Let’s see

What if I could give all the parts of me

I’m so desperate to give

To the people who needed them?

What’s left of my fertility

To my ex boyfriend who never had the chance

But since he was twenty talked continuously

Of the daughter he might have

My marriagibility and my excess money

to my undocumented immigrant friend

Escaping an abusive relationship

And her country which equates to a dead end

And all of my time and loving

To the kind boy just down the street

Who craves my company

But lacks the initiative to keep it

What if I could do all that?

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Yes, Miss

After my house burnt down a lot of people said the same thing
“My god-well, at least you weren’t in it,” but I was, albeit in hiding
I had pretended to be out of town for Thanksgiving
but hightailed it home early to enjoy the quiet

And hightailed myself and my dog
out of the smoking wreck at five in the morning
and watched the fiery flames burst out of my window
until around noon when the Red Cross showed up
and clothed my shivering, wet feet with socks

I didn’t have a wallet or keys
the Red Cross lady added that I also
wouldn’t have a place to sleep
I couldn’t stay with my boyfriend
and my aunt had gone south for the winter already
so my dog and I did a lot of hiking
while I petitioned to be allowed
a temporary respite on my old college campus

I was thirty and the other students
weren’t old enough to drink
Although that’s never stopped anyone
As evidenced by the loud music
constantly blaring from my neighbors’ apartments
but at least I got to hear people having fun
rather than, say, domestic violence
or people getting shot

charities donated to heavy garbage bags of supplies to me
and I remembered that young men on campuses
were always happy to help girls with these types of errands
I spotted two of them, Erik and Edionis, while I was moving in
used a little finesse, and they helped my carry
all my bags up without breaking anything

I saw Erik again two weeks later and greeted him
with the best news-I had found permanent housing
we hugged, and as I apologized for hugging him
I peered into his eyes and saw my favorite color
A velvety brown, maroon in a certain light
and he explained to me that he hadn’t had the best life
couldn’t really afford to live on campus
didn’t have nice parents, and seemed disturbed
so much so that I was reminded of myself as a youth
he reassured me that he understood homelessness
and was just relieved that I found housing

another week passed and I came home to hear yelling
not the type that could be confused with the Patriot’s game
but endless, one sided, and filled with obscenities
very clearly in my living room coming from another building
I remembered someone saying they had heard a fight
two hours earlier, and that’s why my dog was barking
but it was still happening and then I heard what sounded like
furniture crashing

I called the police. Only after the yelling quieted
did I wonder if it was Erik doing acid in his apartment
as I had done when I was younger or fighting with his girlfriend on the phone
or worse, his mother, and if now because of me he was arrested

later still and deep into the night a knock on my door
startled me out of sleep, I was sure it was Erik
either coming for vengeance or a place to hide
the officer asked me for a witness statement
and said the student had been arrested
I felt slimy. I asked what the charge was
and he said drunk and disorderly
the student wasn’t alone
there was another student
passed out on the floor
during the whole thing

and what else? Did he have a weapon?
Yes, Miss. He had guns. A lot of them.

Housewarming

my students and teacher’s aid
are all undocumented immigrants
when I first came to America
I drove forty minutes twice a week
to volunteer as their assistant
just this year, I became their teacher

I had to tell them about the fire
because I lost all their homework and test papers
and I didn’t have time to plan their lessons
so I didn’t miss a day of work
but that first day, I was disorganized
and my hands shook

I asked them to all go around in a circle
and talk about their thanksgivings
before I announced it
I said, I have bad news
I dont have your tests back
and this isn’t my dress
and I am going to try to do the best that I can
but youll have to practice some patience
because im not at my best

they looked at my boots and asked me
my shoe size. I said im really ok
please dont worry. a week later
I made the announcement:
I have the best news in the world
I found an apartment!

I didn’t think twice about answering
their questions. I’ll live on Lafayette street
I move in the 20th of December. I have a bed
from a girl in Boston.

and they said, teacher, we have to have
a celebration. and they gave me a card
with a puppy on it and so much joint money
the envelope wouldn’t close and my teacher’s assistant
overheard them speaking Spanish

and told me, by the way, on December 20th
you should plan for some company
because the women are all housecleaners
and they want to clean before you move your things in
and the laborers have taken off work to move your bed
and if im available, I also plan on coming to do what I can

and I cried at the same time that I was grinning
thoughts of what kind of food and drinks to offer
swiveling in my head; these are my students
I remember their birthdays. I take pictures of them laughing
so I can frame them and give them back as gifts
I feed them when theyre hungry and remember when theyre sad
I know their work schedules, ive mourned for the deaths of their pets
and those were just fish! I can’t imagine a better way to move in.

i ask for donations so i can donate them

its appalling how differently
my nonwhite neighbors and i are treated
i get donations whenever i tip my hat
because, after all, its almost christmas
and all i need is your extra appliances
they get their donation jar stolen
and take it with them on their breaks
to the bathroom

i feel like i need to chaperone them
just to ensure fair treatment
at the housing authority
and i log them into AirBnB

my problem is mainly
that i have too many donations
their problem is that
they have next to nothing
and the little they have
keeps getting stolen

thank you to everyone
who donated to me
once in awhile, i can sleep
the rest of the time
i like to distribute things
nothing given to me
will be wasted
towels, kitchen supplies
we need everything
so tell me, whats your address
and a good time to stop in?

it happened

i could tell my situation
made some people uncomfortable
one invited me to dinner and said
ill cook, at least i have a kitchen
and my emergency housing
felt insulted so
i didnt end up going

so many of my little prides
were injured in the fire

two people have said
“I can’t even imagine”
in response to my stories
one called them depressing
well, i wanted to say
it happened

Charity

life goes on like after deaths
i cant look at the news or the social media updates
of my friends. time is still for me like this cold, unmoving fog
i am stuck in. so i tried still going to work after it happened
because i thought that would made sense
and i fell asleep during a meeting in front of everyone
i excused myself to get an energy drink from the vending machine
which i never drink. it worked for fifteen minutes, then i had to get another
and i felt so sick. life goes on, except it is more and more
embarrassing. and i dont think i got a chance to comb my hair
and my clothes smelled like disaster that first day
only now do i realize it was charity to even let me come in