I Forgot That Summer in Rome
I forgot Poor Persius, whose full name I kept snorting forth as Aulus. Persius. Flaccid.
I forgot a well-used whip tucked into his left boot.
I forgot his intellect was a scratchy wool coat.
I forgot penury forcing me into a staring contest with an ice cube.
I forgot satire is the literary genre Romans considered truly their own.
I forgot the winter ballroom where tuxedos prevailed.
I forgot Sulpicia, the Roman woman writer who wrote Latin elegies attributed to the man Tibullus.
I forgot she tottered on ice despite thick ankles.
I forgot Quintus Ennius who founded a movement through which he became replaced.
I forgot the hundreds of words in Hindi that mean “lotus.”
I forgot whether English became the universal language for its limited vocabulary.
I forgot doubting Shakespeare’s appreciation of Titus Maccius Plautus: mired in alleyway angst, I stupidly thought, “greatest comic” is like “giant shrimp”?
I forgot meals haphazardly made from hors d’ouevres.
I forgot disappointing myself for emulating Lucan who created Bellum Civile by using Vergil’s Aeneid as a “negative compositional model.”
I forgot the fool who thought the Gobi Desert stretched out its arms and yawned.
I forgot you consistently parted your lips when you uttered my name.
I forgot my father was benign in his absence.
I forgot mansplainers—forgot nothing about Albius Tibullus whose poems lurched their way into non-existence, though Quintilian considered him the best poet of the Roman empire.
I forgot I never knew the words to a poem etched beneath the exact center of the Vatican.
I forgot the relief of witnessing a smile.
I forgot wondering if sweat can be dishonest.
I forgot looking at glass and not seeing its transparency.
I forgot the bottle emptying as another day gave way.
I forgot folding into sadness.
I forgot the child soldiers.
I forgot artists rise from (or fall into) desecrated battlegrounds.
I forgot the trip wire, leering as it hid in shimmering summer heat.
I forgot everything about Catullus except his scurrilous invective.
I forgot there are keys to everything, even handcuffs missing their rabbit fur linings.
I Forgot My Skin Was Ruin
I forgot Mohammed welcoming Jews and Christians for they, too, are “People of the Book.”
I forgot the air of a country where the love for a woman is the love for a man is the love for Allah!
I forgot authenticity always wanders.
I forgot defining ambition as the helpless compulsion to write songs for women who will never wear headscarves.
I forgot we accepted a colonizer’s alphabet in exchange for electricity.
I forgot he learned her body as a white finger holding back starlight.
I forgot symmetries shaped by memory lapses.
I forgot the empress humming calculus.
I forgot the weaver who formed holes shaped as tears.
I forgot You there with blue veins cracking transparent membrane.
I forgot preening over a labyrinth.
I forgot the skin of jasmine mirroring sky.
I forgot a girl loving marble enough to freeze into a swoon.
I forgot a white azalea quieting shade into a girl.
I forgot desiring most when it rained.
I forgot the plankton beneath the wave, radiating from green to gold with the onset of wet sunlight.
I forgot how dusk enhanced conversations.
I forgot cheer dispersed through fishnet stockings.
I forgot “Mutual Funds” is an oxymoron.
I forgot the momentary immortality of a new car.
I forgot Manolo Blahnik’s elegy for crocodiles.
I forgot how effectively lineage seduces.
I forgot the Bengal Tiger mimicking a helicopter’s dance.
I forgot “abashed aubergine.”
I forgot vivid is subjective.
I forgot fear is a loss.
I forgot Beauty can be reasonable.
I forgot envying the thorns.
I forgot a pedestal bloodied by what who leapt from it.
I forgot belting my jeans with a used halo.
I forgot my feet mischievously walking two inches above ground.
I forgot a girl shrieking as her swing soared towards a boiling sky.
I forgot your fingers reaching to caress the hollows formed when my knees bent.
I forgot the violet bruise from a rifle’s intimacy.
I forgot birds forming a toupee for trees.
I forgot the big-bellied man whispering Murder can remain mere story over a cigar smoked down to the length of my then-enchanting thumb.
I forgot your hands paused before my black brassiere.
I forgot you reminding, “Honey, angels may fall but they never die.”
I forgot to be an angel is to be alone in a smudged gown, fingers poking through holes burnt by epistemology.
I forgot drinking from ancient goblets whose cracked rims snagged lips into a bleeding burning. I forgot my skin was ruin.
I forgot the baby rattlesnake staining asphalt green after it was ran over by a neighbor who, it was rumored, adored massive mahogany libraries jam-packed with cracked leather covers, yellowing pages, and wisdom best left forgotten.
I forgot the difficulty in dying the world saw me as a humpback.
From “I Forgot the Song Inside the Stone”
I forgot I once danced—en compas!—into a story I thought belonged to me. I became a character in it, giving its narrative all the years demanded from my life. But the story began long before I entered it. I forgot I was only dancing flamenco.
I forgot how a stairway muffled but still sang our song.
I forgot constellations don’t sing when they want to emphasize your joy.
I forgot it was impossible to avoid the rain of black crows plummeting from the bullets of hidden hunters with soft hands.
I forgot that, once, I was woken by a whisper to see a red chair tipped on its side upon a white shag carpet—when they finally found you, it was the heart of winter and the only witnesses were stripped trees bent by old winds, their muteness ancient and forever.
I forgot I refused to smash a bagpipe. I anticipated and was afraid of the image of a discarded lung atop the asphalt of your aborted road.
I forgot the mental is a muscle.
I forgot how stars became asterisks to matters best left in the dark. I forgot the tirelessness of shame.
I forgot the wave—how its singularity is easily fractured by sunlight’s blades.
I forgot a reflection can manifest loneliness or holiness but never both at the same time.
I forgot the artist commissioned with the order, “Don’t make it abstract.” I forgot the artist’s iron soldiers erupting amidst Midwestern wheat.
I forgot the chill of kissing the wrong man. O lifetime of pearls!
I forgot the outcome of “Matte vs. Glass.”
I forgot a body drowning in light as a hand wrote. I forgot eyes leaking flames.
I forgot the ziggurat tattooed on an inner thigh, an area where inscription must have surfaced with anguish, then desperation, then a hymn long-forgotten as I’d forgotten how to attend anyone’s church.
I forgot how the sun’s stare becomes tolerable through the cotton eyelets of another generation’s apron.
I forgot a long-haired woman exists, but outside the frame as has been reality for centuries.
I forgot flying fish are always wide-eyed always breathless always look unbelieving.
I forgot a mirrored face only partially owns its reflection.
I forgot the absence of green as my bandaged wing swung to break stalactites. I forgot that after ice falls, they merely lie on ground, evaporating.
I forgot we agreed to toss away the blindfold so that our ears can become more than holes for burning stones tossed our way by a cruel race.
Or stones tossed our way by a venal dictatorship.
Or stones tossed our way by an incompetent health care system.
Or stones tossed our way by a passive bureaucrat wielding power over the education of the child we will never have.
Or stones tossed our way by that obscene combination of trust fund baby and hedge fund billionaire.
Or stones tossed our way by the demands of poverty: how poverty paradoxically narrows the impoverished focus into the small, then petty, then brutish.
I forgot paint can transform canvas to skin. I forgot when the paint can is empty, only then will innocence reveal itself.
I forgot sunsets call for wine.
I forgot the moving prop of clouds can fail to soften the edges of dark architecture.
I forgot a woman shrouded herself in white linen—a poem invisible but stubbornly transparent until flesh became stone.
I forgot I was left with a stone watching itself like a poem in a forest, covered fretfully by ancient moss, its legacy only a stone toe with its orange paint long faded (though it lingers in someone’s memory).
I forgot we were swollen underground with rain as certain elements erased their absence:
I forgot that thing unidentifiable, though it evoked pink pearls luminescent among a gutted goat’s entrails.
I forgot the maddened sunlight into which hostages emptied long-held fears as they erupted from a robbed bank.
I forgot crackle of light, dream of icicles and the unpredictability of angles cut by any creature chased for its nutritious heart.
I forgot how effectively pain obviates abstractions.
I forgot a roof tile flew and slate sliced my cheek. Blood on fingers after brushing against cheek’s glimmer of bone.
I forgot that when a stone hand cracks, its pieces will not be caught.
I forgot that stone was the compromise defining the absence of void.
I forgot the interior, from the beginning, was stone.