Orson Awesome

For my grandson, 1 year old

Say you were recently born
And still lived inside a mango
But you were also the most intrepid explorer monkey
And each of your fingers was a different color
And you could finger paint the world 
And of course you knew the abracadabras for every shut thing         

Say you loved veggies with beautiful singing voices
And your first ziggy-zaggy steps were a flying leap for mankind
And you thought your name was Awesome  
And books were your best friends even in the dark

Say you were just-because loved by your momma and poppa and Abuela
And nobody knew about the magic carpet of your dreams
(except Abuelo)
And you could fly around the world meeting each and every one-by-one
And you could kiss your own bellybutton in the bathtub
And stack all first things next to their names and knock the tower down

Say your first sayings were historic babblings for world peace 
And your elbows had two minds of their own
And Fear feared you because you were the bravest brave on Copley Street
And you could crack the sky with your cries for justice

You’d be Orson and Orson would be you
Justly Orson
Muchly Orson

Orson Awesome!

                                                            -- New York, December 17, 2011

Giving out grades

Today I gave the trees D’s
My neighbor’s dogs F’s
C- for the sunrise and its deficit of purple
C- for the English language, too
“Room for improvement”
I sentenced

All day
Grading the fucking world
Flinging F’s far and wide

Flunking food, air, birth
Prime numbers and the terrible spaces between atoms
Flunking failure and success
The high and the mighty
Flunking my windpipe and my shadow
D for the cutting of umbilical cords
D for evolution, veggies and flesh
Straight F’s for misters, sisters and twisters

Grading all afternoon
And into the night
Saving my A’s for a rainy day
                                                -- New York, August 1, 2011


I submit only to the law of levity
I believe exclusively in apricots
I am an extra in your film
A hummingbird in a suit

I have a wound
With a voice of its own
A red door
A black window

I have punch lines
Without jokes
A pallet, a mallet and a wallet
A shadow with a mind of its own
An apartment filled with shit and diamonds

I suckle young and old
I pop the question
I search for the lost Flavia Rivera

Who am I?

                                                            -- New York, July 28, 2011


These are mountains
These are my hands
These are beehives foreclosed and shuttered
These are my grandchildren in the war zone

And now the puzzle pieces go into hiding in black dimensions
Tahrir Squares everywhere waiting 

                                          -- New York, June 21, 2011


For Roger Greenwald

The color yellow
Has had a hard day
It walks home slowly
With its soft hands in its pockets

Streets ceremoniously lower their names for the night
Like flags
Folding them carefully into the shadows

The number 403 has accomplished great things
And is now preparing lentil soup
It will eat alone at the table
With places set for beloved 12 and philosophical 845

Lost wallets
Dropped dolls and half-eaten sandwiches
Rest now and begin to enjoy their new freedom
Today at least they have not been found

All of us
Have had enough
Of June 5, 2011
We allow it to walk backwards into history
Without so much as a goodbye
Or a thank you
                                             -- New York, June 5, 2011

Memo to contractor

          for Dan, Sarah and Orson

An amplitude
A living space
The safety goes right here
In the baby's room
Everywhere you turn
Install music
Leave room for room
In this room
Re-do wiring
New names for new things
Take down this wall
Bring tree into house
Allow for rain
Breathing room
Get rid of all of this
This is where that goes
Foundation needs work
Remove roof altogether

- New York, May 10, 2011

Well aren't you

Well aren’t you just a bear with an injury
A ping-pong ball lost
Needle in haystack
Worry bead of DNA?

Aren’t you one of these very words
Surrounded by your family
On a burning sheet of paper
Or hovering in bits and bytes
In the cloud?

Aren’t you the kissing cousin of all things
Blood brother of buttons and fire
A clay of damage and laughter
Dancer in a shaft of sunlight
Message of first breath and open palm?

                                              -- New York, May 8, 2011

Epitaph 2

Rooster flight

But at least
I flew! I flew!
                             -- New York, April 27, 2011

He could ring a bell

He could ring a bell there in the late afternoon

And a gold bar of sunlight
Would melt in his hand
Like butter in a frying pan

And time would split like a hive
Into bees
Each with a gift of honey
For this possible human
Naughty with his tongue and his freedom

And if there were time
He could have all of it

If he feared for his life
And was broken
He could be flown
Like a kite

By a genius of a child
Into a double rainbow

He could be
Lost and found like a key

                                        -- New York, April 7, 2011

My gone mother on Mars

My gone mother on Mars
Searching for signs of life
Searching for her lungs

She has 1950s curlers in her hair
Smoking 2-3 cigarettes

Mom is right and she is wrong
Lonely in her skin

She dances on her peg leg
Spins on the never-healing stump

Her arm rises in the air
It's just my funny brain tumor
She says

In a crater she finds remnants of Yiddish
Fragments of a Russian lullaby

Her hands are bigger than mine
Knuckles knobbier

She visits me in Mexico, in Cuba

To keep me from floating away
She holds my foot

Martian booby traps everywhere

She has only six months to live

How will she survive her life
On the Red White and Blue Planet?

                                         -- New York, March 28, 2011

The cast of characters

“The cast of characters includes a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a cheerleading peanut and a banana.” – Cartoon Network press release about the debut of The Amazing World of Gumball, March 17, 2011

For the life of me
Here I stand
Avenue of the Americas
Central Park South
Looking up
At San Martin's statue
Libertador de Argentina, Chile y Peru

The cast of characters

Surely I am the only one in the world
Who at 10:15 in the morning
On this very day
Standing in San Martin’s shadow
Is taken into custody
By this joyful recollection:

Street musicians in Buenos Aires
In their 70s, maybe older
Worse for wear, hungover and drenched
In the Plaza de Mayo

The happiest and freest 4 humans alive

I walk into the park
I embrace
One by one
The Tyrannosaurus Rex
The cheerleading peanut
And the banana

What a cast of characters!
                                          -- New York, March 23, 2011

Lists # 1/At 60: a few things I really want


To breastfeed,
Even for a minute.


To walk across coals,
Kiss you,
Set your lips on fire.


To play
The oboe
For beached whales.


To seize my father
From the clutches of oblivion and death,
Smell and ask him
Who in the world am I,
Where I came from
And why.


Yes I want world peace,
And a piece of it
Just for me,
Small maybe
But perfect now,
A warm hand or a light heart or a bird
Who knows the meaning of
All my names,
Flying ahead, behind and inside me.

                                                        -- Panama,  November 23, 2005

Missing pieces

Pieces of me
Are missing.

The whole of me
Is now less
Than the sum of my parts.

Where are my pieces?

Are they now part
Of someone else's puzzle?

I want them
I want at least some
Of my best pieces

But who has them?

Were they stolen?
Did I lose them or
Give them away?

How will I survive without
My pieces?

                                                      -- Panama, June 13, 2004