Happiness Is Spelled With Leaves Of Gold

The children are happy behind the fence, you know.

This is all you’ve ever been told.

You see them run past, sometimes;

your face pressed to the wooden slats,

eyelid peeled back inside the crack —

sight reaching out to meet their running forms.

 

They will always know peace, you know.

While war has always torn your ground apart,

their side will never run dry of fleshy fruit

or the ripened ribs of those creatures they farm.

 

Knowing this, you look around your side.

 

There are no children playing here;

they sit listless in the dust, ground down by the countless

sticks and stones thrown over the fence in playful ignorance of whom they’ll hit.

If they hit you they’ll ruin you, you know.

This is all you’ve ever been told.

 

And still you watch:

the splinters in your cheeks of years and years of breathless watching

though the crack have made you bitter — the wooden shards have hardened you,

yet still you watch, wide-eyed in disbelief and longing.

 

Happiness has gone extinct on this side,

and happiness is spelled with leaves of gold on theirs.

 

Everything they stole from you was branded

with the gilded promise of a wish:

for bluer skies and cleaner air and food to eat.

 

And yet — and yet!

You hear the children cry.

 

The grass is always green for them and all you have is dust,

and still they whimper at their feast.

 

The children are happy on the other side, and so

they will never see your sallow eyes shrivel in this heat.

 

Their happiness is built on never seeing how they’ve come to rest their heads

on these stolen leaves of luscious gold.

 

That —

that

is how they di(n)e in peace.

FEAR

Mothers watch with weary, wary, tired eyes

from doorways and corners on every continent of this godforsaken world.

 

Stepping on cracks did, in fact, break their backs

but they bite their withered tongues and train their skin to shield the pain.

 

They watch their children

and the men they’ve become,

 

and they see girls weathering their withering tongues:

training them to speak in rhymes and riddles

and to speak no ill,

 

and they see girls growing thick their skins

ridding them of the ghosts of hairy hands

and men hunting them for the thrill.

 

The daughters get buried alive

in guilt and unheard rage and the weight of blood-ripped skin.

 

This pain wears and wars their tired eyes,

and as mothers of unwanted kin they cloak their eyes in shadow,

backs breaking from within.

We Built This City

We built this grizzled crust of a city
Off of traveller’s checks
And grandfather’s tears.

We broke our own mirrors
In order to call the misfortune
We brought upon our people
Cultural heritage.

We revere the hypocrites
And trod upon the fertile soil of the soul.
What use is poetry in a world of technology?

We built this city out of the corpses of the enemy
Just to be able to truly call it ours.
And we have made homes for ourselves
Between the scrapyards and front-yard junk
Of our ancestors.

Forgive me, father, for I have sinned
Is a synonym for cowardice,
And now morale is wearing thin.
We built a obsolescent city;
It was always meant to cave in.

We built this city on the cusp of something great,
But we dirtied the river of expression,
And as of late encouraged oppression.

We built this city to be broken;
How could we have expected success
From a hyper-caffeinated people
Who toppled the columns of Justice, Prosperity, and Sleep.

We built this city from the charred remains of the last one,
So know that out of tomorrow’s ashes, it will rise again.