Lines That Breathe When My Heart Speaks and Other Poems

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2019

Lines That Breathe When My Heart Speaks

My sweet young love,

  What bitter fruit you’ve tasted

Along your journey of life- 

  Brief, stunted, mired in self-hate 

To make you blind, oblivious

  To the silence at dawn.

I dreamt of the moment the sky opened,

  Pouring so gently the soothing light.

Awakened in you the tender desires;

  Without them there’s no feast nor famine,

No fire of any kind.

But you chose the dark clouds 

  Over daybreak;

Spinning round the hopeful vision

  Of so many worlds; yet your fear, 

Your eyes becloud the rage.

At dusk, a sense of meaning made true,

  The sounds of wheels turning,

Hammers banging, heat rising

  Inside the earth, the sky, and soulful voices.

But silence can only be marked

  By hearts beating and breathing 

Sweet memories;

  If only life could be there – 

Underneath all that trembles, shatters, and dies.


We looked out the gray mirror 

  Spilling out with remnants

Of life that awaken the 

  Sweet smell, the savory mouth,

The steady tapping of your 

  Spirit smiling.

The flowers floating elegance

  Whisper their white, 

Red, yellow hues

  Like the winged-airbrush

Of seagulls in flight.

You said we would love.

  My heart listened.

As our faces melted,

  The light’s reflection rested

On the crystal night. 

Museum of Tapachula, Chiapas, México

A Woman Shrouded in Loneliness

Tell me everything you know

  And I will tell you what I don’t know.

Truth is like a stubborn vine;

  No matter the obstacle,

A subliminal seedling makes its way

  From my bosom to where I am;

Truth to form, but not its matter

  When its defining moment 

Reaches out to cry so deeply;

  It surfaces from sleep and into

My darkest moment.

  There, we are one.

Until the sun sets in my eyes,

  After a long arduous confrontation,

The restlessness becomes

  Who I am.

Interrogating, interrogating.

  Every turn, every simple thought

And the complication fires up the

  Smoldering fire,

And, her I am – again.

  Can’t you see your drunken spirit 

That has betrothed me with you.

  The loneliness of me

And you, crying out for help.

  Screaming for a simple yes or no;

That’s ALL I know right now.

  Every day is a drowning;

Tormenting sounds all around

  When the baby arrives

I will finally see you again.

  And you will touch me.

Life is a touch.

  Crying becomes who I am. 

The Hour Glass Escape

After squeezing through the hour glass

 Past time zones and space,

I stand before the mighty ocean,

  My body slowly sinking into the soft sand,

The overly-powerful ocean,

  With every heave a rolling wave 

Lapping at my feet.

An enticing challenge of unfettered strength-

  Who is master? The supreme 

Ecology of life that holds the secrets of 

  Our birth and death, or

The human compassion

  With magical, mystical synergy 

That can turn hearts into gold and

  The universe into a peace offering.

Between the two worlds, underneath

  My feet, a mountain of sand rests

Like a sleeping giant preparing to 

  Burst open the wounds of our pain.

Each grain of sand coughed up by 

  A single sentiment from unknown peoples

Now present in each of us.

In every grain, a loss of self as compassion;

In every grain, a loss of hope for the future;

In every grain, a loss of vision as an organic whole.

The sands of doubt feed the voracious hunger 

  Of the infinite sea.

Retrieving my spirit I fly back into the hour glass,

  Flipped over for yet another life, another chance

For a new beginning


I gently took her tiny hand and 

placed it into mine; then, her slight

arms, and soon I felt her hug bigger

than life itself. We went up to the 

top of the highest concrete debris pile

and screamed so loud; it worked

because the world heard us and came

to our help, gave us something to eat 

and drink. We foraged the concrete

jungle for anything, and we learned the

lesson to be careful when you’re lonely,

hungry, or thirsty for you’re bound to

grab at anything that you don’t want to,

just to keep from falling apart. The next 

day a huge truck came by loaded with boxes 

and people dressed in nice, clean, bright

clothes, and they gave us something to eat

and drink. One man said that people on

the other side of the world envy us because

at least we have something to eat. Just

‘cause we got the earthquake we got 

something to eat. Then, the fires started

raging, burning off corpses that no one

claimed or maybe whole families that died. That’s

better, you know. In this hell, only the 

living suffer. My friend and I are family now.

We keep asking ourselves, when are we waking

up? When will the food stop coming? When will 

our screams fall on deaf ears just like

before the earthquake?

*Earthquake in Haiti, 2010, that killed over 220,000 people.

San Salvador, El Salvador, 2019


Exuberance is the color of the red sky,

   Bubbling over with hues of insatiable,

Incurable joy and happiness.

Exuberance is the river running wildly,

Dragging its abundance and selfish pride;

Everything in its path becomes its oneness.

Exuberance is the bright side of the moon,

  Hiding behind dark clouds; making fools of

Each of us for life is just an illusion.

Exuberance is laughter ravishing the ego 

  While devouring the soul.

Labyrinth Self-Help

Step 1.  Exhale

Fabric torn, walls cracked,

  Like your words splintered in my thoughts,

An opening, a door unlocked,

  Signs that soothe us when our heart aches,

Loneliness and despair suffocate.

When the seal finally explodes,

  Our vision contemplates honesty and truth;

The imprint we left behind – the shape of our body

  On the bed, the pillow, the smell of our skin,

Our thoughts scattered around.

Now, the breathing begins, for each breath – 

  A living will, an overwhelming feel of sentiment

For those we love, but an inescapable thought

  Of guilt for those we blame.

Step 2.  Inhale

Tenderness is the bird rummaging

  Through the backyard twig debris,

Infatuated with a withered leaf

  Its beak-action shredding pieces for a lovely nest.

A nature’s vignette to filter out our thoughts,

  From imploding violence – words, images, thoughts,

Each one too familiar to let go;

  Memory serves us badly, sometimes deadly.

But harnessing peace is what we do best,

  To calm our fears and wake-up each day;

Our heart and mind at rest finally;

  Then, the phone rings, the heart pounds,

Oxygen deprived, anxiety locks you up for good.

Step 3.  Free-Fall

You don’t know when you’ll hit bottom,

  But you know it’s there,

Even after you hit the ground,

  You’re still falling,

But at last, you grasp the center and 

  You start to feel the unbalance of balance.  

Museo de Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, 2019


The one smile in a million, the

  Unfettered speak of love for

The smallest sound of peace

  Emanating from the heart.

Rescuers abound, invisible angels;

  Human spirits dancing around us;

The bond is real, the hand reaching out

  To caress your face is not an illusion.

When everything is gone,

  Every living thing shriveled up and buried;

Our hearts will live forever;

  You, me, and the river that runs between us.  

Suchiate River border between Guatemala and Mexico, 2019

Half Moon Bliss

A walk under the full moon

  Leaves my heart breathless;

Tired of resiliency, my life

  Turns the worn-out pages 

Parched with tear spots;

  Now the new sounds 

Resonate from every corner,

  As a new sentiment readies

In the horizon,

  And so much love waiting

For its rising

Half Moon

So many half moons but never

  One quite like this one;

The other half vanished into the 

  Darkness, leaving me half-naked.

The streets of Old Town feel like

  An abandoned un-spirited house

Perched on a hill not too far 

  From the wasteland.

A half-cup of tea rebounds with

  Instant refills that serve as pauses

Throughout the lengthy string of words,

  Like a clothesline with yesterday’s wash

Hanging dry,

  Ruminating on all the reasons why

My heart is no longer full 

  But half empty

Remembering John Ross

Your poems are inspirational,

There isn’t one I don’t like,

Not one that doesn’t make me 

Think of you….

Standing, head-strong, barking like thunder,

Or, quietly thinking through your playful ideas,

Words, that seem to jump right out of thin air.

Each one is a tempestuous moment ….

A whimper turned rainstorm,

A sigh turned violent,

Each one has sent your head floating 

To the next dimension, the next door–opened.

I see your hands waving, your head turning, your eyes rolling,

Your shadow following.

You walk so quickly, where on earth are you going?

And as for Arminda’s laughter….

How rich it resonates through the rolling hills,

Reminding me of the glow of one afternoon in her patio.

I Can Think of You Forever

The circle broken, but in tact  – 

   Like words, fall on deaf ears but

Keep flying,

  Until they reach the exact spot

Where the sunrays sparkle

  The moonbeams glow

In your eyes, and

  Your spirit rises like a 

Tsunami about to devour


Frantic, the dying bird and

  The wilted flower

Like seeds grow and

  The entire world becomes

Blank, only 

  The blinking eyes can see

The image far off in the 

  Distance  —

Of a red rider against the sky

  On a cloud of dreams

Coming home.

San Salvador, El Salvador, 2019

Rapture Aperture

Sounds of winged whistling ghosts

  Quiet my heart as I taste your

Warm spices and herbs.

You are

   The red-throated bird

   Singing daybreak right 

   Outside my open window;

   The yellow flame floating

   On top of Jesus in a jar;

   Blurring spirit waves long

   Forgotten in my prayer book.

The memory man

  Taking snapshots of me and you;

Cruising down the road

  Never paying attention to its

Curvy Unevenness,

   For as long as we made it

Through the day, and then night

  Wasn’t so bad.

We were hungry, though;

  For more than the cotton balls

They dished out at the school cafeteria;

  Drowning in WORDS that meant too much

Or not enough but left us thinking

  More, even if the sounds just might

Kill us.

There was only one memory road,

  And your hand took me there – 

Your thought coin for mine,

  Your gold for my silver,

Your street for my road,

  Your path for my tree top,

And a view to kill for, from 

  The giant papalote,

The sea of mesquite

  Wandering through the vines of

Sweet and sour days, and nights,

  And the taste of long afternoons that 

Stay on your eyebrows like the pastel colors

  Of youth, and the vibrant color of love.

The Wicked Laughter of a Parrot’s Squawk

It’s not wicked, nor is it laughter;

That persistent squawk of a parrot 

Shrieking at me and the world;

Its voice piercing the plumed sky;

How far its resonance you can argue rests

Deep in one’s soul;

And there, the parrots’ presence anchored,

All too familiar to those of us who live in their midst;

Each trilled squawk marks a time of day, a certain

Feeling, an axe striking a pivotal illusion, a visual diary,

A scathing thought, a memory or two;

Tantalizing, perhaps, or disgusting, or perturbing, or nothing;

Nothing that seems like nothing, but there’s always

A gnawing sense that what is gone

Will come back to fill our lives, and complete the circle.

The parrots’ squawk 

Pealed around our meditating thoughts,

Lift our burden each time they take flight 

From tree to tree;

Even when we’re not listening.


If you could turn into a hummingbird

  You could fly and disappear,

Zip lining from branch to branch,

  Showing off the majestic color

And then, the hidden thoughts that

  Delight you can come alive,

YOU would come alive.

  And only your cherished memories 

Would flutter amongst leaves, and 

  Glimmer in the sun’s reflection.

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2019

Ride to Enlightenment (Nowhere)

Parallel lives could or could not describe

How we often play tag,

Except I’m “it” more than you, 

Instead you decide to sit by the view window

That I glance over every once in a while,

Just to see if by chance our 

Destination is anywhere nearby.

If we can’t find the love we’re

Looking for in each other,

We will just end up hating one another.

I drink my sweet tea from the orange peel

 You left on the table,

Pondering whether love even existed at all.


The smell of sweet orange permeated the fresh air

 As I drank my second cup of wine just to 

Prolong the rich glow of an early afternoon.

 We exchanged words to quiet our souls and 

Distract the passion that rushed in an instant;

 Everything we wanted to say through our 

Touch, we spoke sometimes in communion

  With our bodies that filled our senses

Wordless, mindless, spirits dancing;

  Until you found the flower

That you wanted to keep for yourself

  And, I would run circles around you,

While your eyes were glued to the window;

  We live in two worlds,

You with the flower, and I 

   With the scent of strong orange.


Red brown tree

  Swaying from east to west,

North to South;

  I pray and guess –

Which way 

  The fall, 

The demise,

  The clearing up; 

Which way 

  The hope, salvation, 

Or taking back?


  Is right lies somewhere

Between life and me-

   The conscious over and 

Beyond the top; 

The curse 

  Is trapped, 

Like a seagull’s flight 

  Resisting wind shear

With all its might, 

  Fighting foolishness, 

Stopping time.

Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, San Salvador, El Salvador, 2019


  The same sing-song

Of gilded traps like broken

  Moon pieces that don’t fit

Together anymore; like

  Dreams erased in a split second

When I stood outside in front of

  A locked door and only

A dim light splashed through

  The window casting a lonely shadow;

Dreams erased in a split second

  When my spirit died and left me

Empty, mindless, dead even to myself;

  A sobering moment of the

Bittersweet taste of love and hate and

  The missteps that took us

From heaven to hell in a split second.

  I want to be free, to fly away –  

Feathers and all, and you, and you by my side.

Heart of a Hunter

I have the heart of a hunter;

  It’s stone cold silent one moment

Then, leaps explosively at a crackling, 

  Squeaky sound.

While I sleep it becomes a lioness 

  Stalking its prey, or a warning siren

Blasting in desperation.

My serenity is breached as readily

  As I attain it; suddenly, I hear

The shrill noise of a thousand bees 

  Escaping for their lives.

Is there a conspiracy?

  My own heart betraying my peace;

The heart of a fierce hunter is far

  Too wretched to convince it sensibly and


  The battle scars are starting to bleed again.

San Salvador, El Salvador, 2019

When Angels Come Rushing In

Not the everyday guardian that keeps the

  Shoelace from tripping you over;

But thousands marching in silence

  And truth; each one meticulous:

The angel-brigade call to action,

  A duty for love-saving beyond saving lives;

Like flags flapping furiously, they will not surrender –

  Without love there is no life.

The stampede overwhelms our senses;

  You’d think justice has been deprived,

Or despair is helplessly teetering between you and me;

  Perhaps, the suffering has become too deadening;

Or, a wish for life has all but diminished;

  But, there, in the Garden of Eden, a flower,

A flower dying, and barely holding on.

Not the flower of life, or of evil,

  Or, sanctimonious goodness;

Not the heart beat of a living pulse;

  Not the earth, the sky, or water falling endlessly;

But the love that holds us together, like the force

  Between heaven and earth.

What will save us now?

A million stars?

  Relentless moons?

Fire from the living candles 

  Of angels rushing in?

Or, hearts beating inconsolably 

  For want to be in love?

What Can Always be (to Quetzil on the day of mourning)

You’ve entered a room where I once

   Casted a bottomless strain of

Human heroism and poetic injustice.

In a black humorless bed lay the remains 

Of someone you shared your dreams, your life, and secrets;

 Your river of blood has suddenly dried;

And your aching tears seem as stark as your emptiness

The world is empty; and the flesh is weak.

I can’t imagine life as it was; 

I cast shadows among trees and clouds;

I listen to words that erupt from my being;

My vision pierces matter like knives;

I walk like a solid spirit in a dungeon of earth. 

It’s a window of light I seek;

A breath of incense, so pure and pristine;

The warmth of a gentle touch, a pillow of something

Whereupon I can rest my weariness. 

When life is empty I think of the corpse;

   One day I’ll find my restful sleep and leave

What was toward, and what can always be. 

I often look for a place of calmness to rest

My weary head. 

The dream-state you imposed upon me

Has drifted me further into a white sphere;

I can’t think of roses without living in

Their satin glow;

Every burst of color swoons inside my echoes;

My body, a giant ear to melodious streams of

Music that carry me far above;

And my thoughts, my thoughts are filled

With emotions of being next to you, inside of you

I awoke once from the dream;

Like an angel wing-wounded I lay broken;

The drug had wilted away, leaving my bones

Cold, my heart stiff. 

This place I call real is without you;

Void of your warmth, your breath, your

Eyes upon mine.

The sensual state of life in a dream 

Buries my grief, my pain,

My only one thing to live for

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2019

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