Poetry, Words
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The rot, the cave, the crumble

Poetry from Maya Joseph

Ignorance as Bliss
The world used to be a steeping, hot, cup of tea, a timeless tomorrow
Taste, feel, hear, smell, touch and see without the threat of a spineless tomorrow

I was a pencil sketch with no eraser marks, every smudge had a purpose
and shoes were hardly an essential when it was always a “climb this!” tomorrow

Salt and sugar look alike so I reckoned they’d taste the same
But I flew so high the sun burned my tongue and I succumbed to a silent, tomorrow

Nobody wanted to talk about the saltiness of my teardrops
They hid theirs in bottles under their beds and told me to “leave it behind us” tomorrow

Sugar cubes are sweet until they rot your back teeth
The dentist was so evil when I saw my future as a halcyon harmless tomorrow

It’s wrong to say I miss being naïve
That I dread the one way street of time, when I know I should harness tomorrow

But back when Maya had a gap between her front teeth, sugar and salt both tasted sweet
and she had yet to experience the dire dryness of tomorrow


my smacking lips
my swinging hips
from a smudged photograph i realized
i have runny, undercooked, over-easy eyes

my curling lips
my bending hips
the circus in my shaking fist
my mind, a shy contortionist

my licking lips
my twisting hips
a stack of shoes nice and neat
each pair silencing the spring in my feet

my burning lips
my dancing hips
a raindrop follows along my hand’s trail
down the lifeline lying beneath my nails

my cracking lips
my swaying hips
the tide pushes and pulls with care
imitating the gentle waves of my hair

i smack my lips
i sway my hips
my mouth unzips
my fingers grip

i smack my lips
i sway my hips
my tongue clicks
my heart skips-

his raw skin rips
thick rose-blood drips

Soil transforms its surroundings into itself
Give her fruit or flower petals
Before you know it they have browned
Check my brother’s compost for validation

Give it sunshine or snow
Watch the rot, the cave, the crumble
Check my brother’s compost for validation
A black hole consumed by its own consumption

Watch the rot, cave, and crumble
Pumpkin flesh and pistachio skin
Black holes consume their own consumption
I am made of the dirt

Pumpkin flesh and pistachio skin
I can smell the disintegration
I belong to the dirt
Sunflower seeds for eyes, rotten orange for a heart

Smell the disintegration
I’ve been told all things return to their origin home
Sunflower seeds for eyes, a rotten orange heart
I stand on a mountain of compost

I’ve been told everything ends up in the dirt
Even people, even pears
I stood on layers of decomposing history
You know each layer as the ground

Even people, even pears
Here, take my clementine peels
Today she is the ground
One day she’ll be home

Here, take my banana peel
Add it to the soil
One day it will be home
What’s your opinion on decaying neighbors?

Add it to the soil
Everything she touches becomes a part of her
What’s your opinion on banana peel neighbors?
I’m okay with it

Everything she touches becomes her

She transforms her surroundings into herself
I had to be okay with it
Before I knew it
You had rotted

Maya Joseph is sixteen and a sophomore at Newton South High School. She lives in Boston and believes in hip hop, star wars, and sleep. 


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