Back in Oaxaca

The officer at passport control in Mexico City asks where I am coming from. I offer Sacramento; he counters with Atlanta. But I am so tired I don’t recognize the word Atlanta. I start to nod no. He repeats, slowly, A T L A N T A. I agree that’s where I have been most recently.

He asks me why I am in Mexico, and I want to tell him that I long for music in the streets, tacos in the park on Fridays, children roaming freely into twilight, a ride in the back of a truck, Indigo skies over Santo Domingo church. Instead, I sneeze the word: tourism, and he sends me off for two rounds of suitcase inspections and impromptu Spanish tests.

I’m usually up for trying out my comprehension, but I left Sacramento at 11:05PM and arrived in A T L A N T A at about 3AM my time, to take a train and find a gate in the vast terminal and then tried to sleep while a little old man loudly read the newspaper and slurped steaming coffee.

The officer has caught me at 10AM his time, 8AM mine, 11AM Atlanta’s.

Before meeting him, I have mostly fruitlessly tried to sleep in three time zones: pacific, eastern, central. I will have experienced a handful of solid minutes of sleep without disruption.

I will, at last, nap deeply in the small plane over Oaxaca and then briefly in a taxi-van full of seven men in the bustling streets leading to my stop (second-to-last) and my room, my comfortable room, at the posada.


  • April Bernard, in “Roy Orbison and John Milton Are Still Dreaming” ( delivers us the joy of waking from a satisfying nap:
    You know what I mean: In the instant
    of waking in bliss, the whole body smiles—
    Then, she shows how though the mind may want to wake “in bliss” (as in the joy of landing on Oaxaca and being delivered to the posada), reality is often not as generous. In her poem, Bernard offers a list of “happy facts.” What are the “happy facts” that fill one of your characters?

Love Poems

plane2I gave myself the task of writing twenty-five love poems in a year.  I found that I spent nearly as much time counting them as I did writing them, especially in the beginning.  And, I found it helpful to tell as many people as I could about the project (except the person for whom they were intended), so that I would actually get it done. More than drafting twenty-five poems, I learned a great deal about writing about love.  The most important lesson is that not all love poems have to be loving; they can be about the difficult, even ugly, complexities of love.  In fact, with some exceptions, I found the more complex the love, the more complex the love poem.  Simply, love poems don’t have to be happy, or even nice, poems. Maybe I started stretching things or getting tired of my own project, but now that I am “done,” I wonder if all poems are love poems.  Maybe not always in the sense of affection, but I write poems about things by which I am affected.  Do I love all of those things?  Not exactly, but poetry helps me to find some way to celebrate not the long flight, but the way the sun shone through the window warming my hair. I loved that.  I don’t suddenly appreciate the rage of the engines, but I do admire the river’s contours in the distance.  I do love that I can see things from this distance.   plane3

Heading Home to the Desert


At the last minute, after realizing my mom and sister weren’t going to make it to Sacramento for a visit, I decided to book a flight using my latest obsession: the Priceline Negotiator. I love the Express Deals through this site, and sometimes I’ll dream up vacations to see how great the deals are.

So, I tried it for the first time for flights. I found last-minute flights to the Palm Springs airport were more affordable than flights to Ontario, CA. However, I would have to fly from Sacramento to Phoenix for a minute and then to the desert. As I arrived in the desert, I would have recommended this flight to anyone interested in visiting the Coachella Valley. It was quite lovely. However, the “return” flight was another deal altogether.

I took off from Palm Springs, landed smoothly in Phoenix and should have put two and two together as soon as I saw I did not have a seat assignment from Phoenix to Sacramento. The flight was oversold; I had two choices, wait seven hour in the Phoenix airport or fly to Oakland. Oakland it was.

Before this trip, I also would have advised anyone listening to be daring and try out the Express Deals on Priceline, the ones where you don’t know what hotel you’re bidding for — just the general location, guest ratings, amenities, and the number of stars. My new rule is to pick three stars and up. The place I stayed was quite literally on the other side of the tracks, the pool (the reason I rented a room in the first place) was the greenest and most disappointing thing in the desert, and Daniel, the night auditor, was grouchy from sleep deprivation.

Despite these little details, it was a fun trip filled with family and a few hours in a nicer pool.





birds!!!It is almost nightfall, and a cartoonish caption, fit for a paragraph, types across the firmament.  From a distance, it is difficult to skim the passage before the sequence threatens to turn to thunderhead.  Several parenthetical gusts storm to the west as the river birches become commotion.  We drive into the squall–as if we can be swept up, up, as if we are not earthbound.