No one can ever really help you

have to do it yourself

do the dishes and cry out

your emotions into the sink

and you say where is everybody?

And there is nobody

to dry so you do it yourself

but the rags are all dirty and you

want to rest, a person your age

shouldn’t feel so weak and tired

but that is how old ladies feel and you

always say you want to be an old lady.

The tv gets turned on drugged out

eyes and weak manicure fingers

can’t work anymore you just exist

like it doesn’t hurt because

long term ache is too slow for you to notice

the ticking away of your brain.

The clock in your head

is further back near the hypothalamus

where your sex is determined fewer people come

into your space you are an adult

now the worst word in your language

dull and serious and practical

like store bought appliances that can hurt

fingers and toes if one doesn’t know how to use them

but you know how to use them yours run

smoothly like your droning life source waiting

for the next empty moment to pass

over your fingernails.

There is almost too much race color creed to think about.

Los Angeles, 1992

24 years and I’m

unstable things are

worse than puberty 7th

grade plus there are

no pretty suburban

pictures safe playing

by my eyes when I

walk to Sav-On

Drug I get a gross

noise thrown at

me at least once

by a male


I spent green

grass and humid

bug screeches up

my nose and

ears running

through fields down

your house to

make up Charlie’s

Angels games and kiss

littler girls on the


School had

mimeograph purple

ink and giggle friends

you are smarter but

darker than everybody

else, why are you

brown?  oh yeah I

am you have a

moustache too oh

no I’m ugly, I covered

my upper lip with my

cupped hand and my

mouth and voice were


Armenian school

every Friday

where they made

up a language of

hate the Turks, they

killed us taught in

between cheap

snacks and textbooks I

was too American stupid

to get or speak it

shame for each culture

built in my dumb


Lock the door we

are going through

the bad neighborhood

my mother said so

I pushed down the

knob and over

my finger out the car

window moving black

people across gray

Boston sky streets

were gonna come get our

white Armenian family

if we didn’t secure

the station wagon my

mother said


My best friend was

Turkish and wore

designer jeans and

headbands we looked

at each other alike

next to everybody

else white. Don’t you

know they killed us?

Mr. Armenian History

Professor incredulous

at my 12 year old just

wanna be friends with

someone confused culture

else she didn’t kill

me adult Armenians

with American racism

like the 6th graders

at school already got

my inferiority complex


1988 college London

summer where they

called Indians and

Pakistanis Black

bastard black bastard

this street lady

screamed at me Black

bastard and I didn’t get

it at first I’m not

black, I’m white, you

have no right to do

that to me until I

realized then I didn’t

want to be black or

even dark the English

always spoke to my

pale blond friend

when we were together

and ignored me like I

was stupid for my skin

color and I always

thought I was one

of them but no I

was a stupid dark

person from my own



Sev yev jedmag means

black and white in

Armenian my mother uses

it to point out the

sin of interracial

couples in public so

she won’t have to show

her stupidity out loud

“if you ever wanna kill

me marry a black

man” my mother says I

scream my outrage at

her after an hour my

brother says “it’s

pointless to argue her

racism, she’ll never

learn,” and I can see

he’s almost right it

has taken me 24 years to

learn I’m embarrassed to

be dark skinned and it’s


I live in a smog

city now with

multicultural far

from family and east

coast values the police

here beat up a black man

and the jurors just

didn’t get it took a

riot for me to see what

was going on inside

myself and still I’m

not sure what or who I

am in an assimilated

country proud to be an

American fuck that I

have white privileged

guts and a brown exterior

and my naive body was

shocked when the city

fell apart there is

almost too much race

color creed to think


Lips and Holes (History)

My grandmother used to say

“don’t trust people with

skinny lips, they are

stingy,” and then she

would scowl dramatically.

A woman opens her legs

wide and she has a big

old hole there large

enough for a baby’s

head and shoulders

to pass through but

sometimes the doctor says

“your hips are pencil

narrow I am sorry you’ll

never be able to give

birth,” and she is closed.

A man opens his legs

wide and he just has a

tiny hole in his

penis and well, there is

his anus too and it

can be stretched wider that

is how he can have a

big old hole large enough

for a fist and wrist to

pass through and he is


That is why I am telling

you women are naturally open

with their feelings and men

are naturally closed with

their feelings it is

the physical attributes

that dictate of course

exceptions do occur and

people can change

their holes.

Have you ever kissed

someone with thin

lips?  They can’t

give a whole lot

of pleasure at

least not as much as

someone with full lips.

But then sometimes you

will kiss someone with thin

lips and it turns out

their lips are actually

big you know there is

the whole inside lip

to play with too, rubbery

and flexible that is nice.

But I have to believe what

my grandmother told me of course

she is my GRANDMOTHER from

the old country it is a truth

she gave me large dollar bills

for “lunch money” and fed me any

chance she got and when I

entered or left her house

she was the first woman to

kiss me on the lips and

hers were thin.

Fear of Sex Poem

Sick television

day and it makes

me think and

scare HIV positive

can I get it through

kissing spit no

were there bleeding

sores on his mouth no

did the condom leak I

don’t know I’m

nervous every day

sick last laugh

on me first sex

fatal ouch ouch

it hurt and I

bled and if it

mixed with dirty

semen I’m dead

no I’m not alive

I will end before I

began and it’s all my

fault I was wrong

without any sex and

now I am dead wrong

with it too but I

was safe we weren’t

messy everything

clean and the rubber

didn’t tear even the

man Greg was his name

on the AIDS hotline told

me I would know if

it did rip they run like

nylons he said but Greg

doesn’t wear nylons I

asked him so I’m still

scared scared

til I get tested

won’t do it don’t

want to know die


Anxiety Sickness


Thinking is Bad For You

If I were Amish I would have

hardly any decisions in my

life because of the rigidity

of no zippers, buttons;

no vanity, simplicity; humbleness

in the face of god and greenery

of the Pennsylvania interstate

with the tourists gawking at

the hobble of the horse and buggy

carrying the modest people with the

lowest rate of mental sickness

but I’m not Amish I’m American

non-spiritual praying for god

cheap like when I’m afraid I

might be pregnant.

I stop my prayer once it is

answered: the blood flows out

of my womb, and I still don’t

believe in god. I go on

thinking too much so I can control

this limitless life of choices

I’m making wrong.  “Your life will

end if you make the wrong decision,”

says my mother in my mind, sitting

in the front seat on our visit to

Amish Country, buying souvenirs

and pretzels, filing her nails

over emery boards that will collect

in her pocketbook to scrape up

against her unprotected eyeglasses.

When she looks through them I become

the blurry mother-daughter-self image

my therapist exploits to reassure

me of all the human nature I exude

anxiety included – “anxiety is okay,

just don’t get anxious about being


If there were a hole in my head

I could poke my finger in and

rub the bumps back and forth and

moan and ooh and hallucinate

but no, my brain is locked under a

hard casement that doesn’t let

anything in to relax it overworks into

a breakdown so that I can’t read or

write or emote or express the

only thing I can do is cook

simple vegetables to dump into

my nervous sack so I can get


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