At fifty hotels across Austin, continental breakfast lines are bustling. Families wake up early to try to cram in enough Pop Tarts, muffins, cereal, and milk to hold them until the next day.
These are the recipients of vouchers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which have given families temporary housing in hotels across Austin after their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. (Read More)
1. diagnosis: glioblastoma
Your left hand is a dead fish, your left leg a sunken anchor, your left eye
a black mussel
It forgets to move back to the margin to read the next line
You shave only the right side of your face, write only in a tiny column
on the far right edge of the page
I must emphasize, I ask you to
please empathize with me whole-
Oh yes, my friend, I do commit to you entirely,
to the best of my ability,
within the limits of our mutual fragility.
I read that you live in Ireland all by yourself, in a castle, with a dog, that you like it because of extreme quiet—is it true? Did you decide –
(Google what Lamotrigine does to a fetus, then come back)
--did you decide not to bring
not to bring another life
into this world?
Or did something else decide
for you, like medication you had to take, or never
finding a perfect partner?
Dear Enya, my Mom played your CD almost every day in our kitchen. Your music filled the air as she cooked, a kind of pre-dinner ritual to beg the goddess that my father wouldn’t turn over the table.
Dear Enya, I am slightly defective regarding music because I binge and purge. I’ll keep one CD playing in my car for months (or, to be honest, years). Listen to it unceasingly.
Dear Enya, as I’m writing to you now, I’m playing Orinoco Flow, and tears are falling.
Solitary female voice. Dear Enya, I grew up in New Orleans where there is music absolutely everywhere, but it is live music, people sitting on stools on the street.
An aubade is a poem played at dawn as you sneak out of a lover’s house, but I think of your songs as aubades because my mother would hit “Play” on the CD player at dawn when the fights were done and my father went up to sleep. Your album was the bookends. My mother’s way of asserting ethereal clean-up control. She couldn't make anything stop or go but she could add your voice and harps on the margins.
I thought CDs were sacred because you could only touch them on the edges. Tapes you could throw around, toss in a bag, find underneath the car seat or in the street...
What life feels like here: quick denial of dawn, then an hour
organizing paper. Wash crotch and armpits with a water bucket.
Paul Celan squats in the book closet watching the word mine
break down. Missing. The subject matter is lost lives and how
to make sense of the present: we need a spherical text
something cyclical, a circular printing press, a backwards
tattoo gun, a series of sleeps and awakes: after-ripples,
and the sore, bitten nipples of mothers. We choose the suit
of cups over the suit of swords so our vessel can fill and spill,
fill and spill. Time is a cell, a gesture, circle, snapped
rubber band, salivary gland, a stone dropped into water.
Time is the concentrate of cider vinegar, the crystallized resin
of remembering in concentric losses, while new migrant workers
give birth in clinic vans in tent compounds, when home
is function of fragments. A junction of overpasses.
Disemboweled light switches. Floss and thread wound tightly
and unwound slowly, and beautiful changes in the sky.
"Voices of Katrina, Part 1." A white poet found the oral history interviews I had collected and archived on the web with African-American Katrina survivors. He published excerpts, without permission, as poems in his book of poetry. (Poetry Foundation)
A meditation on my favorite performance artist. "The Gurl is trying to save her own life. She must make her way through slavery to freedom by learning how to relate to the spirits, ancestors, and her inner voices..." (Austin Chronicle)