Categories
poetry

Tap Shoes

Tap shoes are a second skin

One that I know I always fit in

As soon as I get the laces tied

I feel a smile on my face

I’m fine

I stand up

Put my hands up

And start a number

Four, five, six, seven, eight

Do a slide

A riff then wait

Drawback times two

A triplet kick through

And then I feel myself levitate

I’m on the tips of my shoes

With nothing to lose

For a moment, the music slips away

And I can feel the night turn to day

Metal and wood breaking dismay

I hear the click and I flap into a rift

And once the song ends

With a double pullback

Ankles bend

I flip out for a wing

Jump then swing

Into a Maxi ford finish

That would make Astaire proud

I have the technique of Bojangles

And Ginger Roger’s sound

Now I take off my shoes

And ignore the pain in my toes

Life puts back her woes

Because for now, I walk down the street

A song in my feet

Still tapping out the moves in my heart

As my heart drums to the beat

***

I’ve danced for about a decade now, and I have always favored tap. I’ve done several workshops and classes in different studios and states, all with different teachers and different dance styles, but nothing quite beats metal shoes. This is a tribute to one of the only styles of dance where your steps add to the music, not just visually but audibly as well.

Categories
poetry

Apologies

I’m sorry I can’t look at you

Because you remind me of somebody I knew

Whose eyes weren’t blue as the ocean yet held the same depth

And with every breath in that moment I lost a little more life

I’m sorry I can’t meet your stare

Because it reminds me of a time where I started to care

A little too much about people who didn’t care back

And it kept me on a brutal track

And I’m sorry that I know you’re pretty

Because I don’t think it’s truly you I think about

And I know that’s shitty

So please don’t think too much about my gaze

Or the tears you might see

Because all you see is an accumulation of years

Where a snapshot was everything to me

***

I’ve been haunted by memories recently; well, for the last year I think. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, someone has brought one of those up merely by existing. I despite it, but at the same time, there’s a strange, wistful part of me that remembers the good. I digress; apologies to the unwilling mirror of my memories.

Categories
poetry

Untouchable

Sometimes I want to be untouchable

I want the night sky to be my summer home

So I can befriend the stars

And be the best acquaintance they ever had

At the same time, I want to touch the heart of everyone I’ve ever met

I want to place my hand on their chest and heal wounds they never thought they had

I want to write the name of everyone I’ve ever met in a leather-bound book

So that for generations to come, people may still see the names of every person I ever loved

And wanted to love me back

However, if one hand touched the stars and the other touched the earth

My arms would grow too long to handle

Or worse, they would remain their length and never do either

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the luxury of stagnancy

That my life is a circle with no corners for rest

I want my life to be a triangle

Or a square

Or an octagon

Just to have a moment to sit on the ledge and take a second to appreciate how far I’ve come

I want to stop to see my handprint on the sternum of every adult, child, and teen I have touched

I want to wave to the stars because I know I’ll see them next summer

Yet, for now, my arms won’t lengthen to do either

And my life continues to run

Never waiting for me when I want to rest

***

I wrote this recently after a brainstorming session with friends, and it’s one of my favorite poems to date. Times of strong emotion allow for strong writing, and I hope that this is not only strong writing but good writing.

Categories
poetry

Get Up

Warning: profanity

Get up Alice

Get up and wake up

At a reasonable time

Make up that bed

And ugly face

A face that has no place with such a wide mouth

Stop letting stuff just spurt out

Think about what you say

And think about it again

No wonder you don’t have many friends

Do you think that this speech is a cry for help

It’s a cry for attention

Pay attention, Alice

Pay attention to what I say

Pay attention to the way I want this done

Do it exactly how I want it done

Why do you never have fun?

Lighten up, Alice

Take a joke

You do not hold the world on your shoulders

You do not shoulder substantial burden

Learn and know that more people have it worse than you

Stop acting like everything is just so blue

Do it with a smile

And a happy one at that

Then again, every smile you’ve given looks like you just spat

Stop looking so pained

Stop being so drained

And for God’s sake, stop pretending that you’re so busy

Everything you do should be easy

But you can’t do that if you don’t get up

Get up

Get the fuck up

Wake the fuck up

You don’t have time to be lounging about

You were supposed to send three emails out

And I don’t want to see you pout

I set an alarm for six in the morning

That’s not an alarm, it’s a warning

If you don’t wake up now you’ll never wake up

And get up

And make your breakfast

And make yourself workout

And make up yourself

Because you don’t have time to be sad

You don’t have time to say how you feel

You don’t have time to call your feelings real

Because you need to get up

***

I apologize; this piece is angry and violent and probably one of the best things I’ve written. Heavily inspired by spoken word poet Maia Mayor’s “Perfect”, this poem draws from the element of internalized perfectionism, with a dash of content. I pieced it together in my mind through these last few months, but the entire thing came to fruition quite recently. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be shared. But if it was, and there are people like me who understand this poem to its core, be glad that you’re not alone.

Categories
poetry

Strange

The rain falls on an outside world

As hues of gray begin to swirl

I find that the soul likes to unfurl

On a windowpane of glass

And as technology hums its song

Telling me to move right along

I find myself feeling wrong

For sitting in this same spot

Maybe it’s a set back

Maybe I’m off track

Funny, because this is as mundane as I can be

This new normal feels normal to me

But I miss the rain

And the cold, icy snow

Just as I’ll miss the colors

And the flowers that start to grow

I wish I could stop time’s sway

And be stuck in just this one day

But right now, I’m in the middle of a fray

And the rain continues to linger

***

This poem plays a lot with different rhyming schemes and speed. I hope I did the transitions between AAAB and ABAB justice. Time and thoughts are always themes within my poetry, and this one is not unlike the others. I forget where I wrote this, but I can still feel it in my heart. And on rainy days.

Categories
poetry

Dreaming

I can feel the sand beneath my feet

And I know this must be a dream

For I haven’t felt this way in a long time

And time doesn’t feel so mean

I can hear the ocean and the sound

Of the crying seagulls

I can hear the bristle of the trees

And the absence of technology’s lulls

However, all good dreams must end

And I can feel life pulling me awake

But I’ll never forget the ocean and sky

And when time slowed for my sake

***

A small, tranquil poem written in a moment of passing time. I think about the ocean a lot, more than I think I should. Maybe one day I’ll find a home, big enough for one, and retire by the water’s edge. However, that might just be a dream.

Categories
poetry

Anger

Sometimes my anger scares me.

It sits like an unwanted joke

And reminds me everyday of what I can do

What I did

How I risked hurting myself over others

And still have the scars from that time

I love living life like a fire but sometimes I worry that the fire will consume me

That I am not enough to hold it at bay

That I am not enough

However, what I fear more than anything is my fire turning into ash

Or water

And being choked by that instead

***

I apologize for my impromptu hiatus; much has jumbled with my creativity. This poem was written awhile ago, yet I still recall the first line quite often. Emotions should never reign supreme, but sometimes they become too much to handle. That is when we turn to creative outlets, and I hope this poem did that for me. Turned my fire into a candle into a flicker.

Categories
poetry

The Present

I feel a little cold.

And a little angry.

I feel a little scared

And mostly alone.

I feel that chill seeping deep into my bones

I can feel it making a home around my heart

Just as it did

One month apart

Seems like forever to me

And now I’m limited on how to be free

And I don’t quite feel like I’ve got my future right

I feel like I’ve kind of lost my foresight

And it makes me a little scared.

And a little mad

I feel like raging, but then feel bad

Who am I to want to cry?

I’ve got a great life, so why?

Why am I angry and why am I sad?

Why do I mourn something I never had?

Maybe I’m making it up for the show

But it feels more like I’m trying to hide a blow

And feeling guilty for the bruise someone else left

But I couldn’t possibly let this make me bereft

Over everything I own

So I’ll enjoy what I have

And stop staring at the ceiling

Wondering how I got so sad

***

This is a very personal poem for me. I wrote it during an emotional time, a damaging time, and I believe I capture most of what I feel through the lines. Felt. I would like to change my style, and I believe I will soon. Writing sad poetry only constructs sad thoughts, surprisingly.

Categories
poetry

We Are Human

We are human.
We will break your hearts and mend them in the same smile
We will melt your souls with our laughter
And you will tremble at our beauty
We are the baristas that make you flustered with a wink
The subway commuters you share a single glance with
We are human.
We will fight you until our knuckles bleed
And we will scream obscenities in our wake
We will drink and make jokes that turn people red
And we will not apologize for being so
We are human.
We will immortalize our stories
Or eviscerate you in our fiction
We will create the cure or the cause to your destruction
We will mix our emotions with yours until we are one giant, melting mass of humanity
We will lead nations
And burn cities
We will take everything you thought you knew about society and turn it upside down
We are human.
No matter what your government says
No matter what hate speech tries to silence us
Whatever muzzle society decides to give us next
We will break through
Tooth and nail
Claw our way up from the depths of prejudice
And we will come for you
I will come for you
Because I. Am. Human.

***

This is a rather angry poem, but I was angry when I wrote it. I think it can be applicable to many things, although I did have something in mind when I wrote it. Think of yourself when you read this. Think of whatever stereotypes hinder you, or whatever people say. Release that anger, whether through verse or energy or song, release it. In the end, it does nothing to hold onto it.

Categories
short stories

Would You?

“Would you?” I looked up from my paper bags, all neatly lined up in rows based on delivery location. Harmony stared back at me with a level gaze. Everything Harmony did reminded me of a firework explosion, always intense and sharp. However, she handled the hunger with a patience I didn’t see in most.

“What?” I asked as I handed our delivery boy, Travis, another load of deliveries. They shrugged nonchalantly.

“End world hunger. End this,” they said, gesturing towards the few wayward souls milling about the cafeteria in search of food. “If you could.” I thought about it for a moment. My first instinct was to say yes, as it was the moral thing to do. However, the more I thought about it, the more I considered the catch. There must be a catch to solving something as large as global starvation.

“For what price?” I asked. Harmony shrugged.

“What would you be willing to give?” they countered. Something about the way they said it turned the question from an innocent hypothetical to a serious query. However, before I could muse what to answer and whether or not Harmony was truly joking, a woman came up to the front counter and asked for a sandwich. I smiled and allowed my thoughts to drift to my duties at the soup kitchen. Harmony’s question was left unanswered.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. Harmony’s words still haunted me. What would I be willing to give? My life? As much as I would like to believe that I abhorred the thought of dying for something I wouldn’t see come to fruition. Perhaps a body part, or maybe my meager funds. Volunteering at a soup kitchen didn’t bring in any income, and my job at the Insurance Company might as well be considered volunteering. Around one in the morning, I decided that Harmony’s hypothetical was ridiculous. It wasn’t like they could end world hunger anyway, or that any of us would see its end within our lifetime.

The next day was a slow one at the soup kitchen. Travis tried to start up a round of cards with Selena and Juan, but Selena wanted to practice her sign language and Juan didn’t like cards. I leaned against the counter and scrolled aimlessly on my phone for a little while, occasionally snorting softly at something mildly funny. “Did you think about it?” I looked up from my device. Harmony stood in front of me, arms behind their back and a small smile playing on their lips. That smile never reached their eyes. With a sigh, I set my phone down and turned back to them.

“Honestly, the entire hypothetical is ridiculous. Humanity is too stubborn to end world hunger because it would cause a whole slew of problems for the upper class. If I could, I would, at the expense of maybe my money or my dignity,” I answered.

“Or a body part?” Harmony suggested. I froze. Although it wasn’t too uncommon of an answer, the way they asked it raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I remembered musing over the same thought in the early morning, and I didn’t like the way Harmony stared at me as if they knew. Before I could confront them on the uncanny statement, Harmony shrugged and helped serve a young man looking for lunch.

The rest of the day picked up the pace, especially around dinnertime. Travis helped deliver a few orders to the cardboard towns near the bridge, Travis befriended a few of the homeless while serving food and Selene even had a chance to show off her sign language with a deaf man. I quickly bagged and served orders at a steady pace until the customers dwindled around eight. Juan and Travis left a few minutes later, while Selena, Harmony, and I stayed for the later crowd. When the clock struck ten, Selena placed down her final order and bid us goodbye. A few hungry people were still trickling in, so I helped serve them until Harmony closed the kitchen at ten-thirty. Once they turned off the lights to the main cafeteria, they leaned against the kitchen counter and stared at me with the same intense gaze as the other day. “Would you give a finger to end world hunger?” they asked. Silence hung tense and thick in the air as I chose my answer carefully. This was no longer a harmless question, and I knew it.

“Would it hurt?” I asked, keeping my voice calm and soft. I’ve known Harmony for almost three years, and although they were odd, they never seemed like the homicidal kind to me. From the way they never reached for a knife or even into their back pocket, I knew their intention wasn’t to harm me. Harmony shrugged.

“In theory, the process is painless. However, I like to have people look at their limbs as they lose them. Their emotional distress is the real kicker of the deal,” Harmony explained. I took a step back, and Harmony didn’t move from their spot. Somehow, that distressed me more, as if they knew that running would be useless.

“What are you?” I spat as I tried to mask my fear with irritation. Harmony gestured to the soup kitchen.

“When I was younger, much younger, humanity was just beginning. Already I could see it: the hunger, the greed, the gaps between the ruthless and the benevolent. The false promises each would bring to their neighbor in hopes of a pointless gain. I opened this soup kitchen three years ago, in hopes of undoing some of the damage mankind inflicted upon itself. However, as more people trickle in day by day, I know there is only one way to stop this. Unfortunately, I need the power before I change such a large and prominent issue,” they explained. When they pushed off the counter to pace the now darkened cafeteria area, I dove for the knives and held up the largest one I could find. A cold sweat tickled the back of my neck as it clung to my nerves, and my hand shook as I precariously held the handle of the Santoku knife. “The only way I can gain such power contradicts my nature, yet there is poetry in such irony. I need to feel the pain of another human being, to absorb it. I could try to find a poor victim somewhere out in the city, but this needs to be selfless pain, from one who agrees to the deal wholeheartedly and gains nothing from its result.”

“Would I gain the prestige of it?” I asked, my hand still tightly gripping the makeshift weapon. Harmony stepped out of the cafeteria’s darkness and cocked their head. Maybe it was a trick of the light, but their eyes seemed to flicker from their usual blue to a much lighter, more brilliant shade. If I didn’t know any better, I would say they were almost turning white.

“Prestige is a selfish reason, yet prestige is not something you can gain through this deal. One, you must not tell anyone about it, or your entire physical form is forfeit. Two, who would believe a man who spoke about how he cut off a finger and gave it to a cosmic being to end world hunger?” Harmony asked. They spoke in a conversational tone as if we weren’t talking about ending a global issue or severing body parts to do so. Their calm demeanor diminished some of my fear, yet I was still wary. How could they possibly do what they said they could? It would require resources, time to distribute, laws. Global hunger didn’t end overnight.

“How long would it take?” I asked.

“One night. You wake up tomorrow and all you will see is fully bellies and smiling faces,” Harmony responded with a grin. “Only a finger, I promise. I’ll even take it off of your left hand. You are right-handed, aren’t you?” I nodded, but when Harmony drew closer, I raised the knife. They stopped and stared at me with eyes older than time.

“How do I know you aren’t lying?” I asked. Harmony offered their hand, and I jumped back a step.

 “If you would like to see the truth, you need to trust me,” Harmony explained, then offered their hand again. With a deep breath, I took their hand and set the knife back onto the counter. As soon as my fingers touched theirs, a flash of images ran through my head. Newscasters explaining the new miracle. Food banks doubling, tripling, in size and quantity. Families finally receiving the hot meal they’ve been waiting for. Waste itself diminishing from its infamous 40% to 5. When I snatched my hand back, overwhelmed by the onslaught of visions, the images quickly vanished as soon as they had appeared. I looked back at Harmony.

“What would this cost?” I asked. Harmony shrugged.

 “Like I said before, a finger. Off of your left hand, so—”

“I’m not just talking about myself.” Harmony’s face flickered with confusion for a moment, before they began to laugh. The sound was so misplaced in the otherwise somber atmosphere that I almost picked up the knife again.

“Oh, you’re worried that this is a ‘careful-what-you-wish-for’ situation. No, I’m not a genie nor a djinn; I don’t get off on fooling people. World hunger ends through the sharing of resources from the top and the minimization of waste, not killing half of the hungry and feeding them to the other half,” Harmony explained. I flinched at the alternative solution, even though I expected it. “Watching one person make the conscious, direct decision to lose an appendage is enough for me. You’ll see when you accept. If you accept?” Harmony held out their hand, and I stared at it for a long time. One finger for generations of suffering. One of my fingers, granted. With a deep exhale, I switched my focus from Harmony’s hand to their gaze and decided.

All in all, losing one finger wasn’t that bad. The blade was sharp, albeit a little bloodstained, which made me wonder how many others had sacrificed their body parts to end suffering. As Harmony promised, the procedure wasn’t painful. In fact, the complete numbness emanating from my hand while I watched the left pinky sever was almost sickening. However, after trudging home and hoping that what Harmony said was true, I woke up to every news channel talking about the “miracle of prevalent food”. Business at the soup kitchen doubled for a while until eventually trickling off. After all, everyone had enough to eat now.

The ring finger came off to end sexism. I thought it was strange that Harmony could just end a construct, even an institutional one, but by the next day, women everywhere spoke about how their bosses had given them raises, promotions, and how the level of assault had reached an all-time low.

The middle came off to end racism.

The pointer for homophobia.

The thumb for civil conflicts.

The palm for global.

Not many people asked about my missing hands anymore. After I exchanged my right index finger for universal healthcare, it became easier to buy prosthetics. Travis once asked me what happened when I handed him a paper bag with three fewer fingers, but Harmony’s warning glance helped me fabricate an excuse. Accident in the kitchen. No, it didn’t hurt. Yes, it was a knife. Yes, I’m glad that I didn’t bleed out. However, Travis never asked me again, even when he saw the new prosthetics. Perhaps that came with losing a right pinky for the extinction of ableism. Painless, swift, yet just as uncomfortable as the first finger. If I had any left, I knew I would do it again.

Would you?

***

I’m not particularly proud of this story. It started out with an interesting concept, an old genie-and-human relationship yet switching the focus towards the willing cost and not the gift, but I don’t think I portrayed it well enough. However, I do hope I made the readers think. Would you endure a lifetime of inconvenience to solve a global issue?