america, the beautiful

this is not an issue of blue or red
it is not a question of unhealthy heads

this is not the time for defense of a hobby
is it worth seventeen lifeless bodies?

they say to arm teachers and barricade doors
but why should our educators have to prepare for a war?

“guns don’t kill people, people kill people”
yes, with guns. it’s just that simple.

we need to step up, we need to listen
can’t you hear the screams of our children in the distance?

surviving such trauma must be a huge burden to bear
this country needs more than your thoughts and prayers

brave survivors challenge politicians with no fear
before they’ve even finished their senior year

outrage and action are long overdue
it’s about time we as a country try something new

but how many bullets will it take for you to put the gun down?


we live in a jungle.

it is the sly comments
the uninvited stares
the suggestive look
the desire-filled look
the i want you, i will have you, whether you like it or not look

every whistle
every step a little too close
leaves us trembling

do you see me?
your eyes gaze at me
but do you see me?

do your eyes see me as more than parts to be coveted and dreamt of?
do your ears hear me as more than a voice you’d like to silence with your lips?
does your mind comprehend that my shaking hands and racing heart cannot take another minute of your company?

because of you
my eyes see yours looking me up and down like a project to conquer
my ears hear a young girl catcalled in the streets
my mind cannot comprehend why it has to be this way
and my legs run towards the idea
that it doesn’t have to be
             —no more staying quiet


how do i stop fearing the future when i also fear the present?
why is the past so haunting yet so inviting?
on which side of reality will i finally be content?


our new reality

we say ignorance is bliss
hatred, intolerance, and greed
the trifecta of our society
do you see it?

news anchors deliver breaking news: a pop star got married yesterday
we listen eagerly, absorbing every detail
news anchors report homelessness is on the rise, and a child was abducted nearby
we flick the tv off
after all, we have our own lives to deal with

a new reality show premiered last week
five million people tuned in to peek into another’s life at 10pm sharp
responsibilities ignored, we’ll make time for them later
11pm news flooded onto screens an hour later
a charity event benefitting a children’s hospital was announced
we flicked the tv off
we don’t have the time

in the morning we share a picture on facebook of a starving child
“one share equals one prayer”
during an afternoon in the grocery store the cashier holds a transparent jar
“one dollar can provide this child clean water”
we stare at the picture of a helpless child
the words, “i already donated” spill from our mouths
as we walk out of the store, a pang of guilt is felt
the guilt quickly disappears as we think back to this morning
thank goodness one share equaled one prayer
that’s close enough, right?

we read the latest addition of our favorite magazine
the first article is about body positivity
life mottos are sprinkled throughout
“love yourself!”
“beauty has no weight requirement!”
we skim the rest of the issue, and another catches our eyes
“best and worst beach bodies!”
“look at the cellulite on this hollywood star!”
“i can’t believe she would leave the house looking like that!”
which article will you show your friends?

tears flow as news of a recent teenage suicide spreads through town
“society is so cruel”
“treat others how you would like to be treated”
for a week we choose our words carefully
for a week we are sensitive
but this cloud of compassion soon drifts away and we are back to our old ways
the usual storm of judgement and negativity returns
gossip rolls in like thunder and dirty looks flash like lightening
how many lives must be lost before the storm clears for good?

we teach our children about the plagues that killed our ancestors
but we don’t realize what is happening in our own society
a problem is spreading; the wrong state of mind
we have discarded compassion and replaced it with indifference
we have forgotten how to help others when it does not benefit ourselves
we have turned a blind eye to the struggles of our neighbors
they fall and ask for a helping hand

are you willing to get your hands dirty for someone who can’t repay you?
will you pretend they’re not standing next to you screaming for help?
because ignorance is bliss, right?