Why Am I This Way?
Sit down little boy, sit down little girl,
Sit down there on your stool
All this glitter and that faggot twirl
Is why you’re bullied at school.
Sit up straight, unnatural child
Don’t wallow there so glum
I hate that you’re my grandchild
You’re asking for it, are you dumb?
So what do you think caused it?
Was it something you decided?
I don’t understand why you don’t just quit
God help you, you’re misguided.
Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve
Didn’t you read the bible?
Two men together can’t conceive
And a mother and father is vital.
No, never again will we kiss,
I can’t believe you’re gay
I’ve raised you, my son, better than this
You’ve been led astray.
Hey, I’m not homophobic dude,
I have gay friends don’t you know?
But, look, I don’t mean to be rude
Can you keep your distance?…no homo.
Can you guys just stop flaunting?
Can you keep it out of my face?
Think of the children that you’re haunting
There’s a fuckin’ time and place.
Is it just to make the victim wrong?
And let accusers have their say?
While someone who feels they don't belong
Thinks, ‘Why am I this way?’
Olive them, olive me.
Write about an injustice:
Heart pounding, boiling, a flashing white hot rage of anger spills over, a tidal wave of
unrepentant fury. I gaze upon the golden plains, the rising mountainous crusts
that bubble and simmer from the heat of passionate hands. What have I
done? What curse has befallen me, what sin is so great and so terrible
that it should so belittle me, so humiliate me? A faint whiff, a
fading wisp of a memory flutters in front of me that frays
and fractures as my fingers stretch out, as I try and
make it whole again. Wafting, wading, will
my desire be fulfilled? Will taste rectify?
I long, I yearn as a soul craves the
loving touch of the familiar.
The tender kiss of lovers
embrace. Alas, should
dark clouds that
explicitly, unequivocally: no olives on my pizza.
The men decide to come at me-
A badge, a whispered threat.
So many move around to see-
A sudden deep regret.
My hijab sends a panicked sign-
Religion sets the tone.
A plane takes off that once was mine-
I'm stuck; now it is gone.
The men have placed me in a room,
My children start to cry.
"Do you have bombs to make a boom?
Do you want us to die?"
I try and tell them who I am,
And that they have it wrong.
Instead, they offer to me, "Ma'am,
You need to play along.
The thing atop your head tells us
A terrorist is near.
Now, don't you try and make a fuss-
We want to make it clear-
The color of your skin defines
A nation of unrest."
My daughter's and my son's designs
Are beauty at its best.
I stand and ask what right have they
To hold us from the plane.
The men have little else to say,
The whole thing starts to drain.
At last my husband joins us there,
But they treat him the same.
They ruffle up his velvet hair;
They do not ask his name.
They confiscate a "weapon" in
A pocket- plastic fork.
They say, "Where are your people, then?"
He says, "We're from New York!"
About this time, the questions stop;
A white male with a gun
Unloads it on us- pop! Pop! POP!
We have nowhere to run.
Injustice never seems to fade-
But look at what they do-
Remember terror knows no shade,
Be free, Red, White, and Blue ...
It’s Not Okay
Red glow of heat
suck it in
cinders into your soul
it’s okay, it’s all right
addiction to your brim
seeps in – puffs of smoke
it’s okay, it’s all right
promise it’ll be better
just use light ones
the special filters
it’s okay, it’s all right
it will kill you
in little pieces
dribbles of life
inhaling your breath
it’s okay, it’s all right
cancer cells creeping
hook the young
send them on down
to tobacco addiction
it’s okay, it’s all right
than crack or cocaine
make that money
tote that bale
watch them drop
it’s okay, it’s all right
untruths fly by
above your head
kills you dead
taps on window
you’ll never know
what hit you
of fatal mistake
lies, lies, lies
loved ones died.
It’s not okay
It’s not all right!
We spent our end side by side as we should have, but open to nothing, mapping our existence in your cynical glory and nicotine stained fingertips. My eyes bright and naive in the beginning, drawn to your dark circles and fog and magnetized by what felt like a never-ending, beautiful melancholy of a-minor.
The first time I found you hanging from the end of a noose, I lost all use of my legs. I never told you that. Our child in my arms and too young to remember any of it, I dragged you down with one hand, screaming and cursing at you for doing such a horrible thing to yourself and your family. You were angry with me, and I understood why soon after. But I would never be the same.
The pills were next, then your wrists, and after that I lost count of all of the threats, the plans, the attempts that never amounted to anything more than emergency calls. I did begin a tally of psych visits, however, as my life became a sleight of prescription exchange after exchange. My evenings turned from a sigh in a glass of blood red Cabernet to praying to God that it would not be the day that the rush hour traffic would keep me so long that you'd have time to finish before I got home.
I learned when to speak and when not to, and I learned that it was best I didn't express any negativity around you in the event that my words would be the focus of your next attempt to kill yourself. I knew they had been in the past, as you'd told me, and I began to pick away at all of the parts of me that allowed anything but a smile to peek through at you.
I write you this, John, not because I want to make you feel guilty or ashamed. I know you were sick, and I loved being by your side regardless of the circumstances behind what became an ever-watchful eye.
I write you this because I spent the last thirty-seven years of our marriage together in a cold well of silence, muffling my own voice in order to keep yours alive. Every moment I breathed was for the one that you would tell me you were happy in our life together, in your life here, and you felt you had something worth living for.
I write you this to bury with you because I am numb, and do not know how to grieve a loss that I've waited for over three decades to come.
I write you this because I gave myself into you to keep you from going out, but now you're gone. Now you've left me - no goodbye, no kiss - having died of nothing more than heart failure in your sleep.
So now I'm saying goodbye to you and your pain, and I will send it with you rightfully so that I may finally let my own take its place.
The All-Encompassing Corruption
A media mirage
Convincing us to crave the quintessential
And aspire to the carbon copy ideals
Of painted perfection and aesthetic facades.
And this poisoning perfection sells.
Our desires are indoctrinated
And they look like flawless skin and size 2 jeans.
A propaganda pandemic.
Find your perfect hair and your perfect size
With this new cream and diet pill!
Sold to our blinded eyes and closed minds
With exquisite designs and photo-shopped lies
As we pursue this superficial perfection.
Because no one really looks like this.
But we have to try!
Embrace the incomparable and compare yourself!
Covet the exterior allure.
And when the results reflected
In our tunnel vision fixation
Are still lacking,
We will cut ourselves down as a failure
Before buying into the next fad.
Please disregard our intellect and understanding,
And, instead, fixate on our flowing hair and flat abs.
Because, in this story, indoctrination is fully installed.
In this story, corruption coats our skin with empty promises of perfection.
And, in this story, beauty is everything.
The Bastard Child
I winced as her long slender fingers struck my face, tears streamed down my face and my legs wobbled under the weight of my sorrows.
"Can't you do anything right, you good for nothing piece of shit" she bellowed.
My sweaty hands shook and a shiver ran through my spine even at that hot summer afternoon. Her words struck me as lightening and my sobs became the only noise in the hallway apart from her distinct shouts.
From the corner of my eyes I could make out the amused expression on her son's faces. Jagged pieces of the broken porcelain vase still littered the pearl white marble floor.
"No food for you tonight, you bastard and I don't want to see your face. Take her to the attic."
With these words I was ushered into a small room located adjacent to the terrace, reeking of decay and the dwelling for filthy rats.
I curled into a ball in a corner overlooked by the window through which light penetrated from the full moon, my sole companion for the night. Sleep was sporadic and fitful, my eyes fluttered open from the nightmares more than once.
Dreams of having my skin scraped of by my mistress or again getting boiling water poured over my hands interrupted my sleep.
Sometimes my mother visited me and part of me cherished seeing her, she never spoke but her emerald almond shaped eyes always looked at me, her arms always held me even when the world broke out in the cries of bastard child. When the dream ended her absence left a throbbing ache in my chest.
Tonight in my dream, I was waiting for my father on the doorstep, just before the outbreak of dawn and the minutes turned into hours but he never came and the sun never rose.
I missed her and my father who came, on the third of every second month and with him tagged along his children, the lawful ones. I begged to him to take me back home and then his new family spoke to me of the squalor they are living in, of the lack of space in their homes for me.
The Social Contract Lawsuit
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She Knew Better
The intentional grid like configuration of the streets of Manhattan is referred to as the Commission of 1811. The commissioners revered their design because it combined 'beauty, order, and convenience'. However aesthetically pleasing, the formation has a way of assaulting every New Yorker and wanna-be New Yorker alike. This assault takes place when the never ending streets serve as wind tunnels that violently whip winds through the streets and deliver what feels like literal slaps to the face.
This story happens to be about a particularly slapping wind in September. One that felt less like a slap from a drunk girl at a barcade in Williamsburg, and much more like the lasting sting only your mother's hand could produce.
Like the one I received when I was sixteen, and I told mine that she was weak. Weak for staying with my father when she knew he was sleeping with other women. It wasn't the slap that hurt. It was really just watching the single tear roll down her cheek and hit the linoleum. It crashed to the floor with what I presume to be the same force of a brick hitting concrete after being dropped from the top of the Empire State building. At the time it only hurt because I made her cry, now that slap hurts for a different reason.
It's five years later and I'm standing outside of a bar on Mercer street, with a boy I'm sure I love. He's smoking a cigarette. Malboro Red, actually.
I'm staring down at my boots. They're suede and have a pointed toe. Wearing them makes me feel like I'm cool enough to be standing outside of a bar on Mercer street, with a boy who's smoking a cigarette.
I was so focused on dodging the wind and convincing myself I belonged there, that I didn't hear him the first time he said, "hey look, we aren't exclusive or anything are we? I've been seeing other people."
I looked up, and he blew cigarette smoke into my face. I inhaled it. It felt like my father's mistakes and my mother's devastation crowding back into that pit in my stomach.
On exhale, without a second thought, I shot him a cool girl smile and said, "yea, for sure, me too.".
When I was sixteen it was so easy to see how my mother was wrong and the reasons she was weak. Even still, that night, I knew what I did was necessary. For the men of my commission I needed to make sure that I act orderly and remain convenient, so that I can be beautiful.
But by saying those words I had reduced myself to less than. I melted into those boots. I laid myself flat, preparing myself for the slaps of my future. The slaps from the city I love and all of my sort-of boyfriends to come.
She glared severely at the fractured lines of her mirror. She watched as the crimson oozed out of her lower lip.
Skin black and bruised, limbs numb.
Pretence camouflaged her reality, wounds concealed under thick scarf's in summer. Words burnished with poignant deception.
“REMBE!” She flinched at the sound of her mispronounced name. “Rumbi”, she had stated earlier, dragging every syllable. His boisterous, obnoxious voice climbed up the narrow stair way.
Panic- stricken hands rushed to lock the door. She grabbed the splintered baseball bat her cousin left earlier.
Because it wasn't her fault a man grabbed her bag as she strolled to the bank, stealing her ATM card.
Because it wasn't her fault that an impaired, grouchy police officer confused her with another Hispanic anarchist down the crowded street.
That Ashley had to pay for bail.
And the rent was due.
Dad needed more pills.
Mother needed a Visa to visit.
Cousin wanted a brand new bat.
All she wanted was a life with a bow laced with tranquillity but all she heard was
BANG! BANG! BANG!!