Give Me Them All

Give me the wanderers, artists and vagabond souls.

The beatniks and dreamers yearning to breathe free.

The gypsies, misfits and children of earth.

The believers in truth, the lovers of hope.

The feelers and teachers, the visionaries and prophets.

The nature dwellers and story tellers.

The flower crowned hippies who dance in the moonlight.

The makers of poetry, music and wild ideas.

The ones called different with their bent, crooked lines.

Give me the humans who notice beauty in madness.

And imagine a world full of kindness.

Give me them all, for they are welcome in my heart.

Undress.

dirty clothes

He said, “undress.” And then I did. He looked me over. And I went stiff.

He reached out a hand. And I glanced away. Eyes to the ceiling. Body frozen in space.

He touched me once. Discreetly at first. Then urgent, emphatic. With all my senses inert.

My brain was absent. My nerves aflame. I had no response. And I made no escape.

His fingers trailed. I watched their descent. This could not be real. Yet still my gut clenched.

He found just the place. That biological switch. Where my insides caught fire. And guilt came unhinged.

He finished his conquest. And I snatched my clothes. But his touch left its mark. Sharp and exposed.

Now I was tarnished. And no longer the same. Now I was weakened. And no longer safe.

If I could rewind the clock. Before all these regrets. I would yell, “no.” When he said, “undress.”

dear body…

in all our years together—two decades plus eight

i never said “thank you” for being constant and safe.

for this miraculous tangle of blood, skin and bone

this shelter for my heart, this home for my soul.

this flesh that can rupture, bruise and then heal

this lattice of imprints and imperfections revealed.

this face streaked with laughter and tears unabated

this frame that’s been tough yet frail and berated.

sometimes unsteady but always strong to endure

a bittersweet mural of both stories and scars.

body—you were resilient in spite of all my disdain

when i branded you a traitor, the root of my shame.

you are the warrior who fought to keep me alive

chest breathing, pulse beating and a will to survive.

i wanted to tame you and i ferociously tried

i ached just to separate, to denounce you as mine.

but you were a force, relentless, stormy and wild

you would not be conquered, outcast or exiled.

i made you the villain but no—you protect and defend

so for the first time: “thank you, my friend.”

 

 

An Elemental Manifesto

i am a seed anchored by the earth

i am a feather skimming the breeze

i am a vessel who dances on water

i am a spark awash in amber flames

my body is of the soil, my heart belongs to the sky

my vagabond spirit calls out to the rivers and seas

my russet brown eyes crackle with stardust and fire

my voice is tuned in to the rhythm of the wind

i am a creature of the elements

both above and below

outside the reaches of space

unclasped by the hands of time

fully human, shred of mystic

a piece of my soul in each world

but this terra which roots me

this ground that nourishes me

is not mine to call home

i was planted on earth, baptized in water

refined in fire, then unleashed on the cosmos

but my inheritance lies beyond the clouds

it’s there i am bound

there i am summoned

and there,

an elemental manifesto of heaven and nature combined,

i am destined to fly

 

She Used to Dream

sex trafficking

She dreamed of a future—honest wages for her family, a taste of opportunity. She boarded a plane on his words of assurance that life would improve if she just crossed the globe.

But promises turned counterfeit, as neon city lights faded to shadows of gray. He was in control now, an Armani suited pimp. She became his to command, all freedom disappeared.

Time no longer seemed to matter, as weeks stretched into months, and the earth reeled off its axis. A name was erased from her grime-smeared face—the stamp of commodity on a bruised, exploited body.

Her narrative is common and her affliction epidemic—another headline for consumption, another hashtag to retweet. Yet these statistics fail to humanize the person whose agency was taken and whose dignity was tarnished. Injustice like that can asphyxiate the soul, but she is more than ravaged hopes or a crumbling spirit.

Her life is worth rescue, her freedom worth ransom—because the dream of a future is just what she deserves.

Its Name is Humanity.

It’s in the onyx colored irises of the Ethiopian orphan’s eyes.

Ravenous for a nurturing caress that she has never known.

It’s in the desert toughened leather of the Syrian refugee’s brow.

Etched and imprinted with the carnage of his nation’s diaspora.

It’s in the painted on smirk of the Cambodian stripper’s mouth.

Concealing her body slick with sweat and debased with bruises.

It’s in the russet grime and grit of the Mexican immigrant’s feet.

Straddling a border that divides his home and a fate unknown.

It’s in the viscous crimson ink of the suburban teenager’s wrists.

Serrated, muffled tears which she punctuates by a razor’s edge.

It’s in the faint tremor of the varsity quarterback’s shoulders.

Fearful of an urge inside him that finds other boys attractive.

It’s in the bold, defiant keystrokes of the rape survivor’s hands.

Resorting to a hashtag when the courtroom denied her justice.

It’s in the clenching rage of the Starbucks customer’s jawline.

Hauled away in handcuffs for the crime of his chestnut skin.

It’s in the sacred chiffon wrapping of the subway rider’s hijab.

Absorbing the tension of her fellow passengers’ surveillance.

It’s in the sinewed, pulsing veins of the eleventh grader’s neck.

Fraught with panic that today his school might be a graveyard.

It’s in the boardrooms of Wall Street.

It’s in the brothels of Chennai.

It’s in the privilege and on the margins.

It’s in the protests and the marches.

It’s in all faces, on all tongues.

Its creed is universal, and its name is humanity.

If I Could Tell Her

growing pains

If I could tell her…

The groans in her stomach would echo the hunger in her soul.

If I could tell her…

The defiance in her eyes would unmask the trembling in her heart.

If I could tell her…

The recoil in her posture would betray the chinks in her armor.

If I could tell her…

The frailty in her bones would match the decay in her facade.

If I could tell her…

The sinews in her limbs would expose the tangles in her mind.

If I could tell her…

The hollows in her cheeks would mirror the artifice in her smile.

If I could tell her…

The quiver in her chin would reveal the aching in her marrow.

If I could tell her…

The rashness in her actions would belie the apathy in her voice.

If I could tell her…

The catch in her breath would confess the panting in her spirit.

If I could tell her…

That it doesn’t need to be like this.

That her body,

Her life,

Her purpose,

Her self,

They are destined for something more.

For wholeness, abundance, freedom, revival.

If I could tell her…

Then maybe she’d grasp what is real and tactile, human and true.

Maybe she’d know that integrity breeds identity,

That conscience molds character.

Maybe she’d extend love in the face of her wildest imperfections.

Maybe she’d exude light in the face of her toughest oppositions.

Maybe this culture would get no vote in her value.

And maybe her story would be different than mine.

That is what I’d tell her.