This website is open.
Anyone can join it.
Holiday Songs and Kisses
By Ruben Santos
You can buy copies of this book at the self-publisher's website www.Xlibris.com
for $15.99 or read some of it here for free. It is also available as an ebook for $9.99
You can also order it online through Amazon.com
Holiday Songs and Kisses came from ideas I had while attending a spiritual support
group in Chicago called The Living Circle. These poems
express my longing, as a Gay man living with HIV, to connect with
my partner, friends and family as well as geniuses of art and literature
in order to find spiritual enlightenment. They are personal poems yet
convey universal themes for meditation that are inclusive of anyone
who attempts to sympathize with others and love another human
being. These poems transcend the faults of disability to praise others
with songs, words and kisses. This book comes as the reward from
Ruben Santos Claveria was born to Puerto
Rican and Guatemalan parents in Chicago
on October 9, 1971, exactly one hundred
years after the Great Chicago Fire. He
was educated in public schools, at Wright
Community College where he was active
on the school paper and Loyola University
where he received a B. A. degree in Creative
Writing. He lives in an ethnically diverse
neighborhood near Hollywood Park in
Chicago with his partner Mike Zebig and a large collection of books,
music, and classic films on VHS
This Book is Dedicated to my Partner Michael Frank Zebig
Who made this possible by bringing
So many Christmas songs into my life
All poems written by:
Ruben Santos Claveria
3345 W. Hollywood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659
773 642-6019 (cell)
Jose Feliciano got the Blues?
Diablo! I don’t accept the life I
Was born into so I mean to change it
And create myself all over again
Collecting the data of human history
That has made many people millions of dollars.
I’m not saying that I’m filled with
A million dollars worth of education
And if I’m capable of such enormous
Weirdness like a Frank Gehry sculpture,
I understand the monumental sense of
Awareness required for the use of such
Grey matter. Maybe I should accept
I was born into a family full of alcoholics
and my illusion of greatness
Will blow in the wind with the rest of
Humanity’s ashes. But a million dollars
Does make you suddenly important in
America. No longer a poor slob,
But a pauper in a condo drinking
Thirty-dollar bottles of champagne.
No longer a victim of urban manipulation,
But a big time rider of a shiny vehicle with
Loud speakers, heavy bass, and badass rims.
God Bless America then. No joke.
I remember reading Jose Feliciano played a
Version of the Star Spangled Banner that
Sounded bluesy and the ballpark booed him.
How dare him mess our beautiful song, they said.
And that says a lot about America.
We just have to accept it and share the world with
People’s idea of perfection.
If you can’t be a independently spirited commonwealth,
You might as well dye you hair blonde and join
The festivities. I should know, I’ve tried, but
Being a blonde is not easy. There’s always someone
There on the dance floor wearing a skull-mask and
Making you feel weird. We just cope with that weirdness,
Maybe it’s not enormous weirdness of genius,
But that ordinary weirdness, like fazing someone out
Because they treated you like a jerk and
You’ve stopped listening to the complaints and
You’re planning you’re escape from a relationship.
Seasons of Love
The changing reds and oranges of the seasons belong to natural landscapes
As much as artists try to make it theirs. I once walked through the
Art Institute mystified by the many ways artists have tried to paint
The lilac-blue skies, the deep green of trees, the spritz of rainbow colored
Flowers. One flower and six billion variations.
I try to see spirituality in a time of hard truth and fact telling, because I
Believe that every historical moment with social significance has a
Spiritual significance. I create something deep and profound from
The cool winds of autumn and the yellow leaves of November. I think
Of time and mortality, the belly of the tide turning in its black sleep,
The silk dress of pink morning-clouds falling to the floors of dawn.
Big clocks tick away our days and don’t assign any urgent purpose,
No mission on earth. How long will I live on this cooling warming marble
Of a planet? I look for wisdom after suffering and healing but only
Find the strange language of poetry. Some artists paint the face of sorrow
And disappointment. and hope that it helps to acknowledge pain and healing.
Everywhere there are the signs of illumination. Rimbaud in his book “Illuminations”
Used “Cherubin,” “Calvaire,” and “Saint.” String these words together and they sound
Similar to my name, Ruben Santos Claveria. Is this how God tells us he loves us, through
The gift of creation. It made me believe that genius sometimes can be close enough
To God that they can almost get him on the phone, blabbing about the past, present,
And future. I read in the paper on the day I wrote this that a gay dancer who inspired
A Madonna song died of complications from AIDS. Should I be sensitive to
Even a dancer’s moves and see a portrait of spiritual life in a leap even if
The dancer is Gay? Does God abandon the earth and leave human life up to us
To encode and decipher? I imagine dying in autumn trying to awaken
My consciousness to the chilly breezes flying off the lake toward my face.
In that lonely moment of dying, will I see God and angels in Irises lit up by sunlight
In the Chicago summer? Will the city wires connect us all to dreaming and illusions of
Paradise where every whim is entertained? Will the bright lights of dawn become to
Much that we turn away almost blind?
All though out my school years, from childhood to adulthood, I never thought out my race very much
And how it mattered. You take your lessons, easy ones and hard ones, and consider the
Fairness of democracy. I was educated by men and women of different races, but they never
Made my Puerto Rican and Guatemalan background an issue. The more I read on my own, the
More I found voices that expressed similar lives to mine.
Because I was taught to respect all human life despite class, race, religion, or sexual preference, I became
An explorer of world literature. I read a little of everything from different parts of the world.
I liked the African American high school teacher who taught me writers from the Harlem Renaissance.
When I went to college, a Jewish woman named Mrs. Rosenman taught me the fundamental elements of poetry. She was very open-minded and she encouraged us to read more. Another Jewish teacher I
Had at community college was Mr. Doberstein. He taught us about the World Wars
And important things like Communism and conservatism in the twentieth century. Those teachers had
A way of instilling confidence in me by encouraging me to learn more. They gave me good grades too.
Those teachers were so fair that I imagined them as having one of every book just like Noah loaded one of
Every creature onto his ark. The more I read, the less confused I was.
I think of the Rainbow after Noah’s flood and the promise that it will never happen again and I look at
All my used books and I see my own personal history. When I see a African-American dressed like Santa,
I think of my high school teacher and see her generosity in the person I’ve become.
Merry Christmas, Black Santa, and I hope you get all the peace, love, wisdom, comfort, good health
And prosperity that you deserve.
Learning that I have HIV has changed the way I look at a lot of things.
Medicine has given people hope that you can live longer, but for how long?
I’m starting to gain a new perspective about the possibility of being in love
Despite the limitations and understandable risks of having a negative partner.
Love should exist with limitations and yet I am more cautious than ever with every touch.
I continue to love equally beyond conditions and hope that love will reward me just the same.
Everywhere I looked, I found people willing to give you words of hope.
It’s knowing where to look for help that improves your chances of recovery.
All the therapy I’ve been through has made me think that symptoms need to be managed,
Physical and mental in order to stay healthy. The first step toward healing is recognizing
That you are experiencing symptoms of grief, depression, anxiety, fear, and anger.
People who seek help for these ailments have a good chance toward creating great
Coping skills that turn negative energy into creative energy.
I’ve learnt to color and paint like an Abstract Expressionist finding the exertion
Of color onto paper very self-fulfilling. I don’t expect any of drawings or writings
To go for millions of dollars like Rothko’s and Pollock’s but it makes
Me feel a little better and that’s what’s important.
I went to spiritual support group for Gays, Lesbians, and Transgender people with Mike
And I read a good line from a Rumi poem, “Expecting the worst, you look and
Instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been waiting to see.” That says a little about
How love gives you great expectations, not like the Charles Dickens book, but in
The way a familiar friendly face can be comforting, a memory that will be there
For you always.
I hope this transition toward these up and coming months will come with minimal pain.
I’ve seen “Love in the Time of Cholera,” Romeo and Juliet, Hairspray, and the West
Side Story with my life-partner Mike and we have seen it as enjoying life together
While thinking out important social issues. We bought books, records, and a bookshelf
at the Brown Elephant, a resale shop that gives it’s proceeds to a HIV/AIDS clinic
For prevention, testing and care. One of the books was about Michaelangelo and
I learned that this famous painter of the Sistine Chapel had a friend named
Cavalieri, whom he loved dearly. If Michael would every marry me,
That would be similar to his name Michael Claveria. I think universal angels bring
Messages of hope and peace to all, especially to those afflicted. I do believe
In Gay-friendly angels and I see their hope in the face of kindness and generosity.
Hopeful faces are everywhere.
??Redemption in May
Many people go through life carrying unresolved conflicts and unanswered questions
And we hope to find a consoling voice to make it easier to survive,
To endure, to heal, to recover, to reconcile, to forgive and to let go.
Many people try to self help to find answers for these unresolved conflicts and go in
Search of healing in the warm breezes of Spring and in the love making of the flowers
I imagine having a great spring picnic with Walt Whitman lying with him in the
Deep green grassy fields of what’s left of American forestry.
I would read a confessional, anecdotal poem to Walt about the Nervous, frustrated energy
You feel when you look at beautiful naked statues in museums and you want to
Turn that frustration into the liberation of enjoying the sunlight in the trees, and
The cool shadows they make on our faces. Walt would give a life-affirmative yes to
Looking at statues of naked people even if it’s a buxom person like in a Botello.
Yes, to the feast of color and shape. Yes to this art appreciation of erotically shaped
Peaches in O’Keeffe.
But that is not all. Walt would help you make peace with the urgency of clocks and
Their admonishments of time fleeting. Your obsessions about death will be
Neutralized, just like all dread should be neutralized and the anxiety of night against day
Will cease say, Night has made friends with day and has placated all fear of darkness.
Walt would say, “make yourself a harbinger of all the beauty and awful nature of the truth,
And your religions will become your race and your politics will become your liberation.
All contradictions exist and so be it. Then speak not only of human nature but speak
About obsessions with the Almighty dollar, speak of angry grief of gun violence,
Speak of the trials and resolutions of war and peace, speak of the human error of
Cheating the one you love, speak of the forgetfulness of some to remember memorials,
And then, with brotherly love, speak of the peace and redemption you can find in
Vitality of the seasons and all their negative and positive forces.
You are part of the Ocean of Grass that has so vitally become part of your DNA.
You are an original fingerprint of the future.” Then he would sigh and roll over on
The picnic blanket and take a meditational nap with his bare belly in the breeze.
?Hunger for Wisdom
As I got older, in my mid-thirties, I began to wonder how much
Knowledge and wisdom do a truly possess. I heard some
People with not much education sound very wise.
I have to admit that a little education, even self-education,
Tends to heighten your ability to communicate wisdom.
A teacher once told me that learning new words in the
Dictionary can make you wise. I remember one night
Alone after feeling a little depression, I opened a
Dictionary and began to read. Suddenly it was like
A friend trying to explain the ways of the world to me
And my consciousness began to be raised.
These new words sounded so rich to use like
Commiseration, nomenclature, vicissitudes.
All reading is productive and keeps your mind fresh
With lessons you teach yourself, which is the most
Valuable education. Words reward you with positive
Energy. New words give you healing metaphors.
Yet wisdom is not just in metaphor but in that
Moment of self-realization while looking at the
Stars in awe that great things happen in the quiet
Of cool summer stars. You think of stars on
Wintery nights and see more stars being hidden
By those stars and you mind keeps thinking
Of the possibilities of life on other planets
Just like ours.
In the United States people say Happy Holidays to include all people on the earth: the Jewish people
Celebrating Hanukah, Africans celebrating Kwanza, Middle Eastern people celebrating Eid,
Christians celebrating Christmas, Buddhists celebrating Buddha’s Birthday or agnostics
Celebrating the universal holiday season.
In the end we all seem to enjoy good mark down merchandise after the holidays.
The world continues to love it’s religions and the churches are always a source of
Valuable community work. In the end, it’s the mediation of peace in prayer that
Keeps us wanting to be fair and wish people a “Happy Holidays.”
?Meditation on Happiness
I’ve never expected to be completely happy.
Happiness tends to be a temporary state
That we get to enjoy. It’s transience makes
It more precious. Can we consciously
Will ourselves into a state of happiness?
I believe we can only if we allow ourselves
To be satisfied. Being overly satisfied can
Be interpreted as selfishness, which can be
The source of anxiety and disquiet in
Relationships. Too many expectations of
A person will lead to disappointment.
It’s better to expect to receive nothing,
So that you are surprised with an elusive happiness.
Happiness has always been inspired by acts
Of love and charity, but there is always more
Work to do to improve the conditions
Of life for all.
To compare my own sense of happiness with
Others will just make me bitter. I should
Be content when I can find joy in something
Outside myself. When suffering ends and
Healing starts, a feeling of happiness
Becomes more intense. Sometimes it
Happens when we least expect it, at a movie
House, at the gym, while listening to Bach, or by
Reading the Romantic poets or looking at art.
Ironically, I found a feeling of content by
Looking at pictures of the graves of great poets
On the internet. It’s like paying respect to
Men and women who added something to
The way you look at the world, by seeing
Their final resting place and noticing how
Humble a stone it is or how grand a tomb.
e. e. cummings has only a little gravestone
Embedded in the grass with just his name on it
And the years he lived. It makes me happy to
Pay my respects to great artists, who have
Helped us find happiness in moments of peace,
Wisdom, and comfort.
The river flow is full of whispers and the wisdom
The river tries to communicate cannot be
Comprehended all at one time.
The river inspired Orpheus to sing songs by a
A river. Li Po may have died after looking too
Closely at his own reflection in the river and
Falling into it. The ancient river of Lao Tzu
Is full of compassion and nourishes with hums
The difficulty of suffering becomes simpler
With the melodies that time brings you.
Your mind desires the healing and does not
Want to think of painful moments.
Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, sat
By an Indian river and let time take away
The sorrow and grief.
Loneliness is troublesome and yet solitude creates
A world out of chaos.
An act of creation takes the courage to speak.
Humility creates a coping lesson,
And acts of love and charity spring out of desire
For kindness. The river says share all and be not afraid
For sharing is always returned to you.
The love between men is as sacred as salvation and the love shared by women
Is also a form of redemption.
Tears that fall into a river become thunder before rainfall and
The rain restores all losses. We hold vigil for all that is lost
Painfully in the world. It is like waiting with a candle on a dish
In your hand as the flame burns down.
Happiness cannot exist without sadness just as grief balances out
The joy and all opposites are balanced: hard earth, with the soft earth,
Aggressive winds with the tender breeze, warm heavens with the cold soil.
The mind is exclusive in its gospels with those who care.
It’s the universal metaphor of sky that makes it a healing metaphor for all
People in search of redemption.
Sometimes we see compassion in a kind stranger and it makes us want to
Be kind to people we just meet too. I like to sit in a comfortable chair
With those I care about and talk about compassion and charity in the world.
How the world gives to children through programs created by UNICEF,
How the world cares for the welfare of struggling families,
Makes me want to continue wondering if I could create a sympathetic
Act through writing a letter to the president or to a senator.
The world is filled with books and ideas that teach universal
Spiritual issues like faith and the desire to commiserate.
I believe we can find an awakening in thinking about the source of all
Life. I’ve asked myself who put this life into this apple and who
Created an abundance of apples for all people on the earth?
People read speeches and sermons written by peacemakers
On Nobelprize.org because they hope it will give new meaning
And resolve some conflict. I would think that if more people
Took the time to educate compassion and responsibility to everyone
On the planet that wars will no longer have to exist.
The struggles of poverty, the lack of education, failing health, and
The need for stable housing keeps the world asking God for help
And hoping that people will share in taking responsibility to
Alleviate the pain caused by these issues.
Without connection to the spiritual, people become hurt and distrustful
And bitter, a sense of community breaks down , peaceful attitudes
Are lost and morals no longer seem relevant. That is why it is
Everyone’s responsibility on the earth to make peace with each other so
That progress will keep continuing and allowing great acts of compassion
To bring the earth together in a circle of hope.
All Saints Day
On all Saints day of this year, I thought about
The teachings of Jesus and how they have inspired millions
To believe in them. Christianity doesn’t always make
People distrustful of each other’s morals, but
Allows people to forgive each other and find
Salvation in forgiveness. America is a nation of
Many cultures, beliefs and races and there is no
Universal spiritual religion in the U.S. so everyone
Is allowed to think freely about religion.
I used to let people’s idea of religion make me
Think that I am not included because I am
Gay, Latino and I don’t have very much money.
I tried to find faith in classic literature, in popular
Music and even in rated “G” and “PG” films.
Poetry can help you look at something in a unique way,
Bending and shaping language to make a tree out of clay.
Studying politics can make you feel included in a
Unifying sense of democracy, but politics divides
People too. I once thought that the more you
Study the world, the less spiritual you become
But that is not true. I started seeing mystical experience
In songs with the names of people I know like my own
Name. Bob Dylan writing a song called “Ruben Remus”
And Woody Guthrie writing a song called “Ruben James”
Made me consider that I am destined for something
Greater than myself. I once thought I was straight but
Came out to my friends in the nineties and stopped looking
For the spiritual so much. After the September 11 bombings,
I looked for the spiritual again and found a gay, spiritual
Support group. Combined with therapy, I found
Friendship and brotherly and sisterly love in a place where
I felt partially excluded, a church. I know now that
God works through people’s creations, through their art
And sense of charity. It’s just as powerful as falling in love
When you least expect to be loved, or connecting with your
Friends and family after a long distance. Although my family name is
Santos, I know I am not a Catholic saint, but on this
All saint’s day, I have decided to believe that every act
Of creation has a purpose and that is the responsibility of loving
The healthy and positive creations of the earth.
The Circle of Survival
Everybody goes through cycles of renewal and the fresh green grass of spring
Is the color of survival. The mystical things in nature happen in cycles and
All nature has its circles. It is in this circle of grass that gives new life to
My thinking. I hear the enormous thundering of the spinning earth and imagine
Enormous spirals of galaxies and solar systems just like ours.
I read in the newspapers that Astronomers have found another little blue planet with
Similar combination of elements to allow for life forms to exist.
So much massive creation is going on in the universe and all humankind desires
To find refuge in somewhere, just as I have found a solace of trees in Door County
Wisconsin while looking at the sparkling green waters of Lake Michigan.
I have found comfort in Cherry jam just as I found comfort in some classic books.
There is a great destiny of the earth and that is to make peace with all things
In the process of creating on the earth.
I choose to feel empathy for those around me even beyond flashes of anger.
Thoughts that inspire anger come and go but I don’t let them stay.
I think of paychecks, lovers and friends not making courtesy calls telling
Me they are going to be late, people forgetting your birthday, and
When members of congress appear uncaring when they don’t respond to
The letters you wrote to them at
I’ve been through therapy and I no longer think it’s healthy to throw a fit
And break something important, especially when the problems sometimes
Works itself out. Is it empathy to feel angry with someone and not
Feel apologetic because something has been taking away that could never
Be given back? Yes, righteous anger breaks sweetness on a persons face.
No one wants to be cheated, or left out, or robbed, or slapped.
No one likes to grieve or feel helpless about helping others.
I want the peace and love that I deserve and yet people in this life are
Not always peaceful and loving.
People are still giving up, packing their bags and walking out, refusing to
Take it and take it from anyone. I pray for that divine righteousness and
Divine providence that brings a clear mind during times of spiritual confusion
And that resolves any arguments about this or that. Does God facilitate
Empathy and hope and brings us back to loving kindness when it
Is most difficult? Maybe the angels and God get angry too, with an
Angry tender love that attempts to resolve and explain painful things to
All people. Why are we all so different and yet the same? Why do
We all find ourselves alone sometimes feeling frustration when
We should wait something patiently out? What can make this transition
Easier, is what I ask myself. If only days went by without any hardship,
Without any doubt, if only days flowed smoothing like yellow leaves down
A gentle river, then books would liberate us from the evils of the world.
I am still frightened by the presence of evil in the world.
Evil is to go against seeing empathy in another’s eyes and to hurt someone
Deliberately. Evil is refusing to say your sorry when you know you are wrong.
Wickedness is an official not compensating by acknowledging wars, shootings, diseases being spread,
Racial and political injustice. Empathy is grief counseling.
I give quarters sometimes to pan handlers and say yes to charities that give people
Food, shelter, clothing and medical care.
Empathy is refusing to hold a grudge. Empathy is letting the music unite and not
Divide with agitation. I have read the newspaper and have found grim things
Happening in the world. A world drawn as crowded and full of poverty as it is.
A world far away from Wordsworth’s idea of green healing grassy hillsides.
It is a world of sad film music bringing tears to our eyes.
In an attempt to feel empathy I sent a text message to all my family and friends saying:
“I hope you have a sweet Valentine’s Day! Remember that love is what you make
Of kindness shared by you. Everyone loves flowers but peace and love are greater.”
I received messages in return wishing me the same. This is casting a spell of kindness.
This is putting kindness into action. It is a desire to give beyond selfishness and lies.
It is a love that heals pain that I desire. It is a love that makes peace with the difficult
Things that bring pain. It is to agree with others to feel good about something with them.
It is a warm welcome suggesting you are ready to share sweetness and life.
It is listening to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings(1938) and crying. It is listening
To Pachebel’s Canon in D and feeling love for the elements of the earth.
It is a rain of paper butterflies. It is making peace with God, your family, yourself and
Others. It is your journey to loving the beautiful life forms of the earth.
It is giving happiness and crossing over to healing joy, a joy to give it all away.
The Descent Inward, the Journey Outward
In my denial I tried to hide the truth about my illness.
I have hidden the truth by watching old films that have been nominated for Oscars
And Golden Globes. The truth about myself hides in the classic books
I try to read: The Nick Adams Stories, The Old Man and the Sea, Wuthering Heights
And Jane Eyre, Leaves of Grass, Poe’s Poems, and Emily Dickinson.
I went on the internet and read the poets still alive today and went to
Readings and sought their autograph: Mark Doty, Dean Young, Adam Zagajewski,
Regie Gibson, and Rafael Campo.
I have heard some hard truths told in Bob Dylan’s songs and in everything I’ve learned,
But I didn’t face the facts that I needed help and therapy until a few years ago.
I sought help and I found help in group therapy where I learned that the first step
Toward recovery is recognizing the symptoms of illness and responding with a
Healthy routine to heal from it. I realized that I have phobias, and sleep disturbances,
Depression that troubles my concentration, and occasional delusions, that I
Can change the world for the better all alone. I’ve had strange dreams of being
Betrayed by those that love me, but those that love me are as kind as giraffes eating
Leaves with me from the tops of African trees.
Having HIV still troubles me but the medicine keeps me praying for a longer life.
I am no longer looking for pity and sorrow and charity, but understand that
One day I may need understanding from counselors, social workers, employers,
Doctors, Friends and family.
I can safely say that I have learned to go against the stigma of illness and continue
To recover to a healthy state just by eating well, keeping my mind busy with the arts,
Writing letters to congress for people like me who need housing, food, medical care
And options to get out of economic hardship. Through those years of talking to therapists,
And people like me with similar problems, I have developed strong coping skills.
I look for the songs of hope now and the books that teach me these truths.
Self-help is good if you know what to read and where to find healing thoughts.
I choose to butterfly myself to healing, descending inward into other’s words, then
Beginning my ascent upwards into the blue or gray skies, covered in pollen,
So that I may pollinate the world I know with hope and that constant routine that
Brings me to recovery and joy. All voices are allowed to exist and live democratically
In a world that has been humbled with talking about acceptance.
Thank you to all who have responded positively to my questions, doctors at Howard
Brown, Therapists at C4 Chicago, my loving partner Mike and even Barack Obama and Richard Durbin for
Their insightful letters. I am still learning and becoming a better man more informed
About the world I share with others.
?The Butterflies of Trepidation
I still get nervous energy that brings depressed feelings.
Those butterflies in the belly can’t be caught so easily,
So I guess I’ll let them roam, here and there,
Inspired by trepidation, conflicting ideas that rub together
To create the sparks of anxiety, a sense of falling like
Unabashed infatuation or awareness of foreboding doom
In the real world of news and statistics.
The mind is pliant and tolerant to many thoughts.
I accept that I do not feel happy and safe and stable at all times.
I accept tears when they appear in the corner of my eyes.
I am finding healing and forgiveness after a childhood
Turbulent with angry words and doubts.
The music of the film Cinema Paradiso still makes me
Think of the love I have known in this world,
Prayers that the angst of the twentieth century will end
And remind us of the sweet understandings of growing up
Like getting a thoughtful card filled with loving kindness.
What happened to people with AIDS in the late eighties
And early nineties still makes me shudder with fear and grief
For them. Without medication, 50 T-cells disappear every
Six months or so, so if you started with 500 T-cells, it would
Be a matter of five to nine years before you developed full blown
AIDS. Some people start with more T-cells that others, some
Lose there T-cells faster because of higher viral loads.
This is why hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. passed away
From AIDS complications in the first twenty years of the
Virus, from 1981 to 2001. Half a million lives gone and
Over one million more people are living with it, some unaware
Yet that they have been exposed. In other countries of the world,
It is the same frightening thing, statistics rising steadily,
Thousands more being exposed each year, which makes
HIV/AIDS a pandemic, not an epidemic, because it affects
The whole world. Almost thirty million people are gone
From the world, and thirty million more people are still
Living with the existential angst and grief of losing such
A precious life to their illness.
Medication is keeping a lot of people alive for a lot longer,
But it is still shorting lives significantly. I pray for a vaccine
And a cure. I pray I don’t develop complications that will
Make me sick. I pray the medication will just keep getting
Better so that I could live a few more decades.
It is hard to find companions going through the similar struggles
As you, but when you are do, you count yourself blessed.
I still get butterflies of trepidation that I could be blinded
Years from now or bound to a wheel chair, or homeless
And without anyone to care for me.
Why does It’s a Wonderful Life keep making generations of
People cry? Because people pray that angels will get involved
To help solve the problems of the world and resolve all the conflicts and wars
So that we all may live a life, humbled, accepting, forgiving, and healing of all.
Poems written for Children
Dedicated to all my nieces and nephews
Winter Moon Magic
On a spider’s web,
Of scattered stars
In this sleepy song
Through the dream
Prayer and Godspeed are real
Goals and steps
Wildness and stillness
That balances the thought
Whispers spells of words
That make peace
Awaken in the Silverlight
And make right and correct
A wrong between us
Silverlight of the winter moon
And bring out love.
Take up your crayons
And color a rainbow
For me. Soon you will
Become a man.
“I know the colors
That spell love,”
Says the boy.
“I accept what you are.”
“You don’t know
What love will
Bring you yet,
Give it time,” I said.
He may not be a prodigy
But I smiled
At him and told him
If he colors a hundred of those
Then he is talented.
“You’re a little Abstract
Expressionist,” I said.
He didn’t get it but
Just kept coloring.
I smiled cause he
Drew a heart and
In it. “A rainbow
Heart is nice,” I say.
A Rainbow heart
Can heal all like magic.
Fly into the golden cloud
From private spaces into
Fly where you can’t be bought and sold
Sunlight sparks from your feathers
In rainbow colors
And you are free from the
Diseases of the earth
Don’t stay caged but sing
And be yourself completely
Fly into the golden cloud
And let me hear your
Song called “Sympathy
For the colors of the world.”
With an eye-full of
Stay gentle in my hands
And yet be strong,
Keep you petals bright
Yellow, maroon, white.
The streets are bare
In every color.
Stay bright yellow
In the bitterly cold springs
And don’t wilt,
Keep your chin up, flower.
A winter swallow hops
Beside you as if to say,
“little thing stay under
My wing, I have made a
Gift from your petals.”
Golden always is your innocence
As long as youth stays full
Of vibrant energies.
Stay bright and sing, sweet bird.
You inspire birds to fly
And butterflies to travel because,
Marigold, all love
Flowers in every color.
Intricate as a fingerprint
And mysterious as God,
The lacy cools of snow clouds
Swirl in soft whites and grays.
In the flash of a street light,
A white covered street,
You quiet the mind to think,
And, suddenly, a symphony
Breaks the silence
Emerging from a passing car
As if the symphony came
From a composer’s hand
Inspired by the spontaneous
Turning of the snowflakes.
Each crystal flake
Is as unique as a soul
Thinking thoughts out
In the soft, winter gray light.
The snow swirls on forever
Above the heads of this town,
A swirling eye below the stars,
Intricate as a fingerprint,
To make us wonder
How the universe began.
In the pounding of my heart,
In the rushing of the rain,
Along the rooftops of
Amongst the swirl of puddles ,
And with the wind against my face,
I ask why does it feel like
It is all working against me?
I walk quickly passed others
Who may be asking themselves
The same thing.
Every year a radio station in Chicago plays nothing
But Christmas songs and the winter begins with
Rituals of hot cocoa, apples dipped in caramel,
The best Christmas’ you spend with those who love
You and any disagreements and disagreeableness
You dispel because you want to live in a world
Of forgivingness, healing and compliance.
Listening to those songs and a variety of artists
Perform them in different styles, you wonder if
Holiday music is the music that can truly change the world,
Holiday music can make you think kindly of someone
Or something you found hard.
Maybe you’ll use the internet to learn about charitable people on Nobleprize.org and
Be inspired to write to your congress person at Congress.org like I have.
Getting letters back in response is a boast to my self-confidence.
My father is in his seventies and he still works at a hospital
Driving patients around in a bus. Sometimes I’d like to think of
My father whose name sounds very Christmassy--Santos Rafael--
Playing Christmas songs in his bus to fill the air with good cheer.
Or maybe he would like to do that but just does his job instead.
Music can be conflicting to your attention span and make you
Go into a digression or becomes a distraction, yet Christmas music
Can hypnotize you into reconciliation, redemption and sweetness.
My father has read the Chicago newspapers for decades and he
Made me read quite a few articles about this and that,
Blizzards, The Berlin wall falling, HIV and AIDS issuers,
Gun violence, car crashes, robberies and unemployment rates,
War and terrorism.
To think of bad news too much might make someone need
Intensive therapy, maybe even medication.
Yet listening to Christmas songs fills you with hope of consolation,
Hope of charity, hope of receiving the perfect, immaculate gift of love.
In that moment of that holiday song that fits perfectly,
Your symptoms are being managed and you are in a constant state of recovery
From anything that pains you.
Disturbing thoughts go away and you shrug your shoulders saying “that’s life.”
Maybe it doesn’t have to be Christian anymore, but universal and secular snow and
Snowman building. It’s something everyone can agree on, on this sphere of mystery
And uncertainty we call planet earth. After that, problems transform into solutions,
Grief becomes acceptance, and confidence brings a healthy blush to your cheeks.
Love is all the little blue planet needs.
Christmas is difficult when you are poor, but
It is not impossible to make it good for yourself.
Some Christmases there wasn’t even a tree
And the apartment was drafty and no one could
Get past their grudges to send Christmas cards.
One year, I decided to send Christmas cards to everyone
I knew, something I have been doing every year for a decade and a half.
Maybe going to a Catholic university made me do that,
But I knew what I would buy for kids if I could,
Those read along recordings and books that come with a digital player
And head phones.
Maybe I would give Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night bookmarks or
Something small to show thoughtfulness.
One year, I went to my friend Mary’s apartment and made a
Christmas c.d. for everyone. Those universal songs that touch
Everyone around the holidays like “What A Wonderful World,”
By Louis Armstrong.
I get a little scared at how needy everyone around me can get
But I try not to lose hope,. It’s like a candle of a chilly moon
On a December night, guiding us to that place we would like to call home.
Who would hang Candy Canes on a plastic tree Made in China filled
With lights of every color of the rainbow and not want to make peace
And be an ambassador of diplomatic thinking.
Love is what makes us all humane in the end. Love is how we are all
Interconnected and responsible for each other even when we chose not
To get involved. Love is what keeps us believing in angels on cards and
Giving in the face of needing.
?Prayers for Safety on Christmas
The Christmas of 2001 was very hard because the whole
World had to get passed it’s fear of terrorism.
I shivered every time a plane thundered passed over
The apartment where I lived. There where nights I fell
Into a deep sleep and could not believe that horrific things
Happen in the world to innocent people.
It’s like the world was walking around in a nightmare and
Was ready to wake up and disappear into the safety of Christmas.
I remember a terrible blizzard when I was a kid in a run down tenement
Building, the wind breaking a window and howling through the
Depressing, cold gray day.
My mother was frightened too and said, “angels save us.”
December of 2001, I went to a public library and read about the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it was written in 1948.
It’s one of the most translated documents in the world.
Then I knew that there are intelligent, humane people in the world
Who dare to show care and help alleviate injustice wherever it
It goes beyond politics to the human and non-governmental to
Feed those hungry and shelter those homeless and give medicine and
Treatment--mental and physical-- to all who need it
Regardless of class, race, religion, or gender.
Walking through wintery days in the city of Chicago can make
You look up at the constellations and think you hear peoples wishes
And prayers for better days.
One Christmas in the early twenty-first century,
I started to read a book of historical pictures called Century
And it changed the way I looked at the world.
I learned about all the conflicts that happened in the twentieth century,
Communism, conservative Fascism, all the wars and attempts at hostile
Take-overs, all the attempts of diplomats to bring the world to peaceful
Diplomatic or democratic states. Protest paintings like Guernica and weeping woman and
I shivered at how cruel man’s inhumanity to man can be.
There were conflicts in Tibet and Burma and South Africa and Alabama, Nobel Prize winners having to live in injustice. I almost lost hope that people will ever agree on any form of politics or
Philosophies, so we might as well prepare for more wars. I’ve decided that there can be no such
Thing as a utopia anywhere on the planet because there are too many disagreements and disputes
In all facets of society, religion, politics, race and even family.
Yet whenever I see Made In China Christmas lights all over the United States like some
Beautiful agreement toward peace-making, I start to have hope again.
The United States is a democratic pluralistic society where a little of all kinds of people
Exist. The Bill of Rights give everyone freedoms that other countries take for granted.
Can poetry change the world for the better, or the American idea of celebrating diversity
Around the holidays. Sometimes these lights shine brighter than all stars
And seem to fill me with a yearning for justice, diplomacy and pleasure.
I wrote a letter to Congress at Congress.org to make myself feel better. To feel like a
Contributing citizen of the world, I wrote that I still buy Made In China products
Because I am of a lower economic class but I would like to live in a world free of terrors of hatred and
Free of the fear of enemies. Maybe the world is just too messed up to get it right and
Make everyone belong. Maybe I should not dwell on other peoples hardship but
Just try to find solutions to my own.
I still think of the world in a post-colonial way and hope that everyone will be given
Opportunities to compensate for all the injustice that has happened in the world,
Including imperialism, colonization, prejudice, religious political supremacy and
Even hatred and fear of Gays, Lesbians and Trans-gendered people.
Every one deserves the right to defend themselves in the face of injustice.
Every one agrees on basic universal human rights but now its time for
Every one to do their part to help with the healing and compensation on all sides.
I hope that one day the world will get it right to stop one heart from aching in indignation.
Maybe I’ll lay on a couch and look at Christmas lights some more until I fall asleep in
My yoga nap and dream of a peaceful world where sad, gray days become silver days
To be cherished as something very precious.
All the snow that falls in Chicago sometimes creates obstacles
For people trying to get their car started so they can drive to work.
I’ve spent lots of time on trains watching the
City go by with the orange sunset in my eyes, noticing long shadows
On everything. Gray buildings turn pink and blue in the sunsets and sunrises,
Construction workers under streetlamp poles squint and look quizzically at the
Cool air of the avenues..
I’ve looked over peoples books on the train, curious to know what they are reading.
I’ve stared out of the sliding doors that open and close automatically,
Feeling a blast of heat leaving and cool air entering simultaneously and start to think
Amusingly, “So much depends upon an El platform, covered in snow beside the silver
Public trains.” This modernism has changed the way the world is described in the one
Hundred years of passing trains. If Williams was sitting beside me, pushing his
Glasses up and blinking axiomatically in the bright light, I would tell him I still
Like his book, “Journey to Love.” And he would use the American idiom
He wished to capture and say, “it takes a trained objective eye to describe what
This heart may feel, yet romanticism isn’t all hogwash. Thank you and good luck.”
And he would get up to leave holding his briefcase full of sticks that hold down
The tongue while he takes a look in.
?Seasons of One
When I think of seasons alternating, I think of Li Po on a snowy mountain
With a jug of wine. I think of haikus and Japanese and Chinese landscape
Paintings at the Art Institute. Each panel is signifying a season,
Bronze colored autumns, jagged black trees of winters, cherry blossoms
Of spring, life-affirmative greens of summer.
Is there really any spirituality in the skies and the trees and the river and the
Perpetual wild purple irises. Maybe there are no ideas in things but what
They are, materially, realistically. I still look for something mystical
In ordinary things thinking of origin and history.
I love to ponder yellowing leaves in autumn and think of mortality and immortality.
How long will this process continue on the earth?
What is my purpose if any in a galaxy with or without explanations and theory?
That’s what keeps me sensitive about poetry and art, not a metaphor for healing
Or suffering, but the impetus of the stars and their quiet nobility.
Are there signs and clues giving away only part of the phenomenon we call
The circle of the earth. What illumination can we get from the presence of death?
That extreme intelligence is close to what we might know of God?
Some days I go looking for wisdom and only find language? Other days wisdom
Surprises me and I find communion with the warm breezes of the lake or
The fragment of dream I had in an undisturbed sleep, where I am lighting
A candle in a vigil for I don’t know what. AIDS, gun violence, mental illness?
There is no paradise in a universal religion. There is no heavenly utopia.
There is just a glimpse of paradise we hope to find in all creation.
I’m Sorry For Christmas
A Song For Michael Frank Zebig
Time has changed me quickly through troubled days,
But you continue to love me just the same,
Despite the sorrow of illness that might come into our lives,
Like those quiet desperate thoughts during lonely drives
Time and love can heal all wounds
But yet we feel heartache in lonely bedrooms,
Of spaces we have shared and memories kept private,
For all that, I’m sorry for Christmas
And it’s never too late,
Time takes love so close to us away
And the sadness makes us hurt so much we pray.
I really asked for nothing but to keep hope and love in life,
And yet we’ve cut so many sweet meals with our knives,
We are as close together as a husband and wife,
Trying to move on and leave the worst behind.
For not expecting this to happen to people like us,
For not being prepared or making a fuss,
I’m sorry for Christmas and still feel it’s the best,
Even when I’m quiet when staring in your eyes before we rest,
I love you very much for being
A great person who gives without receiving.
I’m sorry for those tears
And all those lonely years,
I wish I was there to hold you,
Sorry for not being there to say “bless you,”
I sorry I wasn’t there to hold you.
We deserve to be as happy as we are
Because we never lost hope in our guiding star.
Our love goes on, near or far,
We kiss to heal every little scar.
I’m sorry for Christmas and still feel it’s the best,
Even when I’m quiet when staring in your eyes before we rest,
I love you very much for being
A great person who gives without receiving.
To Michael Frank Zebig
Falling Water, From the roofs
Falling like rain onto the streets,
It’s a river that runs between the things we know,
Running through our homes,
The distance remains between you and me,
Falling water, Running down a stream,
Into the forest, into our dreams,
Searching for the balance between the spiritual and physical.
I sat by the river and wept
And felt the wind and the leaves move all around me,
Love has whispered it’s name,
Through the river that runs,
It’s always the same.
Love has finally found me
And that was the secret in the river’s stream.
Love, love, love, love, love that was around me
Love, love, love, love, love that felt like destiny,
Falling Water, Down a mountainside
Back to the ocean, back to our lives,
Falling Water, making full circle
The balance of this and of that.
I bid my love, not to leave me
Stay close to me
I asked my love “Do you really love me?”
And he said, quietly,
Love, love, love is all around
Love is all around you always
By Ruben Santos Claveria
October 21, 2007
Autumn Night in Cool Dark Blues
(A poem for Bobby who disclosed his HIV+ status on myspace)
We choose our suffering,
just like a child chooses
his favorite color of crayons
and draws a sad face.
We all walk alone sometimes,
in those early morning hours
when the cats are seeking
a place to hibernate in
the cool autumn night.
If I were a child again
I would draw little stars
with a blue crayon
and call it a self portrait
and sign my name
with a backwards r.
Life challenges us
to attempt to explain
the existence of suffering,
especially the suffering
of a child and it makes
me breakdown and cry
at the perplexing question,
knowing there is no reason
for sorrow but to accept
the hurt as it starts to try
to heal the pain.
Some things we suffer for
because they continue to
take us away from each other
determinedly, like a storm
of breaking winds taking
your umbrella away from you.
I have already surrendered
myself to the wind
and hope the autumn night
will carry my words like leaves
of wisdom, safely home to you
and heal some of your pain
with the love and tenderness of
good-bye and good night sweetheart,
wherever you are and
whatever you feel,
I send my love on the wind.
October 22, 2007
A Song For Michael Frank Zebig
My baby and I went walking amongst the purple garden,
The sun was setting on the city, your face was lit up golden,
Your skin is cherry colored from our day on Silver Beach,
Whenever I want you, All I have to do is reach,
If I could count the kisses, there’d be one for every star
If I could count the freckles, the constellations aren’t very far,
The love we made is always, always on my mind
It is a friendship that grows stronger, time after time.
I picked a purple flower with a golden ring on my hand,
It’s your favorite color, since you were a boy but now you are my man,
Our pictures are time capsules that only we can share,
There is no doubt that whoever sees them will know we loved and cared,
We wore pink shirts and took more pictures in the Lincoln Zoo,
The camels smiled to see you, and started to laugh at you,
If I could count the kisses, there’d be one for every star
If I could count the freckles, the constellations aren’t very far,
The love we made is always, always on my mind
It is a friendship that grows stronger, time after time.
When love is all around you and love is all you want,
You follow where that love goes,
It’s in the secrets of nature. It’s in what everyone knows.
Time heals the hurt you thought too much to take,
Yet the flowers of trust and faith are in the love we make,
I will always love you and this promise I can’t break,
I will look after your good health for both our sake.
And The reward of love is not money, The purple flowers in your hand
Given in return for kisses from a sweet and wonderful man,
We have found something so beautiful, and it hurts to set it free
But I have hopes that if I set you free,
That you would still choose to be with me.
Good-night big bear, good night baby bear,
I will wake you in the morning,
And tell you I still care.
A Song For Michael Frank Zebig
By Ruben Santos Claveria
The snow covers the city trees,
This holiday, I want what I please
And it’s just to go down streets
And hear the winter birds sing
That Christmas is Love
And it leaves a trail of giving
For the one you’re thinking of.
The Snowman I built as a child
Melted in the cool night, fresh and mild,
Yet I was not sad to see it go.
It taught me something I did not know,
That Christmas is living just for today,
Love gives what can never be taken away.
I send cards out every year,
I give a dollar to charities to spread cheer,
I hope that my conscience stays clear,
And hope you stay cozy and near,
Because Christmas is love, infinitely,
And I love how you have loved me,
Saying “I Love You” so many times,
My heart rings out like Christmas chimes.
I wish I could heal all the hurt in our lives,
I wish I could touch you and make it all right,
But the truth always comes with a little pain,
Just like standing lonely in the cold winter rain.
I’ll always remember during the holiday lights,
You saying everything is going to be alright.
Christmas is saying thank-you,
And when you sneeze, “bless you,”
Because it’s a little kindness
That you like to see returned to you.
Christmas is love
That leaves a trail of giving,
Life is for loving and living
As the snow falls from above.
Christmas is Love, sweetheart,
Christmas is love.
A JOURNAL OF KISSES
“Springs voluptuous pantings when she breaths
Her first sweet kisses, have been dear to me.”
Percy Byshe Shelly
The first and last are never forgotten
My life has been a montage of kisses;
On my death bed, I’ll string them all together
With that cosmic celluloid glue.
A dashing moment like smashing a glass
In the fireplace and taking one assertively in a kiss
Liberates one from loneliness,
Kisses that reconcile an argument by saying:
“Now I have the right to kiss you.”
As well as the kisses that start arguments
Between one’s head and one’s heart.
Drunken kisses under the strobe light flash.
Plush kisses that inspire to sing in the basking glow,
Automatic car wash drive thru kisses,
Eighteen year old lips slide on red candy flavored tongues
In movie theaters while procrastinating homework.
Kisses that break down defenses and make one willing
To risk the vulnerability of love.
Cinematic Kisses where helicopters hover all around.
Kisses like the one we give to another on the cheek
In gratitude for a birthday gift,
Mother-father kisses when they have been made rare by monotony.
Cool mint chocolate kisses deep with arduous breath.
Kisses that dawn and set the sun.
Kisses with grief to one after they have passed away,
Dreams of being kissed initiating an erotic disrobing
By some fantasized man of golden muscle and wealth,
A dizzy kiss while falling into a swimming pool,
Stolen kisses and ones given away liberally,
A crash print Mayakovski kiss to Maria,
Morbid Keatsian wine-kisses that swell the mouth like bee stings
Inspire one to say:
“Oh god, I wish that I could take poison from your lips to
send me out of this world.”
Kisses in the middle of riots, hurricanes and blackouts
That light up like popping Christmas lights,
Kisses that counsel one into composure,
Kisses in the wash of guitars,
Kisses that cause heartbreak and wreck homes.
The first and last kisses that ring with the
Resonance of a rainstorm. Soft kisses that kill.
Even the frightening kisses that run the risk of mono or herpes.
Airy ethereal kisses at a wedding in the clink of flute glasses.
Kisses end suffering. Kiss begin suffering.
The first and last kisses.
For these, I’ll know then I did not live for nothing.
A Photograph of a Kiss
(After Robert Doisneau)
We shimmer in the sun
Like sparks of fool’s gold
In the river of memory
Like two waves braiding
And blurring traffic in the streets
You come forward to focus me
In a splash of kisses
In a bittersweet shower of
You are a symphony of light.
A Venetian Kiss
On your soft white bed
You carried me like a gondola
Through the shadows and yellow light
Of sunset. Close to you
A fire opens on our lips.
Everything alive is
Birthed from this sun’s fire
Carol Baker sits on a bed in
Her baby-doll nightie,
That became the vogue,
Complaining that her “daddy would
Turn ovah his grave” and that “big-shot” doesn’t
Give her much credit for intelligence,
“I have you know I am a magazine reader!”
Mr. Vaquero pulls the light switch
And steals a kiss from Babydoll
In the dark room.
These kisses hold the universe together.
A Transcendent Kiss
Two lips unite
Like a soft song
Out of the bog
Of the daily grind
And carried as in a soft cab
Ride toward infinity.
A Rock and Roll Kiss
(After listening to U2 and Coldplay)
On a desirous starlit night
In a blue Mustang
After tropical drinks from
You were dressed in coquettish red
And I in a bashful baby blue
Until a Stones track
Spun from the radio
I rushed to kiss you
Both of us thinking
The Birth of Consciousness
Just like everything I ever read has become a part of me
Your kiss awakens and opens my eyes to my own eyes,
Like listening to Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” for the first time.
A Whitmanesqe Kiss (to a mirror)
O Me! O wonderful mystical self!
You sweet compatible kisser,
Let’s come together in that cosmic stickiness
Like static cling,
An Oscar Wilde Kiss
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance
So I dated myself on Valentine’s Day,
Bought myself a fancy dinner with red wine
Beside a fresh flowery bouquet
Then went home, lit a candle
Read Dorian Gray and kiss myself in a mirror.
A From Here to Eternity Kiss
Snuggled in secrecy
On the fiery white sands of the Pacific
Surrounded by rocky bluffs
Burt Lancaster kisses her
As suddenly as the sea that
Rushes foamy white wildly over their bodies
As if trying to douse the
Fires within them
Intertwining and enlarging
Like a dangerous love affair.
A Terrible Kisser
Doesn’t pay much attention to
The other set of lips,
Sloppy lips smack and hog without
Nuance and leave the other feeling plunged.
A Rodin Kiss
In a soft and stony spiral,
He wraps around her,
Leans into her, melts into her,
His lips strong and attentive.
He knows how she likes to be kissed,
In the presence of eternity
As if defying the stillness of a sculpture,
They flow together liquidly,
Forward, around, down
Like rivers from the heart.
Two Men Kiss While Listening to “I Will Survive”
It might as well be the rainbow flag gay anthem
No one ever gets tired of it
Especially after the sometimes tortuous
Sometimes glorious journey out
Sneers of “fag, queer, and fairy” just
Make us laugh now
As one leans into the other bushy beard
Tasting Puerto Rican Coconut rum and pineapple
In a drink he calls “A Passionate Kiss”
“How dare they make my love a felony.”
A Final Kiss (After Paul Verlaine)
A violin concerto
Twists the heart,
Their lips come apart
One set firm
The other breaking, delicately,
As the word coward is whispered
Into the night
One walks away.
Cold and quickly
Like a December storm
Blows itself out
And swirls loneliness
In the snow.
A Poor Old Woman Kisses a Poor Old Man
Her polyester nightgown
Shimmers red against
The draught of the house.
He was about to say again
The rent couldn’t be paid
But she kisses him
To quiet it down.
It feels good to
Her. It feels good
To her. She gives herself
Completely to it
Like a bruised plum.
A Kinky Kiss
One smiles in anticipation,
Eagerly waiting in the dark
Until it happens,
Soft and sweet tongues
Come wetly on
Warm and hard
Silk wrapped skin.
The Kiss of Life
A million flowers
In the sun
Like the fireworks in
Bobby Brady’s kiss.
A Proclamation of Faith
I will always love you
No matter what is said against us,
He whispers into his mouth
Eyes open and close
To affirm the others’ sincerity.
Yes, this kiss certifies truth.
A Kiss Between Passing Friends
A Kiss at a Gathering While “Celebration” Plays
Woohoo! Baby, let’s praise
Each other in kisses
While we dance
And parade them through
An envious, admiring crowd.
Kissing My Brother On the Cheek
When masculinity has made affection
Uncomfortable, I become aware
Of the distances, and hold my brother
Tightly in an embrace and kiss him on the cheek
You never know when the last one may be.
A Starlit Kiss
(After Wallace Stevens)
Deep in the night grass,
Encapsulated by a cricket symphony,
The Romeo and Juliet’s stars
Of exile flow around the earth’s
Holy palms in every direction
From this point. Steadfast,
I wish I were you bright stars
The lover says as he
Connects his loves
Freckles like constellations.
Praise for A Journal of Kisses
“A Journal of Kisses, eloquently written, fills the reader
with the terror and wonder of the infinite, rapturous and sublime
Variations of kissing and being kissed.”
A drop of blood
The size of a pearl
Drops on her cheek
Like red wine.
The scabbed and
Withered body and
Kisses one wound,
Her pain transfigured
A Kiss in the Middle of Eternal Nothing
As clear water poured
Into a cup eventually
Returns to the river
A kiss from the wise one