Maybe some memories run deeper than blood
they hide within the marrow
etch history on
Formed in the womb, they are
our ancestors’ whispers
in fetal ears.
The Gold Mountain and silver streets are just
child’s things, dragon’s tails – perhaps real
but always out of reach.
He cuts his hair, surrenders his
language and blood ties
China calls from across the sea.
He runs into the waves
imagining the water caressing
his wife’s cheek, carrying his heart
to the Yellow River where
she’s washing her qipao
the one he traced eternity
onto, fingers teasing
at the lily skin beneath.
She dreams of voodoo dances,
of Baron Samedi riding her:
chili peppers, rich cigars, Haitian drums
the dead walk and the gris-gris blesses, oh!
But torn away from her country the slavers
bring her to the city of swamps, yet she’ll dance
by the bayou, in Congo Square, tear up the streets
with her mad mad feet.
Wind courses through his braids
a brave aback his stallion,
with thunderbird medicine
the wasicu girl watches as
he rides backwards, heyoka.
She laughs at his strangeness,
he laughs at her blindness
she cannot see Wakinyan Tanka
perhaps, when they make love
the storm will enter her.
She prays in silence, in the mesa she walks
with Santa Maria and Tezcatlipoca
her blood sings – it calls out to
throbbing hearts in Aztec hands
the temples of Tenochtitlan,
Communion wine, sacrificial rites
that make life so much sweeter.
The desert whips her bronze
mestizo, Chicana, mixed
a hybrid, oh, cultures
clash between synapse
angels dance with Quetzalcoatl
who threads his plumed coils
around their burning,
Return the dreamers, Poppy Lord
Odin’s set up shop on Capitol Hill
dealing in bills, death and grey-haired men
ashes cling to his beard as his good eye
prowls the shadowed streets.
Tezcatlipoca sits beside him
nursing whiskey, hungry, he watches
interns pass by, pencil-skirts dancing
in his lusty obsidian wind.
Monkey scampers past
down Chinatown streets
he swings up a building
peeps into a window
watching his people
and never, ever
Samedi strolls through back-alley grit
tipping hats to passerby, who think him a bum
a girl dances in his wake, her bracelets jangle-jing
the spirits of the dead flock around them.
And Papa Legba? He holds the spirits at bay
keeps the mixing pot from overflowing
it brews in the night, the stew of our sleep.
There’s something strange about the American Dream