Tag Archives: rough draft

I Tried to Write About Racism

Standard

 

coffee-2456932_640

I had a migraine the day after a woman

was killed while confronting Nazi

flags in Charlottesville. I anticipated this;

it happened after Dylan Roof too.

It seems, I try to tell my body

the news and it just can’t cope

with what humans do to humans

over and over

for meager prices.

 

That day, my niece’s voice over the phone

was overjoyed through the chaos–

she was going to have a daughter.

I smiled for her, but all I could think

about was how we were going

to explain the world,

how it works

to the future and their too wide eyes.

 

But I’ve worked in the children’s

department of libraries. Called

as a mother (firm, yet gentle)

behind a mixed group of children

playing hide and seek between

the juvenile shelves. Quickly, I remember

how two girls–

one black, one cornstarch blonde–

ran their fingers

in each other’s hair, fascinated

by the textures, silently finding

the differences very  funny,

but still, wonderful. When I think of how they

traded picture books and held hands until

reluctant to separate

and go home, I stopped wondering

whether reality will break my niece’s heart.

 

I apologized to the unborn, as I watched

it all gradually, then shut off the news

and myself for the weekend.

I read and cooked and even laughed,

but it was all puppet strings.

Everything was still exhausted

after watching

the who what when and where,

but the temples throbbed;

the body wasn’t ready to cross the line

where I could even ask the “why?”

(It asked at night, finally.

But I could only grasp at “I don’t know.

I wish I can explain some tempers,

but I grew up like the library children.”).

 

Later that night, I tried to write

about racism.

But all I could think about was how

my parents grew up watching

Martin Luther King have a dream

then die of it; Freedom Riders

beaten by the Klan before a bus

turned black and red; thousands

bruised the day before, but marching

again to brighten the landscape;

Emmitt Till’s open casket to scare the world

straight with mutilations–

and also, their disappointment, watching us

learn nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

Shooting pain again and it’s getting worse,

even with the strongest painkiller.

It still doesn’t get it either and my answers

can’t satisfy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Future Husband:

Standard

notebook-1840276_640

I just don’t get

the girls I went to college with–

the social butterflies,

the big, Miami beach personalities,

voices rising higher than champagne bubbles,

as I wondered who taught them how to draw a crowd,

add more lighting to a room

with smiles and fluid gestures.

 

You need to understand this, but I’m not

one of my many obsessions, like the girl

I watched fit in like a geometric piece

in improv club or anywhere else with the right

kind of quirks, or the friend who drank beer,

shouted louder than her guy friends, or the girl with attitude

most likely voted to be the “natural born leader”.

I’m not even the American

sweetheart who gets large tips at a restaurant job

and boyfriends with just a smile and a high pitched voice.

 

No. I am the polar night phenomenon for days

and days in Alaska;

or, the pale gray sky releasing another day of sleet.  I am the student

being told “to smile more” in a seventh grade progress report;

the girl told to “speak louder, I still can’t hear you,” or the five

points subtracted from a oral presentation due to “lack of confidence,”

teachers’ yearly “help her come out of my shell” project

(they always failed).

I am the students advising me not to join the debate team,

among other clubs where introverts need not apply,

reading about the power of my personality

in world that can’t stop talking; too reserved to be

girls gone wild or a male’s Xtube fantasy; I can only

watch the life of the party, suited to absorb lives

in a book while curled on a couch, a safe distance

from sensory overloads on Bourbon.

I’m hurrying home at 5 pm to be alone with the radio

down low, spending nights in white satin and other throwbacks.

I am skipping ads that look for workers with a “can-do”

spirit; I throw away ads that have the word “out-going”.

I’m the twelve year old correcting my mother,

“I’m not pessimistic, just realistic.”

I’m more my mother’s husband’s daughter, expressions

As dark as his skin, final gestures, morose frowns trying

To be as sweet as the Creole princess she hoped for

(not this depressive alternative black girl she was given).

I’m the diagnosis, the medication,

the therapy, the girl that jumbles, mutters, whispers

words, slightly better than my aunt’s non-verbal childhood,

but falling far, far behind.

I’m the moody eyeliner.

The blue lips.

The sullen eyes,

The whatever shrug,

The “please make eye contact,”

The bullies’ target

The weird one because I don’t care for the top 40,

don’t care who in the hell is on Housewives of Whatever,

Wondering what’s the big deal about the homecoming dance.

A blank slate where you draw a personality,

Writing phone numbers but expecting no calls or friendships

(better off anyway, they’ll annoy me).

I’m a broken house divided despite the best of my worst efforts,

Taking my time after the bus ride.

 

I am nothing people chase after.

 

But this is me, being as honest as I can possibly be.

Forgive me,

and thank you for staying.

 

Divorce Child

Standard

girl-1246690_640

The child changed after dissolution–
too much like the mother, too
much like the father, but hardly
enough for either. After all, he was
the closest body to their biggest mistake.
Their baggage weighed a ton each.
They unloaded item after item
until he swallowed it whole, leaving
no room for much else. Last I heard,
the malnutrition stunted the size of him

 

Platonic Love

Standard

writing-923882_640

I want to find

your favorite

bouquet of flowers,

 

place it before you

on the coffee table,

watch you smile,

 

watch them wilt

overtime,

ashamed of standing

 

next to your beauty,

and endurance

compared to their petals

 

and even then,

that’s not enough

love I can give .

Semi-Well Adjusted Adult (Rough Draft)

Standard

road-220058_640

I’m getting older.
The dishes are piling up in the sink.
I still run into potholes on the road.
And the bathroom mirror reflects seven years
Of bad luck and counting.

I pictured life would be cleaner, an easy swipe
On a knife with a sponge.
But even with prescriptions, adulthood
Is kind of messy
And, if you want me to be perfectly honest,
I’m starting to like it that way.
It reminds me of last August, when I started driving
Down rubbery roads salted with dust,
Framed by ancient trees.
The only time I stopped was to find a place to sleep—
Dirty motels—
And to find a place to belong—mostly barrooms,
Brick buildings with sloppy paint jobs covering the doors
And sometimes the windows.
Tired overweight men would meet me there after work, talking
To me as a daughter, but confessing they only gave
Me secrets because they couldn’t talk like this
with their wives anymore.
Once I realized I wasn’t home, I left again
And again
Until I stopped searching for a finale
And just drove to the next town before I got bored,
Got lost,
Then grew so comfortable
When I stopped looking,
Or cared
If I found anything at all.

I came back after the first cool front
And everything was still a mess,
But why bother cleaning up what’s
Meant to collect grime overtime.
It’s not failure to thrive, but
to survive despite the conditions,
growing older and maybe, somewhat
growing up to know a little more since birth.

Anniversary (Revisions)

Standard

pexels-photo-168927

I’ve been listening to our neighbors pack up to leave as I stir to keep the rice from burning.

 

What did they find out

in the time between our wedding

and one year later? Did we interrupt

their silence on the other side of the wall,

listened to usual moving day chatter

about the thrift store table,

soap dishes,

and items we hoarded for a month?

The clink of utensils on china as we spooned our first Sunday meal

seeped through the walls with the savory aroma as we sat down to

meat loaf (your favorite)

mashed potatoes,

and corn (I knew you wouldn’t touch).

 

The wife is waiting for her other half to return with the U-Haul truck. The rice pilaf is cooling on the counter.

Did they ever pass us by on the street

or aisle ten at Rouses,

catch a glimpse of our courtship, then reminisce?

Like us, they are married too, so they probably nod

patiently as we balance grocery bags on the edge

of bursting, knowing the debates before us

(where do we put the ketchup, toilet paper, light bulb?).

The fine creases in our upbringing still creep into

our honeymoon phase like the way

you call for a washcloth before a shower,

and I simply call it a “small towel”.

Or how you wakes up early while I savor the sleep in

on a day off. Little differences give love an edge,

but did they also understand how

the night and day

of  you and me

completed the bricks

windows

before our first key,

threshold?

 

I’m hearing a voice rise for someone in another room. I’m opening the oven to check on the progress of our evening plans.

 

How soon before they realized we were night owls,

hearing entwined laughter

and the glow of a TV screen at 1 am

before submissions to sleepy kisses,

a fluid embrace

I value as our first love language?

We found out how to appreciate quiet

after our entry level grind,

quickly gave the evening to the tourists

as we sank together on the couch,

then soaked in another molasses Sunday.

 

They are hauling furniture to the moving van. I’m setting

the table as the meatloaf cools.

 

Soon, it will be just you and me again,

left to discover more of this post-altar underground,

while carrying daytime adult business,

and drowsy eyes at the orange-pink

view from the balcony once dusk sets in.

I’m waiting to listen to how we survived another day

as we build more bedrooms,

brick by brick,

catching still life moments fit for the Polaroid

while looking back, but today, you’re kissing

my forehead to sooth my jumpiness when you silently

enter the living room with tulips for the first time

all over again.

New Attitude

Standard

notebook-1840276_640

I’m just writing to let you know

That I’m doing okay and moving on

(trying).

You left behind a new attitude

For me to try on and it’s been working

As I discover that there’s life after you,

staying busy while letting go,

Feeling the highs,

Brand new perspectives

After the comedown

–repeat.

 

I’m not pacing my breath on the balcony. Nowadays,

I climb the narrow, winding staircase

On Esplanade and step right into the thickest

Hour of the party, watch bodies drown happily in

the speakers’ violence,

The floor’s vibrations,

And I sweat too, alive underwater.

Last night, I danced with a man visiting

From Spain, forgot his name, but we talked

About the history,

Philosophy

Of each other

In the humid stench

because it’s easier to be candid when you’re

Drunk (but getting easier while sober).

 

I had my last appointment with the therapist

That same evening. She told me that I would never

Get over you—

The past is too clingy to let us go, so don’t even

Bother. But I can learn how to dance,

Laugh,

taste different concepts,

listen to the vibe of an acquaintance

As you watch in the corner.

 

You can trail behind me as I stagger upstairs home,

keep an eye on the strangers I can’t see

hiding in the blind spots. You’re even allowed

to be there the morning after

as I wake and leave on time,

but just let me let go

as I walk into the next chapter

unafraid and striding, at full speed ahead.