Houston, Texas is the sex trafficking capital of the United States.

The average age of female victims that are first captured is  12-14 years old

My little sister, Salah, takes Karate

In January she  will have her 13th birthday






you’ve taken Karate for a year now.

I remember your baggy pristine Gi still crisp without use,

a white belt around your waist,  empty scroll

Waiting to be filled, and so

I pray that you’ve learned well.


I myself trained in martial arts for 5 years,

Which is to say

I too was taught to make a soft hand metal.

Salah, do you know yet how to strike five fingered steel

Against flint throats and light a fire?

Can you shoot splinters from a well placed fist;

A plank of wood or some neck becomes ember eruption

I tell you this is the magic of Midas

This is learning survival in a place that begs you need it


The Houston Ship channel exports more daughters than oil

Their names not so much a name as it is a number or


An itch in some wolf man’s throat.

They, only songbird  aftertaste.

Feathered entrails laid in splatter

Across his tombstone teeth

Last note rotting in his stomach acid river styx.


Salah, you must scream correctly.

I will teach you to  make your  windpipe a dog

whistle that shatters windows and ruptures eardrums.


If you are caged in car trunk I want you

to scream until your face and belt are purple,

shriek so loud it'll sonic boom I10 of the face of the planet.


Wail until the sky is torn wide,

The earth split open,

I will lead the angels of heaven and hell in search for you,


My little Sassy,  baby, don't be nice, don't be sweet.

Clench your fist into the rocks of David.

Make a slingshot of right hook.


This city will not gift you a concrete chrysalis,

In fact t will try to chew your wings.

Houston’s underbelly is infested with Arachnid men

They will spin cocoon into  silk sarcophagus,


so you be an animal, a beast, show them your teeth

All three rows.

You've got fangs like skyscrapers, solet them know

That the city bites back .


If some monsters tries to grab you, shed your second skin,

Claw them with venom,


Wrap electric tentacles around their throats

And roast  trachea into steaming black crisp .

They will be salty-ocean foaming at the mouth.

Send them to the bottom of the gulf coast,

An oil spill to leave in the sea.


If a strange pill finds its way in your drink,

You spit it out like poison dart.


These pimps are vultures, but you are not a dead thing;

Take their eyes with your beak

Like the bloody collapse of Oedipus.


If you meet a man with the charm of Prometheus

Do not be fooled, he too will try to steal your fire.

Instead leave him battered and bruised at the top of the

Colorado strip club, his liver stuck between your talons .


Houston is the falling star of Texas,

Apollo’s sun chariot making a Beltway 8,

Amber alert orbit.

When night falls, stick close to your kin.

Carry the arrows of Artemis wherever you go .


You are not something to be hunted

Or preyed.


Sweet Salah Grace Neal,


Keep training.

Make your upper cut  stronger than

A car trunks,

your roundhouse able

To crack jawbones,

Your knife hand block

A full length sword.


you will be ready

That I will make sure of


Pull your black belt tight


Remember who you are






5 feet of claws and rapture


My baby sister.


If night sky ever tries to swallow you

Salah, you better make it see stars


This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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