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Featured Poem – January/February 2007

Meet Jenny.
Since nine, she's been a mommy to Mommy
and her younger brother, age two, named Tommy
'cause Mommy ain't there, most of the time
and Daddy wasn't there, none of the time.
So this little young Ms. gotta grow up grind—
she awakens at sunrise
to baby cries
while Momma got her nod on from heroin.
Around here, that's the norm.
No lie, still Jenny strives, with pride.
Hope's alive that Daddy's coming back one day
and stop sending her checks the mailman way—
'cause she's growing fast, Tommy too,
and she don't wanna hear him say
Who are you? So she does what she gotta do:
washes clothes, cops the milk, cleans the crib,
and before feeding Tommy, she puts on his bib.
She's a grown-up kid, ahead of time.
She blows my mind—
how she knows who she wants to be,
an M.D., so she can cure Mommy of her wicked disease—
Please, God, she prays on her knees
as she looks out the window
at the rain and the breeze
and believes the storm will pass, won't last.

Tears form puddles in the ghetto
when kids parent their parents 'cause they're drug addicts.

Tears form puddles in the ghetto
when people we love decide to suicide their lives.

Tears form puddles in the ghetto
when all hope is choked and no one believes.

Tears form puddles in the ghetto.
Your ghetto.
My ghetto.
All ghettos.

Carlos Lopez
About the Poet

"I'm from the generation of hip-hop. I started writing rap when I was about 16 or 17. I explored my talent, and I thought I had something going. When I was 21, I met this guy named Raymond Emerson, who was so skilled in his writing style. I knew how to rhyme, but I didn't know how to structure anything with a beat, so it would flow to the ear and have rhythm. Raymond showed me how to do that. He passed away a couple of years ago, and in my eyes, he was the best rapper that ever lived.

"I'd been coming to ASC for about three months when I decided to check out the Creative Writing Workshop. I thought the class would just be a time to write by yourself—alone, with no interaction. It was a total surprise to find that in the class, we look at a poem together, break it down, talk about what it means, and then do our own writing. It's intriguing and amazing, because poetry goes so deep. It's always got another corner you can turn down, and then another and another. Poetry gives you so many different perspectives.

"'Puddles' is a story about something that happens every single day without people knowing it. Jenny is somebody I've seen on TV, on talk shows, and in real life. I took these experiences and put them all into this one personality called Jenny. Jenny is female, male—it's the human spirit. In 'Puddles,' I pay respect to the child who handled herself in this way.

"For me, writing rap is a release within myself. It's really all about completing something with nobody's help whatsoever and feeling good about it. When I finish writing twelve hot bars of rap, I feel like a superstar in my own world, in my own heart."

Carlos Lopez

Carlos Lopez joined the ASC Creative Writing Workshop in September 2006. His poems are forthcoming in Situations 10, to be published in Spring 2007.

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