I return to my birthplace with a focus on breath.
It’s easier to inhale the California landscape.

In Tennessee, I live in a bowl of green suffocation;
hillsides consume & stack with bouquets of trees.

I’m at the bottom wanting to look up & over, yet
driving through the Mohave desert is smoker’s teeth —

expansive shades of yellow rust, Suessical Joshua trees,
mountain range in the distance followed by cracked

sea floor. The bluest skyline traces the face of the earth
for miles as I drive. Now, I know I come from clutter

& hoarding, like the makeup & Q-tips that litter my
bathroom counter in constellations of chaos. I come

from single mothers with big pores like black pepper
on my nose. I come from Pacoima United Methodist

Church, from older black ladies remembering my
grandmother & my mother & me as a little girl,

hugging my neck with compliments as Hawaiian leis,
saying how pretty & all grown up I am, saying they

remember me running through the pews with frilly,
white socks, telling me to bring some sunshine back

home. But in Nashville — the weather is bipolar & I’m
always the black thumb. I found my meditation on

the Venice boardwalk. Hadn’t been on a bike in years,
wobbled through break boys, whiffs of dank marijuana,

Chihuahuas & pit bulls on leashes, drum circles
with dancing transients, wet graffiti on concrete,

sweet cut from a fresh mango cart with juice dripping
down her hands, denim on denim and no one cared

the color of my husband’s hand holding mine.
Somewhere in Laguna, I wrote my name by the lip

of the ocean. I come from breaking beach waves with
the sand sucking the detritus from the center of the earth.


“love / comes / to / me / after / the banquet”
Trans Issue 2015