fills bookstore shelves
& movie theaters
because everyone wants to escape
injustice & discrimination,
an imperfect world from
the comfortable distance of a page or screen.
my brother writes to me
and in his letter tells me about stargazers,
which get their name from burying themselves
in sand. when they look up to capture
their prayer, it looks like they are gazing
at stars. i think that’s pretty poetic, so instead
of writing about the deaths and the dry, bloodless
nights, i will talk about the stars juicing
the universe’s sorrow, filling moon craters with it like champagne.
Isn't it lonely?
Watching the people pass by
As they sing
As they cry
As they laugh
And they die.
I look into the mirror and see not myself but eyes, a nose, and a mouth that resemble mine.
I raise a hand up to my face.
My reflection does the same.
She taunts me.
I look at her and see not myself but all that is wrong with me.
I see not my hair but the grease that suffocates it.
It hurts to shower.
The roses grow in the old woman’s yard, with cherry-red heads brandished perpetually at the clouds. They only answer the questions of those who ask nicely.
You go to the woman’s house sometimes, to waste away the lonely summer days. She’s an old friend of your grandmother, and she gives you iced tea and cookies when you come over. You’ve seen the roses in her front yard. Gleaming like jewels, scraps of beauty standing against the desolate landscape.
One day you ask her, “Why roses?”
The old woman smiles, as if it was only a matter of time before you asked. “Roses not only symbolize love,” she says, “but secrecy, too. I like that.”
I’ve fallen in love with the woman in the photograph
Looking out at the water.
I peer into her world;
So distant and foreign from my own;
While I sit in the coffee shop
Passing the idle hours.
A new cascade of endearment
A summer melancholic myth
Too real to touch, transparent ways
Peculiar times are never the same
A figment only kept under floorboards
Forever knocking on front porch doors
Spectral places in childish faces
Desiring only more mystic spaces
imagine this: a bond, a connection, a
sweet, sugary rope tying you together
like two matching silly bandz bracelets
signing friendship matrimony. twinning
crop tops & photo posts, reserved lunch
spots & group roles, unspoken code;
trespassed secrets, temperately wild;
bold & free. imagine this: sugar turned
sour candy, rosy links rusting on the cold
cafeteria floor. strangers turned friends,
friends into sisters, then strangers again.
shut up; back to the wall; poetry under the mattress; god please help me to be pure; avoid eye contact; stop looking at her, pervert; incognito mode; godplease help me to be pure; don't react; don't forget; a pillar of salt; godpleasehelp me to be pure; keep the porcelain polished; keep your voice down; you can cry when the door is locked; godpleasehelpme to be pure; thirty centimetre steps; right hand over left and bow; "the body of Christ?"; godpleasehelpmeto be pure; perfect disinterest; smile, then laugh, this time with feeling; exit stage left; godpleasehelpmetobe pure; inhale; exhale; inhale; godpleasehelpmetobepure; don't forget to delete everything you've just said; amen
“Guard your heart, darling. Guard it with all you have and all you are.” These were her mother’s last words as her heart stopped.
Nina did not cry, for crying can upset the heart. She knew of people who let their emotions lead them, and eventually died from a dismal heart.
People like her mother, who fell in and out of love like it was a game.
Nina wished she could love. She hid her dreams and fantasies in sunrises and rose gardens, her ambitions in old libraries.
Trapped within these four walls,
but when did they get so beige?
Perhaps when the carpet wore thin,
its thread no longer intact.
Trapped within these four walls,
but when did they get so cracked?
Perhaps when the carpet faded from cream to sour milk,
its colour turning putrid.
“Forget about it,” says the depressed husband to the wife, says the child to their parents, as they all sit at a kitchen table somewhere. The wood that composes that table probably witnessed more conversations, more lively happenings in its oak-tree form. But as the enormous tree becomes chopped down, polished, and refined into a smaller and more unnatural form, it becomes apparent that the reduction from gargantuan to miniscule these days is commonplace.
Another example of this aforementioned reduction: the gradual loss of genuine talking, and hearts being worn on the cardigan sleeve at supper. Instead of reverberations of white-teeth and tobacco-tinted laughter, the only thing one can hear are prongs screeching when they drag along the china plate. Even then, the person almost realizes their mistake, and brings the silverware back to their seasonless cut of steak.
A familiar pit had formed in Anna’s stomach, and she was plummeting through it. Sweat beaded on her forehead, and she couldn’t stop checking her watch every few seconds. What am I supposed to do? Anna wondered as anxiety continued to marshall its forces. I don’t want to make him mad, but we really have to leave! Her heart pounded, but she gathered up her courage and cried desperately upstairs to her husband, “Jon, honey, if we don’t go now, we’ll miss the train!” Anna tried to make her voice sound nonchalant, but she had calculated the exact time they needed to leave the house, which had passed two minutes ago.
Jonathan thundered down the stairs. “Jesus, I’ll be ready in a second, you don’t need to yell. Call the kids while I finish up.”
A woman and a girl sat on the porch of a white house. The girl stared at her old shoes while the woman watched the cars pass Madison Street before disappearing at the curve. They were quiet and sad, and so they were speechless.
Outside it was still wet from the morning rain. Chipmunks and squirrels were buried in logs; birds hid within the black leaves of the trees and sang to each other; even the mosquitoes were avoiding the rest of the world. A pond on the other side of the street rippled from the sudden leap of a fish. The air was taken by the smell of pine needles and lily pads and petrichor.
A train broke the silence. As the whistle faded the woman checked her watch and then checked it again as if the time had cheated her.
“Please, I can’t breathe.”
This is America.
No, it’s not about freedom,
Quite the opposite.
It’s about class and privilege.
We’re put into boxes,
Divided by the colour our skin.
We are the dividers,
The masters of segregation.
An explicit bolder between the rich and the common folk.
Maybe she would be busy in the back of the shop, organizing the mugs that Brentwood’s Coffee offered to frequent customers. One after the other, carefully stacking them in their designated spots. The bell on the door would chime suddenly, breaking her out of her reverie. She would startle, almost dropping the coffee mug (but not quite because that would be cliché), and turn quickly to see who it was. She wouldn’t observe anything too specific about the man; perhaps a glimpse of green eyes or the small imperfections in his sweater.
As soon as Lelo fell asleep we went out to the balcony for lunch. Lela made mariquitas and black beans, and I cut an avocado for the salad, then dressed it with olive oil and vinegar. We each served ourselves and took the plates outside to eat.
Neither one of us spoke while we devoured our food. Once I had finished I gazed at the sea for a few minutes; the water was blue and green and old. When I was younger, we would go down to the coast and swim for hours while Lela sat on the rocks and watched. Enrique was always the first to get out of the water because he hated being the only boy. Soon after, my grandmother would ask us all to get out; the rocks always smelled like excrement and trash. Then she would wrap us up in towels and take us inside and we would drink hot chocolate and eat the tamales she had made for dinner the night before, even though I never liked tamales. When my cousins moved to Miami, we stopped swimming as often, and on the days that we did go down to the coast, Enrique only ever put his feet in the water, and I was always too cold to swim for more than fifteen or twenty minutes.
“My mother doesn’t want me to marry you.
I’m sorry; I don’t think we can hold it anymore."
As his words shot her at the heart,
The blood drained from her face
and her thoughts collapsed in her mind.
He showed resistance through ignorance
Her dawning eyes pleaded,
Engulfing a river of tears
And the rest being bouldered by
The back of her hand.
coal cracks into diamonds.
search deep within your crevices and mine
all that is black and impure to be harvested as
our garish garnishes
until the walls of your pericardium are pinkish and raw.
probe your weaknesses and gouge them out
**Content warning: suicide.
A lonesome girl,
Cursed by life.
Her eyes veil mysteries,
And she maliciously grips a knife.
Her aggression in the form of a knife,
Lay by her at the hush of night.
The gruesome darkness at witching hour,
Casts a spell of overdosing devour.
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. Alternatively: a chemical reaction. Alternatively: a necessary survival instinct. Also: yellow stains on glaring white teeth, gregarious roaring in a public place, the tickle that runs down your hand when you enter somewhere great.
Depression: feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Alternatively: a chemical reaction. Alternatively: a necessary survival instinct. Seen in: written-journals collecting dust, a letter never sent, the drop in my heart when I realize I no longer love.
I'm shot in the streets.... dead
I'm ridiculed in shops... oppressed by my appearance
I'm body shamed on the daily for my curves and forms of bodily expression
I get told that i'm an ANgRY BlacK WOmaN that doesn't deserve to be in this world
I yell... I'm mad
I cry... I'm emotional
I express my opinion... and I'm uneducated
Go to the northern side of Pakistan. There's a valley over there; Neelum Valley. Go to the Army Cantt in Neelum Valley, and now sit quietly outside your room on the stairs. Do you feel the nature breathing? As the chilly wind blows around you, do you wonder what it carries within it? Maybe incomplete love stories from the border to a lonely home. Do you feel at peace as this wind kisses your cheek and you know that the one you have been waiting for will be back soon? Do you feel the autumn leaves slowly falling to the ground beneath you, one foot down and this leave will crunch, it will die completely as the sound of its last futile breath makes you feel alive from the inside? Do you listen to the river flowing through the dark nights, do you hear it gushing and roaring? Every roar of this river is a threat to some people and a breath to you. And above you, do you see the infinite stars shining and glistening at you?
The etchings on the sloped ceiling feel a little lower today,
they wade above, looming like a dejected tapestry―
shrouding me, from whatever waits beyond the two doors.
I hear the first click, then wood sliding against a dusty carpet,
a second click, then the shadow stretches across a mahogany hallway.
But what if I stayed in the waiting room,
under the looming tapestry, and the ornate carpet,
the smell of lavender masking an antique musk,
the buzz of a building well-lived in,
and the creaks from below and above.