“So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.”
(Paradise Lost, Book IX, Lines 780-785)
I’m blamed for the demise of my sex:
the sex created under a pretense of partnership with man
They cite a wrong flick of my tongue as the initial flame,
That has burned women at the stake for witchcraft,
seared the widows thrown onto funeral pyres
and branded female slaves as sexual currency
I stare eternally from my cursed flesh,
at the consequences of only my actions
They tell women to know their place,
As subservient creatures created for the pleasure of man,
Thousands of translations have melted away the words
“partnership” and “equality” from the pages of scripture
They have distorted the word “woman” into a tacky, five-letter word-
Devoid of the divine feminine energy that dwells within my daughters
I watch with tear-soaked eyes at the scars on their skin,
Each individually feeling the burn from my initial flame
I’m blamed for the excruciating pain of childbearing
and take responsibility for the shameful habit of menstruation
It is Adam’s punishment that they strictly view us as possessions—
properly bought and sold with the blessing of a holy man
Through bloodshot eyes,
I’ve seen little girls beaten, chained, and enslaved
Under the pretense of “arranged marriage”
I’ve watched them be stripped of their purity:
the same sexual innocence that men hold so closely and praise so loudly
They scream at the top of their lungs, claiming ownership
over something that doesn’t belong to them,
Has never belonged to them,
And will never belong to them.
A little girl is a child, she cannot be a vixen
Do not call her a femme fatale to justify your pathetic lack of willpower-
Blame Adam for that.
Train; December 16, Cold-Static Day, Not Very Crowded
Heat screams with no place to hide,
Spewing, steaming, pushing, stewing—
Stirring beneath stretching ceiling tiles,
I listen because I am willing,
Whining through ear holes
I used to tell her I would be unbreakable when I got older.
And I’ll never again comprehend
what the hell that word ever meant to me,
My mother sits by the train window
my hands sit by the legs
waiting for a tacking,
a buzzing will tell my thigh the head
is happy— a mere vibration.
The clawing on the other side of the wall,
pretending ears full,
fingers like a drenched rat—
when I make eye contact for the second time
with the same pair of glasses three seats down.
On train, bathroom is escape, if needed.
the clearest reflection ever seen
is a mirror coated in dirt, cracked several ways down the middle.
But train freedom—
is the last thrill, entering wind like a bird.
mother was never meant for the prior,
on a train, for no destination.
The gale will guide her.
unbreakable like the sky;
the lie of the train, time,
the line of the yarn ball tangled beneath the steel wheel,
and nothing on a train lasts more than hours,
days, and strangers with lives that die in your mind
days after the trip.
Her and I never talk about the things we care about
Or maybe it’s I who avoids those things,
In the silence of a train bathroom
You can hear the world complicate,
Vibrating the bumpy tracks beneath,
And authority becomes you and the nothingness
Because derailization could be death,
But still never tell her the things I care for.
A Walk with My Papa
This morning I took a stroll on the beach
With my Papa.
It was around 8 A.M.,
And the sun and the waves
Had finally fallen into a perfect harmony.
The air was still, amid the sounds of waves crashing,
And everything was settling into place before
The chaos of the day.
We walked for a long time.
Our strides were in sync, which was surprising for his age.
He asked about how my mom and siblings were doing.
I told him about college and what I’m studying…
He was very impressed with the assigned literature in Civ.
I told him about the friends I’ve made and the memories he’s missed.
I said every word I had wished was once spoken.
When our stroll came to an end, the sand was no longer
Greeted by water, and the sun was beginning to hide
Behind the curtain of the horizon.
The waves had dulled out and flattened like a soda.
I said my goodbye once again, and we went our separate ways.
I’ll always cherish the days we spent and love to imagine
If we had one more memory together.
Night begins to move, writhing and seething as the bristled backs catch the light of the dropping sun. Among the red rock lives a creature who carries night on his back and stars in his eyes.
The cicada calls to him from his place along the ravine scarred by waters now long dry.
Those who nestle in the red rock carry the history of the lost.
The Cocopah tribe, the cowboys, each driven out.
The creature among the rock, the javelina, their tribe becoming lost.
Soon the blood orange of the rock, the yucca, and the crimson of the berries in the underbrush won’t be enough.
Soon the javelina will have to engage with the streets
Will have to understand humans in his desert home.
The javelina speaks through a bristled muzzle, “I have understood the desert without them, it is sweeter than the blooms of the prickly pear. It is sweet like the rain. It is bright and calming like the red rock.”
The cicada sings his jagged song of mourning.
When Birds Die
In what ways could the sun eat the sky?
In an auburn-radiant shade, cloaked in sifting haze?
Harboring mahogany howls, slowly fading crimson-cloudlines?
Beating blood orange beams of sun death consume your vision;
to butcher your former attention; mindless death—ignoring individualism.
Eat me like you eat skylines
Before my mind is mossed
in patterned anxieties of my owner’s deadlines.
Brilliant poet of silence and scattered bird flight,
Eat me in a roaring red blaze.
Dreading the end is comedy
because my work collar chokes me blind
to the burning sunrise we desire
in mornings we wake to quaking hellfire,
When spires fall and money rots,
Where birds die,
But not from gunshots.
my ghost and I
After lavender and magenta dissolve into twilight,
twilight melts into darkness
and my ghost comes to visit me
fleeing her dwelling place
she drips out of the glass picture frame,
with pale skin and shaky hands
she seeps underneath my chilled skin
curling her toes into the muscle and tissue:
a silent plea—
please let me stay.
she’s the essence of a past self
the version of me that I yearn to forget,
numb to vibrant colors and throaty laughter
numb to tenderness and warm embraces
and an estranged friend of hope and trust
with her nature back inside me
I feel the urge to leave my comfortable bed,
to sit on the clammy tiles of my childhood bathroom
I’ve found it’s the best place to be
with bloodshot eyes and tear-soaked cheeks, that is
but instead, I sink further into my mattress
and remind her once again about the dangers of codependency
how long till she learns to listen-
how long till I learn to listen?
“you’re ok now, darling” I tell her,
using a voice, I know she’s never heard before,
it is gentle and forgiving
entirely devoid of judgment
I gently push her away from my fast-beating heart—
afraid she’ll root herself within my veins
leaving me unable to decipher her body from mine.
I want to run into a forest green I want to run into a forest green and full of life I want to run into a forest green and let this emptiness pour out I want to run into a forest green.
When I think of winter, it is always with a fondness for the cold. Painted on the fringe of my vision, like lofty angel’s wings, marble peaks of snow hover beneath a bleached blue sky. The mountains. Winter. Bare-boned trees and still gray streets. Cold.
I have never understood what makes the cold so scary—why people seem to hate it so much. What is so sinister about the fall of snowflakes, cool and soft, piling up outside like sheets of stardust from the sky?
Or, what is so bad about the soft buzz of numbing coolness that washes over a girl when she steps outside, into that crisp clean air, letting out her breath in cotton candy puffs of cloud in the stillness of a starry night?
I love the cold.
So, when you left me bleeding out the empty space you furnished in my chest—after you crept your way inside and picked apart my heart—I was grateful I could still feel cold. Cold encircling my body like a heady cloud of pain, biting and sweet. Cold that numbs the body but clears the mind. Wind that caresses my scarf-bare cheeks with phantom fingertips and plasters pinprick kisses on my lips—numbs me till I feel warm again.
In the loss of a love, there is a peculiar sort of ache that does not resolve with time and space. An emptiness born out of a vanquished desire, a vanished hope, shattered dreams. It is a sensation with a constancy which mirrors that of the pain found in cold. Cold like a coil of icy ribbons wound around on every limb; cold that fills the hollow stillness of a love-broke heart, fills it with a piercing pain to shock it back to life again. Even as it pulls at the warmth of blood and sucks the veins dry.
So, when I look back at the love you used to give, and the joy that stuffed me so full of warmth that I forgot how to enjoy the solitary bliss of cold, I am suddenly grateful that you chose to say goodbye. You, whose warmth could not withstand the shock of cold, who chose to say goodbye.
One day, I hope you can learn to love the cold. When your store of warmth runs out, I hope you do not try to run from the cold that will inevitably usher in. That it becomes for you a constant and a steadfast friend. That you do not mistake it for a hateful thing and overlook its beauty.
There is a lovely love in cold, in the pain of a final goodbye. There is a sad-sweet stillness and a new-wrought place with space enough to breathe. So, maybe it is okay to be alone on the fourteenth day of the new year’s second month. To accept the funny comfort born from a cutting kind of pain. To relish in the hollowness—replenish it with an older and a firmer kind of love.
Yes, maybe it is okay.
Queen of the Game of Hearts
All the crafted cards
Fly by in a shuffle
of swirling symmetry,
Hypnotizing as they masquerade
In the guise of sameness.
But on one of the unseen sides
Looms the sinister shadow
of the Queen of Spades,
The mysterious mistress
Dictating Fortune herself,
Changing the fate of the game
At the appointed time.
Undesirable yet lusted
After, she lures in sailors as a siren
In a sea of mirages
Of promises of riches and forever favor,
And silently stalks her prey as a mountain lion.
She captures all the kings, stakes them with daggers.
She imprisons the queens and locks them away,
Former friends becoming forever enemies.
She steals all the hearts and pins them to her wall
As trophies, like butterflies unable to fly away,
And bursts them with darts as though they were popped balloons
Containing all hopes and dreams
Of winning the game.
She cloaks herself with night
As she rides her bicycle
As though it were a mighty steed
Triumphantly tromping through darkness.
She shoots the moon with bow and arrow
Until its light fades.
Mistress of Silence,
Mistress of Death,
The silent cupid who strikes unaware…
Beware the Queen of Spades,
The Queen of Broken Hearts.
Like Food in Storage
Like food in storage,
I bear a singular label.
And I fear to be thrown away.
Rotting in mold,
isn’t better. To be
forgotten or folded
in a thousand aliases—
And then who am I, to define myself, if I never was to begin with?
the letters punched into my keyboard right now in this present moment; all I will ever be able to utilize, defining
who I am.
dismal attempt to define life;
a testimony to the person who wrote these words,
my last connection with
who I was seconds ago.
a label: nonexistent.
A fib, a lie, myth, mold
stains the seams of your named tag.
But you are the second, the moment, the present,
you are an ink blot knotted on paper,
are not the name of the parent.
better to be forgotten
In a thousand aliases,
Like food in storage,
Like certificates of identity,
on a page.
A Green Sweater
I pull my knit sweater over my head,
The soft green fabric kissing my skin,
Simultaneously tugging at my curls,
Peering over my shoulders curiously as I debate: jeans or leggings?
My sweater embraces me,
Gently reminding me of rainy days,
Days Dad and I would sit indoors,
Eyes eagerly scanning a puzzle as we tried to pick up the pieces,
Putting together our incomplete picture,
One we can’t resolve no matter how hard we try.
The vivid green is equivalent to my mother’s eyes,
Eyes that always held love for me despite a tongue that failed to do the same,
Invoking matches that were burnt against cigarettes,
Igniting flames that often caused more damage when they were put out.
Tainted tear drops still stain the sweater’s inseam,
Ensuring the memory of her is never eased,
As my first heartbreak forced me to turn to my item of comfort,
Questions and confusion being whispered into the sleeve’s arm,
As I wondered why I wasn’t good enough for love.
Perfume that fails to go away after fifty washes still makes me shiver,
As simple times with shining sunrises run through my brain,
The beach’s natural scent a consistency,
No matter the distance I travel from her sands,
Her lands of golden seashells and mysterious pearls.
My alarm snaps me back to reality,
So I slide on my jeans and Vans,
Which fail to offer the love of my sweater.
Yet I still wear them,
Allowing them to embrace my skin,
As I go out and make a new memory in this attire.