POETRY: Red is the Color of My Night

[1] I am Pasckie

I am a citizen of a country
with no borders, no airports
no basketball teams or beauty queens
no ceilings, no walls, no floors
and I represent a culture
that converges around a bonfire.

The customs man did not know
how to stamp-pad me
so he just categorized me
as a mixed-up universalist.

I don’t believe in armed revolutions
violent struggles and world wars
I just believe in cheap beers,
open mics, laughters,
peace, love and lots of good food.

The political scientist did not know
how to check me in a box
so he just labeled me
as a pacifist who eats a lot.

I am not a member of any organization,
congregation, aggrupation or hallucination
and I don’t eat wings at Hooters
or play nickel slot machines in Las Vegas
although you can see me anywhere
everywhere whenever whatever.

The activist dude did not how
to figure me out
so he called me a CIA spy
who doesn’t have a house.

I criticize governments, foreign
policies, politicians who praise
the Lord only on election days,
and Wells Fargo statements
and I refuse to vote or work
at a Wal-Mart store
or attend a Church service.

My good-natured neighbor did not know
what is it that I really want
so he called me
a really confused Communist.

I have these kinda weird cheekbones
and a long black hair
and an angry look,
so they called me Cherokee;
Now I have this strange accent
and I eat ramen noodles with a spoon
so they called me a Filipino.

Well, I do not know
what people really want to know
so I just say,
“I am Pasckie!”

[2] Black Poem, Blue Ink, Red Blood

I have a black poem
that I wrote for my yellow friend
that I met in a grimy sidestreet of Bangkok.
It was about the love of his life
a beautiful village muse with blue, sad eyes
who climbed up a white ship that sailed
to a crimson faraway land,
her stairways to neon heavens,
never to return again.

I have a green poem
that I wrote for a brown friend
that I met on a pale Washington Square bench
in New York City one white Christmas afternoon.
It was about the love of his life
a lovely senorita with lonely, hazel eyes
that he left in their barrio in Cozumel,
her heart grieving, praying for even a blue glimmer
of the star’s wandering light to shower her
black aftermidnight,
and cheer her lonely, hazel eyes.

I have a yellow poem
that I wrote for a black friend
that I met inside a Greyhound bus
on my way to an orange county somewhere
in California.
His name is Green
and he has brown eyes and grey hair,
the poem that I wrote for him is for the blue
memories of the blues that the aquamarine devil
stole in the white crossroads of his tangerine past
in the name of a purple dream.

My poem is brown, my pen is black, my words are white
my metaphors are green, my language is grey.
I want to squeeze this blue paper
where I scribbled my yellow poem,
squeeze it hard with the black&white in color
stories of the multicolored pages of my life.

I want to squeeze this hard,
so I can show you the color
of my blood,
the color that can’t be mistaken
by the shade of green on a passport
tint of blue in a state ID
speck of brown or yellow in your flag,
orange in your suit.
I want to squeeze this poem,
squeeze this poem so hard,
so hard... so this poem’s blood
will ooze and flow
and dye and shade all the colors
of the nights that separate
the beauty of the blue sky
from the grime of the black streets,
the blue tears in a daughter’s eyes left at home
and the black rage in a father’s heart
as he sets to fight a black&white war
in a brown land with a silver gun.

The color of my poem
is also the color of my brother’s soul,
the color of my friend’s heart.
The color of my poem
is also the color of my blood...
Red is the color of my night.

[3] I Hear My Heart

I hear my heart howl,
a wounded wolf fighting for shelter
along burning columns of mire
in the cold whiteness of a winter’s chest;
I hear my heart weep,
and his voice is muted by a hurricane
of ebony wings that soar like spears
onto a bleeding, barb-wired sky;
but I do not grieve long, not for long—
for, as I hear my heart whisper
the agony of volcanic ash
it also promises the ecstasy of waterfalls
that subside into a symphony
of rustling rain and playful wind
that plays on and on and on
through moments of a single midnight
onto the eternity of a new dawn
that starts with my trembling hands
finding calm and warmth
upon your breasts.

[4] Seeking Home

I see fragments of home fall like broken
stars from an immaculate winter sky,
like tears or blood
or sweat, that spread through
the night and reflect faded
photographs of war and poverty
on weeping windowpanes;
home is lost in the din
of freeway skids, thud of subway
concrete, hallow of $.50 7-Eleven coffee
canisters, wail of Grayhound ticket
stubs. The smell of monsoon is gone.
The stench of fowl entrails strewn
with bamboo sticks on coal beds
are gone. Foot trails to river shacks
are blurred by interstate smog;
Christmas carols have been muted
by incessant grumblings of washer-dryers
gnawing at guts like rubber
ulcers. All these tap at my heart
like hammerheads on tincan
roofs, emaciated flesh cut
on credit card gallows:
sharp, hallow, loud, intent, sure.

Winter storms have washed away
directions home; I seek comfort in
many open doors that remain close
even as I am freely welcomed in.
Love fails to communicate
in a borrowed language
that seems to grow more strange
in each mumbling of sorrow
or joy; words that bounce back
like ten-minute autumn rain
that dry down like cheap vodka
on chapped lips, hot clinches stolen
in between hours-rendered,
dollars-paid; oh pain, that familiar
pain is nowhere to be felt
within this tiny cubicle in heaven
where the agony of homesickness
translates to warmth—
warmth that speaks of
a vagrant truth that have long
sentenced my soul in exile.

[5] Aftermidnight Proposal to a Moonshadow

My love for you
is as long as a second—
like the fleeting eternity
of a lightning’s kiss upon a rock;
And my love for you
is as short as a thousand years
like the elaborate trek of dews
along the bare chest of a leaf.

[6] In The Islands

In the islands where I came from
where the sun burns
like toxic cakes
and the moon decays
like gangrenes,
we gather dead fish
by breakwater rocks
murdered by cyanide bowels,
and then we boil them with
weed black with soot
from the swamps
flavored by bitter sweat
crawling down our faces
like blood.

That is lunch for a family of six
the last meals of the first days
of the rest of our lives,
and then we thank God.

In the islands where I came from
where birds fly in joy
along murky skies
because no one could afford
to imprison them in golden cages,
we behead chickens
with rusty kitchen knives
and cook every little bit
of their malnourished body,
boil them on acid rain water
head, flesh, entrails, feet
even blood is caked and cubed
and barbecued.

That is dinner for a family of six
the last suppers of the first days
of the rest of our lives,
and then we thank God.

In the islands where I came from
where roads have no exit signs
only entry ways
and houses have no doors
only windows,
dogs roam the streets
like bullfrogs on daylight
and fireflies at dusk,
they signal the coming of storm
pacify ghosts that disturb the living
and body-search suspicious strangers,
they patiently wait for leftovers
of poisoned sweat.
That is food for our dogs
they swallow these graces with us
with obedient hearts,
and then they wag their tails
to thank God.

In the islands where I came from
we die in thousands, six months a year
typhoons devour our neighbor
wars kill our friends
earthquakes crush our houses
of rattan wicks and bamboo sticks
each flood sweeps our
12-month dreams away.

In the islands where I came from
we weep and weep and weep
for ten months of misfortune,
and then in the next two months of grace
we frolic in the mud rife with
chemical vomit, we laugh with grasshoppers
drunk with caffeine,
we chase bullfrogs dazed with nicotine
under a shade of nitrogen clouds.

In the islands where I came from
we die and live every day
live and die every night
die and live again and again,
and then, in the mornings of our lives
we get up and breathe the new air
and then we thank God
as we head out the door
and dance like butterflies
with one foot and 700 hearts
and wings as huge as the blue sky.

In the islands where I came from.

[7] Serenade

No one could remember
the scent of seashells
that feed tulips in between
the fertile crevice
of your twilight
and dawn;
no one knew
the smell of daisies
that lingers amidst
your throbbing mounds
of clouds that send
vagabonds and warriors
to sleep.
No one, no one but me.

What precious minerals
are embedded on your hips
that warm and nourish
the earthly hunger
of nomadic limericks
as they scrounge for heat?
Let me navigate
your mysteries buried
in your depths,
moist with promises
of warmth, assurances
of shelter.

I shall explore your contours
with a serpent’s tongue        
that preys on truths
with no shape
but uncovers mysteries
with a kiss;
my muse of drunken stars
allow me to wander in the moonlit
prairie of your chest,
while I seek refuge
from desolation
and loneliness.

Then let me in, let me
surrender my world
inside you before
I lose it again.

[8] The Blues

Lend me your ears, and hand me a beer
because I got the blues
a little bit of BB King or Lightnin’ Hopkins
but the kind of blues that makes you want
to steal the moon from a 7-11 store
chop it to pieces like cheddar cheese
on two-day pasta, add some 9-to-5 sweat
for salt, that’s my dinner--
that’s my kind of blues.

Lend me your ears, and hand me more beers
because I got the blues
like Muddy Waters of leftover bourbon
stained with frijoles blood
down French Quarter in The Big Easy,
“Hoochie Coochie Amigo Men”
and lost lonely boys in honky-tonk
Brooklyn diners.
Yeah, the kind of blues
that leaves your skin chapped dry
like an AmEx card that’s swiped clean
across plastic flesh, maxed-out and dead
like a fever that is cold in the outside
but burning like hell in the inside...
Your flesh pumps like morphine kick
like a 2-note baseline thud on concrete,
your soul is dead
as a rat crushed by subway panic
on 5pm rush.

I got the blues
rolling down my spine like ice, cold beer
dumped on a bucket of panhandled dimes,
the blues that makes me feel
like an overused and abused teabag,
squeezed dry and raped, mutilated
and mistreated
like black soot that inhabit
my nostrils under toxic skies
you can’t help it, you gotta take it
that’s the way it is!

So lend me your ears,
and hand me one more beer
because I got the blues.
The blues that speak to my soul
like Arizona bushfire thrust on Buffalo blizzard,
the kind of blues that makes me want
to drink more beer, more beer.

Now, brothers and sisters:
In the dark and cold
of this night, just one more time--
let’s play the blues...

[9] Love in b-flat minor

Like a tired thunderstorm
kissing a sleepy puddle of mud;
Like an orphan streak of honey
snaking past morphine-spent flesh;
Like a starving vulture
surrendering its deadly hunger
to find rest beside a weeping rosebud;
Like a summer sun playing possum
with a rain-drenched August moon;
Like a wild bullet melting
upon the wounded wing of a wandering dove…
I seek shelter in the cold of a desert moon
I long for the serpent kiss that shall poison my heart
to sleep, to sleep… and wake up
in the beautiful madness
of my new dawn with you
beside me.

[10] The Taming of the Wild Woman

I want to negotiate the depths
that reveal ladders into your dark
into your steep cave of treasures
into your sleeping volcano—
and then, I will thrust my head
upon those black clouds, swallow your fire
and clear the smoke as I unravel
and claim my home in your heart.

[11] Let Me Snake My Mouth

Let me snake my mouth
all over your puddle of mud
searching for the lost blade
hiding in your dirt;
let me crawl my tongue
seeking refuge in your forest
of misguided heat;
I am rife with fangs
that cut like lightning razors
opening you up
like a seashell’s womb
that embraces life after it bled.

But get even within the life
of this scorpion midnight;
cut me, bleed me—
I do not expect heaven
as I grope for pleasure
in the heat of our wounded dark
I expect hell that succumbs to ashes
and gets reborn with the wind;
not a garden of rosebuds
but a catacomb cluttered
with broken shards of china
that pierce like cold dagger
on butterine flesh.

Only inside, within
this war of unfinished wars
and unredeemed victors
when we wrestle with our demons
and outslug past ghosts
that lurk between the sheets—
shall we start to heal
and emerge new
as dawn in the shape
of a flawed but newborn

[12] Ten Dollars

Ten dollars
buy an exiled country
with an ice cream cone
of toxic sugar brandnamed
benevolent assimilation.
Five more dollars
rent a Holiday Inn suite
in Chicago
with icicle windows
of broken Third World dreams.
Seven dollars
I get six midtown Manhattan
subway rides
with Metrocards swiped on thin
malnourished Mexican flesh,
no free rides
to Chinatown sweatshops. 
Ten dollars
buy a mansion
with a patch of frozen teardrops
cupped from a tinfoil accessory,
refuge to jolly divers
of Las Vegas’ dumpsters.
Fifteen additional dollars
plus spent silver shells
of orphan AK-47s
brought home from Baghdad
win a college degree
and assured Platinum AmEx’s.
Two dollars more
get a bargain perfume
called Poison
with heavenly scent
extracted from
a fallen angel’s wings
by the slopes of
Madison Square Garden. 
One more dollar
for a free-trade coffee
marketed on corporate
take-out cups
assures me a reading
of my poem
under a warm roof
and secured four walls.
Fifty more cents for a refill
means I deserve the glory of
the quiet of this one illegal night
of my ten-dollar
American dream.  

[13] A Vampire’s Song to his Beloved

I would like you to whisper me a poem
a poem that hisses like copperhead wind
a quiet, intrusive, searching poem
that snaps like sweet poison kiss
that brings me to quick sleep—
as the rain wafts softly
among the trees’ shoulder blades
finding refuge in the cold
damp night, darkness collecting
a weary head.

I am so tired, so please say the words
like the lost language of crows
that find shelter in the wounded intimacy
of an aftermidnight dreary.
Touch me, oh touch me
like pangs that fuses death
and make me rest in the abyss
then wake me up with the song
of healing like sunlight that sneaks
through the flesh of dusk and mends
the cracks of broken blinds…
my love, my beloved
your love is my peace
and my home
amidst the light of night
and the dark of days.

[14] War

War is not a word, war is not a poem
war is a name scrawled in blood
in forgotten tombstones
by a bayonet’s tongue or an arrow tip—
no one remembers it, but the wind.

War is not music, war is not a song
war is a scream at night, wail of the wounded
howls that only shrapnel ears
that bleed with morphine fluid
could hear.

War are severed women’s breasts
drained of flesh—
used as bags for bones and bullets
reminders of death and decay
violation and vile.

War is a bunker’s wall
that keeps track of the dead and the dying,
the stench of rotten flesh that reeks
through the hallowed halls of time,
war is a bloodshot sky, a shark’s mouth
that pukes lead and lithium
laying waste the earth.

War is where tears of salt merge
with cyanide ashes
of those who left and never came back,
war is a line of lamp posts
beaded with blown up skulls
of corpses that didn’t make it
to body bags.

War is death, war is cold, war is doom.
War has to end.

[15] Saturday Night Fever

Daylight is over—
from 91 West, the angels
with grease on their foreheads
have arrived!
They clipped their wings
as they emerge
from LA’s tenement sky
on beat-up sedans
and park by the roadside
of Southern California’s
toxic sundown.

From I-605, the vampires
on blue suede shoes
have rolled out their black capes
down Pacific Coast highway
and settle by the pavements
still damp with diesel sweat
and 9 to 5 blood
as Bruce Springsteen screams
out of an AM radio
like a cat on fire.

Buenas noches, amigos y amigas—
the night is born again in the U S of A
because it is Saturday night.

Fourth Street has been rerouted
to where uneasy, downtrodden spirits
converge to sip on one glass
of peon wine
while the moon burns with
promises of intoxication
and liberation
so the comics and comedians
poets and poseurs, singers and sinners
loners and losers
jive talkers and open mikers
lovers of somebody and menders
of broken hearts
come together
play Mozart, Tom Waits,
and Muddy Waters
shed their masks and armours
and own the night.

Listen, you wounded but proud
lizards of darkness,
usher out the microphone
and let the beating and the howling
the musing and the healing
ring out loud
from Los Coyotes Diagonal
to Ocean Boulevard
to kingdom come of our
beautiful madnesses.

Daylight is over—
from 91 West to I-605
from nirvana to Main Street
4th Street to sun up
let the angels and vampires
boogie to immortality
from dusk till dawn.

Stay alive on a Saturday night
while the fever is hot.

[16] Nomads

We are nomads.
We are bastard children of volcanic wrath
cactus thorns cut up from their mothers’ limb
by fugitive Siberian winds
and pulled toward Pacific Coast Highway
by Queen Isabella’s buffalo soldiers.

Our grandmothers are Cherokee nightingales
lost along Trail of Tears on Interstate 40
on their way to Foxworth Casino,
our grandfathers are Malayan cave dwellers
of Astronesian blood
adapted by Spanish conquistadores
and exhibited at the St Louis World’s Fair.

Our sisters have kingfisher eyes
snagged by prodigal pirates
off South China Sea
and then sold to Uncle Sam’s
foreign policy’s R&R,
our brothers bear pagan machetes
slayer of intruders
with crucifixes on their foreheads—
blood dripping down
their mortgaged faces.

We are nomads.
Spare change thrown
onto a grimy fountain of doom
after the Treaty of Paris
sealed our fate following
the defeat of the Spanish Armada
by the Desert Storms
of our AmEx lives
and Wells Fargo valentines,
like scripted coup d’etats
played out of Hollywood brothels
on gilded screens as huge as
undernourished Third World chests.

We are the scar of the 4th streets
of the Main Streets of American heartland--
the rolling stones of downtown Manhattans
down West 4ths toward Bleecker streets
uptown Capitol Hills at the curb
of Dow Jones Boulevards
of the U S of A’s of our credit card dreams,
the remnants of 700 bottles of bourbon
seeking warmth by the dumpsters
of decay and doom
from Chicago to Las Vegas,
Newark, New Jersey to Flint, Michigan
from the slums of our winter delusions
to the JFK Airports of
our neverending journeys.

We are nomads.
We feed on faces and places
nameless sidestreets, forgotten alleyways
we dine on words strewn by the gutters
cold and hard but alive.
We are nomads, I am a nomad—
a seeker of truths in American sidestreets
and a poet with one million immigrant

[17] The Sheets

We first skirmished our valued truths
on this corner of the left side of the bed;
we scaled up a hill and tumbled badly
in different directions off a ravine
on the far side of the right wing
of the crumpled but soft pillow case;
we blew bubbles and willingly shared
a strawberry sherbet as we ran
our wearied hands on our aching backs
as we crawled on the off-center side
of the room as sylphs and ravens watched.
The sun set high, the moon glowed low,
heaven’s elevator stopped as a crow
lazily slipped past the windowsill
but a rose remained alive and a star’s
invasive light kept on sneaking
in the crack somewhere as we snuggle
and heave and roll and intertwine
under, over, beneath the sheets—
the sheets are still the same, so warm.

[18] If We Try

I can face your storm
and wrestle your wind
if you make me a bowl of soup
by the bonfire that
our sweet deliriums
are bound to stoke
when the hurricane subsides

I can grip the blade
of your turbulence
wound my palm
with your lightning bolt
if you nurse me with
a kiss after these tears
have dripped and dried
and my serpentine heat
has sobered and calmed

I can marry your jagged lines
with my gruff borders
level our rough terrains
then draw the axis
towards a straight line
leading to a point
that would mark our little,
warm space in the wild

If we try.

[19] Pledge

When our universe is reduced
to a solitary driftwood upon
a famished riverbed
at the end of days and nights,
I shall lift us from the abyss
and hold you tight, so tight
as we ride through the rapids
onto an angry waterfall—
but I will stay with you
with all my might and madness
until we merge with the sea.

[20] American Poem, American Night

I am looking for an American poem
by an American poet.

So allow me to blindfold my Rayban eyes
unplug my iPod ears
and let my vagrant, dumpster-fed heart listen
to an American poet read an American poem.
A vagrant verse carved out of salvaged bones
of Tennessee slaves and crafted as black rage
on white redemption—memories of many,
many American years ago.

I want to hear an American poem,
long ago stories of Mexican grapepickers
in San Joaquin Valley in California
Chinese railroad workers in Seward, Nebraska
Filipino cannery workers in Bristol Bay, Alaska—
who did not know how to speak the language of kings
to communicate their immigrant dreams with gods.
All they knew were Western Union prayers
that kept them warm on winter nights—
as dollar wings fly thousands of miles away
back home to usher healing to typhoon wounds.

I want to hear American words
elegies to Irish immigrants
dreams emptied by potato famine
but lit up by a new world of hopes
they scrawled beautiful verses at the slippery
pavement of Ellis Island,
bleeding stories of fifteen Cubans that drowned
near a Fort Lauderdale coast,
seven Nigerians who perished in a sweatshop
in San Francisco’s Chinatown,
of an Indonesian nurse who was raped and murdered
beside Chicago’s subway,
coming from healing the sick and the dying
in a multicolored hospital of multicolored cadavers
covered with giant, suffocating drapes
of immaculate white.

I want to listen to an American poem,
why the blacks are on this strip
and whites are on this block
why the Chinese only work in east buffets
and Mexicans line up the streets of Queens
begging for a 2-hour roof job for
a hot Campbell soup and cinco dollares
as mucho rico compadres
complain over a baseball contract
as huge as a stadium but too flimsy
to clothe a snow-scarred limb.

American poems that rave and rant
about sequined muses on Hollywood Boulevard
and Central Park West
feeding bejeweled chihuahuas Wagyu steaks
of investment bankers partying
on billion-dollar bailouts—
as long body bag lines of war casualties crowd
the tarmac, all the way from Interstate 40 to I-605.

I want to listen to another Joe Hill
Robert Johnson or Martin Luther King,
Woody Guthrie, and Geronimos
and unnamed colored streetwalkers,
city street buskers who perished somewhere
building American structures
quenching American thirsts
satisfying American hungers
and defending American freedoms
somewhere beyond the American
heartland, in kingdom comes
and fool’s paradises that don’t conform
with our beloved American lifestyle.

So listen—brothers and sisters
I want to see an American in black and white
but flashed on cable TV in living color,
an American National Anthem sung
with Congo hand drums,
Filipino kulintang brass gongs
Peruvian rainsticks and Scottish bagpipe.
I want to listen to an American poem
that is as white as my brown skin
black as my yellow brother’s cheek
red as my black neighbor’s hair.

I want to hear an American poem
from an American poet
whose words are as American as mine.
Poems that fuse candles that light
the dark of a beautiful sky that are dimmed
by the black and white
of our American skins.

I want an American poem not crafted by words
but woven by a history of bones
and limbs
and hearts
and souls…
an American dream
that breathes in my little, wounded, but proud
American night.

ALL POEMS (and copyrights) by PASCKIE PASCUA
Asheville, North Carolina