Ramble, Poet.

Only the poet cares

when a pen doesn’t fit the paper,

if the ink is too slow,

or the tip drags,

or skips,

or blots

big dots

of black mishap

into blank space.

And what is a poet?

A translator of sorts.

Someone who can hear unspoken words

clinging to things.

Those words come back

in dead of night

to haunt in twirling thoughts.

An old empty house,

sagging with the weight of stories

silenced into its boards…..

Who will open the door,

pry up the floor

to speak the words

and set them free?

The poet will.

This Girl

I am not this girl,

waiting like a dog waits to be thrown a scrap,

questioning, my thoughts firing into the darkness where they fade like they have no meaning

I am not here, trying to keep hope from being strangled

I am not this girl, offering my little black heart to be crushed into grime,

dragging myself through a myriad of why’s and why not’s.

I am not this girl who sits back and wonders which words sent you scattering away,

who looks at the mirror and sees nothing but routine and fatigue that serve as reason for you to leave,

who sees herself in windows while she’s walking downtown and thinks,

“Of course you were fooling yourself, stupid, childish, naïve…. FOOL.”

I am not this girl who looks for your face on the people passing by,

who tortures herself with bets about

whether you tell the truth,

whether you are real,

whether you are wanting me,

I am not this girl.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

NOTE:

** This Girl is my contribution to Open Link Night at dVerse Poet’s Pub ~ Week 86.

Defeat in the Dirt

I thought I saw a ripple in the sky

before I came crashing down

a ripple of hope, breath of a dream

I’ve got clouds in my mind

while tasting the ground

It would seem

I have failed

in this flight that I’ve taken

Defeat in the dirt

brings questions unkind

In spreading my wings

have I been mistaken?

Persistence is born of true hearts endeavour

Effort renewed by need and desire

This time I think I’ll try to fly higher

If I must I’ll keep trying all the days of forever

Radiance

“The possibilities are endless,”

he says, turning to me

I flick my radiance

to another target

and falter in painful revelations.

“Leave me alone,”

he says, turning away.

I ponder greater things

and fall backwards sitting still.

I turn my radiance off.

“I didn’t mean it,”

he says, looking to the floor.

I never mean anything.

I catch bits of misunderstanding in my hair

and comb them out

with what I never meant.

“The possibilities are endless,”

he says, leaning back.

I swallow shards of incompetence,

lean back with him,

and close my eyes.

Legacy

I sat there watching the globule of spit slide down my driver’s side window.

It moved slowly, dragging enzymes and DNA behind on its abusive crawl downward.

I could see her face in behind two walls of glass, laughing.

She was lovely, long black hair, dark skin, stark white teeth, all Native – and all mean.

She could’ve been mistaken as my sister, I’m sure.

Maybe if she was, it would explain her hatred.

Maybe if I had stolen a boyfriend,

taken her candy when she was little

or left her behind somewhere.

Maybe then she would have a reason to spit on my car while I sat there at the gas station, spit at my face behind the glass.

They were laughing, her and her boyfriend.

For a few long moments I considered slamming my door into the side of their car, grabbing that long black hair and ripping to my heart’s content.

Just perfect. Two Native girls savagely attacking each other in the parking lot of Ole’s for no reason,

no reason at all.

But everyone would have a reason to watch, to talk, to point, to shake their heads at the heathens.

And I’d have a reason for my ass to be sent to jail for sure.  Hello, old friend, goodbye steady paycheck.

So instead, I just stared at her.

I just stared and wished for her to see me, see that I am only another insecure human.

I stared and wished that she would take the wall down.

Peel away the fear,

Push away the anger,

Stop being the angry native that everyone wants her to be,

Stop playing the part,

Stop hiding behind an image.

I stared and shook with the intensity of my own desire for the hatred to go away- hers and my own.

I thought about cutting my hair as I drove off, still shaking.

When my hair is long, there is no question what ethnicity I am, here in MT people recognize

My high cheekbones

My black eyes

My dark skin

My hair. My long, straight, unwavering declaration that I am Native.

I AM NATIVE

See me so that you can stop peering into me

See that I am nothing of anything that you think you know everything about.

See that I am torn
And lost
I’m poor
I’m ragged
I’m alone
I haven’t any prolific words
Or prayers left by magical ancestors
But I am still not dead and gone
See that I am STILL HERE
I am REAL
I am flesh & blood, human
I am a daughter, sister, wife, and mother.
My beauty is built on scars
My triumph is built on knowing how ugly I can be.
I am success and failure and effort in a continuing circle.
I am more than worthless words from the past and good intentions.
See me.
See that I am not your answer to questions unasked or left hanging.
See that my progress is NOT trapped in a so called legacy.
See that my soul is streaked with the past, stained with the present and blank for tomorrow.
I refuse to be broken forever.
See that I will not bear the burden of defeat.

I HAVE BEEN DEFEATED BY NO ONE.

Not by her
Or them
Or myself.

Food Bank

The place is really stuffy,

kids crying, pulling at the legs of their puffy-eyed mothers.

The decor is a mish-mash

of things leftover

or thrown away.

Brochures line the walls.

Have you been tested?

Do you know your risk factors?

There are couples with babies,

momma’s with no daddies,

daddies with no babies,

and old people with canes.

There are the crazies,

the druggies,

the bums,

and me.

I couldn’t find a parking spot,

and when I asked the lady behind the desk

she seemed angry

that I didn’t know where to put my righteous vehicle.

I found a spot a block down and around the corner.

I had arrived at eight a.m. to fill out my needy dimensions,

even though the doors open at ten.

If you are lucky, you will be called in the order of which

you stuffed your paper of needs into the slot two hours before.

Otherwise all the good stuff is gone by eleven,

and all you get

is rice, beans, and canned vegetables.

Milk and butter is gone,

maybe some week-old ground beef will be left.

And still, I know that I am blessed

to be sifting through donations

because there are so many who can’t even access such luxury.

Charlie, who is probably eighty-four shows me around,

after threatening to arrest me for being late because of parking.

I watch people take the meats and produce

while Charlie shuffles from aisle to aisle,

trying to show me how to determine how much I am entitled to.

It takes forever, but I follow…

not declined to shuffle.

Checking out involves two of Charlies associates,

relatively the same age,

and I tell them to take a break while I box my own supplies.

To what I discover will be the ultimate humiliation,

they promptly load my boxes into a cart,

and push it right out onto the sidewalk.

For me to roll past numerous coffee shops

and downtown swanky herb shops

bread shops

custom clothing and photography shops,

two attorneys offices,

and an apartment building.

As I push my loot,

I feel an odd combination of

of crazy shopping cart lady,

and sad victory.

I can feel people looking at me

as they sip their latte’s.

My cheeks burn as my cart snags

on a crack in the sidewalk.

I wrestle it free, and push forward.

I don’t care what they think,

and at the same time I pray

that no one I know drives by

or wants to go to Carlos’ One Night Stand to buy a custom made wig.

Four years ago, I bought a wig for Halloween from that shop.

I could afford it.

Thankfully, my van looms in sight

before one of my fellow workers,

students,

parents,

or friends can discover me.

I throw the boxes in the back,

there are no cracks in the sidewalk worthy of stopping me

as I return the empty cart.

I had decided not to ditch it a block and a half from it’s home,

even though I had wanted to be rid of it.

As I drove home, I wondered something that brought me some perspective.

I had been humbled and humiliated,

but I hadn’t compromised my self worth.

I could drive away and still look myself in the mirror.

I thought about some of the women I know,

the ones who see a much different face in the mirror….

made up and fixed for viewing pleasure,

what can be used to put food on the table?

I’d push a cart around ten city blocks

before I would do time

on sniffer’s row.

I wonder what it is in a woman

that makes her decide what is right.

_____________________________________________________

I have been submitting my poems to dVerse Poet’s Pub Open Link Night for a few weeks and have really enjoyed the experience of reading others’ work and getting feedback from them.  This is my submission for Week 97.  I know it’s long, thanks for reading!