Jungle Cat

after Sylvia Plath

They named me Lion (Mane),
an animal of the genus Panthera,
and the 10-year-old me
whined, blinked, and laughed.
Did I ever like cats?

Such solitary creatures,
burdened with pensive thought,
their beauty a curse,
a lure as dangerous
as the siren’s call.
Filthy manipulators.

Then, “jungle cat,” I read.
No species,
just natural habitat.
The reverb rang hot
in my body.
A yawn elongated my limbs.
I slept soundly that night,
comforted by the shred of identity,
yet puzzled by its voracious calling.

And finally, one year,
the Shaman Dome,
the Spirit Animal Workshop:
a dark grey puma eyes me studiously.
She examines my DNA,
considers my flesh
between her teeth,
then turns to disappear
in the folds of the island’s jungle.
I follow,
expecting her to lead me
to another animal, one that was

Instead, cubs piled high,
in the middle of an open clearing,
where the trees bow away.
I can’t count how many,
but there is more than one.
Speechless, I begin to worry.
A puma? A large feline?
A primal cat? Offspring?

The nouns fall apart
in my mouth
like cheap chewing gum.

I am left with her,
hiking up a mountain,
the warm air
now cooling around us.

As the sun glinted
off the thick strands
of her dark coat,
she looked off
into the distance,
pondering what Spirit Animals ponder,
and I could hear it:
a feeling
of Home.

To my playa self

Good night
sweet thing,
another year
always brings:

a light
a song
a dance
a scream–

A giant hug
a warm kiss.

A sweat
a mirror
a fever
of bliss–

A thrust
a shiver
a demand
for promises.

A shaking, a spreading,
an emblem of survival,
a quaking
a scraping
a tremor of denial.

And when you rest,
sweet thing,
when the cape is hung,
the whips are folded,
the dust masks
are debris-free:

dream I’m on fire.


We wear many faces.
Removing and adorning
colors and shapes
with our skin flats,
weeping neon,
grinning child-like,
forcing every liquid
ounce down,
tasting anonymity.

Our naked masquerade:
shortcomings dissolved
to climaxes
to plateaus
to dark denouements.

With chest cavities spread,
drowned demons
met decadent
timber for our resurrections.

I see you now more than ever.
Every layer as exposed as the last.

Dust Drunk

The dust snakes its way in.
The billows rush down
my throat.
I am inhaling decades
worth of burnt art,
generations of cathartic
quips, hits of acid
and psyche-hooked.

And best of all: lost.

I wipe my feet at the bed
of your gnawed
social constructs, says the wind.

I reign over your biological need
for self-preservation.

In the eye—
Lassoed and limp
to its throttles.
There’s little to do,
see, identify, pacify,
weep for—Having
been swallowed up
and digested
by the fury
of the whiteout,
existence’s on hiatus.

Humanity is stripped,
sight, touch,
smell, hearing,
no, not the speaking!
robbed by dusty thieves,
hunted and struck down
by wind-thrown rocks,
pebbles in the esophagus,
granules behind the eyelids,
you know but one color,
blanched almonds,
burly wood,
corn silk,
ghost white
at times, wet
behind the veil,
the welling in your eyes,
submerging the soot
in salty despair.

How have you learned
to talk back to the dust?

An art much like avoiding
a spanking,
getting away with murder
has no feasibility here,
your lungs have missed curfew,
punishment for that?

I want to scream, but—
where are we?
No compass,
looking up: hints
of contrast,
slivers of sky
whisper blue,
and so I push the bike,
my body,
my urge to make
myself into a small ball,
climb back into the womb,
give in to the warm seductress
of earthy burials.

Minutes give no way
to hidden art, nothing
peeks at me through the
smoggy curtains:

The Temple is avoiding eye

Then, people.
Filmy souls sauntering,
wind-whipped as well.
one lost.

Few are having an
out of body experience,
and only one citizen
of the sand
points for me,
Walk into it, he says.

But the storm just beats
its chest,
heaving and salivating
for me.
Gravel shackled
to bare ankles,
70 m.p.h. currents coiled
around collar bone,
choked and filleted.

Until a tingling: swimming
between wind-waves,
I can hear something
other than muck and loam.
Music’s mercy.

I lurch towards it.
Her bodice a beckoning
She snaps at my chest,
gushing beats into
dirt-filled ears.
The tune beacon
saves me,

“the Rhythm-Bricked Road,”
“Lion Mane’s Purple Crayon,”

and all that’s left to do,
is wander the neighbor’s gardens,
sniff the air,
locate the aroma of home.

Upon arriving, dried up
sobs train-wrecked in my
mouth, and hair aged
by eons of terrain,
I notice how light I am,
throwing my bike down,
I helium-bounce up, until—
my sister tells me, her voice the sound
of rocky breezes,
her eyes like that of fiery
coals, skin
youthed and revolving,

Time to make the dinner.