All of our worlds are connected in ways we don’t see. Like the connection between the amount of tax dollars spent on inmates in the state prison system and the number of students receiving state tax dollars in state funded schools.
There is a disproportionate amount of dollars spent on inmates, all the while school funding continues to suffer. Prop 47 suggests a plan to reclassify several nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors. This would immediately release select inmates and avail the funds that would otherwise be spent on maintaining them while incarcerated. These funds will be redirected toward education, as there is a strong correlation to crime and education.
Another not so obvious connection is between art and government. It’s not that artists are becoming politicians, instead they are taking an active role as citizens. Artists For 47 is an coalition of artists committed to the passage of Proposition 47.
Names like Brad Pitt, Jay-Z, Kerry Washington and Russell Brand are a few of the artists who have united to support this initiative and what it could mean for California students. Among such artists is poet, Natalie Patterson, who created a video to bring awareness to the initiative.
View the video below and be sure to visit artistsfor47.com and safetyandschools.com for more information on the proposal.
Voting takes place on November 4th and you can find your local polling place here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/find-polling-place.htm
There comes a point in a woman’s life
When we stop to ponder yesterday
The transformation from then to now
People we’ve met and been along the way
The prompt of the musing comes
In an array of fashion
An old photograph
A familiar scent
The recent exodus of a lover
Whose footprint led us to the father whose
Humanity broke our hearts first
Spring cleaning is when it happens to me
When finally I give those favorite pair of jeans
Fashionably faded perfectly at the knee
To the local Goodwill, Salvation Army or my favorite niece
This time I will not convince myself that
One day they will fit again
Or that I will suffer to commute myself into
The woman bygone again
These jeans will not ever kiss these lips
Or hug these cheeks again
The beauty finally
Is that I don’t want them anymore
They are not quite big enough
To hold the woman I am today
These jeans belonged to a girl
Whose favorite song had more to do with
How she could move to the bass
Than what she could learn from the lyrics
And she wore them well
Model thin with flawless skin
And the insecurity of a thousand impotent men
A good girl who compromised until sacrifice became her addiction
I am not so flexible
These are her jeans
They don’t fit me
The first hitchhiker
I ever picked up
I dropped off in the wrong place.
We were both backpackers –
young, dirty, and foreign.
I was so excited to help,
I didn’t even realize my mistake
until I was too far
to turn around.
I’d left him on a busy overpass –
gray eyes and tired hands
to search for another way out.
The first time I hitchhiked
I kept my three inch knife
clutched in a fist
inside my bag the whole time.
They were the only ones who stopped:
thick set country boys,
dogs barking in the bed
of their black pick up truck.
I was suddenly so grateful
for my baggy clothes –
my unwashed hair –
their harmless questions –
but I never shook the doubt in my gut –
and I didn’t look back when I finally got out.
You could not pay me enough money
to hitchhike in America.
In America, no one looks at you
and everyone stares.
In America, fear is a gender
I am too familiar with.
In America, the street is a river
and all of the men are drowning.
All of the men need you to save them.
All of the men need you.
All of the men have been raised to believe
women are supposed to fuck them.
All of the men expect you to fuck them.
In America, she was asking for it.
In America, I walk with my keys shoved between my knuckles.
All of my retorts burn in the wildfire of my throat.
My eyes are sidewalks.
My body: a used noose.
Every voice is a corner –
a dog fight –
America says, “That poor girl in India –
only in the Third World –
how could six men rape her
and no one do anything?”
In America, I walk down the street
and a boy leans out of his car
to scream “Yo Slut! Pull down your hood!”
In America, I am with my boyfriend
when a man hisses in my ear
so that he and I have a secret.
So that he and I are he and I.
So that I will flinch when the next man
stares for too long.
In America, a man pretended to masturbate on me
during a poetry show
because I was too much talk
and not enough take.
Because my mouth was a siren –
A hive –
Because no one called him
a misogynist after the show but me.
In America, we are taught
to scream the word “FIRE”
if being assaulted because no one
will help us if we yell “RAPE.”
In America, six members
of the high school football team
can show photos of the girl
they pissed on
and no one will do anything.
Their male authority figures will condone it.
Rape is an American Past Time: A National Sport.
In America, she shouldn’t have gotten so sloppy.
In America, boys will be boys.
In America, twenty two elected Senators can oppose
The Violence Against Women Act.
In America, when you type the word “rape”
into Google the first option to pop up
is RAPE JOKES.
In America, my body belongs
to the first person who demeaned it:
the boy who broke up with me
because I wouldn’t have sex with him.
The one who taught me to find something
to burn. To mold. To shrink. To hate –
My worth stolen like a bicycle in the night –
a yellow blur in the dark.
In America, I am always searching
for another way out.
In America, I am always on fire.
I am always on fire.
I am so sorry that you will not get a chance to see.
He was lost.
No one found him.
So, he found you.
You would have felt what loving someone is in about ten years.
Mom and dad would have been concerned.
Some of you would have become teachers.
But, we say goodbye now.
He was once Adam, now Hate.
Only in adulthood we expect people to be animal.
You were just six.
Would have walked to him,
Hand to face,
The ones who could have reached out
Failed us all.
He was a young boy once without a friend
and could feel no pain.
No one saw him so
he came to see you.
I hope you looked at one another in your last moments,
and saw what love looks like.
We promise, we won’t just like a Facebook page.
We promise, we are going to go out there
and Love somebody.
We talk guns like Love is the taboo.
We promise we will give Love to someone who doesn’t have it so
they don’t come take it from other kids.
We will stop focusing on:
Does he fit the criteria?
What’s his IQ?
We know that the trigger is pulled when lack of empathy is coupled with self-hate
and the babies are gone.
We promise you Charlotte
We will live harder, we will love more
Because we are missing you 20 that did that better
than any of us.
We will honor you now.
Your fall will not be for nothing.
Your moms and dads are staying strong.
They will miss you more as each day passes.
May you find peace.
And, send some to them.
They are brave
You are braver.
Nairy Kevork is a Los Angeles native poet and artist. She has been writing poetry for ten years and plans on writing her first novel in the coming year. She also focuses on surreal paintings and psychologically themed art. Nairy is studying to become a therapist and social worker and is working towards her dream of starting a nonprofit for at risk kids.
I loathe the thought of you.
Your mother should’ve sat on you at birth.
Your name gives me mental cramps.
Your name has become a punchline for bad luck.
Your name is a bad word in the mouth’s of children.
I’ve learned 4 languages over the years
to better express how much I hate you.
porque te odio
je vous deteste
ich hasse sie
I fawkin’ haight yew
…that was australian.
I invented Haterade so my hate
never gets tired.
I wear flip flops so I can give you middle toes
with my middle fingers.
Your family treats you like jury duty.
Your friends treat you like an STD
and your parking ticket presence
has everyone greeting you with
GODDAMN IT! WHY TODAY!?
WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?!”
You are human razor burn
You are a government conspiracy
You are a walking dingleberry
A hunk of dried shit from the underpants of society
and you fuckin’ stink.
You are the opposite of Disneyland
You are the impossible celaphane wrap
they package CD’s with.
You are an American tragedy.
Time Magazine has rated you in the top 10
things that has happened in American history
ranked number 7 just above
The Great Dust Bowl of 1935
and Canadian rock band Nickelback
Fruit rots, grass dies and babies cry
within a 5 mile radius of your laugh
There is a help hotline because of you
There is a relief fund to the victims
of your acquaintance.
Facebook programmers have created
a dislike button for your profile.
The only thing keeping you standing
is the air in your head
because your spine left you for a job more stable
I fuckin’ hate you so much
I blanket myself at night with your meloncholy
and wake up knowing your misery
makes my breakfast taste better.
I shower in your tears to feel young again.
Your failures are my morning coffee
and I love this job.
I hate you so damn much
I’ve fantasized extensively about your funeral.
They bury you face down
so if you ever decide to try and walk this earth again
you dig deeper towards hell
I imagine myself farting during your moment of silence
I make sure your casket
is followed with a proper hymn; ”Another one bites the dust”
They release crows when they lower you
You have your own layer in hell
where you are consumed by darkness
because even flames find you offensive
and each day is spent watching
how much better the world is
now that you’re gone
What are the odds that something this terrible can happen?
Where were the Mayan’s or the scientists to predict this?
The alarms, sirens, gongs, bells, whistles have fallen silent
in the coming of your reign of misfortune
And to think…
in some Twilight Zone playground
you were so beautiful
I looked out my window
And watched two boys
Climb onto a rooftop
To leave a bucket
To catch the rain
When the rain had come
They returned to bathe
Previously baptized in brotherhood
The older boy lifted the bucket
And poured it over his naked brothers head
As if to say
“In case this is the last rain ever
You will be washed new.”
He then knelt
As if to pray
And scooping the puddles up into his palms
He let the waters trickle down over his own face.
Because he, like many of us,
Will only ever know
What it is to be second hand clean
And I wonder why I drive 80 when the road only asked for 65
Why am I always the first one to get there and last one to leave?
Why do I always pray the longest or loudest?
First or not at all?
Why have I talked more than listened?
Done more than watched?
Protested more than changed?
Why do I live like I am bent on creating beauty
And yet miss all the beauty going on around me?
Looking a train head on
Pressing my tongue to the tracks
Feeling the rumble
Ride the stillness of my vocal chords
Ricocheting off the depths of silence in my chest.
It’s been a long time since I found risk in prayer.
And this rain that fell
Had never looked more like heaven
It’s broken ocean spilling over the edges of God
In the rain
A hymn to the groan of a thundercloud
A corner of church
Not caught up in the quake
A hallelujah for those with no voice
A whisper into the deep reaches of heaven
With no promise of the chase
But I am far too busy to
In the rain
Truth: I’m not comfortable enough in my own skin to rain dance
Truth: all the things I am so busy doing are just my way of faking it
Truth: you deserved better from me
Truth: I won’t ever get another chance
Truth: I promise to live like I will
Because I know that this might be my only bucket
Might very well be the last rain
Know things about coming clean that I do not
So teach me.