More Than an Address

Last month,
my heart beat itself
into my 29th lap at life,
14 years deep
in spilling ink
and I have yet
to address you.

You,
born to islanders for parents
that spoke a dialect of love
so broken,
it could be translated
into abuse
all too easily.

You,
with the mother
that chose to raise daughter
instead of son
for a sum of reasons
I still can’t calculate.

You,
with the austere father
that robbed you of weekends,
summer breaks,
sleep-ins,
and childhood days
to secure a man that knows
he, who cheats himself
from labor today,
saves himself the crumbs
for his daily bread tomorrow.

Last night,
the eyes of the woman I love
inquired for the inventory
to my damage.
Internally,
the barcode of my lashes
pitched a price too high
for my pride to break the bank.

But verbally,
I complied.
My reply:
“I never felt
like I was enough.”

At times,
parental love
felt rationed.
At times,
I envied the island
from whence they came
because the dialect
of the ocean’s love
was all encompassing and
I just wanted to be
loved that way.

How,
in a house with two kids
did I feel like the third option to love?
Why,
did I have to question
if blood was thicker than water?
When,
were you going to inform me
that I was something worth bragging about
well after the party was over,
well after church luncheon?

This,
may not be a confessional
but I needed you to be real with me.
Some twenty odd laps at life
still searching for approval
isn’t the idea formula for sanity,
or the blueprint
for constructing a man’s confidence.
Fourteen years of spilled ink
got me skilled to sink
in someone else’s moccasins,
when I just needed you to show me
how to walk in my own.

I needed to know
what home felt like,
needed to see
that it was more than walls,
more than ceiling.
I needed to know
it was comprised of feeling
more than longing,
of loving and belonging
to something more than an address
I used to call home.

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Underestimated (Inspired by Dystonia Victim)

He didn’t want to,
but the white suits,
ironed-down collars
with laminated name tags
said it was for his best,
and who were we;
two menial jobs
minimum waged,
a random diploma
an excerpt off a stereotype
made too hype,
to argue?

He was still Hot-wheels
and Crayola fingers;
a vacillating temper,
a dimpled smile,
a wet bed on some mornings
and on some nights
my shirt, a lullaby
and a gentle rock
was all it took;
and how could he possibly
know what’s best for him?

So we held him down,
pulled his legs straight,
had him face the lights
and whispered opioid-lies
to his pain
as we stifled ours.
“It’ll all be over soon,”
someone said as the med
shelled out of the syringe
and into the stems of his being.
His fragile body
was a lost battle,
and we hoped
this was the last war
to be fought.

He’s now five,
and still a dimpled smile
brimming with laughter.
He has no memories of that day
and yet we still ache
for forgiveness.
His frame becomes
more contorted daily,
his posture seemingly broken,
his limbs forever flexed
and still,
he smiles,
as if eyes
weren’t magnetized
to criticize him,
as if words
mumbled under breath
were futile,
as if his twisted contour
made him impregnable
to their despise,
he smiled,
as if he knew
what was best for him…