Midnight Poem: The Path to the Garden

photo credit: Mocah Wallpapers

Time passes slowly, far more quickly, I

recall. I foretell….

The shadows on the cave

wall whisper the kind of

secrets that everyone knows.

The ancestors

watch.

As I balance two worlds at war on these tightrope

shoulders

while my breath dances with

both love and

rage.

The paradoxical key is invisible to the

baby souls who stomp on

pearls as they rush for

waste.

What if the thorns were as colorful as the

blooms?

And if the world turned upside down, would your brain

choke on

blood?

Do you know the path to the

Garden? Or shall you perish

here?

Let them dig their children’s

grave.

You, go dig a

well.

Let them fight for their sweet

poison. You, fight for your

medicine.

Let them destroy

themselves if they choose and

know.

They can’t kill a

soul.

Mountains speak to

you in

dreams.

The wind whispers to

your

skin.

Water holds

you, let it

unfold

you.

Fire from

within.

Remember who you

are, my

Love.

Stars and dirt.

Ash and song.

Come home to your

heart.

Let the fire

melt and the

water

burn.

This is the path to the

Garden.

–IT

Short Story: The Night My Shadow Came Home

Photo credit: Umberto Shaw

I remember how he used to visit me everynight, holding me in the dark, a cold pistol to my temple.

The rage and pain rocked me like a crack baby, while I spat prayers of peace and silence between the waves of grief and coughing snot.

I’d come to depend on the pain he brought me. I appreciated his loyalty.

How long had I been trapped in that prison?

Between my thoughts, in every silent moment, where the mystics sought Nirvana, I found only Hell.

Of course, I left this world. I escaped this body. Why remain in this tortured state when psychosis is free medicine? And oh, the realms I’ve explored.

But that’s another story.

During the day, I felt the shadow stalking behind, whispering of failure and worthlessness. His pistol to my head, threatening my life with his hatred. After so many decades, I’d come to believe his lies.

I remember the moments he stole, like the time my parents remembered my birthday, and as everyone sang Happy Birthday to me, he whispered of disgust and shame.

Or when I almost had a good time at that party with some people I didn’t know, he took hold of me in front of everyone, called me a worthless slut.

From then on I was the “psycho worthless slut.”

And despite how much he couldn’t stand me, he came, night after night, with the barrel of his pistol to my head.

Why not pull the trigger already?

Then something changed. Over the course of 20 years, or so.

I was sitting up in bed, listening to the silence between my thoughts and realized that I was not in Hell. I remembered from whence I came.

As every person I ever hurt, and all of whom have hurt me, came before me carrying a black box. I opened my heart and offered them Love.

One by one, I retrieved my soul and reclaimed by peace, turning enemies into relations. Until he came forward.

His face hidden behind his pistol, his heart behind the words, “I hate you.”

His arm, grotesque with muscle, bulged out of his torn shirt.

While the skinny left arm hung useless, an impotent worm.

I stood, an epiphany opening like a rose bud on a frosty morning, and went to him.

“I remember you, Brother. I know why you hold your weapon out like so. I know why you’re here. Do you remember?”

He shoved his gun in my face, pressing the cold barrel to my head. “To kill you. I hate you.”

The stench of rotting corpses spewed from his mouth, the sewage of his heart.

In the past, I believed him. But now…

I nodded. “Yes. Should I have taken a dark path, should I have been a danger to the people I love, should I have failed at my mission, it was your job to kill me, to spare my soul the burdens of evil. It was me who gave you this task.”

His scowled face melted in understanding, while his tears fell down my cheeks. I reached out to take the weapon from him, but changed my mind.

“You did your job well, Shadow. My soul belongs to me and my body is safe, thanks to your vigilance. I have a new job for you now. Keep the weapon concealed.”

Shadow lowered his arm, and I saw his face for the first time. He was just a boy in need of a bath. “I did good?”

I nodded, “You did good.”

He smirked. “I can eat? I can sleep now?”

“Of course.”

So the Shadow took refuge in the center of my heart, while the others watched and began to ask, “What about me? I can eat now? I can sleep?”

Poem: The Social Ladder

I left my soul down on the bottom rung of the social ladder, burned in wood, a troll’s toll.

The desert mirage no longer glitters like gold.

The palace is but a haunted mansion of putrescent corpses and tormented souls.

How long have I journeyed down this dark path?

All this upward motion led to downward spirals for backward people running from their own shadows.

The premise of our religion is the reason for proposed extinction. Is there not a human alive who doesn’t believe we don’t all deserve to die?

And every rung thereafter reaffirmed self-loathing for the delusion of perfection, for false security, for the American nightmare.

Even as I rejected promises of fame and fortune, for the price of my soul, I chose to climb.

“Little child, striving for the top bunk, you were never an angel, and that’s okay.”

To hell with the ladder. This false ascension has exhausted me.

Dismantle the mechanisms that would motivate me toward that zombie wasteland.

Allow the pain body to step into the light and, dammit, find the strength to look it in the eye.

And breathe….

Keep breathing….

“Little child, don’t you know that love cannot be earned?

You’ve lost your religion, but you still bear the scars on your hands from when they nailed you to the cross.

If they don’t love you now, they will never truly love you, and that’s okay.

It’s okay even when it’s not.”

I found my soul where I left it, on my bedroom floor, where there was

once a wooden ladder.

In the 2nd grade, the night I considered

the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

I don’t “want to be,”

I am.

I

am.

This is good

enough for me.

–Kaika ❤

Poem: Awake at 4 AM

I am awake at 4 am despite exhaustion in my bones. The mattress springs have rusted from the tears I cannot cry.

I am awake at 4 am because my body craves a poem, a witness to the mourning in my soul. A quiet death, invisible butterfly.

I am awake at 4 am as white supremacy digs its nine-inch heels into my flesh, insisting its innocence while demanding absolution.

I am awakened by the sight of the seemingly endless distance between shades of skin and the realities we live in, miles I cannot close on my own.

When cognitive dissonance tastes like wine, drunk, we await our savior while entertaining fantasies of Utopia and vomit our medicine.

Not me. I am alone on this bridge. I built it, but they didn’t come. Somewhere a child understands they are not anymore.

I am awake at 5:30.

I am awake at 6 am.

I am awake, here gather all my strength.

The Lion roars at dawn.

Portland at Sunrise. Photo credit: Ritza Garzia

Poem: The Crossroad of Destiny and Fate

Suspended belief, like unsettled dust in dark corners of mind, tempt me to breathe. The pain subsides as I dare to hope the worst has passed.

I remember my bloody knees and innocent heart between my teeth as I whispered prayers with hands bound and eyes shut tight.

Decades have passed and still the ink stains my skin with tell-tale sigils seared, while I hope someone, somewhere might know what they mean.

As I count my scars and most trusted allies, placing tokens of loyalty in deep pockets, I wonder who will sing the dirges of Winter this year.

Here I grip my weapon, a beloved heirloom passed down the lineages of genocide and the shadows of power, blessed by the Bishop Prince.

Dare I trust the turning tide? If the darkness turns light, might I forget how to fight?

Hunger grips my bones while the winds whip my soul. I have held my mind steady like a ghost ship under Huracan. I fear I have survived, but why?

You have broken the curse.

Have I?

I peer down the crossroads under Priestess’ Moonlight, the tracks of my shadow, donkey hooves and cum stains on the sacred red dirt.

Prophet’s poetry manifests like the warmth of my breath.

Dear God,

What is the meaning of this?

I continue along my path with this song in my heart, like a needle in the night, I remember.

I remember.

Story: The Taino Rebellion, an Oral Tradition

Image Credit: Unknown: The drowning of conquistador Diego Salcedo sparked the uprising of 1511.

The following is an oral retelling of the first contact with Christopher Columbus on the Caribbean island of Boriken, more commonly known as Puerto Rico, leading up to the Taino Rebellion of 1511, according to my great-grandmother, grandmother, and father.

Click here to access the mp3.

Poem: Mi Abuelo Muerto

25 grams of melatonin, three nonfiction chapters, a bowl of chicken soup, and four hours of tossing. Not much has changed since the second grade…

Too tired to sleep, I require a deep dive, bobbing for ghosts and ancestral hosts of these haunted homes…

Past lives and nightmares, if I’d learned this, then why here, the creak of the floorboard, awakening shadows…

Familiar tune in my glass, power, privilege, and caste, Abuelo, I ask, why?? “Mijo, it is meaningless….”

Unravel the lies, like American pie, white picket gallows, profit, property, I don’t want to be the king of hell…

“Walk away while you can, Mijo. You want me to make it rhyme? Why? Okay, I will try, when you die, you can fly, how am I doing? I am not a poet.”

That was perfect.

“In your heart you know what is important and what is bullshit. In your heart you know who you are. Te amo.”

Midnight Poem: Whispers at my Window

Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The windstorm and the wild fires have stolen my rest, roused by the howling of the night sky, the forest creatures’ blackened faces pressed against my bedroom window, asking, “Do humans still have souls?”

An answer one might quest, lest I find myself caught up in some violent tempest, within, cobwebs and funnels, spun, like broken records, replay, nostalgic for smallness, this funeral, today…

How does the morning appear? Like an old newspaper, repeating historic nightmares, and fear, the far, natal stars charting fate, as the darkness fades, we believed, we obeyed, so naive, still dismayed, and prayed, our hearts blue, waiting for a savior (within you).

Then we worshiped with weapons, knelt to paper and holy books, innocent blood for sacraments, shook and deceived, bent, kneeled, agreed, while demons in mirrors made pancakes for breakfast, and we demanded pig, too.

The dark ballad resounds through the space opera house, as the morning sunlight creeps in, enlightening, the lighting, we find reasons for living, and forgiving, the pink of a rose petal, the whimper of a pet.

The most precious of secrets are hidden in plain sight: the trees produce golden fruit, the clouds only speak truth, and empires are for sociopathic children.

Someone, please help them.

Yes, humans still have souls.

Poem: Marriages & Peace Treaties

Photo credit: Pat Sommer: The day I married my best friend.

I woke up in the East and spent my day playing with the Salmon fry, while the Lion crossed the Sky.

The ceremony, our hands tied, crowns switched, my wine and her chalice, like Alice, and one sip, just one bite, vegan cake, love, and my wife, and this life, well, it’s just beginning…

I went to my Father

to ask for a blessing.

She was baptized by Mother

creating, expressing.

The scientist’s cat who could be and not be.

Moonlighting portals to new realities.

The trees hum a lullaby for those who have ears.

The warm sun browns my skin,

I thank God for my melanin.

Time-tellers get lost in the River of Womb.

My best friend and I chase pink rabbits.

The war in your soul is over.

Over.

OVER.

[echoes faintly]

I have signed the Peace Treaty.

So have I.

And I!

The war is over but hasn’t yet been won.

Suit up, Peaceful Warrior.

The darkness falls quickly on the lost sheep.

Poem: Why Meditation Sucks

I have always been a doer
to hunt and slay, (and hide)
to remind the angels
why I am worthy of
warmth and clean water
(or chocolate milk).
Maybe.

Too busy to breathe
I’ve been earning
my breath.
Keep your money and fame
I am seeking
my worth.
(Wait).

I had to secure my ticket to Heaven
(like all the other straight,
White,
Christian men)
I – I can’t get in?
What do you mean I’m not a man?
Fuck.

Holes in my rusted chalice,
fake treasure maps, toy swords.
Indiana Jones and the Flat Earth Theory.
(Fall off the edge already).
Fine.

The thirst and salivation.
Cheat codes hidden inside the nightmare,
(but my scars are real),
behind the shadows, along the veil.
Stephen King and the Cave Wall.
Popcorn and limitations.

I never wanted to sit,
to be still, feel, the fathoms
below and die.
Would you trade misery for joy?

Shut up, boy. (Not you).
The Lady or the Tiger?

Place your heart on the scale.
Do it, doer.

End this poem,
(end it now)!