Every Thing Around Us
I'm on the bus looking out
the window, looking at
all the cars and all the people
and everything around us;
a smooth, soft ride, getting
me where I want to go.
I got on a bus.
I looked out the window
and saw buildings
next to fields.
I saw a castle.
I saw a tower.
I breathed in fresh air
I got off the bus.
I met my family
(or so they were called).
I went to their apartment.
They gave me a room.
They gave me chopsticks
and I was told that this was my family.
The family was nice,
but they weren't my family.
to two other families like them.
After staying with the families
we didn't hug.
We didn't exchange handshakes.
We just said,
I am me. You are you.
Who else can we be, but ourselves?
I may look white. You may look black.
Looks can be deceiving.
Who are we to attack?
Who are we to fight?
Who are we to choose what is right and wrong?
We are brothers and sisters,
Mothers and fathers,
Sons and daughters.
We are one people.
We are God's people.
There's an old lady who lives up the block;
who sits on her porch drinking private stock.
She knows everything 'bout everybody.
She told me a story 'bout old man Tommy.
She told me how he beats his wife;
how she could hear her screaming in the middle of the night.
She told me 'bout the woman who lives on the third floor;
how she killed her baby 'cause she don't want it no more.
She told me how Tony rapes and beats his daughter;
and how he just got out of jail for manslaughter.
And, when I ask her why she didn't report this,
She told me it was none of her business.
The buildings are brown and gray.
Once they were new and bright.
Now they are tarnished and dusty;
blue and white turn to gray.
A gray no amount of cleaning can cleanse.
The entire building reeks of the death of society.
That which was once new is old.
What makes them bright to start with?
It only takes slightly longer for the dust to claim
and look worse for it.
Why not build in browns and grays?
That is what it will turn into.
When it is built you swear to clean it;
to keep it fine and new;
but all things fall to the power of time.
It becomes easier to leave it; to ignore it;
easier to abandon it to the turmoil of the city.
Eventually all buildings die,
yet we leave them standing all the same.
Life is real in the Pee Jays.
Too many of us let our dreams pass us by.
Ghetto dwellers -- a/k/a anti-social
youngsters -- chase dreams of being drug dealers,
pimps, stick-up kids, and gunslingers.
I keep my eyes on the riches and overlook bodies:
the method used to get there.
When did they build these walls around us?
Was the smoke so thick we didn't even realize?
This is the biggest prison I've ever done time in.
I've been convicted without a fair trial.
Sentenced: 15 to Life.
I saw the Board yesterday;
I got hit -- ain't nothing changed;
my only crime was existence.
Now you tell me, is this Justice?
In my neighborhood
it ain't good.
All day long I drink and smoke
and I know it ain't good.
Little girls be ho'ing,
because they think they should;
if they only knew
that ain't good.
The police mess with me
like I knew they would.
Stuff is so messed up
in my neighborhood.
I never knew about beat up pots,
or unpainted walls,
or what some may call the ghetto.
I just knew about the kitchen.
I never knew about dirty walls,
or unfresh water,
or what some might call a roach motel.
I just knew about the kitchen.
about beat up pots,
or beat up pans,
but I do
know about a beat up face.
Night after night
Night after night
I hid from the fear
that I could not erase.
And behind my mother's smile
was a frown
and a pain that I ignored.
The beating continued
he watched her
It was real bad being seven years old,
seeing the disappearance of my mother.
In the beginning there was a happy family
that cared for each other,
but outside, in my eyes, no one really cared.
After a while, I saw so many terrifying family
I saw my oldest brother and my father smoking the crack vial,
stealing their son's and younger brother's toys to sell.
It took me years to smile.
In the bed one night I heard a scream.
I got up and looked around.
No one was there.
Going to the hallway,
upstairs in my building,
I saw my mother gasping for air,
with a knife stuck through the chest,
laying on her rear.
Life then fell.
Everything I did was heartless and illegal.
From one group home to a foster home to another.
Being abused by an aunt.
Felt as if no one could tell me anything.
And now I'm in jail, trying to do well,
because the last place I want to see is Hell.
Taking a walk to the park one day
I met some kids along the way.
They were playing and having fun
just about the time a little girl fell down.
She was in tears and in pain.
I went up to help and asked her name.
She would not tell me her name.
She told me she's not allowed to talk to strangers.
I asked her where were her parents.
She told me she left them at home.
I continued to ask more questions.
I asked what was her phone number so I could help.
Just then a lady came running, "That's my child."
On hot summer days around
my way the playground
is full of little kids running around
cutting little legs on hard cement ground.
Their mommies pick them up
and cover their painful cuts.
Across the street will be us teens;
drinking 40's from shorty cups,
smoking weed, and getting high for the time.
Cop shows up, rows up, creeps up,
speaks up and arrests us
for the crime we can't deny.
I'm sitting in my cell
"What's that odor I smell?"
They called my name
and I answered with my raised hand.
When that smell arose toward my nose,
I knew it was time for me to go.
You thought it would be easy.
Just run in and rob the store.
Take the money and the tape.
That's all -- No more.
So you went and got your peoples;
and you went and got your gun.
Then you started pumping,
thinking you would have fun.
Pulled down your face mask.
Loaded your gun.
Cocked it. Made sure you aimed right.
Made sure nobody's gonna stop it.
Ran in the store.
"Hand over the money,
Or your place we will torch."
The owner got scared.
"Take the money. It's in the register."
The owner raced for the door.
Your trigger finger twitched;
and he had one in his head.
Your heart stopped
to do it.
You had your big chance, but
you blew it.
There were sirens in the background,
But you could not hear them.
As you sat in your cell,
You kept wondering why.
It was a big money scheme.
All you wanted was the money
and the tape -- that's all.
But you slipped and killed a man.
Something you'd never done before.
So you called up your mother;
and you called up your wife.
Told them you'll see them in 2023.
You got 25 to Life.
Outside on a rainy day,
nowhere to go,
walking with the wind.
I feel like I've been walking
When I finally look up at the sky,
it's red with
The buildings are black,
I see guys talking to their girls,
girls talking to their men.
I look around me & see other
outside looking in.
Damn, I wish I were with
Damn, I wish I was inside,
Riding the train;
orange, yellow, black;
underground where it's always night.
The occasional halogen lamp
breaks the monotony.
Sometimes we stop in a station
filled with steel girders and people.
Then it's onward.
The march of time
walks with the subway.
Guatemala festive but quiet
has a change of attitudes,
the difference between day
and night, which has two
faces that can fool anyone.
By day, young boys are
crazy and full of chispas.
They take free rides on the
camionitas. The girls
walk side by side as if
nothing could separate
them; diciendo chistes,
having big smiles on their
faces, and causing los chicos
sonreir and whistle, while
the girls get flattered and
walk away. Los adultos
worry about sus tierras
and how their crops grow.
So they can go to el mercado
el domingo para ganarse
sus centavos. By the
end of the day the children
come back from la
escuela and the soccer players
come back home sweating and
hungry to their wives. Slowly
as the sun goes down so do
the stores close, and people head
home para comer y mirar
novelas. Finishing up everyone
gets ready to go to las iglesia.
Perfumed and well dressed
every family heads towards
the church. They greet each other
on the way. They enter the church as
if there were a famous actor inside.
Here everyone prays, laughs, and even
cries. They release their problems and
fears and feel somewhat protected
here. Mass ends, lights turn
out, and a town that seems
to last has finally come to an end.
But, there's always tomorrow.
Dominicana donde estan
todas cosas bellas.
De nuestro pais, se cultiban
tantas cosas como por
la muchacha artesania
cultura y se cosecha,
frutas y vegetales.
Tambien tenemos playa
hoteles, restaurantes y cine
para distinta. Hat de todo
y para todos. Yo quiero
ir a conocer el fresco
aroma de mi pais y
sentir el orgullo de estar
alla como una dominicana
y ver donde nacio mi
familia. Me quiero levantar
en la mañana y sentir
la fresca brisa de la
mañana y ver en la tarde
el oscureser de la noche.
Quiero sentir el olor de
las flores y de las frutas
que crecen y crecen.
Y quiero comer en la
tarde sin mi zapatos y
sentir al ardor de la tierra.
Me gusta sentir el
amanecer cuando los gallos
cantan a la cinco de
la mañana y asi uno
se siente que esta
en mi tierra querida.
She came in,
her long curly hair bouncing off,
and then back on her shoulders
with every step she took.
She approached us;
but with a dazed look in her eyes she walked past me.
I was used to this by now.
Ever since she'd been born,
I've been dead.
Today was the worst day of all:
She was a small hairy ball of fluff,
with a constipated look on her face.
She was incredibly clean,
like a million people had catered to her every need.
In her red and white striped jumper.
with her head hidden in the soft blanket, she was placed in her crib.
A moment alone with my mother.
She walked past me with her long curly brown hair bouncing off and then back on her
She kissed my father,
then went back to the baby.
Everyone looked so big.
They all were running around
with prior agendas,
with more important things to do.
this was only the beginning.
As my younger sister sucked on my mother's
I went to sit on my father's lap.
The phone rang and he got up.
My grandma was coming over.
Finally someone who loved me.
She walked in.
friendly smile lit up the room.
She kissed me as she strolled by to see my sister.
Everyone important was here now.
If I left,
everyone important would still be here.
The picture could be taken.
They were all in place.
and my grandmother.
Three generations of curly hair.
If I only had long, brown curly hair that bounced off my shoulder and then back on.
My sister is a pain.
My sister makes me sick.
My sister is sometimes nice.
My sister gets on my nerves.
My sister is sometimes a joy,
to have as a sister.
My sister is sometimes my best friend.
My sister is mean.
My sister is hard to live with.
I try to love my sister,
but she is very hard to stand.
My sister makes me angry.
My sister acts as if she's all that.
I hate my sister.
My sister wants to boss me around.
My sister has no manners.
I try to be nice, but it's so hard.
I still love her, but deep down
inside of my heart.
My first year -
so many supports from parents.
September, father's birthday,
he worked that day.
No party, no cake, sad birthday
November, my father and I
went out to play basketball;
saw a movie too. Wonderful
time, even for me.
December, the joy of my
life died, my father. Six days
before Christmas. No Christmas
for my family.
January, I encourage myself to
do well in school for my father.
I did as I said and I
decided to keep the journey without him.
(In memory of Albert C. Rhino)
don't tempt me to drink
by drinking in my face;
for drinking will put me in rags.
don't tempt me to smoke
by smoking in my face;
for smoking will put me in rags,
break my home,
give me cancer,
and let me die young.
teach me how to work hard;
for working hard will build my home.
I see the ocean and what used to be
a hermit crab with spikes
to protect it.
Now I see
seagulls, while my pops and I
are chillin' on a fishing boat
in Sheepshead Bay.
I'm throwin' used bait
to the seagulls,
watching them fly
down and catch it
In the 1950's so many things
happened, like the boycott of the bus company in Montgomery, Alabama
when a black lady named Rosa Parks did not want to give up a seat
to a white person on the bus because she was tired and it was
morally wrong. As for sports, in 1950 a 6 million dollar TV broadcast
of the first baseball World Series made baseball the sports giant
among the other sports. In 1958 the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to
LA, and that made baseball the first sport to play all over the
US. The presidents that were in office were Harry S .Truman and
Dwight D. Eisenhower. Also the UN was in its fifth year in 1950
and still going.
However, the most important thing that happened in the 1950's to me was the birth of Anthony Jay Warrington who is my stepfather.
My stepfather was born in New York City. He is the oldest of four children. Tony (for short) was brought up in Harlem World (between 110th St. and 155th St. in Manhattan). He was a good kid, had respect for his elders, and always stayed out of trouble. Tony, his two sisters and one brother, looked out for each other no matter what.
The life with his parents was very good, because when Tony gave a little they gave him a lot. His mother and father both passed away, so I never got to meet them, but I hear a lot about them both. I hear about his father because he used to be the handy-man. When he had to fix something or paint someone's house he would take Tony along with him so he could learn the trade. Tony does the same thing with me that his father did with him. I feel special because Tony trusts me to do all of these things.
Tony found school pretty easy. When he graduated from high school at the age of 17, he had his high school diploma, and later he got a GED.
After high school, Tony went into the Navy for about four to five years. He had been around the world two times by the age of 19. While on the ship he was a journalist. After the Navy, Tony went to college for photography.
When Tony was about 19 or 20 he got married for the first time. She was Filipina and they had one child, a girl, who is 15 now, and her name is Sasha. He always wanted to be a father because he said that, "I wanted to pass on values that she can use in the future." He was with his first wife for about eight years and then they got divorced.
The job that he had was very good and paid a lot of money. The first job he had was working with the Navy as a journalist. The next job was messenger on Wall Street. He would have to deliver money in checks to different companies and one of those checks would be for one or two million dollars. He had other jobs after that, but now he is guard at Manhattan Center Studios. He meets so many people through this job he is working at now that he said, "I would never give this up."
Only one time he experienced racism, and that was when he was in the Navy, but it was a little bit. Tony said this, "Racism is racism. When it happens you can never forget it."
When I asked him, "Did you make any mistakes in life?" He said, "Yes." Tony also said, "Everyone makes mistakes in life. That is the whole learning process."
He would never change any thing in his life because if he changed anything in his life he would not be where he is today.
He told me to put this message into my report for all of the youth: "Do the right thing: believe in a higher power and respect yourself and others."
Why do I admire Tony?
Tony has always been there for me to talk to and just to hang out with. Even though I may get on his nerves or I do something wrong to him, he still loves me as his son. When I am a man I hope to be like him. Out of all of the men that my mother went out with, he is the only one that I respect as a man in my mother's life.
To be a caster you must master the power of
From night to day and day to night you learn the ways to earn;
to earn your bread through stacks of plaster of paris beds
is a way to be properly fed.
The crack of dawn, or sound of alarms, brings a hunger
that must be urgently met.
From dawn to dusk work with no fuss
and still no food since lunch, but all you want is your bed.
You forget all about being fed.
Here comes the hardship known to all as the graveyard shift;
no sleep until you're done.
Now that you're done, the pay can come.
Push the spooner and saw to the side for fun.
Dust off your clothes and put aprons on hold.
It's time to go home. No lie.
Take up your hot plate and put down the tin plate.
But, clean them before they flake.
I had a laugh and forgot the burlap.
But, what I say is, "Finally!"
Sleep at last.
(This poem was based on my real life work experience as a mold caster for a year and a half. I hope it will be taken as an inspiration for dedication and hard work toward any trade you may undertake. Mold casting is the art of making decorative paneling, statues, crown molding and baseboard molding. Most of the tools used in the making of molds such as spooners are carving tools.)
Delivering punches of all meanings;
Ducking and dodging, bobbing, and weaving;
Bloody and nasty and utterly disgusting;
Why are you encouraging him to go back in?
What are you thinking when you're hitting him?
Stop hitting each other!
I'm sure you weren't taught that by your mother!
So what you won?!?!
You practically killed a man,
He just beat you silly now you're shaking his hand.
Boxing, the sport I'll never understand!
During my job at JASA, I
liked working with numerous people. I really enjoy working with
Roderick, Michael, Loa, Boris and Mario.
The person I mainly work with is Roderick. I really enjoy working every day with him because he is a hard working and a nice person. Roderick always gives me lots of work to do which is good, because when I get a real job I know that I will have to do lots of work as well to get a good salary. Roderick is rarely ever mean to me during my job. The only time he gets mad is when I accidentally dirty the coffee table and forget to clean it. He also gets mad when I take too long to sweep or clean up.
Michael never gets mad at the work that I do. He always compliments me on the good work that I have done. The same goes with Boris and Loa. They both especially like that I am there to help out every day.
There was one day at my job at JASA that I will never forget. I never forget the time when Roderick told me to sweep in the kitchen. While I was sweeping I said to myself maybe I should sweep under the steamer because they probably never sweep under there. So, while I was sweeping under the steamer I swept up a knife.
When I found the knife, I first showed it to one of the chefs. I don't remember his name. When I showed him the knife, he was shocked and said to me, "You found it?" I said to him, "Yes." I told him to clean the knife. After that, I told Boris about the knife that I found. At first, he didn't understand what I meant, but when he saw the knife he was so happy I found it. He told me that he lost the knife for about two or three weeks. Those weeks he really needed it. He told every one about it. Michael and Loa were so happy.
Now that I have found their knife they can use it every day like they used to, knowing that I was the one who found it. Since I found the knife, I know that I am doing a great job in the kitchen. Every one really enjoys that I am there to help them every day without a problem.
My favorite teacher in the
world was Ms. Lou. She was my favorite teacher because she was
easy. She was the only teacher that students actually wanted to
I liked her because she let the students have longer lunch. She'd let us have more time for free play. She never really screamed at any body. Also, she never kicked anyone out of her class.
I was shocked when I heard she had died. She died of a heart attack. A lot of my friends knew her as well. We were all saddened by her death. My friends and I sent a letter to her family saying we would miss Ms. Lou and we will always keep her in our hearts.
I am ashamed of the fact
my best friend always puts herself down.
She never gives herself credit
for things she is capable of.
She has low self esteem.
Before she tries to do anything
she says she is not going to succeed.
I've known her since junior high school.
For as long as I have known her
I've been trying to build up her confidence.
I think she is like this because her mother
does not let her out of the house.
Her mother also discourages her
when she tries to do something.
I am ashamed of the fact
she cannot see she has ability.
I feel for her, knowing the world she is going into.
I know I cannot always be there for her,
but I'll try to stand by her for as long as possible;
and hope that with my guidance
this cold world does not eat her alive.
Every thing was off, because
the manager did not bring enough material to start the job. The
manager said he will get the material tomorrow.
The next day he did not bring the material again. The men were saying he didn't want to spend his money. So how did he want the job to get done? And every thing was off again.
So the manager said he was going to get different men to come work because these men were jokers. They don't want any job. So he got the men to work for him; and he told them to come in the morning at about eight o'clock.
Then he did the same thing to them. So they did not come back. They said he did not want any body to work with him because he didn't want to pay the money they charged him. So he kept on saying he did not buy the material.