“I don’t know”

I know the truth, on the hazy summer days
when heat squeezes the odour out of breeze
caught flowers, sweaty inner thighs, and chlorine pools.
I know the truth of the sky in mid-turn, mid-hack
in a cloudless space, dazed by the shimmer
of sunlight that dresses it blue even if it’s
colorblind and won’t see it, I know

the truth when brownish-red popsicle syrup drips
onto a favorite white shirt, and the young girl
catches a wagged finger from the corner of her
eye, and raises the corner of her lips in glee, because
symbols can sometimes happen in pieces.
Bad, don’t, you should have known better,
look what you’ve done now, and the pleasure
of a life lived up to expectations,

The wagged tail of a dog up and down, off beat
with the tennis ball, and the desire to catch it sonically,
woof woof woof, the comfortable swoof of the
pads of feet pushed off concrete and the clap
of baby hands whose fingers tasted green felt last,
caught in her own wave of giggles, certain it can ride
it uninjured to a comfortable adult livelihood.
I know the truth.

The echoed screech of pain as bullets penetrate brown skin, off
key to the abrupt baritone of gunshots, sonically measured to
match the abrupt stop of a heart. I know the truth of green bills
corners lifted in glee, given to colorblind white murderers
with the pleasure of a life lived up to expectations. I
know the truth of a pointless chase, of justice ripped from
the bloody teeth of brown bodies hungry for a simple taste,
always told to drop it. The truth of a summer sun-pushed scent
of death from body like the odour of dying grass, a soundless
avatar of a scream, and responsible onlookers who fail to gather

Of a collected gathering of grief, hard at work to stand unshaken
in a crowd ringed by chaos, yet always named as such.

-Stephanie Ambroise


for the gongs

this poem is a belly’s crack
from the atmospheric weight of lack.
this poem is the last pushy exhale
of dusk turning away the eye of the sun,
this poem forgot about me,
then dressed me
in forgiveness its neglect

it takes everything in me to birth
nothing. how does the poet’s
fingertips commit to the task of squeezing
wetness from your lips, desperate
for you to sample the dryness
of an empty well’s thirst to be

an abusive lover once asked me,
“why won’t you let me love you”

and i spent my days in rewind,
in hopes that my mouth could
breathe out the sound of crowns of dead grass’
scratch against burdened stone

it is the moment you write
and realize your pen
is out of ink. the grind
in halt. the subtle
friction of absence

i take in breath to every crevice,
every bend of body, to blood to atom,
the singers of change, of time, experience,
the every expansive and intangible

the closest view has the more visible holes.
and me is not as connected to i as
we think we are,
like both black hole and star
still… blinded by the role of light
assigned to me, i can’t
escape the inevitable bend
and break of my
own entrapment

empty houses hold homeless sounds
and dust without genealogy
defined floating in gasps of light
succumb to emptiness and voyeurs’ awe

i say to them, “i understand, i understand”.

on the better days, there
tears and silence.
drones that survey.
never drop.

-stephanie ambroise

Tell your story, too(sday)

Originally posted on a4resilience.wordpress.com

I was watching an episode of Jane the Virgin, where Jane and Rafael go to therapy to work out their differences for the sake of their son, Mateo. At one point, she said that the worst thing about the situation was the lie, and the fact that he lied to her.

To my surprise, the therapist in the show says, “Why is lie such a trigger for you?”

And I’m watching the show, pissed. I start this angry internal dialogue, just seething, thinking, “What the FUCK does that even mean, it’s LYING, that’s FUCKING WRONG! People shouldn’t fucking lie to people, what a stupid, invalidating, idiot question, what a quack doctor, I can’t wait to see her get roasted!”

Then, after Jane gives her answer, I was forced to look inward. Jane’s mother lied to her about the existence of her father, and she missed out on a relationship with him for 23 years, which altered the entire course of her life.

The last words my father said to me, I was 8 years old. I was leaving Haiti going to Canada, and I say, “W’ap vini, baboo?” (Are you coming with us, Dad?) He said to me, “M’ap vin deye’w”. (I’ll be right behind you.) I turned away from him, boarded the plane, and that was the last time I saw my father (In 3D.)

When I was 9, it hit me that I may never going to see my father again. At the age of 11 was when my mother first started selling me that lie that he left because of me. I had my first surgery the year at 11, had been going to physical therapy. It was time consuming for my mother, and I guess she was frustrated and took it out on me. She told me my father left because I was such a big medical problem, and he didn’t want to deal with me anymore. I would be hearing these lies on a loop for the next eight years.

I hated myself. My mother constantly told me how much I ruined her life, and made everything much more difficult for her. I wasn’t an easy child by any means. I was the child of the conservative parent who wanted to know why God couldn’t be a woman. I hid books about witchcraft beneath my bed, and read books on mythology. The really terrible part, I guess, for my mother, is that I tried to share these things with her. I told her about the witchcraft, and the mythology, and the questions I would ask my CCD teacher. I was so proud of my curiosity, and so enveloped in these subjects and I wanted to share them with her. All of these things stirred my mind and soul and were a big part of who I was, and I wanted to show her. It was my way of presenting these things to her, as an offering. “See me, mom? See, I’m not that bad.”

She called me a demon.

My senior year of high school, she found my Correllian Witchcraft book beneath my bed. I was in Canada, then, and she almost made it so I didn’t come back. I think the only reason I did return was because my high school kept calling the house asking why I wasn’t in school. I’m veering off topic, though.

I hated myself. I hated what I loved because my mother hated it, and it made her dislike me. So I learned to live and love myself in secret, because liking who I was felt like a betrayal to my mother. I wrote poems, I read books, i made abstract drawings, I sang and dance, and discovered new music. But the words never left. I was still the person who ruined my mother’s life. I still drove away my father.

It was easy to believe, because even if it wasn’t my existence that ruined my mother’s like, it turned out all the same. Even if the medical issues were not of my doing, I was still the reason why my mom had to support two daughters on one paycheck. I was the reason my sister couldn’t always get the things she wanted. I was the reason my mom worked long hours, and I never saw her. I was the reason she was stressed out, I was the reason she got angry so easily and snapped and hit me and called me names. If her life was easier, she would be less stressed out, and I was the reason why her life wasn’t easy. So I hated myself, and the things my very existence deprived the people that I loved.

Turns out my father left because my mother tried to kill him. Turns out my mother and father used to abuse each other, and my father was arrested for domestic violence. Turns out my mother was stressed and panicked her whole life. Turns out my mother suffers from mental illness. Turns out my father had been doing his best to find my mother and contact her and speak with me, from the Dominican Republic.

Turns out the words my mother said to me that altered the way I felt about myself for nine years were a lie. Turns out that the reasons I thought the world would be better off without me were a lie. Turns out that feeling I inherently didn’t deserve anything was a lie. Turns out that lying is a trigger for me, too.

I associate lying with making someone feel unlovable, disposable, undeserving of the love and respect that comes with tell someone the truth. I associate it with self-serving cowardice and underlying bitterness.

Getting to the root of it, though, understanding why lying is such a trigger, will help me be able to understand and process lies on a more case by case basis, instead of constantly being overly offended when I know someone is lying to me. It’s a long process, and it’s hard to unlearn a deeply ingrained idea of nine years, but it’s been fours years since I’ve learned the truth and I have been working on it. I still hate when people lie to me, but now I am learning not to take it so personally. Not every lie I have been told has been as abusive as the lie my mother told me. No lie ever will be.

I am always going to think lying is wrong, but I will no longer let a lie change the way I feel about myself. I matter, I deserve, I belong. This is a truth that can no longer be taken away from me. I hope this helps you find yours.

-Stephanie Ambroise


*I hope this has encouraged you to tell your story, too.

Of Many Faces

check out my political blog


I read a story about a little white boy who was shot to death by police because of some marijuana. The crazy part about that for me was that there didn’t seem to be any outrage about it. No one was protesting, no white people was on the news talking about police brutality. And that made me wonder because this can’t have been the first case of a white person getting wrongfully killed by the police. But as far as I’ve been paying attention, the only time white people seem to talk about police brutality is after a black person has said something about it. Until a black person has set some shit on fire.

And then I realize that it’s because they don’t want to do any of the work. In order for white people to stand up against shit like this, they’d have to admit their way isn’t…

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