Spoken Word / Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Seventeen

ONE.

Fuck it.

Stop worrying that you can’t

Spread your small hands wide enough to soothe your pain away

Or catch your tears to store in the riverbeds of your palms to remind you of the ocean

And season your wounds when your depression starts grumbling for more of your self worth

Don’t allow the salt to do more than accent the sweets you inhale,

The moments that make you thirsty for more.

 

TWO.

Don’t have staring contests with yourself in the mirror. You will lose.

More often than not watching yourself stretching your lips up

And hooking them onto the corners of your eyes

Does more damage than good.

 

THREE.

There is nothing wrong with you.

 

FOUR.

Maybe there is something wrong with you.

 

ONE.

Fuck it.

 

FIVE.

You are not tame--

Your parents thrust a torch into your hand

Inscribed Torch Bearer on the metal plate of your experimental lab rat cage

Whatever you survived would be inflicted upon your siblings

A drip feed from needles injecting awkward affection into your bloodstream

But you will squeeze your way out from between bars meant to cage you

Learn to patch yourself back up

So you can reach back in to others too young to defend themselves

 

SIX.

My mummy says I’m special every day.

 

SEVEN.

People will ask you how you developed as a unit of five--50 fingers and toes

Countless tears and screams and laughs bouncing around

A cacophony in your head

Suckled with trophies and state titles

Hard A’s on report cards bloodied with paper cuts and darkened by the exhaustion

Of nights that ended just shy of all nighters

Clumsily welded repairs,

Spare parts dusty with the must of another era, robotic perfection

One day you will no longer need the safety pins and gold stars to hold yourself together

You will recognize you run too hot for icy perfection.

 

EIGHT.

Is the number of times you need to count inhales and exhales

Tapping two fingers against the side of your temple

Rubbing the patch of skin above your collarbone

Your body is a temple. Multi-layered and curved like rice terraces.

Don’t be stone. Let your walls crumble. Send your battalions home.

You will quit sacrificing good food to pay homage to

The porcelain goddess who cares naught for your tears

Hard steel sharpened by the self hate you’ve truly come to nurture as of late

 

NINE.

The first time you cried on your ninth birthday will not be the last

But you will become a master mixologist with each passing year

Shaking sadness and laughter into a sour concoction

That you can happily cheers other people with.

Because no one’s life consists of only cotton candy skies.

One day you won’t need to sugar coat the rim of your glass

Or examine your apprehension before you allow yourself to fall into another’s arms.

 

TEN.

You will come to know heartbreak intimately.

You will let it burrow itself into your couch cushions

And invite it to perch on your nightstand for the night,

Allow it to cradle a tumbler of whiskey and whisper into your ear

That you will always be alone.

 

FOUR.

Maybe there is something wrong with you.

Maybe there is something wrong with you.

Maybe there is something wrong with you.

 

ELEVEN.

Sometimes there will be something wrong with you.

Sometimes you will be alone with your own heartbeat,

Echoing through the cavity that once contained your heard.

But I promise you, though you think you never quite got it back,

It’s hiding out on the sleeve of your sweater

Skipping along with you down the sidewalk

Pumping adrenaline to keep propelling you forward

As you race up staircases with friends

 

TWELVE.

You will learn to throw yourself back into new situations,

Twirling into the music instead of twirling your hair around your wallflower thumb

People will compliment you on your dancing. It will be astounding.

How can others not smile when you are letting yourself marinate in a moment

That you never want it to end?

 

TWO.

Don’t have staring contests with the mirror.  You’ll get too good at it.

 

THIRTEEN.

Boys will take your stare as an implicit challenge,

Sparking a connection because you will be more confident in your intensity.

 

FOURTEEN.

Some days you will doubt yourself and your self worth.

 

ONE.

Just fuck it.

 

FIFTEEN.

Take mental health days when you need them.

 

SIXTEEN.

Stop trying so hard to throw away the parts of your life that don’t contain smiles

The parts that you would rather forget

On rainy days, gently coax them out of your rainy day box

So that you always remember where you’ve been.

 

SEVENTEEN.

Savor this year and the next, shine your own light upwards

Despite fearing it will be drowned out amongst the bright city lights

Fluorescent bulbs more brash than you could ever pretend to be

Know that you can pull yourself out of the darkness

That you can be your own hero

You will learn that you won’t need a prince to climb your crumbling towers

You will learn that, oftentimes, you can save yourself.

Spoken Word / Chalk Dust Memories

I used to sew my heart on the sleeve of my sweaters

Even though I had to close my eyes

I was afraid of needles

Heart on my sleeves

It made a nice accessory to the bracelets adorning my wrists

Additional protection to keep them safe from my numb hands

That still insist on absentmindedly wandering over areas I once traced with blades

I sewed my heart on every morning

Till it was nicked by a passing lover on his way out the door

On the eve of a new year

An exit stage left, highlighted by fireworks and dampened by booze

I carried on, too enamored with the toothy smile sliding up my face in the mirror

Whiskey colored my cheeks and brightened my eyes

Burning away tears before they could think to emerge

Forgot I was bleeding out

My heart paled, streaking red to pink

I thought my lightheaded-ness was a result of the cancerous butterflies metastasizing throughout my body

Bored of tickling my stomach lining

I never considered the symptoms of blood loss

Too many feathery wings and antennae were pollinating the synapses of my brain with dopamine

I failed to realize their legs had been dipped in stomach acid

It made my head hurt

Blurring red filtering my vision

Reminiscent of the rosy spectacles of childhood scotch-taped round my head by my father

For the days when I played hopscotch with shadows and didn't chase after sunsets

Their darkness smudged powdery chalk grains smeared on my pants

At 22, I still find the remnants of that chalk still clinging

I rub the colors along my cheekbones

Not for war paint but to make paint whenever ghosting tears make the colors run

Use the vestiges of these colors to hide the circles ringing my eyes

The shadows now find they like hiding in them

They've moved on to playing hide and seek with my probing fingers.

The contrast in colors is stark

It was only recently I finally looked down at my heart

Perfectly deflated

I tried to sprinkle chalk dust on it to bring color back into its veins and arteries,

Patting and pinching it back into shape

I snipped away threads of my sleeve

Cradling it till I found a mason jar where I could hide it away--

I have to admit I forgot about it

Weeks sprouted wings, flying by till a new city ran through my veins in a new year

I came back sorry

And had to slowly coax it out from the jar

The raised lines on my heart made my breath hitch with guilt

For leaving it so exposed

But as I looked down, it peeped out from between my fingertips and over my thumb

Abruptly leaping up,

Dancing along pressure points to settle back over my wrist

Beating hard as I looked up to see the bartender back again, leaning in and grinning

Refusing to let go of my hand.

Spoken Word / Shadow Play

Neverland was never good enough for you

Just a dash of pixie dust didn’t make much sense

But snorting it short circuited your whirring brain and made time stop

So you could douse yourself in Eau’ de Invincibility

And pretend everyone else was smaller than you.

Peter was too stingy and stringy for your dark palate,

So you beefed yourself up with crocodile tears

And bullied little lost boys, seduced impressionable little girls

You swallowed their whimpers behind Peter’s back

They were sweeter than starlight

And Tiger Lily’s smiles from beneath her feathered headdress

Even Peter’s delighted crow when he chopped off Hook’s hand couldn’t compare

You spent too much time flirting with mermaids by stealing shells from their long locks

And fumed when you found out Peter had gotten his first kiss before you

You hated Wendy on principle

Clearly you were more deserving of thimble kisses -

Because you were more bloodthirsty for it

Who else kept Peter from being disgustingly squeaky clean?

You knew he thrived on thoughtless mischief

Enticing the innocent from their beds

But you coaxed out their feral corruption

Inviting them to don the hides of wild animals and scramble beneath tree roots

Matting their fur pelts with muddies spider webs

Peter pretended not to notice when some of the boys disappeared,

But he couldn’t have failed to see his minions thinning out as they aged

Slivered memories forgotten to the shadows as he raced through games of pretend

After all, it was Peter himself who made the rules,

However glittered by a misguided pixie he might be.

You liked to insist you were not meant to be tied down to the heels of a semi-mortal’s soles

You hated limits and rejoiced in going where others wouldn’t dare to follow

Conspiring in the midst shrieking laughter and pounding feet

Planting the seeds of discord between families and relationships

Gently lying to rest the blue print sketched mechanics

Of what would make those around you implode

You exulted in the idea of crumbling infrastructure

Made eyelids sleepy during playtime as you sipped absinthe out of chipped tea cups

Just a hazy figure hovering between nightmares

So indistinct and soft, many were fooled into taking your hand

Thinking you were coaxing them towards starlight

Instead of over a cliff and down past sharp teeth towards a ticking gullet

Every time you let their fingers slip from your grasp

You savored their horrified expressions

The cracks and crunch of their bones

Chuckling at their naïve notion that you would always be the one to save them

Sometimes you gave in to their pleading eyes and gaping jaws

Swooping in to save a few here and there

Treasuring the way they clung to you

Knowing that in sparing them,

You’d won more gratitude than Peter could ever hope to hold

You allowed your darkness to swell with their mistaken notions

That you could be a hero, if it suited you

You knew villainy better suited your passing fancies.

 

You used to have me constantly looking over my shoulder

Glancing into the shadowed corners of my mind I used to linger in

But I quit playing with shadows a long time ago

And you refuse to step into the light.

Spoken Word / Please Don't Hitchhike Alone

Pacing a track into the matted carpet

She was never a runner

But she's worn out a pair of tennis shoes and some slippers

And you can see her footprints traced out on the carpet

She tends to drag her feet when she walks

The heels of boots worn down to nibs

Soles cracked where the balls of her feet pirouetted across the rug

Trying to throw off her stress by becoming a whirlwind

Splattering her emotions on the walls

Can't can't can't

Can't can't

Can't

Even finish a sentence

It's all coming apart

She is crumbling defiance and denial

Hands full of cracked paper mâché masked portraits

Pacing with the remnants clutched around paper cuts

Till she sees night wind down towards day

She walks miles along carpeted highways

No exits or rest stops in sight

No mile markers to guide her

She doesn’t know her destination

She’s a hitchhiker with a thumb bent back

But no one stops for pirouetting-ballerina-carpet-hitchhikers near dawn

Her fingers tangle themselves in her hair to keep her head grounded

She curves her spine to the floor

Tries to lie and breathe quiet

1, inhale 2, exhale 3, gasp 10!

Come out come out wherever you are

Olly olly oxen free to every feeling she squashed down

They like to suddenly magnify

She’s still learning to play games of tag

And hide n’ seek with her emotions late at night

It's painful to learn how to listen to herself

When reason often deserts her battered mindscape

But instead of skidding across reflective markers and lane dividers

She lifts sock-wrapped peddle feet

From the metal accelerator she wove into the rugs beneath her,

Shifting her pacing into a leisurely drive

Pulling herself over to stop for a few moments

She hugs her breath, holds her chest in tight

And witnesses another moon fade, another sun rise

Spoken Word / A Night At The Symphony

You aren’t sleeping well tonight

Your fingers are tapping out a slow waltz on your thigh

You’re singing a symphony to yourself comprised entirely of sighs

It’s become your nightly lullaby

Inaudible but for the rise and fall of your chest

Pressing up against sheets that shouldn’t weigh so much

But cotton comes plucked at a heavy price,

And as you twist into the wrinkles and the mattress springs

You try to feel how many hundreds of threads encase you  

You never could afford to understand silk sheets

With thread counts higher than you could easily count sheep

Because you know high priced products aren’t necessarily high performing

You never feel comfortable in luxury

Because you are too down to earth

Your toes curl around pebbles pressing into the soles of your feet

That other people brusquely shake out of their boots,

Annoyed they have to unknot their laces

And pay attention to something so small

 

You wrap your arms around yourself cautiously

Like you’re too fragile for your own hands

Scarcely believing you haven’t already shattered

When you genuinely fear that everyone your life touches becomes defective

Broken and immobile no matter how hard you try to prevent it

You have 20/20 vision but you don’t see very clearly

You hold our tarnished selves together with your smiles

You prevent others from slapping their self destruct buttons

Glowing countdowns halted by your open arms

You taught us that hugs given without reservation don’t need any motivation

That there were no jagged rocks waiting beneath potential friendships

That we could dive into brand new relationships and never reach the bottom

 

I promise you don’t have to pretend you’re always happy

You are more than one emotion

Let that strained grin fall with your walls

Shake up a can and spray paint “H<3PE” into the cracked concrete here, next to us

Let us catch you when words fail you and you’re bursting with tears

Know that sometimes your own wings forget how to fly

Spoken Word / You Can't give Superheroes DUIs

I am driving under the influence

Daring reality to give me a speeding ticket

See, I am high on love.

 

I never could just sip in its smoke and simper

Batting my eyes and looking coy was never my thing

I can’t let myself play into cat and mouse flirtationships

I always try to say what I mean

Always needing someone to turn my mind on to keep me interested

I’m not going to simplify myself down to one flicked up switch

I won’t just be some inflated superhero’s distressed damsel or girlfriend

I aim to equalize heroes with heroines

 

Now, don’t just smile and nod

Don’t patronize me with pats on the head or epithets of cuteness

I moved on from Hello Kitty a long time ago.

I’m not some trophy and I won’t dress up for you—I dress up for me

Barbies always creeped me out with their stiff joints

Too-large eyes and heads so tiny and hollow

Even dust bunnies avoided gathering in them

 

You may be capable of moving me chemically—I mean, I’m not blind—

But catching my attention doesn’t deserve a round of applause

I tend to get momentarily distracted by lots of shiny, pretty things.

You can’t hold my attention for more than a handful of moments

With a projected ego inflated with hot air

Propped up with your notion of others’ inferiority

Fleeting moments of kindness don’t excuse your sense of superiority

And they are constantly overtaken by waves of indifference

Making me apathetic to your existence

Because you chill every vertebrae in my spine with your shallowness

And you must think me a fool to hope that I’ll let that near my heart

 

So if you want to stand by me, I dare you to challenge me

Don’t just play to be on my court and thoughtlessly agree

I don’t deal in monotony

So I pinky promise I’ll appreciate the discord

 

Why not fly high?

I’ll float up with you but I won’t depend on just you

I’ll live, laugh, and light up, my love.

Spoken Word / Whiskey Sours (At Tea Time)

A faceless poet once breathed

“We are all searching for someone whose demons will play well with our own”

We reach out for sharp edges and sweet-sour relationships

Garnished with sugar-rimmed glasses to combat lemon tanged disappointments

Because we embody imperfection

 

We can’t stomach grenadine sweet all the time,

We’ve got to have extreme moments so we don’t always retreat into day dreams

Tacking on pretty pleases with a cherry on top of everything

We’ve acquired a taste for the salty,

The sour and bitter moments that caress our very beings

 

We like upping the contrast in pictures to highlight our colourful lives

While we’ve perfected a way to nurse drinks to take the edge off of reality,

Making memories we half remember for all their fractured clarity,

We swallow feelings that last our lifetimes

 

I don’t want a lukewarm existence

I want to burn my lips with silver tongues and let life engulf me

Exhale Namastes that enhance my heartbeat

Pounding exhilaration and broadcasting my adrenaline from the sky, down

I don’t build from the ground up

 

I don’t want to temper my existence with dashes of milk

And packets of sweetener that make every day powdered and artificial,

Predictable as early afternoon chimes that ring up tea times

 

I refuse warmth that evaporates too quickly

Moments that leave me gagging on a bland existence

I’d rather be the burn in someone’s shot of whiskey

Than a cooling mug of tea, rushed to a microwave to coax back its heat.

Spoken Word / Tracing Scars

Desperate for sharp stings that broke skin

She covered up the evidence with bracelets and the sleeves of sweaters

Far too long for her short arms

Didn’t want to see what she’d done

She was told cutting her wrists was a “cry for attention”

That she “wanted to be caught or she would have hidden it better

Under jeans or on her back”—

That only gave her ideas she had to fight down

Lines scattered across ribs that caged in lungs bereft of air

Lines weeping evidence of a depression she was told didn’t exist

Told to be stronger

Told you’re only pretty when you smile

When some days it takes hours in front of a mirror to pin that grin on

Torn between ending it all and proving them wrong

The temptation of the sudden surge of popularity on social media ever present in her mind

She saw countless kids at her school fail to reach out,

Instead reaching for the hands of others who’d gone on before

Following a dark path instead of leading their lives in a new direction  

 

Her drive to succeed, the hunger to JUST BE

In the end it outweighed everything else.

She stopped hiding,

Traded her wrists for canvases, charged her paint with brash strokes

The physicality and process of creating something so completely her own

Grew into a new addiction, a different way to cope

To call back feelings when her mind went numb

Creation replaced destruction as a way of finding release.

 

For many years after her fall from grace you could still see the scars on her arms.

But sleeves gradually shortened

No longer stretched over bracelets, beaded and woven

Bright circles of metal replaced areas once covered by bandages

Bright mixtures collected from travels became reminders

Of why she shouldn’t cut anymore

Bracelets morphed from disguises to badges of love

Gifts to remind her that there were others who cared   

That there were other ways to cope with depression that didn’t involve medication

That there was no shame in confessing she needed help or a hug

 

Mix up all these pronouns, he – she – we – us – them – ME

Replace she with I because this is my story and these are my scars,

Shallow enough that they faded with time

These days I wear them with pride

Though these scars were once embarrassing,

They catalogue my story, they act as storytellers

Speaking to all that I’ve overcome

Why should I cover them up with make-up, overdress them

When they’re best seen bare, framed by gifts given to me by those I love

San Francisco, Puerto Rico, Turkey, the Philippines 

 

These scars have joined those that came from drama, comedy, and tragedy

But I don’t hide them and pretend they’re not there

There’s a heck of a story to go with my scars

Ones that rank with the times I’ve dived off cliffs and slid down mountains

I’m not afraid to be associated with what I once felt made me flawed

They’re simply a part of me,

Marks of a life experience etched on my body

More permanent than any inked tattoo

 

The pain I felt and dealt with moved me to reach out to others

Instead of falling deeper into myself

My scars remind me that life sometimes destroys parts of our lives

But it allows us room to create and replace what’s been lost to the times we go numb

 

I won’t be ashamed of my scars

So don’t be ashamed of your scars

They’re part of you

They tell your story

They’ll remind you how precious you are and how far you’ve come.

Spoken Word / Nightly

Nightly,

She falls asleep to softly glowing stars pasted to rough ceilings

Stars that pepper her dorm with no rhyme or reason

3,000 miles from home 
Lost and rediscovering who she wanted to be, nightly,

She measures how small she feels against the backdrop of school life

After people dismiss her, exclude her, forget her

Until they call her out for what makes her different and defines her—

By her smudged make-up a few mornings after her uncle passed away

By her worn and torn jeans puddling round ankles and slipping off a waist

That can’t quite perfectly stomach stick man thin jeans,

But is defined by her gorgeous curves.

 

Nightly,

She stumbles back through her day

Stumbles down a self-destructive path through a forest of denial and treachery

Casting the judgments of others around herself like a thick coat, trailing on the ground

Weighing her down

Nightly,

She tries to locate some sort of spark within herself

While others have an inferno’s worth, or seem to anyways

Nightly, she tells herself

Got to have an opinion, got to have a talent, got to be interesting

Got to be effortless

As effortless as the others whose motions cycle through

Primping between classes, vapid gestures including eye rolls and sighs

Power plays and eliminations  

And hiking up skirts on weekends to make them shorter,

Leaving nothing to the imagination,

Not that anyone has one anymore.

 

Like them she tries,

To cultivate an enticingly “mature” reputation

As a good girl gone bad, a rebel bending back her parentals’ thumbs

All to fit in and follow the ebbs and flows of churning trends

At a school that crams in lessons

Like how many times a human heart should beat per minute

But not how the heart is supposed to continue to beat

In a place where bodies get beat

By soulless words

That leave no trace on skin

But cut deeper than deep.

Because humor, however sarcastic, is prized

Showcases personalities and makes people feel alive—

Just edging the area between cruelty and gone too far

Just having a laugh, just for fun, nothing more.

 

Nightly,

She wonders if others are crossing the line

Or if she’s too sensitive like some people say

She’s not being bullied at all, what they say and do is all okay

But such an admission tears her right through

Twisting in her heart, punching right through a shattering self

A knife slicing so far in that she wishes it was real

Real enough to put an end to the charade she plays out day after day

Of pretending their words and opinions don’t matter

Even though most of the time its seems its all that does.

 

Nightly,

Waterworks aren’t limited to dripping faucets,

As eyeliner runs over sunken sockets, eyes glazed over so reflections blur

Before thumbs swipe black runs of weakness away

And pinch cheeks to give some semblance of livelihood

To a face that could well be a mask for all its taut flesh.

She stares deep into the mirror before shutting off the emotions and stepping back out

Into the constant stream of inbetweeners

Caught in a gap of years between school life and real life,

Snapping bubble gum between classes like her peers,

Caffeinated concoction or alcoholic addiction in hand,

Sometimes allowing her mind to dash out for a cig

Light up, inhale quick,

Muffle coughs and hacks and spritz

Some artificially overwhelming puff to cover the stench

Drag in smoke that so easily spews forth, ashy particles clinging to her imagination

But really, she’s just sitting in class lost in a daze

The things she thinks people think of her echoing no matter how brave

She tries to appear.

 

Press play forward. It’s been days, now weeks, now years since then.

Nightly, she falls asleep to softly glowing stars pasted to rough ceilings

Stars that pepper her dorm with no rhyme or reason

3,000 miles from home 
No longer lost though it took four years

Surrounded by those who respect her and help her confront her fears

Who constantly extend a hand or a hug

Now, nightly, she whispers to herself  “See, the bullies never really mattered,

You’re separate and cured of that need to be

Tethered to the social scene and insincere queen bees.

Those who are worth it SEE you and welcome you to be.

So just be.”

Spoken Word / Sugar and Spice

Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty, I say

Just enough to make it interesting so you're not a plain Jane

Yet you still grasp on to what the media proclaims

Can't quite fit the mold

Baby fat put to shame

Dancing fingers along curves that define your space in the world

Before clasping at porcelain, ready to hurl and suck in a gut that just tips over jeans,

Too skinny to fit any love in the seams

Praying someday to look, begging someday to feel

That it's worth it-- that you're worth it, that your beauty is real

Pinching in muscle and grinding down bones till there's nothing natural left

But a frown pasted on to a face vacuum sealed with a kiss upon lips

Far too plump to conceal that your words tinge with lisps

No matter that you finally feel

Put together, literally put together

Patchwork person that you are held together by pain

Self hatred is the morphine that drips through your veins

Shots straight to your heartabsorbed into your soul

Gasping you try to make up for not being whole

For tossing parts of yourself to the masses who claimed

That skinny feels better and ugly's just lame

You silence the voice in your head that whispered to you,

You're all right, you're okay

And the very next day you're caught up in the fake-ness you have to portray

Work for gaps in thighs that don't jiggle when slapped,

Mascara-ed eyes that pop as you bat them up and down and up and down

Like your emotions as you wind up tight then crash to the ground

An eternity's worth of body issues and standards to uphold,

Packed into your head that seems like it'll explode

With the sounds and the voices that tell you no,

No you're too fat, you're not right, you don't fit, you're too old

That say all that you have are laugh lines

Nothing worthwhile, too tough, you've no luck

They beat you

Beat you down to mold you back up into

Just another pretty model, a beautiful angel, lovely gorgeous smokin' hottttttt

Dayyym girl, your face, I like that shit
 

But those words are just labels you can tear off

Like you rip off the tags on new clothes

Yank and break threads of plastic tying down letters of what others say you are

Because you should be reaching for words like exotic and unique

Embracing the bizarre, the alluring, the different and strange

Leave them starry eyed with how sleek you are when you make moves

Leave them remembering you for being more than just a cute, made-up face

Striving for a perfection that doesn’t exist

That ideal plastered across billboards or movie screens,

Don’t let what doesn’t exist except by Photoshop schemes

Have you plastered on the floor by peer pressured, alcoholic induced dreams

Filtered through pixels on Instagram screens

Of the most edited parts of your peers’ lives

That almost have you believing in fairytales again

 

No one looks their best all the time

But you can be your best self

Because beauty moves beyond looks and can be destroyed

By accidents, deliberate action, and the passage of time

Don’t wallow in your bucket of self-pity

Just own who you are and how you look – Bad hair days be damned!

Crank up the wattage in your smiles and blind them with your brilliance

Your beauty is in your actions and your love of yourself

Be sugar.

Be spice.

Be more than everything nice.

Spoken Word / #SorryNotSorry

Once, you said I apologized too much, that I needed to stop saying “I’m sorry”

But when I emulate your arrogance and cut out all the apologies

You called me a pretentious bitch

Because too much confidence isn’t endearing and it has to be just right to be sexy

Self-assurance doesn’t make me cute at 5’2—it makes me threatening.

Well, I have a few more things to apologize for before I’m through.

I’m sorry you think I’m a bitch because I speak my mind

And you need time to get used to it

That I have to apologize in the face of double standards that don’t cross men’s minds

I’m sorry I wasn’t born a man like you.

I’m sorry you’re too afraid to apologize when you know you’re wrong.

Throwing out the word bitch like it’s an anthem

THE end all to any argument or fight, as if that word will really make me shut up

Because when you shout that slur at me, you do expect me to apologize

For whatever it was I said or did.  

I’m sorry I roll my eyes when you ask questions like

“Why are you single, it’s almost V-Day?!”

Sorry I’m having the time of my life being me  

And that you think that being single makes me lonely, when honestly,

Being in a relationship with the wrong person is the loneliest thing in the world.

I’m sorry that you think I have too many questions

But I won’t kill my curiosity for your sake

String it up with a pretty little bow and make you a present of it’s dead hide

No cat got my tongue because I pierced it through its nine lives

Every time you told me NO, slurred Aw that’s sweet and then patted me on the head

I’m sorry you’re prejudiced, that you discriminate based on gender and race

Speaking as if you’re omniscient when you’re far from holy  

Judging me by my soft hair and tiny hands instead of listening to my hard truths

Choosing only to see tears that you say make me too vulnerable

I’m sorry you think empathy is a weakness.

I’m sorry that you have to justify my internship offers

As ones I got because I’m a girl

And the higher ups need there to be diversity in the workplace

Nothing to do with my intelligence or hard work or the passion I have for what I do. I’m sorry but you will never be the one slamming your hands

Up against a glass ceiling to shift it higher

Praying that this time you’ll break through

So you can drag up others behind you, over the broken shards.   

So, I’m sorry.

But people only try to expose what’s wrong with others

When they can’t handle what’s right about them.

I’m sorry. I feel sorry. For you.

Spoken Word / Domesticity

“A-B-U-S-E” That’s what teacher says to me

Holds my shoulders, eyes get wide

She looks scared, like she might cry

But she doesn’t understand

I love them and they love me,

I think, just, diff-er-ent-ly.

“What? My mother? My momma, my fiercely protective tiger mom

HAHA! Watch out her claws are out!

Mmm and my father? My daddy, my ballistic storm KA-Boom waiting to explode dad

Uh-oh! Beware! The clock is tick-tick-ticking down!”

 

Dragged kicking and screaming into the closet,

Tantrums quickly become a thing of the past.

Locked in, seconds become hours and hyperventilation sets in

Deprivation, no contact, she never knows when she’ll get out

Has to collapse in-to herself

Well, they’ve never hit me she says

It could always be worse, she says

But what about next time, her mind replies

 

Strong hands grip thin arms, shaking back and forth, bruising

“Stop crying, I said STOP!

How could you let your skin get so dark?

Gaga! Idiot! It’s ruined now. You know lighter skin is prettier.

Who is going to want you now?!”

It goes on, and she sinks to the floor, words falling on deaf ears

Seeing nothing with blind eyes,

I’m ugly she whispers

I’m ruined she says

I’m pathetic she believes.

 

Scars pepper the back of legs, shaking knees

Cane marks falling in sharp staccato from here to here

Belts become whips in their hands, he struggles just to stay standing

Toes curled to keep in the whimpers, tears still splash to the floor.

Back then.

He can laugh about it now with other Asians, no worse for the wear

Everyone else just gives him horrified looks,

Or worse, that head tilt and frown of pity –

Pity them - they can’t possibly understand, don’t really get it, won’t ever get it!

It’s really for the best he says.

I’m so much stronger for it he confirms.

It’s not like it happens to me anymore he grins.

Oh, my younger siblings? Sure, sometimes, but that’s just how it is.

 

They hold hands and press back into the wall

Listening hard, over hearts beating, thumping loud in fear:

“You stupidly got in an accident?! What were you thinking?

With all the financial issues, it would have been better if you had died!

Oh you feel your life is pathetic and worthless? Well it is.

OH! Nothing’s wrong with mommy, sweethearts.

Look! Look what I bought you on the way home today?

Aren’t they beautiful? Just like you two.”

 

So many stories, YOU could cry and rage at the injustice - But THEY don’t.

Because they don’t even know what the word ABUSE is.

Growing up with many things unspoken, the word ABUSE doesn’t exist

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is a way of life

Unacknowledged, swept aside, no one dares draw attention to it – It’s NOT talked about.

It’s not seen as wrong – it’s how it’s always been

Parents occasionally say, “Darling-Kiddo you know I care about you!”

To them it’s all the same, exactly what they’ve been through,

How their parents raised them and their parents before

Respect piled on respect piled on just a little bit more

They survived and didn’t die, so it all must be all right

It’s for the best, they rationalize, like with everything they do

They aim to fix hurt feelings with gruff, awkward hugs and pats on the head

Making kids act like they’re okay, like everything’s okay –

Basically telling them it’s okay--to lie!

 

We have to stop this, got to stop this

Stand up for ourselves, for our own lives

We have to admit there’s something wrong and act to make a change

We can’t live in fear every single day, letting it all escalate and build

We’re worth more than they say!

Stop replaying and repeating the damaging words they spew,

Echoed, tinny repetitions that should be trashed, not constantly renewed.

Don’t fall for the incomprehension an older generation exudes

One that believes OUR generation’s problems are non-existent

Where it’s okay to beat down and bully, belittling women and children

Where home life consists of shouting:

“What’s mental illness? Depression?

“Those aren’t real, stop feeling sad

“You have it so good with a roof over your head –

Stop complaining on a full stomach!”

 

We’re not supposed to talk about our problems, speak about them, think about them

But our own lives pale in lieu of everything unacknowledged

WE have to say something for a change to occur

Verbal or physical, it’s not okay.

It’s never been okay.

ABUSE will never be okay.

Spoken Word / A Response to #YesAllWomen

“Thread your lower lip between your teeth,” he whispered

He said, “I have a weak spot for pretty girls who pout.”

He lay her insecurities down in the cradle of his hips

And left purpled handprints along her biceps as he held her arms down

Because he felt entitled to an all-access pass to her body

And told her to take it as a compliment—

The word rape was never in her vocabulary

Until it was the only word she knew,

Meanwhile he lacked the ability to grasp the meaning of the word “consent”

Using his able body to attempt to break her spirit

And dim her starry eyes, polished and bright with liquor.

He relentlessly pumped out her independence to insert his dominance,

He felt untouchable

With adrenaline propping up the booster seat to his confidence

He felt fulfilled instead of condemned

And laughed as he smeared her tears across her cheekbones

She thought she heard them snap as her heart broke

She could only plead,

“I’m not a tease, but since when did ‘NO’ translate to ‘Will you, please?”

In arrogance, he waved her words away from his ears

So they fell to the floorboards crumpled and torn

Before they were trampled under his heels as he stumbled away

Exultant and triumphant,

No thought to the despair or the crippling weight

She was left to shoulder alongside fresh hate

Which boiled and simmered for six silent years

Before she realized she was pickling her tongue and her shriveling vocal cords

She slowly stopped clenching her teeth and biting her nails

And let syllables slip from between her chapped lips and worn fingertips

Severing the threads stitching shame to her soul,

She worked to once again easily connect and converse

And discovered she was far from alone.

But see, it’s never just about dominance, masculinity, or the number of rapes

It’s about how frequently people are taken advantage of

How multiple people turn away

Pointing fingers and continuously shifting the blame

That society often deems misogyny and ignorance okay

No thought to how victims must trudge on with scars,

Pills clutched in the dark,

Pills on top of pills consumed to consume feelings

How victims are not allowed to mourn the weeks, months, and years

Lost to depression and self-hate, but are encouraged to “just get over it”

Many are taught to slip by with Band-Aids plastered over tear ducts  

While their hands are duct-taped to their sides so they don’t rise to form fists.

Instead of teaching people to run towards something,

To go about dancing again,

We numb tongues into muffled submission

Claiming issues are “taken care of” even though they are less than half-addressed

We need to make a change

Nurture trust and acceptance regardless of class, gender, or age

Remove our headphones from our ears and open our arms

Learn to listen and observe, to be patient and concerned

Because what she wears doesn’t mean his actions are excused

That she has sex with other guys but not you, doesn’t mean she’s playing hard to get

Own up to the fact that rape is by definition non-consensual,

You’re deluded if you still think that means she was “asking for it.”

Spoken Word / Through Slanted Eyes

Right Now!

I’m hearing generalizations and seeing insecurities,

tasting bitter stereotypes and smelling simmering irritability.

I’m making my way through the land of freedom and opportunity,

but I’m only feeling a nation’s ignorance and callousness.

 

“Hey chink, open your eyes!”

Why don’t you open your eyes?

 

Prankster youth, sarcastic and sharp, arrogant and American,

nurtured under flippant, culturally accepted racism

They throw taunts over their shoulders, cutting straight to the bone,

laugh it off as a well-played joke, insults sung as an anthem.

 

“Strike a funny pose! Peace signs! Stretch your eyes out!”

 

America’s sweethearts pull and stretch the shape of their eyes,

jeering and sneering into the camera lens, laughing in fake surprise

Mocking appearances in a culture where appearance is everything,

it’s clear how you really feel about people of my ethnicity.

 

“Geez, why do all Asian people look the same?”

Can we say lack of exposure?

 

I’m given puddle shallow opinions that there are only slight differences,

commentators broadcasting same skin! hair! lack of eyelashes!

I’m given razor edged ridicule oozing from every well meaning charmer,

shadowed reflections in their eyes betray their true character.

 

“You need to get a sense of humor. You’re too sensitive.”

Are you kidding me? Is that what you really believe?

 

I refuse to be the butt of racial slurs, phony bright smile pasted on,

kissing my way up, demure, submissive, and withdrawn

I refuse to silence my opinion of a nation stuffed with double standards,

spewing corrupted minds mouthing ignorant phrases, spiraling downwards.

 

Right Now!

I hear jokesters flinging out excuses and becoming defensive,

claiming innocence, obliviousness, but they only appear edgy and restive

I hear denial of responsibility, piles of excuses for lack of sensitivity

but I hear no apologies for crushing my pride and dignity.

Poetry / Get Inked

Hollow contentment dripping from fingertips,

Swirled pads that haven’t gripped a pen in ages

Steadily moving across lines,

The nub carving black ink across memories that refuse to fade

Thickening silhouettes and crosshatching shades of emotions

As he runs stained hands through his hair,

Tugging at the roots

As if shaking the strands will dislodge his troublesome thoughts

And jumpstart his brain into activity

Mustering up the energy to lift the edges of lips and the corners of eyes

When he’d rather curl into himself

Half life

Missions discarded

Can’t quite temper the doubt and fears enough to alleviate

The embarassment locked deep within

That flushes out the cold fear of being alone

Far be it from him to control his thoughts and actions

He's aware he's lost control

But however much he attempts to run away,

We’ll have time to soak in sun soaked dust motes without a care

To meet at some obscure cafe

Despite being locked away in different wings of the same crumbling house,

Isolated in our dreams.

Spoken Word Collab / A Music Lesson

BY KENYA DANINO AND AMANDA KELLY ESPIRITU

 

It was a Saturday afternoon.

Painter’s sky in tow the clouds poured out their colors like they were an overture

Cataclysmic and bright

What Heaven might look like.

 

A warm summer breeze draped itself along the worn down pavement

As we made the mistake of—

Saw it as a blessing though—

We were dating.

 

“Sit down. I got something to show you.”

 

I couldn’t disobey the authority in his voice.

It frightened me. Spoke through my bones.

His voice was a lure, catching at my ears

Hypnotic.

Snaking its melody through my brain

He captured my wide eyes with the pads of his hands

Taking care to leave his fingerprints imprinted on my retina

 

“You’re scared aren’t you?”

 

No.

Maybe.

A little.

 

“Then we have to start from square one.

Take my hand.

To start, touch these drums.”

 

My hands were too tiny to cover the back of your palms

I became entranced by the rhythm of us hitting the drums

It echoed my heartbeat

1, 2, 3, Bara-Ta-TA!

Like congas!

1, 2, 3, Bachata-TA!

 

He loved me like the echoes of his conga drum

It was the only way he knew how to describe his feelings

But he loved me in a way I could not even begin to decipher

 

“Your body is a music box, you are a beautiful melody.

Let me show you.

Your turn to play and see.

Let me show you.”

 

Where did you learn to play like that?

Where did you learn to play ME like that?

 

“I taught myself how to play the drums.

Playing a drum is like figuring out the melody of a beautiful woman

Let me teach you about a whole new way of life.

Come.”

 

Your voice resonated deep.

We were soul children that moved and grooved to the same beat.

 

“Step 1: Listen. You hear that?”

 

I didn’t hear anything—

But we played the drums together.

We were beautiful, rhythmic sound together.

 

“Step 2: Feel it.”

 

I’m feeling it!

 

“No not enough, I mean really feel it.”

 

I’m feeling the edges of my barriers!

I’m feeling myself disintegrate!

I’m falling headfirst into a pool of reverberating clapped palms and ghost notes!

I’m falling too fast.

I’ve fallen for you.

 

“Step 3: Let the connection drive you. Let loose. Let go.”

 

I was still hesitant

What if I skip a beat?

What if he laughs if I make a mistake?

What if I do let myself loose control?

 

“See, I knew you could play—

But you won’t get past this stage until you learn what you want

What do you want? Who are you?

What is your rhythm? How do you sound? Show yourself to me.”

 

Obliterating my fears, I let go of my embarrassment

Blindfolded the word rejection and went roaring, pounding sound

As the notes became louder

I let my hips move to the tune

I became the rhythm I had built on my own

I spun magic notes and beats he ate off my fingertips

I unraveled at the hands of a music that had lain dormant within my soul

 

Three years’ worth of symphonies and ballads

We took turns conducting an orchestra of hollowed drums

Rising crescendos soared through our veins

Until our matched tempos split and skittered, off kilter  

We fell over flats and scraped our knees on sharps

We went deaf from the intensity of our own decibels.  

 

You said “I won’t always be here, but always remember 1, 2, 3”

 

I said, “I can’t play nursery beats, No 1, 2, 3 anymore

You will never hear my song to completion.”

 

He taught me how to play

He taught me how to sing

He taught me how to love myself.

Spoken Word Collab / Midnight

BY ANDREA ALONSO AND AMANDA KELLY ESPIRITU

Lean in and sway

No inhibitions

Feel the curved canyons of my palms under yours 

Dive into the infinitude of my soul, these eyes of mine

Let me sink into the moat that surrounds your psyche

As I run my fingers over every part of your body

Reaching for territories unknown 

Consuming adulterous passions overcomes me in ways The Lord would not be pleased, but Lord have mercy!

Your lips and hands leaving indentations upon my hollowed cheeks, sipping at the smirk at the edge of your dimples 

Bodies in flames of the richest hues of reds and passionate purples artists can only see in dreams 

I become an inferno, self-combustion sweetened by the air around you. 

They say God damns those who sinfully succumb under sweet wisps from sultry sensuous dreams,

But tell me, if the good Lord damns

Why bless the earth with thy damnable beauty?

Spoken Word Collab / This One Is 4 The Artists

BY RAYANA GRACE AND AMANDA KELLY ESPIRITU

 

This one is for the artist in each of us

That little rebel that refused to color between the lines

Preferred a blank sheet of paper

Those who weren’t limited by even that sheet

And moved on to paint the walls and tracked finger paint across floors

Those who were only limited by their imaginations

And lost in games of pretend that blended with reality

No, I’m not talking about some Rugrat-shit

I’m talking about losing yourself in the moment

In the lines your crayon made

In the music only you could hear

In the rhythms and beats you followed on pots and pans

In throwing your whole being into memorizing monologues!

 

Picasso said: “Every child is an artist,

the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

 

We can hold those memories at the front of our minds

But they’re hazy and blurred

Why can’t we express ourselves as easily – it’s completely absurd

Passions come and go, ebbs and flows

But we hit a wall.

And most of us can’t get over it.

 

Why? You ask me why?

Fuck, man, artists are sensitive and shit.

 

But in all seriousness,

When you’re growing up

They say: you gotta use it or you lose it

Well we can’t use it when we’re told we have our priorities

Pull off the grades, play this sport, get a real fucking job

You can’t live off paint fumes

You can’t make a living off art

Get a grip on reality; you’re not growing up to be a flower child

 

Schools don’t fund the arts

Budgets are cut down and then cut more

Left and right, up and down

Programs left spinning, tattered, completely unwound

 

It’s funny how the money

is being cut from art projects

and being pasted to line the pockets

cut and paste these kids from the projects

and put them in an environment

where their creativity is not limited

to four walls made of cement

their script and graffiti

is not viewed as calligraphy

but rather as delinquency

we’re punishing the kid who could be the next Salvador Dali

 

Consequentially, society is stifling creativity

Teaching us un-expression

Saying leave your romantic notions behind

It’s like, so what if you’re unhappy, if you’re feeling unfulfilled?

Find another outlet that’s more productive!

It’s no big deal, you’ll live!

Wandering around on childhood dreams is nice…

But no one really makes it from there

 

Fuck that. I don’t want your “edumacation”

Your “cray cray” ideals

Who wants to be crushed into a cubicle?

Slaving away to pay bills while your talent shrivels to a hobby?

 

We’re met with lackadaisical apathy at the worst

Patted on the head and told

You CAN’T by the people who are supposed to tell you that you CAN

Laughed and scoffed at, they say:

It’s a phase; you’ll see the light of day!

Favor a quick, steady buck and get rich

Put some effort in and don’t turn into a total bitch

 

EXCUSE ME. You’re the bitch for not letting us express ourselves

For not letting us be ourselves

For not letting us be

No one can follow step by step any path to success

Maybe our brains aren’t turning to mush, but our souls are

 

Lotta people can’t really appreciate, much less even create ART

When the funds are cut, when we’re told no

When we keep reaching for the stars

But we’re yanked back and stuffed into some cookie cutter mold

 

This so real surrealism is that we’re

transplanting mechanical brains

into human beings

transforming them to work as machines

start cranking the gears and

begin the clockwork

nerves replaced with cords

thoughts turned by metallic gadgets

and ideas are confined

by tight screws down the spine

dreams are a binary code

01, 11 programmed in the mode

and creativity is mislabeled

as a malfunction

building little workers

is acting in conjunction

with a decrease in fundin’

for important outlets of expression

so who could blame these kids

for the regression

from canvases to barren walls of building and bridges

but rather than building bridges

we’re telling kids that artisticness holds no value in our wallets

so it doesn’t matter what you call it

our checkbooks hold more weight

than our picturebooks

and so it looks like the money is only put in

if they know the money is

gonna get back out

so it’ll take a little more than spare change

to make sure that there’s change

the message of arts not being worth it

has children thinking that they don’t deserve it

so now this lack of art appreciation

has become synonymous with our current generation

 

Dammit

Literature and art are a reflection of the times!

What will our utter lack of artistry say about OUR time?

Are we evolving or devolving when we now live

Live in a culture where “irregardless” is now a word

Where we become obsessed with individuals who have no talent

Like, really Honey Boo Boo fans – for real???

 

Peace out y’all – the last week’s been surreal.

Spoken Word Collab / I'll Never Forget

BY KELSEY GASSELING AND AMANDA KELLY ESPIRITU

 

I won’t forget when you first asked me, Honey how was school today?

In my blunt young way I heard myself say:

The kids in my class won’t let me play

They call me crazy, they claim you’re mean

That you make life harder than it needs to be

They say:

 

Just shut up and hand me another paper ream!

I mean, the trees are dead anyway!

Don’t let their deaths have been in vain!

 

It’s okay, ma, I still love you though

You didn’t want to scare me so,

But you said, It’s high time you knew

Life will not be easy, living as we do

Though it was for a good cause,

I was too young to see

That the bond that would break us

Still links you and me

 

I won’t forget when I won a prize for that poem I wrote

The other kids in class, they didn’t have a hope

Because I devoted it to you, and all the love that I spoke

Filled up my pages with respect in youthful prose

I hoped I’d inspire them to respect you again

To pick up their litter, to call you a friend

But they took away my trophy

And broke it on the curbside

They plastered mud on my face

And asked me how I liked being the bastard child of a disgrace like you

And when I flew home, I plead Mom tell me they’re lying

You sighed, resigned, and benignly sat, holding my head as I cried

You said One day, they’ll see that this matters, they just have to,

But there’s nothing I can do right now, baby

Except go on loving and giving life to you

I fell asleep, subdued by the subtle rumblings of your stomach,

The shifting plates of your muscles, the crashing waves of the blood

Flooding your veins.

The same blood that carried me into life, into this pain

But I was still too young to comprehend

Still too young to see you as an end

And not just a means to my own contentment.

 

I can’t forget when I came home from high school,

You were washing my dishes in the sink

You asked me How was class today

I yelled How the fuck do you think??  They call me a fool

I should’ve known better than to stick up for you!

 

Imagine me, all alone at school:

 

Angry and attitudinal, a passionate figure, yelling and gesturing,

The images and sounds trumpeting through your head with megaphone held high and feet stomping echoes into your mind:

 

Global Warming! Save the air!

 

NononoNO!

They swear

The Great Hoax! The government lies!

 

I reply

Can’t you feel the pollution seeping into our homes?

Save the polar bears!

 

They stare at me and say:

Who cares?

 

I used to think, they profaned your name

For lack of insight

Now I can’t help but see that they’re absolutely right

It’s a hoax, you’re a fraud

With all this global-warming shit

Mumbo-jumbo spitting environmentalists

Picketing and wishing that their message would stick

Well maybe there’s a reason

Your bullshit initiatives don’t sit well with society!

 

Psha, we’re always gonna have fuel to burn and resources to use and abuse.

Someone’s always finding more.

 

I don’t want to think about being green or whatever at all.

I don’t really want to follow all of the news about the environmental down-fall.

It’s not my problem.

 

Nothing lasts for eternity. It’s inevitable.

Things will run out and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.

 

You’re just another conspiracy.

And it all seems unreal, if you ask me.

It’s not like it’s killing everyone. This isn’t some epidemic, rat-born disease

 

Who’s dying, ma, can you explain that to me?

 

You’re backwards, obsessed, and obstructing our progress

Stomping our economy just because it’s out to make a good deal

And it doesn’t support some hopelessly naiveidealistic “fair trade” movement

Well maybe you’re just lazy, ma

Like the farmers who can’t make a living for their own families

Maybe you’re not cut out for this whole parental scene

I’m sick of all the demeaning words, they hurt,

I’m sick of wasting time discerning what goes in compost and what in recycling

 

That’s all anyone ever talks about

 

I’m sick of always being the butt of jokes

Seen as the spokesperson

For you and the rest of your militantly tree-hugging, grungy, hippie folks

Just let me be!

I ran away that night, didn’t see you for a week

I was sure you’d see how horrible you’d been

Was sure I’d teach you a lesson

About what it meant to be a normal parent of an adolescent

About how I needed acceptance

And how you were just trying to prevent me from reaching my full potential.

 

Oh Yeah, I cared about the earth and the sea and the air…

Just not as much as you,

And not as much as some.

I mean, there were other people looking to fix it already…

And I was holding out for bigger things, more important, necessary things.

For me.

I wasn’t being selfish, just realistic.

 

And maybe you weren’t worth saving anyways.


 

I won’t forget:

When you got sick

Doctors said your heart was flooded with toxins

Your main arteries were dammed

Locked up and constricted by log jams

Ill red blood cells bleached white

By chemicals from nearby paper mills

And still you kept fighting

They chopped the branches from your trees

So your veins could no longer carry the air you needed

So your lungs were filled with poisons and left untreated

Your temperature rose, your brain feverish with heat

The cool blue ice of your irises I saw melt into your cheeks

And for the first time, I feared for your life

And for the first time in years, I felt no fear for mine

Because I saw your body rejecting what once had made it whole

Saw you pulled in two by people who

Plundered you,

Outnumbered you,

Encumbered your growth

Til you had nothing to do but slowly succumb to a coma

That left you defenseless

 

And I saw that as a people, we’re relentless

Any involuntary reaction you happen to take,

We can counter with some piece of technology made

Specifically for manipulating you

And your life blood

 

I decided right then and there, to give you a transfusion

My confusion and bemused complacency were swept away

As I wept where you lay

 

But my gestures and posturing were meaningless and motionless.

I was so pumped full of black oil, creeping through my veins

And Botox injected to give me that “natural” look…

 

That I couldn’t save you.

And I knew it was my fault.

I screamed for help, but they turned a deaf ear

So now I’m here, ma, speaking clearly for you

 

To the Cynics and Slobs, with no opinion really:

Don’t forget:

The children of today that you’ll be leaving tomorrow,

Live your lifestyle while the rest of us choke

And we have to sleep next to the shit you’ve unloaded

 

Don’t forget when I make your ears bleed with my profanity

Because my mother still has to breathe in the cloaking smoke and chemicals you hack

But go ahead, keep running around that little resource-guzzling track

You’re burning into her exposed and weather-worn face

With your addiction to spinning rubber wheels and smelly gas into space

And your need to get moremoremore miles whenever you fly through the sky

 

Should we become desensitized to these issues and turn a blind eye?

Keep at this path of self-destruction and keep constructing skyscrapers and highways

Along the banks of the stopped-up River Denial?

 

Have we forgotten how to speak for ourselves?

To not act or point out how we’re shortening our lives

By speeding up and distracting our minds

Despite all the new medicines and fancy pants treatments

Used to preserve us past the time on our expiration-date

And brashly beat back words and thoughts that threaten actual change

 

Should I not make my opinion known?

Should I be like you and just decide

To not sacrifice my luxuries,

Even when it wracks my nerves and gets my hearts beating off-time

And out of my chest, making obscene beads of effortless sweat run down my back?

To let procrastination and second guesses and laziness overtake my brain?

To agree mindlessly with some poncy politician who only wants to rake

In the votes and the cash and the lime-light?

To scoff at environmentalists like they’re a good joke as they try to convince us we’re running out of time?

 

I’m getting gassy with greed and jealousy which grips me and chokes me

Until I’m green in the face, gushing about prospects and profit

That I guzzle like gummy bears coated in chocolate.

 

I’m not some springy, green sprite of spring, green middle finger flipping off the birds of the world that crap on your car, ready to set nature free by wearing a fucking green shirt and recycling once a month

 

I’m smeared with pasty make-ups, caked-on perfumes and colognes

Hiding pockmarks of pollution and the stench of my selfishness

I’ve forgotten what my true reflection looks like

And I’m too proud to EVER admit that I’m wrong

 

I’ve forgotten what pure air tastes like

I hunger for sunlight on my skin

For grass and flowers to pull up and toss to the wind

To let go of the gas and electricity we once used without a second thought

And all the lifeless cash in the world that never really bought us happiness

 

I’ve forgotten just how I squandered it all

All I can remember is dust and death

And smog-riddled dreams of what could still have been

 

Because the greens and blues locked away

In my pictures are the only memories that remain

And even those can’t sustain me

Covered as they are now with brown sludge and black smudges.

 

I won’t forget the so-called experts who stood by while the spark lit

New life into your chest

They could have operated on you,

Cleaned up the pollution that cluttered your lungs

But they wanted the easy solution

And so sutured in a pace maker

To make you dependent on the push of a button

But it could have been prevented

Were we not so apathetic

 

I can’t forget to BE RADICALBE PASSIONATE.

Do something with my life and my choices

If I won’t use my voice, I need to give it - to someone who will

 

I’ll rip out my voice-box, dying to be used

I’ll give it an opinion and blast it into the ear drums of the world until it vibrates through into even the most thick-headed skulls and grabs their attention,

I’ll break what can’t be broken,

That wall of self-assurance and disregard for life,

That we clutch to our eyes to make us blind to how much we’re destroying

 

I’ll lift all these messages to new heights, take it all and scream it out instead of the shit ton of lies and excuses they pack, air-tight into commodified bags of truth,

disguised with labels of “good” intentions towards you

 

I’ll let go of my ego

Unclench my fists around my pocket-book

Be freer with my efforts, my income, my wishes

To take a risk and invest in what’s best for you

To clean the sluices of my body

So the refuse that once pumped through my veins

Will no longer cause you pain

When my blood goes coursing through you.

I won’t forget to give you new life

By respecting mine.

 

I’ll sweat out the pain, drain my ears of the sugary-sweet notes

Of self-preservation, national pride, competition, and nearing technological perfection

That drowned out your cries for mercy

 

Because that day you got sick, I made a promise

A promise I’ve kept

Because you opened my eyes,

And I’ll never forget.

Poetry / The Do Nothing Technique

The Do Nothing Technique

Give them your hollow bones when they ask

Draw them out from between muscles and nerves

Let them suck and drain the marrow just to fill your bones up with cement

And whittle you down to a number on a scale

Heavy with gravely concrete

Let them clip the primary feathers on your wings

Tear and pluck at your functionality

Plumage scattered on the ground to keep you sitting pretty,

Flightless on the ground

 

Give them your hollow bones when they ask

It’s easier to pretend you have no choice

It gives you an excuse for why you do not fly away