New York (In response to today’s poem-a-day from Academy of American Poets)

I got inspired to write this poem after this poem-a-day from the Academy of American Poets. My poem is second and Jenny Xie’s poem is first.

Landscape America Skyscrapers Metropolis Manhattan
Landscape America Skyscrapers Metropolis Manhattan

Naturalization

Jenny Xie

His tongue shorn, father confuses
snacks for snakes, kitchen for chicken.
It is 1992. Weekends, we paw at cheap
silverware at yard sales. I am told by mother
to keep our telephone number close,
my beaded coin purse closer. I do this.
The years are slow to pass, heavy-footed.
Because the visits are frequent, we memorize
shame’s numbing stench. I nurse nosebleeds,
run up and down stairways, chew the wind.
Such were the times. All of us nearsighted.
Grandmother prays for fortune
to keep us around and on a short leash.
The new country is ill-fitting, lined
with cheap polyester, soiled at the sleeves.

==========================================

New York, New York

The customary place, everything comes
Into place – America. That untradeable part of you,
That serene shore. The oar takes you to,
Greener pastures, the green card implies.
Sedated by a little glance at stars and stripes,
Everything black holed there on,
Your past, your paper-thin chronicles, just an object
Near an event horizon. You get to start
With a new slate, wear canvas shoes, Converse or Air Jordans,
Talk big like you’re now in a capitalist mecca,
Where shoe shine doesn’t get you any respect.
Here, everything gets assembled by the traffic,
By the apartment numbers and 90 degree intersections.
In this cosmopolitan hub, which is a melting point,
The latino man stays aloft with Jesus power,
Bowing to phrases of latin, the romance language that gets
A few mentions in holy mass. Here what
Separates the son of God and the migrant man,
Is how many times, you get to come back from
The dead, because here in the Big Apple,
Rising, like Boss Bruce’s song, is the modus operendi,
The number of scarred gun-shot wounds
Inside your track suit, is keeping record,
Of how many times you’ve risen. Resurrection is,
Just another Latino man named Jesus,
– pronounced Hesus -, playing a game of
Houdini roulette, winning most times,
While a man called Fydor looks on,
With a blank face, utterly bemused.

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Conchology

jesus on the cross

On a skull hill
Overlooking a sleepy town
There was a man who was evicted. 
He was whipped, clothes ripped apart
Humiliated in front of throngs,
Paraded with two cut throat thieves,
And hung on a cross of timber.
And today, he is still found on a million crosses,
On bed stands, between clavicles,
On the tip of rosaries.

And this man, a fisherman,
Who everyday sat on a beach,
And looked at leftover seashells
The exoskeletons of a once was mollusk,
Now littering and yet carving
A place among the silica crystals.
And that was his legacy, a shell, an exoskeleton,
So different from the rest, so beautiful in design,
In conchology; the lines, the colors
The feel, all telling the onlooker,
That the most precious part of life,
Is found in what doesn’t turn to ash.

And the Jesus mollusk
In one Judas’s kiss, transformed
To be the hunted, clawed with nails,
Wiped out from history. And this near-naked
Man’s echo, even today, proliferates through,
The enclosure of a shell, the dome he built
To house his legacy, where millions
Gather to celebrate the son of man,
Who was long before death,
A son of the ocean.

And that abalone shell lives
As Jesus’s chopped ear,
As the perfect example of how,
To forgive and forget. And that auriform whorl
Now looks down on us, as one of many
Church domes, housing his solitary echo,
Of being the anomaly in the sands,
The glitter bearer, who went down in pages of history,
To become an amulet on a cross,
Remembered through time,
As abalone flesh on tongues.

Good Friday (Rejected by Permafrost Magazine)

jesus on the cross

At home, Good Friday is a hard day to get through.
The meat of chicken and pigs have magically
Transformed to Jesus’s flesh, and it’s a no-go zone
For the catholic-minded. Over at the table
You count the goodies from your neighbors
After all, it is New Year too in Sri Lanka, but your face
Turns pale and lengthens, when you notice
That the chairs are empty.

You think of Jesus and the cross. You’re carrying
An empty stomach, and you’re a fastidious carnivore.
Every minute seems like a step in the path to Golgotha.
My 44 inch waist and the apple-shaped tummy
Are shouldered on top of my two feet. In my mind
I’m a surrogate Jesus, carrying my punitive tummy,
Where you start to hear grumbling voices.
You start to wonder ‘can your tummy be diagnosed
With schizophrenia ?’. I imagine the stomach going into
Psychosis, dreaming of a perfectly roasted chicken
Or some mutton korma, and it’s
All a hallucination. I wonder would Jesus
Had hallucinated of God rescuing him
From the Jewish gangs.

And my tummy is rumbling, cursing little
Words I cannot understand. I picture Jesus, with only Veronica
And a few women following him, being whipped
By the Jews, persecuted for being a good man.
A good man who has no sin about him.

And Good Friday will end soon.
I will only remember the suffering, a 12 hour
Fast gave me. My wife told me today that Jesus
Had a preparation of lamb for the last supper. At least
His last meal was fit for a king and he didn’t
Have to fast before his tragic death.

I’m just a glutton while Jesus was the lamb.
My empty stomach was my thanksgiving prayer
To Jesus. To be in my own little way, Jesus-like
To hear little sounds in your tummy
Temptation playing her tune.

And Jesus was Good Friday’s stooge.
And I wonder in my head, what a death on a cross
Would feel like; a maze of blood, no water to hydrate,
Only a few women looking on and streaks
Of lightning falling to the Calvary.

And to the Jews, Jesus’s crucifixion, was just a feast.
A celebration of a death of a charismatic man
Who became that hour the lamb of god.

I look up at the blank screen in front of me
I see a hill appearing with three tall crucifixes
I see Jesus’s shanks nailed to a cross.
Blood dripping like Rosemary sauce.

Sunday Mornings

Sleep Sheets Bed Sex Feet Erotism In Love Toes
Lovers in Bed on a Sunday Morning

There are churches and then
There are cathedrals. Love is the latter.
That morning too, the wine glass was rich, silky and red
And the bread buttered like brioche
We sipped wine from each others glasses
And scavenged on each others dough
It was a beautiful routine on a Sunday morning
To be offered on an alter covered in a white sheet
A feeling that small habits billow into
Little miracles, like when candle light
Powers a sacrament of giving without condition,
Serving without sense or sensibility,
In to a tradition of interfacing the mortal with the divine
Until there is nothing left to transform
But the hysterical heaviness of breath
To the blissful lightness of parole.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene

The look in your face, worthy of me
And the others, scorn
Keeping vigil like a lioness.
You who took the stone out of their palms
And reminded each one, of the splinters
In their eyes.

And I searched for you
Around the skull mountain
And found an empty abandoned tomb
They said you had risen
And gone away.

And my lips still know no departure
My feet dance on yours in my dreams
My lips transgress like my night kissing your dawn
And my breasts are no longer
Like Sodom and Gomorra
Weighing of sin.

My heart will stand like Jericho
With the impenetrable walls around me
Guarding the memory of you
As I draw water from the Dead Sea, the banks
We knew so well, baffled at how a dead mass
Can be so life giving.
How the waves come back to wash my feet
Like you did that Passover day.

And I will wait, paying the penance of virtue
To be that woman who mourns louder and longer,
Than she has ever moaned.
Like a lighthouse that needs not
Summon any more ships to her feet.

And love, how can you forget love?
As red as the sea by its name
As dense as a bloom of Trichodesmium
And as carnal as the sharks that swim
Inside that narrow sea
And the boat that used to be here

Cutting through water
Spraying sea foam
Salting time.

Jesus

rosary01

He was a man of sandal
And staff. Befriending tax collectors and prostitutes.

He climbed the mountain
And prayed in the gardens of Jerusalem.

He was a man of simple needs
Water, bread and the daily catch of fish.

And yet the simplicity of his virtue
Still goes far and wide, like the screeching

Voice of a wren, and the nest he built
Still flourishes on the seven hills in Rome.

It is transcendent, that the echo of Jesus still haunts
The consciences caught in grunge of sin.

And it must be innerving to the devil, the snake,
How a dead man still laughs

From the vantage point on top of a cross
Of a skull cap hill.

Joseph (Perhaps the True Story of Christmas)

joseph_and_mary_arrive_at_bethlehem

Christmas is as much about
The bravary of a Hebrew man
Who took the virgin’s lie
Under his wing, and made love
A fool’s choice, being fooled by god
And everything fate stood for
And yet that foolish man
Became the unsung hero of a mythical tale
In the forbidden dessert
Of a long journey to Bethlehem
When in a manger, a child was born out of wedlock
In the nuptials of divinity with God’s chosen one
And that mortalization
Climbed out of a lass’s womb to the hold of a bearded man
Who will forever live in the absence of legends
A fool who will forever be known
For his foolish heart, and his elopement
For the love of a woman of sin

Christmas too is as much about
The acceptance of the unlikely romance
Of Joseph and Mary, the coalescence
Of sin with the sinless, sinner and the righteous
Perhaps the child in the manger
Grew up to become a rebel, knowing his father
Was as much a rebel as he was.
Joseph, a medium built lad from Israel,
Who took in a stray woman
And another man’s child
And made Christmas, as much
About the courage of the human heart
As the irrelevance of sin