As I Wait for Wisdom to Pass Me By

‚Äč’We are young, we are young!‘ they said,

the eyeless faces screaming in youth’s stead,

Come one, come all, for you live just once,

come one, come all, and spare not a care.

Not a moment’s waste on things

which you can’t slather on a price, 

not a devil’s roll for people

who can’t throw you the dice.
I sit, my pen laid to rest on my lap,

as I watch them burn everything in sight.

We burn, we burn!’ they loudly proclaim,

their paintings, their easles encasing their pride.

And yet I see no strand of hair on fire.

I see not a single pair of eyes waking from slumber.

This might be the way to live,

but it sure as hell is not the way to be alive.
I wait for the words to see me through,

my own special lens with which I use 

to see the world clearer.

But no words come to me.

I am but a humble poet not a seer –

I smith the words on paper and taint them with ink

but no, I don’t see the future anymore than I can the present,

I only see the past and its careless patterns.
So I wait for wisdom,

I wear the years on my sleeve.

I watch the world turn

while the men with golden tongue

preach about the state affairs,

the women continue to count by the wrinkles,

the men calculate by the stares.

This is what we have become.
I wait for the knowledge, the word, the proclamation, the shout;

It will be the undying of the youth

the fountain of life for the old, the revival of the dead.

Tear my heart open, let it be seared by the salt of my tears.

I don’t want to keep my eyes shut.

I don’t want to sleep.

I’ll shake hands with wisdom the moment he passes by.

I’ll set us all on fire.

A love letter to women

Photo by Rose Renolla

I’m sorry they made you believe 

you didn’t deserve that little, black dress

because of the shape of your body.

I’m sorry they made you cover up

to protect their delicate sensibilities.

I’m sorry because you had to stiffle your spirit,

you couldn’t shout,

you couldn’t curse,

you couldn’t get mad

without being accused that your guts are spilling

from your mouth.

I’m sorry you were silenced.

I’m sorry your body is like a caged bird – 

however hard you try to spread your wings,

the bars keep holding you in.

And I’m sorry they always confuse you –

I’m sorry they tell you you don’t need the accents on your lids

but they don’t care enough to tell you

that you are beautiful

without your war paint on – 

and so you keep skipping back and forth

the line between 

basking in your natural glow

and needing your layered masks and bloodied lips.

I’m sorry they insist on measuring your worth

by your plumage,

or the weight of your body,

or thickness of your legs,

or the pitch of your voice.

I’m sorry you were made to feel like your worth had to be measured,

when in fact you are weightless and capable of defying gravity

when you fly.

I’m sorry they said your wings aren’t strong enough

to endure the flight towards the sky,

that you were robbed the freedom

to feel the wind beneath your wings.

And I’m sorry there aren’t enough people speaking for you

when you find your voice trapped by your gilded cage.

I’m sorry there aren’t enough people 

fighting for you to be free.

I’m sorry you’ve been designated as prey

or pet,

or decoration,

or property.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

And it’s probably hard for you to believe

that you are free,

when you’ve been living with all the restrictions

that’s been weighing down your wings.

And I’m sorry for that too.

But you should know,

that once a bird, always a bird.

They can put you in a cage

but that won’t mean 

you’ll forget how to use your wings.

Gather your strength

and bid your time.

And when it arrives,

fly.

Fly and never look back.

Go back to the wild

where you can screech and claw and hunt

spread your wings

go wherever you want to go.

No one owns you.

You were never meant to be caged.

The Massacre of Human Moments

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Pull out
a single strand of thought from your head –
the one you won’t dare say out loud
when there are people who could hear,
the one that could be your guilty pleasure,
the one you could use as a curse under your breath,
the one that you won’t allow yourself to touch
in fear you will be consumed.

Take this thought out on a date,
run eight miles with it until you’re both reeling and drenched in sweat,
sleep with it like you would a lover,
and pick a fight with it, scream at it with as much intensity.
Give it a make over,
play dress up with it and make it wear a little black dress or a red, hot number,
doll it up, give it that soft, pink tint
carefully,
carefully,
carefully wipe everything away,
don’t leave even a tiny smudge.

Stretch it.
Cut off its legs, it must never run away.
Peel off some skin here and there
so you can see the flesh underneath –
peel away until you see its bones.
Bend it, roll it,
throw it into the fire and watch it melt
then breathe new life into it.

People think of writing like it’s a very simple process,
and in some way it is.
Sometimes the thoughts come out
in a way you wouldn’t want them altered.
But some days you need to break them down.
Some days you butcher them with
with your pen and your feelings
and it still won’t be enough
you’ll start summoning your demons,
you offer your blood.

And when it’s done,
when it’s done,
you look at the dismantled, disfigured image of yourself –
everyone sees the pretty words
but you know how much gore it took to write them down.
They will tell you, your words are lovely.
And on some days you will believe them.
On most days, however,
all you see is your blood and you’re repulsed by it.
Your throw that poem away,
secretly relieved that that ugliness doesn’t cling to you anymore.

Pull out a single strand of thought from your head,
your pen poised and ready
for another round of massacre
of your human moments.
You die a million times,
by your own words,
but you also invoke new life
from the trail of your ashes.
And you’ll never feel more alive.

My Poetry Never Ends

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Photo by Rose Renolla

A poem is the solace you didn’t find in things that are tangible. It’s a chip on your shoulder that needs to trickle down word by word, phrase by phrase, until the care has turned to dust, eroded and carefree with the wind.

A poem is a catch in the throat, the heavy feeling you can’t say out loud because you are scared of its enormity, you choose to verbalize it with sighs. It’s a pointless debate – the poet argues with himself on paper, never really outwitting anyone, and so the pen wins.

A poem is a secret blatantly declared, loudly proclaimed, butchered and served up to anyone who wishes to read. It’s the wistful nostalgia, the soundless cry of pain, the celebration that spreads out into tremors, strong enough to make the hands shake and the heart to split into two.

A poem is a longing, a wish, a heartache you wish to send out to the world. It’s a single strand of hope that someday, the words will reach the right set of eyes, the right pair of ears, the right heartbeat who will respond with its own resonance that will match yours.

A poem is its person, gently offered with frail and bruised hands. The hands never know who will take it. The hands will never know if its offering will suffice and yet, the hands offer everything without hesitation – with a stubborn disregard for whether it is careful or safe.

A poem could be you or me. It could be us. It could be the way you suckle for air when you feel like drowning in despair. It could be the constricting of your heart, that gentle sting that’s reminding you how happy you are. It could be the way we feel when we look at each other’s eyes. It could be the silent gasp I made or the surprised pause it took you seconds to recover from when you finally said the words out loud. It could be the goodbye we don’t want to hear. It could be our story. It could be the rest of our lives.

And the poetry will be endless. I’d finish a word and someone will write the next. The poem will never end. It will be the same, for it is always the same. Just spoken in different languages, kissed by several lips, written by a million hands, living and dying and being born again, through words.

Note: This piece got published on Narratio.org.

A letter to Clarissa from Septimus Warren Smith

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Black
is scary.
But it is a comfort –
a shriveled island
of nothing
masquerading as a
populated land
teeming with dark hair,
you can drop a needle
and not hear
where it lands.

Black
fills the outlines
of my silence,
it enhaces my anger
at the things
which no longer
make my heart race.

Black
is the void
where I sit
unkissed by sunshine,
the very air
I used to breathe
in triple doses.

Black
is the hurt
I have not felt
or discovered,
that will bite itself
as a reflex
of the sight.

Black
is the whisper
that tells me
I have nothing
left to lose
for I’ve been
stripped of care
little by little
like a decaying
chair,
sitting alone
and lonely
for it has outlived
its use.

Black is kind
merciful
benevolent
staying long enough
to hug me
as I ease into
my nothingness
where I grasp
in the darkness
trying to feel.

Fortitude in Frailty

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The world can take away,
at times,
when it should give.
People will hold you down
when they should lift.

The universe conspires
to make nothing work
though you’ve put in time
and done your homework.

You will want
to keep gnashing your teeth
and throw punches –
you’ll want to be anything,
but weak.

But my dear,
there is fortitude in frailty –
a brand of fearlessness
in accepting defeat.

Keep your head down,
once in a while,
and take the beating.
Fighting the quicksand
will lead to rapid sinking.

Let go,
for this is just another day
to live.
Take the weakness
being passed on your shoulder,
go ahead and grieve.

Know this:
today you fall away, in dismay,
but you still make headway.
This day won’t be wasted,
for there’s a new kind of strength
you just tasted.

To be weak
is to be strong, sometimes,
it’s your strength’s
carving fork.

So keep your head down
and live this day,
tomorrow,
you get a chance
to breakaway.

The wrought way to do things.

 

This is where it went wrong:
you thought you saw through me.
You could have known me
but you decided
that I’m simply like everyone else
so you pinned a price tag on my shins
hoping you can stick it in
and pay the minimum price.
But I’m no commodity;
my affection can’t be bought
by anything you can touch.

This is where it went wrong:
you chose the easy way.
I do not fancy myself a goddess
but I am still a woman.
I want to see sweat and blood,
skin and bones,
your secret desire offered
in exchange for my benevolence.
You flatter and you scheme
and you play a tired game.
You think you could pull a wool
over my head
like I haven’t seen that
from someone else.

This is where it went wrong:
you thought I was a princess –
that I would marry myself
to the biggest dowry,
like I’m too weak to conquer and
seize my own kingdom.
But thrones have fallen before me,
kings have knelt and offered gold,
jesters have bent over themselves
trying to make me laugh;
I remain free as a bird
evading cheap tricks that ensnare.

Let me tell you, darling,
if all I wanted was a damn castle
I simply would have asked for it.
You’d know that
if you had the courage
to put in time,
to recognize the plumage
I wear on my soul.
I may look like every other bird,
like every other princess,
like every other girl,
like every other bloody object worth a few pennies.

But I am a rebel
of my own worthy cause.
Don’t give me what I stand
against for.