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On the men you think got away

No one leaves unless they wanted to,
not bullets or tanks can force
someone to leave until they decide to.

No one chooses another woman
unless they wanted to
and no man is forced to cheat.

You spend half of your life
weaving stories about commitment
issues haunting your lovers,

obligations to ex lovers
or present mothers,
everyone before you,

pack your bags and go
and don't spend your time thinking
you are too good for them

because you are,
but that's not why they left you
to collect their cheap things off the floor.

It doesn't matter why they left,
doesn't change even if you do,
and while you whirl your head

dissecting reasons,
they are on another island
thinking only of themselves.

Let them leave,

the men who cheat
the men who leave their children
get out of the delivery room
because it's too much for them,
watch tv while their woman
puts two children to sleep
alone after preparing dinner
for he who forget
he was never a king.

Let them leave,

the men who tell you to lose weight
gain an inch to heel,
ask you to stop singing
reading calling asking,
the men who lie through
their teeth and then blame
you for the possibility
of not handling the truth.
The men who vowed
to never change a diaper.

Let them leave or better yet
leave them,
and sleep alone in your bed
beside your entire self
and promise that unless
it's a love fighting to climb
the skin of your heart,
leave first,
learn to never stay.

A love letter to a trump supporter
My father was too a drunk. 
He came home at 4:00 am
when I was 8 years old,
and I ran inside as I watched him
fumbling to unlock the door.
I too used to be poor,
I lived in one room
with my mother and brother
had two pairs of pants
and read from used schools books.
I too watched tv and didn't see one face that looked like me. 
Didn't hear anyone speak for me. 
Didn't watch anyone come from their
ivory tower, to save me.
I too was afraid
of every one who didn't look like me,
they were mostly soldiers,
white and Israeli and pointing
a gun at me.
But then I came to America,
and I heard people who rapped
verses like gospel,
their faces honey colored,
chocolate, milk and everyone
kind of looked like me,
kind of loved me,
kind of taught me how to laugh again,
how to cross borders unafraid,
how to believe that I was human,
with rights and truths
that I can hold to be self evident,
even at a checkpoint.
I came to America,
and I saw a president,
who didn't look terrifying,
who wasn't ancient,
who lost his mother, to ovarian cancer
just like me,
and is still grieving.
What do we do now,
you and I?
What if I loved you,
wrote you Christmas cards,
ate pot roast at your table,
baked you the most perfect pie?
What if we got deeper into conversation,
and I told you how afraid I was,
for everyone I love,
for everyone who kind of looks like me?
You would cry, hold my hands,
tell me you too,
are afraid, to lose everything your drunk
father worked for, before he lost his job
got depressed, and sunk into the shattered remains of a factory that shut down,
in Flint, Toledo, Iowa, Indiana,Arkansas, and the darkest town in Pennsylvania.
We are all afraid.
I know you love me,
even if you don't know it yet.
I know you find me beautiful,
even if all your life you thought,
your dream girl was blonde.
I will make you love me,
see my curls as gospel,
my scarred knees as prayer,
my mouth as the holiest part
of your liturgy.
I will make you look into my eyes,
see the plowed fields of Wisconsin,
gold corn my spine,
my voice will sound like hope
Hope hope hope hope.
You will think nothing sounds
more musical than my curled R,
and the weight of my name.
I don't want you to pay a price,
For your freedom of choice.
I don't want to pay the price,
of your freedom of choice.
Give me your crooked, broken,
scared and hateful,
Give me your sexist, racist,
Billionaire presidents,
Give me your kind, joyful,
compassionate and eloquent,
and I'll give you back fire,
and let everything you thought
was true, burn,
watch the ashes crackle, 
and mourn for 40 days.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.



He says, this country is not for us,
it's for the rich who have never
plowed a field in the dead of the sun.
Hahn works at the laundromat
down the street, opens it at 9 am
and leaves at 10 pm. 
He is 22 and watches the world
slide by him as he folds clothes.
Hahn says he wants to go home,
to China, and buy a house,
he says for 100,000 dollars
you can buy a mansion,
and I watch him put someone
else's boxers in a bag.
Did he ever dream?
Did he think his life would be in a dingy
windowless room in Brooklyn
watching other people
clean their life off of their shirts?
America is not for us, he says,
you and I who speak a foreign language,
who watched our parents pay the price
of America's civilization.
My father never wanted to come here,
and his mother doesn't want to either,
she tells him she is afraid
of dying alone in an apartment in queens,
she says in their village in China,
if she fell, the whole world would hear
her ache and come to pull her up.
Hahn says he always smells like detergent,
and I think, in a city that smells like pee,
I'd take detergent any day.
Who is this country for,
if not for us?
This country is for Hahn and I, 
and it's earth is for the 49 buried
four days ago.
America is a wall and a river,
and a promise
still waiting to happen.

An Ode to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


I don’t know who I am without you.


You are the plot to my story,

the branch growing from my spine,

the ex-lover whose memory taints 

everything I love now.


You have been arriving succinctly,

in the back of my father’s car 

the first time we ever left him,

and he slept in the backseat

because he couldn’t bear a bare house.


He ate naked bread for 30 days,

a fast for no one in particular,

then he slowly retreated

into the prison of his mind,

that only a forever refugee can live in.


You climbed on the wings of the first 

F-16 that bombed the sunset out of my town.

Your breath crept underneath the bed,

where I slept for 28 days,

as you obliterated the geography of calm.


You floated out of every tank,

from the voice of the Israeli soldier who screamed, “curfew today, you will be shot,

if you step out.” You peeked from the edge 

of his rifle to hear your own thunder.


Then you sat on the chair,

next to me in the lab when I opened 

my mother’s medical test,

“Ovarian cancer, stage III,”

I shut it, prayed it away,


but I couldn’t erase cancer cells,

in the place from which my mother 

bore me, and I couldn’t save 

her from the three stages of the war

her body launched against her.


You sat down in the chemo room,

roared your bald head,

and from her stomach you built

yourself a throne,

to rule me forever,


but I am no longer afraid of you,


even though you occupy every room

in my body, 


claimed yourself the Holy Spirit,

in my trinity,


declared yourself holy,

when I was the holy one,


the girl who lived. 


I don’t know how to fight you,

hold your reins and tame you,

draw an exit map for you,

out of my lungs.


I am now speaking to you,

negotiating your terms of surrender,

trying to maintain my dignity,

as I beg you to leave.


I am now calling you by your name,

so maybe I can discover who I am 

without you, for only then,

I will be free.