consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Category: New World

Two years of a march (Portland, Pulse, Memphis, the Sun)

It was nine in the morning that first year
JJ and I had tied one on, dancing with beautiful women
Deep into coastal night
(only after walking into that curious little store with many rooms)
I walked the Mile, flowers in hair, colors of the rainbow.

I loved all of us. The sea. CALL JOE blazing on the time and temperature sign.
And it was there in the bed of a truck.
It was slick and shiny, blazing rainbows in all directions.
I was new, but you wouldn’t know it. We all had a job.

Just unraveling it took an hour. Hundreds helped.
It covered the whole square and then some.

It smelled of coffee, revolution.
late-night fits of artistic frenzy.
The AIDS epidemic. Harvey Milk.
Brandon Teena. Matthew Shepard.
Backstreet Cafe. Otherside. Upstairs.
Augusta. Montreal. West Virginia. Moscow.

By touch you could feel Dale McCormick, Gia, Nancy.
Baldwin, Polis, Frank. Michaud. Maloney.
You could feel the tangent of hatred interwoven, turned to deep blues.

You could taste Portland rigor. The sweat of activism.
The nerve, the nerve of this tiny town in the whitest of states.
The Oddysean journey for voice and a patch of land.
40 blizzards, a kiss, the grace given by old white men to marry.
A child was cradled there too. Surrounded by love, and the purest of songs.

We carried it, danced under it, wept into it.
Let go of it for another year.

The second year there were different names.
Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 30
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31

We carried that flag amidst SWAT teams.
We were not afraid, but really, we still looked.
Over shoulder, behind.
The police did too. We all were reminded of how
the carrying of this, this symbol
this mantra, this, this multitude
is a blessing, a gift, and act of extreme love
it’s so threatening, really.
All those rainbows and hearts, all the beautiful people,
screaming with pride and adoration for their bodies,
their beats, their bravado, their babies.
More terrifying than bombs, it seems. Scarier than the rapture itself, it seems.
This love is infectious, liberal, whole.

Run for the hills, they are coming. And they are probably well dressed.

A year more, and in Memphis I sit calmly, not knowing my town.
feeling smaller than before. Feeling subdued.
Without the invincibility of Portland.
Without the ocean, stripped of the joyful nights of that town.
But I know what it is to rebuild, by God I do know that.
But I do think I want to feel it in my fingers again.
That gorgeous emblem. My friend’s hand in mine.
The awe and majesty of it all. The many tears wept in vigil.
The candle of protest dripping wax onto my palm.

Well, at least we know there are people available for impeachment.
they wave another flag, wear different hoods in secrecy.
There are injustices that still appall,
and poverties beyond imagining.
Right. Here.
Right in this 901 snatchy homeland of the blues.
So it’s time to get back to fucking work I guess,
and leave the pining for some other whiny freckled short girl.
Roll up the sleeves, and write some anthems.
No rest for the lonely, they say.
and for the wicked, it is only a matter of time.
There’s shit to do, and parks to clean.
Kids who don’t eat.
The action is all. It’s like molasses here,
but the guns are quick, the hunger quicker, the trafficking quickest,

the homicide meter running.

so, dignitaries, I’ll see you on the court.
make sure to bring a snack.

 

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I would love to, OR, how we might behold.

III
a guitar pick and a romp for the black cat
3 bands later it was still moving and
I could feel the calm start to seep in
We can rest here

(and the drummer’s mouth is open because he’s pounding, the guitar player broke his third string, the microphone is just receiving screams because after so many songs what is there to do but scream)

I can’t hear anything
and planets surge forward
in this two-horse town of trees
and all those barren bodies look in frenzy for the tonight in the ones next to them, across from them, upstairs from them, down the bar…
but the pounding is still ferocious
and how can they ignore
oh the best
part
when all the drinks bought make the guys on stage a little reckless and
shit gets louder, even
and each word is a prayer said over
sinewy arms, ringed fingers, nicotine lips…

And that fateful moment
“Thank you, Goodnight”
the white light blast our eyes
making women wish waterproof was for real
making stagger a zip code
making cabs chariots
making the cold night a question mark for the leftover
the lonely
the lascivious

the cold slaps me
and on nights like last night
I start running fast into the black
into the cold
splitting it in two
with The Queen is Dead across my chest
just to feel the blood pound into my face

I know it’ll come again because
the Pour house is there, the Lincoln there
and so many to see
and so many nights to
welcome
this breakneck, lovely cold splitting Midnight.

(when we replace the thought of us with birds, and release us into clouds that eat us whole, spitting out the seeds)
There’s a novelty to breathing
Held fast tight fat pockets grasping inside hand reaching
Angelwhere.
I wished you would hold me
Just for seconds of course
I can’t stay the course
I gotta bang-bang all over my psyche and talk future like
Wanting for ambition to take hold
Waiting for the wings to melt
I gotta slam into dem bones I see
In my dreams, vain, glorious
Wanting for a darker knight, a darker fight
A false fevering fleshed out soldier
Wanting more of that light, six shooters bright
But it just gets colder
Those sheets just get colder,
that sunbeam where you were gets colder.
That hotel room, that coffee those moments
Like smoke, get colder
A double A
double offering, the sky,  sucked us right in.
Changeling children and
Madly doting lovers reminded me that I could laugh.
For extra comfort I held my own hand.
And the blue up high had a circling bird
Tethered to Jehovah and the angels it flew circle wise into darker
Tree ridden areas for rest.
And I got a letter from Jehovah today.
Those chain letters that
piece together all of the unknowns

II
Whether I be chicken, deviant, cartoon mug or frost
I am shrouded in hair, black
guarded by feet, convex
healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same summer and wisher
I can’t help but think that those rocks in
Virginia’s pockets each had a weight of their own
One, four pounds, one twenty
Each girded in express melancholy

I
Feel ten degrees warmer thinking of you
Gentility in approach
Fingers on the underside of my chin
Hands grasping lower back for fear of slipping
Perspiration lining the runway of spine and hip
Each freckle accounted for
Triple Decker sunshine candy girl has five feet
Of surging words for apathetic ears
I miss that room where boys dance on heads,
girls shake words from a stone
Jesus freaks with crayons pattern stigmatic guitar rifts
And Queen of nightlife moves through the room like some silver
Beauty ghost with eyes that stop trains
And hands that can hold a child with no fear
So yeah, I’ll spout them, three and with heart
I’ve run out of what calms the race, so we’ll see if
Grass will grow on faster ground
On hands made of war, and breath composed of brown eyes, wandering
Consumption just doesn’t work, but I keep it up despite
Monster premonitions and tighter belts

Angel come, come and fit fever on your wing
Angel run your hand through my eyes and pull out the softer girl
With hair of silk
thighs of green

thoughts of pounding hooves.

Even on my tallest day I still can’t reach the damn light bulb.

The lights in my kitchen in my ugly puppy of an apartment here in Memphis are slowly, one by one, going out. While I love the high ceilings in this quirky pad, I am, and will always be, 61 and three-quarters of an inch high. No amount of staring straight up will release these dead bulbs from their elusive sockets. No matter what surface in my apartment I put under me, I can’t reach. I cannot WILL them out. They will not be swayed by smart rhetoric. Even yelling has not worked. Ignoring them has no yield either. I’m just dumbfounded by the hilarious metaphor of it all screaming in caps,

“YOU NEED TO LET SOMEONE IN”.

A ladder would do the trick, or possibly scaling the stove to fridge and then a 3 foot reach… but seriously? If you know me, you know that both of these ideas are just nucking futs.

I’m easing in. Last night I welcomed new friends by means of games, fire, and loud music. Today I receive friends by reading at the Spartan City Poet’s May Day. Tonight I participate in some small way as an actor in a rehearsal. Tomorrow, more immersion, more opening, more tooling around exploring this city with new eyes that are reminding some of my new Memphian pals why they stayed here, and why it’s beautiful.

Mid forties are super weird. You kind of can’t make up excuses for your behavior anymore, lest you just fall into the category of the non-evolving. It’s exciting to REALLY love people in a deeply grounded way. It’s trailblazing to speak with a whiff of authority about your experience, particularly when you’ve made the maverick move of waiting to dive in with folks until you can see past the fog of craftily and attractively packed baggage you have accumulated over said forty plus years.

“So when you are sitting with a new tribe in a tiny lounge off of Madison,  the music is good, and the laughter is the whitest of noise, you can believe that none of this, not one part of it can be done alone, Carmen, so shut up and listen to me. Let someone come over and change the damn bulbs. Everyone is taller than you anyway.” – The Universe

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Secondary leaves, Or mid-life growth spurts

It’s been a solid three weeks since my little life began here in the deep south. In that time, I have figured out the GOOD grocery store, the BAD date sites, the BEAUTIFUL garden walks, the WILDLY FRUITFUL yard-sale neighborhoods, and the inevitable MIRROR UP TO NATURE that is alone time. All of this, of course, yields incredibly useful information, albeit sometimes with great discomfort.

There has not been great success personally in raising things from seed in my life. I am a scavenger of disposed-of plants behind grocery stores, and while those forgotten plants usually live in the world of dry, old, or ugly– I try to revitalize them and bring back some of the good old days of green living. But from seed? There was a pitiful tomato plant once. It yielded one lone tomato, about an inch in diameter.

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It was a momentous occasion. My friend Caitlin and I divided it in two and ate it with panache, as we did many beautiful meals in that dearest old stinky house we occupied in Pittsfield Massachusetts, so many moons ago.

But, due to Memphis dirt, divinity, dedication, decidedly good counsel, and delicious Tennessee light, we have secondary leaves.

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There does seem to be life here. In so many forms. The relish of fellowship, the love of music, the surge of urban art, the evolution of plants, neighborhoods and organizations, the REBIRTH of itself, the phoenix-like qualities of those who are marginalized –the sheer TENACITY of this resilient city is infectious on so many levels.

On this precipitous Friday, we look into that mirror, and rest with the ghosts who are becoming most transparent.

We wish them well, and they fade into thin air, like smoke.

“All things are engaged in writing their history…Not a foot steps into the snow, or along the ground, but prints in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. The ground is all memoranda and signatures; and every object covered over with hints. In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and the narrative is the print of the seal.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The running list of what I love about Memphis

Memphis is like no other place I’ve ever been. I won’t and can’t explain the feeling, as it would be diminished with language. It is lush, delicious. The days of alone time are very trying , but the moments of shared experience are unique and spirit-full. If there is a Holy Ghost, I swear he lives in Memphis.

The List:

IMG_20170507_082813190Midtown Laundry

You might say, “What the hell?”.

This place gives ample conversation, entertainment, the occasional prayer, and the inevitable communal belly laugh, and at 7 on a Sunday morning, I always see the same folks.

My favorite, my friend, 74, who lives on Spring, who always reminds me that if God lets her live another month she will be 75. She always touches me, invokes a short prayer, and gives me the updates on her health, her neighborhood gossip, and praises my moth tattoo. I’m pretty sure she is a deity of some sort.

Overton-Park-Master-Plan-88-p1-normal

Overton Park.

Dogs, picnicking lovers, families laughing, lush forests, art, and a formidable playground.

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Magnolias.

They’re from the Jurassic period.

Literally dinosaur flowers.

They smell of fear, lust, surprise, gentility, and fire to me. Also, my friend Marquis is on that list- he’s one of my favorite things too. This was his first magnolia.

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This little Hippo.

Her name is Winnie and she is a baby. She is at the Memphis Zoo. Her Mom’s name is Binti. Hippos are descended from whales, and can grow up to 7000 pounds. They can run up to 19 miles an hour on land, and can open their massive jaw a whopping 180 degrees and muster enough force in them (along with incredibly sharp teeth) to crush an alligator. Their name means ‘Horse of the River’. They cannot swim or float, but can trot on the river bed like a horse, and when they need to resurface (about every 8-9 minutes) they push themselves off of the bed. They are the deadliest animal in Africa. Number one. Superlative. It doesn’t get deadlier, unless you’re a mosquito, an elephant or a black mambo. I love hippos. Can’t explain it.

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Memphis Rain.

I love it. I missed it. Thunder is a lullaby. Also, Ella is the best, and I wish they were here a lot. And their partner Mark.

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Caritas Village.

The Mission: ‘To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.’ It’s a miracle of a place. Smack dab in the middle of Binghampton. I met 4 of the warmest humans in Memphis in that place, and I can’t wait to return.

Burke'sbooks

Burke’s Books.

There is no better spot to sit, read, and think. It has survived depressions, prohibition, two world wars, a civil war, the turns of two centuries, hipsters, hippies, hip-cats, the Beats, surf rock, the British Invasion, baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and 27 presidents of the United States of America. There is really no telling if any of us will survive the current leadership, so I’m not including his reign in this endorsement for a rock-solid staple of Memphian destinations.

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Company d

Company d of Memphis, Tennessee, is a nationally recognized dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters. I was able to spend some time there, talk about possibilities, and meet some of the dancers. They were stunning. I hope to spend a lot of time here.

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My falling-apart-leaky-noisy apartment.

I feel safe in this ugly puppy of a building, which is no small feat in this town which lives up to its dangerous reputation on a daily basis. I’ve never laid eyes on my landlord, I had to work for two hours with a knife and a hammer to pry open one window, I’ve had two shelves come crashing down in my kitchen, and there are so many haphazardly laid layers of paint on everything in the apartment that I’m sure each room has lost a square inch. I live below two 22-year-old newlyweds who are very energetic, emphatic walkers, and late-night vacuum-ers, and although there is a washer and dryer in the basement, I feel like I’m in a final scene out of the Blair Witch Project when I descend those stairs, so I seek other laundry facilities (see Midtown Laundry). Vito loves the wide open space, and I have had a number of opportunities to have folks over already. My Basil and Cilantro are growing. I am sleeping (Maybe too much sleeping). I love my job and the people who I work with each day. I BELIEVE in my leaders. I TRUST them.

 

I don’t have those pals that I can be quiet with yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve only developed two or three crushes. I’ve only scanned the animal shelter offerings twice. I’m slowly extracting melancholy and injecting in some hope.

 

Baby steps, people.

Tue 222

This morning I gave up bewilderment.

Took new snow in bare hands, wiped clean.

Skyward gazing, seeing the brown of morning eyes.

 

It has been four hundred years.

Since in the histrionic ante meridiem

You, compunctious , penitent, shame faced

Sold me the snake oil

that gave salve for the emboldened heart

acclimatized my expectation

resurgence of disquiet

I held my heart in my hand and ate of it

(creature in a desert, naked, bestial)

 

One can’t help but remember, though

On a sweet January day

that concave part

beside the basket of ribs–the alabaster crevasse

(You showed it me)

perhaps where you kept your wishes and desires

Your conjecture

Your bliss

Your ecstatic posturing, feral

your violence and ignominy,

the sound of your voice in deep midnights.

 

Or better yet, the names and numbers of the snowflakes that would fall

in eulogy

the day you walked away.

 

It’s all so dramatic, she said.

The Whole lot.

Something comes of nothing and then, bother, bother

the whole place erupts in glamour. Clamour

erupts in the sunshine, the moonshine, the deep seated egress

-the bible of those two.

Oh, those volumes spoken in glances were so very tiresome

for two as timid as trees, windless.

 

It’s all so ecstatic, she said

The sole shot

Something comes of nothing and then, Farther, farther

The whole grace disrupts in armor, stammer

disrupts sin, confine, consign, maligning sleep cheated confession

-the bible of those two

No, shows volumes long broken in chances were so very dire, mums

the word, for two as livid as leaves, flightless

 

It’s all so climactic, she said

The blood clot.

That effortless bruise, the reminder of all that was, is– holy.

The prayer in tongues older than sound

more revealing than sight,

larger than the space a girl occupies

achromic, melancholy,

 

naming the planets, each for a sigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1049, and ultra marathons

In imagining the flowers

(The ones beneath pearly wan winter)

replete with pregnant universal cogitation

A signal starts in the belly,

past the tiny contenting fingerprints

etched in the hips (they seem so discreetly delicious)

-a solemn supper of the sweet lyrical grace of the feminine

-a banquet welcoming attentive natal secrets

-an eve of nectarous exchanges

I wanted to eat you like a whole peach, pit and all,

pull the sorrows out, name and number them

for Egypt, Afric, Abyss.

I wanted to slide sideways into that sadness and ride it to light.

 

 

Simple, simple, slow, she said.

I want you to say my name.

 

 

447

Buffeted by the roar

they run sidelong to the raw spot

the ice under Sunday feet tempts the fall

but holding steady they

look the anti-hero in the eyes

each.              several.            pore.

They know the smell of the forearm, the navel, the mouth

an inch is not given

but a subtle sigh

reminds them

of the field

they hold in protest

between lovers bodies

the magnetic one, the mine one, the playing one–

(the history older than light or sound, where language began, where heat was discovered and gills grew. Where breath was sucked first)

–that binds the space they occupy.

Jaws hold tight, fists secure in woolen pockets, they are WINNING. Holding tight. Not an inch. Not one.

The crafty wind bellows too hard, though.

It pushes, cracks the moment, shoves

headlong, laughs in the wash of  tired

restraint.

They fall suddenly, with clamorous equivocation, gravid with stones

(the rain, a comedic metronome)

the inevitable rejoinder

into the puzzle pieces they unwillingly are, laggard

as they close ferocious,

and with premeditated lamentation

masticating mouths the substance of fire.

the slightest silk,

the most meager of archangels,

they return to that.

A parley, they knew. They’ve known.

But the comfort was all,

that Sunday.

 

 

NOPOMO 13 or God, I want my lobster

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Miles to Go

Each patch of skin
Is inventoried
All the stories that arrive with a touch

Tell all the nasty natal secrets
The preternatural longings, naïve mistakes, wild worldly wisdom
Anomalous wantings

Every inch has a history
They are all named and numbered and filed away
Shoved into memory
Without exception, forever locked
In my bare bones

Most steps I take sing a song of you
And I don’t even know your name.

napomon day six?

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Joan (Things people say)

Awash with joy
She climbed to the top of green hill
Aching for a better look
As the siege laid claim to the soldiers

She watched carefully as each
Several comrade
Was slain one by two by five
Lambs, she thought, to the slaughter

The Godly messages betrayed her that day
Prayer couldn’t find her lips
Without words the world crumbled
The only thing left to do was ignite and wait for rain, possibly

Or for a more experienced messenger
To wind her in words more reliable

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