—David Iribarne, Sacramento
I see her hands shake
as she holds the cup of coffee.
Ever so fast she drinks it
licking the cup clean.
It is like candy to her.
Takes the top off
peers into the cup looking
for any last drops.
“Do you have a light?” she asks.
Lights the secondary vein into her soul.
I look at her as she smokes
all 115 pounds of her.
She is so little, so frail
my hand is bigger than her head.
She smiles at me
brown teeth grinning
coffee and cigarettes
ticket to her happiness.
“Look at the man over there; he looks like he is enjoying his cup of coffee,” she says.
Think to myself
how she looks to this outing
feigning to when she can finally
stop getting decaf.
“I had my first cup of coffee when I was five and my first cigarette
when I was seven. I knew I was hooked,” she says.
She smiles again
her face thin and strained
wrinkles ever defining her struggles.
On my birthday
when we last spoke.
Six months have passed
struggling to come to grips
all you have done
all you haven’t done.
Days drift away
still not healed
wonder when I'll feel better.
When he died
rather than remember him
you had to steal things
steal from us, steal our memories
so you can have your memories.
Our process was made your process.
You pressured, pleaded, and pushed
until we broke, not wanting to deal
with you or it anymore.
Deciding before we wanted to decide.
Stole hankerchiefs, heirlooms, articles.
Attempted to take money, watches,
lost our trust, respect, love.
Search my brain everyday
as to why you did these things
empty space, nothing found.
Letters have been written
harsh words traded.
Phone calls containing verbal slaughters.
Six months have passed
since we last spoke
struggling to come to grips
with what you have done
with what you haven’t done.
We cleaned out your closet,
you told me the names of your stuffed animals
how all of them had a story;
they all become your story as well.
You excitedly told me each of their names
smiled, reminisced at how I used to do the same.
Except with me it was my action heroes.
Looked at how you would sheepishly grin
as you told me how one stuffed animal
was a brother of another,
how one fell for another,
how one married another.
Marveled at the detail you had included
in these stories:
told me how mother and father met
the fights sister and brother had
what kind of food they preferred.
You begin to make them dance
chuckled as the panda bear sashayed
with koala bear across the dresser.
Cherish these moments
make my heart whole
and break also as there are not many left.
You make the rabbit tap dance.
You make sounds of tapping
as he turns into Sammy Davis Jr.
You are such in your own world.
Twelve years old…where had time gone?
Two years ago, you asked mom about make-up
At six, you played with Barbie and Ken.
Somewhere when you were lost in your world
I felt I lost you.
I hug you tight.
I like this world that I am in.
You can dance better than you can walk.
It is then that you come alive,
Feel the wind, the sun
you are a delight in their presence.
It is then when I wish you were inside me
when you feel comfortable enough
to let people in.
On the stage you lose your guard
do not care about people’s thoughts
about your past mistakes
this is your time to shine.
Gracefully move as if no one else is around.
Invisible things are, people too.
Move to touch you, shield goes up.
Disappear on me every time
don’t know why you leave
don’t know where you go
just can’t reach you.
Times I thought I had broken through
knocked walls down
but again you build walls.
Stand next to you
wonder where you are
wonder what makes you happy
what makes you sad
what broke you into so many pieces
that you don’t let anybody put you back together.
Waited for you all this time
told you I would wrap myself
in your pain if that is
what it would take…
Could you tell me
why you leave
why all your indecisions exist
why I come alive when I see you
yet I see you less often?
There are moments
that take you to a different place.
Things change from hazy to clear.
Our cares vanish, quietness
followed by songs of joy.
What was fractured and broken
suddenly is symmetrical and smooth.
There are people who capture you
take you to a different place.
Transform colors in your life
from different shades of grey
to bright shades of infinite radiance.
Smile so mesmerizing
captivates you and takes you
into another world
where you are lost but not scared,
just at ease, very comfortable.
Genuine beauty that makes you
feel at home wherever you are.
Every time they arrive
you forget what happened
and your focus is turned on to just them
There are places that change your perspective.
You were there once before;
things seemed dim, unattractive
but once you visit again with that person
you only notice the good things
you don’t see the wheat-colored grass
the falling petals of the flowers
the cracks in the cement
rather you notice
the light of the sun
the redness of the petals
the sweet sound of the birds.
There are moments that take us places
people who transform things
but rarely is there one who can act as all.
Unless we are talking about you, that is.
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
—William Butler Yeats