Rorschach

Call me Rorschach. You see what you believe.
You will always be right. I am indeed
a mutilated face, a couple in a fight,
a sexual organ, a monarch butterfly.
I fit in every hole except gender
and Myer-Briggs. I identify as Scorpio
and Slytherin, not because I believe it,
but because I want to be it, but if she insists
I be something different, I would.

Labels lack value without appraisal.
Even then, it’s currency not accepted
at every retailer, but money is.
I’d rather be money than whatever
you see me as. I’d rather be accepted
without argument than condition
every relationship with a treatise.
I threw away identity and found love
by being all things to all people,
that I might save myself, because nobody
else would. Nobody else could.

Rorschach could not live in a world not black-and-white.
I could not live in a world that is. I never fit
the contours right. I dabble in spaces, but never commit.
I found pleasure in your black-and-white world
but I found joy in me despite what society said.
Don’t call me Rorschach because I never believed
what others assumed of me. Call me a naturist.
I don’t need to cover up my base humanity
with patches to build up my identity.
I wear it all for fun, but it’d come off for anyone.

Painkiller

My body aches all day in bed.
The pills delay the pain until
the next day. I wake up again
and numb it until I don’t feel
my back, relaxed most of the day.

My heart always threatens to break
when I haven’t written in weeks.
I self-medicate on soulmates
and tweets until I’m not lonely.
I love to find love in daydreams.

But the spasms always return,
reminding me I’m still alive.
Sedation may delay the burn,
but purgatory never dies.

I tire of quacks and fantasies
that keep me drooling on the ground
when I could traverse vaster seas.
Mockingbird, I’m listening now.
Guide me through the forest until I find
the seed to silence you and help me fly.

Wanderlust

As Wanderlust led others north, a song led me into convergence. In each distorted loop, I recalled days parallel to this one. Not much has changed, has it? I’ve always sought external salvation: the Katie Era, the Jesus Era. I now live in the Angel Era, but I am not that angel.

I am only carbon: soft, pliable, valuable only as fuel for others. The Sea can transform me, but I can’t breathe alone at its depths. I hold my breath, but I always resurface. The loop continues.

I repeat the past, because I cannot relinquish a dream. I hope that superficial changes will be enough to turn possibility into reality, but precedence does not support the hope. Precedence declares it insanity.

I’ve blamed perfectionism, but I am actually a coward who does not want to live in the carbon world. I want magic, not routine; passion, not normalcy; romance, not casualty. I wait on someone for this, but the parallels make it clear: No saviors exist; there are only others here.

It has to be me. Returning home makes it clear I have to break the routine on my own. I have to drag myself into the Sea, suffer its gravity, and let it envelop me, rekindle that fire, and transform me into diamond: sharp, unbreakable, precious. I can’t make the world fit the dream, but I can change me.

I am not that strong; the looping continues, but the distortion does not increase. It is the reverse. A child’s cry woke me from the dream. I am half-awake. I can see clearer reality. I can accept who I really am.

The Sky, the wing that carries others, is not love. The Sky is no angel. It is a fairy, but it is still me. I am the one who chases after the fantasy and perpetuates the recurring dream. It is how I breathe. I will find love with the Sea, the wing that carries me. There is not much love, but there is a seed that needs watering. I can cultivate it. It can grow into a mustard tree.

The Sea is cold, but it possesses magic. It can manipulate time, space, and people, traverse realities and dreams to recover relics and experiences that will remember me, rebalanced with both wings. The Sea has the power to set Carbon Angel ablaze. In his ashes, I will find the diamond I know I can be. I can be the Sea. Not just in a dream.

Write What You Know

I became a full Mexican to publish my first poem,
because the truth would have muddled the impact.
Wit is brevity, and purebreds have more value
than mutts in dog pounds and in poetry.
A culture and heritage that matter little to me
are more poetic than a life shaped by Final Fantasy.
Lightning is fleeting, but tradition’s immortality.
It mattered little what I really wanted to say.
I just wanted to be saved, so I crossed the penumbra,
but I found no light, no sign of intelligent life.
I learned magic wasn’t real after my first time.

I am also part Portuguese, Puerto Rican, and Filipino,
but I know even less about all those. At least I’ve been to Mexico—
Cancun, for MTV Spring Break, not to reconnect with an estranged grandfather
as I had written; he lived in Oakland, and my fondest memories of him are not
of stories about life in Mexico—he may have never been—
but of when I first played Super Mario Land 2 on his Game Boy.
I’m not a good person of color. If only I were white.
Nobody would expect me to be a stereotype.
Whitewashing made Doctor Strange great according to critics.
Why can’t it do the same for me?

I’m not like a poet at all. Some would say I’m the reverse.
To be a poet, I was taught to market myself. Who would listen
if I never reached out? Who would understand?
Write what you know, unless all you know are pop culture references.
Then write about the world as if you can save it,
but no matter how often you pontificate, that won’t change
the fact that everybody came to hawk their own words, not listen
to yours. Mine are no longer for sale, partly because I hold no value
to strangers, and partly because they hold no value to me,
but mostly because I’m the middle class now.
Why act as if I still struggle in poverty?

Better Off Alone

I’m not the type to ask for help.
Angel investors smell spilt blood,
and friends turn their sights somewhere else.
The tears I plead change soil to mud.

I never play nice for a treat.
I save more time by buying sweets.
Exiled, and I never came back.
The world offers nothing I lack.

Common Core

The common core may crack your spirit, but
I will lift it up and heal it. Too young
to break over a grade, the golden stars
that tempt your eyes and stress your heart will fade.
I gained nothing from every A I earned.
So quiet and well-behaved, I lived a ghost
through twelfth grade earning nothing from essays
until I wrote for cash instead of grades,
ten dollars per page, thirty if due the next day.
Every F and A you earn will wither away,
worth no more than four touchdowns in one game.
All that remains after you graduate
is you, either dreaming of Columbine
because all that you learned were just white lies
by teachers who don’t remember your name
and boys and girls who feel the same
or someone full of joy unstrained by grades
and courage not exhausted by exams.
I will fill the cracks left by twenty types
of math, correct the grammar in their language,
replace obedience with empathy,
justice with mercy, and dogma with honesty.
I’ll also teach you academics
just to ease your gallop through their gauntlet,
but despite what they may teach, every F and A
you earn fades away after you graduate.

Marks of the Beast

I can’t fix you, Lily Lou.
You’ve chewed up more than I could swallow.
It was cute when you only destroyed
five-dollar wires, then they were ten,
and now they’re five hundred.
I don’t know what to do.
If I throw you in a pound, the boy will cry,
but if I keep you around, everything I love will die:
my PlayStation VR, my Sony sound bar,
Cloud’s Buster Sword, my violin’s veneer.
You destroy everything you get near.
I bought a gun to protect my home,
but how do I protect anything from you?
You leave bird feathers all over my patio,
and chewed up wires all over my desk,
and I swear you stole a twenty from me.
Why else are there bite marks on my wallet?
They say you provide companionship,
but you just prove that hell is others.
They say you’re worth more than electronics,
but we live in a material world,
and I am a materialist in mind, body, and spirit,
and each time you bite through another wire,
it’s like your severing my tendons.