EdilMayHampsen

United States

Preserve your words.

Message from Writer

You have to ask yourself if It's more worth being good or having fun.
I know what I've chosen!

Published Work

Why I Write

Bite Back

Stories fight me.

Every day I wake up and something I want to say is knawing at my ears from the inside.
It tastes like anger, mostly. 
Sometimes it is love but even then, it's the fury that something I cherish is not known.
Stories beat on the inside of my skull and if I do not write I talk and talk,
I talk to walls and ceilings.
Stories run free range around my head and for while I let them be,
until I saw the joy that my stories bring and grabbed them by the tail and pulled.
(They say it is like pulling teeth, yes?)
They used to spring from my footsteps like aphrodite from the aftermath of their father,
but now I put my knees to the dirt and sweat acts as golden Ichor.
Stories are bred and tamed and traded for joy,
because if I do not write they bite me back.
They are THERE and...

The Maine House

You and I, We'll buy a condo in Maine,
we'll throw a duvet over the couch
and wear slippers against the cold wooden floors,
Make a home where we, finally, aren't running away
when the first storm comes, the house says it's okay

The walls don't remember when they died
but the beams, once, were trees
and the mirrors once seaglass,
and the portrait a woman with no light in her eyes
and now they are one home with no water to cry

So we open the window, and light falls on the beams
we gaze into the mirrors,
draw the portrait glasses,
and we patch up the house where winds come through the seams
We swear to protect it if the house protects me

The house says come ho' when the robbers come knocking
and the hinges don't budge
and the window's ne'er shatter
post the first hurricane, the townsfolk come flocking
to the one standing building, for safety....

Psychic Distance

A far call, and a close call


The sun likes to fall yellow here. In some parts of the world, she falls red, and in others, blue through her filter of the moon.
Yellow against the soft skin of a mother, head tilted back in thought, and the child chasing his toy into the road. Yellow and soft. When the mother hears the horns of passing cars she tilts her head to the sound and jogs to her child. Scooping him up into the air and squeezing him tight with a sudden gush of love. The sun falls yellow onto passing cars.
 
Ms.Nightole, yeah, the teacher, reclined on a park bench while one of her brats, or maybe he was too young to be a student, played on the curb. She tapped her pencil how she does against her thigh with a rapping series of tiny, dull thuds. Ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da. Ms.Abigail is always thinking. No one much likes her for it. Not even her husband, if Mary-the-eavesdropper...

We Miss You, Sport!

Asthmatic

I was sprinting through the cold spring air, and you’d better believe I was fast. The black ice had just melted off the concrete, the pollen count wasn’t yet climbing, for once I’d taken my inhaler on time. I ducked around the four-square court and between two girls roleplaying as unicorns, shouting, “Sorry!”. It was a mad dash for the playground where, after years of practice, I was the quickest to cross the climbing bridge and those twisty circles all in a row that hung from a bar like the kids inside the jungle-gym. Jacob was on my tail, the kid who somehow had a jaw bordering on “chiseled” in the third grade. Proven third-fastest. And as I scrambled up the ladder, heaving for air, I watched as he turned tail for Micah, leaving me to savor my success.

It was one of the last times I’ve actually ran. Sure, I’ve jogged, plain sprinted a few times when I found...

Flash Fiction Competition 2020

When Things Go South

Nicole's face is all kinds of purple against the hospital bed. She squeezes my hand. I squeeze back because Stonewall was a riot. 

The nurse forces conversation. "How do you know her?"

"Classmates." I lie. I know he knows. We aren't the only ones in the ER.

"What do you study?"

I think back to the fire, and grass, the screaming. The fist in Nicole's face, and the officer whiping my spit out his eye. I smile sadly at him, because I know he's in danger too, the single area where there's discrimination.

"The language of the oppressed."

Inventory

Niel Smith

- An organ donor card
-A map of downtown bus routes
-photo of him and his wife on their wedding day
-a copy of her will
-the original of his own
-A handwritten note: “Funeral home, 1092 Clemon st.” in loopy writing
-a cane
-A photo of him and a young girl holding up a sign with loopy writing: “Happy Fathers day!”

Three Jugs of Milk

My brother and I drink regular cows milk
Which I find odd in a way, and unironic in others
As he’s an extreme reflection of a younger me
All talk and all dreaming for better dreams

My mother’s stuff is lactose-free
And I watch as she agonizes over getting fro-yo
Instead of ice cream because damn she misses
Ice cream and I can’t blame her

My sister is half-vegan. Vegetarian with choices
And so she drinks almond milk and pretends
It doesn’t taste like you put water on a table
And licked it, but it does

The jugs take up space in our fridge
But there’s a second fringe in the garage
These petty differences take up so much space
In our home, our lives, our kitchen

Some times I feel pushed to the side next to it
As if I’m hardly as important as the things I am not
But we always make more space
For three goddamned jugs...

Writing Flash Fiction- A Quick guide

I’ll try to keep this essay brief to save irony for the fiction. A reminder to take my advice with a grain of salt, as writing should always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. I have done a few flash fiction reviews on WTW and will be doing some more. Here are some common mistakes I see just skimming the site, and things to keep in mind as you draft and edit.

    1. Have characters, a setting, and a plot.

    This is flash fiction. It’s easy to see the word count and think that it’s the same thing as prose poetry, but it isn’t. Poetry can focus on flashes of images and dive deep into someone’s thoughts and feelings, but fiction requires a who what and where (why and how are choice details). Think “Is my piece telling a story? What is the story about?” and if the answers are no or insert abstract noun here, reconsider the genre...

Burnout

The world is a block of ice with no place for me in it 
I am not hot, I am no miracle, no blazing star,
I am cold determination and frostbitten fingers
Blood in muscle chilled solid against the pick
And I will keep striking until I make a place for me

I am not your mother, your home, not your warm comfort
My face is frozen into a smile, because I believe it should be
I will throw myself into gross movements and broad strokes
And the fury of spittle, a poorly maintained afro,
My hands too busy curled into claws to pick out

I have wiped the snow from off my glasses, shown skin
Flesh that neither gives way nor hides ‘way
My body and soul are tired. 
Always solving.
Evolving.

I was frozen still in a state of change,
And the anger of autonomy picks at my mind like clockwork cacooing
But as I grow old in...

How to be a Good Creature

Beauceron

    I hated the front garden after it ate my first teddy bear. A stringy, handmade thing with button eyes and chock full of stuffing, you can't skimp on the stuffing. I went out there occasionally to tear up my grandmother's, Mam's, garden. Pulling up her draft-proof (but clearly not child-proof) landscaping to make "potions". I was so determined that if I just got the right combination of herbs dirt and water that I would open a portal.I thought the color would change from muddy to a teal shade, deep and swirling like those sparkly-vodkas. I didn't know where I was headed, heck, I wasn't even sure I planned to step through the portal. But it was my solemn duty to make it, even in the yard I hated.
    The yard was pretty big with a white fence, more painted wrought iron than "white picket", surrounding it. A high gate stood regally in front of the drive away and a smaller...

Palmolive

Liquid soap was invented in 1898,,
Back when money was sliced into gold bars,
Bits of jewelry, gemstones, lawns before monoculture,
Black people who were not, in fact, people,
The “indentured” disabled, and purebred dogs.

Imagine how glad palmolive was to announce
There was a yet easier way to scrub yourself of sin,
Try and bathe away the ½ black’s worth of melanin
That shines like jewelry, gemstones, and lawns in sun,
But could not be cut, measured, and sold

(Oh, and they might rejoice in hell,
Lady Macbeth and Mary Seacole,
Chatting about ambition over the basin,
Scrubbing with desperation,
As they discover palmolive does not cleanse the soul)

One Story in a few Styles

Spaced, emotion heavy, Letterboard Style-

I have known your
                           Stares
A bead of water
                        Drops
It comes from off my
                                Chin
Its hit the floor and
                              Then
My sorrow is
                   Announced
For you to ridicule

Slashed, metaphor heavy, WTW pop-

the heavy mass in my skull/ it knows/ when i enter the room/ tear still dropping/ bodies to the floor/ another thing to mourn for/ that they would all stare/ the first emotions projected/ onto the blank screen of a student/ a student, not a person/ that i pretend to be/ but i could not...

Semicolon Soirée

Semicolon Soiree

The morning bursts outside; birds do not sing, but screech, their warning warble into the air; ants march, not steady in a row, not otherly to build, or feed, or grow, but off in a mass to the other hive, to kill; badgers burrow only deeper to escape--as I wish I could--they follow their tunnel network to a central meeting places; the moles are waiting there, to plot and plan and share information, to sign a treaty or wage a war; I turn the page of watership down.

Save Them

I start on the cloud and end on the cloud. 
On the harddrive that cannot be broken
Words flow like children out into the world
And die in the out world as well

I write out my sorrow and copy-paste
The love letters that I meant to hide
Into the publishing space,
And forget to hit save

Do not tell me things happen for a reason
On my knees I will mourn my children
Wishing, wishing, wishing that I had just
Reached out a hand to save them

Save them. ctrl+p(rint to pdf)
Save them. More tools, save page,
Release them into the G-Drive
Like birds migrating through the clouds

Through wind-tunnels called emails
Linked through the share button
And delighted faces look up and see
The patterns that the birds make.

Whether to mourn the loss of paper-life
Or sing an ode to this-ages connection
The idea that we can share what we save
The words, the world, the...

How to be a Good Creature

Beauceron

    I hated the front garden after it ate my first teddy bear. A stringy, handmade thing with button eyes and chock full of stuffing, you can't skimp on the stuffing. Maybe I went out there occasionally to tear up my grandmother's, Mam's, garden making "potions". I was so determined that if I just got the right combination that I would open a portal (I thought the color would change from muddy, to a teal shade, deep and swirling like those sparkly-vodkas) I didn't know where I was headed, heck, I wasn't even sure I planned to step through the portal. But it was my solemn duty to make it, even in the yard I hated.
    The yard was pretty big with a white fence, think of more painted wrought iron than "white picket", surrounding it. A high gate stood regally in front of the drive away and a smaller on make for walking through from the sidewalk. Another...

She Is An Angel


1
I don't believe in angels, but I often wish I did.
I’m sure other unimaginable things exist out in the universe.
On some distant planet, there must exist a single organism pumping life into the world. A tree of life whose roots extend into everything. A God.
But on planets so far from ours," trees, life, roots, and God" are defined the same way with different letters.
 
2
The beauty of angels is their closeness.
When I was little, and I believed in God as I believed in Santa Claus, I would imagine how our realms stacked, like tiers of a wedding cake.
Hell was first, then earth. But was it heaven that went after, or was it space?
When I realized that space was infinite, I knew that heaven was below it, and so I would point at the largest clouds I found (which I misunderstood as things that drifted around but never dispersed. I thought if...

This Poem's Better Nameless

I know the single solemn secret of identity
I know unless there is a you, there will be no me
I am a world and my name is a picture frame,
displaying the beautiful sunset shots of land and sea
a one third ruling, benevolent, over my personality

There is no questioning uncertainty of who you are
the simple search, a fuel the hydrogen or helium of stars
the energy, the burst of poetry, I burn to be perceived
will not be wasted on those who choose to close their eyes
as I learn sincerity when my mother tongue is lies 

To think I am a hologram is a mistake,
take a computer, made of so much more than a display
but everyone who sees is too human to comprehend
the short shocks of thought that dot, constellations
above the world inside my head, lest filtered through a pen

so I play a character, but not one of deceit
I...

The Intersection

Non-reflective

brown skin: collects more heat
with a plan to give it off again,
sweat-slick in slums

commuting, booting their way through
coal dust and black air
rooting into concrete like an affair;

rolling in droves into the cities,
in the shadows of skyscrapers,
where reside the dry, white, elite;

working for two dollars a day,
and a bonus of one explosive tragedy
per year in Bangladesh;

callused finger spin cotton
and acrylic into denim
dyed with indigo and blood;

and mark matte monograms
onto X branded tee-shirts
over the pretty word "Liberation"

The Battle of The Third Year Snow Day

White cannonballs strike the windows
Ice-cored and dangerous, near misses
I watch from inside as my friends form factions
Looking like pastries, powdered sugar dusted

Snowballs leap across the courtyard “Oh Yeah!”
Cries of victory amongst the bloodbath
Blankets passed around like warm-time rations
Trees shaken down for their ammunition

King-of-the-hill climbing concrete cubes
Someone with a sure-to-be-snuffed cigarette
Bicep powered trebuchet hits smack in the bud
Sprinting against the wind, duck and cover

Seniors back-to-back with freshmen
All equal in cold naivety, in love, war, playground battle
Screaming and cool leather jacket dust-offs
Shivering sabotage, oh my god, entertainment
A battle six minutes away from the delay-bell
So epic, poets record on school issued laptops
And as the last salutes are thrown, the bell rings
I two-step the empty stairwell, reflected light full
And sli-i-ide into 3rd, upstairs with a snowy view
Nobody wants to be at school, but the battle of 
The Third Year Snow Day, makes it...

The World, Fallen

Like a beauty pageant, walking into class to flaunt the folds of my brain
-My female grey matter with disregard for my female body-
Entering after me, in athleisure, looking like a try-hard butch in that snapback
Greasy hair parted to show Adenosine receptors stuffed with Caffeine
The jitter of his thigh in joggers proved he was more of a coder than me
But in fourth period it was my time to let the class tour my mindscape
We raced to the starting line, and he beat me worth a handshake
Informing the group about the quietest history I’d ever heard.
Russia is a one bear winter-* my words, he doesn’t believe in metaphor
An entire government resigned, pulled a Washington and went home
To sit in the shade of a birch tree, condemned to layman’s worry, 
Not a month after our president falls in his own house. Or, rather, gets pushed.**

History is a hard-love romance, Eur/Asia, ten...

The Color Of Abigail-A short story

For a while there was white.

It was a color the ladies knew, a color they longed for. To be wrapped up in white fabric, in a white room, white doves fluttering overhead. It was a dream, like the clouds in heaven.

But war is not white.

It washed over the country. Schoolhouses emptied of children. Fields went barren and unworked. It seemed, as I rolled across the countryside, towards a battle I didn’t know, that someone had emptied the world. 

Soon I came to know other, lesser colors. My skin became unfair under the tyrant sun. I knew the brown of filth and old blood, and I knew red.

I was no longer a lady, I became one nameless nurse among hundreds. I grew to know women with rotting teeth who still smiled, and over time I came to love them. 

Over the years, Many passed through my care. My peers who had fallen ill, Soldiers who had been...

In Which I am Black- TW for current events

Trigger Warning for current events, and mentions of shootings, not necessarily positive outlook. This is a vent poem.

I look at my hands now
The skin is dry, peeling, overwashed
I used to be proud of short nails and tough skin
It meant I could take it --
Pick up my instrument and play it

Not anymore.
I feel stared at--
Skin collects more light
But reflects more bias
-- anytime I step outside

And my hands and shaking
And they are afraid
They say hands my age should
Not ever have to throw stones
And to savor a youth without anger

But the torch is being passed all too quickly
My heart is beating hard-
My bones have not broken before-
They are not strong-
And in the urgency-
A storm of sickness-
I know what the shooting taught me-
It happens here. 

So who knows Minneapolis won't 
become my own home
I don’t

But I am not ready. ...

The Fight for Justice

Don't try to be Black Atlas

shirk your sense of responsibility.
leave your guilt at the door of progress
here's a rack inside, just hang it up.
you are not holding the world together.
you are not stopping the sky from crushing us.
the inevitable overcast of human fault
will only slip through your fingers, it is mist.
Walk with one hand on this cloud.
the hand that types your name where
X_ marks the spot on a petition.
the hand that saves and re-shares
writes, but does not wipe tears.
leave that to your other hand.
the one that makes yourself tea.
the one that turns on the TV
and changes the channel away from the news.
let this other hand tend to our fallen.
Let it be, not our raised fist in the cloud,
but the open palm of empathy we cling to.
this is not a moment of you but a movement of us.
no more backs must be broken pulling the heavy...

That One Cup I Broke in 2nd Grade

I hated good-will
(and I don’t mean well wishes,
But at that age I hated everything,
So maybe that too)
Everything was tattered and tarp covered.
Lo-fi wasn’t a thing yet,
Cottage-core either
So I just didn’t see the appeal.
Now I don’t know when
The Princess and the frog
Hit theatres.
But I hit the ceiling in excitement when I saw it.
I envied that shadow-man and all his friends,
Thought I wanted to play ukulele like Naveen,
And clutch my tinny pennies tightly
So when I saw it on the shelf,
Just high enough for me to see at 4’3
The green dress and smiling porcelain eyes
I just Knew that mug was mine
So I crossed the store to my dad
(Walking backwards so no one could take it)
And I pleaded and begged and to his good graces
He payed the two dollars to let me take it home
I asked for extra paper when they...

Rubber

She says she loves me as a daughter,
Loves me as a fleshy reflection of herself
And it is not true
When I stoop to resting
Or desecrate myself with a furrowed brow
It is all she can do to not raise a fist
I have learned not to be too happy
-because work, she says, should be misery-
I have learned not to let the light off my tears
Shine a burning halo onto her
And not to be too neutral, 
betraying my shallow humanity

She speaks as if she knows the code I operate on
my time suffers her assumptions
She refuses me emotion, until I wonder
If I am not allowed to cry alone,
If I am not allowed to love outside my home,
If I am not allowed to revel in the chaos
And the peaceful rest of controlled mess
Am I really daughter?
Am I truly made of bone and blood?
Or am I...

Roots

Greatness

  I get eye rolls when I say I'm two kinds of black. No, I'm not trying to be blacker than you, but one grandma put cinnamon sugar on Texas Toast until you couldn't taste the garlic, and the other steamed banana leaf for her coconut confection ducana.
    Island-African American, Virgin Islands.
    Mainland-African American, Cleveland. According to my father, when the Cleveland Engine Plant No.1 opened in 1951, Ford went and built all kinds of shabby houses. The basements were "Built to flood" and flood they did. My great-grandparents moved to the city to work, and they got one of those water houses. 
    It's maybe 2016. My parents are long since divorced, but my mom believes in family like nobodies business and so I'm in Cleveland for a once in a lifetime meet up with my cousins. Dad drives us through unfamiliar streets, and the longer we go the more stories he has about friends who...

My December Competition 2019

The Bus Stop

    I peered out from the gap between my hat and scarf as I walked home from the bus stop, deep in thought about whatever I thought about in fourth grade. A small black car pulled up next to me on the curve. For a moment I thought it was my dad, who might delight in scaring me. That is, until I say the blond-haired woman leaning out the window, calling to me.
    “Sir? Si-Ma’am? Do you need a ride anywhere? It’s cold.”
    I pulled my scarf away from my face and watched her expression switch from friendly to surprised. 
    It wasn’t the first time something exciting had happened on my way to and from the bus stop. Later that year, it was my first real snow. We’d moved from Texas, where the worst we’d seen was barely a dusting. The there-for-an-afternoon-gone-in-the-night-hope-you-like-slush kind of snow. 
    My brother prided himself on being the fastest, and thus was...

The Color Of Abigail-A short story

For a while there was white.

It was a color the ladies knew, a color they longed for. To be wrapped up in white fabric, in a white room, white doves fluttering overhead. It was a dream, like the clouds in heaven.

But war is not white.

It washed over the country. Schoolhouses emptied of children. Fields went barren and unworked. It seemed, as I rolled across the countryside, towards a battle I didn’t know, that someone had emptied the world. 

Soon I came to know other, lesser colors. My skin became unfair under the tyrant sun. I knew the brown of filth and old blood, and I knew red.

I was no longer a lady, I became one nameless nurse among hundreds. I grew to know women with rotting teeth who still smiled, and over time I came to love them. 

Over the years, Many passed through my care. My peers who had fallen ill, Soldiers who had been...

Medea and I

There are certain feelings so isolated to the situations that they describe that even the deepest and most ponderous metaphors can't scratch the surface. More elusive still, are the times when there is no initial word for an otherwise indescribable feeling. There is only the feeling itself. She is an exibitionist, that feeling, and language chooses whether or not we can open the blinds. 
Here, they cannot be open. I could say words like, yearning, belonging and wholeness. A raging battle to decide if she is jealousy or vile envy. The feeling of being Medea.
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."The words rang true. Rang through the theater and I was the bell. One whole vibration. It pierced souls and they came to understand grief as in, in the genesis light came upon the earth. “Ghosts!” I screamed. And they knew they were the ghosts, leaving their bodies, following my command, seeing what I showed. She is...

Song Writing Competition 2019

If this is all there is


Now comes the lonely summer
Now is the time to rediscover me again
Now is the trail to predict a lifetime
Will I revel in prophecy or sin?

Soon I will be but a memory
And hopefully, something will trigger it
Soon I will be but a distant shadow
Asking you still if this is it

I am naught

But the walk amongst the flames
I am naught
But the chin held high into the rain

I am nothing more
Then a soul with decor

And the sight of a blind man
Who feels once again.

Soon I will fall into ruin
Soon I will see the place visited by all
Soon I'll recover and build up an empire
Await me the day that I fall

Now is the eye of disaster
Now I no longer have to plaster on a smile
Now I will be
The embodiment of glee
And dance under stars in an unlighted world

I am...

Doorways

Summers as a Ritual

If the school year is a good book, then summer break is the deep breath you take as you reflect on everything it said. Take away all the characters, the complicated plot and interesting settings, and you're left with a pile of emotions that need to be sorted neatly into place.

Growing up is awkwardly cycling through the school years. It feels a lot like a force where there should be flow.  But summer is the fun part, a time when we finally feel free. Summer as a constant. A ritual we depend on for relief. Without massive swirls of deadlines and homework clouding our vision, we have time to look around, figure out what's up and what's down, and truly orient ourselves for the year ahead. Every year is different and forces us to change. If we choose to look at summer as a time to prepare for what comes next instead of as a time to slack off,...

Food Writing Competition 2019

Fungi, The Food

 It isn't for the faint of heart. I am the only one of three siblings who'll even touch the stuff. However, it brings me comfort in knowing I have a connection to an ethnic past I might never get to know.
   My mom immigrated to the states when she was a girl. She grew up in Antigua. In a tiny house with eleven siblings. She grew up walking some miles every morning to gather water for her family. Something I often forget when I complain that it's too dark with the lights off and windows open.     
It's something that my Maam, my grandmother, would make for her family, something my mom would make for us, and now something that I make for her.
"It isn't porridge" I'd explain patiently as I place the semi-solid lump onto a plate.  The special kind with the edges curved, as if one day it wishes to be a bowl.
Pretend for a moment...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2019

Ode to the Young

This spoken word poem can be found here:
http://youtu.be/IpXxFf_fWDk

and the words are as follows:


This is the present!
Do you appreciate your gifts?
Yesterday's tomorrow is here yet again what will you do with it?

This is our future!
A to be long dead past
Riveting is the constant growth of our well of knowledge
As infinitesimal as it is vast

We are a generation!
Like a collective atlas
We bear the weight of the world and guide it¹
Could we just maybe- free ourselves at last?

We are a representation!
Of ancestral oppressors and oppressed
Historical sins-shackling guilt
Can we put it aside?
Is that how were built?
Do we apologize for blood we never spilled?
Or do simply ensure our biases undressed?

We are a coexistence!
Precariously teetering between fresh and old ideas
Not quite decided between saying what we believe and showing it- I'm looking at you
Not quite decided to leave the nest or...