Lately I am no longer certain

if the sound of a doorknob

turning heralds your arrival

or your leaving. Or just the seconds

clicking by. But I’ll take what I can get.

Believe me, I try to get my mind off things—

the borrowed shirt still in my closet,

an email that has yet to be read,

your arms unlatching from me

many nights ago—but I still turn

to the broken doorknob in the kitchen.

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Sky Over Cairns

I wake up from my seat to a sudden
blue blasting from the window.
The sky looks certain as azure,
if not for its scant escort of clouds
and the crepuscular rays
escaping through them.
Perhaps requisite at this hour,
perhaps proofs of something more
divine?an assurance that
everything is all well and all right.
Six hours earlier I took off
at 11:30PM from a country
where men are beginning to learn
the left is right and the right is wrong.
There are men, too, who are once full of life
but now static in street corners, under a bridge,
or where the grass grow thick, sometimes
bearing messages on cardboard strips
that nobody could dare unread?
I have tried but everything slips
into permanence, destined to be recalled
like a malevolent incantation.
We are above Australia,
and at this hour the sky in my country
is still dark. A stewardess struts by,
her service trolley wheels humming
in their axles. At the far end of the cabin
some coins jangle and I am reminded of home.
I turn my head back as if I could tell
how far away I am now from everything.
Somewhere thousands of feet
below, the Great Barrier Reef
is dying, a world unto itself,
corals bleaching and breaking
like bones and brittle shanty doors.
For a second the plane takes a sharp dip,
and a collective gasp follows?one that could
only come from the refined honesty of fear.
I look around and find most of the
passengers settle back to sleep.
The seatbelt sign is on, my arm rests
damp with sweat. I close my eyes,
recalling which of my ancestor?s
prayers I need to recite.

Cleaning the Attic

Around two or three silverfishes dart
among the pulverized lizard eggshells
at the bottom of the box. Gliding into corners,
hiding from view. I pull my hand away,
eventually learning the shock
might be much more real to them
than it is for me: a lesson in consolation.
Here I keep what I hold on to until
memory thins into anomalous relics:
tattered journals, lined notebook
with two-chapter story in puerile longhand cursive
of a ?monstrous but delicate swan? (a fourth grader?s
imagination powered by high-fructose grape juice),
limbless G.I. Joes, foxing sci-fi paperbacks, tin globe
clanking with coins of countries where my mother
would love to visit if she were younger,
phone bills and deposit slips from early 2010?s,
diagram of cardiovascular system with its heart
fading from being kept too long in the dark?
I have kept and accommodated too much,
too, like this heart. In the dark. I believe
this is the noble service of recollection,
as how postmen still faithfully slip letters
into mailboxes, one after the next?
and here I end up with what would mostly find
their way to the dispose pile. In another corner
of this choked space a column of vinyl,
a bag of reunion shirts, a row of encyclopedia,
a pair of old wedges, a bundle of Christmas balls
and a matryoshkan discovery: In a chocolate box
within a shoe box, a sheaf of poems for the future
self, abundant with rhymes that sing like fork tine
on crystal. Today I learn the divisions of my desires,
as a sharp shaft of light scatters in from the east
window, frenzied motes eager for the day?s baptism:
I imagine there is a corridor that leads to everything
I cherished as a child, another as an adult,
and one squat room enough to fit those
that come to fruition, and another where I could reach
anything anytime at arm?s length. Lastly, a hall
where contradictions meet their compromises (obviously
just as important as the toilet and the kitchen sink).
Years later, in a country continents away from home,
I am warned that what we may lose
might never be found again. I was told that
on the same day I was reminded to be kinder.
So from the attic, I bring down several boxes
of knickknacks to be banished from the house.
Straining under the weight, my arms shake,
careful not to drop anything out of my embrace.