Hope is a Bruise

Paintball pellets batter shoulders

and thighs at 190 miles per hour

I count the purplish bruises and

smile at the post vision of us toasting

laughing, being vibrantly alive


The woman who pierced my nose

Rushed outside afterwards for a cigarette

Whether my nostril or her nerves were to blame

We both survived an ordeal that day

I don’t think of the sweat on her lip 

or the tears on my cheek when my jeweled 

Black nose disrupts canonical spaces


Agony delineates child bearing from child rearing

Pain is the anticipated toll: the impossible stretch of skin and orifice,

wrenching of organs, the pinch and nip of nursing

I received no pamphlets about the pangs of panic and impotence

The deep marrow rupture when their ache explodes beyond your reach


A formation of police fired rubber bullets at my child

200 feet per second in defense of hatred and spiteful ignorance

She raged back in protest until her throat rasped, her heels

blistered and she shattered into sobs once safe in our home, in my arms

They gassed and maced my baby. She marched again the next day.

And the next and the next and the next and the next


Hope is a bruise, a nervous smoke and an unrelenting calvary