Tío

for Uncle Jorden 

I never thought I feared death.
But I feel its presence in the way I can feel the soles of my feet
rise up into my stomach
when I look at the scaffolding outside my window;
the pain I can feel churning my insides into typhoon seas
when I see bloodied fingertips,
cuticles cracking,
skinned knees.

I always thought death would be
like a large room full of empty rooms,
the hollowness of wooden floors,
large and cavernous doorways beckoning slow movements,
a wandering, bare foot —
a place where billowing things were kept,
a place that, the closer it came to night, the more oppressive the emptiness became —
all the rooms suffocating in the staunchness of their silence,
unwhispered secrets stealing the whimsy out of curtains,
dipping white sheets into starch,

eternity kept like a madwoman in the attic.

I pictured it quiet that way,
but I forgot about the fire that kind of silence threatens.
Perhaps death cannot be so silent.

Perhaps it must be let out,

consuming air like water, like earth, like
the oblivion of city nights in the summertime.

Perhaps death is like August,
when empty rooms still trap heat in their ceilings,
when memories become cacophonous,
rattling their unwelcome spirits through the narrowing corridors,
never to be let out.

Will you tell me
when I see you again
if I was right?

 

Perhaps it is not right to ask,
when the silence of many years stretches still between us,
but I have only ever asked things from you
when it was too late to ask,
and you have only ever given me
the sunbleached memories of
tumbleweeds
and turtles,

the tenuous and safe way a child remembers
stories she heard from happy relatives who,
drunk and falling asleep beneath the warmth of Christmas lights,
could only laugh,
only clutch with their sleepy lungs
at air that would eventually calcify into
the fondness of imperfect memory.

I wish I knew you since.

I wish I could hear your voice now,
telling me perhaps not to be so sentimental.
Telling me perhaps that I was right —
that death is not so frightening as living.

Don’t say to me that

the reason I didn’t fear death was because
I didn’t expect it to come for someone else.

 

©K Paige Medina 04 August 2017

Stone

I dreamed once of a little child
Whose name was that of stone,
And for all I’ve ever felt alive
That child has felt alone.
We’ve wandered long, two specters twinned
Up to the gates of hell,
But for all our silent, ghostly looks,
I could never really tell
If that child followed in my wake,
A lonely phantom saint,
Or whether it was I who trailed,
Sullen, bruised,
likely to faint.

I get the feeling he has walked
Much farther yet than I,
Yet wander on I know he must —
Little longing yet to die.
So let us go then he and I
Into that depth of place
That stops as suddenly as a fall
In his ghastly childish face.

©K Paige Medina 28 June 2017

Oil

I want to be the man who rescues the dogs of the desert,
but I am not.
I am the desert, rustling drily beneath an unforgiving sun,
that I also am,
punisher of cracked seeds, the beating heat of a purgatory
I cultivated for myself.
But I am also the dogs, running, tumbling,
children trapped in the spiny grasp of an unkind world,
but the world is me
and I am dry
and I am sweat
and I am asphyxiating on the calcified fossils of unsaid words
dipped, acidic, into poisons I feed myself,
where the roots of my soul cling desperately to
aquifers full of toxic, molten, gangrene sunlight.
Tarantino sunlight.
The sunlight that brings death in a bride–
a poached kind of brightness that
bleaches in nuclear fallout the bones of dogs
unrescued.
I want to be that beautiful savior,
but I am the unsaved and the desert,
bearing yellow teeth,
oozing with the oil slick hatred that grows,
abundant
in the dry, buzzard air.

©K Paige Medina 25 May 2017

Cursed

I am cursed.

A doomed and unbeautiful creature, eyes and heart perpetually skyward, I have the curse of poets, the disease of Romanticism, seeing beauty in the ugliness and awkwardness and messiness of life.

Oh, do not say it is a curse.

The curse, then, of the unskilled poet – the off-key bard thrumming unwelcome odes to the sound of an incomplete melody,

A sawed-off kind of poetry,

A flea market poetry,

The poetry of gnats and electronics,

 

That which, once heard, cannot be silenced.

 

©K Paige Medina 10 May 2017

Poesy

Mosaic world,
Thief of my temperance,
Drifting sorcerer of the windswept
Places of my heart,
Return your cobbled, lighted being
Once more to my side.
Fill again these intimate cracks,
The fingers unruly around glass bottles,
Grasping like a child
In that uncareful way
At the delicate truths which live,
Which die,
In the small spaces of a morning.

Gilded mystery,
Breathe anew the unlit stories
Of the thousand whispered words you have
So generously,
So cruelly,
Bequeathed me.

Am I so different from
Those wiser poets, eyes of stars,
Mouths agape in the moment of ecstasy,
When time breached through the cool water of night
Another sunsplit morning?
Have I not the same breathless spirit encountered,
When, happening to look up from weary life,
I have been struck by a momentary lapse of presence
And been transported back
Back
Through sublimity, to that moment when all things
All poets
Speak the same language?

©K Paige Medina 09 May 2017

Unsnuffed

There is an element of sparkle
In the sputtering of flames;
In the moment of extinguishing
Fire yet spits forth her names,
Affirming in the moments when
Ceasing seems most true
The lightness of her being before
Life’s final adieu.
And I guess that’s how it feels
In the company of night
When I’m drowning in my failure
And something deep within me lights
And burns an angry rebel spark
That glitters into being
The forgotten words of truth that
Send my fears and regrets fleeing,
And for a moment yet I’m strong
And whole and ready for one more,
Alit within with stubborn sparks still
Glowing in my core.

©K Paige Medina 25 April 2017

Before Rain

What is it about cloudy springtimes that prophesy some
tenuous complicity,
some unpardoned infliction?
Perhaps it is the flowers,
blooming silently in their waxy delicacy,
peering with expectation
at the watery gray delight of sky-borne promises.
Is it rather crows,
roaming the spaces between sky and earth,
calling primal, undignified,
the ugliness of their songs
like water filling porous rocks–
an erosion of sound,
an inkblot on the wind?

Is it trees, leafy, burdened with
green and bustling purpose,
fluttering noisily in northern breezes
and then, just before dusk,
are ominously,
expectantly,
silent?

 

Is it the nearness of faces,
awash in the crispness of gray light and thunder
yet unspoken,
bundled to eyes in black clothes,
walking hurriedly,
conspicuous eyes made of a curious haste,
darting every so often
toward the clouds?

©K Paige Medina 19 April 2017

Spider

Spider,
you tried to keep me afraid
but I met Ananse in Africa, and was

baptized in the silk of his tricks.
I learned to sweat out my anger
and not to kill what I feared;

your small spinner’s legs
are breakable too,
and I am no longer afraid of you.

©K Paige Medina 2 April 2017

A Time to Rest

I think it’s time I put to bed
the crawling things inside my head–
the tigers prowling in the night,
that gurgle waiting for a fight;
the dragons hissing in the seas
that spew half-truths sinisterly;
my poisoned sirens singing hate,
who love to drown and loathe to wait.
I’m made of monsters seething low
who strangle hope and cannot go
alone into their wicked nights,
so I must with them fly or fight.
A cursed gift to me they’ve been
weighty in their depths of sin;
yet mine alone to carry are
these monstrous, heavy, broken scars.

Yet light still shines its fragile beams
through unfilled cracks and weathered seams.
I cannot let these monsters go,
but may find peace in light’s halo
while sleep o’ertakes these devils mine
as daybreak crests its stubborn shine.

Not over yet, this fight I face,
but quieter in dawn’s embrace,
I too must rest from bitter pain
To wake, and then to fight again.

©K Paige Medina 31 March 2017


Watch the Video

Braver Love

Love,
we have cooled, haven’t we?
Slowed to the rhythm of days
we never saw coming,
preoccupied now with the minutes
that once seemed tenuous.
Is it granted, this life,
made up of the coffee spoons we
recycle without telling each other?

Or are we still
allowed to burn with the flames we once knew,
standing billowing upon the mountaintops
of hills we fought to crest,
when we were brave and excited?

Let us not go gentle
into the twilight of our love’s forgetting,
but make of life
a more impassioned cry

and remember once more
that ecstasy does not keep,
but must be found and caught
like the fireflies we saw in humid nights.

It is work, this
braver love, this
scaling of walls, this
looking at another person and seeing them
as another universe filled with light and sound and fury
and yes,
the smallness, too,
the inconsistency
of fireflies.

I will not sit
to watch love wilt in jars;
let us climb again
those towers that yearn for, but do not reach,
the stars.

©K Paige Medina 27 March 2017