WingSpan Poetry Project

CULTIVATING EMPOWERMENT THROUGH POETRY


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Inspired by Cynthia Cruz’s Guidebooks for the Dead thank you Stella

Momma is supposed to be the example of how life should be. That idea in my mind is long since gone.

Lemme tell you what happened.

She’d always let us play on the floor by her purse while the preacher yelled his latest revelation. Those were the times I’d sneak through Momma’s bag looking for candy. Digging through the bottom I’d get dirt under my fingernails and tense up from making any noise of the loose change floating around. I felt rich, I felt hungry. Then Boom! Candy! I started to chew the crimson speck and had a reaction. It was an Ibuprofen, not candy.

Fast forward to the Beauty Bathroom at 22 with foam coming out of the sides of my mouth. Momma taught me to numb the pain during a lecture and I took too many that time. What was supposed to teach me brought me stars, dirt-colored hands, dozing off slightly as the knock on the door continued through the years. God knocking on the door of my heart.

 

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Curses of the Purse

I remember my foster mom’s purse
there were little bottles and syringes

I remember the day she would try to drown me
I remember she would beat me, squirt soap down my throat

I remember she would call me all kinds of nasty names
I remember her locking me in the closet for days at a time
with only a glass of water

I remember i would ask, “Why?” but never got an answer
I remember just a slap to the face

I remember the tears rolling down my face
I remember when I looked in the mirror seeing the blue, black, and red

I remember the blood rolling down my lip
I remember just wanting to be free

I remember these awful things
all because of the curses of her purse

I remember asking her when she’ll stop
only to get another slap then a punch
until I finally I saw stars

I remember crying most nights myself to sleep
I remember thinking I want my real mom

I remember blaming myself
I remember that she stuck me in the oven

I remember thinking I’m going to die
I remember her locking me in the basement with her husband

I remember those were the nights I bled the most
I remember all the pain

I remember just wanting it to end
I remember it was all because of the curses in her purse


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Dear Dad

Once upon a time
you were my dad
with John Wayne’s teeth, Hey Yah.
Navajo wisdom stirring up
old never forgotten memories
from a hard past
I knew you when you were young …
At 17 you volunteered for war
in the U.S. Army–then off to Vietnam
dark green fatigues, shaven flat top
bunking with guys of different creeds,
race and personalities
young men too young to know
the face of war
they made you into men
killing machines
an army of one.
Then night terrors
would come creeping
into REM sleep.
Thrashing, yelling, screaming.
Nightmares of deep green
thick rubber trees sway
in the wind strong enough
to snap a man’s back in half.
The feel of frigid torrential rain
drenching the minds of innocent
faces running for cover
fields and fields of rice patties
hidden land mines
one false move … Kaboom!
you’re gone …
You were a tank commander
giving off coordinants
to where the Viet Cong were.
Kill or be killed.
They pile bloody lifeless
bodies of old men, women, young
children, babies by the thousands,
blood smell fills the air
as they burn the bodies.
You pray God forgive me!
God, Get me home!
Skin melting, burning inferno
burnt hair and rotting bodies
all that’s left are the tears
and screams of the damned
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


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Who Will Find You Beautiful If You Do Not?

One hand holding tight my other.

I’ve had to be my own best friend.

 

In times when I had no other but myself

to laugh, cry sing, dance, love; no other

to let myself know I’m beautiful,

to say I’m doing a great job

to cry and let it all out.

 

At the end of it all

to let myself know that everything

is going to be ok! And knowing that

I’m always going to be here for me

never leave myself nor

hurt myself in any way.


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I Am Other Than Myself

because all I want is to play hero
who else can step in to place that zero
to make 10 but the one and only one?

When I’m closed and shut and hibernated
I crack a smile to protect the damage.
I can only move
to the next level of my game
before I run out of quarters.

I can only see flowers
growing from the seed
planted from the One and Only

I can only offer damaged love
love no one knows, damaged love
given back to the sender

hoping all is bright
that happy voices and happy tears
right the wrongs of a damaged product.


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What did I see to be except myself?

I see damage from within

that is screaming so loud

but no one can hear.

So it gets damaged.

Damaged product,

go on whimpering

only talking with the eyes.

The eyes can never deceive

especially when the eyes are

as red as my pajamas

or my notebook

or my favorite team’s colors,

the 49’ers or Chicago Bulls.

The flare up the nostril has given me something

to be aware of: damage cannot be undone.

It hurts many people.

Damage can cause tears to flow like water

the heart to harden

the face to freeze

hands to shake

feet to run

mouth to be silent.

The moment the product is damaged

no one can take back what was done.

The moment has gotten still.

But for what?

Am I to fall to the floor and

dance because I see

a new blood line of ancestors

or should I fall because

I have been

you have been

we have been

damaged?

I am so weak in my throat.

I wish I had hot coffee to scorn

my damaged voice

so I can let out

a cry.