ILLUSIVE REQUIREMENTS, by Abby V

 
Prologue
 
walk                        walk                        walk                        walk                        walk
walk             walk                  walk                  walk                 walk
walk            walk      walk                  walk                walk
 
stops
 
                                    look                        look
 look                          look                          look             
 
             
 
 
walk walk walk walk walk
walk     walk walk   walk       walk
walk  walk walk walk walk
 
                              stops
                       
             look                        look
look                        look
 
 
 
 
walk walk walk walk walk
walkwalkwalkwalk
 
stops
  turn              glare              stare            go.
 
 
stays.
 
 
.
Monday Morning
 
Daddy grumbled under tongue
thudded through shadowed spaces
clotting to coffee and
steel toed towards the door 
faced Flint.
He beat the sun.
 
Upstairs
Softness
whimpers
of bad dreams:
 
Deirdra finger combs little Felix’s hair
to lull his sleep,
hums Grandma’s honey tune
four siblings nestled on underdressed mattresses.
 
Mama clanking
in the bathroom sink.
Yellowed teeth bag lady in
Maskara to face her
Three shifts.
 
The sons up
The daughters showered
The parents gone
Deirdra makes lunches
In polyester pants
Hurries to school
 
Tardy.
 
Tardy.
 
Tardy.
 
 
Detention
 
“Do you want to be here?”
“No, sir.”
“Do you want a diploma?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Be on time.”
“I‘m in ch—”
“Listen. This is your life. If it matters to you then work for it. We
 
 
Choose our destinies, Deirdra. A diploma can
 
 
Take you anywhere you want to go. What do you
 
 
Want to be when you
 
 
Grow up? A teacher? A nurse?
 
A wonderful wife or mother?”
“To be happy.”
“Then be happy, dammit.”
“Yes, sir.”
 
Felix waits outside the double doors
 
 “If it matters to you then work for it.”
 
Coated in Deirdra’s windbreaker
From the last stormy season.
 
“You’re right,
Sir.”
 
“Detention.”
 
 
The Parchment
 
 
They have it
but They didn’t
have
to respond
 
to a sobbing ball of baby
paper bags of Oreos and Doritos
the disappearing parent. 
 
to wake up
give five innocenter minds
what they need to
Get out.
 
They only have Themselves.
 
Noon is lunchtime in the cafetorium
but Deirdra visits Mr. Daniel’s to
nurse herself as
U grads in the corner
 
Indulge in talking about
Choice.
 
 
 
To
 
 
Work harder
 
 
Try harder
 
 
Schmooze harder
booze harder
“I don’t feel bad for anyone who doesn’t try.
 
 
If you focus on the negative, you’re gonna be miserable.
 
 
 
Like, find the light.”
a candle next to the bowl of peanuts.
extinguished by a sneeze.
“I mean, if you want a different life,
Mama still wears maskara
Go out and make it happen for yourself.
Daddy died
You don’t have to be stuck.
Felix has uncombed hair
It’s just ridiculous.”
Deirdra wants to be happy.
 
~Illusive Requirements, by Abby V
“Illusive Requirements” stemmed out of a class discussion in an English course a few weeks ago.  We were discussing the book Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line by Ben Hamper, a memoir about growing up in Flint, Michigan and working on the GM assembly line.  Through our discussion, one classmate kept asserting that she did not feel bad for the workers at GM.  “If you want more, go out and get it. If it matters to you then work for it,” she continually stated.  I became overwhelmingly frustrated that she couldn’t see the plausibility of people in this world not having that motivation, ability, or circumstances to go out and make one, some, any, or all of their aspirations a reality.  Her background and upbringing haven’t allowed her to see people on the other side.  So, in my narrative poem, I aimed to create a story on that other side.

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