Hunger

I used to not have enough food

So I stole food

Foraging through the trash for stale, cold food

I pushed through

Now I shop at Whole Foods

Actually I pay someone else to do it for me, because my time is worth more than when I worked as a whore

I dredged myself up from the bottom, headed to the top even when I didn’t know it

Sometimes it seemed I was going backwards, yet I kept moving forward

One Hungry Mama

One hungry mama searches for food to feed her llama

One hungry mama doesn’t want to stir up drama

One hungry mama is well acquainted with the inverse relationship between generosity and riches

One hungry mama provides an elite service for the rich, but without pay

Don’t they know that everyday I work without pay, I drain what I have saved?

They know that I have my first baby on the way, they comment on my belly sway

For all their learnedness, don’t they know how to treat a human decently?

For all their pretending to care, don’t they care at all?

Every lowly job I worked before this one paid me in some way, even when I was being trained

One hungry mama couldn’t help but wonder if she might get paid if she wasn’t pregnant, or if she were a man

Avoiding paying me while working just to avoid paying me while I’m on maternity leave is a double-dick move, she couldn’t help but feel

One hungry mama has needs that are real

I don’t need much, but I need something to keep my family financially afloat

My man works, but he doesn’t save or provide for his family

Money drains out of his hands faster than it comes in, that is the way it has always been- he gives hefty donations each week to the church and those who ask him for help

Yet when I ask him how our own family will survive, he simply says, ‘God will provide’

I love him anyway, as irate as it makes me to witness his lifelong commitment to impoverishing himself unnecessarily

One hungry mama doesn’t know what to do, torn between the ideal of the quality of work she wants to deliver and the real quantity of money she needs to feel respected and to survive in this modern life

One hungry mama has trouble sleeping at night

Pressure piles on her, she is fixing to pop

One hungry mama wonders when her hunger will stop

One hungry mama considers taking on another job, even though her time and energy it will rob, even though the work is taxing and without break

One hungry mama waits for the light of day

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Please don’t judge me for being a sex worker in order to make ends meet
You taught me how to dissociate from my body, how to put other’s wants ahead of my needs
You were my first violator and my first pimp
Remember molesting me at night throughout my childhood and adolescence?
You opened the floodgates for countless rapes
Remember forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do my whole life?
Pimping me out to abusive children who you ‘felt sorry for’ because they did’t have any friends
The reason why they didn’t have any friends is because they weren’t good friends. Like you, they were trapped in abuse
Oscillating between abuser and abused
Remember commanding me yet never asking or listening?
I told you I was depressed, you told me I was not
The middle school guidance counselor called you to pick me up from school because I was suicidal-
All you did was yell at me
You found out I was a sex worker by violating my privacy
You yelled at me to respect myself
Yet you never respected me and actively taught me to disrespect myself
How can you expect me to fly when all you ever did was drag me down and break my wings
You raised me in poverty
Gave me no financial resources, no guidance
I was hungry, I had textbooks to buy and rent to pay
You want to take credit for my success
I became who I am in spite of you, not because of you
Though I see the crucial role you played
At the end of the day all I can say is namaste

Corona

I wear my crown of martyrdom

On the front lines, yet still at the back of the testing line- haven’t been tested

I think of you, virus, though you do not think of me

Coronavirus, on the news
Coronavirus, in my body
Is the aching in my muscles and bones your calling card?
You desire to enter my cells, virus, as much as I long to keep you out
Together, yet separately, we hunger
You want to pick my lock, use my typewriter to transcribe your RNA, then mail your enveloped self-promoting propaganda air mail special to Hadestown.
Don’t bring me down on the way, I pray
Not like this, not today
My heart breaks to think of those who have lost their lives to you, and those who needlessly will still
My head is intoxicated with fear
You always seem too near
Perhaps we Americans deserve the repercussions of our recklessness
Though it is the innocent who pay, as usual
Another day deep
I march on with trembling hands and heavy feet
Tracking invisible mud out of the wards and onto the street
Ashamed to stay in the job I was fixing to quit anyway,
Ashamed to leave now and abandon my post
The war is on, dwarfing the existential crisis of living the life I want versus fulfilling my societal obligation
I am among the minority who have a medical education
Only in following my heart can I grow up at last, no longer a slave to the judgements of others who do not bear my burden
My mind’s liberation opens up like a blue sky
Back to here and now, overcast again
In clinic and in the hospital
I struggle to bring my heart into the mundane and mission-impossible tasks which overflow from one day to the next
Virus, I gaze at your storm clouds accumulating on the horizon, and feel small
I see your silver lining, as I am well practiced in finding positivity amidst disaster
You are rich in potential
Look at the way you are uniting humanity, virus
People are taking care of themselves and each other like never before
Practicing presence in hospital hallways and supermarket aisles, smiling shyly at each other from behind our suffocating masks
We are finally being mindful of our precious resources, thinking globally and acting locally for sustainable solutions
We are cultivating more community and camaraderie than we could ever quantify
Teamwork and solidarity are weaving our spirits more closely together even as the physical distance between our bodies grows
I take a step back to take in the beauty of the tapestry you wove, virus
You bring opportunity for innovation and flexibility, you demand it
Many of us no longer take life for granted
We are cleaning our hands as often as we always should have
People are being prioritized over profits as we focus on what is essential
We settle in, acknowledging at last that we are in the same boat
Living in unspoken gratitude for each day of health
Please don’t rock my boat too much, virus
Though you are armed with cunning skills
And you may bring about more positive change still
I plan to ride out this storm, though land is not in sight
Virus, perhaps you could rest tonight?
Virus, my type II pneumocytes are mine, my lungs are a celebration of life and you are not invited
I wind-down after another day on the front lines,
I give thanks to those who are doing their part in time
To those in the comfort of your own homes,
Please stay where you are, be satisfied
Coronavirus, we will destroy you with patience and ingenuity, with solidarity and community, with soap and water, and with love for one another

Man’s Medicine

I am surrounded by man’s medicine

Doctors like me are compensated in proportion to how much we dominate and penetrate patients
This is man’s medicine
But it would be nothing
Without Earth Mama
We are born from her
We are made of her
Yet we often forget and neglect her
Bedazzled by sharp and shiny surgical tools
Our tongues twist around exotically named medications
All the while hungering for the ambrosial milk of our Earth Mama
To thrive we need the roots of her body, her verdant leaves
Yet we are blinded by starched white sleeves
Were it not for her willow bark
We would still be in the dark
She manifests her love
through starry nights and petals of foxglove
Let us remember the rainbow which birthed us
The marvelous miracle from which we sprung
May we hear the beautiful songs yet to be sung
I’m not knocking man’s medicine
I’m just saying
It would be nothing
Without Earth Mama’s healing touch