To the Republic / My Mind, My Body and I
To the Republic
At school, they used to make fun of me for not standing during the pledge of allegiance.
As if I could ever bear pledging myself to a country that so easily claims “liberty and
justice for all.”
As if I could ever bear pledging myself to such lies of unity and indivisibility…
More like invisibility.
More like, there wouldn’t be Queer Days of Visibility or Hispanic Heritage Month or
Black History Month, or a wage gap,
If we weren’t already invisible to begin with.
They mock me as I sit in class amongst a sea of standing students chanting lies over the
My atheist friend is pledging herself to the one nation under God
My black disabled friend is pledging himself to a country who underestimates and
A country who had to begin an entire movement just to prove that his life matters,
A country whose law enforcement has senselessly beaten and murdered people like him,
And continues to do so,
Just because he’s a person like him.
Where’s the justice?
I was phone banking the other day, and the next person I was supposed to call just so happened to be named Justice. My generic script read, “Is Justice there?”
I was wondering the same thing.
I dialed in the phone number,
And the voicemail lady answered,
“I’m sorry. The number you dialed is unavailable.”
I told her she was right.
Come to think of it,
Justice hasn’t been home in a while.
Come to think of it,
I’ve never seen her in my whole life.)
Across from me, this group of seemingly rich, entitled, straight, white boys are staring coldly at me,
Screaming this pledge of allegiance to my face,
As I’m sitting,
Minding my business,
Trying as hard as I can to drown out the noise so I don’t drown in it.
Their eyes were just drilling into me,
Like they were begging me to accept the fact that I’m not like them,
Like they were shoving down my throat the guilt that comes with pointing out the truth.
It’s a weird guilt, too.
It’s an empowering sort of guilt.
My shoulders begin to roll in.
If only I didn’t have such a loud voice…
If only I didn’t take up so much space,
If only I was able to just. Be. Quiet.
It’s like the walls were closing in,
And this boy’s face is just grimacing, sneering,
Dismissing what I have to say.
His nose begins to crinkle,
And his eyes start to squint,
And all of a sudden, my ears begin to flood and ring with “Not all men” and MAGA hats and 2nd Amendment Rights and Pro-Life Mantras and claiming their face masks were
but kneeling on Big Floyd’s neck and shooting Breonna Taylor were not, I practically
catcalls brushed off as compliments, and I felt the punches to my face when they saw me
my future girlfriend on the bus, I saw not these four boys, I saw all the people that are
I saw them kicking up their feet in the face of injustice and sighing out a big ahhhh of
relaxation as they watch us sigh out a big AGHH of agony and struggle as we feel the
physical pain that comes with the absurd amount of injustice in this country, our
“land of the free and home of the brave,”
And all of them say in unison,
“with liberty and justice for all,”
I can’t help snickering to myself.
If only, my friends.
My Mind, My Body and I
My mind wants to coexist with me,
My mind tries so hard to be at peace,
My mind shuts himself off when he begins to speak too freely
For fear he will say too much and be right.
My mind doesn’t want to ruin the balance that
Frankly wasn’t there in the first place.
My mind wants to protect me.
My mind wants to protect my reputation for the sake of myself
My mind wants to maintain where I am and keep moving forward all at the same time,
Like a mother you don’t want to admit is right.
But he always is.
Except when he’s not.
And my I,
My I wants so much for me,
She wants so bad for everything to be okay,
She just wants everyone to be okay!
So she silences my mind
She wants to rule.
But she hates disappointments.
Not a very fitting leader, huh?
And she hates empty promises,
And missed opportunities.
She hates flaws in her plans.
But she is the comfort everyone else goes to,
So who’s left to comfort her?
knows too much.
tells her she needs to get used to disappointments,
And she knows it,
But she hates it.
tries to create inner conflict with my I to resolve her outer conflicts
with the world.
My body is just trying to get by.
My body just wants to be.
Why can’t my body just be?
No matter what?
My body tries so hard
And does so well
In the midst of my chaos.
My body is the one who takes a hit
can’t be bothered with my life,
My body is left with the pulled muscles when
is too overwhelmed with the choices other people
My body gets hurt at the gym lifting weights that it knows are 5 pounds too heavy
So that the rest
can cope with our fear of not being strong enough.
want to be strong.
My body just wants to be…
I am Adriana Parrino. I’m fifteen-years-old, a junior in high school, an activist, and a poet. Ever since I was little, I’ve been writing about the world around me and more importantly how it affects me. Writing is the deepest form of self-discovery I’ve ever known. When I write poetry, it helps me connect with my emotions. Without it, I think I would hardly be the person I am today.