Friday, June 17, 2016

Champions (WY Remix)

In just a few hours, I will officially be a high school alumni. To all the staff, teachers, and students of Whitney Young, thank you for a blessed 4 years.

Dear Whitney Young...or rather Whitney M. Young Magnet High School,

I didn’t want you at first…
Even as you flexed your “#1 school in THE Nation” muscles and “state championships” curvatures, I was unimpressed
Because all your other aspects were frankly, a mess
I’m no Hercules, but you made me go the distance,
I wanted to sleep more, but I got up at my alarm clock’s insistence,
For a 57 minute commute time? I needed persistence  
I’d often question my own existence, when I had to wake up at 5:45
After being spoiled by 7am rises, I can’t believe I’ve survived
I thought things couldn’t get worse, but man was I in for a surprise
The bottom floor of the school is like a complex maze,
Trying to analyze how to get around would take days

So yeah, with you, I wasn’t that impressed
But I think it’s because deep down, I was jealous
Because at my old school I was the best,
But being #1 is the norm here; you’re just one of the rest
At a school where we have pep rallies for basketball and chess
And now after four years, I can say that I was blessed,

When you gripped me with your 8 o’clock start times and threw me into class
Crust still hanging from my eyes like meat hooks
Taking my mind on a journey from Speech to Ethnic Studies,

When you kicked me with your West Side location
Making me realize that life is more than my safe, pothole free North Side
But that roars and echoes of downtown and sirens are just as much a part of the equation,
As the subjects learned in the classroom

You shoved Baccis into my Pizza Hut world
You played twice with my hunger at Ella’s
And made me feel special at Billy Goat’s
I got to taste Chicago and Freedom in off campus lunch

Thank you teachers, for while I was still a seed, you laid the foundation,
Nurturing my academic soil and watering me with support
Thank you encouraging us to not be afraid of our own voice
To have the courage to make our own choices

So I’ll miss when after a stressful day, during lunch we’d die laughing
Get out of “blue house right now” from Mr. Fanning
Thank you for being an aquarium where I could meet other dolphins,
But I know that I can’t stay here, I have to explore more
Even as I swim through an ocean of knowledge scared to the core
I know that Whitney Young will always be my shore

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Throwback: Triune Trauma

I meant to post this earlier. I read the memoir A Long Way Gone, and wrote this piece as a creative response to the horrific events described in the novel. The main character, Ishmael, stated that he is a big fan of hip-hop and that it was one of the things that always reminds him of his childhood before, during, and after the war. I wanted to construct a slam poem/rap detailing the three stages of his life: his time before the war, his time as a soldier, and his struggle for redemption afterwards. I tried to make it purposely bellicose, to give it a “diss track” feel, and view this piece as Ishmael’s diss to the world for what has happened to him, yet there is a message of hope towards the end.

If I reach deep down within my past
Before the hands of time grab it too fast
I can see faint traces of I’ve lost
How the price of war, carries a heavy cost

One day, Imma be a rapper
But I don’t wrap gifts, I’ll wrap your body in a bag,
My language is explosive like a frag,
You wouldn’t be able to stand on my track,
I eat your weak rhymes like a snack,
Woah...chill down man, just relax,
And breathe, taking in the cassava leaves and rice
The overripe bananas and Sierra Leone spice,
These are the smells of a community that’s united,
We live our own lives, far away from the fighting,
Even though life isn’t perfect, I’m still so thankful for what I have
My parents, though divorced are still married to me,
I’ll never forget my roots; I’m part of the family tree
So if I appear belligerent with my words, know it’s just a joke
We’re just youngsters messing around, putting on an ostentatious show
Lately, what I’ve been doing is dancing to this music you call rap
It’s got my feet a slave to the beat, I guess you can call it trap
But this fast-talking to some percussion, all of my friends and I love it
We’ll kill time, just to understand what these spitters say,
We’ll slay seconds, and beat hours 24 times till they turn to a day
So right now, l can attest that life is good
It’s a simple cycle, and I do what I should
I go to school and help around the house,
During the day, I’ll play soccer at the park
And at night, with my brother Junior, we’ll tell stories of monsters in the dark,
But never during the time that I was having fun,
Would I have known that I would become one?

If I reach deep down within my past
Before the hands of time grab it too fast
I can see faint traces of I’ve lost
How the price of war, carries a heavy cost

How did I ever gain pleasure from such trivial pursuits?
Kicking at soccer balls like a childish brute?
Settling for such plebian and layman food?
That boy is gone, now you’re looking at new Ishmael
Now I kick the heads of my enemies till they move no more
I steal whatever I want, watch yourself, I’m bad to the core
I scoff at you school boys, thinking you can save yourself with knowledge and education,
So you’ve learned all the literary devices? congratulations!
When I ballistically bruise you badly with bullets, save yourself (ha) with alliteration!
It’s in the army where you’ll learn real skill,
The equation for life is simple: kill or be killed
So you should change your field of study,
Look at me, 15 years old, and all I know is guns, drugs, and hip-hop
But I mix these opposites well, like the Notorious Tupac
I spill no black ink, just blood on city blocks
Trying to fight with me, it's no competition
I’m number one on the charts cuz of my headshot percentage
Give me any rebel and I’ll spar
I’m a good kid, turned mad by my city that’s Kendrick Lamar
As long as I have my gun, I know I’ll be Alright
I don’t slip, I’m not Freud
My shooting is mechanical, like an android
Now I get a rush from the violence I reap,
You wouldn’t last 7 days out here, cuz you’re so weak
I’ve survived back to back battles, this job ain’t for the meek
I’m a monster uncaged on the battlefield, an animal out of the pen
My clique runs deep, we kill anyone who run Solo, that’s Kylo Ren
Your life is in my hands, will you die? It depends?
Just a boy, but I’ve killed a lot of men
Murdered grown up versions of my future, of what I could have been...
I talk with war a lot, we consider each other friends
Look what this friendship has made me do...
I hack apart bodies for it and sever so many limbs
I create Frankenstein's, killing has become a hobby
Now I wonder what kids my age are doing,
Other children got toys and Coloring Books, I didn’t get a Chance
I was seduced by violence, and caught in its trance
So please war, let me go,
Haven’t I given enough of my service to you already?

If I reach deep down within my past
Before the hands of time grab it too fast
I can see faint traces of I’ve lost
How the price of war, carries a heavy cost

Adulthood yearns to release itself from this form,
Rushed maturity attempts to bleed out through my scars
The child and adult in me try to tear itself apart,
Leaving me fatigued and filled with stretch marks
I am a grown man in a child's body
No matter how hard you make me try, I won’t sit still in the lobby
Trying to rehab off drugs makes my head foggy
Why are you trying to change me? The damage has been done
All I know is war, just give me back my gun
Nurse, stop asking me about what happened
About my days as an army captain
About how after slitting throats of victims, we’d die laughing
While rebels swam in their blood, we just started rapping
I don’t want to go back to those memories...I don’t want to feel this pain
I can’t raise the dead, I can’t take back who I’ve slain,
I’m just not Abel, instead I’m Cain
Like Lady Macbeth, the blood's on my hands... it’s stained
People tell me it’s not my fault
It “wasn’t really me” carrying out those assaults,
I was “just a boy”, unaware of what I was doing
But ignorance is not innocence, and enough of that was taken from me,
Though I’m not dead, I don’t think I can live again
Now when I see leaves on branches
They hang like bodies off trees
Innocuous faucets now drip blood
A bird’s song is the bang of a gun
But I’m told that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel
That I can outlive my tragedies
My past doesn’t have to define me
Though I’ve lost much, I can start anew
The path to healing is long but I’ll push on

Even though my childhood is a long way gone

Friday, June 10, 2016

Throwback: Heroic Idiocy

            On June 22, 2015 I stepped out of a summer filled with bible verse memorization, 1 AM curfews, and summer blockbusters and into one filled with Cervantes quotes, 1:30 start times, and films that would probably make Robert Egbert’s top 100 movies. In other words, it was my first real day of college classes, and I let my senses soak up the campus ethos. Rows of eclectic food trucks were crammed together like sardines, and each one was hoping to outdo the other. Luckily, pedestrians benefited from this culinary warfare as the air filled with aromas of buttery croissants, spicy halal, Italian beef sandwiches and other greasy Chi-town comfort food. The pounding of jackhammers and the battle cries of imposing bulldozers filled the air with a mechanical soundtrack, albeit with an irregular cadence. The stone gargoyles glanced auspiciously at me as they perched on extended edifices. Although for many of the passerbyers, this was just another day at the University of Chicago, I found myself cognizant of all of these minute details, evidence of the smorgasbord of excitement and apprehension I was feeling.
            As I walked past the safety of the Quadrangle, and stepped inside Room 108 of the Social Science building, the ambiance immediately changed. My #2 lead pencil, Starbucks coffee, and cold sweat replaced the delectable aromas of the outside. A man carrying a black satchel and MacBook Pro suddenly entered in the room and in a professional, yet cordial tone, exclaimed “Welcome to ‘The Idiot as Hero!’”
            “The Idiot as Hero” (or ENG 24102) with Professor Lawrence Rothfield, as I would soon discover, became an intellectual odyssey. Far more than the typical English class, it was interdisciplinary in content and scope. I watched films, interpreted poems, analyzed art pieces, and read copiously both short stories and full-length novels. I grappled with literature, media, cinema, theater, and semiotic theory all within the confines of three time-stopping hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of June through July last summer. Each week, in a Socratic seminar setting, I analyzed the conventional idiots of film and literature with six undergraduates and Professor Rothfield as we studied works like Forest Gump, Don Quixote, The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. The class, for which I received an “A,” was a fantastic experience, but I gained much more than a grade. I grew in my critical thinking and writing skills. I grew as a person.
            What I love about literature, film, and other forms of artistic expression is how their narrative worlds become a mirror to my own real-world experiences. Their characters often reflect the angst, fears, joys, laments, and dreams of my generation. When I questioned, for example, whether or not Forest Gump, Don Quixote, or Lazarillo were truly idiotic, I came to the conclusion that they were not. These characters were only “idiots” if read and viewed through the social, moral, and cultural codes of the audience. Forrest Gump was no longer a shrimp-loving runner who had blind faith in people, but became for me a paragon of true friendship and loyalty in the midst of adversity. Lazarillo de Tormes was not just a conniving Falstaff-esque individual who lived for base desires but a frustrated soul who sought true bliss in the humble pleasures of life. Yet one character that I always had the hardest time analyzing was myself.
            As I looked upon the summer narrative of my campus experience, I saw how afraid I was to acknowledge my own “idiocy.” I felt the pressure of being surrounded by undergrads who were much older than me, and I wanted to perform on their rhetorical level and display the same amount of intelligence. Yet I realized that they, too, were still learning. They were my sojourners in the quest of knowledge and personal growth, not my competitors.
            Ray Bradbury in his novel Fahrenheit 451 states: “If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.” It took time to feel comfortable interrupting the professor mid-sentence so I could ask a clarifying question, or energetically share my thoughts when I received an epiphany about the author or character. But to hide myself was to play the idiot’s game. I realized that an essential part of growing intellectually was to accept where I was not the expert but ask for help and take risks to learn. So, though initially intimidated, I took ownership of the course, refused to let my nervousness control me, and engaged in intense dialogue and debate with my professor and peers. I worked hard to create an academic space for vulnerability in the classroom without fear of censorship or ridicule.

            I have many aspirations. I imagine myself in the future to be a professor or teacher of English literature, an accomplished author, and leader in public policy for urban education. But all grand dreams require a spirit and community of collaboration, and I am so thankful that College Bridge provided this for me. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Throwback: Slackers in the Hands of an angry Ms. Graf

“The Wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present!”
My head snapped back like a whip, ready to bombard Ms. Graf with excuses of why I had fallen asleep in class for the 666th time, as well as question the sudden change in her vernacular of “ANALYZE ANALZYE ANLYZE”  to talk of the justified anger of a monolithic deity, when I realized I was not in Ms. Graf’s room. 

I was in a stuffed chapel, with thousands of members, all bustling and waiting for the enigmatic speaker on the pulpit, a tall spare man with piercing eyes and thin, set lips to continue with his sermon. The man had obviously startled everyone with his booming voice, and was continuing to preach, albeit still high, but in a calmer mannerism. A glass painting of the rupture that was to take place at the end of time was behind him, depicting the souls who were to be saved and those who were to be killed.
“How did I get here?!” I exclaimed, turning around, hoping that my love for literature is what compelled me to dream up such a world in my sleep.
A woman who sat next to me, about the age of 38 or so, turned around and scowled at me.
“Look sir,” she began in an icy tone, putting down the pad she was using to take notes, “I traveled all the way from Boston to here to settle an estate at first, but once I heard Reverend Edwards was in the area, I decided to hear him. Please take your unmannerly and disruptive quarrels out of the chapel, lest you want God to take you to hell early.” She sat back down and looked up the speaker (now identified as “Reverend Edwards”) and gazed at him intently.
Seeing no escape from this knight of a woman, I too sat down and tried to recall facts about Edwards.

“Edwards, Edwards, Edwards”  I muttered to myself, trying to recall facts from my head. Was he the guy who discovered India? No that was someone else…Wait! He must be the one who was named after the head of a cow no? No no no…I cursed myself, knowing that I should have paid more attention in Ms. Graf’s class. When she said “Even though this is history, the analysis you do now will help in the future” I didn’t know it meant literally!
Edwards. He was a child prodigy, and entered Yale at 13, graduated at 16. He was a Calvinist.

I stopped there, remembering the day before that after asking Ms. Graf what a Calvinist is, she smiled and said “I think you will find out soon enough.” Oh the irony of it all!
All of sudden, the scream of the people broke my recall of facts. I realized that I had ignored the booming of the Reverends voice while deep in my own thoughts. The people, who were once calm and complacent, were on the floor, writhing in agony like worms. A woman behind me behind me burst out in tears. Some threw themselves forward and began to recite the Lord ’s Prayer. Still many others lifted up their hands and shrieked that the omnipotent God would forgive them for their sins and that they could be spared from the judgment of hell. The woman who had denounced me earlier before was also standing up, proclaiming that she would never equate another human being to a pig ever again. A man in front of me was co-switching from Greek, Latin, Hebrew and French in what appeared to a song of confession.

Edwards drew a finger to his mouth, telling the people to quiet down so they can hear of more of the mercy of God and the atonement for sins. Struggling, the mass did a collective blowing of noses, wiping of eyes, and cleaning of glasses before being silent for Edwards to resume again. Such an ordeal occurred seven times throughout the message, with Edwards waiting for the congregation to silence their mouths and open their hearts each time.
Unable to take all of this in, I rushed out, and immediately the breeze of 1730’s weather. The sky had unleashed a torrent of water bullets that struck the ground with as much ferocity as Edward’s words. The sky crackled and lightning flashed across the sky, adding a divine and powerful overtone to the setting. Under such conditions I would step back inside, but I could not comprehend the reality that I found myself in. How did I get here? How would I get back? I shivered in the cold, becoming instantly drenched within seconds, and proceeded to step back inside, when I saw a misshapen and amorphous frame of a figure, bent and walking on with a limp. The rain personified the dark colors that were streaked across his jacket, giving him the appearance of a humped mass of sludge. “Some change please,” he uttered in a raspy voice, thrusting a broken porcelain mug, “Just something to help me find shelter.”

I dug into my pockets and gave him the 7 dollars, 3 nickels, 29 dimes, and 50 pennies that bulged my pockets, seeing no need for it now. The man’s eyes gleamed with ecstasy and lumbered off, not event thanking me or asking for my name. “Sir!” I called out to him, just as he was about to disappear into the night, “why don’t you go to the monastery? There is shelter there.” The man smiled, revealing an incomplete set of discolored and chipped teeth, “That place is dead to me now,” he said, “none of the people believed that this place was India! They all mock me, they with their Puritan ideals and hypocritical sermons. They say that old Columbus was frail and unfit to lead the voyage and publicly condemn me in public! The very words of the good book in which they speak are written in Scarlet Letters; taken from the blood of the witches, innocents, and immigrants that they have oppressed! Do not go in there; it only spells a chilling end to your worthy life.”
I walked back inside, partially to get out of the rain, but also to see whether Edward’s sermon really did such things to people. As Edwards continued to speak, I noticed the power of his metaphors. God was constantly depicted as a force of power and destruction while human beings were shown to be nothing but grievances to God. My heart was burdened at how sinful human beings are, yet noticed that Edwards did not add a “redemptive” factor in his message,

Edwards continued to preach, booming that all are destined to end up in the Devil’s home, we best enjoy our life now.
“You are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters continually rising and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back.”
I imagined that I was dropping “wrath coins” with the face of God stamped into every one of them, into a big leprechaun bowl whenever I disobeyed God. Oh how many coins I had! I felt the urge to throw myself down as well like the rest of the congregation, acknowledging the fact that I was powerless to the consequences of sin. But I decided to wait, still wanting to hear the talk of “free choice” that was present in Arminianism, while so far had not been found in Edward’s Calvinism.

The man next to me, looking as though he came from a long and distinguished line of clergymen shook his head with a sense of disgust and disapproval uttering that what Edwards was offering no redemptive factor to his messages. Interested to find someone who had thoughts similar to mine, I turned to him.
“Excuse me sir,” I began, “Why do you not like Edward’s sermon?”
The man did not even turn my way; his eyes were still fixated on Edwards while his hands were transcribing notes.
“Mr. Edward’s sermon indicts no method or form of redemption,” the man began robotically, “He wishes to esquire the fact that humans are all embarking on a perilous journey to hell and that all are doomed to such a fate.”
I bit my lip to contain my excitement, happy to find a like-minded individual.
“Why sir,” I persisted, “do you want a note of redemption to be uttered from Edwards?”
This time, the man turned to face me, and for a minute, I believed that I had established a connection, and finally found someone who could relate to me on a spiritual level. Was this finally a man of whom, despite all of the others members being die-hard Calvinists, could share and help cultivate a new generation of modified Calvinism/modified Arminiaism.
“I want it so I can help the witches,” the man said in rigid tone, as though this was something everyone did,“ I was hoping that if I could use this information at a trial, it would help prove Martha Carrier innocent.”

He turned back, and I decided not to talk to anyone for the rest of the service.
As Edward continued to speak, I could imagine an unseen hand holding a struggling human over a fire, letting the flames sear him, but not burn him. Flesh and skin would fall off into the fire and sizzle yet occasionally; the little human would spit into the shadows at which the hand would drop the human even closer to the fire. Yet at other times, the body of every human was replaced with the trunk of a snake, and we were all cast out from earth into a salt lake along with the false prophet and the beast. Yet at others I could imagine the rich, on a boat called Safety, pulled along by a motor called Peace, when all of sudden a giant fish would swallow them up and there would be no 40 days and 40 nights of contemplation because they were already in the depths of hell.

Finally, Edwards walks off the pulpit and walks around, muttering more about how we all hang on a slender thread, and that none of us should live such sinful lives. I sit at the edge of my seat, waiting for Edwards to drop the “punch line;” that despite our sins and the grievances that we cause God, that God still loves us and sent his only son to die for us and that because of that atonement, we can be saved. But Edwards does not conclude on such a note. His last phrase is “Nothing that you have ever done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.” He grabs his bible and walks off the pulpit, and the people scramble up to talk with him, biting scratching and fighting with each other, like Salem’s dogs on rye bread. The man next to me finishes his notes, gives one more shake of disapproval at Edwards and walks off. The woman meanwhile beckons to someone named John, and that they best be heading off.

I stand and push past the people, and walk out. I know that for me, while Edwards sermon radiated some truth in the fact that human beings are powerless to sin, I could not swallow the fact that people were pre-determined. I gave one more look at Edwards: a man who clearly believed in the content of which he was preaching and that everyone was destined to go to hell. I turn back and continue to walk, knowing that this Calvinism is only one of the few radical ways to read the bible. Armanianism will come, then the Protestant reformation of Martin Luther, and then the formations of the covenant, Baptist, Greek Orthodox and other such denominations. I know how the story will end-

All of sudden, I find myself in the familiar space of Ms. Graf’s room. She just asked the question “Is there anything else you can tell me from the Edward’s reading?”
She gives me a wink with her eye, trying to coerce me to raise my hand and participate (for once) while subtley acknowledging an innate knowledge of my journey. She turns back to face the class, bellowing “C’mon 6th Period! Don’t let me down. I know you’re tired, but for those slackers and sleepers in the room, you don’t know where you’ll end up or what will happen if you don’t pay attention!” She scans the room again for a hand to emerge from the sleepy crowd, but really only having an eye out for one person.

Not knowing how I got back but happy that I am, I raise my hand, ready to tell the class of my journey with Calvinism. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Throwback: Losing a Pet

It's hard to believe it, but in just one week, I'll be graduating high school and begin a new journey at Cornell University in the Fall. To celebrate my time in high school, for the next week, I will be posting "throwback" posts; these posts are pieces of writing that I have written throughout my 4 years in high school. This first piece is a short story that I wrote for my English I class; each consecutive post will be from each year of high school. 
The breeze caressed my face as my family and I walked through a carnival that was buzzing with life and excitement. I shivered in my jacket, wondering why the day had to be so chilly. It was a Mr. Freeze-worthy temperature of 60°F. I was living in California, a state notoriously known for its semi-tropical weather. So when the climate dropped below the 70’s, Californians knew to pull bring out their jackets. It seems odd that now, living in Chicago, I gladly welcome the 60° weather, taking the steady rise from winter temperatures as a sign that summer may actually be approaching (for once).
I passed through all of the booths at the festival until I stumbled across a game where the winner was awarded a jewel more colorful than rubies or emeralds: a vibrant orange goldfish. Hundreds of them were bagged in plastic bags which were tied with rubber bands at the top, giving the prizes the appearance of see-through lollipops waiting to be unwrapped. For a moment I thought that the fish’s eyes met mine, and immediately I felt a connection. I knew I had to win the game and take the goldfish home.
I played the carnival game with the image of the goldfish in my mind, telling myself that I must make it my pet. Several dollars later, I won! I scooped up the orange sea-dweller, envisioning the luxurious tank it would live in back at home. My younger brother also won a fish, and both of us began listing off the various ways we would prepare the tank for our new pets. Our fish would have its own castle with brightly colored rocks and fresh water that flowed from an unpolluted stream. Alas, our excitement had to be contained for one more day as the pet shops were closed  and we had to go home for it was getting late. My brother and I brainstormed names, however, arguing when we both chose the same one or insulting each other when we came up with funny alternatives. When we got home, my dad set up two plastic fishbowls as a temporary abode for the two fish.
Before I went to bed, my dad told us to choose a name for our newly acquired pets. I thought long and hard about such a process. At that point in my life, I had been obsessed with a Pixar animation movie entitled A Bug’s Life. One antagonist in particular that stood out to me was the ferocious grasshopper known as Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey). There was nothing really to like about the character. Hopper was a rude, violent, and avaricious fellow, but something about him felt as though his alias would properly suit the feisty fish. Hopper was the leader of the evil grasshoppers and whenever he was around or looked at a character dead in the eye, one knew to focus and give him one’s full attention. Hopper engendered fear, possessed a commanding presence, and  now became an inspiration for my fish’s name. I briefly contemplated the fact that Hopper died a gruesome death in the film, and I certainly would not want the same fate to befall my fish, but I pushed such a notion out of my head. I dismissed it as a random thought. Remembering how when I first saw my fish, it looked at me and caught my eye, forcing me to focus on it with all of my attention, Hopper was the perfect name! I said good night to the newly christened Hopper and fell to bed. (My brother, by the way, named his fish Flik after the protagonist of the film).
The next morning I woke up and raced out of my bed, eager to see how Hopper survived the night. He didn’t. I peered into my tank and to my horror, I did not see my fish in there. I looked around and was dismayed to see Hopper sprawled out on the table, dead. He was next to his tank, and there was a pool of water that had soaked the doily on top of which the bowl was laid. His gills were no longer moving and the captivating look he gave me when I first saw him was gone.
My father later told me that Hopper had “hopped” from his tank; curious Hopper had jumped from his tank and landed on the table counter. With no water to sustain his life functions, Hopper suffocated to death. It had happened without warning. I was shocked and scared. I started to cry. I was five years old, and I was heartbroken that it had not even been a full day with Hopper. My comrade had been taken away from me. Why did he jump out of the water?. I imagined him swimming happily in his tank, moments before his death, not even considering the consequences of what he would do. He would leave this world without knowing the wonders I would have had in store for him: how after school I would have come home every day and the first thing I would do would feed him, or the ornaments with which I would decorate his tank. He ignored the fact that we could have made so many memories together. He leaped from the tank, away from his new life and away from me. My brother’s fish lived on for many months but ironically, Hopper my first pet, met a gruesome and tragic fate.

I jump forward in my story and find myself in high school, much older than the many years ago where I was in management of fish. I find myself in the management of a new breed of pets: crested geckos. These crested geckos are kept securely within a cubicle tank and rarely have they ever escaped. Though geckos are much more interactive and entertaining, they jump around and move a lot before they get used to the person who is holding them. I feel paranoid when holding some of them, not wanting them to escape their cages. The geckos have gotten used to my presence and smell now. Whenever I pick them up, they remain docile and quiet in my palms. But the jittery ones (named Pepperoni and Banana) jump and whenever they do, I cannot help but remember when Hopper leaped from his tank as well. I reach out to grab the gecko in midflight, knowing that I would not be able to lose a pet the same way again. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hot Water Lamentations

I apologize for my lack of posting once again. I will be under the radar until AP test season is over, so until then, here is my latest project:

The ghosts of strawberry and vanilla linger awkwardly
Their once prime fragrance now only a fading scent hovering over the tub
Which sits in patience, forever virgin and without blemish,
Mouth locked in constant agape,
Barren, it longs for aquatic salvation from above,
A downpour of organic purity to end the dry season,
Begging for liberation from this dehydration
Arid and parched, clenched jaws lie open, hopeful and praying
It rejects the advances of its fruity suitors,
Shampoo and body wash long to burst from their captivity,
To break free from their stringent containers and become amorphous again,
To stream down with rapid velocity, making chromatic cuts against white
But the tub, a pale altar, only accepts a human sacrifice

Naked and barren, I step, offering up my body,
Oil coats my skin, picking up the residue of the air
It traps outside odors onto me, and I wear them like a princely robe
But the scents are far from royal,
The slick black strands of my head are intertwined with white flakes
I grasp the handles and turn, coating them with my palmed grease,

I shiver, quivering under the glacial outpour
It hisses like a serpent, the jets of fluid are venom that seek to tear into ashy flesh,
Soaking and fattening my skin for extraction,
Slithering down my body, weaving itself into my epidermal fabric,
Giving me a watery coat, before percolating into the drain
Taking my drowsiness and fatigue with it,
But when the chilled currents turn into warm elixir,
My chest heaves decrescendo to calm breaths,
And solidified stress dissipates to vapor,
Staining my cracked mirror, mist covering it like a blanket,
Now like a key, water unlocks my pores, bringing an outpour of new knowledge,
It ushers forth more creativity, yet at the same time,
It brings back to the forefront of my mind, thoughts I thought I had left behind,
Now I see past sins and future goals,
Random anecdotes float up to the surface
Clusters of thoughts are baptized into cohesive concepts,
Ideas I had buried arise again,
And begin taking walks in Writer’s block
Now body and mind are both a blank space,
The latter, a canvas for me to create,
The former, a brush ready to be stained
Now I’m ready to dip myself into life’s colors,
No longer is it a minefield for me to walk around in trepidation,
It is a mission field of exploration, to be done with elation