Poetry


PROLOGUE: GREEN FEATHERS by Jasen Sousa

 

PROLOGUE:  GREEN FEATHERS

 

What’s lost in the streets

without names and owners

eventually finds homes, cuddled

by the flames of loners.

 

Listen to those who search 

for temporary treasure on the corners 

where weight is exchanged for 

 

green feathers

 

that float into the pockets

of invisible street lovers dressed

in urban sweaters, stitched 

with the letters of their real names.

 

Who you be? 

Who can you be?

 

Sell more than lies

that were put in your palm.  Search

for the truth like the man who keeps

asking for a refill of the juice 

in his arm.

 

Check please!

 

Full, until I am hungry again.  Search 

 

for nourishment that will fill

 

the linings of my stomach’s soul for an entire lifetime, 

or at least until the moment gets old.

 

Inner city mining, digging for punishment.

Do you feel me, how am I supposed to be felt?

Every time I write, live a line,

I wonder if I will tell it in the right way?

 

Can you hear it the same way I can hear it?

Echoing inside my rib cage, pulsating

down my fingertips.  If I didn’t write it, 

it would never exist.

 

I guess.

 

Fresh, like the dozen eggs just placed 

on the shelf, waiting to be cracked open 

to find what’s in one’s self.

 

Addicted to Nothing by Jasen Sousa

 

Addicted to Nothing

 

 

My friends call me 

and ask what I am doing today?

 

I’m working.  Most weeks, seven days.

 

I go, I go and I go.

 

I have a routine

where I wake up every morning

at 5:30 A.M.

 

Walk into the bathroom

and don’t turn on the light.

 

I strike back as I put my leg

into the water before it fully heats up.

 

Use my eclectic shaver when the skin

on my face is nice, and tight, and dry.

 

I eat my banana, my cereal, and my juice

 

and am out of my house by 6:30, ready 

 

to attack my day.

 

I know where I’m going.

I’ve been going there every day for

the past five years.

 

Maybe it’s different 

when you wake up each day

and don’t know what you’re going

to do to keep yourself busy.

 

If I didn’t have somewhere to go

who knows where I would end up?

 

I wake up every morning,

and the only thing I crave 

is trying to leave a legacy

before my time here is over.

 

I don’t crave anything else, not

even coffee.

 

I wake up every morning not needing 

anything in my life.

 

What has not needing done to my brain?






Reunion of Sorts by Jasen Sousa

 

Reunion of Sorts

 

 

“Can you come pick me up in Everett?” She says 

as her voice shakes

inside the speaker of my cell phone.

 

I walk up smoky stairs into a house party 

where I find her in the bedroom sniffing lines

through tightly rolled twenty dollar bills.  

 

“I’ll just be a few minutes,” she says 

as she leans over

and pecks me on my forehead.  

 

I sit on the edge of a strange unmade mattress.

 

“You want some?” Asks the skinny dude 

in a black wife beater with an unfinished tattoo on his bicep.  

 

“I’m good,” I say.

 

“We got some killa weed in the kitchen, you

 

got to try a hit,” says the dark skinned 

 

fat man who is probably older than my dad. 

 

“I’m good,” I say.

 

I hold my breath to try and keep out

the different flavors of smoke

that evaporate over my head.  

 

I watch her give the same pecks

to a bunch of guys as she clumsily

gets her stuff together.

 

She grabs me by the wrist

and leads me down 

the backstairs of the house.

 

She sits shotgun, rolls the window down,

tilts her knees to the side,

closes her eyes

about four different times.

 

“Can you turn the station?” she asks.

City Tornado by Jasen Sousa

 

City Tornado

 

 

She is a city tornado 

sweeping through her apartment,

sweating, trying to gather

her thoughts and pack

everything she thinks

she will need for a week

long stay in detox.

 

Eminem speaks

to her in the background,

and she listens.

 

I help her carry out 

her Nautica bag

while she balances

a bowl of oatmeal

sitting in her daughter’s

Bratz bowl along with a bag

full of feminine hygiene products.

 

She takes a quick look

 

at the board on her window

 

where people enter

when Eminem is speaking to her too loud.

 

Bruises high on her thigh

from getting hit by a bicycle

a few nights ago

are painted more colorful

than her eyes.

 

Her son’s trains are derailed

sitting on a sticky tile floor

in a debris of sideways sneakers

and empty Coke bottles.

 

She is headed from Boston

to Worcester

hoping to return in a week with less poison

in her body, and more clarity

in her thoughts.

 

The Struggle To Be by Jasen Sousa

 

The Struggle To Be

 

 

For the past 10 years of her life

she has never had to question

who or what she was.

 

Homies with heroin, and cool with crack.

Married to methadone, until she decided

it was time for a divorce.

 

She has been clean for two months,

and has not been this free at any other

point in her life.

 

For the first time in her life,

she doesn’t know who she is.

 

Has never held any type of job,

just collects child support

from two different dudes,

and sells pills when she needs

extra loot.

 

The struggle to get rid of 

names in her phonebook

that can grant her any wish she wants, but she has never wished

 

for much more than being high.

 

Beauty Is Sold by Jasen Sousa

 

Beauty Is Sold

 

 

With at least ten years of abuse under

her belt, I don’t know if her mind will ever

be hers again.  She fights to regain all

that she ran away from, she wants to be

that little girl she never came to

appreciate.  I knew that little girl,

and I do not recognize this woman

whose beauty is now sold in a dope sack,

squeezed into a syringe, and shot into

 

abandoned veins tagged with drug dealer’s names.

Miss Liberty by Jasen Sousa

 

Miss Liberty

 

 

We park in the Walgreens

behind Cambridge Hospital.

 

She staggers out of my car,

Dunkin Donuts mug

glued to the palm of her hand,

butt crack crawling 

out of her jeans.

 

She carries her coffee up a dirt trail 

that leads to the hospital,

right arm raised in the air.  

Early morning green, modern day Statue of Liberty

with shades and blonde hair.

 

I sit in my car 

and read a Stephen King comic,

wait for her to return 

from a shot of methadone.

 

Back in the car,

less jumpy,

Band-Aid on her mouth,

 

a quiet ride home.

 

Lonely Freedom by Jasen Sousa

 

Lonely Freedom

 

 

I walk to the local store,

swing in and out of a sea of people.

Neon lights Photoshop paint me.

 

The pizzeria oven open, not done yet,

and the sinking of skateboard wheels

in and out of the sidewalk cracks.

 

Even inside a city I have lived all my life,

everyone is a stranger

because my friends are hidden

 

somewhere behind dark windows

going to sleep with their shadows, secrets,

 

 

 

 

and I the free man

 

am lonelier than ever.

 

Bus Stop by Jasen Sousa

 

Bus Stop

 

 

Her glass is covered

with torn-off stickers.   Small cracks 

in her frame have transformed 

into large tears that make her less sturdy.

 

Her transparency has been replaced

by a mucky haze that doesn’t 

allow people to see in or out.

 

People have tagged 

her skin with magic marker

to let the world know who

has come and gone.

 

Little shining pieces 

of her existence, what she used to be,

glow in the dark on pavement,

liquor store signs provide light.

 

The elements have worn her down

to the point that I would not even

recognize her if I were standing inside her,

 

waiting for her to arrive.

 

Deep Pockets by Jasen Sousa

 

Deep Pockets

 

 

He is finally

back home around the way, I

am glad to see him.

 

He is mad happy

to see familiar faces,

the same faces who

 

sold him his poison.

How do they look to him now,

knowing who they are?

 

Friends who only care 

about the final sale, cash

exchanged for his soul,

 

which they still keep in

their pockets with lint, pills and

 

wrinkled dollar bills.

 

Aroma by Jasen Sousa

 

Aroma

 

 

Have plans with my man, 

nothing specific, we are

going to just hang out and kick it.

 

He sends me a text 

from an unknown, unfamiliar number,

telling me that he can’t make it.

 

Become angry, thoughts 

speed through my head

like a disabled train

at rush hour.

 

He must be up to his old tricks,

out to get a fix,

texting me licking his lips.

 

I send back

an angry response

in angry fonts.

 

He texts me back,

he wants to see me real bad,

 

 

but he has been in and out of shelters

 

lately, and hasn’t been able to shower

for weeks.

 

 

“Even my name wreaks.”

 

 

And for a moment

I remember his name.

 

Symptoms by Jasen Sousa

 

Symptoms

 

 

I search for words

like my man searches for

his next hit.  I search 

for pleasure, for freedom

in the moment, just like my man.

 

I know the pleasure will

not last, but I still

need it, just like my man.

 

We are the same.

We come from the same

street, from the same city.

 

The only difference is that he has caught

the disease.  The highly contagious disease

that gets spread through crews.

 

He is sick, he suffers, 

and has no one

to take care of him, because unlike

other diseases, this disease makes 

you steal from those who take care

of you, 

 

not because you want to,

 

but because you have to.

 

 

 

My Man, the Ice Cream Man by Jasen Sousa

 

My Man, the Ice Cream Man

 

 

My man, the ice cream man, creeps around town

in a marked white van, crawling through the streets

selling magnetic treats to little kids

with metal feet.  Frozen snacks, summer treat.

My man, the ice cream man, plays the city

a song that echoes off signs and buildings.

Memorized, generations of children

that purchase in order to keep living.

My man, the ice cream man, knows about all

the different flavors people want to buy.

Keeps an inventory of an old story

written with a beginning, but no end.

My man, the ice cream man, he will come back

 

tomorrow to make sure the cities’ fat.

 

Ring by Jasen Sousa

 

Ring

 

 

“I’m doing so good kid.

I really think I got my life

turned around now.

I’ve been clean for six months.

 

But hey look,

I really need to borrow

a c-note from you.

 

I promise I’m good for it.

I’ve been working mad hours

at my new job, I told you right?

 

I’m working at the Dunkin Donuts

bringing in major cash.

 

But anyway, I’m just a little behind on things.”

 

I tell him I’ll call him right back

so I can take a minute to breathe

and decipher which parts are true,

 

and which are not.
 

Somewhere Lost by Jasen Sousa

 

Somewhere Lost

 

 

Somewhere lost

inside fidgety movements

and rapid fire vulgar outbursts

that arise from anxiety

he wears 

to show he is clean.

 

To show he is the same kid

who grew up three houses 

down the street from me.

 

The same kid I used to

pitch to in the park,

the same kid I used to 

play rebound with.

 

We drive three blocks, 

he is already on his second square.

 

I drop him off

at his house,

 

give him daps

and wonder

if he remembers

who he was 

 

like I do?

 

A Snowman in Somerville by Jasen Sousa

 

A Snowman in Somerville

 

 

A strong wind from Charlestown

blows cold air through

the City of Somerville.

 

A snowman is built 

from the bottom up.  It is given a body 

with no legs

because distance and travel

are not part of the plan.

It is meant to stay on the same lawn,

on the same block.

 

His eyes are soulless, he watches, but is not seen.

 

Flesh on his arms turns to twigs

from injecting the warmth.

 

One night he grows legs,

and commits crimes against himself,

against his kind.

 

 

Snowman stop snitching

 

on the people who feed you your poison!

Snowman stay silent!

 

Police lights bounce

off store windows.

Blood pours on dirty snow

to make it pure once again.

 

Unnamed Streets by Jasen Sousa

 

Unnamed Streets

 

 

He walks down unnamed streets,

 

strolls by his home, hung-up

on habits that his family doesn’t condone.

 

There’s not much in life

that he owns, except for a pair

of socks with holes, and sneakers

with worn down soles.

 

There’s not much in life

that he controls, addiction blankets

dreams and goals, friendly strangers

and demons he has come to know

and like.  He swings for the stars

with a lighter and a pipe.

 

His darkness has crept into the day

 

 

away 

 

from night.

 

Everyday a fight, a 12-round-bout

filled with anger and doubt, victories

and failures.  The misery of being

both a fiend and a dealer.

 

Haven’t heard from him in weeks,

which means he has pockets that leak,

and any spinach he accumulates 

goes to people who live in cities

that don’t have flood gates, drowned

in hate, and don’t care how they

make an extra buck.

 

Outta money.

 

Outta pleasure.

 

Outta luck.

 

Change, Please? by Jasen Sousa

 

Change, Please?

 

 

He holds the stack of loot sideways, cannot

even look at the green faces that are

drowning in his nervous palms as he walks

to the spot to go shopping.  Cabinets

are empty because he ate his way out

of his home and ended up in a strange 

place where the shelves are stocked with long aisles

of the sweetest ingredients you could 

ever imagine.  But today he’s sick, sick

from the same meal he has been eating all 

month.  He scratches, shakes, he shivers, he sweats, 

 

and keeps moving, holding onto his change. 

 

Proof of Life by Jasen Sousa

 

Proof of Life

 

 

We start off at Somerville Hospital.

 

“To get into detox you need

a Massachusetts ID,” says the lady

with the huge tits at check-in.

 

He has his social security card

and birth certificate, but no MASS ID.

 

He’s 21 and been in and out of jail

since 16.

Never took a permit test, let alone

a driver’s test.

 

We arrive at the mall.

 

Another large woman with bent glasses

 

at the RMV in the Cambridgeside Galleria tells us,

 

“We only renew licenses here,

we don’t process ID’s.”

 

All that time in line for nothing.

 

We arrive at the larger RMV in Watertown.

 

We wait in line for a half hour

before we get the form.

While we sit filling this thing out,

a woman with a cast on her arm

that has no signatures

wants to make sure we have all the proper forms.

 

He has a birth certificate,

and a social security card, 

but no proof of address.

 

They don’t care 

that my friend

has been in and out of jail,

and homeless,

sleeping at a friend’s house

 

here and there.

 

We still wait because we think

we can convince the person.

Like we are at a deli

waiting for some meat, we wait and watch 

for almost two hours as the numbers crawl

from 49 to 110.

 

We approach the man,

tie undone,

pen protector,

a few pieces of hair

slicked to the side.

 

“I don’t make the rules, sorry.”

 

We go to another RMV in Melrose

and wait for a good hour, standing against a wall

before we get a ticket.

 

He gets his MASS ID.

 

The day is over.

Can’t check into detox

until morning because the cut off time is 3 P.M.

 

I drop him off at a Dunkin Donuts

as I head to work, and wonder

if he will stay clean for the night?

 

Lawn Chair by Jasen Sousa

 

Lawn Chair

 

 

Tonight is the first night

my friend asks me for money

and does not lie,

telling me he needs it for food,

or to buy a gift for his girl or family.

 

He tells me straight up to let him

borrow some money to get high.

 

I guess you have to respect his honesty.

 

I tell him

I am not in the demolition business,

and that I am in the construction business

and I am not going to give him money to get high.

 

We play ball at Conway Park until the lights fade out,

and then we play a little more.

 

We sit in my car and listen to a little music,

and we talk until he nods off.

 

I drop him off 

and he goes to sleep in a lawn chair in the backyard 

 

until his girlfriend comes home.

 

Race by Jasen Sousa

 

Race

 

 

His thoughts are like a NASCAR speedway, race

the dragon, fire breathing, an addict’s 

burn to fill time and space with a substance

that does not acknowledge either.  Today,

just like other days, my friend committed 

a crime against his own flesh, blood, because

his flesh and blood are no longer his, he

sold them for a bag of heroin and

has been trying to buy them back ever

since with computers and family heirlooms

that help him consume the stars and the moon

 

on a park bench under an empty sky.

 

Wireless Rain by Jasen Sousa

 

Wireless Rain

 

 

It is a rainy Thursday night

as almost every summer night 

has been here in Boston.

 

In a world where everything

and everyone is connected, my friend is missing

and out of touch, anonymous 

as a person can be in this day and age.

 

Homeless, 

when he does call

it’s from a pay phone,

strange numbers common.

 

We are wireless in a world

full of tanglazation.

 

Days of calling

and asking me for time

and money I don’t have.

 

 

I miss him 

 

and hope that the tree

in the park is sheltering

him from some of the rain.

 

I hope he is wireless

from rubber bands and needles,

 

and is able to catch himself like

the drop of rain in my palm.

 

Spotlight by Jasen Sousa

 

Spotlight

 

 

The one Somerville streetlight

shined on me while

I bounced my ball

deep into the night.

 

Basketball is a game

of rhythm, repetition

and discipline.

 

My dirt-covered fingertips

painted from a court that was swept

by me years before when I stole my father’s broom

to sweep puddles that stood in the way of progress.

 

I tried to find seams on the ball where the leather

started to peel off.

 

Basketball saved me

when my friends were

putting drugs in their hands.

 

 

I held my own rock

 

and flung it towards the sky,

and it would always come back.

 

I would sit on my ball on the free throw line

and watch my friends with thumping systems drive by,

going to places they thought would make them happy.

 

Mr. Clean by Jasen Sousa

 

Mr. Clean

 

 

The dirt has been washed 

off his hands.  The streaks of ash 

have been removed from his face.

His socks are not full of blood.  His feet 

are without blisters from walking in looped trails 

for different places to sleep.

 

He is home with muscles 

on his bones, lined up sideburns, and eyes 

that haven’t seen me since 

I was a much younger man.

 

He carries sidewalk stories 

in his jean pockets.  Years of stepped on gum 

imbedded into the skin

on his forearms.  

 

The sun is out.  People walk up and down 

the streets with their own agendas, knowing, and not knowing 

where their feet, and minds 

will take them today.

 

 

My friend’s thoughts have returned him 

 

to my life, not to ask for extra cash, 

or a place to crash until those he has yet to pay 

find someone else to harass.

 

My friend has returned

looking for the all the years he has lost.

He has trusted me to help him find them.  

We will go back out at night with a flashlight,

look for all that he has dropped along the way,

and I will help him pick it all up piece by piece.

 

Soul Compartment by Jasen Sousa

 

Soul Compartment 

 

 

For now, we are friends, because addiction

has decided to hang with someone else.

His eyes are open, his pupils are wide,

and he witnesses me for the first time in awhile.

 

He comments about my hat I’ve had for months,

and the earring that has hung from my lobe

for even longer, and how much he likes them.

 

We have a conversation I know

he will remember, I speak from my soul

that I usually keep locked inside my glove

compartment with my wallet.

 

This is a day to cherish

because it might be weeks

 

before I hear from him again.

 

Old Friend of Many None by Jasen Sousa

 

Old Friend of Many None

 

 

Because of the destructive lifestyles

I have been around for most of my existence,

I run, I diet, I sweat, I fast, 

and do everything in my power

to keep myself healthy.

 

Maybe in the end

I’ll be an old and wrinkled man

with a brain that stayed fully intact,

not allowing me to forget,

but only to remember everyone I have lost.

 

All my friends I grew up with 

will be gone

 

and there will be no one left

to visit in jails, in mental hospitals, and in half-way houses.

They will have all succumbed to their lifestyles, and they

will not need to call me anymore for assistance.

 

And there will be no one left

 

to come and visit me.

 

Weekend Solo by Jasen Sousa

 

Weekend Solo

 

 

My friends call me 

all week.

 

“There’s no one else around, just let me borrow a few bucks please, I promise.  I’ll pay you back.”

“Hey, I’m in a real bad spot now.  I feel like using, I know it’s late, but if you want to hang out and talk for a few I’d really appreciate it.”

“Hey asshole!  I’ve been trying to get in touch with you the last few days.  I got bad news.  Call me back when you get this.  Asshole!”

“You got any furniture moves coming up?  Last one we did together was some good dough.  Remember that granite kitchen table?  That was nuts.  Hit me back.”

“I have to take care of some stuff.  I’m wondering if you can just watch Eva for a few hours?  Please.  I would really appreciate it.  You’re the only one I trust.”

“You know Jacob’s father just got out of rehab and he thinks we’re going to get back           together?  I kind of told him I would if he got clean, but I didn’t really think he would!  Don’t know what to do?”

“You know Crissy?  The girl that was staying with me?  I went out for a few hours, just to pay some bills so they wouldn’t turn off the electricity and when I came home my TV was gone!  She sold it for a quick fix.  Do you believe that?”

 

Once Friday appears,

they disappear

into thick air

 

 

and I am alone

 

the same way they were

during the week while I worked

and they roamed.

 

It’s Friday 

and I too am looking

for something to do.

 

I make a few calls  

to see if anyone wants

to hang out, no one 

 

picks up.

 

There’re busy now

putting in work,

looking for their next fix.

 

I wonder how many times

people have looked at my name 

and number on their phones while they shot 

what they bought, 

what they will never own

into their systems.

 

Pick up, pick up,

 

listen.

 

 

 

 

First Published

in

Somewhere Lost

 

Copyright © 2011 by Jasen Sousa

 

Copyright © All Rights Reserved by J-Rock Publishing

 

Library of Congress

Cataloging in Publication Data

ISBN  978-0-9714926-7-7
 
 

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