October 31, 2009

Poem in the Time of Recession
For Thomas

I’ve sold my brain
and its’ dimpled container
to pay for the college dorm experience,
Grade D deli meat,
definitions of the subaltern.

I swear rent money’s
in the bones
The landlord replaced
every creaking hinge
with the elbows, the knees,
shoulders you’ve kissed.

I cradle my cell phone
and it’s taken to gnawing
my earlobe.
Hospital bills demand payment plans:
a worthy digit snipped each month
from either hand or foot.

And for the innards I can’t see
I’ve portioned for the credit card debt I can’t see.
My liver for every drunk
and lost Metrocard.
My nipples for the flea market
earrings I pay back with titillating vengenance.
Next, I’ll sell my fingernail clippings,
on Craigslist fetishists
will pay double for.

And when the balance is zero
and rolls across
my chest like a cool marble on a see-saw,
I’ll have one small beating thing left–
that for you,
I’d gladly mortgage.

Weekly Poetry Hour with Ms. Rachelle

I tug the bus cord
for Grand Concourse
and 182nd Street,
shoulders sore from 42 empty
journals I haul for the crowded
5th grade class —

Along the brick buildings—
I wonder if these are called
tenements in the Bronx—
Two young men run their tongues
over their teeth.  Their thick braids
like subway tracks belo
the painted red concrete overpass.

Last week, the waitress my age
told me she couldn’t wait
to move to Westchester.
Now, the Filipino restaurant,
still open for business,
gapes its charred mouth
at the morning street.

I eat tamarind stew
and napa cabbage.
The undissolved granules
of spice coat inside my cheeks.
The waitress smooths
down her bun, subtracts 50 cents
for a Pinoy discount, leaves
my hands steaming from a bag
of pan de sal.

I check my cell phone,
two calls from my mother.
I listen for the guilt she’s left.
A girl with a puffy coat
yells at her mother for the key.
What’s the code again.
Let me in, ma!

Two cats chase each other.
One hides in the juniper bush,
The other looks me in the eye.
County ambulances announce
their dead.
A boy from class recognizes me
on the bus, sits in the aisle seat,
says he can’t wait to start writing
spring poems,
when his hands are blackened
by the last snow.

Rachelle_CruzRachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California. She studied poetry and history at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She has self-published many chapbooks, in addition to being featured in Dark Phrases Magazine and Maganda Magazine. She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio <www.thebloodjet.wordpress.com>. She recently received the PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2009, and is working towards her first collection of poems. Check out her blog: www.racruzzo.wordpress.com.

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