Running

White skinned women, who parade about in their workout gear all day

But never seem to break a sweat

Like to cross the road when they see us coming.

For the record, I want to be intimidating to women too posh

to know the difference between Mexican and Puerto Rican

Too segregated in their white picket neighborhoods to recognize

They live in a different world than me.

I would like them to second guess themselves when they see me coming.

I mumble prayers under my breath they won’t try to touch my hair

Drunk sorority girls won’t ask me where to find black dick.

Bitch don’t you see me walking here, living without you.

Let me continue in peace.

But nobody should treat my little round rescue like she escaped death row.

My pitbull has never tried to intimidate a person in her life

And yet she is so much more adept at it than me.

And it shouldn’t bother me. Not as much as it does

That these women I don’t want to come near us

Pretend they don’t see us on the street. Or worse.

When one day I let my womb swell up and give birth to babies as brown as this earth

I better not see one white woman consider crossing the street away from us.

I hope for their sake, they never think they can avoid dealing with our existence

It would be a terrible mistake.

I can’t imagine ever finding the words to teach my children

How to step out of white women’s way

To hold their heads low like they’ve nothing but shame

So no stray person walking thinks they are plotting some evil.

I want my children to grow as children.

To play in their neighborhood without fear of the weapons carried by scared white men

Why are people so afraid

Based on what they’ve seen on tv shows written by them, for them, starring them, featuring us:

robbing, killing, stealing, beating raping

Each other.

White skinned women, who think the playing field is even

Even as they pretend their movements in fear of us are unconscious.

You are the evil my children will fear all their lives.

The embarrassment of being feared for nothing

Of being cast dangerous for nothing.

Of your husbands returning to threaten them for NOTHING.

So if you see my baby and me walking and think of crossing the street

Don’t worry we can together help you work up a sweat,

bitch you better start running.

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On Strength

Last night, my husband was angry. He came home angry and he yelled and screamed until our children were frightened and ran to their rooms. But I didn’t mind the sounds. I don’t.

I know that men are supposed to be made of some tougher material than we are, but my husband has always felt fragile to me, constantly on the verge of shattering. Somehow this makes me strong. I stand and watch. I’m a body to lay on when he collapses. And I don’t mind it. Sometimes I like it.

But today, when I came home, I was angry. I built White Houses out of mashed potatoes and then I smashed them into nothing. I went to my room to scream so the children wouldn’t hear. And when my husband came home, smelling a little of liquor and a lot of flames, I told the children to eat and I followed him upstairs.

“What did you do?” I whispered.

“Nothing.”

“You smell like an arsonist.” Radio silence.

I am angry too, I wanted to tell him.

I know that men are supposed to be made of some tougher material than we are, but my husband’s weakness has always made me feel strong. So when I sat on the edge of our bed, begging for details of a crime he wouldn’t reveal, I watched pigeons coo on the rooftop out of our bedroom window. I tried not to scream.

Taste

I have not been able to post anything here for a while. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anger and I’ve tried to play it cute and not share it. But fuck it, I’m angry. Here’s one of the things I’ve written:

 

TASTE

Tell me: what does forgiveness taste like?

Does it taste like ice cream, pistachio flavor?

Is it salty on the way down your throat?

Does it taste like blood, bled from your lips?

I do not know forgiveness.

 

I have watched brown skin, my own, melt into pavements, into grass

I have screamed out in fury, wrecked my own home to release my anger

Who will call the hounds out?

The fields are burning. The fields are burning. I am only listening to God’s word.

 

there are contradictions painted into the fabric of your flag.

How are we morally inept and yet you expect us to dispense our forgiveness

Fox news says we have forgotten MLK, what if we are remembering Brother X instead?

We have been taught in your schools to pledge our sanities over,

to promise our bodies to her

To chase after the noble Martin.

Keep us in line, we’re dangerous.

 

My dreams are dripping red.

I see disfigurement of bodies in your eyes.

I see swinging bodies in your branches, odes to your family tree

No one cares if you were there,

somehow you all live blaming only your ancestry

But you stand on our backs.

You dig in your heels.

You tells us we’re invisible like you mean it as a compliment.

 

Just because we have been quiet does not mean we are handing out forgiveness

We have been waiting for a final decision.

We have been counting our bodies, weighing our options.

It is not a threat. It is karma.

Every one must feel the burn when it comes for them.

We are nearing a conclusion.

 

What will you do when we give up on your flag?

How disloyal will you tell us we are when we burn your Liberty Lady in your streets?

We do not start these fires, we do not even fan them.

We have struggled so hard to love you,

To love you like we need it as much as you do.

 

What does forgiveness taste like?

Does it smell of carcasses rotting beyond the skyline of your beautiful seas?

Does it float goodwill only in one direction.

Don’t worry I will not ask you to forgive me.

I do not know forgiveness.

But I know hate.

And one can only push it deep into their stomach for so long.

 

This is the Woman who Killed Her Lover

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This is the woman who killed her lover.

Look at her. Her tears made of plastic like her lips and her boobs.

Her truth painted the same transparent blonde as her hair.

How dare she sit there with a face made of stone.

How dare she cry when her sentence is passed down.

This woman who killed her man.

 

This is the woman who killed her lover.

He was in her apartment, with their children. He had reached into her pants when she tried to run away.

His fist landed on her cheek, leaving bruises across her face before she found a knife nearby.

Before she killed him in front of her children.

 

Look at how she makes headlines for dyeing her hair back brown. How they accuse her of sickness.

His hands left wounds on her body for years before the courts sent orders to protect her.

No one mentions that they didn’t.

No one mentions that his hands were still around her neck when police came.

 

This is the woman who killed her lover.

Out of cold blood. Of sickness. Of jealousy because he found someone new.

Even though she left him months ago. Even though she still wakes up screaming dreaming of him

She dreams of him still.

 

She sits there, hard. Furious.

His life is worth fifteen years of hers. Fifteen years. Her children will be in their twenties when she’s released. They will grow up with their mother in jail. When she gets out they won’t want to see her.

This is the woman who killed her lover.

 

She reads in her cell.

She has learned hard facts about her case from newspapers.

How police believe she’d been lying about where her bruises came from.

How she instigated it by refusing to leave him

LOOK WHAT HAPPENED WHEN SHE LEFT HIM.

 

This is the woman who killed her lover.

And she’d do it aagain-kids watching again.

Because she deserved peace she still didn’t have.

Because womens’ lives are only worth 3 years of mens’.

But she will serve 15.

And she sits, hard. furious.

My Body is Not A Wonderland

I would like to quickly clarify something.

My body is not a wonderland.

Alice has never seen the insides of my skin, she hasn’t chased a rabbit through me-

And while my insides may be crazy-I have never met the Mad Hatter here.

 

My body is the scale that tests a man’s soul at the gate of the underworld.

Is your soul lighter than a feather?

Then, you may enter.

Souls dragged down by weights of bodies cannot find their way here. Those who leave marks on souls too vibrant to be erased will have no chance of being weighed.

My body is not a wonderland.

 

My body does not house amusement parks, games nor restaurants.

No one is having tea inside of me.

My body is a stairway. Sixteen steps, the longest you’ll ever climb. Lucky numbers.

Broken bottles, smashed up picture frames, roses growing between the cracks.

Careful at the sound of your feet on my back,

my body is not a wonderland.

 

The scars on my legs from falling down in my roller blades,

stretch marks on my thighs, dirty fingernails, chipped toe nail polish,

sore muscles and  exhausted lungs.

They cannot see what you are.

 

I will not respond to calls for wonderment. Whispers of rumors of maybe her body is likes

I am walking when you are leaning, when you are yelling, when you are scheming.

I will not be moved to tears by the claims of what my body can do and for how much

A man might be willing to do for it.

You cannot purchase admission.

My body is not a wonderland.

 

I am not the ice cream reward at the end of a chase after the truck they sell it off of.

If I ignore you, you should fuck off.

My body is not a wonderland.

It is the scale.

At the gate of the underworld-

To test a man’s soul.

Is your soul lighter than a feather?

Carbon

I am learning now that screams are chills up or down the spine actualized with sound we all can’t make.

I am seeing now that there are moments we reach for others when we should wait.. see who reaches for us

I am learning I am too often screaming in silence, reaching out for someone to tell them, to beg them bare witness to my fears, afraid they won’t notice me without hands outstretched.

I am learning now there are more than 2 paths I can take, that options are more plentiful than this or that and yet all can be equally nauseating.

I am seeing now that sometimes you get on your knees to beg for someone else to make a choice for you.

I am learning I am a coward, living my heart in wishes and dreams and pretending this will give life to my reality. I am watching myself refuse to try out of fear of fantasy realized.

I am learning now that shadows are not almosts or might have beens, they are scorch marks on souls of choices we made that follow us, that remind us we are imperfect, we are too much we are too little we are too weak we push too hard we frighten too easy we chase away love we fly too close to the sun.

I am seeing now that people are made of carbon like sand is, like bombs are like air is. That hearts are made of backwards knobs of doors, that hands are claws of birds, that breasts are not peaks, but valleys to lie in, that feet are glass in the sand after lightning.

I am learning that I am only two steps from the dreams I harbor under covers into ears of lovers, painted on the walls of my existence, molding my face into temples, body made of carbon like air like fire, like trees like lava. But I am also only two steps from the nightmares I know, the fear of hands of steel, of cast iron emptiness, of marauders of people, of death by soulessness.

I am learning now that babies, like humans, cry both out of necessity and desire to hear themselves outside of their own heads. A person’s need to exist for everyone else too, to be seen as more than the parts and pieces and curves and lines of their form, to have a voice against the black walls, the sea shores, a wish to swim among the sharks and ride dolphins and have our smiles blanketed across the planet like a mark that we existed.

I am seeing now that people are made of dreams, like ridges on a cliff, or burrs on a porcupine, like blue in the sky, life in the oceans, moisture in clouds. That dreams are what motivates legs and arms to move, to push forward, that encourages hearts to love, children to dream of what life is like as a grown up, parents to push children into ballet, or basketball or baseball or piano.

I am learning that the emptiness I sometimes feel is a lack of dreams I believe in. The space between the things I want and my faith in myself to accomplish them, a gap of fear that leaves me with space between my head and arms and legs that don’t know why they must move, why they must take me forward when it seems I don’t even know how to get there.

I am learning now it is simpler to be silent, to fade into the black walls of the boxes we live in. That there are no lines drawn in the sand one is bound to respect, that fears are chains that bind us, that let us run treadmills and never see what is in the world surrounding us.

I am seeing now that elephants never forget the chains they bore as babies because souls can be broken, because spirits are not impossible creatures, they are us. They are glimpses of reality laid bare in a form we fantasize. They are elephant babies chained to walls, that fight to escape until strings can keep them, until they forget they are elephants at all.

I have learned that humans are made of carbon. Like lions, like zebras, like killer whales, like mountains, like lava, like fire, like air. Haunted by the recycled existences we carry like burdens of dreams on backs of slaves chained in the mud.

But most importantly, I have come to know that what is broken can never be the same but the world does not create waste. Souls can be molded to new dreams, voices can grow louder, sometimes even oceans scream for comfort against salty shores because everything is made of carbon, because dreams and nightmares are made of carbon too.

Rotted Rose Petals

She grew up on rotted rose petals. Chasing basketballs and boys and finish lines, fighting to move forward, to earn praise.

She doesn’t cry in court when her mother sits there, hard, unmoving. She cries in the bedroom of her friend after school when no one is watching and she remembers the rejection on the faces of the people she needed the most.

She carries bruises on her thighs like lilies to a funeral. She bats her eyes to make men kneel and hopes to live on seduction to afford her dreams. Everything gets farther away.

She blooms regardless, fighting past choked down tears and fingermarks on her throat and threats and screams and bloody knees and she moves forward.

Still, she dreams of rotted rose petals. Sticky and smelling of decay, wrapped around her legs and arms and chest like weights, moving to cover over her face.

He measured his worth in strength. Caught between almosts and maybes and sometimes, he sat still inside of caution to avoid being called out. He built friendships of stone. Sat friends upon monuments and worshipped beneath them. Who cares what fathers need in desperate times or wish they didn’t have or what they regret? He considers himself well adjusted even though nothing seems to hold him or push him or move him out of the void he lives in. Only one step further to the goal and he fades away. But he convinces himself he can stop bullets, he can build stone walls to keep out the bad, to hold off the bad and keep close the good. The feelings of longing for connection, for honesty for everything given to be returned. He nurtures his ego only to be shattered. To learn that bullets find their way into his fortress, that bullets can take strength from a person like waterfalls can make canyons.

I grew up on a glass pedestal. Eyes wide to the elegance of being, then forced shut. Don’t look here. Don’t run there. You might fall down. I remember the feeling of strangers in the room next door, the creeping crawling feeling of realizing they can open your door and even if you scream they can push aside the dresser. Nothing makes you safe. I felt weight in words I only half believed ground me.

If only I could be prettier, taller, smarter, faster.

Jokes are words made into anchors.

I feel like solemn jokes. The ones I crack about myself. The size of my forehead, the weird things I think out loud the speed of my words. I feel the canyons on the edges of the place I live, the drops off the throne. I can see the wounds I will sustain when I fall down them.

And they arrive like a wakeup call, uninvited. Entering  the space beside me like future lives and past sins and dancing around my bruised ego and my cowardice. Then, they push me into the canyon. I have never seen the bottom. I have only hovered above it, watched it from afar and trembled in fear. They hold my hands.

 And just in case the world crumbles around us, we teach each other to build stone walls in our hearts, keep out the bad and hold close the good and promise each other the world can’t find us here.

Space Between Faces

Remember when we laid side by side, 
Clinging?
Whispering?

I can feel the weight of your arms around me,
Dragging me back down to you
Every time I start to rise.

You have become my anti-hero
Chasing stars in daylight and mapping planets on my floor
All the things I wish for you
Feel empty next to what you have

You have simplicity wrapped inside your thumbs
Like painters have easels 
You have space around you
You need space around you

Remember the silence in the room after
The weight of words I couldn’t say and
You wouldn’t hear 
Space between faces greater than universes and Gods
And I could’ve died in the space

So many apologies
Bargained out of drunk mouths and reaching hands
Pushing and pulling and longing and begging 
All in the space

Lectures about good behavior to learn
Meals we shared to divine the meaning of this 
This, weakening bond that strengthens us
This, lacquered heart in pieces and solid still
This, conquering lesson of too much endurance
And not enough defeatism. 

Be defeated by each other and grow forth
Find each other in thriving worlds of galaxies
Then run, lose each other in the depths of the empty worlds we create

I stumble down golden steps to you
You, the person who lives but doesn’t
Me, the person weighing everything never moving

There is no space between our faces
There are universes between our hearts. 

 

 

Divine

He feels like empty night. He is the sound of screeching birds and the atmosphere that surrounds fire as it burns and mars everything indiscriminately. His presence is the haunting of a man who is always talking but never says anything you want to hear. But he stands. And he looks as if light is surrounding him, as if God put a natural halo upon his skin to indicate that you must pay attention. His eyes are a young boy’s: unpredictable, wild even, as if he might at any time laugh or cry or yell or fall from grace. His hands are big, strong, heavy like your father’s hands, like how they felt when they touched yours, interlocking fingers of imagined promises lying in wait. His feet swing when he is sitting, as if they are a separate entity from him and the pendulum swings force that smile onto his face. The smile is divine.

Beaten By It

There’s something I realized. You
are weaker than I am
You would love me if you could,
I am better for you than anyone you could find on your own
And I love you so much I hate myself sometimes
And I cry at home alone,
When you talk about the girl you’re dating but don’t even like

I fight for you in my dreams
Ripping the limbs of those who wish to hurt you
Give your pain to me

We always fight
Tossing words at each other that have no meaning
With venom to burn through souls.
Then, we are one, burning in the acid of jealousy and rage,
The emptiness we wish the other would take away

I was watching you undress,
Thinking of all the marks you’ve left on me
Bruises on the best parts of my body,
I hope that no one else will see
But what have I given you?
I want to claw marks onto the remaining smoothness of your skin
Unmarked by meaningless tattoos,
But you forget me.

You speak of my perfection, gently
Borrowed words you scarcely understand
Find their way into the air around us,
Hanging.
And I want to weep.

You break me.
My will bends to you like willow branches in the wind,
Swaying to your whims

I hate that you smile even as I’m begging
Crying for you to stay

So, here I’m on my knees
Looking in the eyes that move the rivers in my body
Holding the hands which damage my skin
When they refuse to hold me

Why are we stuck in a cycle of hatred,
Chasing after each other?
Gelatin legs and empty lungs
I can never catch up to you

She is your future.
I can see her better than you can,
Off in the distance, smiling.
She never wants to hit you
She wants to hold you when you hurt,
To kiss your scars, like I do.

Why can’t I catch you,
Wandering off into the night, towards someone else’s
Happy ending?