We were little kids who sat in the school cafeteria during lunchtime. The cafeteria special that day, as it was every other day, was pizza. I used to think that pizza was a big deal, but the school pizza really, really sucked. I had a friend from Botswana next to me and a friend from Korea across. The Botswanian friend grabbed her slice of pizza and downed it. She slurped that stringy white cheese and said it was good. I glanced at my piece of oozing pile of lump before me. There was hardly any pizza sauce in it. The cheese looked man-made; it was was white and tasteless. I turned it a bit and looked under it. The dough was almost white and seemed uncooked. The bread had little holes in it that made it look like a big soggy biscuit. Amid my dissatisfaction, I grabbed it by my hand and took a bite off its cold triangular tip. The cafeteria was white and windowless. It looked like a big gym, but when I had revisited it many years later, I found out just how tiny that place actually was. It’s funny how things appear so big and grandiose when you’re a kid. I somewhat recall what I was wearing; probably light blue jeans, white sneakers, and a sweatshirt. That was the type of outfit I wore pretty often during those days; although they weren’t of my preference. My hair was probably half tied in a pony tail with a colorful clip that had strings and charms on it. My skin was smooth and wheat colored. My grandma used to say that to indicate that I was neither light skinned nor was I dark. It never looked like I was smiling, but I was a pretty
happy little kid. I always wanted to be around people and have fun.
All around me kids ate their respective soggy pizzas.
This was a big deal to me.
It took great distance and a lot of effort to get here, but here I was, in America, making new friends. Kids were just kids, no matter what our skin tones were or what our cultures were. We talked to each other like the vacant vessels that we were. Empty, and so open. We were filling it, I was improving on my English. Such genuine friendships, such innocent jokes and real laughter. We finished lunch, I threw away my greasy pizza. That, I just couldn’t open up to. I headed back to class with hands in my pockets alongside my friends.
It is a cruel and deserted world. Only stacks of papers funnel around you and I in this empty space. There’s something embedded within your cold demeanor. Your fake laughs, the way your hands shake when you lose control, your pointless hunger for power. We’re like mice roaming around in a dusty, cold, metallic warehouse. We’re sick, our eyes are red, and we breathe in toxic air. You need not say a word, I hear it all in your bloodshot, tired eyes.
I wish I could save you, but I’m sorry. I can’t save someone who’s hungry for pride. Your psychosis empowers and obliterates everything on its way. The more I look at your sunken cheeks, the more I find this love and frustration
This scorching fire red rippling through, in tidal waves
Snatching and covering the naked flesh
These luscious hallucinations
Spinning, incomprehensible sensations
Tactile, careful traces
Along ghastly fleshes
This need to hold on
To shattered wishes that fall through our arms
Along powerful universal rays
That flame a spiritual ignition, in between two stellar body fusions
All of this encapsulated in the salty, wet
That reflects a wonder world
Upon your skin.
Take me there, hand to hand, fingers interlocked. This world is paradise, there’s no need for words. Just silence and pain. Heightened dreams… made-up games. There only exists sweet desserts and lush, accompanied by our humming and music that weave in and out of us.
Hidden, under a curtain of red fire. Churning, and smoking
Inseparable as two molten rocks.
She was a blonde high-school classmate who wanted to become a missionary one day. On the bus ride home, she told me about a time when someone she knew got into a car accident and almost became decapitated, or was decapitated. I eventually learned what that meant. Those days were cold and grey from what I recall. Sports jackets and pathetic blue jeans. Rice paper powder face and straight long hair. Cold wet basements and visions of a blue house along with thoughts on what it’s like to be grown and to be so far away from all this darkness here. Across the seas and straight to Europe, people probably lived a better life. Riding a car around blue hills with headphones on. From the basement window, the bleak daylight used to shine where I stood. And my heart would skip thinking about the college guy who could save me. He sat at the dinner table with a pack of cigarettes. He had a checkbook and a history of love affairs. I keenly listened and made glamorous assumptions about the adult world and was jealous of him and his freedom and all that. It was sad thinking about what could have been in those times of eye liners and flare jeans. Maybe weekend trips to California and a dark haired boy to go out on dates with and to brag about. But those were tied to dreams with the blue hills and convertibles; far out of my reach. In order to live you have to have cheap thrills so that’s where his cigarettes and stories came in. Those were hopeless cold times and my skin was pale and the clouds were grey and my eyes twinkled at whatever that flickered before me.
I can’t believe I’m hearing this same old tune again. How long has it been, like twenty-some years? Is this what it’s like being old now? My, how I’ve grown… into something no less different. Blank eyed and coming of age, sitting in the car and looking out the car windshield; I once watched my self being somewhere far away from this place.
Here I am, miles and miles away, across the seven seas, years and years down the road
Surrounded by dust and glitter under the eastern sunlight
Finding pieces of myself that my feeble arms have tried to hold together for so long.
How weird, to be hearing some same old tune
That I would’ve never chosen.
I’m sitting here on the empty Jacuzzi staring at the ceiling with water droplets spritzing near my face, as I try to feel fulfilled. In my room, I spray all types of scents to calm my senses but it just numbs me down. I have every material thing that I want and I make a lot of money for a chick who claims to not need a lot. I turn on the bright blue therapy light that mimics sunlight to feel like I’m sitting under the sun. I meet a lot of people every day whom I don’t call my own. I have the love of my two parents but I want a big family that’s fifty times bigger and will have my back. I have the guy that adores me but I also want one who doesn’t. I’m climbing the capitalist ladder but I believe in socialist type stuff. I’m maintaining my status as a whatever, but it’s just killing me inch by inch. I don’t take pills, smoke, or drink to cope but that doesn’t mean I’m happier. I can’t follow spiritual leaders and luminaries who say pretty things because in the end they’re just humans like me. I can’t support any religions with an open heart because they talk too much of discipline, but I’m fueled by instinct and desire. I have realistic aspirations now and still want to do significant things for the future, but I don’t if I don’t have to. I can have kids if I want to but I may just let my body shut down. There are twelve months in a year and eight of them are already over and I can’t get the past three or four years back.
Sitting on your boss’s lap, leaning in and falling asleep
While he does work for you on the laptop
Someone comes in to check
He responds, ‘This is team-building…’