If you should find yourself nineteen,
far more concerned with the outside world to consider
the worth of drawing breath on this Earth,
I urge you to listen.
This will hit you harder than most,
feed you the value of time in the form of pills,
and hair loss.
Lessons come in sessions,
prolonged periods of side effects
enough to fuel your impatience.
You’ll find yourself staring blankly at the ceiling,
perhaps more often than you’d wish,
deep in thoughts built to land you in a ward.
But you are not here to write poems
dwelling on the uncertainty of your further existence.
You are here to dance in the face of adversity.
Dust off your armor.
The woman I loved kept a dog inside her body,
grew rabid with the taste of another man’s mouth.
Her lips dripped with froth,
body ached, eyes rolled,
and limbs danced,
to the tune of his song.
Bones crack like dried lips.
Muscles give in; lungs give out.
Blood can linger for weeks on the lips of another man’s mouth.
The clouds cover sun---
Wind pushes through the trees
Threatening downpour on a sweltering day.
This rarity, as always, gathers flocks of birds
In a sky already dark enough
To turn the clock forward.
(To the style of Gary Soto’s “Moving”)
I was thirteen when I saw him, looking
underweight and tan as he stood there,
hands gripping at the handle
of the large bag. He squints,
the sun beaming on his face. The trees shade
some of the rays with each gust
of wind. The mosquitos ***** on my skin
pinching like needles. I am bothered
except for him, so accustomed
to the feeling on his skin. It’s 2009,
three years after my last visit to
the land from which he comes,
from which he sailed into the ocean
on a makeshift raft full of others
with similar hopes, dreaming,
their eyes fixed on the horizon
miles away from freedom.
(To the style of Natasha Trethewey’s “History Lesson”)
I awoke from a dream on the first day of summer.
I dreamt I killed a man by the hammock,
he bled and bled profusely.
The sun has nearly melted its surroundings,
the blood boils and reeks of iron.
The phone rang on the wall,
pale, clean, loud.
I've got the gun! and fired it.
it struck his chest
with such precision, like a ******,
tearing through his skin, then his pectoral
muscle. He dropped like a an anchor
into a body of warm water
and fell flat with a thud, a diver striking the surface,
eyes fixed on the screen,
expressions stoic on the faces of anxious opponents.
To the style of Robert Bly's "A Dream on the Night of First Snow"
Standing before the room,
the distance between you and each individual reduced
to an almost claustrophobic space.
Self conscious, you began to pace yourself,
slowed down your breathing and straightened your shirt every so often.
You've practiced your speech countless times
it's practically embedded in your crowded mind.
Crowded with assignments, dates, numbers, faces, moments.
Subtle shifts in their seats, gentle tapping feet, suppressed coughs, cleared throats.
Your ears seem to be most sensitive to each miniscule sound today.
There goes the first of many.
When all else fails, you resort to bad habits.
Don't feel bad.
12 years of lenient teachers built you this way.
Teachers who expected the most but weren't as expecting as you'd expect.
Teachers who prior to the start of your presentation had already dotted your scoring sheets with "A"'s.
Teachers who figured it's best to let you pass.
For your sake, sure, but mostly for theirs.
Don't fidget with your clothes.
Stop bouncing around so much.
Don't fling your arms around
Stop playing with your hands.
Stop whipping your hair.
Stop using your hands to play with your hair.
Get to the point.
Growing older by the minute.
The world was silent as it listened.
Piercing was the sound of the bullet.
The dew hung low and glistened,
resting on the edges of the wound.
The blood ran dry as it thickened.
Comforting, the woman crooned.
His breathing began to slow;
his heartbeat far from tuned.
The river nearby refused to flow.
Alive with a ruthless stream,
around the bend it began to grow.
The image is one I will never escape,
on my mind it rewinds like a tape.