Division Street

                         ". . . Prayer book and Mother, shot themselves last Sunday."
                                        Gwendolyn Brooks


The spire of Holy Name Cathedral rose like a prayer
above Chicago Avenue. I thumbed a leather-bound book
in catechism class, recited the Hail Mary. Fire and
devils blazed at night. The nuns told my mother
I had a calling. On Scott Street a man lay shot
dead in our alley. It was the Gold Coast.  They prided themselves
on sidewalks safe as shrines. I questioned God, the last
to leave the room. Riots flared in Cabrini-Green that Sunday.

Acrobat

The night you were conceived
we balanced underneath a tent,

amazed at the air-marveler,
who, hand-over-hand, seized the stars,

then braved the line to carry home
a big-top souvenir umbrella.

Earth-bound a year, you dare
gravity, sliding from the couch

to table. Mornings, on tiptoe, 
stretching fingers, you grab 

Saturn, Venus and the moons 
raining down from the sky of ceiling.

After the Squall

In need of air, she unhinged every
window, revolving ones downstairs,
upstairs skylights, mid-floor French doors,
swept into the house the salt-brine,
the cricket chirp, the osprey whistle,
the sea-current, sound of the Sound,
but had not noticed the basement
bedroom window shielded by blinds,
screen-less. Later that night when they
returned home, lights illuminating
the downstairs hall, insects inhabited
the ground floor rooms. She carried handfuls
of creatures across a River Styx—
the katydids perched on lampshades,
beach tiger beetles shuttling across
floorboards, nursery web spiders splotching
the ceiling—trying to put back
the wild fury she had released.

Aerial, Wild Pine

A flare of russet,
green fronds, surprise
of flush against
the bare grey cypress
in winter woods.

Cardinal wild pine,
quill-leaf airplant
or dog-drink-water.
Spikes of bright bloom–
exotic plumage.

How they contour
against the trunk.
I miss that closeness
against my skin,
milky expression.

Before they latched,
their grief revealed
in such a flash.
Seekers of light,
poised acrobats.

Over the wetlands
a snail kite skims
tallgrass, then swoops
to scoop the apple
snail in curved bill.

The provenance
of names, of raptor
and prey, the beak,
like a trap door,
unhinging flesh.

The way two beings
create a space
for one another—
the bud to branch,
tongue against nipple.

Related Poems

Screening Desire

Sunday after Mass the priest behind
the screen prescribes three Our Fathers
ten Hail Marys three Glory Be’s
for dropping ecstasy laced with cocaine
Friday cybersexing all night Saturday
with Hot&Horny35 from Denmark blond
blue-eyed swimmer’s body in search of Asian
or Latin American bottom it must’ve been
his lucky night found both continents
in you as Pablo Sanchez Puerto Rican
Pinoy 22 str8acting gay son of
cultural attaché stationed in Manila
posh bungalow glasscapped subdivision
MadMax securityguards indoorpool
beachhouse in the province near a volcano
within a lake fivecar garage you drive
home to your harddrive set up
a blind date Monday evening you
and only you end up keeping Romeo 23
goodlkn Moreno versatile is blaming
the rain there’s flood right outside
my room I tried to reach your cellphone
says your voicemail but will try again
you forgive him you’re Catholic
you wait by the phone all day Wednesday
that does not ring until Thursday
morning comes it is nobody special only
your mother asking for fashion advice
Madame Imelda’s 75th birthday bash
at Manila Hotel go minimalist you say
Prada or SoEn you blast Madonna
as Evita Peron right out of your Cityland
condo studio 14 square meters reboot 
the PC replace five pounds of beerbelly
with sixpack abs nice smoothchest
wellhung a George Michael goatee
you christen yourself not Mark
that was earlier this week
not John that was last week what’s left?
two option Luck17 cute
afterschooldaddy bicurious cyber
phone okay or Matthew37 6’1 brwnhair
hazeleyes Italian FilAm from Big Apple
will be visiting in two weeks you 
compromise and enter the chatroom as
Paul26 into 69 top please no fems or
drags a macho ritual you picked up along
with lying to please the glare
of the screen that answers back
right away from ReadyEddie Chinito 
30 5’10 160 lbs bottom discreet you
score big he’s a banker with high
interest in designer labels and French
cuisine let’s hook up dinner first
al Le Soufflé maybe last full showing 
at Glorietta4 or Starbucks for Frappuccino
you’ll know him by the Emporio Armani
spreadwinged golden eagle logo across
his chest he’ll spot you by your thousand
peso Paris runway haircut DKNY blk shirt
Hugo Boss stretch pants containing
chocolateflavored Trust condoms 
and free samples of Astroglide lube
distributed by a non-governmental 
organization in Ermita just in case
2 a.m. Saturday strikes with another
round of Jose Cuervo Gold tequila
shots at Giraffe his American
Express corporate card picks up the tab
you know he says I’ve never been with
a poet and gives you the most beautiful
smile in history then vanishes forever
as if to say ReadyEddie has left
the room or is simply ignoring you.