“This is my story, this is my song.”

The air bit deeper into our flesh
as we climbed the mountain,
landing among the stars
and dusty cabins.

Anxiety anchored the first-timers
to their shoes, as the veterans
floated in a mist of laughter
and reunion.

We sang the first refrain,
notes echoing off of generations
and faux wood panelling,
as we gathered in Spirit.

Faiths yet explored and memories
left unturned clouded inhibitions,
allowing for free-flowing
dialogue and tears.

In this place, far above
abusive parents and restrictive
friendships, we found the chance
to claim our time.

Voices raised in song and hope
permeated stone facades
and January chill, announcing
the hour of kairos.

 

Title: “Blessed Assurance”, hymn. Lyrics by Fanny Jane Crosby and music by Phoebe Palmer Knapp.

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Not with a Sword but with her Soul

print echoes power, strength radiating from deceptive rosettes,
and I call to it

lithe muscles ripple under soft fur, a timeless kinesthetic armor,
and I call to it

passion in a cry of fury, a purr of content, a whisper of wonder,
and I call to it

name artificial, labelled by a race concerned only with conquest,
and I call to it

glistening eye reflected in the dark corners of my jungled mind,
and I call to it

warning tooth sharpened on sun-ray, an arrow always carried,
and I call to it

silhouette of intoxicating danger, captain of midnight protectors,
and I call to it

the hour of fear dawns over sleeping innocence,
and my call is answered

Crab Apple Tree of Knowledge

They lined the yard,
orbs of green flesh
speckled with dirt and sun.

“Watch out for the crab apples,”
my dad shouted.
“You’ll twist an ankle, steppin’ wrong,”
the call of summer.

One day I was brave,
deciding to try the fruit
our feet avoided,
the skin a rough warning.

Foolishness and my father’s absence
found me lifting the illicit,
placing it to my lips,
and ignoring the ant traveling
from flesh to flesh.

Dirt on fingertips means little
when your tongue is revolting
against you in the name
of green bitterness.

Grass littered with unsatisfying
fruit fills my eye as juice
slides down my chin in trails
of childhood disobedience.

They lined the yard,
orbs of green flesh
speckled with sour promises.

Elemental

Embers of a nighttime blaze
illuminate a heart covered in soot.
Spirit buried beneath the ashes
of a good girl following instructions,
reading the fine print, coloring in
the lines, too afraid of a burn not
yet felt to brush away the smudges
of grime and reveal the hot coals within.

“As the city burns,” Andra Day says,
and I feel my bones turn to steal
beams, my skin layers of speckled
concrete. The spark of my soul
balances on a match I never bought,
sulfur filling my nose, smoke clouding
my eyes and clearing my vision—
I can see clearly now, the sky is lit
with my light—the body of my flame
dancing to a tune long silenced.

Warmth emanates, heat radiates,
and my fire thrives on a wick
that reminds me to push aside the ashes,
press them to my forehead, and shine
against the tallow of everyone else’s
standards.

The name of the game is

curiosity, drawing you
in a pool of unrequited
hopes molded by
your heart and sustained
in the cerebrum of your
cortex. No one envies
the stupidity of cats.

truth, a game adults
leave to the innocence
of the young they force
into submissive adulthood.
A game played on bunkbeds
the night you realized
camp councilors never sleep.

fragility, because neither egos
nor dinner plates outline
the institution of your
grandparents’ white lace
tablecloths. Divorce
was never an option; no
one interrupts the shouting.

Time and Cages are Constructed

The child is the father of the man
who sees himself through a dictator’s eye.
There is nothing left in the room when the child
in him goes skipping down the road
toward an ice cream truck, wooden park,
or the future he assumes at the expense
of someone else’s playground.
The child is his shadow, not of creativity
and innocence but the guilt of favoring
pink, the shame of hating football,
and the disappointed indifference to anything
living in the patriarchal toolshed.

The child is the father of the man
who values his cage because it convinces
him that blue is more his color
and football isn’t that bad.

A Village to Erase [Raise] a Stigma [Child]

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Mental health is a weapon.
It is a weapon that cannot be banned or illegally obtained.
It is a weapon we all have the license to carry,
so it is up to all of us to choose how we deal with it.
We!
Not you, you, you, or the president of our country.
We all have a hand in how mental health is approached.
This is a group project and we are all being graded.

We are suffocating under the taboo of a couch and a profession.
There is more to healing then a shot and a Band-Aid.
It’s hard work, it’s a process, and it’s demons.
But without those things we cannot move forward.
Without dedication, we cannot achieve a world
and time when an abuser is not allowed to continue
abusing their children.
When someone who feels their only way out is by taking
others with them is denied access to the destruction they are seeking.