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tabitha Jul 2018
always take your shoes off before you cross a threshold
         if you do this, the monsters under your bed will be
            no more.
              you've been carrying your dirt around with you
                leave it at the door
                  or else all the tiny microbes that live in the gutters
                    and trash-smudged curbs will fall off
                       like snowflakes down to the floor

wear your face mask
wash your face
don't eat too much sugar

hold yourself center                        
        losing your balance has dramatic repercussions
           your mother and her motorbike depend on it
             getting around depends on it

be grateful for the sun and getting to be outside
       buildings do not satiate the wild within
         when the sun kisses your face, feel loved

don't drink the tap
try to keep your bones intact
keep your eyes open

find the fancy expat-owned markets
      dig through their trash late at night
        they are wasteful
          their trash could be your treasure

speak and laugh as loudly as you want
      set the bar high, so that growing up doesn't make you silent
        the world should know that you are here
          you're so beautiful

wash your dishes
sweep your floors
always lock the door             

don't forget that there is more splendor outside these cityscapes
      don't forget that there is suffering all around this place

translate earnestly and graciously for your elders
       for some ****** reason my native tongue is the lingua franca
         and your parents hired me to help you bridge the gap
           i am here because you are the future
             and not because of anything you did
               so be polite about it
                 and don't forget where you started
i am an english teacher in hanoi, vietnam. i teach children. not only is teaching an enriching and fascinating experience, but teaching (and subsequently learning about) the children of another culture is.... doubly interesting. they're darling and sweet and bright. anyways, i fell into teaching this one class halfway through their term. it's a science class, and i am not a science teacher. so it's been humorous, to say the least. the last lesson in the course is "survival skills", and i'm supposed to teach them how to pitch a tent, and forage for food. but this is hanoi, a massive city. there is no way to forage for food unless you're digging through the trash or stealing from a farm, and no recreational camping grounds. when are these city kids ever gonna use that? a lot of these kids never even leave. i'm not doubting its useful to know, it's just ironic. and it got me thinking. so, since i'm a procrastinator, i wrote this poem instead of working on the actual lesson plan. a list of survival tips i think to be more useful and fitting for their situation. i'm gonna go do the actual lesson plan now.
tabitha Apr 2018
You
are the airplane, 
Traveling faster than the wreckage of noise
you leave behind,

You
Low-flying roar

Shaking the cores
of youths on rooftops
emptying beer bottles
into their bellies
Confusing birds,
******* on your territory,
an audio stream of noise pollution,
Claiming the sky as your own

You
The shining relic of the millennium,
An aerodynamic wonderamongst Midwest wheat,
The technological feat
of bored men with a hungry need to
prove themselves (W)right

The birds will not thank you
Neither will the families with
ticky tacky shelters plopped beside the tarmac
“Worse than living by the highway,” they say,
“I would live by the sea, if I could have it my way”
(a different kind of jet blue white noise)

The people you carry,
we are the only thankful souls
Being checked, scanned, and crammed
into tight places is
a preliminary condition I have lived with

You’re breaking the sky,
but you’re taking me places I could never be
otherwise
tabitha Dec 2017
this place
is a busy place
there are people everywhere, and lexuses and rolls royces jam
the interstates, with their intermittent honking and inconsistent blinker use.
the quiet you find here, is in the hills, on the shore of ice cold waters at sunset.
on the streets everyone looks
from their lined eyes,
curtained
behind glossy hair.
stunning, ornamental flesh bags trouncing down the boulevard.
they have similar design. long legs. rabid for fame.
pillow-y lips foaming at the corners.
i feel
regularly devoured / rarely enjoyed.
forgive my generalizations
tabitha Dec 2017
i have always found myself
in the middle
actually born
in the middle of the day,
                                       month,
                                       year,
                                       decade
                                      (6.12.94)
very well-versed in
what it's like to be
simultaneously rich
and incredibly poor
living in other states
sleeping on the floor
sure

i walk a generational fine line
this gemini primetime,
of insoluble crises
the holy oil floats to the top
we learn
that feigned warmth cannot dissolve
the calcified ego of a leader or their god
you proclaim the name of jesus
but still cry out for someone to lead us
from gray
          ***
          awareness
          today

it's taken time and distance for this to be easy to say.

this is for the ones
who have always found
themselves in the middle,

america, honey, will you meet us there?
tabitha Dec 2017
I.
I fuss with my Hair when anxious
                  
              reeling, unreeling
                                thick mahogany strands
                                round and round my finger

eyeing the breaking ends                                                           carefully

while breaking my eyes from yours                                         wearily

thinking about not wanting to be here                                      
thinking

II.
I’d really just like you to take all my clothes off and throw them over there, anywhere
say something, anything
                                 but you won’t
                                 cause you’re staring at the floor, and you’re scared

and I…
am locked in place in this chair
thinking about my Hair…. my Hair, my Hair, mY HAIR

III.

she constantly is there
spirals and tangles of brown Brown plus gold
roaring down my back, 
lounging on my neck,
sweeping down my spine, and always has her own mind


she hides me in her deep embrace
when I want to disappear
also a great conversation piece
when I meet new people here

she does what she does and I cannot control her
but she makes me feel warm when the wind gets colder
so, we survive each season

IV.

I think about my Hair

I think about how she grows
I think about how she grows with me….
that's something that you no longer do

and you know it, too
you can hear the tangles like little whispers
stopping you short before you wiggle yourself out,
amplified by the empty cave of that existence
the one I shared with you.
you twisted me up in an **** lie
and now I feel abused
even so, i know it's wrong to accuse
you for ******* up something only
i tried so hard not to lose

V.

but, my locks are in knots because
all I can think of is what you’re not

and, oh dear,

this is strange and
not what you wanted to hear
but - it's true that at this point

I love my hair…

more than I love you.

VI.
i've dreaded that truth for so long
i thought human men might
know more about loving care than
the Calcium Deposits on my head
i mean, ****, she's basically dead
but strangely, i am wrong
one of my.... stranger pieces, i think? but just to give you backstory... people have always talked about my hair. i'm serious! it's been a main attraction all of my life. it was long, it was curly, it was huge. you can scoff, but women on the street would stop to comment; my mother told me my school picture wasn't pretty because my hair was up; a friend in high school said i'd be nothing without it. my hair was its own ENTITY, people!!
so, this poem is about an external love being so disastrously soul-******* that one reverts to sensible vanities... putting all their love back into themselves/something safe and familiar/something that serves them well (and superficially). also, this dying matter vs. ex-lover analogy is just too delicious to resist.
p.s. i chopped my locks off a year ago.
tabitha Dec 2017
when i sleep, i don’t dream of you

i’m sorry
but it’s true

i don’t dream of you, i don’t see you
i barely ever hear from you
the polaroids on my bunk walls are gone
i covered them with pressed flowers and rotting leaves
i covered them with doodles of daydreams of open skies and crooked wings
i gave myself some air to
breathe & forget

and i’m sorry love
i didn’t mean to
i swear

my lips turned blue when the ground turned white
i loved you more each day,
but you lie about where you go at night
and i lay my **** bare

so i’m sorry love
i didn’t mean to
i swear

..but also, i think, i'm only pretending to care...
tabitha Dec 2017
past simple praise:
he loved me
but he loved his pain more

i pulled him into the bathroom once, it was dark
his warm fingers gently plucked at my heart
for some time
the way we kissed was art

his rhetoric far surpassed mine
every time
he asked me how my day was,
i proceeded to word *****
i talked about the most useless ****
when i asked him about his,
i got a shakespearean ******* sonnet

present perfect pain*:
i have never been good at thinking things all the way through
and that is why i've fallen so deeply for people like you
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