Ivy is born in the Bronx

At 6:04 A.M.

She enters the world wailing,

Falling flat against grimy bathtub in her grandfather’s basement.

Her mother holds her against her breast and their tears intermingle

For love, for purpose, for a lost human experience.

She’s eighteen, she’s broke, she’s alone

Her baby Daddy’s gone with the wind

And so are her dreams.


Ivy is four when she learns how to pack heat

“Keep it in your pant leg,” Her mother warns

“They don’t care that you’re small, they don’t care that you’re weak.

They’ll kill you, baby, they’ll kill you.”

Ivy often dreams of jumping into her static-streaked television

Where she’ll be safe, just a carefree cartoon,

Away from drug money and thieves and disease.


Ivy’s mother is gone and she’s nine today;

A deadly illness Ivy calls “The Devil”

Swallowed Mommy whole

Ivy’s small, she’s angry angry, for Mommy could have survived

If the Doctors hadn’t turned her away.


Ivy’s fifteen and jumps from home to home

She’s a vagabond, a non-consensual traveler.

Her only belongings are a tattered blanket

And a broken existence.


Ivy’s seventeen and she’s conquering the world

Straight A’s, no drugs, not pregnant;

Ironically, she’s everything her mother wasn’t

And yet Mommy will always be her hero.

Always and forever.


Mommy is still Ivy’s hero when she graduates high school

Salty tears drip down her chin, staining her rental gown

As she imagines what she’d say:

“I’m proud of you baby, but what can you do

With a degree in this part of town?”


Ivy is eighteen when she finds out she can’t afford college.

She breaks things, she breaks down, she breaks apart

As the words of her country’s anthem resound in her brain

“The home of the brave. The home of the brave.”


Ivy is twenty four, today

She’s warm and safe in a ripped sleeping bag

Beneath a gum-stuck overpass

There’s a needle in her arm

And knots in her hair

When she dies with her mother’s name on her lips

Smack dab in the middle

Of the Home of the Brave.


This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Our world


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