It’s so sad to be so intelligent yet to not know when to pull back. So disappointing to keep it so still—in many ways, you wish things would change—yet all remains like bones preserved at a dig site. Who would have thought it would be this fucked up to the point where it doesn’t mean anything (what do you represent?) or make any sense (how did this happen?) because it all means too much. I’m puzzled when I look in the mirror and see these brown eyes staring back blankly, but they are oceans of hurt. These eyes are like empty cups that nothing can fill or will dare to try—bottomless like the space between planets. She asked who sees what I write, I told her that I would, and she must pity me. She must think, look at that poor woman who hasn’t learned how to swallow sorrow the way we all have. She doesn’t know that sorrow ebbs out from a mouth that has said all she could only to have it fall on deaf ears. He wants to process, but he doesn’t understand that process is all that I do and so my thoughts change quickly, but I said I wasn’t fickle. Perhaps I lie because that’s what I want to be, intransient. I feel like this world made me to flow with suffocating feelings and with impermanence so I could never believe in a god that would go so deeply against my wishes, who further guides me to dig my grave. Desamparada is the word that captivates the feeling inside my chest, and I wish I could scream it out of my body but if she screams in the middle of the woods and there’s no one left to hear her, did she ever really scream?
I imagine that stones must tire of the same current bearing down heavily on their surfaces. Leaves must expire after strict devotion to their trees and so they must fall. Will my legs give under the pressure of this great atmosphere as I climb the stairs into the sky? All things in existence must be like me… secretly trying to just get by.
I’m sure there’s more to this story of life. It is a pleasant thing to smile at the wind when you drop your heavy burdens; it no longer struggles to tilt you down. Now I can’t help but think of butterflies and how they must struggle against the gust, forever flying into the horizon to perch on the perfect flower.
My chest feels like butterfly wings in the midst of struggle.
The craziest things happen in the place I call “work.” It feels a bit more like slavery than I would have imagined. Frustrating to the point of temporary insanity and I ask myself, will I stay and not walk out mid-sentence? I whisper “listen, listen, listen” and they scream randomness and terms moronic, yet dialectal. It is getting harder to keep my thoughts to myself and if it does not finish soon, I confirm that I will get belligerent. Today another teacher—much more dedicated than myself, older too, felt broken. How can a “child” and a “parent” devalue the meaningful passions of an individual actually willing to invest their energies and heart into the academic success of a human? They are like zoo animals, willing to pull, prick, and prod like they did in the Nazi concentration camps and I wonder: where did all this animosity come from? The few, the willing, the proud also refers to these teachers experiencing disrespect by someone half or more than half their age. It is disgusting to see this small-minded creature—it pains me to call them that—threaten and make another person’s life a living hell.
A few days ago, one of the hyenas walked out of their classroom to “take care of” another child that apparently had been “messing with” his homeboy. Bloodied, bruised, and broken these children roam like lost dandelion seeds in the wind. They call my generation snowflakes, but damn this younger one is beastly. Needless to say, disillusionment levels are at 3,000 percent.
In a school where you get written up by your administration for being willing to help and dedicate yourself to the institution’s betterment, everyone breaks. That woman was strong, but if children refuse to respect, adults refuse to understand, and other teachers refuse to help, there will only be chaos when she snaps. This is a system that pushes you out only after pushing you against the wall and the pressure builds so much it feels like your cells are squeezed into the concrete pores. Where will you end up when you reach the other side and will you end up alive?
“Call it whatever the fuck you want”
I am in my classroom,
Next door teacher (NDT) enters,
We prepare to eat lunch and chat.
Ugh why?! (I am almost certain it is another student)
Disillusioned teacher (DT) walks in…
DT beings to complain and explain,
She was just written up by a colleague
Who just violated the cardinal rules of accountability.
DT cannot help not being given access to the documents
Cannot help not being given access to a necessary web module
Cannot help not having internet at home (mother’s sick)
Too many bills and the rent is increasing
She lives alone:
Life is work and work is life.
NDT gives me a look as if saying:
This is every single day.
In my head, there is a mixture of feelings:
Pity, apathy, and compassion (how?)
DT sits down and opens her McDonald’s meal
She let the server know she was lactose intolerant and that she wanted pico de gallo
Instead she was given tartar sauce.
She missed most of her lunch hour picking up McDonalds because…
She couldn’t cook last night
She waited in line for 10 minutes.
DT complains and complains and she is already bothered by being written up…
NDT and I stare and try to understand try to speak
Cannot get a word in otherwise.
WHY CAN’T THEY GIVE ME THE CORRECT ORDER?! (DT)
(Slams the sandwich back into its card and tartar sauce flies all over my desk, a failure notice, a rock collection, and the floor)
It looked like guacamole to me…
This is not something I was expecting and to be honest…
I thought she was crazy.
What did the desk ever do to you!?
NDT and I stop eating
I pass DT a wipe and try to clean up the failure notice.
Eventually the bell to start the next class rings and DT leaves. NDT and I part ways as I rush to my 3-minute restroom break. I stop by NDT’s class on the way back. Apparently, DT is very easily frustrated and highly tense lately. I try to understand where DT is coming from, but NDT and I are so shocked. I don’t want to gossip…
What more could you want?
Haven’t they suffered enough?
Hasn’t BigCo put their foot on their necks to the point of suffocation lest they give in?
You say economic crimes and those that commit them are vile, but did you stop to consider economic need?
You see, families now are multifaceted in their struggles: your baby is sick, your daughter is in college, you were always called “Not Enough” in education, and your wife is overworked to the point of exhaustion.
Meanwhile, you live a life of privilege with a lucrative job, a sharpened mind like all of those sharpened pencils you went through, and a wife just as successful as you. There’s so much more affluenza where you’re coming from.
You’d think in this country you would love your people with understanding and mercy, given that you know it in your bones you’re the ONE that made it and that is above the law…
You’re not fooling anyone because I’m on to you.
You see, I understand who you are in your very soul and frankly, you’re not taking the time to truly know.
Maybe BigCo has a foot on your throat as well, but you have so much dirt on them yet you let them manhandle you and your people.
Why is it that most of the mug shots associated with your name are those of Black and Latino men?
Why isn’t BigCo right up there when they’re polluting our waters and paying our people pennies for hard labor?
Want to talk about economic crimes? Talk about BigCo and how it runs out any chance for small businesses by placing insurmountable barriers to entry into our markets. Talk about the leaders of BigCo and how they are the first to commit illicit activities.
BigCo is the one spreading cancer faster than it can naturally reproduce.
Anyone you know ever died of cancer?
It’s the one mixing us all–oh baby, and its regardless of neighborhood (I know, I study this)– in its radioactivity.
They’re just too damn White and proper to bury their hands in the dirt lest their skin peel away like the most dangerous snake slithering out of yet another one of its layers.
But you, you’re just a BigCo pawn and whatever bone BigCo launches at you, you chase after like the street dog waiting to be fed that you seem to be. Damn I’m tired of people like you: always making excuses for why they’re “doing the right thing.” Why don’t you start going after the real perpetrators, unless you’re one of them too?
All I’m asking for is mercy, because they’ve had their hands around our throats for too long.
-Hellen M. Barroso
Do you have any idea what it’s like to be this lost? Like knowing that all of those broken compasses won’t add up to anything except for all wrong left turns. The first mate of your ship could be the most renowned in the archipelago and still I don’t know north from south. I just know that I’m going to sink this ship as I tread more water. I know that Poseidon will make me his lover when I reach my watery grave and no star or goddess in the night sky will ever bring me back. Thinking back on it, I’ve been getting lost since I was five. Each new adventure led me to a new path and over waves that I would not know how to return to. I’ll always allude to that piece of driftwood in the middle of the sea. At night my body will sway disoriented regardless of where I’ll be. I am the worst captain in all of the ships in all of the watery worlds and my crew are fools to trust in my direction. I never seem to have a shortage of crew members putting their lives at stake for this inexperienced fool. All of my apologies will amount to nothing but a forest of gold and bones down in the dark ocean floor.
She was drowning for so long like a fish out of water choking on the gases in the atmosphere
So she learned how to swim through the buildings and she creeped through the cracks.
I was always a fish not quite belonging in that or the other sea
Yet I could always see me and my scales that reflected everything but never absorbed.
So I rode that underwater wave or ripple or have at it whatever you wish
Until I became lost at its ending to swim back but more slowly this time.
I numbed my fins to everything around me and only saw from eyes sideways as I squirmed
Here and there to get a better view—damn how I felt that view in my cartilage.
Never enough grown or graceful enough for mermaids to whom Triton instilled an internal compass
But I knew that if I followed the moon she would bless me with her radiance
I was a reflection of her who was herself a reflection of a burning sun
So brightly in her white glow that she only took from something else.
Like moon like fish following currents and orbits and reflecting existence in ways unimaginable to so many eyes.
One day her tiny feet scratched your palm as she danced over it while you remained calm. You carried her to your eyes and you cried in laughter. Her tiny tutu was smooth to the touch and her small face was more than enough. One day you let her fall in anger and haste. You dropped to your knees and let her shards pierce your skin as you tried somberly to piece her back together. The sun shone it’s light at that moment and reflected her open, yet broken soul back to you. You asked the divine for deliverance from your committed evil. Shame you forgot that the goddesses are also called justice in a body as reflective and full of light like hers.
You must know that between you and her I will choose her, always.
You cannot treat a glass orchid with disregard and you must wipe her dust away, often.
I will pick her up carefully and shine the light on her material so that I can see her optically active skin.
She has the type of skin that could magnify your insight, she is cherished by many.
You should have known that she would prick you if you let her fall and your cut would never heal.
You want to love her like a prize yet touch her with hands dirty, accused of slights you refuse to acknowledge.
She knows what you committed because her glass ears heard your voice and her diamond eyes–all-seeing– picked up your alibis covered in pride.
Her frame is the greatest prize you have touched in a long time; she cannot be exchanged. You will try to commodify her glittery glass veins.
I have chosen her, again, and again and I refuse to inflict any pain.
She has chosen you before she has chosen me before, but nevermore.