Creating

Synesthetic, not synthetic

Moderately modestly me

Ring around the table and I’ll tell you as best I’m able

The crown jewels never did it for me

I’m grateful for every precious gem of sleep

For access to health care- a thrill still relatively new to me

For each bite to eat that I didn’t scavenge from the trash

For no longer risking my life for a pittance of cash

In dreams I travel to places both familiar and wild

I’m ripe to be having a child

After putting everybody else first for so long, stringing my body along

‘I’ll take care of you later’ the whispered promise to myself echoed across the years

Now ready to write a new song and know that I belong

Instead of hearing a pummel of critique drowning me out

Like all repressed people, I’m gearing to shout

Throw off the weighted coat of shame I didn’t ask for

It was never my burden to bear

My nightlight glows from within

Even as I struggle to come to terms with my sin

Someone always has it worse by the mess they’re in

May I stop running long enough to dance

Sincerity and simplicity mean more to me than frills or fanfare

May my life be enough to hold my lofty intentions

May my mind hold enough to serve despite my apprehensions

May I give myself the gift of health each day

May I feel held by the divine love which permeates all

When worldly woes are nauseating

May I remain connected to source and keep creating

Detective

My man wants to know my whole sexual history

My hesitation to unleash the demons from my trauma box only sets a wildfire of suspicion in his mind

I feel eaten alive at the crossroad of past and present men

He says that his woman must be held accountable for her actions

He references a religious belief that has nothing to do with me

I try to not fall over from the sexism

He interrogates me, my family and friends

Trying to connect loose ends

My body feels criminalized

Every time he learns of another ex-boyfriend

He guns down a line of accusations and invasive questions without end

He longs to latch on to that ethereal number of how many men have had sex with me

God only knows

When he demands that I relive the worst moments of my life

I want to end my life, though I do not tell him the invisible repercussions of his prying

I am a private person

With each new photograph he finds, he looks for clues

‘You were a pretty little girl’ he concludes upon examination of a picture taken during grade school, as if that were proof of my unchasteness

He dissects each word from conversation, trying to find deeper meaning, spinning stories where there were none before

Like a man watching porn, he is only interested in penises and penetrations

He has been marinating in his own scrotal sac for too long

To men like him, women are only important in relation to other men

I feel insane with rage

First I suffer a lifetime of molestation, rape and violation

Then I suffer being shamed and blamed for the crimes committed against my body, judged for events that occurred before we met

He is not worthy of hearing about my pain, he has not earned my trust

He may unearth old rumors kicking around this small town

But he will not find the rivers of tears I have cried

He will not see the countless non-consensual encounters I have survived

He will not hear my inner screams silenced by fear and lack of self-worth

I have learned enough to know that I deserve better than this

Lay down your case, detective

Put down your spy glass and quiet your inquisitive mind

What you are searching for has been in front of you all along

A good woman who loves you, committed her life to you, and wants to do right by you

Please do right by her

He Died

He died, with no one by his side

I didn’t know his real name and wasn’t allowed to contact his family because he was a prisoner, even while in the hospital

Our ICU was filling up with prisoners at that time

Incarceration didn’t allow the luxury of preventing infection with the virus that killed so many, and is killing still

The virus ravaged his lungs until there was nothing left for us to do but watch the life drain out of him after his final breath

Two correctional officers stood outside his room, indifferent to his death

Soon he would no longer be a threat, if he ever was

Peering through the class door, I knew two things about him:

He was dying of COVID-19, and he was a black man in America

I looked at his brown skin and wondered if that was what had landed him in the prison that ultimately lead to his death

I knew nothing of his life, hopes, loved ones or struggles

I knew only the structural racism that perpetuates poverty and the prison-industrial complex in which black and brown bodies are used to feed the white man’s profit machine

Regardless, he died

Push

My husband pushes me with prodding questions about my sexual history

It enrages him that I don’t display the intimate details of my past like trinkets at a flea market

He pries with jealous tones in his voice

He has nothing better to do than ‘solve the riddle’ of how many men have slept with me

I tell him the truth; I don’t know

I don’t tell him why there were too many to count. Early abuse trained me to be sex-trafficked, I was overworked and undersold

There are experiences in my life that I didn’t ask for

Uninvited guests who ruined my party

I have been violated more times than I’d care to tell

I don’t want to relive that hell

He is undeserving of such personal and painful information

His prying unlocks in me that deep dark, that suicidality that was once my constant companion

Standing face to face again, it is clear how much I have healed over time, and yet

I understand why ending my life is a natural conclusion

To take back my body, reclaim my flesh as my own

To liberate myself at last from the unbearable physical memories he invokes with his dredging interrogation

He cannot fathom the damage he causes

We end this round shouting

I dread and prepare for the inevitable; the next time he broaches the topic

When he demands out of the blue that I recap the worst moments of my life, I feel energetically destroyed

I start to count the cars on that long train of trauma and feel like a trapped animal, desperate for a way out

My old friend suicidality extends a hand, ‘I am here for you, when you feel pushed.’

The First Doctors

Farmers were the first doctors

They care for ears of corn and eyes of potatoes

They cure onions and garlic and find out what is plaguing the tomatoes

Famers were the first obstetricians

They bring new life into the world

Laboring alongside cows, goats, chickens and sheep

Farmers were the first surgeons, carefully cutting up meat

In all seasons they are put to the test, tending to vegetable beds, from nursery to compost

Ridding all manner of afflictions

To the farmers and the nourishment they provide, let us give thanks before we eat

My Power Tool

I have feet to dance to any beat and legs to carry me down the street

I have a belly to laugh and lungs to breathe

Arms to reach and hands to make

I have a heart to love and a brain to think

But my most powerful tool is my voice

To sing my truth and express my choice

To move mountains without breaking a sweat

All I need is courage and my breath

To share what is beneath my skin and let out what was once within

Mango Moment

This mango moment

So exciting and so free

Was like any other

Til you gave a mango to me

This mango moment

So juicy and so ripe

Was like any other

Til I took my first bite

This mango moment

Golden as sunshine

I want it all

I’ll even gnaw on the rind

This mango moment

Mangoes have appeal

I’m in the mood

And it’s mangoes I wanna feel

This mango moment

Dripping everywhere

Running down my fingers

And lingering in your hair

This mango moment

Sucking on the seed

Now I know

Mangoes fill my every need

This mango moment

Making mango juice so smooth

So dreamy and creamy

I think I love you

Garden State of Mind

You’re in luck

Cuz I’m DTF

I keep it confidential that I’m full of potential

Potential STIs from random guys

I’ve got that garden state of mind

Jersey holds an eternal flame

The smoldering scent of gasoline, burning tires and disappointment

Always, always too much heartbreak

I’m only passing through

I never meant to find what I seek in you

He and She

He

He drugged her and got her drunk

He did things to her she’ll never forget

I wonder if he’d regret it if he could fathom the depths of the wound he inflicted so easily

She

She started to cut herself to release the pain

She smoked, swallowed and sniffed but could never escape for long enough

Does he ever think back to that night and wonder how she must have felt to be violated

Does he ever imagine the horrors rippling through her body still?

Does he see the selfishness and the cruelty of his actions?

She overdosed last month

She was revived in time

She is still alive

Tears flow from her eyes

She comes to me for relief

I hold space for her grief

I cannot undo the wound or the crisis which ensued

I can only offer a new way for her to view her pain today

The struggle is real

She will feel how she feels

But in harming herself she only perpetuates his actions against her

Together we form a plan that will allow her wound to heal