my hope for us*

I hope our love

is like your hands,

deftly cutting across

strings to make

breathing bellows.

I know you don’t think much

of your own virtues but

I carry them with me

in what we can’t call a soul.

 

I hope our love

is like your presence,

a sort of earthly calm

pierced with erratic passion

that I still can’t comprehend.

I know you don’t like the ocean

so you can be my island

and after swimming

I will find myself firmly

anchored to your shore.

 

Lastly, darling

I hope our love

is like your laughter

(easily my favorite thing).

I hope it resonates

in our darkest hours

and finds us sitting

quietly on a porch swing

under weeping live oaks

in everlasting spring.
 
– sheila cordova
 
 
 
* For Frankie, thanks for the hope you’ve brought to my little life. Happy Valentines Day.

it’s a sin

it’s hot like a shed in the blurry sun
the steering wheel’s been hoarding
heat
ready for your soft skin
you’re so forgetful
but I appreciate the melancholic
nature
of the cache you’ve sown
into your chest
with a pounding fist and
pulpy pulmonary trunk

i like drops of bitters
in my whiskey lemonade
because I think it masks the
taste of alcohol
and I like the taste
but I do not like the taste
not the way I like the sauna
not the way I like being perched
on your lips
and being drowned
in your muck

– sheila c

war paint 

Cara I wish I could tell you exactly what I see
baby girl, I know life has been so cruel
and while I’ve held my head down
and out of view

i know you’ve spoken up
and have been recriminated for just existing

god, I know our skin is a sin
and our eyes cry MIXED CHILD
MULATTO
SOMETHING NEW
and when these men ruined
all of our opportunities
and buried our progress
you said NOT TODAY
NOT TODAY, SATAN
AND YOU DUG YOUR NAILS
INTO THE SALVAGED TILE
TO FEEL COLD
AND FEEL WARMTH
BECAUSE IMPERALISM
HAD OFFERED YOU NONE
AND I KNOW AS YOUR TEETH FELL
YOUR VOICE GREW LOUDER
AND YOUR VOCAL CHORDS
BUILT A SWELL
THE OCEAN SMELLS LIKE YOU,
CARA
THE CARIBBEAN DIES WITH YOU,

they are calling it a mass bleaching event
the irony is not lost on me
while I dig my head further into sand
I am sorry I am a coward

I WISH I COULD SCREAM FROM
FROM BOWELS INTO THE CEILING
AND BREAK THE GLASS ABOVE
US

I KNOW YOU WOULD HEAR ME IN
EGYPT OR LONDON

I am so sorry
I could not WEAR MY MAKE UP
LIKE WAR PAINT
AND USE MY TEARS TO
PUT OUT THE FIRE IN
MY THROAT

Cara, I know I failed your soft
heart
but I will give mine
in return.

– sheila c

jellyfish 

spineless jellies 

get a bad rap, you know.

they just don’t care for war

or confrontation.

they’ve seen the vastness 

of the ocean 

and the pitch black

sequin night 

below the shifting 

shelves.
 

i want you to know 

that i thought my softness

was sinking 

and my will 

was decomposing 

i was a daft 

flowing 

mass in currents.
 

now i am from underneath

what you call “heaven”

and I call heaven

from underneath you.
 

– sheila c. 

with purpose

i think there are banana leaves 

in my blood stream,

they float like makeshift canoes 

into my arteries 

and block the hope 

the west has tricked me 

into thinking I have earned.

i think i have corn husks 

in my lungs 

they fan the flames

of my discontentment 

and they incite 

a quiet violence in my throat.

lord, i think i was born screaming 

in the jungle

and now I am choking 

in the city 

– sheila c 

dragging 

dragging is a learned subject

like a soft feather floating inward

and outward with swift forward

feeling

I saw the gate open

but only slightly

and inside

everything was exactly as I wanted

but not really

the curse of blindness

is revealing

like the words that make our ceiling

 

I want to sound like me

but what am I?

I have no real voice or reason

like the song of something more

something else 

something before.

am I a sound?

like bells in the background

swinging, swung and sullen

I might be a sound. 
– sheila c.