My NIMBY Campaign

Some people are prejudiced and judgmental.

Not in my backyard.

Some people are indifferent toward people who are poor or homeless.

Not in my backyard.

Some people prefer to protect themselves rather than to serve humanity.

Not in my backyard.

Some people project their fears onto the world around them.

Not in my backyard.

Some people perpetuate violence rather than promote peace.

Not in my backyard.

Be the Rose

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” – Gandhi

Just as we ought to be the change that we desire in the world, we should be the rose that others will want to stop and smell. Be still in the present moment and blossom. Grow your roots, soak up the water and sunshine. Feel the gentle breeze rustle through your leaves. Relax and connect in the quiet open space of unlimited possibilities. Appreciate your beauty and the intricacy of every delicate petal that is your conscience. Engage all of your senses and absorb the aromatic nuance of unconditional love.

More Found Poems and an Essay

A few years ago, I took a few classes at Northampton Community College to prepare for the mostly online Ph.D. program at Eastern University. In my creative writing class, I wrote a few poems. I also wrote an essay about the joys and frustrations of publishing Ashley and Tiana.

Children of Haiti

Children of Haiti

how can it be?

I don’t understand why my

dreaming about you does not change the

reality of your daily life.

Nothing changes,

only my heart grows stronger

for I know that one day I will visit

Haiti and we will be together.

A family at last.

I can hardly wait to meet you.

Time is the only boundary and

I promise to be there as soon as I can.

For My Children

Every time I eat blueberries

I am reminded of your hunger.

When I turn on the faucet to wash my hands

I think of your lack of clean water.

When I turn up the heat in my wintery home

I think of the heat you can not escape.

When I walk my baby nephew down the street

I think of your safety.

When I drive in my car to work

I think of your desperation.

When I lay in bed at night

I think of your discomfort.

When I take a yoga class

I think of your fragile health.

When I take a shower and dab on perfume

I think of your ability to stay clean.

When I walk inside the school where I work

I think of how much you will learn here.

When I snuggle up with the cats

I think of how much you will love each other.

When I clean your empty room

I think of how much it will mean to you.

When I bake cookies and go to the beach

I think of how much fun we will have.

When I think of my desire to have a family

I know it is me who is desperate to love you.

Learning to Enjoy My Self-Pubishing Voyage

“Buy One Copy…Get One Free for a Friend!”  She told me I was selling myself short.  Maybe she was right, but…

I told the organizer of the Queens Health and Book Fair that I had over 300 copies of my book at home and that I would rather have them in the hands of children.  Sweet children, laughing with delight as they paged through Ashley and Tiana and absorbed its many important lessons.  Among many who are pimping out literature of all kinds, my book softly requests, “please read me, please?”

So today I am at the Brooklyn Book Festival.  My favorite author, Edwidge Danticat, is here and she was honored with an award last night.  I feel honored to be here, even if I only sell four books like I did in Queens yesterday.

This is my third book fair this year so I know what to expect.  People will walk by as if I am invisible.  They might slow down a bit, to try to figure out what my table is all about, but as soon as I notice them they freak out at being realized and move away as quickly as possible.  At least I’m not alone.  It seems like the other 50 vendors are facing the same challenge: people who like to read, but don’t want to have books sold to them.

Oops…maybe today will be different.  I just made a sale.  She’s a 7th grade student who is also a poet.  The first ten minutes of the Brooklyn Book Festival are going well!

As I was saying, it seems that most people who attend book fairs just want to breeze through without taking the time to talk with the authors and learn about new books and the writing process.

But this isn’t my only challenge as a new self-published author.

I did everything the experts advised: the published writers, public relations specialists, marketing maniacs, and others who share the tricks of the trade for free.  I got an ISBN.  I had teachers proofread my copy.  I registered on over 50 social networking sites.  I worked, worked, worked, worked, worked on marketing the book.

Sure that it would be a success, I ordered 350 copies for the Harlem Book Fair.  I sold three.  I was sure when I held my book signing in New York that lots of people wold show up: family, friends, the media, people who love books.  No one came.  No one.  Not one person.  Two days later I held a book signing in Easton.  Surely, the place would be packed.  “I’ll be there,” “congratulations,” “good luck,” they all told me.  And some of them did come…about 15.

So I still have over 300 books to sell or give away.  In retrospect, I feel grateful for every single time I have sold a book.  My heart fills with joy when I think of people reading the book.

Except for voyagerfan.  Voyagerfan won a free copy of Ashley and Tiana on Goodreads, a social networking site for people who love books can list their personal libraries and books they plan to read in the future in addition to reviews of books that have been read.

His review was scathing.  Not only did he give me just one out of five stars, he went on and on and on in his review about the incorrect grammar (most of which was intentional), typos (I couldn’t find any), and the fact that I didn’t use, “real dashes” (oh well).

My self-esteem plummeted.  I enlisted my family and close friends, my army of supporters.  How could this man do me so wrong?

Man?  “That’s the problem,” my sister said. “How old is he, anyway?”

I hadn’t thought of that.  Clearly voyagerfan is not a member of my target market of 8- to 17-year-old girls.  My self-esteem rebounded.

Up and down and up and down.  Self-publishing this book has been like a roller coaster  one of those that goes upside down a few times.  From now on, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

Are Women Flowers?

To complement the posting of an Anshutz painting on Facebook, the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote, “the likening of a beautiful woman to a flower are common themes in late-nineteenth-century American painting.” The sentiment of this statement simultaneously offended and allured me. After giving this a bit of thought, I concluded that women are beautiful flowers not to be observed as passive objects, but as active manifestations of the connection between earth and sun. We bring all kinds of beauty to the world to express and create joy and love. Fetishization of this process is irrelevant to me as it is extrinsic and oppressive; I choose to bloom in peace.

The Found Poems

While a student at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now DeSales University) in the mid-1990s, I wrote several poems. Many of them were either too morbid or too corny (or both) to share how — even more so than those written below.

Poem 18

I was sitting in a bus station wearing cheap drugstore perfume

When I realized that it didn’t matter where I had been

But it is really important where I am going

Day after day my journey through life grows richer with experience

And I feel more content with what I have and

Yet more assured of who I am

(Note: by the way, this is not a true story)

Fly

I wish that time could stand still

Just for a few perfect moments

These would be saved for the special times

That slowly fade from our memories

Like birds moving on to another tree

Long ago I knew something well

That now is a dream to me

Was this meant to be

Or is this just a cruel manifestation

Of my selfishness staring back at me

Disconnecting me from the world

That I push away in pitiless disgust

As if there were no hope

In those sweet little birds

Poem 12

Sticking my fingers through the cracks

Of my glass case

I fear that someone will try to cut off my fingers and

Maim me for life

There is no thing, no person to

Protect me

When I shove my fist through the back wall

And feel the blood run down my arm

Weakened by my false bravery

And never to find security

Long ago I shrunk inside

Afraid to even peek outside

The case of glass

Frightened by disturbing images

Feigned obscene by tragic experiences

When somebody looked at me, looked inside

I could not help but cry out

I was even more afraid when

Nobody heard me

So nobody became my friend

Looking at the shattered glass on the ground

I am confused by the mess I have created

Fragments of time, empty of love

Spread out waiting to be picked up

Holding the glass in may hands

I am thankful to be alive

Happy to know I exist, that I am a

Human being who walks among human beings

With the wind against my face and

A piece of glass in my back pocket

Lost Inside

Life in the box

Is very sad and lonely

Days go in and out

The sun rises and sets again

But everything is still the same

Inside the box

We are confined to our misconceptions

Our dreams get in the way of

Our achievements

We forget who we are in a hurry

To get out of the box

We lie, cheat, steal, murder

Anything to bust out

But the box gets smaller

The lids gets sealed with glue

And we are shipped off to

Unknown destinations

For when we lie to others

Mostly we are lying to ourselves

Not content with the simple things

The things that know their way

Outside of the box

The tiny little box

The further we reach outside the box

The more we are shoved inn

The further away we travel from the truth

Still in the box

Locked in, choking, gasping for air

Dying in the small, ugly box

The very box that we ourselves created

In spite of our foolish selves

Hello

Sometimes the world around you seems to fade

Into another dimension of existence

It feels like nothing matters and

It feels like everything does

It would seem easier to hide from

This strange monstrosity

The passion and diversity of life

Which will so easily suck away our ability to

Appreciate it

Sometimes it would seem life defeats its own purpose

And so to rebel is to be free

But you must not slip away from life

Or from the people and things that you love

Put out your hands and feel the wind

Embrace the many joys of life and you will grow stronger

And better able to combat the fears and doubts that it brings

Do not forget who you are or

Why you were created

Bright as Sunshine

How insignificant is the little speck in my ceiling

Longing to be noticed in its speckled flock

Against all the others yet the same as them in appearance and material

What would make this tiny, little dot special to me or to anyone else?

Maybe I’ll paint it yellow so that

I’ll always know it’s there

And when I see that little dot on my ceiling

I will be reminded of my own insignificance

In the world of omnipotent beings

Yet I will know that I am special

Not because I am yellow or

Because I stand out from all the rest

But because I am not alone

I belong to the flock of specks

I am a part of it and it is a part of me

I am special because others can know me as they know themselves.

Paris

I might rent an apartment in Paris for the summer

Gazing upon the courtyard I will write about

Lonely nights in cafes

Ending in a stranger’s arms

Laughing, loving, and living

I might stroll the streets of Paris this summer

Collecting rare gems I adore

Sipping wine with my lunch and

Sauntering about in the pleasant rays

I may endure many rainstorms by

Paris is always there

Waiting for me, yearning for me,

As I yearn for her

And I wait for her

Here in my home with the cracked window

Running away, away,

And sipping wine with my lunch

Thank You

Where am I

The world I once dreamed of

Seems so far away

It’s oh so lonely at the top of the game

The world I once dreamed of seems

Far less interesting now

So many mysteries uncovered

But at least the mountains still aren’t moving

There is a clear boundary between life and death

And all things will go on

With or without me

Knowing this, I feel grounded

Bound to the earth by her

Tempestuous force

Looking for Love

I always feel lethargic and fatigued

For no reason that makes sense to me

The root of this great sadness in my life

Is deeply hidden beneath the ground

In one hundred different holes and

I don’t know where to start digging

I start on one but then move on to another

In a panic that I will never get anything done

And in fear that no one will ever love me

Despite this great anxiety and frustration,

I will never stop trying to find myself

Hidden away in so many places

How desperate I must be to come back to life

How deeply I long for this resurrection

It seems like the harder I try the

Further away the remnants are

And the longer it will be until we are reunited

So I can be whole again

So that I can be bright and aroused

Ready to plant little seeds

To sprout from this earth in my tidy garden

The beautiful colors and sweet nectar will be

Alive and full of life

The Princess

The princess freely shares her love throughout her dominion. She recognizes the privilege and responsibility that has been entrusted in her by her G-d (unless she is an atheist) and by her friends.

The princess loves power with all of her heart because she has the vision to see the good it can do and the passion to share that vision with the world. She knows that power is multiplied when it is shared and uses this wisdom to the advantage of all.

The princess is inspired by truth and emboldened by righteousness. She rocks The New State with humility, compassion, pride, and grace.

The princess is needed but never needy. She knows that everything she desires is already within her.

The princess is flexible and cooperates with others. She always remembers who she is and never deviates from her true purpose.

The princess seeks to open hearts and minds, especially her own. She sets them free so that they may rise and soar.