Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaching Arab History and Culture at Northeast High School

This semester, I have had the privilege of teaching a weekly class on Arab history and culture to 10th graders at NEHS. Since this is such an expansive and diverse topic, and since we have relatively few class meetings to cover so much ground, Al-Bustan's Executive Director and I discussed a novel approach. In the fourteenth century, a highly learned Moroccan cleric and judge named Ibn Battuta set out from his home in Tangiers towards Mecca. He intended this journey as a pilgrimage to the holiest city of Islam. But his travels did not end there. For over twenty-nine years, he traveled all across the Arab-speaking world and beyond. From North Africa, to the Middle East, to the Byzantine Empire, to the West coast of Africa, to India, the Maldives, and even China. When he returned to Tangier in 1354, upon the request of the Sultan of Morocco, Ibn Battuta dictated an account of his journeys to Ibn Juzayy, a scholar he had met in Granada.  The full title of the manuscript is "Tuhfat Al-Nuzzar fi Ghara’ib Al-Amsar wa ‘Aja’ib Al-Asfar," translated in English is “A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling,” – shortened to simply "The Rihla," or “The Journey.”

A map of Ibn Battuta's journeys

We decided that the life of this extraordinary traveler provided an excellent jumping-off point for understanding the diverse lands and cultures that he visited. Each week, we learn about the history and culture of one of the locales along his journey. Obviously, this must be a truncated "crash course" - but I emphasize the importance of getting a base of knowledge as a starting point for learning about a region and its people. This brings us to the second goal of the class - to open students' eyes to current events occurring in the Arab World today. Each week, students must read and bring to class an article concerning events in the Arab World. We have practiced summarizing what we learn, connecting it with what we have learned in class, and probing deeper by asking thoughtful questions. This style of content delivery, based on geography, current events, and one man's incredible biography, has sparked many students' curiosities. Kids are very interested to learn the stories behind the headlines that they read, and several have emailed me questions outside of class, asking for places where they can learn more about, for example, the decolonization of Algeria and Egypt. Or, "what other parts of the world have had their borders altered by outside powers? What happened there?"

The Bay of Tangier - Ibn Battuta's childhood home.

For a final project, students will choose from among the cities that Ibn Battuta visited, and craft an oral presentation and accompanying Powerpoint in which they describe their own future trip. In the same vein as my weekly presentations on each country, students' projects must include information about specific locations they would like to visit, the historical and cultural significance of those locations, and how this information contextualizes events in that part of the world. I am very excited to see what students come up with next!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Transcending Time, Space, and Music: the Revitalization of Memories through the Music of Romani-Balkan Clarinet Virtuoso, Hüsnü Şenlendirici

Years ago, when I was only the naive age of ten, my uncle Hakan handed me a cassette tape upon returning from Turkey. I knew little about the band, Laço Tayfa, and even less about Turkish music at the time; as I was familiar with only the older traditional tunes emanating from my father's desktop on Saturday mornings. They were, coincidentally, very peculiar and nomadic to my younger ears, so I had meager expectations for the cassette. Listening to it once on the ride home I was unimpressed and unmoved, forgetting the tape in the car - never to be seen again, or so I thought. 

Album cover with Senlendirici
seated in the middle
Six years later, at the ripe age of sixteen, now fluent in Turkish popular culture, I stumbled upon the same cassette tape during Eid preparations and it struck a new chord. Hüsnü Şenlendirici's face popped out at me on the elegant cover; the enchanting gaze of the musicians and the striking name of the band caught my attention. Hurriedly I searched the house for a cassette player. Luckily my parents were conservative with their property, and I quickly found several "boom boxes" in the closet and proceeded to insert and hit "play". The house became warm with Anatolian strings and a Romani-Balkan breeze. How had I missed this?

Looking back, I realize over those six years I had morphed into a new being with a pocket full of life experiences and memories. The instruments came alive to reenact the six years that had escaped from me. The oud took me back to my trips to Turkey where I steered tractors perched on my grandfather's lap in the golden wheat fields of the plateau; the qanun and bass took me back to my middle school years in north Jersey and the many family meals bustling with commotion and excitement; and the clarinet took me back to a certain summer where I met my first love at the local mosque. In unison, these instruments allowed me to transcend time and relive my cherished memories. Still today, it is my favorite album to play on our morning rounds to relatives' homes on Eid: my father in his olive-green suit captaining our vessel  and my pearly mother lighting the way and stopping momentarily to head the swaying waves of our screaming and laughter from the rear.

From that renaissance onwards, I continue to listen to and enjoy Hüsnü and friends' music. It is with them that I discovered the beauty of interpretation in music. The lack of words and traditional rhythm (sometimes jazzing out), furnished the very orchard of creativity within me so that I could pick from it the fruit of my emotions. These tunes have lifted me up when I was down and humbled me when the world was too much to bear. As if the ghost of my many yesterdays had sat me down for a cup of tea and a story, I was reminded of my past, present, and future in the same instant and assured everything would be alright. I was only to wait, and maybe listen once more.

I lose patience as I wait for Hüsnü to step on the Penn campus and present again the secrets of my past and share with me the glory of the moment and all the moments they call to.

My humble gratitude,

Eza Koch
UPenn, Class of 2014

Monday, July 30, 2012

Science, Art, and Language at Al-Bustan

How the time flies! It seems like just yesterday that Al-Bustan summer camp opened for its 2012 session. Serving as camp manager for the first time, I was very pleased to see the excited faces of youngsters, learning and experiencing Arab language, culture, and so much more. At Al-Bustan, instruction in Arabic infuses every aspect of campers’ experience, offering a truly unique environment.

One memory that I am sure to hold onto was the Friday of the second week. Michele Gilbert, a science teacher we were lucky enough to have join us, was helping campers complete and post a large, vibrantly colorful mural. The mural formed a paper canvas that covered an entire classroom wall. It was emblazoned with children’s depictions of all different sizes sea creatures. A massive giant squid graced the top, a killer whale swam near the bottom, and nearly every space in between teemed with all forms of sea life. It was an impressive and fun combination of art and science, but there was another aspect of the project.

As the campers drew and colored, they also learned and practiced the names of their animals in Arabic. They labeled each animal in English and Arabic, practicing the names for each other. Ms. Gilbert encouraged them, as they begged for the chance to add another, favorite sea creature to their growing work of art. The piece grew and grew along, with campers’ knowledge of Arabic. Eventually, when every spare space on the paper had been filled, Ms. Gilbert enlisted the help of some campers to post the mural with pride on the wall of the science room. It is a tangible representation of Al-Bustan’s unique combination of Arabic instruction with all manner of other fun-filled activities and subjects.

Thanks to all the campers, families, and staff members that made Al-Bustan Camp 2012 such a success!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reflections on Camp from an Arab Parent and Teacher

لا استطيع أن أوصف شعوري كأم أولا ...سعيدة جداً بما أنجزه أولادي بهذة الفترة القصيرة و شعورهم بالسعادة و الفرح والبسمة التي ترسم على وجوههم  صباحا كل يوم لدرجة أجد صعوبة يومياً في نهاية الدوام للعودة للبيت. فهم يتمنىون لو يقضوا النهار بأكمله لما يلقون من جو عائليا و متعة و فرح للإضافة لسعادة لا توصف لقدرتهم على التحدث و الغناء باللغة العربية .

وحزينة من جهة اخرى لما بقي من أيام معدودة في المخيم الذي تعلم اولادي منه الكثير فلا حاجة  لأخذ أولادي الى الشرق الأوسط ليتعرفو على التقاليد العربية و البلاد العربية بعد الأن. أصبح أولادي الأن فخرون بلغتنا الأم و أصل أجدادهم و أهلهم . 

وثانيا كمعلمة ،سعيدة بمعرفتي بأشخاص و طلاب ...أدهشوني بذكائهم و قدرتهم على تعلم لغة صعبة و مواهبهم التي توجت بأعمال عظيمة نالت إعجاب المدرسين و زادت الأولاد ثقة و طموح ، هكذا هي الايام السعيدة تمضي بسرعة ولكن تبقى ذكريات لا تنسى.
دانية بوادقجي

I can’t begin to describe my feelings… First, as a mother, I am very happy with all that my children have accomplished in this short period, and how much happiness, joy, and extra smiles I have seen on their faces every morning, so much that it’s difficult for me at the end of the day to take them home.  They want to spend the whole day at Al-Bustan Camp because of the familial environment and the joy that they experience.  I feel an incredible happiness at their ability to speak and sing in Arabic. 

I am sad on the other hand that there are only a few days left of Camp, a program where my kids have  learned so much, such that I don’t  feel a need to take them to the Middle East anymore to learn about the Arab world and culture.  My children have gained a pride in their mother language and the heritage of their grandparents and relatives. 

Additionally, as a teacher I am pleased to have met so many new people and students. They have amazed me with their intelligence and their ability to learn this hard language, as well as their talents in producing creative works that have gained the admiration of the teachers and increased my children’s self-confidence and ambition.  Thus, these happy days have quickly passed, and yet they will remain unforgettable memories.

Dania Bawadekji
Arabic language assistant teacher and mother of two campers ages 5 and 6 years

Friday, July 20, 2012

Arabic Alphabet Quilt Project in the Making

The traditional arts and crafts of Morocco represent myriad and diverse techniques. A group of campers have been incorporating some of these processes in a collaborative textile project, led by teaching artists Tremain Smith and Samantha Taifi. They used resist dyeing with henna inspired by Berber textiles to produce a contemporary visual celebration of Moroccan traditional arts, representing each letter of the Arabic alphabet.

The project began with resist wrapping and stitching yarn onto silk squares using beans and dental floss to produce various designs. The campers then dyed the squares in vats of different strengths of henna. They unwrapped their squares to reveal unique designs and patterns created as a result of the dyeing process. Next campers used basic felting and embroidery techniques to embellish their squares with a letter of the Arabic alphabet in wool and yarn. Now the campers are in the process of adhering all the squares together to create a complete Arabic alphabet in textile form. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Delicious Taste of Morocco at Al-Bustan Camp

On July 11, campers and staffers were delighted to receive a visit from the chefs of Argana Restaurant in Landsdowne. It was an excellent opportunity for campers to literally taste this year's camp themes. The chefs from Argana came on the recommendation of our Arabic teacher, Brahim El Gabli. Brahim, a native Moroccan, declared Argana one of the few restaurants in the Philadelphia area where he could "really savor" the authentic cuisine of his home country.

On Wednesday, when campers packed into the drama room to see (and taste) examples of Moroccan cuisine. The day featured harira - a spiced soup made with tomatoes, chickpeas, and vermicelli - and what may be Morocco's most famous dish: couscous - a fluffy dish made with semolina and steamed vegetables. The chefs brought in samples of ingredients they use to prepare the dishes and described the time-honored processes to produce such delicious dishes. Ingredients were introduced in Arabic and English, allowing staff and campers another opportunity to practice their language skills.

When the presentation was complete, the moment arrived that all the campers had been waiting for. The large pots emitting enticing aromas from the back of the room were brought to the front, and children and staff alike were invited to sample the harira and couscous. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, as children not generally inclined to eating vegetables cleaned their bowls, asking for seconds and thirds. Our guests made sure no one went away hungry, and everyone enjoyed getting a taste of what Morocco and Argana Restaurant had to offer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 2 / Week 1 Camp

Hello again Al-Bustan community!  Today was an exciting energy-filled day where every last camper was asking for more... at least in poetry!  I was already exhausted after the first day and wishing that I had the campers energy.  Luckily with the help of my amazing camp counselor, Reem, the groups and I pressed forward, collected our energy and put it into our varying poetry projects.

We opened up the classes with some zany writing and coloring that got the campers engaged in the project they began working on today.  For groups A & B, we had them create their own poetry journal in which they decorated with both a free art exercise and with a replicated drawing of the object they brought with them to share.  These objects will come to represent the things we carry with us and the campers, through the use of drawing, interviewing, letter writing, and of course poetry, will begin to see their object a bit differently than they did at the start of camp.

We began to ask ourselves the questions of what is similar to our object, what does it mean to us, what does it mean to describe something without revealing too much, and what is ironic about the object or even what our assumptions are.

This is one of the many great things about poetry, it extends beyond the walls of words and formulaic ideas.  We can make poetry through the use of varying art forms as a way to both understand other mediums better as well as to make our own poetry more meaningful and honest.

With Group C, we practiced a made-up form of poetry called Illot Mollot in which we participated in a free-write exercise and every minute or so, students shouted out a random word that we had to work into our work in progress piece.  The purpose of this exercise is to get students to first, get out of their own way and next to be ready for anything that happens.  A wise person once said to me that it was like being able to receive the best curve ball and at least make contact. When students become accustomed to dealing with unfamiliar things, they become more confident in situations that are unfamiliar to them in the world or even on our beloved standardized tests.

Once we got through the zany writing about sugar, food, floss, abstractions, and cake we were able to focus on what it was about these pieces that are poetic.  How does writing about a floss carrying warrior have to do with an afterlife or end of the world (an actual student piece) or how talking about nothing but Jolly Ranchers lead to the importance of repetition in any literary piece.  Tomorrow we will begin examining pictures of the student's travels and begin writing travel journals that will be modeled off of Ibn Batutta's own writing.

Until tomorrow!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello Community,

This is Ellie and I have resurfaced after a semester long teaching program with a different set of students at Northeast High School in Philadelphia.  What an experience where a number of students eloquently displayed their poetic talents.

Now, I have the fortunate pleasure of sitting in with the teen group on the Arabic class here at Al-Bustan's Summer Camp.  We are learning how to greet each other, a few different dialects, and the language that is spoken in the community.  Talk about the need for repetition!

I even participated for a for minutes until my heartbeat raised in frequency and I let the kids shine at the pronunciations...

That's the thing about a raise in heartbeat frequency, all campers experience it in the first few days and it is good to know this even as a camp teacher.  The nerves of meeting new people, the fear of mis-pronouncing words or even drumming off beat, are something that actually brings everyone closer.  And now that I have experienced this on Day 1, it is off to the races tomorrow!

In the poetry class for the K-5 groups, we are going to experiment with varying forms of creative writing about an object that we take on our travels (local or beyond our community).  The Jr. High group are going to create travel journals from our own experiences modeled off of Ibn Batutta's travels. And finally, the teen groups will experiment with their own forms of contemporary poetry based off of the experiences Ibn Batutta had experienced during his travels.

Through all groups, I am excited to experiment with the creativity and colors that are represented by Ibn Batutta and Morocco.  It's going to be a magical time with the students!  And don't forget about out performance at the end of camp, it is an experience that will change the lives of everyone involved!



P.S. Check back often for students' sample writings and pictures!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Interview with Executive Director Hazami Sayed

Hello, my name is Mazin Blaik. I take weekly Arabic lessons with Brahim El Guabli. One of my assignments was to conduct an interview in Arabic. This is my interview with Hazami Sayed, my mom and executive director of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

مقابلة مع حزامي السيد: أم و زوجة و مديرة الجمعية الثقافية غير الحكومية البستان
(Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture)

Interviewer Mazin Blaik
١.  كيف بدأتِ مخيم البستان؟

بدأتُ المخيم في سنة ٢٠٠٢. أردت أن أسس مكانا للأطفال يتعلمون فيه اللغة والتراث و الثقافة العربية. و بالذات أردت أُعرف أولادي باللغة و الجالية العربيتين في فيلادلفيا لكي يكونوا متعلمين و مفتخرين بتراثهم و هويتهم.

 ٢.  كيف أصبح المخيم الآن؟

بعد مضي ١٠ سنوات، أصبح البستان جمعية معروفة و موثوق بها  في تعليم و تقديم برامج ثقافية و فنية بمستوى عال.

٣.  هل تحبين عملك في البستان؟ 

نعم، أكيد، إنني اشتغل ليلا و نهاراً، و لكن أحيانا أواجه صعوبات و أتسأل "لماذا أبذل كل هذا المجهود؟" 

٤.  أين تتصورين البستان بعد ١٠ سنوات؟ 

أحب أن يكون  عندنا مركز ثقافي يجمع الجالية العربية و الجالية غير العربية في مكان جميل و حافل بالنشاطات اليومية. بالإضافة إلى ذلك أتمنى يكون عندنا نشاطات و علاقات في مدن أخرى في أمريكا. 

٥.  ما هو الشيء الذي تشعرين به كمكافئة على عملك؟ 

عندما أرى الأولاد مندمجين في أنشطتهم الفنية و فرح أهلهم بذلك. و عندما  يقول طفل لأهله بعد نهاية المخيم الصيفي: "أريد أن ادرس عربي!". 

٦.  ما هو أحسن برنامج في البستان؟ 

بالنسبة لي الموسيقى و الفن التشكيلي.

٧.  في كم مدرسة توجد أنشطة البستان؟ 

حالياً في ٥ مدارس أسبوعيا.  

٨.  ماذا يحدث الآن في برنامج الموسيقى؟ 

أحدث شيء هو سلسلة حفلات موسيقية. عندنا ٦ حفلات، ابتداء من أكتوبر إلى ابريل ٢٠١٢. و كل حفلة مميزة بحضور فنان عربي نستضيفه مع فرقة موسيقية عربية بفيلادلفيا.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughts on Sonia M'Barek's Concert

It has been over a week since my husband and I attended the concert featuring Tunisian singer, Sonia M’Barek, but I have not been able to get the wonderful experience out of my mind!

It was truly beautiful – the song choices, Sonia and the orchestra’s amazing talent, and most remarkably the collaboration with the Keystone State Boychoir.  To hear the kids singing in Arabic was pleasant and moving, bringing me to tears. To me, it perfectly embodied Al-Bustan’s mission of highlighting Arab culture to overcome misconceptions. It is particularly important to engage young people in this mission, which Al-Bustan does so successfully through such performance activities and its summer camp.

Al-Bustan has been dear to my heart from its birth ten years ago for serving as a positive representative of Arab culture in a broader community dialogue. I am constantly impressed and continue to look forward to future events!

Dr. Nawal Khafaji

Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with Composer Kareem Roustom

Melding his Arab heritage with his training in western classical music, Kareem Roustom has composed contemporary music that draws on the traditional and contemporary to create a thoroughly unique sound. His work varies from an Emmy-nominated film score to a narrated chamber orchestra piece set to an Arab folk tale. This Saturday, as part of the Arab Music Concert Series, Al-Bustan will present the works of Roustom. He will introduce the program with excerpts from his film scores, followed by performances of his compositions by a chamber orchestra comprised of talented artists from Philadelphia and New York.

Though you may not be familiar with Kareem Roustom’s name, you have probably heard some of his compositions. He has written the scores for many acclaimed films including Budrus, Amreeka, and Encounter Point among others. The music in these three films is strikingly beautiful, enriching the story without upstaging it. “It is the job of the score to compliment the film in an unobtrusive way…the music has to be subtle and stay out of the way at times and it has to take charge of the emotional flow at other times,” Roustom explained via email. Roustom’s Emmy nomination for the score of The Mosque in Morgantown is a testament to his mastery of this balance. His prowess with elegantly weaving together narrative and music is equally evident in his chamber orchestra pieces.

His work Abu Jmeel’s Daughter is one such piece. Based on an Arab folktale of the same name the story is about Rida, who having been transformed from an ugly woman into a beauty by the djinn (genies), captivates Prince Alwan. They marry but the union is rocky because in exchange for her beauty, the djinn forbid Rida from speaking to her husband. Yet, the story ends happily when the djinn take pity on the couple and tell Alwan the phrase to release Rida from her oath of silence. Roustom was drawn to both the structure of the story and the darkness he found throughout. “The fact that there are djinns and magic also inspired my decision to use this tale, as I imagined it would allow for a type of musical language that I don't often get to use when I compose music for film.” In addition to the musical cues that Roustom provides in his composition, a narrator guides the audience through the tale of Rida and Alwan. His connection to Arab culture is deeper than the narratives for which he composes music.

During the music writing process, Roustom engages many influences including his Syrian roots. “I think being aware of one's roots is very important whether you are performing Mozart, playing the blues or performing North Indian Raga. This blending of styles and backgrounds is a natural extension of what I've been doing all my musical life.” His embracive approach to composition does not mean his work is incongruous with his understanding of the Arab classical music tradition. “Musical language has to evolve in order to survive. That doesn't mean that everything gets thrown out every time there is a new wave of change, it just means that value and perspectives change.” It is this combination of an appreciation for the traditional while being open to new developments that makes Roustom’s music so intriguing.

Given that "Al-Bustan means "The Garden" in Arabic, Roustom's botanical analogy for his own work seems apropos. “I try to think of my work very much like a tree. There are roots that keep the tree grounded and trunk that supports the branches that reach for heights in search of sunlight and nourishment.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Melding Musical Traditions: A.J. Racy in Philadelphia

Scholar, composer, and musician A.J. Racy proffered so much knowledge and artistry during his visit to Philadelphia in November 2011 but it is the sound of him playing the mijwiz that sticks with me months later. The mijwiz is a wind instrument made of two reeds, each with five or six holes and fitted with smaller tubes that vibrate to produce sound. Playing the mijwiz requires a difficult process called circular breathing wherein the performer produces music continuously while not appearing to be breathing at all.

In many ways Racy’s performance on the mijwiz was a departure from the rest of the concert, which featured a takht ensemble. Traditionally Arab classical music is presented by a takht ensemble comprised of a violin, oud, qanun, nay, riq and vocalist. The enormity and uniqueness of its sound means the mijwiz is typically played as a solo instrument or accompanied by percussion outdoors. While the takht ensemble is the cornerstone of concert hall performances you will more often hear the mijwiz being played at weddings and other celebrations, providing music for the dabkah, a line dance. The inclusion of the mijwiz in the concert demonstrated Racy’s unmatched dedication to studying and playing both folk and classical music while also reinterpreting traditions in his own compositions.

We will upload a video clip from A.J. Racy's performance in Philadelphia soon. In the meantime check out this video of him playing the mijwiz.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaching Arabic Poetry and Writing Water Poems

Hello everyone again, its Ellie and I want to share with you all the work that we have been doing in Ms. Engel's 10th grade IB classroom at Northeast High School.

First, let me tell you a little about what we do each week. Every class begins with either a chant or meditation exercise. We also conduct a free write activity where we have been known to write about sweat (hey it was a hot day in September... last period), write nonsense sprinkled with a few words about freedom, oppression, and bacon (Illot Mollot), and the latest exercise was about circles. All of this writing is really about us learning how to break down the barriers of what we think poetry is as well as getting ourselves writing about stuff that we see and are surrounded with every day, but doing it in creative ways. Take the normal, think about it critically and create magic. I feel I can go that far with this because what the students have shared and written with me has been nothing short of spectacular!

We also have been spending time learning about traditional and contemporary Arab poets and poetry. We have read poems and spent many class periods on Suheir Hammad, Naomi Shihab Nye, Al-Munsif Al-Wahaybi, and 'Enayat Jaber just to name a few. What we have taken from these poets has ranged from learning about identity to examining individual words like peace to learning about what our homes and families look like.

With these lessons, we have taken our own route to writing about identity. We have been writing our own poems, water poems. What we have been discovering over the last few months by studying Arabic poetry and what the students have migrated to through their own writing and questioning is discovering their own sense of identity. The students in this school bring a wealth of diversity to this area and we have been defining what that means by attempting to define not only what it means to be who we are, but what it means to be who we are in our space, in this case, Northeast Philadelphia high school students.

What a water poem does is tell about each student's journey from birth to where they are now. Their journey reflected by the movement of water, by the importance of water, by the life-giving quality of water.

I promise that in the next few weeks, I will share some of the magic and pure honesty that has been written by our IB students. In the meantime, I'll give you a few snippets of the free-write exercises.

Thanks for your time and enjoy!

1. I used to be scared of dogs,

But now I’m scared of this world.

I used to love the world,

But now I love myself.

I used to run to school,

But now I just walk.

I used to seek the meaning of life,

But now I know what life is.

I used to live in one place,

But now I live in a different one.

I used to have a place surrounded by nature,

But now I barely see the nature.

I used to wake up hearing birds,

Now they’re gone.

2. My great struggle-






But three years ago I came here.

Still, I miss my homeland.

I am a patriot of my country

So its even harder for me.

I not only miss my country

I miss my family.

I struggle.

I feel.

I feel like leaving.

I feel like leaving everyday.

Leaving everything behind.

Coming home.

Believe it or not,

Even the happiest face sighs.

3. A quick sketch on my struggles:

Enter some part of my life,

The other side of the macabre of pain.

Pretty basic.

I think you can handle it.

Here I go.

Abusive father’s hands like magnets

Feels like a thousand beehives

Freeing millions of bees

upon my skin.

My younger brother cries hysterically

Shaking his last nerve

While the heart beats to an extreme rhythm-

A fast tempo.

Stuff at an early age?

Yes, possibly, no?

Confined with a sin

A moral,

A sin.

Where my confession feels plagued

Guilt drives my conscience to sweat

A drop of sweat down my back.

I pray, I ask for strength

For preservation

Because it’s not healthy to

Go look upon the waters

Of contemplation

Beneath the Ben Franklin Bridge.