Category: written word

Appropriator: Employment application OR Lost and Found 

I ate from the table, making sure that my elbows rested,

left hand never rose from my lap,

and that my water glass sip

didn’t crumple the invitation given to me.

It’s all one big chance to win it big,

find your place,

use two euphemisms,

about finding a culture that doesn’t make me feel like an outsider.

See, I’ve never been outside the United States

but I’ve been a guest in more than four states-

examining each spine I come in contact with.

I look at backbones on sale,

placing wagers if I can score one like that,

like hers prepackaged without shipping and handling fees.

You don’t understand,

how misplacement in adulthood

asks the questions: who are you, where are you from,

and will you fit in here?

I look at skin, eye shape, collar bone,

and find myself in a Polly Pocket world

switching between identities, communities, 

and grievance of reparations in hopes I will be invited to eat

at this table again. 

The trellised fence (draft)

Bending down, I picked up the shards of the locket’s glass face. A sepia toned picture of my grandfather smiled up at me, as the tears lined the sides of my face. It finally happened. I knew she had enough of this family, and would leave for good.

With the plumes of incense smoke rising to the ceiling, I saw her favorite book on the recliner. Half-way through the poetry anthology she had read more than five times, I wondered if the bookmarked page had predicted the moment she would leave. She was like that after all. A word, a phrase, a scent took her away from the present and threw her into the need to get away from wherever she was.

In my hand, I saw the metal back carved into criss-crossing triangles on the locket. Mom had worn it last. The clasp, full of my sister’s curly hair, had been replaced twice. We rummaged through antique stores, and thrift stores to find a clasp the same tint of the metal. Somehow, I thought we picked out a worn-out piece, which would break just as easily. Yet, a new clasp would not do. Old things are meant to be preserved with ones just like them. My sister had said this over dinner. Mouthful of fried rice, she explained that it was betterthat  she wouldn’t be young forever.

“I’m tired of not knowing,” she said tapping her chopsticks on the side of her bowl.

“You say that now,” our uncle said. “Doesn’t get better from here on. You get wise not invincible.” Lifting one of the vegetable dumplings from the middle platter, I watched him smile between bites at our mother.

A knock came from the door.

I placed the few pieces in my hand onto the side table. A vase full of daffodils, my mother’s birth flowers, stood there alongside two sets of keys. Whoever knocked the first time, waited patiently. Before I turned the latch, I peered through the peephole. A young kid with black bangs fraying out of his snapback held one of my sister’s shoes in his hand.

Inherited sorrow

Grandmother died,

With her daughter

Tucked into the folds of her skin

Creating pouches of fat by her middle.

Head, propped up by a pillow,

Her jaws relaxed and slacked down. 

I imagine her dark brown eyes,

Searching my mother’s face

In a sea of stories

Still hanging in the air. 

Laid, a blanket hugging her frame,

She was the size of thumbelina.

Two thin braided plaits,

Laced with silver tinsel- gleaning.

I imagine her soul,

Roaming the forest of Mississippi,

Visiting the trees 

Outside the plantation. 

She’ll trace her hands on

The old mobile home of my mother’s house.

Windows with splintered paint,

My grandmother crawls in their sealant.

She died,

And came into my mother’s home

Still illuminating in her

Like the safety light on top of the stove.

She died,

And came in between my mother’s teeth

When the years had worn her season to season. 

A ‘We’re closed’ sign

I’m afraid that I don’t really love you. Perhaps, I imagined the two of us pushing our legs near each other’s, under the dining room table. Your knees jutting  into my thighs slightly shifting the fabric of my skirt. Sometimes, I think I’m afraid of the days that come after you.

What will happen a spring, a summer, and a winter from now? I’ll trace your laughter on to the frosted window pane in my parent’s car. I’ll dream up your face, where if only I reach out…you are real. You are wrapped in brown packing paper carrying sticky rice, with pieces of fried fish. One day, I laughed into the wisps of your hair. Smoke waltzed in and out of the kitchenette.

I waited by the stove just so I could be warm. I don’t know if I love you yet. A part of me awaits this sinking gut feeling where it hurts too much not to say a word.Yet, look at how our whirlwind never touched.

I really want to miss the backbone of you as you walk out. Yet, somehow deep down I know that it’s not worth crying over another brief moment in time. You cloud me into feeling sorry that I loved you.

The whole world is on aux cord

The world is extremely too loud some days. 

Some days, I think I should have walked with Thoreau and Emerson with tranquility of fabricated nature posing as peace. Although, I believe peace can be found in nature. I am not one to hold to literal escapism, because frankly I need my phone. Yes, I am that generation who envisions their qwerty keyboards as old typewriter keys when writing poems. The world is too loud for me today. Every chomp and chew. Every “go this way” and “go that way” barely leaves with me enough time to sigh in anguish how I haven’t done enough. I nearly couldn’t find time to get lunch.

“You have plenty of time to decide”, they say. All the while, I am being pushed into a closet with cardboard boxes that have labels that do not match the items actually in them. I am escorted into a swanky classroom, where we must shed blood before our professors to prove “yes I am still breathing.” “No, I think this analysis doesn’t need corrections, because I cannot fix all of the corrections within myself.” These are things you cannot say in a workshop class.

The world is too loud. I read literature, poetry and the back of cereal boxes. I write in my journal that a brown eyed boy should not have that much power for a young woman to be distracted in her studies. His looks ain’t paying the tuition.

 Sometimes, I cannot stay where the people are. Sometimes, I look for the treasured empty place, where nothing but the birds call to one another. In this place, I can sit with my phone in hand and take a picture for later usage. I do not want to hear that I am not this or that enough. I do not want the impression of a hand slamming me back down to the height I was in the second grade – simply because I don’t follow everyone’s path. 

The world is too loud. I want quiet. I want quiet like an old man who is trying to sleep on the second floor of an apartment complex, but his neighbor right above him blares the riffraff of the TV at one am. 

The house

My…haven’t you’ve grown.

I stood there in the doorframe, wondering if I should enter this house or not. The smell was still there. Oatmeal and my father’s musk settled on each couch cushion, traveled up the flight of stairs and nestled into the reading chair next to the window. A lot of times when you go home, you notice the things that have always been there but now they are distinct. The way the floor creaks outside of the bathroom. The way you can hear the pipes running from the downstairs kitchen sink, all the way to the walls of your room.
I like to think home never changes, and sometimes I tell lies saying that it hasn’t.
During summer, my mother used to open the small window in our cramped  kitchen. The tiny embroidered (and thrifted) curtains blew in and out with the wind. When I was about nine years old, I knew my mother had just made blueberry pie or lemon cake. The scent would travel down the porch steps and settle right in front of our house. The neighborhood kids knew when she made desserts too.
“Oh, Miss. You’re so nice and beautiful,” one of the kids said while twisting their waist side to side. With their hands clasped together, one foot making a circle on the floor, each kid knew how to ask for a slice of what My mother made.
My mother would offer them a nice sized slice and a glass of milk. My mother made sure if you asked, you would sit at the table – properly.

One day I’ll write another piece to hook on to Repercussions of Loving Too Deep.

For the oppressed to burn is a testimony

You are someone,
Who is welded together by fury and rage.
You incinerate the whole house others have boxed you in,
And as the ash settles,
And the smoke hangs around us like a fog,
I remember why people like you burn.
You are someone forged from the earth’s dirt,
Sifted through sands of many worlds,
And each time it rains,
Each time the lapping of the shore taunts you,
You burn as a low fire into the night.
You are someone who crouches down into the center of the earth,
And simmers.
Here, you wait when the weight of this house gives.
Here, you weld over the broken hinges of yourself and become stronger.
Alas!
You stand and rise to your feet – ascending before our eyes.
You are someone who will survive.
You will walk out of that burning home like a sauntering phantom.
Fury and rage,
You come out singed but brave.