November 21 Poems

I’m thinking about tamales tonight.

When I was a kid I ate them out of a can,

with ketchup. Shudder. It’s unthinkable.

I was a young fool. But I’m not thinking

about those tamales, if you could even

call them that, I’m thinking about

homemade tamales in December,

and the ritual of assembling them.

Place the damp husk in your palm,

then take spoon and spread the

moist masa, not too thick, not too thin.

It takes practice to get it just right.

Then the filling, maybe succulent

shreds of pork, a slice of jalapeno,

maybe some cheese, then wrap

them gently, snug and secure,

After the plate is heavy, they go

into the steamer, and the wait begins.

But it isn’t too bad because there is

a pot of beans on the counter,

cowboy beans, better than any

you’ve ever had, trust me, and

I could be happy eating bowl after bowl

of them—tender pink beans seasoned

with onions, garlic, cumin, bacon,

who knows what else, who cares,

they are magnificent and I’m glowing.

The tamales come out steaming,

piled high on the platter.

We dress them with fresh salsa,

and we eat too many, how can

we not. Soon we are lying

on the floor in the other room,

moaning softly, smiling, content.


Everybody’s talking to someone
I’ve never been good at chit chat
I try to look busy on my phone.
I want to call out, where’s the reader?
Which one of you is the author?
I want to buy your book, but
I don’t know your face. Instead
I look up your image,
realize you’re not here.
I look up biographies
of the people in the room
make use of the pocket
computer when social skills fail.
It must be an overly exquisite need
for a sense of belonging
that compels me to feel
solitary every time I enter a room
full of people. I might be thinking
who didn’t love you enough
to make you feel this way? I answer
myself, it’s you the stranger
I never got the courage
to speak to. Nah, that’s just insecurity.
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