In a mathematical sense, I could call it
the result of subtraction, but I’m making
a conscious choice not to subject people
to hierarchy. I don’t believe in subtraction
like I don’t believe in division; as I lie
on the sofa, my shrink says I project a
desperate need for harmony and I say
no shit, Sherlock, except I don’t say it
out loud. I hear more sirens these days
than I used to, see more squad cars than
I used to, even saw a tank driving through
the streets of Manhattan during rush hour,
I think. The TV talks even in its sleep and
that’s why my eyes hang so low and look
like spoiled apples in the middle. Since
that day, I don’t know my neighbors
anymore, if I ever did, and that is one +++++difference
I feel in my body like a kidney stone.
My weight isn’t what it was yesterday
and there are bigger things to blame for it
than me or the cheeseburgers that have never
tasted better. I guess it’s all over my head
and that’s why it hurts so much when it
hits me, when the gravity makes itself
known against grey matter: I am not
American. Yet I was born here to folk
who were born here to folk who were born
here to folk who were born here, but still
they treat me like I was born over there,
pointing in the direction of Antarctica;
they tell me to go back to where I came
from if I don’t like it here, and sometimes
I don’t like it here, but my leg muscles,
remembering, make no moves toward
the border or ocean, and I recount that
with a hint of pride to my shrink who
somehow seems to become smaller and
smaller every week, on a separate note, for
which he suggests I be prescribed something.

Cortney Lamar Charleston

Author’s Website @bardsbesidebars