It was a year of seemingly nonstop
they just kept happening
one after another
cancer, cancer, stroke, heart attack
we lost musicians and artists
we even lost moonwalkers
and now another,
carrying over into this new year
2017 that feels like a nothing year
because we are rolling back our lives.
There are only six moonwalkers left on this planet
and here in New York City I can’t even see the stars.
When they are all gone, we’ll all be earthbound.
And only machines will get to see the stars
sending us back pictures
and letters of what it could have been had we kept
instead of backwards.
And I feel gravity now,
not like something that keeps me steady
or honest or even grounded
but something that keeps me chained
to a place I no longer want to be
a place in which I feel no longer
How Are You Not Free
This is what he asks me.
He wants a lesson
and he wants it for free
so today I’ll do the heavy lifting
I’ll stop again and talk about
death and health care
about reproductive rights
about a girl
her mattress around
an Ivy League school
just so someone
would believe her.
But it’s all white noise to him.
I don’t see it, he says.
I wave over here,
at the Black girl thrown to the
floor by the police, his knee on her
twelve year old neck
at the trans woman being humiliated
into the noose.
At the victim grilled on what she wore
what she drank
what she did wrong.
At the pitiful six month jail sentence.
The one that didn’t want to ruin the potential
of the young man but didn’t care
about the ruined woman.
I don’t see it, he says, shrugging.
I just don’t see it, he says.
Show me again.
Over here, I say,
the healthcare that saves lives
being stripped down for parts,
the legislation of the body
beaten raped groped touched
without consent, humiliated
Please listen, I say
just listen to what I’m saying.
at the women paid less
docked for caring for her sick child
harassed by her supervisor
Or over here,
the woman who has to take the harassment
without flinching just to prove she’s worthy
that’s she just as tough as any guy.
I don’t see it, he says, walking away.
I just don’t get it.
All that fuss for what?
How are you not free, he asks me.
I gaze down at my body
the question hanging there forever
my form the very landscape of my pain.
Look, I say, as he walks away.
Look, there are scars that will never heal.
But he just keeps asking
How are you not free?
How are you not free?
are you not
That Eye is Fire
I catch her eye briefly
just for a second
seeing in her the anger
as she seethes
at the drunk
or whatever she is, woman
on the train
that just told her and her boyfriend
that Trump was going to deport them
send them back to their country.
she yelled as she wobbled
on uneasy legs
Trump’s going to deport you
Get off the train, the girl says.
Her voice so calm as if she had been waiting
her whole life for this moment.
I catch her eye
that eye is fire.
It is power.
It is knotted fists,
it is heels dug into
a country that does not love her
when they tell her they love her
but they want her to believe
that they love her
or that one day
It is what we carry now
wet between our teeth
a thing we cannot bite down on
though we try and try every day.
She’s wasted, my husband says,
She’s totally fucked up.
watching the woman sway
If I see you again, I’ll snap your neck.
And I agree, she is,
in more ways than one
but my empathy is low
as I watch her pick from a box
the worst words she’s got
and spit them out
at the brown girl on the platform
the one who has crossed a tempest
the one who has just been waiting for
to punch down
instead of being punched upon
and I wish to god
I had the courage
to push that woman
right off the train
to let the girl on the platform
have at it
to give with her fists
what this country
makes her take.
Bio: Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone, How To Be An American and Better Luck Next Year as well as the novel This Is Sarah. She lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don't bother with.
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