in Appleton, Wisconsin, there is a boy named Cael
who dreams of Copenhagen and draws demonic flamingo.
his spine is curled the wrong way from countless years of binding.
his parents do not approve of his gender. he loves them anyway.
in Bay Village, Ohio, there is a girl named Roxy
who sleeps with her eyes open. her dreams climb
up her purple bedroom walls and sprinkle into her hair
as she watches, wide-eyed. she smiles like sunshine.
in Salem, Oregon, there is a boy named Andrew
who writes poetry about the laws of physics.
he is going to college to learn how to be a professional.
he has ramen-noodle hair and soup in his veins.
he told me once that sometimes, love can swallow you.
in Farmington Hills, Michigan, there is a boy named Jordan
with big hands and a smile that makes him look 6 years old.
his favorite word is cumbersome because he likes the way it rolls.
he kisses like a firework and hugs like a fireman.
i look for him in everyone.
in Pawtucket, Rho
Malalai heard a child scream once,
and it was the sound of Algebra,
the Cold War,
but also a mango seed
scraping wood to etch grammar rules.
my privilege mirrors bomb threats.
i have three dream catchers in my room,
all of which were created by foreign hands.
my hands tell a well-kept secret,
notebook paper and straight-edged rulers,
pencils with erasers attached.
the mango falls from the tree and the tree
understands its nakedness.
the student drops out of school and the school
understands its cut budget.
Malala nearly died for her right to literacy.
who am i, insignificant, ignorant,
to rebel against a system whose brokenness
is so manically coveted?
broken feverthe first time a boy
smoked too many
of me, he became
a man. he coughed
my blood into his
palms, tasted my
iron & grit, his tongue
finally learned the
inside of my body.
he clutched his chest
and felt only my heart-
beat. the pulse of a
moving car is one akin
to racing cattle or maybe
just a fever the moment
before its break.
i do not know what it
means to break; only
to burn out like a brilliant
star, or just another