"A young man

called me a




He said

with no care

it must be so,

because of my hair.


The hair on my scalp


my predisposition

to one's color of skin. 


I actually laughed, 

because it caught me

off guard, 

I've never been accused before. 


That moment 

not so lost in time, 

ran through my mind

once, twice, 


three times more.

I had asked, 

I see, that's interesting, 

but what makes you think this?


Have you seen me

ever once before in your life

before this time?



but he shook his head, 

for in his point of view

there was no need for justification, 

I must be racist


because I had a haircut

like the white guys did

in the Buzzfeed video

he saw on his Facebook. 


I laughed again, 

because the only time 

I was ever so mad 

at a man


was not because he was 


or that he was a lesser man

but because he


was trying to kill me

in Afghanistan 

not because I was or wasn't 



but American.


So frustrated I was,

thinking back to how many times

I've laid a fellow brother to rest,

and I'm not talking skin, 


I'm writing of my fellow kin

who have shared the din

and roar of combat with the enemy.


Thinking back to,

the few

who didn't make it home, 

who's blood 


I had to wash out 

off my blouse.

The enemy didn't care about skin.

They didn't ask


which chump 

I had voted for.

Or if I was pro-choice 

or against Jesus Christ 


or how much I've studied 

the Sunni and Shiite split, 

which I admit,

I know way too much about.


No one asked me anything. 

So when this young man

approached me, 

when I'm trying to buy some

beans and rice


and informed me

that I was a racist, 

I was upset.

He must be blind,


he must incorrectly

assume I am white,

he must have an issue

I'm about to fix.


But before I did anything...

his mother came down the aisle.

She looked at him

and me,


and almost sobbed out sorry.

You see, 

there's a lot going on lately, 

and I don't blame him.


I know a few things, 

like the muzzle velocity 

of a 9mm round,

the recipe for homemade pupusa,


and how to train 

a dog how to lay down, 

but what has me frowning

is that I can't help


a young man's 


of a new haircut. 

Of just staying in regulation. 


For there was no conversation, 

no back and forth, 

no chance to reach out

and cool out and speak.


I had no paint, 

for those who have seen 

and heard and experienced 

have a canvas


that won't accept a new coat,

and that's no one's fault.

There is no wrong here.

But a painter 


cannot paint on a canvas

not there, 

a preacher 

can't save a non-believer 


who half-listens,

and a young man

can't be shown

that hair


don't make a man racist.


In a life

where skin color 

were just crayons, 

black, white, brown, yellow and red, 


the accuracy of such an accusation

is skewed. 

But to the young man, 

who more than likely 

lived a life where these colors


had a different view,

his words rang true.

For perception 


is as fluid as water, 

but hardens like concrete,

and it doesn't change once it dries.


And at that moment in time, 

that's all I was, 

a kid trying write on concrete,

trying to talk


and write some chalk

on this little sidewalk.


Except chalk 

never stays.

It always dissappears.

And different ideas


never appear. 


Changing concrete

talks that aggressive, intrusive, 

violent thrusting of the jackhammer, 

drilling away in chunks 


concrete with noise 

and pain and calamity. 


It's a damn shame.


If only perception 

worked so efficiently, 

Instead of one or the other.

Black or white, 


Democrat or Republican, 

Liberal or Conservative. 



or the enemy's target.

There's no in between,


when you're dealing

with concrete."

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Race. What a subject...

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News for You

News for You

By jfarrell


People of Britain,

I’ve got news for you;

It ain’t about left or right;

It’s about right and wrong.


“If we don’t get brexit, there’ll be riots…” WRONG!

When you make threats, you devalue democracy;

“we have low wages because of immigrants…” WRONG!

You have low wages because your boss can get away with it.


The World watches as we try to welch on our commitments;

And the World wants to do business with Britain?

“Have cake and eat it.”

How arrogant.


This once great nation, a refuge, a home to all,

Has become a cesspit of lies and hate;

I’ve got news for you, Britain,

The World is watching,

Or are you too stupid to see that?


Author's Notes/Comments: 

i just don't understand the hate

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I Held Back


"It's been a bit,

since I've written real words, 

real verbs, letters lined up 

to litter the page 


with alliteration, 

metaphors, hyperboles,

other devices that help gain

your undivided attention.


It's been a bit,

I almost quit,

because the last time I was on stage,

I felt like a tripped.


I felt like I didn't perform, 

I knew I was pulling punches, 

because there was much to consider, 

but now it's got me a little bitter.


I held back.


I held back,

lowering my tone,

juxtaposed to my actual voice;



I held back,

because of the 

familiar face

In the crowd.


I held back,

instead of letting it rip,

taking people on a little trip

to recount how one's lid


was flipped.


I held back

because I was scared

that I wasn't hip

and I wasn't hop, 


when I was raised on Wu-Tang 

and Nas 

in a place where 

where rain constantly drops,


and I know how

the beat drops, 

the mic rocks, 

and how rhymes can make time stop.


I held back 

because the tone of my skin 

has people guessing 

wrong my ethnicity, 


if you think I'm white,

you're not right, 

and to be honest 

that's not point.


Because I come from a place 

where I was too nerd to be brown

and too chale be white 

and too polite to be hanging out 

with the gangsters 


stealing cars 

and shooting at other's backs,

and if you think

I'm talking about blacks


that's the problem,

assumption causes caution, 

because not only were those 

want-to-be thugs


of fairer skin, 

my only friends

were much darker kin.

In the Marines,


we call ourselves green,

and you're either 

dark green, 

light green,


and there's no disillusion,

you disagree? 


perhaps in the Army.


And yes, 

the Navy too, 

there's no turning back, 

I'm no longer holding back,


what I'm saying is true. 

The point of this piece 

is to bring peace

to me,


that I was wrong 

to hold back, 

to withhold from the reader,

because how can I call myself 


a poet

if I'm not painting a picture? 

With your mind as the canvas,

and my words as the paint?


I watched poets come on stage,

deliver works of art,

things beautiful, 

and I saw a beautiful, torn heart


put her hand up in the air

to an artist work,

like it was gospel in the church,

with thoughts on me! I saw,


but I held back,

and what I provided last time

was a finger painting 

of child's skill.


I need to be real,

paint a real picture,

my motions and emotion

the finest paintbrush, 


now fluttering about

all over your mind, 

hopefully breathing to life

that I, 


a man,


am more than some accusation,

of being mean heart.

Of being a relatable object,



to a poem so eloquently put

'he broke my heart,

and called it poetry'?

Get out with that


hand raised in the air

while another poet

spills out her pain,

and perhaps next time


I won't hold back,

paint a picture 

of how her heartbreak

did become my poetry. 


Yes, I'm being specific, 

and context would make

for a much hotter piece,


but I'm over this, 

over being scared, 

I've conquered mountains

and crossed bridges.



I respectfully submit,

give me another chance.

I won't hold back."

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I had an open mic a few months back. A good friend of mine asked me to perform at her show she had built from scratch. I was eager to help, having performed at her show before (see 'Other Life') and had performed with (see 'Corpse Pose'). Anyway, I was there and I choked. I held back. I instantly wrote two new poems and read one decent poem, and another, lacking. I cursed myself for doing so. This poem is about that hesitation.


All and sundry,

Seems to be,

In a perpetual race,

To achieve, to chase.


Like the way each day,

The sun finds its way,

The racer endeavours hard,

To prove each given word.


The race is on,

To be known.     

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Author's Notes/Comments: 


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And Your Veins, They're Not Fables

Short Stories

   I look up at the sun; I can feel my face turn bright red.  I wipe my sweaty hair away from my forehead with my arm; it’s too hairy for a girl. I step away. I look at the dog house I made. I didn't need to make it; we don’t even have a dog. My ma made me go outside because she doesn't want me to see how much she drinks.

   I walk to the middle of the yard and sit down. I take my hammer and a left over nail and hammer it into the dirt. That's all we have in our yard. Dirt. Most people have grass and a garden and a fence to keep all their childrens in. All we have is dirt and dust and a metal gate that stabs your hands and legs if you try and climb over it. I run my thumb over a scar on my leg. I keep hammering the nail into the ground, taking it out and startin’ over. I hit my thumb with the hammer.

     "Damn," I throw it away from me and spit at it; it lands near the gate. A man is standing there. His skin is dark.

     "You alright?" He says to me. "I saw you hit your thumb with that hammer, there."

     "I'm fine," I say.

   He pushes the gate open and walks towards me.

     "Are you sure?" He says. He squats in front of me and takes my hand in his.

   I nod and take my hand away from him. He smiles at me.

  I hear the screen door with no screen in it open up.  It's my ma, in her dressing gown with a glass of something.

     "Hiya," the man says.

     "Hello there," my ma says. She loosens the tie on her dress and presses the glass up to her neck.

     "How old are ya, boy?"

     "20." He stands up. "How old are you?"

   I laugh once. He looks down at me.

   My ma raises her drawn on eyebrows and closes the collar of her dress.

   He holds his big hand out for me to take. I take it. I get up.

     "I'm Heathcliffe," he says.

     "What kind of nigga has the name Heathcliffe?" I ask him.

He shrugs. "I do." He turns away from me and walks back towards the gate.

     "I'm Lowery," I say to Heathcliffe as he closes the gate.

     "Nice to meet you ma'am." He tips his hat. I walk inside.

     "What did he say to you?" My ma asks.




   I crawl inside the dog house I made. My dress snags on a nail I didn’t hammer in all the way. I see a pair of legs walk in front of the dog house hole. They’re a man’s legs.


     “It’s me, Heathcliffe.”

   I crawl out from the doghouse. Heathcliffe is holdin’ paint cans.

     “I got you some paint for that there dog house.” He holds the two cans out to me.

     “Set ‘em down over there.” I say and point my tool box.  I put my hair back over my ears. I don’t want him to see how red they are. My back is facin’ the house. I hear behind me the door open and slam shut.

     “Yoohoo! Heathcliffe, is that you?”

     “Yes ma’am it’s me.” He tips his hat.

     “Heathcliffe dear, I was wondrin’ if you know how to fix a broken sofa. The leg on ours’ come off.” She leans up against the doorway.

     “Why yes I do ma’am. I can fix that no trouble.” He looks at me and then walks for the house, taking off his dirty hat.

I get into the house last.

     “Heathcliffe sweat heart, could you fix the sofa outside?”

     “Outside, Miss? It’s awfully hot.”

     “You’ll be fine. I’ll even make you some lemonade.” She smiles at him.

     “Alright ma’am.” He nods and drags the sofa out the door.

   My ma sits down by the kitchen window to watch Heathcliffe.

     “Make him some lemonade, will ya?”

     “He’s got tattoos, sweet mercy.” I hear my ma say.

I walk over to the window and look. Sure as Hell he does. They’re nice ones too.

     “I hate tattoos.” She sips her drink.

I smile.


Ma keeps findin’ odd jobs for him to do around the house, mostly outside.

   I go outside to Heathecliffe to take him a cup of lemonade.

     “You don’t have to do this ya know.” I say.  I thrust the cup at him.

     “I know, but I wanna.”


He doesn’t answer me but I see him smiling.

     “Hey, you know, I’ve been thinkin…since I first met you.” I cross my arms.

     “What about?” He says without looking at me.

     “Your tattoos.”

He straightens up. He turns around and smiles at me.

     “I want some.”

     “Do ya?”

I nod. I know he’s gonna laugh at me and tell me girls shouldn’t get tattoos. My mama always says you can’t catch a man if you got tattoos.

     “You got any money?”

     “Yeah, I got some. Not much. I could take some from my ma.”

     “You get a holda’ that money, and I’ll take you to a man; the same one who done this mess to me.” He moves his hand all over the places with tattoos.

     “I like ‘em.”

     “Thank you. So whad’ya say?”

I nod.

     “I’ll come by your place first and we can walk togetha’” he says to me as I walk away.

     “No, I can’t be seen with a nigga in public. Just tell me where it’s at.”

     “Sure thing ma’am.” He usually smiles when he calls me ma’am. He didn’t. I feel sick. I frown at myself.

As I walk inside I see my ma standing at the window, stirin’ her drink.


   I hear the radio announcer’s voice ramblin’ on. I keep lookin through the crack in the door to make sure ma isn’t coming this way. I finally find my ma’s emergency money. It’s not a big wad but it’s enough.  I leave her room.

     “I’ll be at Christine’s,” I say. I walk out the door, slamming the screen.

 I walk into town and I see Heathcliffe sittin’ on the sidewalk edge.

     “Hiya,” I say. I smile.

     “Ready?” He gets up, pattin’ his thighs. I nod. “Where you gon get it?” He looks me up ‘n’ down.

     “My side.” I start walkin’ towards the building.

     “Whatd’ya want?” He opens the door.

     “Virgin Mary shavin’ off all her hair.” I walk inside. Heathcliffe laughs hard.

     “Where in the hell did you get that idea?”

I shrug. “I had a dream ‘bout it.”

He laughs again.

     “Does it hurt much?” I feel sick.

    “Yes,” he says.

     “Oh.” I sit down.

A man walks out from the back.


Nothin’. I don’t feel a damned thing. Heathcliffe walks up from behind me and slaps me on my back.

     “That hurt.”


We walk home. I’m holding his hand. I don’t care who sees me with a nigger. My ma sees us through the window. She walks out the door and walks up to him and I. She never leaves the house.

     “What were you two doin’ might I ask?”

     “I got a tattoo.” I walk right on past her.

     “You did what?”

I lift my dress up. Heathcliffe can see my panties.

     “Put your dress down, child!” She slaps me. She grabs my wrist and drags me to the house. “I knew being friends with a nigga was a bad idea. Go home,” she says to Heathcliffe.

     “No ma’am.”

    “Excuse me?”


I turn ‘round.


     “Wanna eat with my folks?”

     “Sure.” I shrug.

     “You’re not goin’ nowhere, Lowery.” She digs into my shoulder with her fingernails.

     “Yes I am and you can’t do a damn thing about it.”

  I walk away from her. I grab Heathcliffe’s hand and walk out the gate; it doesn’t close behind me because it’s too rusted. 

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The Race

One in front, two behind.
Two in front, one behind.
Look back -
There are many behind.
As a team or individually?
How shall this race be won?
The longer I run,
The longer the race goes,
The longer the finish line is in sight.
The longer it is in sight,
The closer it may be.
O my mind! How it plays evil tricks!
The heat on my head,
My body, my hands, my legs.
O how my chest beats
With thy heart trapped in its cage.
How can I bear this pain any longer?
How much further must I run?
How many more obstacles must I pass?


Closer now I get,
Many more, yea, I hath passed.
One passed, one more to block the way.
One trouble gone, seems another has arrived.
A burden is rid, yet another takes its place.
The impatience grows inside me,
Yet the humbler I feel
As my feet hit the ground
One by one.
One by one is how the race is won.
One by one, each second is gone.
One by one, each step closer to the finish.
One by one, each obstacle is passed.
One by one, each round is done.

Two Little Sheep

Two little sheep,
One black and one white,
Grew up together,
And it was all right.
Both full of beauty, wit, and grace,
But all along, it was a race.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I like to keep most of my poems short and sweet

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American Me

My blood line is from the South
You say my name in plain English
I have a pronunciation in Spanish
My blood line is Inca and Spanish
Nicaragua is the name
Karen, is my name
So, Americanize me!

Today, I saw your sun
Today, I have an accent
What are you waiting for?
Civilize me!

My eyes are brown
I have two legs, two arms
Brown hair
Deep creamy white skin
Now, do I have to wear short clothing?
So, you can accept me?
My skin is white
What are you waiting for, American me?
My mouth is shut silent
What are you waiting for?
I, too, have a tea set and; drink from a tea cup
What are you waiting for?
Lynch me

I look at your moon
Mine, is in the third world
What did I do to you?
I have distorted your world.
What are you waiting for?
Kill me.
Work me to death, educate me,
American me
I, too, know, I can walk alone.
This is your sun
Mine, is in the third world
Americanize me.

- Karen Oviedo

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