T.K.O

Written by: Mariana Golphin

Have you ever felt so alone that even in the sun you only see darkness?

So empty that your thoughts echo as if they are bouncing off the walls of a long forgotten cave.

At that moment you question life and nothing you do seems to fit the job description of what’s involved with living it.

Breathing hurts because your lungs collapsed from a knife that ripped through them and went straight into your heart.

How can something metaphysical hurt?

How can something so seemingly intangible hit you like a professional heavyweight boxer.

It leaves you laying on the floor of the ring.

You are drenched in a pool of your tears.

He stands over you and starts the count.

Ten!

Nine!

Eight!

You don’t want to stand.

You can’t stand.

Paralyzed, you have forgotten how to walk.

Seven!

Six!

Five!

Your conscious is trying to wake you up yelling.

Listen!

Dammit it listen to them!

Four!

Your red, bloodshot, swollen eyes fight to focus because the tears are still falling.

Slowly they appear out of the darkness. 

Get up!

Get up!

Blurred images turn into familiar faces.

They are screaming for you. 

They are cheering for you.

They want you to fight.

They need you to fight.

All isn’t loss.

Three!

Two!

Don’t let that bastard count to one.

Grand Finale

Always hopeful, always scared.

Does it surprise you?  

The plethora of burdens that hides behind ones smile.

Especially, the smile of a mother. 

The strength of Goliath on the outside.

Inside a spirit bludgeoned by stones cast by life.

Yet, she is forced to walk every day with a crippled spirit. 

She smiles for the camera and takes a bow with applause.

Encore! Encore! The audience shouts-asking for more.

Of course, the crowd can’t see her invisible tears.

As graceful as she walks, she is a broken ballerina. 

And she continues to smile until the curtain closes, lights get turned off and the last person leaves the room. 

Her smile distorts to a sickening grin.

She spins and spins on the tips of her blood stained, torn shoes.

Now her makeup begins to run and the dark circles emerge.

Her hair bun becomes loose. 

She opens her eyes and realizes there she stands on the ledge of her balcony.

Such a beautiful ballerina in the moonlight.

The wind blowing her sheer tulle skirt underneath the star lit sky. 

She can still hear their applause and their cheers and request for one more picture. 

She can still see the flashing lights from the cameras and hear her flowers falling to the ground beside her.

She opens her shapely arms , as if she were about to grow wings to fly. 

Then she remembers her children.

She can see them confused.

Not understanding why, she did not want to be with them.

She sees the sadness in her husband’s eyes, lost and heartbroken.

Unable to answer their children’s questions. 

She collapses backwards to the ground, and lets out a gasp for air.

The final element that is left to be stolen from her. 

On her hands and knees, she steadies herself. 

Inhaling her life back.

One breath at a time. 

One heartbeat at a time.

Unable to stand, she crawls back into her room. 

Ripping holes into the delicate fabric of her beautiful garb.

She pulls herself up onto her bleeding knees to pray. 

She clasps her hands together and she begins.

No words are formed, only tears. 

She can hear them whisper,” Look at her.. she is still a beautiful ballerina even when she cries.”

She throws her head back, her weeping turns into hysterical laughter. 

How absurd to think you would hear me this time, she thinks. 

She chuckles at her stupidity, her weakness and her appearance. 

She stands up and faces her mirror. 

She removes her damaged costume. 

She systematically gets dressed into another beautiful outfit.  

One that hides her scars even better. 

Her makeup, impeccable. 

She begins to remove her bloody shoes. 

Then she stops. 

Today they will see my sacrifice, my pain and hard work. 

They will see that my journey was perilous.

Yet here I stand. 

Then the curtain rises, the lights go on and the audience watches. 

Mesmerized by her beauty, her perfection and graceful movements.

Never once do they take notice that she is dancing in bloody, torn, shoes.

She knows it.

Her victory is her own, she needs no validation.   

She says to herself, “The show must go on.”

First Day of Spring

As the hardened soil begins to warm, cracks appear and new life is formed.
Even the harshest winter can’t stop the rebirth of the dormant seed waiting for her turn in the world.
She dreams about seeing the light of day.

Imagining the wonders of above.
Courageously, she fights through surpassing the rest.
What a sight to behold!
Bathing in the cool rain and warm soaks from the sun.
Alone by herself, she grows.
Her roots are strong enough to take hold in concrete.
She grows.
Shy and afraid at first, but then she unfolds her crown of delicate petals and holds her head high to the sky.
“I am ready!” she exclaims with pride.

Solitude

I walk alone.

My footsteps are my own.

My choice.

My path.

My love.

My pain.

I don’t remember the street names.

I don’t remember their names.

Sometimes I ran.

I needed to feel alive, so I ran as fast as I could.

I needed to feel the fresh air.

I needed to remember that my heart was still there.

Even though I’m out of breath, the pounding in my chest vibrated my soul and kept me alive.

I ran for days.

I ran for weeks.

I ran for months.

Stopping gave me time to remember the things that hurt.

So I ran for years.

I won alot of races.

My trophies are invisible, only mines to see.

You get the end product.

Me.

60 Seconds of Clarity

And I think to myself
Where is the wonder in the world?
Can we have a moment of silence for those we lost in the battlefields of deferred dreams.
Kings and Queens dethroned and brainwashed.
Profound amnesia.
Breaking news!
They have learned to manufacture hybrid marionettes with real skin.
See them swaying in the wind.
Unable to think.
Unable too move.
Unable to love without the invisible puppeteers approval.
Prisoners to a system that banished creativity, and individualism.
A plague that devoured traditions, cultures and civilizations.
Popcorn!
Fresh popcorn!
Monday through Sunday free matinee.
Watch them idolize the minstrel shows.
Watch them glorify the hate.
Profound amnesia.
What a sad state of affairs.
Isn’t it depressing?
Everyday, to walk amongst the living dead.
Ones that have lost the spirit to live.
Ones that have lost the spirit to love.
Mental oppression, leads to servitude.
Servitude leads to loss of identity.
With no identity, how do you teach your youth who they are?
Invisible man, damn.
Damn, invisible man!
No reflection in the mirror and you aren’t even scared?
It hurts to hear the truth.
It bludgeons your ear drums until blood drips the sides of your face.
Even as the blood stains your dress or your freshly ironed shirt, you continue to get dressed in the mirror for church.
Not the reflection you expected?
Of course not.
Tunneled vision is humanities crutch.
I
Mine
Me
Not ours
Not us
Not we
Queen me.
King me.
Everything else is just a pawn.
The last of humanity.
Every sunset draws them closer to extinction.
So they hide from the world.
They hide because they fear rejection.
They hide because they don’t want people to know their secrets.
They hide because it’s safer to exist in the shadows.
They gather in the moonlight and dance amongst the fire pits barefoot.
They are old.
They are young.
They are children.
They are the ones without a voice.
They are the ones with the story that no-one wants to hear.
They are me.
I am you.
So, I will stay true and continue to be the voice for people like us.
I will remind them all about the wonder in the world.

August 8th, 1983

Confession from the Broken Ballerina

Turning 10 was a big event for me. I was going to officially be a double digit. As it got closer to my birthday I began to search the house trying to find the hiding spot for my presents. I checked the refrigerator and freezer waiting for my cake to appear. I promised myself I would just look at it and not touch it. I imagined it saying ,”Happy Birthday Madi, love mommy”. My sisters birthday was in June and she had a beautiful cake!  I didn’t even mention my pending birthday because I wanted to contain my excitement. My mother didn’t mention it either. I just knew she was waiting to surprise me. On the day of my birthday, I couldn’t wait for her to come home from work. I strategically waited until she got herself settled. She called me downstairs. I walked down slowly trying to hide my big smile. I imagined the cake with candles and her smiling while she held that cake out for me. 

I walked into the kitchen, nothing was there. I thought to myself, ” She is just going to surprise me after dinner.” I checked the freezer and fridge- nothing was there. I looked at her, tears swelling up in my eyes. She snarled,” What’s wrong with you?” I replied,” Nothing, it’s just my birthday.” I smiled meekly, waiting for her to soothe the fear that was swelling in my gut. Her response, “ Oh, it’s your birthday, I will get you something when I get paid next Friday.”  I smiled again and said ” Good evening, okay.” I went to my room and silently cried all night. I felt so small and insignificant. Then I told myself well, at least she said next Friday. I put a bandaid on my broken heart. Friday came no cake. Maybe next Friday? Next Friday- no cake. I must have continued that for an entire month after my birthday. Then I finally realized that that cake was not ever coming. I told myself- I’m nothing. I’m not special. My sorrow was hidden. I made a promise at a young age to always make others happy and smile because it helped soothe my internal pain. So, if you wonder why I am not particularly happy around my birthday- you now know the root cause. I continue to mourn in silence.

Have you seen her?

Battered soul.

Beware.

There she stands, beautiful and rare.

Seemingly laughing without a care.

Don’t stare, don’t stare.

She is the one, who everyone wants to be theirs.

In the sun she glows of golden hues.

A tan that hides her black and blues.

Skin so soft, overtime the scars got smooth.

She learns a friend isn’t a friend and love breaks the heart when it’s supposed to mend.

So the moonlight serenades her tears again.

When the sun rises she puts on her mask and blends right in.

Alive to the world but confused and lonely within.

Simplicity

On a cold day, I watched the sun’s rays reach its arms out from the sky.

Its fingers danced over the calm surface of a half frozen lake.

The sun gazed down and stared at its glorious reflection.

It glowed with satisfaction at the beauty surrounding all it touched.

On a cold day, I felt the wind awaken from its slumber.

It graciously asked the barren trees to dance.

It didn’t care if they were tired and worn.

I watched them sway and bow, to the music of the birds.

In unison the forest became alive right in front of me.

I closed my eyes and listened to its symphony.

The sounds of the leaves whispering love songs and lullabies.

I inhaled the crisp, fresh air and it engulfed my soul.

Isn’t life enchanting?