Flecks

My father’s hands
sun burnt to crisp blood brightening wrinkled grooves
curve round rough calluses
converge into dirt covered fingernail beds
sprinkle flecks of Earth onto its origins
as he turns the door knob and enters inside.

My father reaches to lift me from my armpits into the air
strategically spins my body
more thrilling than any existent or imagined amusement park ride.
Quien es mi superman? El mas fuerte?
I do not know this yet – not yet.

Father’s hands pull and weed and grind into the Earth
back arched rapidamente
mouth parched, skin stinging
sun sets, upset.

Father arranges his bushel
no es sufficiente 
hands thin in pocket, tread home
loose change for 14 hour labor
Mama got a better exchange for her sew.

My father’s hands
return the next day and no rest day
weak and
month years and ears
picked off their bright stocks to fill his bushel of bliss.

See those vegetables scaled
see those vegetables sold to the contractor
see those vegetables stacked onto crates
frozen, compartmentalized into Tetris trucks.

See those vegetables shelved in a rundown grocery store
holes in the ceiling, whole foods antithesis
single mother with a list
works 3 jobs but somehow earns an excess to eat with EBT
she moves her whole self to frozen potatoes – friends of the frying pan
tricked into saving
her children bleed fat in their nativity
undernourished uninsured,
she pays outta cash.

See those vegetables chopped and sautéed and sprinkled
onto an $80 plate carried, waited wastefully
she takes a taste “tastes bland take it away”
shame in this Italian restaurant downtown by the pier
in the exterior
huddled homeless rush to the freshly tossed trash.

See those vegetables fat stacked in my backpack
wet lettuce bulging from the fast food plantation.
See those vegetables home cooked by my mother
quick toss the other
wipes the smell of grease
kiss he plants on her cheek
my father leads her to table
abuelos are waiting.

My father’s hands
sun burnt to crisp blood brightening wrinkled grooves
curve round rough calluses
converge into dirt covered fingernail beds
sprinkle flecks of Earth onto its origins
are hands that nurture, care for, feed, supply.

You eat off my father’s hands
the image disgusts you.

See my father’s hands cuffed together
firmly with a tight grip
no air passing through
Hands dragged by the officer
Fingers prodded apart – ink smeared, scanner pressed.
Father in the cell
until he hears a call
a tray of measly potatoes, a burnt meat loaf, a multibillion dollar prison indusry and vegetables.
My father takes the plastic fork and digs into the food
snaps into two
he takes those hands digs into his fucking vegetables
licking every finger from core to nail guard stares widely
amused by his dog

My father’s lips dried in fear
my father’s mouth – closed
cannot communicate cannot comprehend
the words to respond, the lawyer to request, the mother to confess.
My father’s eyes
well up as the van moves farther and farther away from home.
My father’s heart pumps blood faster and faster and bleeds.

My father’s hands
sun burnt to crisp blood brightening wrinkled grooves
curve round rough calluses
converge into dirt covered fingernail beds
sprinkle flecks of Earth onto its origins
fall to the ground
clasp the dirt unbalanced
pass through the gate abandoned.

You will still be fed.
$ menu funded, prison industrial complex fueled
restaurant receives a 5 star review homeless will sustain,
impoverished still feed hospital bills.

I am fed.

Another father’s hands
strong veins piercing with hope and warmth and dreams and relief
hands with potential, to work for
drop to the ground
clasp the dirt catches his balance through a hole in the fence
and heads to the fields of promise he has long yearned for.

-S.K.

Op-Ed: What is Travel Writing?

Deep into the summer, everybody aspires to be a wanderlust travel blogger or social media poser. In a period when Snapchat hires individuals to travel the world and story every second of their trip, when Yelp and Tripadvisor must be used to vet any potential eatery or resting place, and the question of Would you still go there even if you could never post about it on Instagram? stumps young people everywhere, the concept of travel writing is even more confusing than before.

As a student, I read travel writing in the works of Bill Bryson, Henry David Thoreau, and Jon Krakauer. Some of the earliest travel writers were colonialists, painting their persecutory picture of new cultures. Some of the most recent travel writers have employed the “off the grid” lifestyle a la Eat, Pray, Love and On the Road. 

Travel writing is a genre of writing and literature that covers an array of categories: time, location, geography, emotion, physicality, reality, and imagination. It can never be truly objective, thus it is always subjective in experience, as reflected in an author’s voice and choice of what to include, which direction to take, and how to convey his or her experience to an audience. Travel writing is peculiar because it is very free in form. It can be fiction, autobiographical, poetry, prose, private, social and digital. The goal of travel writing is not to elicit emotion, because anything and everything elicits emotions, thus writing itself cannot be credited to that experience.

Travel writing is historic, artistic, political, sociological, and has become more relevant in the past decades as globalization has connected the world on such strong, close-knit levels through the influx of technology and mass communication. This genre helps us get closer to those great existential questions – finding out who we are, where we came from, and figuring out this grand world that we live in.

Thus, travel writing can be everything and everything can be travel writing. The key here is that travel writing does not have a definitive definition. Humans walk, wander, travel, and explore by means of physical traits and natural curiosity.

We are all travelers.

Travel Writing is merely one of the ways to capture these human environments and preserve it.

Travel writing is preservation.

– S.K.


Follow a fellow blogger, Brian Galetto’s Happy Friday Everday, to read his own experimentation with travel writing through his “City Series” posts.

Poetry: Human Flight

Did you know that in ancient times, all humans once knew how to fly?

Time, guilt, selfishness, anger, and fear over thousands of years caused us to evolve into creatures who no longer fly … except for a select few individuals who still believe in the impossible. Still, many do not notice that children are all born with wings. The adults around them who still possess the secret skill of flight must teach them how to best use these wings.

Otherwise, children will remain caged, their wings susceptible to damage, their hopes of something beyond the ordinary ground-level-world relinquished. Some children grow up with their wings set beside them, ripped apart by sadness, confusion, or great force, as they or the adults around them only saw the wings as an abnormality or nuisance that could not be tolerated and needed removal.

Never underestimate the influence of a caring adult who mends a child’s wings. And, if an adult is really lucky, sometimes it is the child who reminds him or her to pick up their weathered, tossed aside wings, and believe in their rusted dreams once again.

Now, imagine a world where we all learned to fly . . . Together, we could find our humanity again.

-S.K.