Water Dome Poetry of Place

For Jazzi

snazzy peaches,
I am so far and with you

from those shards of sunlight on icy fields
on cycling mornings that must be getting colder,
from here it is hard to believe that they exist:
landscapes away, I can try to imagine
the smokiness in the air and the stars after six,
the persimmons in the market and the dry mouths they leave behind,
the seasoned almonds on the kitchen tables: orange cinnamon, coffee, honey and lemon,

or highway and
barbed wire and
flattened yellow grasses under slices of metal

but I lost your body here:
slow walk straight back deep breaths and I thought I had healed
on a misty evening, around cobblestones sinking in dirty water
we were hand-in-hand, coming from the Turkish bath
an old woman in an apron leaned against her doorway and told me I was beautiful —

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Boat Under the Orange Tree Poetry of Place

Under the orange trees,
he turned to me and said,
scratch that, all things are beautiful

could he feel
the kitchen table under my elbows,
the taut muscles of my father’s face
tendons like fists, then ropes
the wince, the rocking motion,
what an ugly thing
war is

fingering the dullness.
leaves of an olive tree,
a skirt that swallows dust,
a lime in a girl’s mouth,
skin stinging under fingernails
in the dives of birds over the orchard,
do I not love the world enough?

she is taking a little break from herself now.
her shadow has left the house now,
she cannot
hurt bodies
without it.
standing on a rooftop in Rabat,
she knows her shadow is the fog
fossilizing the city by evening

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Sacred Poetry of Place

I. Indigo

Paint your city indigo
and place it at the heel of the mountains,
at the edge of the rainforest

Name it
for the twin peaks like horns,
or for a saint,
and pave it with cobblestone

Make a quiet
rainfall
and a silky
fog lift
and a sun that will
breakthrough

to reflect
whitewashed indigo
like the freshwater of the lakes in Chiapas

Build a place for prayer
on a hill overlooking the city
a mosque, or a raft
and climb or glide, but do not swim
when you hear the call to prayer —

sometimes a marriage procession,
or the voice of the muezzin,
or a dancing boy and his tambourine

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Mélange Poetry of Place

Hind calls me mélange with a smile —
but on a crooked side street she likes my accent
and in the hammam she tells me I scrub like the Moroccans do

Her father and I cannot speak
in this house in the Ocean,
but he taps the table
when the sheep in the loft looks at me
and points to the cages
when the yellow birds sing

Gentle shriveled smile of dried fruit
He asks how many hours
from San Francisco to Rabat?
and how do you say in Spanish? and he points
borrego — borrego
until he gets it right
I think I have been here before,
inhale of ammonia and livestock,
folded hands on stained tablecloth

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California Was Never Kansas Poetry of Place

I can’t tell anymore
where this valley ends and where my body begins

driving the length of california
I am shedding potentialities,
rejecting visions,
brushing off hallucinations from my lips and my waist.
not long until
skin ripping
from the contours of the buttes,
from this canyon like a womb

what they don’t know is that
my body
is malleable, transplantable
and what they don’t know is that
my body
absorbed this landscape,
acorn soup and antibodies,
poison oak immunity —
you would think I am native,
you would think I am what you are

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Indian Dice Poetry of Place

I rigged the stars
to defy
the rolls of men,
l i g h t p o l l u t i o n,
smoke
rolling with
fog
in the hills of los angeles.

so much is on the side of the solid blues:
freeways crisscrossing a landscape
that we cannot walk
an earth that will shake massively
any day now, we are told
roar at the millions of dead-
end carbon footprint trails
traversing its skin

now these solid blue men
look down at their scarred city
from the observatory in the hills
build skies
sculpt planets into airy
arching ums,
dome-shaped spaces of forgetting,
rooms of amnesia

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