Running

I’m a perpetual migrant
a forever foreigner
I run
from connections
I run
from feelings
I run from anything
that gives life meaning.

I’m a perpetual migrant
a forever foreigner
We make America great
And in return for our greatness
We get so much hate.

I’m a perpetual migrant
a forever foreigner
They told me migration was beautiful
Then why is it so painful?

I’m a perpetual migrant
a forever foreigner
With undocumented feelings
Easier to leave and dream
than to stay and remain bleeding

I’m a perpetual migrant
a forever foreigner
I run and
stay running.

America: The Alien

Dear America:

For your every act of violence,
I will violate your unjust laws in my sleep,
live beyond my dreams,
love beyond your means,
cherish and celebrate life,
defy your arbitrary categories,
forgive but never forget.

After all is said and done,
when you send us to the gallows,
shoot us in encounters,
deport us to faraway lands away from our families,
I may not always win,
but you will always lose.

Because I have a heart that beats ever so strongly with love, kindness and compassion for everything that lives and breathes. And you clearly don’t.

Maybe we should be asking for your papers.

Love,
Prerna.

Acceptance

I’m sure no one wants to be tortured with my mediocre poetry but there is one on “Acceptance” in the latest issue of Courageous Creativity, a zine produced by a friend(?) of a friend.

From the Courageous Creativity website:

Through this zine we present stories of courage and creativity sourced from people like you and me, living, working, being courageously creative and changing themselves and others in our community. Our writers come from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life – they are small business owners, state employees, corporate CEOs, non-profit founders and volunteers, professionals, scientists, sociologists, artists, activists, mothers and fathers, and friends.

Do consider subscribing via email and maybe even ordering some hard copies of issues.

“That Woman Who Comes to Clean”

That woman who comes to clean
What do you know about her?
She’s just the woman who enters your office after hours
Leaving your office nice and clean for the next business day.

That woman who comes to clean
Washes your urinals and toilets
Dusts your tables and desks
Vacuums your rugs and carpets
Mops your floors and tiles
Throws away your waste and garbage
Recycles your empty cans and bottles.

That woman who comes to clean
Her torn hands tremble with age
Her weary eyes reflect a deep pain
Her shoulders slump with the weight
of responsibilities too huge for her to handle
Her bones ache from the laborious tasks
Her breath comes out in short spurts
She sneezes and wheezes
The toxic smell of cleaning chemicals
constantly invade her nostrils.

That woman who comes to clean
She works diligently without complaints, without asking for a pay raise.
Hands you a “Thank You” note and a bottle of wine during the holidays,
Hoping you would not notice how she has slowed down over the years,
Fearing that you may take advantage of the fact that she is a woman
working in dark and dangerous places after hours,
Worrying about whether you would fire her when you find out how ill she is,
Praying that you would just let her keep her job.

That woman who comes to clean
She drives a pickup truck
from one door to the next
making your living environment
clean and habitable
for next to nothing in return.

That woman who comes to clean
She’s my mother.

I’m supposed to be brushing up on legal writing samples for job interviews this week but I had to get this out after someone referred to my mom as “the woman who comes to clean” in an email. I hope everyone takes the time to get to know their maids, janitors and other service-workers and treat them like human beings who deserve respect beyond “the woman who comes to clean.”

For more, read Angy’s Immigrant Mani Pedi.

Adjustments

“Do you not know how to adjust?”

I often wonder why we are compelled to adjust to the structures and institutions around us rather than have them adjust to our needs. It’s hard — if not impossible — to adjust things like skin color, sexuality, gender, class, certain disabilities, and sometimes even our immigration status. But we are asked to assimilate and acculturate to fit a certain mold.

Who are we serving when we adjust to the establishment? What are we upholding when we acclimate to poor living conditions, lack of basic human rights, a gentrified, hierarchical and capitalist society that is violent to each and every part of our existence?

According to my brilliant chiropractor, my foot pain is the the least of my problems. Everything from my neck to the balls of my feet are out of order. There’s physical trauma and injury to several body parts. Accidents. Bad exercising habits. Too much of something and too little of something else. Life. It’s a physical manifestation of how things around me are always falling apart and how my body is reacting to keeping everything together.

I am out of order. One leg shorter than the other with a pelvis that is tilted up right. My spine doesn’t fall in line. Nerves pinched so they don’t feel pain. Joints clicking loudly and popping out. Feedback mechanisms distorted and dis-functioning. I find it so amusing that even my body has such a rebellious spirit.

There’s beauty in functioning perfectly — functioning in well-behaved, mechanized, controlled, and contrived ways that are expected of us in a capitalist society. But it is so much more beautiful to fall completely apart and not serve any order or ordering. Of course it is going to hurt. They will make sure of it.