Five Poems

The Red Light District

They roam the empty streets at night, remembering a voice.
They murmur sour words into a stranger’s ear, remembering a voice.
They hold the unknown in their arms,
because it’s all they have,
because they’ve stopped thinking long ago,
because they remember a voice.
They undress in the dark.
They shut their eyes.
They make no sound.
They endure.
When the sun comes up they wear their favorite saris again.
They braid their daughters’ hair,
they cook,
they clean,
they smile.
And then at night it starts again.
The mothers, daughters, cousins, friends, sisters, girls go out into Guria once more.
Roaming, murmuring, holding, undressing, shutting their eyes, making no sound, enduring.
All because they remember a voice, a voice that one day promised them joy and wealth,
a voice that buried their dreams and replaced them with fear,
a voice that tells them they are worth nothing,
a voice that forces them to walk around Guria at night,
to shut their eyes,
and make no sound.


Today is the day to put ego in your tea make self-esteem pancakes brush pride-flavored toothpaste on your molars the same molars you use to bite into contemptuousness because everyone knows you’re oh so pretentious no one sees that behind lenses of dark haughtiness your eyes are, really, just transparent after all.


She was as somber as the ocean at night, as full as the bus on rainy days, as mysterious as forbidden closets, as fogged as the windshield at dawn, as distant as the ringing of an alarm at 6:22, as melancholic as the nightingale sitting in darkness, as small as the pebble surrounded by tall weeds, as big, in my heart, as the whole world by day.

Mae and Lenny

Mae and Lenny lived together, and no one really knew anything about them except for the fact that they were passionately in love, so passionately in fact that they sometimes threw plates and wine glasses at each other.
Mae was (and had always been) a simple woman. She was an art student and lived only for kale chips, Twinings Christmas tea, and the baker’s smile.
Her favorite things included lying on the living room floor on rainy Sunday mornings and cereal-for-dinner nights.
Lenny was a varsity basketball player from Tennessee.
Sports jock, smart kid, he found solace in hair gel and boat shoes.
Naturally, they were perfect for each other.


It’s when you undress in the dark.
It’s when you undress in the dark.
It’s when the words play in your head, over and over again, like a glitch in your cortex, always the same.
It’s when you undress in the dark.
It’s when you suck in the air and hold your breath,
and release.
It’s when you hold the back of your thighs with your hands and look in the mirror, picture what’d be like to look like this — would you feel better?
It’s when you lie on your back in the afternoon and pull your knees up, turn on the little light on your bedside table, and stare at your legs, because wouldn’t it be nice to look like this anytime, anyplace, without the perfect lighting and point of view -— would you feel better?
It’s when you sit in yellow classrooms with your arms crossed tight over your stomach, and wonder what it’d be like not to feel obliged to sit that way — would you feel better?
Would you feel better if that drunk girl you talked to on a Sunday night told you she’d die to have your legs?
Would you feel better if you knew that
your body is, really, just fine
you shouldn’t care so much
there is something wrong with the way you see yourself
ACCEPT YOURSELF THE WAY YOU ARE, the powdered curled blonde in black lululemons declares.
And, she’s right.
The TV screams about ways to get the perfect body losing fat without exercising pills with names you can’t pronounce tonedbutts tonedstomach tonedarms tonedlegs tonedarmpits tonedtoes tonedears tonedeyes tonedeverything‭.‬
I’m sorry, but I can’t tone my mind.

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