Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summer Day Trip

I wrote this poem as an undergrad.  When I was a kid we used to make a yearly church trip to Sunken Meadow beach in Long Island.  We used to look forward to it all summer.

for the next day to begin,
for the morning to break.
The hum of the floor fan,
with the swish of the cars outside
make the sheets offer to much warmth in this summer day,
but they are my protection.

I barely get any sleep.
I see the sky get clear
as the sun begins to rise
and mom wakes us up.
It's time to get ready, eat breakfast, pack up our things 
and begin our walk to church.

The warm air smells sweet
mixed with the smell of fried chicken
that I carry in the grocery bag.
My new jelly sandals squish on the pavement.
Brother complains about the weight of the thermos,
its ice clatters against the plastic.

There's the bus!
Large in the narrow street.
I don't remember the ride.
Lost sleep is found.
Bright sunshine warms us,
and the hymns are my lullaby.
The patter of the rain--barely audible.

Picnic is set half a mile from the beach,
and there is no rain here
like the weatherman said.

Late afternoon, after hours of playing
I sit on the wooden bench
and eat my fried chicken sandwich.

The baptism is now!
Someone calls.

They all rush to the shore
to see the purified.

People are cleansed
just like John baptized Jesus.

Afterwards we eat dinner
and celebrate.

The new souls.

We go home.

Late afternoon sunshine and
the sun is dipping behind buildings.
We walk home.
My jelly sandals squish with water.
Brother swings the empty thermos
while I carry nothing.

I get home and shower
and lie in front of the TV.

CHiPs is on.
Mom sits besides me
and strokes my freshly washed hair.
I feel the ocean in my chest--
rising and falling waves,
rising and falling.
The yellow sunshine fills the living room
but it's almost gone.
As Lavern and Shirley 
sing their song
I fall asleep.

--Joanna Milanes
December 28, 1996


This story is based on a dream.  Not sure what before bedtime meal caused it or maybe it was some cold medicine.  I was in grad school at the time I wrote it and had a lot on my mind regarding what the heck I was going to do with my life.


I sat on the sand and waited for him. It was dark early morning. The moon sat on the horizon and began its descent.

By the shore and secluded beach, they danced around the fires near the line of coconut trees that was behind me.

The moon was large as it dipped into the black ocean. It seemed that he would come. I left everything behind to wait: the bonfire dances, the warmth of the songs and grandmother's hum when she prepared the stew.

The moon beckoned me, and asked why I was so far. I told her I was waiting. "Swim to me and find him here," she said. I stood and walked into the cool water. The soft waves lapped against my ankles. The light foam rippled between my toes. I entered slowly. I didn't look back but could feel the heat of the rising bon fires against my bare back as I dropped my robe into the sand. The coolness of the water wasn't strong until it reached my belly. I gasped.

The darkness of the salt ocean embraced me. I dove in completely and found comfort in its coolness. I hesitated. "You won't find the truth on the shore," the moon said. "You'll find it here." And so I swam in backstrokes to her on the horizon. Her largness covered the ocean. The yellow light illuminated my floating nakedness. Her warmth in contrast to the cool water. Soon, I was so close that all that was left in the sky was the moon. "Hug me," she said. I stretched my arms around her swollen body. "Yes, is the answer," she whispered in my ear, though there was no one else around to hear us.

I swam back knowing the truth. The answer was already in myself. When I returned to shore I waited no longer, I put on my robe and headed to the warm bon fire. I danced new dances no one had ever dreamt of dancing before and taught the others this new joy. We still danced when the sky became purple and light rose through the mountains. He arrived on the shore.

I saw him in the distance as I still danced and wondered if the sun would call to him as the moon did I. Did they--the sun and moon-- meet briefly right after he came out of his slumber and as she was going to bed? But, the sun did not call him.
He turned to the bon-fires that were dying from the lack of fuel. When he saw me he walked over the shells that had been pushed near the end of the sand by the evening tide.

"Why were you not waiting?" He asked. I embraced the moon last night, but he did not need to know. I asked, "what joy is there in waiting?"
Copyright 1999, Joanna Milanes

Posting some fiction...

I've decided to dust off (really dust off) some fiction I used to have in my old web site.  These were written back when I was in college, so be gentle.

You'll see these over the next few posts.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finding your "bees"

I've had this song from Blind Melon in my head all week.  I think it has more to do with the video associated with it.  If you've never seen it, it's the story of a tap dancing honey-bee dressed girl as she's trying to find people that appreciate her for herself. 

She's odd looking.  She has a freckled face and wears glasses.  Her bee outfit doesn't seem to fit quite right.

She gets laughed off a stage, gets strange looks in the street, and finally finds her "bees" in a park that's brightly colored green and blue in contrast to the rest of the video.

Its a great message.  We all have our bees that we can fit in with.  Its just a matter of time when we find them.  These are the people that accept us unconditionally.