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 Sep 25 Dennisk
When my father stepped off the plane twenty years ago and found his way to
The Bronx where his brothers were waiting for him,
It was to live every day plagued by stories of his
Roommates being followed home by wickedly-grinning, knife-brandishing men
That took pleasure in wounding the skin of my uncle who worked
For seven dollars a day, and then sent it all home to his mother.
And I know this isn’t what he wanted for me.
I even know, sometimes, that it’s not what he wanted for himself.
Didn’t want to open a bank account, become a citizen of the internet,
Watch as his labor was digitized and filed away on a supercomputer
And used to calculate the distance from here to the moon.

Last month my taxes contributed to Nike’s two billion dollars in
Government subsidies, my money,
Taken from my pocket and used to make sneakers more expensive than my
Last paycheck.

Sometimes I think I’m America’s mistake,
A child of the New Generation,
Born to emphasize the difference between affect and effect,
But never affect the way change is effected,
And I want, so desperately to be a warrior of my time
But I’ve only been taught to reaffirm the rules of grammar and
Sip coffee in silence as the world turns around me.

Sometimes all I want to do is cry.

It’s easy to blame America for your mistakes,
And it’s easy to say you shouldn’t blame America for your mistakes,
And I think once I find the dividing line, the fence, the border between the two,
I’ll understand what it means to be American.
I’ll know what it means to salute the flag and sing the
Pledge of Allegiance with my head held high and my hand placed
Proudly over my heart.

I hope I never find that line.

In school we’re taught A is for Apple and B is for Blue and C is for
Candy, sickly sweet and only sold out of the backs of white vans in the dead of night.
D is for death, which I still don’t understand,
And E is for easy, something that I, as a woman, must know the meaning of.
In school we’re taught to build city halls and towering skyscrapers
Out of wooden blocks, but I’m seventeen and still don’t know where my last name comes from.
In school, I’m ten, and my teacher is making fun of the spanish music I grew up listening to,
The kind with the classical guitar intro that my father can imitate perfectly,
The kind that made me smile until I was ten and became background noise when I was eleven.

In school, I built bridges out of cardboard boxes.

My father didn’t come here to be an environmental engineer.
My father didn’t come here to beg me to major in astronomy because he wishes he’d done
That instead.
I don’t know why my father came here.
When I ask, he tells me it was for the job opportunities - there’s nothing back home -
But I see it in his eyes when he goes home to the house in Ecuador he’s spent
19 years having built.
I see it in his eyes when we finally have a conversation for the first time all week,
Usually on a Saturday,
Because we’re both too busy during the week to take a moment to breathe and say,
In simple english, “Hi. How are you. Hope you’re doing well.”

Sometimes, it’s too easy to blame America for my mistakes,
But sometimes, America deserves it.
I’ll never know why people are the way they are, and I’ll spend a lifetime wondering,
But I know why I am the way I am,
And sometimes all I can do is hold onto that before it’s taken from me
Like the taxes from my paycheck
That are still paying Nike to feed the world the sick, twisted lie that it’s as easy as breathing to
Just do it.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care,
Because it’d be easy as rain to comply with complacency and
Maybe then, I’d be able to sit back and watch them destroy themselves
And I wouldn’t have to be a part of it.

I’m told we revolt at dawn, but I’m too busy fielding calls from people who want to know
If I’m going, who won’t go if I’m not, who won’t go unless there’s a crowd they can
Disappear into.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t care, because if I didn’t I could stop being afraid of a world
Where caring is dangerous and sugar pills are the only thing on the
Dining hall menu.
I’m told we revolt at dawn, and when I show up, the sun is barely rising and I lift my head
To the sky and breathe in the scent of rebellion, finally, because it’s about time.

We are all immigrants.
We are all immigrants.
We are all immigrants.

Except, apparently, some of us.

I’m five years old and get to sleep in on the second Monday in October and I’m told
It’s a celebration of when God sailed across the ocean and created the forests
Only five hundred years ago.
And I buy it, of course I do, because I’m five years old and though God already doesn’t exist,
I don’t have any other explanation for why the forests are what they are, or
How I got here, of all places. America.
And I don’t know why I can’t run across the country and back again because I don’t have
A single clue about the concept of space, or time, and then,
When I think about it, how dare they tell me America was found when I’m too young to
Challenge them on it.

We can plan to revolt at dawn, but the police will already be there at midnight,
Waiting for us, and if we can’t walk into the path of resistance and keep going,
We might as well not even try.

My T.V. once told me there’s a magic trick for everything, and apparently,
Breaking out of handcuffs was one of them.
At this point, that might be our best option.

But you can’t major in magic, and breaking out of handcuffs won’t pay the bills.
I don’t have all the answers, and I know that kneeling during the national anthem will
Cause so much White Male Outrage there’ll be headlines for days,
But it’s something.
I care about a lot of things, but staying silent isn’t one of them.

If I’m America’s mistake, then so is my father, and so is the revolution at dawn,
And so is Columbus day.
All I know is I’m seventeen and I still don’t know what comes after
“And to the republic, for which it stands,”
And I hope one day I won’t be criticized for failing to memorize patriotic rhetoric.

We are all immigrants.
We are all immigrants.
Remember, we revolt at dawn.
his name was surprise. as in surprise i could find it
within me to love someone so much that their smile was
engraved into my mind at 3:02 pm when i was mindlessly
staring at a window that reflected a world i did not
find any beauty in. the overwhelming desire i had to not
only love but to be loved was so staggering that it shocked
me; i know because i can still hear my mother's yell as i
dropped a glass plate on the floor when i realized that
i had allowed myself yet again to fall into another person.
my mother said i was lucky that i didn't cut myself with the
glass but all i was thinking of was the contagious laugh i
knew you would utter when i told you this story.
[you did laugh by the way, your chest rumbled and your cheeks
were so red they reminded me of wine on a white dress;
you put your hand over your mouth to cover the slightest gap
you had between your two front teeth and the happiness
on your face set my veins on fire]
i say that i fell into you and not that i fell in love because i
do not believe it is possible to fall into something so
deep and electrifying and morose and survive. i do not believe
it is possible to fall into love as if it were an ocean and it
wouldn't swallow you whole; as if love was some kind creature
that let you swim in the whirlpool it inevitably created. as if
someone could possibly fall into love and not drown as it
mercilessly threw you screaming, begging to be saved. i do not
believe in falling in love because i do not think i could ever be
one of those lucky people who are washed up survivors of
hurricanes so frightening and beautiful you chase it without
knowing why. i am disastrous enough to drop glass plates on
floors to see you smile but not cataclysmic enough to stay while you
try and do the same for me. so when i told you months later that
i was irrevocably captivated by the dimples of your smile and
you furrowed your eyebrows curiously, trying to figure out how to
let me down gently, i already knew the words you were going
to say. we joke about it now, it seems to be an unwritten rule that
you will ignore the wince on my face when you talk about your
new girl and that i will ignore the fact that your favorite of my poems
are the untitled ones written about you. i say that i do not miss your
arms around my waist anymore and it's true, your hugs have become
quick and reluctant so that you do not give me any false hope. but
there isn't any hope left that hasn't been dried by bitter insecutity
and a stubborn need of mine to move on.  i don't miss the way
your endless mood swings affected my day and
i don't miss the way you used to call out my name, joyfully and
excitedly  i have simply forgotten about old conversations
and unfulfilled promises and i have a feeling you have as well.

[forgive me though, your name still slips from the ink of my
pen onto this secondhand journal from time to time. simply for
the sake of writing.]

 Sep 21 Dennisk
S Olson
-- when I have the tenderness of a writhing dragon,
he will paint flowers across my throat

as though to remind me that fires are indelicate,
and that I writhe in a prison made of open space.
-- this man will not smother me with his skin
when we sleep.
-- this man will unhinge the door of my mouth,
and kiss out the bullets stuck under my tongue.
                                                                ­               ---
whatever thousandth day I awaken beside this man,
realizing I have become the flowers he painted
across my throat, by braving my throat,

I will, unchaining myself from the draconic worry,
bring him his coffee in bed, with a smile.
 Sep 21 Dennisk
I think my problem, in relation to last year’s writer’s block, is that I wish to write about me, and I wish to write about the world, and I’ve been waiting all this time for these things to extend beyond you. It’s as if I had been waiting for this poignant moment where someone—anyone— would announce that my life could begin again, as if continuity would seamlessly occur once the halt in time had pursued for long enough.

What a shock it would be to discover that the world waits.

(It doesn’t.)

In this time, I cut my hair and I let it grow. I looked in the mirror, hair falling halfway down my back like velvet drapes, keeping the sun out of my space and solitude, and I felt the power slipping away from my body. I knew that I needed to find a way to hold on to this power, one that was rooted in my own flesh and my own vision rather than yours.

(I did.)

I don’t get as lonely when I see crowds or busy streets or lights that remind me of you, drunk and obscene — laughing with your head thrown back, eyes glimmering like the Vegas strip. We slipped into an intimacy that, in retrospect, was simply me having a first-time love affair with myself. No hands were strange hands up until this point— no hands except my own. Trembling against my collar bone, realizing that what you gave to me was a home to live in. I look up. No ceilings, no roof, just space. The wars, they’re far away from here. I look up, find my power. It’s been here all along.

Resting in the unclenched fist, in the phone that remains unplugged on the bedside table. My power is in the hand that brushes the inside of my thigh, my power is in forgetting how to say I’m sorry when I’m less than quiet, when I forget how to bite my tongue. I keep looking up.

Blissful starry skies,

Atomic wasteland,

Wonder and boredom live side-by-side.

I am in you. You, in me. Open those velvet drapes you used to hide behind, child-like, curious but afraid of your own flesh, of your hot temperament.

The Sun goddess is rising in the East, raining on the wild seeds of May. I, body of water, offer myself to a new seed, grow like the deciduous plants of the Northern world, a whole forest dizzy from bliss and impermanence.

Thank you for visiting.
I have unfortunately been broken,
Though I am certain that
has been an over played card;
It still happened.
Over and over again.

Love became a myth.
Family became war.
Friends broke my heart,
and even though the fire
in my heart almost went out:
It didn't.

That was two years ago,
when I was only an after image
of life experience that belonged
to everyone but me.
So I decided to live.

Maybe not the right way at first.
Maybe the fear and loathing in my own heart
led me away from everything that ever mattered
so that I could remember why they mattered
in the first place.

I remember walking across
the bridge with my best friend.
Sending cryptic messages
that change was coming.
I don't think he understood what I meant
that cool evening.

I started my journey into myself alone.
Many times down the path I thought I wouldn't make it.
But at the end of everything, I have come to understand
Myself and my existence. I even made friends.
Though the journey is far from over,
The miles ahead will be on new soles.
Maybe even a new soul.

Because it's only after you lose everything
that you begin to appreciate what is given.
This is progress.
 Sep 20 Dennisk
you are leaving again.
i find myself saddened without tangible reason.
and i know that with my sadness should come some joy,
and if not joy, 
then relief,
because when you are half the world away,
it becomes just a bit easier
to forget the times when you were so painfully closer.
i can look up at the moon — a pale phantom sliver —
and know that you do not gaze upon it at that same time.
in that moment,
the moon is mine.
i do not mind that the sun rises for you
so long as i cannot see it.
so i should breathe easy;
your absence gives me a little more room to love myself.

and yet —
there is always an “and yet” with you — 
when the easier breathing begs for entrance to my lungs,
i turn it away.
to forget you would mean to forgo grieving,
and god knows i live for a good ache.

so i think of you,
faultless in the dim yellow glow.
images i shouldn't call upon.
small, soft moments when you seemed to see me.
i remember the time when you crowned me with a halo, deemed me an angel.
i imagine that you are the only one who could ever make me believe that i fit the part.

i don't know if you were but i was.
if we have to share the moon, then so be it.

i find myself saddened without tangible reason.
this is the part where you come in.

but you are leaving again.
i could ask myself if you were ever truly "here,"
but it always hurts the most to ask the questions i already know the answers to.
so i think, instead,
of you,
faultless in the dim yellow glow.
the pain is a little bit more bearable.
i imagine that maybe you were glowing, too.

written 8.5.16 & 8.6.16. sorry for my brief absence. i hope you enjoy. xoxo.
 Sep 20 Dennisk
 Sep 20 Dennisk
on tuesday,
dylann roof was sentenced to his death.
on tuesday we tried
to make one body feel like nine.
to make one body feel like justice.
on tuesday we said
there has got to be some price to pay
for entering the house of god
with a sinful tongue
and a handgun.

six days later,
we remembered the rev. dr. martin luther king, jr.
we looked at the world,
called it a place with potential for change,
called it that because there has to be some softer way
to look at bloodshed,
for sanity’s sake.
if not then
all that remains is a solitary image of dr. king rolling in his grave because he knows,
knows that breathless black bodies
are a constant,
are transcenders of time,
whether sunken in rivers,
hung from taut ropes,
or bathing in blood on historic church floors,
singing, singing, screaming, shrill
for some messiah bringing mercy, mercy, mercy.

felicia sanders wants mercy:
prays for it, wills it down from up above,
unfolded from the hands of god
so that it might fall upon the head and in the eyes
and within the very being
of the man who killed her son.

it takes a certain grace —
one so foreign to me i can hardly write of it —
to see god in such men who deliberately defy Him,
to ask that heaven’s gates
be so indiscriminate and overt.
i would want him to burn for this.
but it is not my say,
not my life,
not my long, resounding, unflinching “hallelujah!”
not my certain type of grace.

breathless black bodies
are a constant,
are transcenders of time, a recurring motif.
but so too, then, is the black body full
of breath,
that inhales and exhales faith
without ceasing.

such is the black body
that sees a little bit of god in dylann roof,
that prays that he prays for forgiveness,
that thinks there to be but one kingdom,
and he, too,
a worthy subject.

the solitary image of dr. king rolling in his grave
is not a surprise.
the black body has always known
so well
how to die.

but felicia sanders hopes her son’s killer finds mercy.
perhaps the one thing the black body has always known better
is how to love.

written 1.16.17 in honor of MLK day, and of the charleston church shooting victims. #blacklivesmatter, today, tomorrow, and always
 Sep 20 Dennisk
Train 85 leaves the station and bursts into the blinding sunlight with a surreal suddenness. Below, to the left of the tracks, a field of wheat sways as though still under a summer sun. Golden-brown and lively in spite of the snow resting at its roots. The blinding sun hangs high, glimmering on the water. It gives me a headache. I try to ignore it.

Ahead of me, the laughter of two young people fills the car. I wonder if they are strangers, engaged in conversation just minutes after meeting. I wonder if they have the same destination, if they are each equally happy to be heading towards it.

To my right, across the aisle, a woman no older than fifty talks loudly on the phone about her father’s tumor and the biopsy that will soon determine if it is cancer. She sounds optimistic, and I am happy for her. I tread lightly on the thought that maybe her loud optimism is a front. I want to be happy for her. But in an hour I will get off this train, and if her father dies, I will never know.

The woman sitting next to me returns from the café car with a Dunkin' Donuts coffee and takes out her laptop. I turn down my brightness so that she can’t see that I am writing about her. Even though I write nothing bad, it feels like some sick invasion of privacy.

My fingers feel heavy. This train feels heavy.

I want to be outside, before the sun sets, while the golden-brown wheat is still bathed in light. The sun is going to set without me. I try to be okay with that.

The last time I ever wrote on an Amtrak — the last time I can remember —, it was a song about loneliness and self-destruction. It was more than two years ago. I want to be able to say that I have changed more than I actually have. But even as the world rushes past me, snow and wheat and house and sun, I still feel impossibly lonely. The heaviness from my fingers is in all of me now. I can’t shake it.

The young people ahead of me, the woman across the aisle, and the woman next to me all begin talking at once now, and I feel hot. Their words bounce back and forth off the walls, and I need to get off of this train. Receiving these airborne snippets of other lives feels wrong, feels overwhelming.

Anyone who reads this piece will think I’m insane.

The woman next to me stops speaking. The young people ahead of me quiet down. The woman across the aisle is engaged in some other conversation that I can’t exactly make out. It’s quieter. I might still break the windows of this train if I could, but it is quieter. My fingers feel a little less heavy. It is quieter. At least the insanity is in words now.
this is something a little different, but i hope you all enjoy. 12.14.17
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