Team New York City

Foster Bears By Justin Long-Moton and Sean Baucom

Toy stores are a lot like foster homes
Innocence plastered across the walls

The aisles, isolated hallways
Perfect place to find a packaged hug
The laughter of children juggled by artificial hands
Falling from each side of the box
Robots and toy chests
Happiness locked behind
The hope of a child unwrapped inside of a family
 
When you walk into this store
Into this house
Everyone is in a jolly mood
The magnitude of amazement is that of a grand scale
Anxious because today maybe the day someone takes you home
The heart of a happy costumer looking for that perfect "gift"      
Perfect child, with meaningless palms, eager to be called parents
 
Floor paved by the outstretched silhouettes of our childhoods
The ripped bed sheets, blankets that don't smell like family
I know what it means to borrow a home
This shelf, never cradled our bodies like mommas running womb
We made ourselves visual for the reach
But when arms lack affection
Everything cute about us slips through the cuddle
Like hula hooping through barbed wire
I  have  had the home torn from my flesh
Evicted the FAO Schwartz from my skin
 
A lazy assembly line kissing decomposition onto our foreheads
Lying every question I asked
"Are you coming back for me?"
Our skins been waiting, pelt shedding a decade of false hopes
Mother I thought I heard your footprints crawling to my bedside
But it was just the cash register....

I remember the day everything all changed
The time I spent alone holding my sides
There was no hiding in a house with a thousand boxes
Compacting all the same story
My mother lost, swallowed by drugs
And a grandmother who couldn't play substitute

Knee to chest, attempting to rock myself into hibernation
You have never heard the mourning cry of a grizzle bear?
I was shivering in the back seat of a police van
That creaks more like a starving Tonka truck
I was 4 years young
But a sunrise old enough to know
I'd never see the other side of my front door again

Open me up, unravel me beautiful
Beneath the rubble of a bedroom
That feels like a caged cart
My side has been scolding for some time now
Too many nights I cried my buttons out
The linen of a lonesome home untangling
From the tender of my torso
 
I thought the knitting of a guardians touch was suppose to hold me together
My breath left dangling out of my mouth like a loose limb
We tried to stitch our self's back together

 I can't caress my own flesh wounds
The bones of our ribcage will always braid questions like
"Why didn't you want me?"
(Why didn't you want me?)
 Where was your heart when you left me?
(Where was your heart when you left me?)             
How many nights did you cry yourself to sleep?
(How many nights did you cry yourself to sleep?)
Did you ever on come back?
(Did you ever come back?)

Will I ever be good enough?

Amber Alert by Jesica Blandon and Ka'Mone Felix

Today, 500 faces will learn the scrape of a forest
Their cheeks
will forever hold the red hiding beneath the fingernails of the gravel they will be dragged through
tonight 500 women will go missing
500 women who all learned how to stay visible for the cat calls
for the men
for the camera
don't we all always want all eyes on us
this is how to stay beautiful
teach our selves how to stay beautiful
we crimp. curl. blow. straighten. Grease. Scrub every inch, make it shine .
exfoliate. Slather. style. stuff. comb.
Women do crazy things in attempts to find themselves
They go missing
They chew their tongues into kaleidoscopes
And gift boxes
They become milk carton faces
And 9 o'clock news segments
Dusty attic photographs
Liquor and caskets
echoes
And dead bodies
And dead bodies

Britanee Drexel
Is A 17 year old girl from Rochester
with a smile like 32 porcelain dolls standing hand in hand
her laugh
reminiscent of ocean breeze bathing in the moon light
some would say
she was Nile river rapids
dancing beneath the hum of eyeliner
her eyes
three shade of contacts purchased over the counter
her tongue
the first blazing sunset you'd ever witnessed
red and roaring
with a mouth like a burning toy chest
She was last spotted
On April 25th
Leaving a Myrtle Beach Hotel
There has been no activity on her cell phone
Or ATM account since.

Britanee
Imagine that you'd have found your voice
6 years ago instead of two
What kind of god would you pray to
Would your arms have committed suicide without telling you?
Would you be the girl who plays with fire
Or the one who falls in love with it?
Would you be here ?
Would you be here now?
Instead of magician kissed
And duffel bag broken?

In NYC alone,
1 in every 8 women
Will fall victim to their beauty
Will be found
Bound and strapped
To the pounding of a car trunk

They are phantom pom-pom girls
with the innocence
of mystery
plastered to their
backs
the trees don't have eyes
but we've plastered
their faces to the woods
Here
The trees smell like the smolder of a thousand grieving families
like the burning of a thousand
flat irons
sitting in the bellies
of dressers
somewhere in the rooms of sisters and daughters

we crimp. curl. blow. straighten. Grease. Scrub every inch, make it shine .
exfoliate. Slather. poise. style. stuff. comb.
smile pretty girl, smile pretty girl.

look at the casket they've thrown themselves into
we can still hear them whisper
"in case I go missing at least I will be pretty enough for news coverage "

tonight 500 women will go missing
don't we all always want all eyes on us.

Childhood By Justin Long and Ishmael Islam

This one goes out to the freckle faced girl with pig tails
To the boy
School yard fist and a craving for paste
The Teddy Graham titans
And sandbox cadets
Who hold monkey bars like the fathers who forgot them
Swallowing peppermint asteroids down the esophagus
Forgetting the natural taste of mommy's broccoli
Ugghh broccoli
 
You, bonfire, of laughter
Ignited in the woods of a classroom
Have you unlearned the scent of recess?
 
Chocolate milks, dreams folded into paper airplanes
That got trapped in the office cabinet or sent to prison cells
Did you ever lock Bowser up?
Hurdling over the fire pits
Eat the mushroom! To grow into a better man
Mario taught us self-worth every time he said
It's A Me!
Basking in the sandbox with Matchbox trucks
Your hands so micro, and girls never cared if your game was soft
Cuz before Xbox 360, there was
SEEEEGGGGGAAAAA
 
Remember on weekends
Racing to the candy store
Buy the jaw breakers, crybabies, tootsie rolls and baby bottle pops
 
Being sweet as candy didn't make you gay
Rainbows were just rainbows

On days after the sun showers, pruned our fingertips
Back to birth
We were young premature, revolutions and incubators
 
A flashlight under the blankets
Talking to shadow puppets after we were told to go to sleep
Mythic Draculas sucking the blood of imagination
Then adulthood can leave us Igor, and eager
 
Spit balls hovered over a lunchroom table
The smell of Thursday's mystery meat tickling your nostrils
 
 "Somebody farted P U, Where did it come from
From you!" You-yu-yu yu yu Gi Oooooooh
My God! Did you hear about stoop kid?
The only existing rumor, never about a girl on her knees in the staircase
 
We knew Crayola on a first name basis
But colorblind to the struggle
Didn't know our best friends were 2 shades darker
 
Or lighter than the days when you had no business suits and a 9-5
Just a T-Shirt of your favourite cartoon
And a lunchbox of Pokémon stickers
 
Cuz Pokémon taught us
To be very the best, like no one ever was!
 
This is for the boy
Shaking knees
Sitting at the back of the class with a love note for
The girl he wants to share his PB & J with
 
Check yes if you do, No if you don't
 
That's when providing was a pure act of the heart
 
Like the first time Urkle met Laura (drop mic)
Did I do that?!
 
Somewhere, along the commute from
Mud stained trousers to neck ties
We forgot about the candy canes in the cracks of our skulls
So when you walk into work tomorrow
Greet your boss with a *Will & Jazz handshake*

Believe the wheels of tricycles
Are still spinning in your stomachs
You just have to embrace, your inner you
Love yourself enough to find the love of your life
And when you see, tell her, I CHOOSE YOU!
 
We're all still Rugrats riding shotgun on the magic school bus
Souls full of fire and Kamehamehas
Super saiyan! when we assemble the skies
To roar Thunder Thunder Thundercats *point to audience* HOOOOOOOOOO!
Tell Chuckie there ain't nothing cheesy about a kid being a kid

Favorite Color By Jay Davis

Mom,
I wish I knew your favorite color.
The only one of God's many crayons that gets you to sit up straighter.
To unbraid your spine from a roach egg infested headboard.
I bet its red.
Like a sea I've never seen
But hear quite often in your voice late at night.
If it is,
I will strip my skin off my body.
Bare crimson flesh.
I'm sure that you'd look at me more often
If I was the color that makes you smile.
 
But maybe it's blue.
A sky light shade that can only be achieved by swallowing the saltiest sea
I will drown in the Pacific Ocean for a kiss on my corpse cheek
Because I often forget you have lips.
Only reminded when the moon gets home before I do
They bite.
Sting like thunderclaps
And you are oblivious to this.
 
Tell me it's black.
I will have no problem with ripping out these weak strands of hair
And stitching them to the left side of your chest
So you can feel your pulse in my scalp.
Except I know you were never one to wade in the dark.
That leaves white as my next option.
If this is in fact your favorite color
I will be forced to Novocain myself speechless.
Pull my teeth one by one out of my mouth and into my palm
Fist full of smiles that I usually only bless silence with.
I have a low tolerance for pain
But masochism would be worth it.
 
You love on a grayscale.
Like a schizophrenic paraplegic
Is it because your seven siblings stripped the rainbow from your throat.
Each draining a different color from the sky in your sound.
A shaky squeak left in a scraped up voice box
I can barely hear.
I want you to know
That there is Technicolor lining the insides of my elbows
So hug me, Mom.
Pretend that you like me long enough to capture the ultraviolet in my flesh.
Suffocate me
Caved in shoulders and a rising bosom
Squeeze the life out of me so that you can see rainbows again
Don't see it as a homicide
But a sacrifice for the greater good.
 
I know that now you probably think I'm crazy
That this is just another one of my phases.
But I'm not crazy, Mom.
Humans just have crazy tendencies when we want someone to love us.
I want you to stop living in black and white images.
Pay close attention to the movement in your children's pigment.
Maybe that way, you'll finally see that all five of us are in fact your favorite color.