the best of us

when a shower rod breaks
it is not even, in fact there are no parts
the two ends slip unspoken
their simple shared responsibility
to uphold the billowing curtain
marred by towels and makeshift
hanger dryer not in the agreement,
the ends unhinge together as one

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now i see clearly

when I saw her castle I was jealous
fancy tools to perfect towers and windows
I could not reach her dig depth for wet sand
adamant I collected underwater grains
soaked I set a foundation on a dry hill
decorated with protection layers of shells
in a dampening mood, the tides surged forward
her rotundas fell inward swimming in their
self-created moat while mine withstood
but pride was unsatisfactory when her
company danced on the mounds of prime
beach architecture gaily and I was left with
mermaid toenails

Tropical Disappointment in Waning Shower

It was quiet walking down the Main Street of Metuchen. The overcast and drizzling day forced everyone indoors. Rich and I hurried to a local café, Cai’s café, to get some drinks. As we walked, Rich held my hand and guided me forward as I peered into every little mom and pop store on the block. The massage place had two Asian men sitting in the shadow of the window looking out desolately. A travel agent talked intensely on the phone as she manned the office by herself. Next to the agency, a hardware store selling rugs and flooring had a man at a desk slumped in his seat deep asleep.
It’s not easy running your own business.
Finally, we reached our destination. Rich opened the door for me and I stepped into warmth. We walked up to the barista, second couple in line, Rich looked at the menu and I looked around.
The first time we’d met at Cai’s was December 6, 2016. It was pouring, dark and wet that night but inside was bright as the sparkle in our eyes to see each other. We’d chosen a table with two barstools and we’d sat close together that our knees were touching. He was wearing his Rutgers sweatshirt and a black jacket over it. I was wearing leggings and a green, black and gray contemporary lined sweater dress. We talked about the story I wrote, we talked about his ideas for his story.
Today, the lighting was dim with gray and white ornaments hanging from the ceiling to add to the atmosphere. On the left was a lending library that had grown to fill a four feet bookcase. Every seat in the house was filled.
Rich chose his drink out of deduction of ingredients. I tried to do the same. He chose a Nutella hot chocolate and I chose a Tropical smoothie. He was pleasantly satisfied, I was – not.
My ingredients were pineapples, oranges, bananas, orange juice and yogurt – I should have questioned the last two ingredients more. They didn’t bring the smoothie together at all; the yogurt sat like an ice block at the bottom, the overwhelming taste of orange juice made the smoothie tangy. The drink got the color from the pineapples – and the threads.
As we left sipping our drinks, I grumbled about the point of trying new things when it brings disappointment. But I had to bite my tongue. It’s a risk and sometimes you can be surprised.
Earlier today, my parents took me out for lunch to a little vegetarian restaurant, Honest, on Oak Tree Road. I chose a favorite meal of Indochinese complete with Schezwan rice and delicious Manchurian balls (spiced cabbaged glazed in garlic and onion). A definite recommendation to all easing into Indian cuisine, I will also recommend another new drink I had today: a Falooda. An Indian version of a bubble tea, it’s made with milk, vermicelli and basil seeds and syrup of flavored choice. I had a Rose Falooda today. So smooth and delicate, it was true to its flower name!
So I had a good experience and a not-so-good experience with a drink. Every experience will have a 50/50 chance and the only way of knowing is if you try it out. And the experience you have need not be limited by one factor.
I had a fabulous lunch and I had a great time with my parents talking about my recent writings and classroom tensions. This afternoon, I didn’t have a great drink, but I was happy to be holding Rich’s hand walking down Main Street. I let him take a sip of Tropical smoothie and he tried so hard to look impassive it made me laugh because I knew his palette matches mine. To make up for it, he let me have some of his Nutella hot chocolate. I felt cozy.
As we walked back to the car, I peered once again in the shops of local businesses. The hardware man was alive now, talking on the phone and watching us walk by. The travel agent was shuffling papers and had a long face. I couldn’t bring myself to look into the massage shop.
I hope they all get new experiences soon, be it more business or an experience to laugh about, I hope the sun shines brighter on Main Street tomorrow.

disconnect

trains passing through the night
shared strip of platform for
opposite tracks, one and four
arriving and departing
dress shoes, worn sneakers
chasing a career, maintaining a job
first month pay invested in efficient Tesla
second year working bills piling up
talk is a game, hypotheticals in the day
are incomplete checks on the nightly review
playing chess not to checkmate, catch to tag
a partner always left lying in wait
when we stop dreaming together
can we have a future?

Gun Control NOW!

I start my car
but I don’t where to drive it
idling, I toy with the radio
while the engine warms up
indecisive, I step out
but I can’t be home either

The beauty of poetry is that you can say what’s on your mind but not truly reveal anything at all. Like any art, the audience can make anything out of it that they choose.
My car is what I really want to write: about the Florida shooting. But I don’t know where to begin. As a teacher, I have anger and sorrow and fear sown into me. I want to pour out but I know my circumventing will overrun a gas tank. Thinking about anything else is bliss. But in this case, silence is a crime.

American born Desi, my parents wanted me to love their culture, but I chose to call myself an American first most and only. I don’t want to live to India. I love traveling to Britain and France and Switzerland and Canada, but my home is United States. The land of dreams and freedom – but it’s no longer that.
In its muddled state of affairs all we have is a dream to be free of gun violence – of all violence. How long do we have to wait for that?

The news is like a taunt – what if I can’t protect my scholars? What if I’m not a good enough confidant or role model for them to lean on me when they need it? What if I can’t teach them to express with words?
There are no answers. We can all do our best but it won’t be good if the laws don’t change.

Up until 12th grade, I learned history, the past. Then I took AP Government and Politics and I learned about policies, laws and wars all in my lifetime. It was my past, what I’d grown up with on the news, now permanently etched in a book as a recording.
This shooting will be immortalized in text; my five and six year olds will one day be learning about it. This has to be the last one. I don’t want them to think it is a norm for “troubled” people, people with mental health disorders to go around shooting the world. I don’t want them to grow up accepting the world is unsafe. I don’t want them growing up it’s okay to let a disorder consume you and let actions speak louder.
We have the chance to be on the right side of history. Now or never, the 2nd amendment has to be changed. The allowance of personal guns to protect ourselves is only endangering more lives. It’s ironic, we need protection from guns and people think the solution to that is letting everyone have a gun. Fight fire with fire and there are more lives lost and hearts broken.

I’m not proud to call this my country anymore.

I know it’s been days since the incident and I know people have voiced their beliefs already. I – I didn’t want to face it.
I love Valentine’s Day. I have gold heart decals all over my room, pink and red hearts hanging from the ceiling, a wall of my favorite television couples and above my bed love letters. To spread how much I value love, I wanted to be on the Valentine’s Day committee at my school. The scholars made Valentines for their parents. they wrote and drew on hearts which teacher they are grateful for and why; these were put up in all of the school hallways. The cafeteria was decorated with streamers and hearts hanging from the ceiling. We made time for a quick dance party to get our hearts pumping. I had more ideas – I wanted to include STEM and have the kids make hearts out of toothpicks and marshmallows, make heart slime, learn about the real heart structure – but we ran out of time in preparation but I pumped to do it even better next year.
I wore a black dress with metallic flowers of various shades of pink, I was so excited to let love ring. The tragedy – I couldn’t comprehend it. How. Why. Why.

During lunch, we had our scholars share out grateful hearts. One of my scholars, Jamie, said he was grateful for me and coteacher for protecting our class. He was talking in reference to a classmate who is autistic and is working on emotion regulation. Sometimes he puts the class in a tricky situation by pulling and throwing classroom materials around. Jamie’s choice of words made my heart sad knowing the class saw it as needing protection. There are worse dangers out there, ones I never want my kids to ever find out from personal experience.

Columbine and Virginia Tech happened when I was in elementary school. I don’t remember much in the news and partly because while my parents didn’t want to scare me. The first school shooting that I remember that left me speechless and broken was Sandy Hook Elementary. It was only six years ago but 28 people died. And still guns are allowed? How is this okay?
Lives in schools aren’t the only ones important. All lives are. The Las Vegas shooting just last year, the Orlando nightclub just two years ago, the Sutherland Springs church shooting – a church? I want to call them monsters who do this, but they’re not, they’re just people. What did we do to let them become like that?

This is my first year teaching. I take a lot of pride in my profession; it’s a lot of hard work and energy – teachers are superheroes. A lot of 22 year olds don’t believe it. They want to make money and they want to make it fast. It’s parents who look at me with gratitude and thank me for choosing the profession. I get it – they are entrusting their babies in my hands and heart to teach, to love, to help their minds and emotions grow. Really we are all a part of teachable moments with people of all ages. Be fair and be open-minded.

But even if all neighbors were kind and empathetic, but it would not hold a candle to the government not changing the law on gun control.
It’s not okay that people die. It’s not okay that control of their life is taken away by someone with a gun. It’s not okay that one cannot travel outside not knowing if they will return home that night. How can we live in a world without trust? Power should not be in the hands of a gun wielder.

I shouldn’t have to wait for my country to make the right choice in protecting all of its people.

 

adoption

when i rescued the bird
i was no savior, just a helper
scooping her from the middle
of the street, she pecked my cheek
her chirps my song of love
i made a nest of tissue
and snapped twigs
laid a shallow bowl of water
hung a low feeder to encourage
flight again with the reward of
sustenance. in my presence she hopped
to it, flapped long enough to tumble
seeds out, off the ground she ate.
at work, i wondered what she did
my greeting at home quiet
feathers loose smaller
i couldn’t discern her among my
belongings, her fading chirp
i was no savior, i was no helper
just left bereft how to ignite a life