you fed into your insecurities
and starved her of potential
but tables tend to turn
quite quickly on this earth
now that her presence
is no longer on your plate
how bitter does it taste
to eat your heart out?
Leaves began to fall that morning, as the crisp November wind brushed by. It was as if Autumn was saying hello to those who had the daily walk to the jobs that provided just enough to scrape by. In this part of the world, personal transportation— or a beat-down car— was a luxury that most, oftentimes, did not have the riches to get ahold of. So people took to walking down to that bus stop. No matter the weather, no matter a blue or black sky, that bus stop was where people came together.
As our city breathes its crowded air, a little boy tries to stifle a heaving sob so that his *****-furious father won’t hear his lack of 11-year-old testosterone and teach him another hard lesson about being a man; six miles northeast of the boy, an undergraduate studying to be a teacher breathes deeply with self-satisfaction because eight months ago to the day he made the decision to stop inhaling and exhaling the skunk-smelling substance that dulled his own mind and hurt his chances of sharpening minds younger than his.
The two of them don’t know yet, but each stifled or satisfied breath brings them closer together, and they’ve needed each other for months—after the young man earns a diploma and the young boy earns his first locker: both will teach each other to feel proud; both will motivate each other to grow stronger; both will, unknowingly, lead each other to a resolute vitality without fear or shame or guilt because
and feel whole
and feel empowered
and feel strong
and feel ready
to breathe wonderfully deep again and again and again.
As the clock strikes 2 a.m. in San Jose, the mother of four calls it a day, counts up her earnings, and takes the bus home to her flat, where her oldest son, age fifteen, has put his siblings to bed, and just as he begins to relax, he remembers tomorrow there is a test, one he has not studied for, one he has no need for, his job is to be the man of the house, but his teacher will fail him no doubt.
As mountains of paper continue to cover her desk, a student blurts out, “Why is my grade like this?”, the teacher knows she is behind, with grades, social life, motivation withering on the vine, but the students do not care, because Christmas is near, and when the next semester rolls around, another mountain will appear.
Cresting over the skin with a razor, a young woman learns the ins and outs of the society she is in, the blood and tears it takes to be seen, and for someone to love her back, all the while, a Swiss boy, age eight or nine, steals their mother’s makeup and paints on a smile, knowing just how, on the inside, the norms are becoming ever more fragile.
Morning after morning, the wrinkled man rises with the sun, pours a cup of coffee, sitting—listening for the train to roar by, the same track a much younger man, is cramming his brain full of numbers by, to get where he wants to go, an engineer, who was fascinated by trains at an early age.