Our Three Winners

“Ignorance killed my brother.”
“Spread love because they were full of love.”
— remarks from Deah, Yusor, and Razan’s families

Snow fell upon their bodies
a wedding with the earth
while the wind blew upon our tears
fingerprints of ice, soft kisses
of cold breath escaping their lungs.

At the end of a bullet
screams and bloodshed
find your arms still held open
a crescent from hand to hand
and your soul is that star
that burns on in us.

The light overflows
wanders among the weeping
and reminds us
we are still alive.

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Said the Rain

Said the rain outside my window
as it tumbled to the ground
won’t you lend me a hand
can’t you hold me up?
I’m falling like Niagara
past these cusps of clouds
sifting through the sky
like birds or butterflies
If you could take my hand
would you hold it?
where would you lead me?
or would you let go
let the damp spots dry
and lay in the sun
instead of playing
in the rain
like children

A Kiss of Legacy

It amuses me how many books were never lost. Though the cities crumbled and the libraries burned down, the data remained. As society slipped into the black hole it had birthed upon itself, the matter was destroyed but the information remained intact.

Granted, it took a few hundred years for the new colonies to unscramble the data, but it was all there. From Harry Potter to Tolkien, from the Hunger Games to Divergent to the script of Interstellar. These words and images were refined into shots for dispersion. At first all you had to do was take a walk to the drug store, purchase a pack, and head home, but the stories were too good, too great, too easy an escape.

Within a few years, the books were banned, but junkies kept them in the back allies and unlit halls, spreading these memories like a disease.

My friend Tabitha got too caught up, soon enough she couldn’t tell a horse from a Hippogryph or a sunrise from the eye of Sauron. She got locked up. I heard she still screams as she breaks the glass and the whole world shatters.

The truth is, I slip too. That’s what they call it, slipping. Back before only the data remained, you followed the words, they called it reading, but now it’s just a shot and reality slides away. For a while, you’re gone. It’s pure bliss.

But I gotta take it slow, can’t end up like Tabitha. Or James. Demal. Alicia. Collin. Won’t get myself locked up, not like that. Not ever.

There’s a soft spot on my wrist where the blank page fades away. I push my leather wristband down and see that small patch of blue and brown, always bruised, always fresh and raw like the stories I slip in. The books are glass capsules the size of fingertips, one end chiseled to a point. It just looks like water till it hits the air, then it shines in all the colors of the story inside.

As it drains into the syringe, this one turns green and yellow, a rich russet brown. The Canterbury Tales. A classic. I love the fresh air, the sound of streams, the scent of pine needles in the brush. I don’t feel it anymore when the needle goes inside, when the words fill my veins. Instead this bleak horizon starts to blur, to blend, and suddenly, softly, I’m standing in a castle.

Time for the story to sweep me away.

Repentance

I want you to be angry
but your anger scares me
You are not overly sensitive
but I have been sensitized
to ideas that aren’t there
to violence and black men’s arms
and ripped muscles strangling
the air from white girls’ lungs
overpowered and taken by the dark
I want to be angry
that I can write these words
without thinking
that I can spew prejudice
from my lips
with as little effort as breathing
I want to be angry that your dark skin
reminds me of that playground bully
who wouldn’t let me go down the slide
when I was six or seven
because then he wasn’t just a child
like I was just a child
he was a little black boy
and he was mean to me
And it’s easy to be angry
at you
because the TV tells me it’s okay
because anger begets anger
and if you’re already on fire
then I can douse you in flames
But I’d rather be angry at me
that I hold these strings together
when I want the tapestry to unravel
that I hold onto these scars
when I want my wounds to heal
because I want to be sensitive
but not desensitized
so I suffer by your side
for all the harms I have inflicted
for all the lives I have ended
for all the people I haven’t seen
for all the voices I haven’t heard
for all the hands I refused to hold