Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Prime Meridian

The difference between me and you
is that, well, you are more alphabetical
and I am more numeric.
My God is better than your god,
who you don’t believe in anyway.

The difference between you and me
is skin color, eye color. The length
of your fingers? Spidery. Mine
are worker’s fingers. I live in the city,
you live in the country, and we all
know how important geography is.
You can’t live on the equator,
but you can sail over it and kiss
the fat belly of Neptune,
and become a Shellback,
maybe, if you’re tough.

The difference between you and me
is that you need to crawl through
rotting garbage, and I just have a raw
egg in my mouth. Your great-grandparents
were hit with short lengths of a firehose
while mine wore gloves for tea.

The difference between you and me?
Your opinions, voiced in status updates
on a daily basis, count. Your voice
is heard. Me? I don’t have
a public voice without an online
presence, so my ideas just knife
the air.

The difference between
me and you is, well, you are Filipino,
or Korean, or whatever, and I am
German or English or whatever.
All my relatives
are in silver frames,
and never had sex.

This means nothing, no,
everything in the world,
a glass of milk held up to the moon.

Your war is my war, brother,
we each have blood we need inside
our veins, alphabetical
or numeric. We crawl
on our hands and knees,
heads shaved, as we
hope to cross together
at the prime meridian.

Monday, September 10, 2012

To My Old Addresses

Oakland, NJ:
The apple tree, a yawn of lawn
where my father planted a vegetable garden,
porch where we played, 
a banister where my sister
lost a tooth, the accordion door
to my bedroom. Traffic
lights told stories on my walls.

A-Frame rental, Valley of Lakes, PA:
Red shag carpet, a loft, and stairs
with a space underneath I turned
into a post office. The pond my sister and I named
Anniversary Pond, one I wrote about twenty years later,
falling in love with the idea
of what is underneath the surfaces
of the world. So many.

Valley of Lakes, PA:
A dogwood tree, a deck with a space
left for a tree to grow through it, rooms
where my sister and I slammed doors
or created radio shows, a forest of cicadas
to wake to, dirt roads, a lake and a canoe.
The woods where I grew up, my parents
so young in t-shirts and jeans,
my grandmothers visited on Sundays,
holidays, and birthdays. Potato salad.

Nanticoke, PA:
first apartment during college,
my roommate’s knick-knacks and kimchee.
The Peeping Tom who left
a mountain of cigarette butts
on the lawn by the kitchen window.

Nanticoke, PA:
Not enough outlets to have
the fishtank and the coffeepot
plugged in at the same time,
a landlord who clipped his toenails
while my grandmothers visited
his real estate office. Green
shag carpeting. A kitchen table
from the 1960s, all vinyl and chrome.
My grocery receipts included
items that were only a dollar or less.

Ephrata, PA:
Home with Mom and Dad
for summer, then for a year or so
of a self-imposed college sabbatical.
Scrabble on the side porch, dinners with dad
while mom worked the three to eleven shift
at the hospital. House full of light.

Wilkes-Barre, PA:
Three flights up to a layered torte
of more green shag carpeting. My father
paid some co-workers to help him
haul  my apartment sized piano
up all those stairs. I didn’t play
it enough for that.

Topton, PA:
A slow chain of buildings with
blue doors, and a train that went by
at 1 a.m. every morning.
The piano only went up one flight
this time. When the building manager
had the units sprayed for roaches,
they only worked in the hallways,
so roaches became a staple.
Traps everywhere, scuttling
when the lights were flipped on.

Reading, PA:
Eight months pregnant, I painted
the ceiling of the bedroom
in our brick rowhome, and slept
on a mattress on the floor.
Later, I brought my new daughter
home and there was a bed.
Three floors to play with, and the top
had two rooms for painting and writing.
Our neighbor’s mouth was hidden by facial hair,
and he grew tomatoes where his dogs shat.
Other neighbors threw eggs
at each other in the street.

Nanticoke, PA:
Here again, hello. Another whole
house to ourselves, two floors.
Cherry tree in the back,
a kitchen big enough to dance in.
Long walks in the strip mined land
my daughter called “The Jungle.”

Edwardsville, PA:
The first house I bought, then bought again
with the help of my parents during a divorce.
Not one right angle in it, thanks to the area's
coal mining heritage. The love of my life helped
paint the rooms alive again. My daughter
wore a cat tail, a ladybug costume,
a prom dress,  a graduation cap,
and then a baker’s toque.
We packed everything
but the years of growth
marked on the doorjamb.