Poem

Broughton Dr & Hillsborough St

by Patricia Ndombe

When I am hungry or sleepy,

I sit high in a building that towers

above a bustling, blinding street.

I watch other human beings walk

in and out of restaurants with locked arms. They have

plastic bags full of steamy take-out ripping onto the streets.

The rising steam is pregnant with egg roll, and vegetable taunts me

through thick glass. My stomach is more clamorous than

commute and chatter and it cries silently. I won’t listen anyway.

Neon vibes flashing red, yellow, and green float below me,

reminding me that I won’t be the only one who’s awake the

rest of the night.

I try to distract myself by counting the number of

cracks on each block of sidewalk, or I

pick at the smudges on my window.

I trace my finger over the bags of my throbbing eyes.

At least they are smiling.

My friends each have warm, stitched comforters to hug them tonight.

I must be either powerful enough or delusional enough to

see an ant stumble over fresh french fries on worn asphalt,

as if the ant had its own mountains to climb too.



Captive

Maybe we all have a bit of Stockholm syndrome
The culture that has kept us captive
Is the one we emulate
Aspire to
Protect
Bleach skin
Straighten hair
Adopt their ideology
Strip dialect from tongues
Made mild of spices
To appeal to their taste buds
Fell in line
Even the ones we think speak change are a tinge too light
The safe kind
The ones that appeal to the masses
Knowing well who “they” are
They’re the ones that own your information
Own your freedom
Own your history
That’s why many pages left unpublished of an ancestors truth and troubles
Hurts and triumphs
To protect the image of the image we protect
Cycles of protection
Leave room for no reflection
Staring into false mirrors
Of stories altered
From the grace they faltered
See we can be blended as they please
Ripe for the picking
Time after time
We have been walking in straight lines for centuries
Fell in line
To gas chambers
To guillotines
To unemployment lines
To cultural genocide
When a white teen can mock the song
Of an elder
Glimpses of the past made present
Same story
Same players.
See on paper,
My name wreaks of rice and beans
Of Boricua beaches
I know what they think upon eyes meeting
I know some must be thinking
Yea you’re white yourself
Only seeing European ancestors
Like them
Forgetting my name
Forgetting the mixed blood flowing in my hands 
Perhaps I’m using this platform
This perceived privilege at best
Just so I can attest
These lines are thin
The thin lines between explorer and native
I guess I’m a testament to just how thin
Just how thin that line is
Between ignorance and embrace
Between the past and future
Between love and hate