(photo of Jordan Wilson-Dalzell)

 

 

Hindsight Sharpens Truth

 

I taught myself geography

by mapping your body

and yet when I dig

through my ribcage

for the flowers you seeded

with pollen-pretty hands

 

All I find is  your weeds. 

 

Was I wrong to invest

my entire harvest

in you?

 

 

 

Signals of Safety

 

We scampered down 

dead wood stairways

feet aglow with youth.

The basement 

was cavernous around us

we crossed drawbridges

to fairy castles

built of the strongest material

-imagination.

 

And dodged dragon-like cats

with their constant scowl

who could purr with annoyance. 

 

 

There is a softness

to what i'm doing:

reaching out to the soft memories

telling them they can come home

 

 

 

You Failed Already, so Fold 'em

 

Shut down the casinos,

close the musty hole-in the-walls

housing the uncivilized brawls

between the

blue suits who buy the ballots

every four-year fall.

 

DonÕt look at me like that—

when your pretentious policies

roll the dice on my education

 every fucking day.

 

Exasperation has my eyebrows

perpetually raised

at your failure to fund my future

but you refuse to face

my frustration,

choosing to interpret

shock as compliant silence.

 

Media moans with callous justifications

for a million murders of educations;

do you not understand the financial fixation?

Here, let me get you "Ivy" men a translation:

unless you stop vetoing increased taxation

youÕre gonna be responsible for this nation

blowing goodbye kisses at salvation.

 

You sicken me with televised explanations

attempting to offer half-assed consolations

for economical solidification-

as if Armani attire

can cloak your coat of greed

but we see it:

 

America and I

are watching

our pathetic politicians.

 

Coins rattle in your palms

heavy with the stench of misuse,

--your confidence is embedded

in your ability to walk away unscathed—

while I am in the classroom,

perched on my seat

prepared to taste

learning on my lips

 

but

AmericaÕs assets are no longer liquid enough

for my school to afford books

and my teachers are tired of trying

to make miracles without money

 

I am eighteen and

your budget-cuts have cropped

my knowledge 

short by hundreds of verbal feet.

Your political games

shrink the sea of syllables

by depriving the school systems

of dollars.

 

You sit in Congressional casinos,

letting test performances put a price

on my mental capacities;

in your jaded eyes,

I'm-hardly-human:

my promise is a score

my pitfalls the cents

I cost in years of enrollment.

 

Hey you, yea you Ivy men:

teach me something,

you got an education

 

why donÕt I deserve one too?

when will words of mine matter

 

You gamble away my future

with your political games

and the absolute worst,

is you politicians

arenÕt even ashamed.

 

Stop exchanging war-mongering legislation

for hand-holding rights with leechlike corporations!

You have absolutely no consideration

for the younger generations

chasing down callous bets with Cranberry cocktails

is not changing the system,

casting snap-judgements on carelessly drawn cards

because of their youth

is the opposite of reform.

 

And are you sure you looked close enough?

That two of spades waiting at a desk

to know her monetary value

covered herself from your corruption:

and in a few years youÕll see,

IÕm  a motherfuckin' ace

and when I take you down

what will I be worth then?

 

You wouldnÕt dare try to price me

I'm a voter

therefore you're my employee.

 

 

 

Everyday Goodness is All That's Worth Anything

 

i

 

let the ceilings swing 

curled between smoke 

while you punch codes onto

third story promises 

 

eventually you'll get it right

if you don't stop

holding doors 

praying to kindness. 

 

 

ii

 

tell the man sitting on the metal drum

outside the 5th and Saks

that he has a nice smile

 

hand him a hello

it's the least you can do

 

you won't be cold all day

 

 

iii

 

remember

that the cashier didn't spit in your sandwich

even though her feet ache 

and you made her open new butter

to avoid contamination 

 

she still forced her grin

handed you your change gently

and wished you a good day

 

knowing her shot of that

was gone when she put on the apron

 

you owe her more than politeness

but it's a good first step

 

 

iv

 

it's okay to be late to your 9-5

if you help an old woman with too many eye circles

carry her wagon of mementos 

to the home her kids are checking her into

 

you can afford the thirty minutes of stress

catching new buses 

after you've brought her the latte

she had when she arrived in 1916

 

compassion 

is worth more than your paycheck

 

[it buys back your soul]

 

 

v

 

tell the intern she's okay

even though her nervous eyes

frustrate you when she half-cries

through every staff meeting

 

hand her a kleenex

and tell her you like her nails

and admire her courage

for joining an industry

dominated by your sex

 

 

© Jordan Wilson-Dalzell

 

Bio:  Jordan Wilson-Dalzell has been writing before she could talk. It was the first thing she believed in. She currently majors in English at Pitzer college and minors in Chicano studies. She wants to enter the non-profit sector eventually because while poetry is half her soul, social justice is the other half. Contact her at jowilson@students.pitzer.edu.