at its marrow

unsatisfied.

 

Pride-nourished bones:

My body is a bundle of fire wood-

a cruel insurance policy

in case of these internal emergencies.

Build your house with the sweat of your brow,

pay in blood when it burns down.

Remind me again,

What do dwellers do when their house wages war against them?

When the body betrays itself?

When elements crusade to convert

materials into beings

and beings into materials-

who should arbitrate on the matter?

 

My first ‘amen’

was probably breathed from

the heavy smell of a rising tempest

What used to be a tell-tale for refuge

Becomes a fragrance that lures

the self to strip naked,

to provocatively dance on fire,

to open windows and doors

and to surrender to the hurricane

allowing the tide to wash these bones away.

My house becomes a wreck- floats for

all the things I slowly let go of

as waves lap at all open wounds

salting bruises, cleansing pores,

dissolving all in the whirlpool of unlikely grace.

 

Sometimes what it takes to get out is to give in-

to rely on strangers,

or even storms

and believe that

these pride-nourished bones

will continue to drift on.

 

 

 

 

Trinidad

I.

My life.

is firmly rooted between three distinct places:

Church, school, and home-

growing under the watchful eye of holy trinities.

The protecting pillars of my personhood

against the thief that may come at night time.

You see, I have been told that I am quite precious-

a jewel in the rough, so to speak,

hidden for a noble prince willing to climb over this orchard-

Though I don’t know if I’m the diamond or the pearl kind.

While waiting, I fill my interiors with books, trinkets, and decora-

souvenirs from places I have never been

dropped by polite visitors who stop to smell the flowers

My hands always let things bloom- hoping that one of them would be lured

to brave the forbidden

and dig this land.

 

I have long been buried here.

 

They always get distracted though-

already satisfied by a single flower, or an interesting artifact

when the garden is quite vast.

There seems always room for more- I have never explored it entirely.

Have never even measured the limits of myself

as I stretch and crumble the walls from within.

My eyes are buds, so I let my vines do all the groping

to reach the sunlight.

 

II.

What I know upon receiving sight:

I do not have a mother.

I was born from a sea foam.

From a plane crash. From the jagged propellers of a kamikaze jet plane.

Scorched by the sun for attempting to fly high,

I was casted to drown at the coldest depths. To remain restless

for refusing the fixated earth.

I’d like to say that the sky and sea are my parents,

But though I may seem like their prisoner, they have adopted me whole

Hardening my wounds with salt and spray

until I have finally submerged and become.

I can always rise and break structures down. This is my form of play.

Now I am storm. I am the monsoon.

I am the wave that catches the lightning, the cloud that broods over ships-

reading people’s lives as drifting leaves on a teacup. Eager to see how things

would unfold. If I stir,

Sailors mistake my passion for rage, my laughter for thunderclaps.

They appease me by throwing everything at my feet

Just for them to live. But I have no need of drowning men

Nor of their fancy baggage. All I want is for someone

to survive my tempests.

 

III.

The truth is, I am too old to be a child.

Yet I am a part of myself that remains here in the womb– an overdue embryo

making picture books out of a monochrome crayon pack.

 

Waiting to be born.

Wanting to be cradled. To be called by my real name.

To be here.

 

Just how can I give birth to myself?

My sisters have long been rubbing me to come out. It’s easy, they say.

You just have to break in. Push open the glass doors with a smooth swoosh.

See, everything is ready. Everybody is here.

The cake is sliced, candles are lit. The guests are now giggling in the dark

and your body floats ripe in a tub of cold water

All you need to do is to cut the fucking ribbon.

 

But my hands are jelly.

 

I do not know how to hold the blade with my fists

Less caesarian my way out of my body

What if I’m the one who needs to be broken?

So that I won’t be stuck here

 

Weaving worlds out of empty words to fill in the void of not knowing

Swimming in a dark finite ocean

Already content with the stories whispered into my ear

 

IV.

Three things I could still remember:

  1. Water breaking
  2. Waking up from a warm dream
  3. Welcome home

 

 

A Bedtime Story

My parent’s warning: Never wear your crown because it shines too bright.
If you desire to be rescued by princes, you have to be a pure-hearted girl
Who sings good songs and asks safe questions.
Leaving her empire behind, she rides on his steed
Swallowing the rest of her senses behind her coy smile
(She can puke it out later, when they live happily ever after).

I’m sorry, mother.
I’ve tried my best to be nice. I’ve been a good little girl,
But what do I get with being cute? A man’s knee pressed to my leg.
Uninvited.
His thighs a spread canopy at the bottom of the dinner table,
Asserting the space that he thinks is his.
Pushing me at the edges.
For supper, he serves morsels of moral convictions with his mouth,
And leaning to me closer, he breathes,
“You should come with me to church.”

I am already tired of the kisses people steal in the dark
When their mouths speak of chastity in the morning.
“No, I never intend to have sex with you,”
But his fingers spider its way at the hem of my skirt.
We’ve never been chaste
Yet we show up at masses every Sunday,
Waiting for the rites to end
For the lights to turn off again
So that we can attend to what’s already burning.

Lover, you should already know that
my tongue is a fire that cannot be quenched
by any distilled sparkling water you drink everyday.
It’s too late now. You cannot rescue me.                                                                                         It demands. It hungers.
And it speaks of your undoing. Saying,
“White Knight, here’s what I want: I want to see you fully at your unmasking.”
Turn on the lights. I am not blinded nor scared by your sharp edges,
Your jagged pieces, your naked self that is stripped of armor and defenses.
I am not anymore a little girl who faints at the sight of blood.
I have been torched through many stakes.
My heart, already a live coal which no man can put out.

If you really want me, you have to take part in the burning.
Else, you remain in the shadows and become
the very monster you fear under your bed.