Cover design by Yeuqran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The alarm clock sounds and everyone rises,
not waking, but choosing to make an appearance in
this performance called Life. We have survived
our undress rehearsal nightmares and are now ready
to embellish ourselves with suitcases, technology,
masks, and carefully calculated costumes.
With rhythmic walks, we make our way towards
schools and offices and coffee shops
where we order mantras, quote management’s
accidental anthems, and take our usual places
in front of teachers who’ve been taught to teach us
multiple ways to regurgitate the manifesto of mediocrity.
Before you know it, it is lunch time. We stop
to feed physical starvation while mindlessly chattering
with other spiritually famished humanoids. Our voices
speak loudly on subjects that deserve silence
in hopes that the vibrations will echo off of the vacancies
in our humanity and give the appearance that we
have in fact said more than nothing. We find
our only moments of fulfillment in these acts of neglect.
Suddenly it’s 5 p.m. and everyone is sitting in traffic
on 288, sailing on a sea of mass-produced clouds
while counting exits and the innumerable steps between the life we wanted, the one we have, and the next.
The kids are picked up, errands are run, dinner is made.
We attempt to strike up conversations with the offspring,
but their minds have been orphaned by our busy schedules
and indifference towards the lives that matter.
Dishes are washed, baths taken, wine is poured.
It’s time to cool down after a long day of chasing results.
We have put on Oscar worthy performances today
and somehow survived the world we helped usher into ruin.
is not life
not the push and the pull, the struggle of the knot
it is not the echo of laughter
or the chasing of tides
is not seeing the same sun set differently
and lifting the horizon
as you slowly blink your left eye
then your right
it is not the fight or the make up
your mother’s shitty Thanksgiving Day dinners
and outdated trivia games
it’s not the last word in the argument
nor is it the first word of an awkward romance
it won’t give you the exact same feeling
you felt the first time your heard that song
it is not the involuntary sway in your hips
or beads of sweat
or blood in your mouth
from a fist fight with your best friend
it is not a slow process
the same lesson studied and lost
you can’t hold it in your mouth like Skittles
or a warm kiss
it’s not velvet like grace
you can’t touch it and burn your finger
hold it to your face
and feel its soft breath across your cheek
you can’t wear it like a mask
you can’t create it in the pit of your belly
and then cast it before swine
you can’t destroy and rebuild it
or let it be your testimony
you cannot mourn it
or tell it to go to hell
it’s not something you can be proud of
or so embarrassed by
that you’d rather die than let anyone know
it is not mock virtue or doubt
can’t beg forgiveness
before it steals the money from Grammy’s wallet
cannot get high and forget
it won’t discover it has gills
while drowning in its own delusion
it is not a razor used to prison tattoo teenage skin
a bullet stopped by a pocket Bible
a bottle of pills shipped to a war torn country
a water hose connected to sprinklers
a belt used for a new pair of jeans
submerging oneself in joy
throwing one’s body in front of the light
it is not the gamut
it is not life
I am from
I am from unmarked graves and trenches.
Where Crips crypt walk across Crime Street.
I take the Number 6 going in the direction of Nowhere
and get off at Hopelessness.
I am from the Projects with no rubric.
The place where standards sit by and watch
Poverty run Progress out of the neighborhood.
I am from Meth made in Minute Maid bottles.
Here, we roll blunts with our bucket lists.
Here, we know better than to believe.
Here, we don’t go to sleep to dream.
I am from where Hell scorches High water.
Where the view from the high rise is the pavement
and the higher the skirt,
the better the view of your self-esteem.
I am from blood.
Here, nobody sweats your tears.
I am from a place where bold means shoot blindly.
Where life is a Vick’s Vapor
and you’ll get rubbed out by a cold heart.
I am from NO NEWS equals no coverage.
Cops don’t come here.
When they do they leave running.
I am from water heated on stoves.
Here, heartbeats are shared like Cable connections and
lifelines split like the veins of Siamese twins.