Life, simply

Life, simply

Not when you want it
Not when you desperately, crazily,
look for it
Least of all when you ache for it
In the loneliest mornings,
The most abandoned hour

Life, simply
Awaiting you casually
in the booth of that diner

The layers slowly stripping
The effort, the struggle,
the insane awareness of itself

Life, simply
Not to be advertised,
Not a story to be told
(forgive the vanity of these words)

Rather, life simply lived
In sharing an avocado toast


Who am I to tell you about the languages of the desert?

[Scottsdale, Arizona]

Who am I to tell you, indeed,
about the languages of the desert.
I am not a native
who holds the secrets of the land in his heart;
Nor a geologist or a geographer
who can teach you the history of the desert’s sedimentary rocks
Not even a poet am I
able to translate the desert with the unexpected metaphor.

I am a mere foreigner,
a transplanted heart
accustomed to wet lands
to lush biospheres of greens
and predictable rainy days

The aridness of the desert
has however penetrated my foreign soul
The shapeless rolling oceans of sand
now house my broken heart
shattered in thousand tiny pieces
that, much like the desert itself,
will no longer be able to find its original shape

(“In the desert, you can’t remember your name”, the song warns you)

It is from this void,
From this shapeless
dark, somber,
bottomless, solemn, even,
That I tell you this:
The beautiful waves of browns, oranges and reds
that color the ancient body of the desert,
The stunning blues from the sheltering sky
that hovers above the desert colors
punctuated by the unbidden white cloud,
The wildflowers that courageously paint the desert hues with yellows or purples
for a few days on a given lucky Spring
are but facades.
The desert, my friend, hides all sort of mirages and fictions

Make no mistake about it:
The desert is a place of
blacks and whites
It is a point of extremes:
Cold or hot
Good or evil.
In its essence the desert is a zone of ultimate tensions
And struggles
It is a battlefield
where rawness is a rule
and cruelty is the law of the land.
It is where death confronts life face to face.
(And we know who wins)

Beware of the desert.


Show me how you
learned to forget
how you learned to lose
your world
thinking you gained

That world one day was here
and, on a given Wednesday,
at a given hour,

Show me how you dug out
the roots,
how you dried that brook,
how you effaced that hue of blue
from the sky.

How did you do it?
I need to know.

Like that world had never been
your very own entrails

Untouched by the loss
by the hole in your soul.
Oblivious of that brook,
of that blue.

You roam the foreign streets


Silences are like walls
They creep up brick by brick on you.
Stealthily becoming bigger
Mortar, hammer, cement
inaudible sounds: bang, bang, bang.
Grinding heaviness until it binds
with other, older, silences.

Silences are like walls
All of a sudden these walls become you.

Sky Harbor Airport

They arrive and fill the house with
familiar voices and sounds
The sense of foreignness dissipates
They are memories of me – incarnate.
my language and gestures
good night kisses and
lingering morning hugs

They bring bags of black beans and cassava flour,
Feijoada, feijão, farofa.
The smells and tastes of home.

I am back from the joys and sadnesses of the Sky Harbor Airport
The runways of arrivals and departures
that mark my life in Arizona. 

Their  laughter is now gone
And here am I again in my empty house in the desert
That uncomfortable familiar feeling of being out-of-place
The aridness of making sense of who I am
and what part of home is left in this desert
when they go.

A hyphen between

Not one language but a hyphen between

Neither here nor there
– but the middle –
something only definable
and discernible
through the experience
of both here
and there
and everything that it means.

This duality becomes her
It maps her.

She is a foreigner, they say.
Her command of the language is impressive.
But foreign.
She is odd.

What they don’t know:
she has become a foreigner
both here