Poem by Poem

Juan Felipe Herrera - 1948-

—in memory of
Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance,
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor,
Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney,
Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.,
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson
Shot and killed while at church.
Charleston, SC (6-18-2015), RIP

 

                           poem by     poem
we can end the violence
every day                     after
              every other day

9 killed in Charleston, South Carolina
they are not 9 they
are each one
                                 alive
we do not know

              you have a poem to offer
it is made of action—you must
search for it         run

outside and give your life to it
when you find it     walk it
back—blow upon it

carry it taller than the city where you live
when the blood come down
do not ask          if

              it is your blood   it
is made of
              9            drops
                           honor them
wash them stop them
from falling

More by Juan Felipe Herrera

tomorrow I leave to El Paso, Texas

see my brother-in-law with a styled shirt

in spite of his cancer below 

then a small dinner in the evening the next day

no one knows except I may be on the road

Mesquite where my father settled in '31

forty-five minutes west then a left you go in

sister Sarita waits for me on Abby Street

after decades in separate families we just met 

now I hear the clock snap I swipe an ant

time to walk my dogs five blocks and back

a different route to soothe the mind

it is the same one but I am hopeful

Everyday We Get More Illegal

Yet the peach tree 
still rises
& falls with fruit & without
birds eat it the sparrows fight
our desert       
 
            burns with trash & drug
it also breathes & sprouts
vines & maguey
 
laws pass laws with scientific walls
detention cells   husband
                           with the son
                        the wife &
the daughter who
married a citizen   
they stay behind broken slashed
 
un-powdered in the apartment to
deal out the day
             & the puzzles
another law then   another
Mexican
          Indian
                      spirit exile
 
 
migration                     sky
the grass is mowed then blown
by a machine  sidewalks are empty
clean & the Red Shouldered Hawk
peers
down  — from
an abandoned wooden dome
                       an empty field
 
it is all in-between the light
every day this     changes a little
 
yesterday homeless &
w/o papers                  Alberto
left for Denver a Greyhound bus he said
where they don’t check you
 
walking working
under the silver darkness
            walking   working
with our mind
our life
 

You & I Belong in This Kitchen

longtime hermano Bob          tells me
one of the monks in brown directs us to the deep sink
made of two sinks the hose & the silver table where all 
the spoons & metal tongs are clean
wait at the entrance for directions the monk gave me
but he is in there & points me to another sink
made of two sinks & a silver table where all 
the spoons & metal tongs are clean
scrub off the rice burned at the bottom 
there it is clinging to the sides of the steel
outside working the hole in the earth
three monks in brown stir the blackish pots boiling
four mouths of mud cakes for the new lunar year
the dragon the people the monastery the mountains
one monk stands staring into the nothing
no thoughts around him 
the other monk descends through the scaly fog two
children angle an exploded tree limb back & forth
so the sparks play with them      to the left 
the meditation hall is curved & faces Escondido 
down below where my father drove his army truck
& pulled our trailer to a stop on Lincoln Road in ‘54
I watered spidered corn & noticed the deportations
little friends gone the land left to ice alone
lunch is served we go to the line the spoons
and the speckled tongs await by the brown rice
white rice eggplant kim chee & a grey shade pot
pour the seaweed soup we go with our tray & sit 
the mud cakes are ribboned in red & gold & green 
there is a way to do this 
it requires listening & seeing &
silence           silence the bell rings
longtime hermano Bob & I      at the parking lot
we leave brown cloth                           brown cloth
naked spoons      naked pots
steam         rises from the sink &      the view
the view with no one           in front or     in back