Her Beelzebub

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Her mother sensed the evil

When she found black stains on white sheets.

Torn fabric and charred wicker

Sent infant cries from the cradle.

A string of coos hushed the child,

But unchecked went streaks of red in brown irises.

~

A depraved soul not yet sixteen

Sat atop frozen roof tiles,

As her mother lamented friends

Sent to push her over the edge.

Burning lungs reflected a life turned left,

And a shooting star sprinkled ash on coarse skin.

~

She turned twenty-four in a black alley

With blood on her hands.

Jagged metal pierced skin

Before disappearing into cold flesh.

Her mother’s sobs rang in her memory

When the steaming vent released a cackle.

~

Her death fell behind metal bars,

Fluorescent lights turning pale skin gray.

Red roses turned black

On a shattered gravestone.

Tears dripped from her mother’s cheeks,

For she knew the path below the grave,

~

And Beelzebub welcomed his child to hell

As she clawed her skin raw.

– kh.

© February 2017 | Placer County, California

42. I’m not Voting for President

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I mean, have you seen the candidates?

I think it’s a shame that my first chance to vote has been tainted by literally the worst presidential run of America’s history. On the one hand, you have a criminal; on the other hand, you have a creep. Stellar choices.

It’s funny, I’ve been told by almost every older American that I have to vote purely because it’s my right as an American citizen. “Not everyone gets the chance to vote, Kayla, so you have to.” “It’s you’re civic duty, Kayla, you have to.”

Well, if you will, let me tell you a little something you might have forgotten: I also have a right not to vote, so no, I don’t have to. (And, therefore, no, it’s not anyone’s “civic duty.” Look that term up, voting does not fall into that category.)

Let me get this perfectly straight. My choices are these: 1) someone who has broken federal law, who lies, who gets her own fellow Americans killed, and who is basically controlled by the rich and powerful like a puppet, and 2) someone who sexually assaults and speaks poorly about women, who discriminates, who wants to build a wall around America, and who, for all his money, can’t seem to hire a decent hairdresser.

Yeah…thanks, but no thanks, I’m gonna sit this one out. And before you go off on me saying, “If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re basically voting for Hillary” or vice versa, let me remind you, I live in California. If you don’t vote Democratic, you’re vote is void no matter what you do. You’re vote is literally the definition of ‘worthless,’ and you can thank San Francisco and Los Angeles for that.

I don’t want either one of these people in the White House, so neither one of them is getting my vote. Avoiding the polls not going to solve anything, I understand; but I honestly don’t know what the rationale is for voting for either one. I’ve seen that most people are only voting for one because they just can’t stand the other…but how is that a viable reason? Answer: it’s not. The whole thought process behind this election is “choose the lesser of two evils,” but I don’t agree with that.

I’m not saying no one should vote. If you feel led, by all means, go ahead, be the upstanding American that you are. But in terms of the presidency, I cannot vote with a clear conscience. So I’ll just stand over here with the other, what is it, 50% of disgraceful Americans and vote for things I actually care about, like Proposition 64.

~ Hoài-Linh

41. An Open Letter to Society

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Dear Society,

I understand your push for perfection. I realize in many cases striving for perfection is the only way to move forward. My own family has trained me to never settle for less, as that is the only way reach success. But as a young girl living in this society, I would like to point out a few things. You see, your quest for perfection, while no doubt stemming from good intentions, has negatively effected the younger generations for decades. Whether you intended to or not, you have handed us unattainable standards and images of the perfectly dysfunctional lives all young Americans are “supposed” to live. Everywhere I turn, I see magazines full of “perfect” men and women living their “perfect” celebrity lives, I see commercials, movies, and television shows featuring unrealistically fit and athletic individuals, I see ads promoting products meant to transform us into the “perfect” people we all should be–the list goes on.

Honestly, I am a consumer myself, and I know little about your agenda other than how it affects me and the people I love. I can only tell you what I know and what I see. And what I see is a group of young people searching for their worth and happiness in superficial things. I see young girls worrying about their weight instead of living carefree childhoods. I see little boys worrying about girls instead of playing outside with their friends. I see teenage girls, including myself, dressing like they are thirty-five, and teenage boys spending hours in the gym trying to attain a Ryan Gosling physique. I remember one day my ten-year-old sister coming home from school and begging my mom to put her on a diet and exercise plan so she “wouldn’t get fat,” even though she was nearly underweight for her age. I remember my five-year-old sister coming to me and begging me to put make-up on her so she could “look like the girls on Disney Channel.” Through conversations with most of my friends, I learned we all began wearing makeup and worrying about our appearances because you told us we had to; that we needed to look good to avoid ridicule.

But we all know we can’t live up to the standards you’ve set, even if we don’t admit it. No one’s perfect, not even the celebrities you parade in front of us, but you’ve done a great job of convincing us otherwise. And the result is the scene I witness every day of my life. A scene of cookie-cutter individuals living cookie-cutter lives; no one willing to accept who they are, and everyone willing to transform themselves into who you want them to be.

I can’t change the way you do things, but I can push my sisters in front of me and show you how the reality you’ve fabricated has negatively affected them. You claim to think so highly of the future generations, yet you continue to dilute their young lives with everything fake and unattainable. You may not even target them–in fact I doubt the little ones cross your mind when you go about your business most of the time–but I hope you realize…they notice everything. They pick up on every detail. They can’t tell the fake from the reality. If you tell a teenage girl she needs to look perfect to have worth, any little girl standing nearby will believe it, too. If you tell a teenage boy he needs to have abs to be a man, any little boy standing nearby will believe it, too. I can’t make you do a one-eighty, but I can show you the ripple effect you have on all ages, especially the younger ones. They’re watching you. We all are.

Sincerely,

An 18-year-old girl

XXI. Another Day

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I think I was about ten years old

Watching the news with my dad.

I didn’t see nothing but tears and blood

And a bunch of people looking so mad.

“That’s war,” I was told.

I said, “How? That ain’t nothing like the games I have.”

I couldn’t grasp the sense of an innocent child

Dying by the hands of a grown man.

And while some kids raised on cartoons,

Young girls making money in dark rooms.

We all deserve a decent meal.

Why his belly so soft? Why she holding that hard spoon?

And where is my head of state?

If crime pays, talk peace, still engaging in heavy arms trade.

In the jungle that we call Sin City,

While life rules, survival of the fittest.

– “Another Day” by Nico & Vinz

Worth

They told you the pleasure was worth the pain.

They said it was worth the bumps and bruises,

To feel the buzz of adrenaline in your limbs.

They said to ignore the fear and regret,

The lingering hatred for actions unfolded,

And bask in the momentarily searing bliss.

So you listened,

And you fell.

A thousand miles down from the clouds,

Past shouts and cries of those you love,

Crashing into the ground full force.

And you laid there,

Broken and in agony,

Waiting for the vultures to circle.

And you began to wonder,

If maybe,

Just maybe,

They were wrong.

~~

My dear, you learned the hard way.

The pleasure is never worth the pain.

– kh.

© September 2015 | Placer County, California