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could fry an egg on the cement it’s so caliente

the little girl’s mind is disobedient. she likes to skip down the city cement, out of shouting range. she likes to read old books, playing deaf outside older windows. she likes to peek through fences, playing with backyard boys she isn’t meant to know. she likes to pretend she goes out, goes somewhere difficult. she likes to pretend she’s allowed to be anywhere but here. she begs for an above ground pool, but no one is ever allowed in it. she begs for some sunglasses to lie down in the driveway, but the cement is so hot and the yellow jackets so large, she’s sure a form of death will take her before reaching tan. the little girl is always so obedient. she watches television in the front porch praying for one day a safe escape. her mother tells her girls get kidnapped, raped by multitudes of boys. there are bad men at the streetlamps; the men her mom brings home are fine. the swings will soar you over used needles. the balls you kick will roll beneath deathtrap vans. the babysitters aren’t to be trusted. her great-grandfather is not to be trusted now either. if anything is loose, you could be poisoned. if anything is quiet, it could be a trap. if anything is exciting, it can’t be honest. if you head onto hot streets, your heels will flame up on your path to hell. there shall never be a summer dusk before you’re back.


the olive skin girl embraced her label of ‘conundrum,’ espoused once by my mother.

my mother would have me believe i was much more balanced and sensible.

i would take it upon myself to remonstrate—loathe for being told how i am.


frantically fighting against anxious proclivities, the rashes were the first clue, 

numbness had been coming on sundays,

when we died watching degrassi, eating

nachos with microwave cheese—my sister

joined us, but she never was in such a

toxic state; we didn’t use that word then,

we had others. so we laughed our ways through

point and shoot camera renditions of the same

people in the same pub, with only coarser and worsening results.


being a proud party girl, capable of holding down jobs, paying the rent, while

going to school for others, seeing the parents on weekends, staying out of

serious trouble, and only looking awfully disgusting while doing it.


but then there was Europe in spring, corner-midtown-office job with all the pretty color

coordinated files and the piles of stilettos under my desk, my two month notice given,

finally deciding on a major, the scholarships acquired, the rashes developing, and the accidental

relationships with people i had no business trailing through my wake having piled

in place of shoes. in place of shoes now there were books, and bodies, and rashes.


dermatologist: detergents, towels, sheets, creams, examinations, wash your dirty yoga mat,

no more second hand shops, phone calls, appointments, an allergist, but rashes,

and finally a shrink.


the olive skinned girl was very happy to try my small pills,

these were known as ‘footballs’ and i could trade them and sell them and play with my friends

with no care for my rashes.

but i took them, mostly,

and i don’t recall it, but the rashes went away.


as did the relationships with all the people that shouldn’t have been there in the first place—

the slow tearing and manipulating replaced

by sinning and lying and cheating and finding

more of myself

in the replacements


i was still lustful, bacchanal, vain, impressionable, excuse-ridden;

i was driven, determined, persistent, perfectionist, completely untrained, and susceptible

i was a wannabe looking about from suburban train-windows,

clutching latin textbooks, a clean thong always in my gypsy bag,

never sure how much was my intention and how much was my resourcefulness;

this was all long, long before the imposter syndrome had kicked in.

the irony is not lost on any of those involved.


i am working on not overly-apologizing;

i will never be good at being distracted.