“It was the calm before the storm
that stole my breath
with its icy silence.
In those everlasting seconds,
instead of his raging words’ predictable humming,
the still left you wondering what would be coming.
His face wouldn’t wear its usual anger, but a death-like grief,
as though he knew what monster would soon be unleashed.
‘Don’t hold it in!’ I was dying to cry to him.
‘That makes its bursting that much more violent!’
I did what I could- I anticipated, and how I hated
the calm before the storm.
Before the calm, you could see the storm clouds brewing,
but the churn of the sky- it was so close to soothing
in rhythmical manner while dragging the whole earth
around in its circular swing.
Like a tribal dance around a fire, you could feel the tension,
the energy burning, rising.
The inferno itself wasn’t so bad either once the volcano had ruptured,
and the hail started pounding,
as though one kind of storm simply wasn’t enough.
With the wind whipping at our backs, and lava launching at our chests,
we were entirely compressed,
we could stand that way.
Now we didn’t fully understand, but still we’d stand,
and we’d scream, ‘Here I am; Strike me!’
to the lightning.
We knew that we were small boys and girls,
but we braced ourselves like men instead,
because the moment in which the one you trust
starts harming you is the moment in which
nothing is as it should be, so you want
nothing to make sense.
In the aftermath, however, we kids would try to make some sense of it all.
Kelsey seemed to see life as though she were less than perfect,
less than worth it, as though she deserved this.
She scrawled, ‘Less Than Human’ on her left breast,
right above her heart.
See, that’s where human pain starts,
and she always thought that if she could stain her heart with the ever-numbing lie
that she was much less than a soul alive,
maybe perhaps she wouldn’t feel like
she was being repeatedly stabbed then soaked dry
since she wouldn’t have had any
river of life in the
Besides, it was easier to believe that she was a toy, a tool, an element, an animal
than to believe that a thinking, feeling human
could actually act this way towards another.
Kelsey had a twin who would follow her lead, so he seemed to agree,
but instead of his chest, he just chose his right wrist; he chose
blood as his ink, and he carved, ‘Less Than Human’ in the kind of calligraphy
that barrels past all language barriers.
David got mad, Mary got sad, the twins got confused-
That’s just what happens when you’re abused-
but the one thing that none of us got was the truth.
We didn’t find that, and the rest followed suit-
None of us found the doctor’s prescription, nor the drugs that were
not blessed with that fresh inscription.
No, snatching the truth was like catching a ghost,
but for some years I thought that the twins had come close.
In truth, they’d believed a degrading lie,
but I’ve heard it suspected from young and old alike,
and I even wondered if what those two were inking
is what some Jews were thinking
in the holocaust.
Now don’t tell me off- I know that the Jews had a different lot.
We kids were just a sum of five. I’m still alive. We all survived.
But surrounded by all of these faces I see,
I know we face different ferocities.
I just think that each one of us knows what it’s like
to feel trapped,
waiting to react
in the calm before the storm.”