song of summer

i have a feeling this
is going to be the summer song
jp says from behind the wheel while
khalid’s young dumb & broke
rolls out of the speakers

into the city’s night lights
and dark sky

houston as seen from a ferris wheel

the sound from all the birds, an overwhelm
of the best kind
doves and wrens and cardinals and warblers
a racket around us as we walk
the fallen epiphytes (air plants)
in clumps on the sidewalks how i
love them like i’d love an animal and
pack two in my backpack pocket
to bring with us
as our pets

houston as seen
from a ferris wheel that rises up
alongside the highways and back down
the two women
(a daughter and mother?)
unloading a coolor of food
(compost? bread?)
along buffalo bayou where the ducks come
and heed the older woman’s lunchtime duck call
and the water from the other days rain
risen up along the banks

no matter how deep the darkness of night

the too-hot heat
that lasts only seconds
on our cheeks and chins and foreheads
from the flames jumping on the hibachi grill
that ching-in, jennifer and i sit in front of and then
the chef flinging (with his shiny metal spatulas)
a cube of zuchini
into another customer’s mouth and then
into ching-in’s

the tornado watch
the rainwater waterfalling down the steps
at the english department entrance
the umbrellas dripping in the hallways
the squeak of shoes on the tiles
the leak of water under the lounge windows
the gutters turned rivers and the roads turned lakes


there’s a lake that forms someone says
though now i don’t remember who
or what area they were talking about

i’m terrified i mouth in the backseat
of the car that every now and then hydroplanes
on the highway and i say
it’s ok if you go slow and all my body wants to do
is get out of the car and walk
no matter how many miles
and no matter through how much rain
and no matter how deep the darkness of night


the changing bright colors
following the arc of each overpass
stretched across the houston highway as we
make our way
closer to what we call home
for four nights


awake to wildflowers

awake to wildflowers
pink on white (from a distance, mallow-like) and bright yellows and oranges and reds
no longer in the drylands
but still in texas

park lake or lake park or maybe some other name altogether, but at least with the word lake in it or maybe at least with the word park in it – either way, it’s in texas
how all the green of it
is the same green that those missouri summers
were made of and this is what missing
or is it grief
or longing
or something else altogether
for the first time
feels like
they bloomed for you says tayyba
about the roses that she’s had for years
(maybe three, maybe five, maybe eight)
but that have just started blooming
this year

the green marker i mark my stemmed and thin glass with
how i draw a heart
and how the green beads and bleeds
down the curve of the glass
as the cool seltzer sends sweat to its surface

best food of the tour yet i tell tayyba of the
chickpeas, ,the tomato cucumber salad, the kheer, the peas pulao, the naan, the potatoes she spent what must have been hours
preparing her pakistani-adjacent feast
the soft and deceptive corner of the ligne roset – style couch that
jennifer gracefully rolls/falls off of
while holding her kheer with mango slices in a small bowl level
the entire time
until i scoop it out of her hand and place
on a nearby table

we’ve got the world’s only
tayyba says of houston

which layla has not yet seen


red mylar shine-flapping, creosote-caught
among the ocotillo, some just beginning
to bloom, the nopales, the sagey tumbleweedy things,
the green-green of sycamore leaves flip-flapping in the wind
as we, on the texas eagle – train 422, roll on through


a great character description detail i say laughing
when hazel says that might be
his most unhealthy eating habit
about dirk
whose clif bar consumption amounts to at least
one a day if not more and not only does he
have one in every backpack pouch,
he’s also got one in every pants pocket
(which is a lot of bars because his pants have a lot of pockets)
and maybe part of the reason he likes them so much
is that he knows she will never ask him
for a bite

i have those things too hazel says talking about
watching someone do some dancemoves
while we walk along the path laid along
the santa cruz river that cuts through town,
the santa cruz river which i’ve never seen water in
except for up near the treatment plant
the santa cruz river which isn’t river but is still site of
coyote antics and bobcat beings and various birds including
the sweet-songed small darkest black one up in a tree over us
sweet-songing the whole time we stand under it


home, in the four of us (harmony, eric, jennifer and i) gathered
around the tableclothed table (blues and maybe some whites, maybe hand-loomed style)
the beans warm in the bowl
the guacamole with cilantro singing in its greenness
the three tiny corn quesadillas fried and
still steaming under the lid and
the one gigantic flour open faced quesadilla
which eric calls a crisp (?) with the cheese all melty on top
that we slice with a pizza slicer
the two salsas, the big salad, the crema
the saint candles lit and flickering
plus frances the dog curled on a rug on the floor,

thank you.


more cute, less expensive harmony says
about the cute bedding in the guest room
(navy blue background with alligators of bright colors
all over it)


you can get closer, eric says as i lean in with the camera
towards the lizard clinging to the faded pink corner
of the neighbor’s house

blood and glitter

lenticular she says when i ask
what kind of cloud about the ufo-looking
things floating in a sea of all that
desert purplepink orange sky
laced with copper neon streaks
with the mountains rising up
behind them
as seen from the pico de gallo parking lot
where  we take sips of some too-sweet jamaica
and carry the warm tacos in too much styrofoam
to the car


blood and glitter someone says
about the seats for the groundlings marked splash zone
on blankets in the dust of the tucson city park
for the second annual tucson shakesqueer punk production
this year for the play whose name shall never be
mentioned on stage because it is bad luck

fascination turning

the seven wild turkeys
walking almost in a row
sometimes two by two
sun shining through red neck flappy things
sending shimmers off luminous feathers
as they move, almost parading, past cabin
and down the road

sound of the creek in a place where creekness is rare,
for breakfast i pull a brown ceramic bowl
from the handmade cupboard
and walk around with it for a while
and it’s not until i set it down that i see
the small scorpion (not quite thumb-length)
dancing around inside
and it’s not until after i call everyone over
to take a look and then in a rush i throw a lid on
that a shiver travels the circuit
of my spine
fascination turning
to fear

we move through

6something a.m. in the darkness
and things i would normally laugh at
in decent hours most likely won’t become funny
until at least 8am

the constant, though imagined – but i swear i can hear them
sing chorus sound of the spring peepers
in the background
of everything
most of the day
this part of the coast
comes with
laughing on an early morning amtrak bus
headed south about butt cakes and muck boots
and how if we switched the phrases it’d be
muck cakes and butt boots and how these would work
as knuckle tattoos as well:
muck cake
butt boot
and then laughing again about kindergarten-teachering
randy who refuses to be nice
(would you want to be treated that way, randy?)
all while the low-lying cloudgray dew damp fog sings
as lichen, as moss, as coniferous needles
filling the coastal, then inland valleys we move through

sitting across andrew and christie at the dinner table
which just happens to be hurtling through time/space
on a south bound train,
jennifer at my side, when andrew says something
about working for amazon i ask
ok, so, do you have a mini basketball court and
bean bags and m&ms and fun/cool stuff
in your office
the snow, the trees, the train moving through it

and our view of it all from the sleeper car
(where everything is mini)
and the tears in my eyes and me saying
i love this place
and later: not as in ‘here’ but as in
this planet, this universe


and we walk towards

am i inscribing my whiteness all over it i ask
about the peninsula bus system whose stops are vague
and whose maps are even more vague
but whose friendly person on the other end of the line
has the answers to my questions but still
i want to  know why isn’t it all
just printed clearly and cleanly somewhere

the bench/bleachers that we work at outside
in the glorious coastal light/sun while the laundry spins inside
first, in cold water and then in hot dry heat
colors tumbling a blur into one  another
the plain yogurt with berry jam mixed in whose remnants
i clear out with my fingers

jenafr and i hopscotching tree roots
that insist on buckling the paved path under our feet
hi tree, hi tree, hi tree we sing/say
with the movement/play of our bodies

there are two suns i say about the one lowering itself into
cloud/horizon haze and about the one shining
back at us off the sheen on the sand
and we
walk towards