"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


BACK IN THE DAY

BACK IN THE DAY

we dreamt of easy rides
fame in the ability to give a punch and take it
knack with a ball (pick a size any size)

or singing like deniece williams
east new york high school talent shows
pealed soprano and less than pitch perfect

immigrant parents encouraged
business school, secretarial college—that seemed
dream enough for us from el chorillo .

who heard of making a living writing
when there was dealing—where
courage weighed money and courage we held

against a bullet's love of our intestines
and odds on incarceration ravenous
for black skin.

                         the minute you say
back in my day
you're a fucking relic
—a saint's petrified middle finger.

now, worth is preyed for over a pithy
discharge of 280 clicks or the prayer
a verified sumthin-ur-nuther follows

your viral poetry—seemingly generated
from corporate dream angst machine.

i vision my daughter as mayor of this joint
uncrushed by starvation for applause
on a white smile neither earned nor suffered.

i'm afraid for all daughters
i want them to kick life's teeth in—not wait
for someone to tap hearts on theirs.

we thought our shallows
were as low as you could go—back in my day.


stephanie roberts was born in Central America, and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Her poetry is featured or forthcoming in many cool places including: Arcturus, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Verse Daily, Occulum, FLAPPERHOUSE {isacoustic*}, and elsewhere. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, she now explores reverence from a wee French town outside Montréal. Twitter: @ringtales.

Cover photo by Srikanta H. U on Unsplash

Abandoned park swing set

Abandoned park swing set

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discovery

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