She didn’t move mountains–
Over and over again I gasped.
Maybe he was in my lungs
And that’s why I had such a hard time breathing,
But he wasn’t there-
I know because I’ve always had bad lungs.
Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t caught him,
My lungs gave out
When he took his leave.
Which I’m okay with-
You can’t run very far without a spine.
When the cold slips in,
I can feel my heart start ticking,
like a time bomb waiting to fracture.
And I wish the sound didn’t hurt you,
but by the looks of things, it already has.
And I wish my soul would scald a dove’s wing
because I am more empty than pure;
more fed up with forevermore.
Yet sleep is somehow comforting.
I revel in its sores
—still bruising, since yesterday’s summer.
Black bodies seep through our T.V. screens and into the living room.We don’t notice at first.
We’re outside, watching the heat from the Barbeque quiver.
But the gunfire from the screen drifts to the patio,
over the Azalea’s—a fleshy pink like my sister’s cheeks after too much Sangria—
and lingers by my mother.
“Turn that crap off.”
But the clink of Pellegrino and polite laughter.
“How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?”
We don’t think about it.
But there is a man who does.
He’s a father,
the kind who feels like rusty button downs and lose jowls—maybe a couple smile lines—
But he leaves his son,
and he leaves his wife,
and he leaves his Barbeque
to aid the forgotten ones
to save bodies nobody cares about –
disposable and black, like the clip on earrings Grandma wore to Grandpa’s funeral twelve years ago.
And he wraps a string around his heart
and seeps it in their pain
drinks atrocity like tea
and fills up on rage.
“WHY DOESN’T ANYBODY CARE
HOW COULD YOU LOOK AWAY”
He’s seen crimson swallow streets
and war swallow bodies
and machetes take ladies for lovers.
He’s a doctor,
the kind who reeks of impartial and feigned condolences—maybe a stern handshake—
But when he saw designs carved into her body and cum slathered on her face
He felt something,
Perhaps despair, but not so deep he could crumble.
He never once lowered his chin,
but had to repeat, let the phrase squirm under his skin:
“I’m a human.
I’m a human.
I’m a human”
So he convinces himself he can turn rage into productivity
so he rages into the next mission and speaks out on the T.V. screen
the camera zooms close to his face,
But we don’t see him,
despite his ivory skin,
and we’re not listening.
There’s nothing but the clink of Pellegrino and polite laughter.
If we did slip away from the patio to turn on our eyes,
our lips would quiver like the heat from the Barbeque
“What could drive a mad man to reality?”
What could drive a madman to reality?
I am not the only one uncomfortable here
but I am one of few.
Jose says that there’s more here,
more than enough rainwater to go around.
If you work hard, you live well.
The way things used to be at home.
Clara and Carlos agree,
Mama just offers a rubbery smile.
Papa’s eyebrows furrow
I wear a smile that mirrors Mama’s at school,
where American children speak English
I tell them about Castro and the beach and being almost wealthy.
Is it the same as a joke?
I have not eaten plantains since the trip.
Sometimes tears roll down my cheeks at the thought.
We are so close, and so far, all into one,
but my friends are still a world away.
Mami used to grow plantains,
and I feel like I won’t remember the taste of sunshine.
The surf here is saltier,
the beach has less sun.
But I still spend all of my time mingling with the waves.
If I stare long enough, I can see my island.
The waves have the power to carry us to another shore,
the way they carried us here.
I want to love it here, the way the others do.
Papi says it’s harder to find things in plain sight.
America is a land paved with opportunity.
I will find it.
I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’ll lay out each step, provide an outline, but you have to do the rest. You have to act. This is how to live life. This is how to survive.
First, I want you to wake up. Open your eyes and take a waking breath. Welcome this day. The past may flood back into your mind, but keep your focus on today.
Next, get out of bed. This is a bit harder. Moving takes motivation and determination, even though, it seems so simple on the outside. Sometimes it may feel like there is a weight on your chest, pinning you down, holding you back. You have to find the energy to fight back somehow.
If you made it to this step, feel proud. You kicked off your day when many others couldn’t even find the will to get out of bed. Now, go to your nearest mirror or somewhere you can see yourself. Once you’re there, look at your reflection and smile. Smile because you’re alive and that’s your most important job, your purest purpose, and you’ve done a great job so far.
So far, you’re moving and smiling. You’re doing great. You should eat something now or at least provide yourself with a beverage. Part of life involves taking care of yourself. It isn’t too hard, but I find some people fight themselves on the topic of it. They refuse to. They group it with bad acts. Remember, food keeps you alive. You’ve come so far already; why stop now?
Now, you have two options: rest or work. You get to choose, but keep that smile on your face. Whichever you do, make sure you do it right. With a smile. If you’re not going to put that effort into it then don’t do it at all.
Once the day comes to a close, I want you to sleep. Put everything aside and just lay down. Block everything else out. I know it can be tough shutting away your worries and thoughts, but you have to muffle them somehow. Your body and mind both need sleep, so try not to deprive them of it for petty things. I hope you’re still smiling. Now, repeat this tomorrow.
So, maybe this sounds like “faking it,” but I think this layout is efficient. You’re valuable, and you’re just constantly reminding yourself of that. Always keep moving. Always keep fighting. Never feel like today should be your last day. So, remember, do it right with a smile or don’t do it at all.
This concludes Lesson 1.
The beach is where I become one.
Grains of sand form my skin,
Waves help me to swim.
Rays of sun combine to form my glare
and seaweed dangles in ringlets down my back.
Grains of salt are the Spanish words that fall
out of my lips.
They surf along the waves where Castro
will not find them.
Though I have the legs to stand,
the sand that forms land,
have more of a voice than I,
a spoiled little girl from Havana.
Papi built his business
like the seeds of Mami’s plants.
When people stopped wanting cars, Papi could make do,
just like the broken stems of weak plants do.
But the problem is when no one needs.
Castro says Papi doesn’t need to own,
so out of Papi’s hands and into Castro’s the cars go.
Once, we were not far from being rich
Mami and Papi
Jose and Maria
Clara and Carlos, plus a new baby on the way,
we’re so much farther from wealth now.
Especially since our new houseguest,
the one they call Communism,
takes so much from many,
and says we’re all to get the same.
Why doesn’t he understand
not every seed can grow with
a measly inch of rain?
Why is there a cotton ball in the Advil jar?
Did you tell him a secret that he couldn’t keep?
Did you tell him that you would always love him, before you threw him away?
And why, oh why, would you think that it would be any different this time?
I hope there’s peanut butter still left in the jar in the pantry
I can’t remember what happened last night but I do know that peanut butter was involved
So involved, why do we do this to ourselves?
Humans, trembling and vulnerable, yet we bring this cruelty into our own lives by our very own doings
Telling each other lies because the truth is awfully boring to bear and
Why do my fingers keep typing when all my mind wants to do is SCREAM!
This is not right, this is not right!
And let these words ring out, free and unadulterated (much unlike you and I)
And let them echo out into the vortex that is the nighttime
When you are alone and isolated
And a teenager.
with each sunrise,
I think that my life revolves way too much around things that aren’t happening, and things that aren’t real. People who I made up, and who only exist in my head. Scenarios and stories. Which is all fine and dandy, but eventually I feel like I’m sucked in. Stuck in my head.
And I don’t like the feeling very much.
The only issue is that I don’t really know what else to do when I’m outside of my head. A club? An activity? Like, what?
But I also feel like this all the time, even when I’m relatively sane. I don’t know what it is. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. I just sit around. Observing. Watching other people live their lives while I sort of just..drift through it, you know? And I’m tired, so I don’t really want to force myself to do anything.
I don’t know. I wish that I could be normal.
I feel like I haven’t been normal in a long time.
I want to die.
At this point, I think that I might always want to die. Maybe people learn how to live with it? But I don’t know. All I know is that I want to die, but I’m never going to do it myself because I can’t let go of what I hope might be.
I just wish that it weren’t so fucking difficult.
And no one ever knows what I’m talking about???
No one really seems to know what to do. So maybe there’s something wrong with me that can’t be fixed. Like, my fate was predetermined? So maybe I’m a cautionary tale. Maybe I could’ve done great things and people will point at me when trying to convince kids not to get sad.
Sometimes I wish that I could be part of something. That I could feel important. I really don’t know how to describe it.
Ugh. I’m such an angsty teen. But the whole angsty teen idea is really stupid, because I feel like it takes away someone’s right to actually have feelings. Like, when a female has feelings, she’s sort of denied that right. As are teens.
I don’t know why I feel so anxious. I just know that I do. I just feel like nothing I ever write will be good enough, even if I write it and love it with all of my heart.
I just wonder if it’s even worth it. But I