Posts Tagged ‘new york’

When the air begins to change in New York

from blistering cold to lukewarm

the way ice water pumped up, from beneath the dirt

hits your humidity drenched face

in Bangladesh on a summer morning

while beads of sweat cling from your back

and cats lie with legs outstretched on the veranda,

smoke and the smell of roti catching you, welcoming,

I stop waiting for the bus —

And stroll down cement sidewalks,

past frame houses with colorful shutters and small yards

under the shade of green ash,

the corner deli filled with students craving grease to stuff their faces

and sex, drooling

not paying attention to street lights

or stop signs

or school boys passing their rubber balls,

smiling to myself

filling the air with compliments

remembering conversations that never happened,

wishing they had.

– Shammy 3/20/13 4:33pm


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Sometimes, when I find myself in the company of city friends I remember the Brooklyn house. It wasn’t a house really, but that’s what we used to call it, five people crammed into our tiny one bedroom apartment atop a flight of stairs. There was a luxury to it then because we weren’t yet accustomed to more. We had mice and cockroaches that co-habited our digs, but we made it work. I would hunt down the mice with my mother till they were trapped in a corner looking up at their deaths, with shoes and hammers I would smash them. This is what my mother and I did for the most part of the day. She would cook before my father came home and I would practice my letters. On laundry days she would dress me up and take me with her to the Laundromat, but sometimes I got lucky and she would give me a big pile of clothes to wash with me in the shower. I would throw them on the floor of the tub and stomp with my tiny little feet watching the colors mixing their way down the drain. She would always set aside an hour or two for later when she would pick a library book and make me follow the words till I understood what it meant. It was difficult to concentrate over the noise of the TV but I seem to have managed. We had thin red carpets spread across two rooms, tiles in the kitchen, a full sized mattress, a sofa bed, a dresser, a TV and a fridge. The bedroom had two closets, one right next to the other. I remember my father putting in a plank of wood above the clothing rack so we’d have a shelf to store our winter things when the weather picked up. I used to climb up there and hide amongst the tiny stacks of clothing my mother gathered thrift store hunting and rummaging through thrown out bins of garment factory clothing. This was before old, used clothing was in style.

The garment factories were around the back of my house, between second and third avenue on thirty-sixth street. My mom found a job in one when I was in elementary school. There’s a stereotype in the United States of Asian women working in garment factories, created by the capitalist first world and the convenience of sweatshops and secondary human beings in the third world, but my mother was far from just another statistic. Emigrating from Bangladesh to a country where the language was foreign and the skills needed were not ones she had known, she got a job at the only place she could, the first world sweatshop down the block. She would come home sometimes and say the Spanish women who go into the manager’s office get paid more than she does. I didn’t know then what she meant. I didn’t know of the world yet, or things.

Ms. Varotte

My brother used to walk me to school then, P.S 172, our very own beacon of excellence. I was his pet dog and he would wrap his fingers tightly around my neck, arm outstretched, squeezing harder if I wasn’t walking fast enough. Sometimes we would pass other kids from my class and I would find it difficult to smile so I would look down and pretend I didn’t see them, but they always saw me and they always knew better than to ask about the red marks on my neck between our intervals of work.

There was that one day when I was in the first grade and my brother had left without me so my mother reluctantly allowed me to walk myself. Determined at heart but I walked with caution and fear, always looking back to see if there was anyone around but making sure they were far enough from me that they couldn’t do me any harm. When I was about a block away from school, a police car on the street turned on its siren. I didn’t trust cops, not even then so I kept walking trying not to walk faster but definitely not slowing down. One of the officers stepped out and called to me, told me to get into their car. I froze. I was not going to get into a car with two strange men; it didn’t matter to me that they had badges and a uniform because underneath it all I knew they still had cocks and fingers. There was a mother on the sidewalk walking her daughter to school and she told the officers she would walk me the rest of the block to the school. They reluctantly agreed and followed closely in their vehicle. At the entrance I thanked the brown haired Hispanic woman, more with my eyes than my mouth, signed my name in the late book and raced up the stairs to my classroom.

By the time I got settled, put my backpack in the closet, my first grade teacher asked me to leave; “go wait for me in the auditorium,” she said. I went into the giant room full of empty seats, the sounds of my tiny feet tapping and echoing. I waited for what felt like a good half hour. When my teacher finally came she asked me in a soft voice if I knew why I was there. I shook my head. Her pupils dilated and the floor shook with the sound of her roaring voice, her plump face as red as a ripe cherry ready for picking and her crazy curls bobbed on top of her head. I didn’t understand the words spitting out of her gigantic mouth, I just saw the foam gathering by in the corners of her lips and her face as fat as a balloon getting so big and red I thought she’d explode.

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Abstraction- a line that doesn’t represent anything
but filled with meaning. Juxtaposition- where it’s placed
and amongst what else. Our derivatives,
Deriving meaning, sense
Sense of vision
Sense of imagination
Sense of direction, which I find lacking…
Gone in a mist
Waiting for the fog to settle down
Down to the ground.

Clouds of smoke
Changing my fate
Changing the worlds fate
On that fateful day,
What rises up must always fall down.

Like me, like you
Just a part of the cycle

Like a bike through the park, segregated lanes
Amongst nature man-made, what does that mean?

This need to know, always
Think critically, ask questions
Have an opinion
That is most important.

– Shammy 10/27/12 7:48pm

* Inspired by Lawrence Joseph

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My mind is plagued with these thoughts, this infection
And on what a sorrowful day.
Taken my rest and filled it with dreams of silence and death.

– Shammy 9/11/12 1:47pm

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I’m sitting in Union Square with my sister looking up at the clock constantly changing. I told you it was the national debt, but that was just a rumor. It’s actually just the countdown to and from midnight. From the left it reads the time since midnight, and from the right it reads the time till midnight. It looks complicated when you first see it because the numbers all together don’t make any sense at all, but once you break them up and see them as apart from the whole I guess you can understand them and then piece them together. It’s funny how the mind works that way, seeing things in wholes. I don’t see it that way, I just see holes in the big picture and it doesn’t seem to fit together in the end. It fucks with my head. If I could find the missing pieces, well I’d put them back so we could be perfect again but they aren’t within my reach.

There’s a dance group in front of us. With their tiny stereo they play a strange mix of music. I can’t quite make out what it is, but its urging me to relax and breathe deeply. There were two groups of two dancing in the square. They twisted and turned fitting in steps of salsa and swing all together. Now there is about ten. They come and go as they please performing carefree dance numbers with their partners. Some break out in dance, one couple in the corner seems to be doing a waltz, while others around them are poised with their arms tightened and heels raised in a fast salsa step. Most of them just stopped here on their way to somewhere else.

It’s a busy place, Union Square. Some came by to meet a friend or sit on a bench to rest their feet, others stopped for a cigarette while the more daring stopped and had a dance. See, now this deserves a clap and a shout I think, but equally the smiling eyes of their audience must be appreciation enough.

There’s something romantic about it all, dancing for the sake of dancing on the pavement on a hot summer night, while people gather to enjoy the free show. It’s just beats they are dancing to, no vocals, just random universal beats. Its chaos fit perfectly together creating a moment so true that you can’t help but let the weight go from under your breath. I can see it on the faces of people sitting beside me, the feeling of satisfaction and just being. It’s so unfamiliar to me. With every breath I let out I get a clear piece of mind back, but when I go to breath again my heart aches and the shine from my eyes grow dull.

Why is it that even in a relationship, I feel like the single most loneliest person on earth? – Shammy 5/31/12 8:50pm

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Today, while I was buying a metrocard at the atm machine a woman came up to me. She mentioned for me to buy her a metrocard and offered me a five dollar bill. “4.50, 4.50,” she said. It was first day of classes for me and I wasn’t going to risk being even a minute late. I don’t speak Spanish, I told her. “Ask the teller,” I said pointing to the fat black man sitting inside the 24 hour booth. She nodded and mentioned toward the atm machine, “He say,” pointing to the machine, “he say here.” “I’m sorry, I’m in a rush,” I told her as I finished my transaction and ran for the exit. Now I’m on a bus on my way to class. I definitely won’t be late; I might actually get there ten minutes early. She is probably still waiting in the station for someone to help her. The asshole mta worker didn’t help her, and neither did I. I didn’t know her. Not my problem, right? Funny thing is, she kind of reminded me of my mom, *kinthu, ami kono patha denai. – Shammy 1/30/12 2:03pm

*but, I didn’t pay it any mind

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You calm the waves inside my heart.
It feels good,
Like home.
– Shammy 8/27/11 8:07 AM

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