For my first friend in America

Your hand covers mine

we clasp for the camera and smile a 100 watt smile

The American Way

I have learned

how to park a truck

that pale legs are not

as anathema in Texas as in Cannes

I understand, ordering drinks you size up

trying clothes, you size down

topsy-turvy world for a foreigner

lost in her baggage claim.

You made me feel

easy and comfortable like an adirondack chair

smooth wood, deep grain, eccentric shape

this became my town and in so many ways

it was thanks to you taking the time

to show me the way to fit in

the candles dim in the windows of the bar

as if they know you are now gone

where the bird died and we buried it

flowers grow up and a little crepe myrtle

as if forever our steps, will be marked here

mountain laurel blooms wildly

across splayed streets replete with thin cats

seeking their breakfast at Taco huts, the color of watermelon

where I ate among the gladioli without fear.

In the beginning

you were like Tiger Balm

rubbed over my fear, I was no longer shivering

could make my way through the throng

as good as anyone

your watchful eyes on my narrow back

seeing how I did, urging me onward

how will I continue with you gone?

Family, you said, comes from the heart

you may find someone you love in the strangest places

I found you in a Chinese buffet eating Won Tong soup

in my skinny jeans and piss and vinegar

you asked me if I used to be a dancer

I said yes, and now I unravel for a living

you took under your wing, that juniper girl who

didn’t know how to fit in to her new clothes

taught her the measure of her adopted land

like the time we planted trees and you warned

never forget to be merciful, to those less fortunate

the sky was pure blue that day, on the wind

the smell of honeysuckle and river lily

white cranes flew languidly overhead

we shared Limeade and Tortas, our feet dipping in hot puddles

I recall

the first time you were sick

I said, you reminded me of my grandmother

and you frowned; I’m not old enough!

But what I meant was

she had a strength, nobody else could see

every time I went to school she’d wait

in her high-waisted pants of crepe or wool

tight curled hair, wearing oversized sunglasses

below the stairs, nodding with a wink

mouthing the words; You got this

and I’d go into my classroom with a 100 watt smile

not fearful anymore

nobody saw that side of her, just as

people dismissed you as a Jesus Freak

seeing past the strength of your resolve

to live with love

I admire those; who have mercy and compassion

I look to those; who are loyal and unafraid to love

it is the weave of this girl, to follow in those footsteps

bring kindness, do good, lend yourself to gentleness

when I grew sick I saw, how many live with

anger and resentment, undoing their humanity

until they are unrecognizable and only breathe

the exhaust of their bitterness.

To the rose

opening this day

after your passing

I say, O glory, O beauty

live in the sun

as radiant and perfect as anything I have known

and I hear your voice, see your face nodding

you got this

I want to run backward and say

please don’t leave me, don’t go

but I know you have to

and I have to go on

alone but holding your wisdom

your mercy

in those lessons you left

imprinted upon my heart.

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50 minute slots

prostitute

This therapy doesn’t work

I take an hour to get made up

so I do not look like the long toothed tiger

I feel inhabits my emotions and wishes

to roar and cry uncontrollably

while she sits thinking about

her recent vacation and what

she’ll have to eat for dinner

because after all this is just a job

she is just a human

who has a right to time off and a life outside

the pain she allots 50 minute slots

I am convinced

paying for therapy is a little like

paying for love

you get little of the real stuff

and a lot of compensation and emptiness

I feel alone in the room

hearing myself drone

I want to tell her everything

I want her to know how much I’m hurting

I want to express my fear and my loathing

but she is a stranger

who takes my insurance

maybe I should be thankful

but I’m bitter and repressed and tell her

what she wants to hear

after all, therapists want to believe you’re doing alright

even when you’re one step from the edge

after all, therapists need to sleep sound at night

just as I childishly wish she’d turn around and say

this isn’t a job, I care, I really care about YOU

let me in

and if she did I would, but that’s supposing

people aren’t who they are and they very much are

professional detatchment

closed-off, remote, shuffling from one hour to the next

waiting for the time they can walk out the door

not think about other people’s problems

there isn’t much empathy going around these days

we’re all so tired and I’m getting to the end

of wearing cracked masks

even when I need to break apart

which you can only do when someone

gives a shit

nobody pays for reality

and as much as it is known

‘therapy is a gift you give yourself’

and as much as it is claimed

‘if you do the work you’ll grow’

I don’t want to go through the motion

I want to be cared about

I want her to give a shit

I want things that are impossible

because she’s a job and I’m a client

but this way around it feels like

I’m the hooker and she’s the john

because I’m blowing hot air

and she’s sucking it up