his roots are hidden
no one knows where he has been
or what he has been through.
they only know he was elsewhere once-
an elsewhere where experiences are best left hidden
his stem is course
composed of hardening resistance,
stiffened from a difficult childhood.
this is his base, a stability within him.
these lessons hold him up and keep him going
his thorns are soft
they only look rough to give the illusion of being guarded,
but his defenses are easily torn through.
if you touch him, he knows he'll bruise
but he will never make you bleed
his petals are wondrous
their velvet smells of boys' cologne
and are dotted in dewy teardrops.
he flourishes for the hands that dares to stroke him
but the hands only plucks his petals and leave the rest of him behind
The bird song begins
earlier than I am prepared
to hear it.
The sun has not
yet made his entrance
to this side of the world
but I feel it dawning inside me.
My leaves are strewn about,
having landed violently
at my feet last night.
My branches are sore,
all night long.
My trunk has grown weaker,
I am cracked
and missing a few layers,
but my roots,
they go deeper
than you could imagine,
and I will not falter.
I may sway,
lose my dead pieces
to the storm,
but I will not fall.
our celestial protector.
She cradles us in her branches and reaches
us towards the Sun. She fertilized us
as young seeds before the harvest. Feeding
us the fruits from her feet. We breathe in the oxygen
she filters through her brown barked body.
Suckle at her breasts for air.
Like our mother, we too are rooted
in soil, nourished, and nurtured by her
natural nutrition and her
throws us from her
branches, her skies grow grey.
Grow angry and sad. She starts to
cry, growling, thrashing and thundering.
Her winds whip us, whirl us we weave back and forth,
trusting the roots she gave to hold us
down in our foundations.
But the ground beneath our soles start to
shake and rumble. Soaked soil from Mother’s cries, turn
to mud, and our world starts to wash us away.
She drowns us. Mother Earth,
Rooted: he stood. Although... he was down ...to his very last leaf.
Almost fully bare, he shivered there ..just a bit within the wind,
as what looked like some... tornado or cyclone was about to hit.
He sighed, as he always did, & yet... he too stood grounded ...rooted..
& ready... for this cycle's monsoon season, with grit.
I understand now that I am like a plant. You loved me but you always gave me too much water and it was killing me. You thought by doing this you were reassuring my health so that I would stay beautiful but it was just washing me out. You put me in the sunlight as much as possible even though I required low light so my leaves began to wilt and in turn you kept me in the sun longer thinking I wasn’t getting enough of its shine. Eventually you gave up and left me there, giving me water whenever you remembered and I was parched. Because it was either too much or not enough with you and your love. You never paid attention to my needs, only yours. You saw my flowers bloom and admired their beauty but I was never in bloom for long. For once my petals started to drop you were less than interested in me. Was it because I wasn’t as pure? As lovely? Maybe you just couldn’t see down deep enough into my roots to understand what I was really all about. Because I only flowered once every year and honestly I’m surprised I haven’t died yet because you took such poor care of me. The sunlight scorched my greens into a color of brown and as I grew older I finally died and you tried to bring me back with all the care I once needed but it was too late. Not that you really care though considering the only think you miss are my flowers in the spring. So on to the next one you go, and I’d feel bad if I wasn’t already dead inside because the next flower you pick won’t last as long as I, because the only reason I chose to stay alive is because I thought my life was worth living till it didn’t feel like living anymore.
This is the city where I come from
And my folks and before them some
Who left good old Ireland
Yes this is the city where I come from
They came to make their way
They came to see a day
Where they could earn decent pay
To make a new life to be able to say
I am here to stay
I got a yesterday
I got a past
And for sure a today
Because of the brave ones
Who found this place
Who breathed and lived their dream
The one I now embrace
I thank them with all my heart
Yes it's been a very human race
They came to make their way
They came to stay
How can I explain to you
What is within me?
I am African
I am American
I am both
And I am neither
I am something
And I am nothing
And yet…I am everything.
But I cannot be like you
You say “Welcome back”
Like my roots are in this soil
But how can I explain to you?
My body originated here.
But not my soul.
My soul was born in the arms of Mama Africa
She is not the ancestor of my skin
But of my spirit
And my roots run deep in her red earth
Her drumbeat, my hear.
Yet here I am…
I look like you.
I sound like you.
But I am not like you.
And when I try to explain
What I’ve seen
And how I became
You feel as though I am big
And you are not.
But it isn’t true.
I am not bigger.
You are not smaller
We are just…different.
I contain a vastness
That is misunderstood
That vastness holds so much
Yet often feels so empty.
And I cannot be like you.
But when I do it feels like chains
Shackles of iron
I try to deepen my roots
But when I try
I can only seem to spread my wings
And I am sorry.
I am sorry that I cannot make my home in you.
I am sorry that I make you feel small.
I do not mean to.
I am sorry I cannot find the words to explain
What it is like
To feel as though your skin is too tight for your soul
To feel as though you are always
Nowhere and Everywhere
Nothing and Everything
No one and Everyone
Too much…and never enough
I am sorry.
But I am trying.
So when I try…
When I share with you these tangled feelings
When I crack open the door
To the whirlwind within
Do not ask me to shut it.
Please, do not ask me to hide away
Because you cannot relate to the chaos behind my eyes.
Don’t see the mess.
And love me.
For the mystery that I am.
And to myself.
When I was fifteen, there were only three more years
until I could leave.
I numbered the days like some people count calories
counting until there was no air left.
Out of breath, out of step, out of line,
one more time;
try a little harder,
push a little faster,
be a little better, a little stronger,
I'd spin in circles until I was dizzy,
around and around andaroundaroundaround
before starting all over.
Out of control, too fast to ever really stop.
And then back to the beginning again
where I first began,
reduced to less than nothing,
just a slip of the person I'd hoped to become.
When I was fifteen, life was a game
where there were winners and losers
and then people who didn't ever quite make it.
Neither a winner, nor a loser,
neither a hero nor an enemy,
just nothing at all.
I ran around, afraid of everything,
hoping if I ran fast enough, whatever was lurking in the shadows might never catch me
I ran until one day, I slipped and fell down the rabbit hole,
past where anyone could see
I fell through the cracks I sidled around everyday walking home from school,
books in one hand,
memories in the other,
clinging to both for dear life.
I was just a sprig with dead leaves and a damaged stem,
no petals or blooms,
my roots growing in the wrong direction, defying gravity.
Empty hands reaching up into the air,
grasping for something to pull me back to earth,
push me forward into the world.
Desperately searching for something to believe I was enough,
believe I was worthy.
Believe I wasn't a mistake,
a surviving weed in a blossoming garden.
When I was fifteen, there were only days
Every minute accounted for
yet all forever lost in one sleepless dream,
in one fell swoop.
Time lost, standing still, forgotten,
my watch the only thing keeping each day from running into the next.
I am not fifteen, anymore.
I have found my roots,
It's safe, it's home.
Time is not forever,
but neither is this.
It'll be okay.
You'll be okay.
You are the water, I am the desert
The first time you brushed against me
and I drew my arms around you
and it gives us a chance to breath.
To such great things you are Croatian
and dew to me
I put on that coat of life.
With just brush strokes
you invigorate me,..
I am the desert
with much are we at staked and exiled.