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I'M A SLAVE 4 U

I know that Britney Spears likes chili pies-that's she's still
a virgin. I wish that Mom would understand that.
She calls Britney a bad influence, and that's a lie. It's
Christina Aguilera who sleeps around. I start school-on a

hot, lemon-colored day-and I listen on the radio
in the gym. Math, unfortunately, is my first
class. A plane crashes into the World Trade Center.
"Cool!" says Michael, a boy I used to have a

crush on (he prefers blondes). "I hope that everybody
gets out," I say, as I sip my breakfast-diet Dr. Pepper.
We all want to listen to Blink 182, Incubus, 3LW,
and my favorite, Britney. But a plane crashes into

the Pentagon. Another plane crashes into the World Trade
Center. Rebecca, the Jehovah's Witness girl, cheerfully says
that she's going to meet her maker. The rest of us cry. Our
thoughts sound like the Twin Towers crashing to Earth.

Michael, the boy I used to have a crush on, now wants to
kill all the Arabs. At lunch, I don't eat my sandwich. Tomato
juice seeps like blood into my white bread. Stella,
sometimes my friend, sits next to me. She smells like

gardenia soap. I wonder where she shops at. "Hello,"
I say. She says hello back, her face pale, and her eyes
too red. "Is your dad coming to the parent-teacher
meeting?" I ask. I don't believe that Stella's dad

works at the World Trade Center. Stella breaks down
into tears. Her daddy was a broker-at some place
called Cantor Fitzgerald. He wore Brooks Brothers
and bought a new Mercedes every year, bragged about

his trips to Bermuda and Tuscany and Tahiti. My father
delivered mail, and called Stella's father yuppie scum.
But I thought that he was okay. Every year, he gave me
gift certificates for Sam Goody and the Virgin Megastore.

Stella continues to cry. I start to eat my soggy sandwich.
After school, my mom sits in the living room-she stares
at the TV. Tears cover her face too. "Cantor Fitzgerald,"
I asked. "Is that at the World Trade Center?" Mom sighs.

"Honey," she says. "Don't mention that company right
now." The house is silent-it's reminds me of a big freezer
you walk into. I walk upstairs, into my room. No
homework today-I wished that I had something

to do. I touch my phone. I could call Stella, and act
like those close friends on TV. Soothe her, tell her
that things are okay. "Your daddy probably had a day
off. He's at Saint Vincent's. Have faith in God." But

I remember Stella's tears, and Mom's tears, and the screams
down in Manhattan. I couldn't cry. I was too hard. I was
worse than Britney. I remember a lyric: from the bottom
of my broken heart, there are some I feel I'll like you to

know. Stella's dad wouldn't give me any more gift
certificates. I couldn't be Stella's true friend. I take my hand
from the receiver. For now on, I'll have to buy my CDs
on my own.


BABY LOVE

Sweet as fresh milk,
plump,
gurgling-

I want you.
The hospital air
is made sweeter
by your existence,
child

(even as
they zip me
in this bodybag,
cold as soda,
nine months
after your father
touched me).

Sweet baby,
still unkissed
and uncircumcised,
ask the world
to comfort you.


MICHAEL MANLEY

Do you want turkey or ham?
Do you want your bread
whole-wheat or white?
We sit in this café, the weather
gray as a cat, and we talk
about sandwiches. We can't talk
about anything more important.
I sip my water-and I watch
you sip your water. Let's talk
about something else, I think.
I know, Michael Norman
Manley, the late Prime Minister
of Jamaica. Joshua. He was
quite ugly, from the one picture
I've saw of him in Caribbean Studies
class. His father was a rich
lawyer, and his mother was an
English sculptor. They were first
cousins. He served in the Canadian
Army during WWII, studied at the London
School of Economics, and worked for
the BBC in the early fifties. Befriended
Fidel Castro. Was married several
times, had five children, and tried
to make Jamaica socialist. But,
of course, making a third-world
country successful is like making
a 747 from dirt. I smile at you-I wanted
to set aside lunch and kiss you, feeling your
warm tongue deep inside my mouth.
But you continue to talk about turkey
and ham. I think about Manley again-a
fair-skinned man who liked to
dress like an African. I say that I want
turkey with lettuce and white bread.
I'm connected only to my thoughts.



BOOK SENSE

Books are easy to write.
Completing them is like
pulling a folio up to your forehead.

Books, many times,  don't give
you undiluted joy. They smell
like dead trees, and clutter up
your bookcases, and often get
praised by critics with intentions
as white as David Duke. I guess that
some people are right. Writing
books could be considered selfish.

It's better, perhaps, to play
Sunday soccer or to eat junk food.
The world has too many books.

But aren't we all selfish?
Who wouldn't want
a best-seller? The Nobel, the
National Book Award,
Oprah's Book Club,
or just a paperback
that shoplifters love to lift?

Creating books often
give us joy. Often, they
look good, give us
a good story. We're justified
in our arrogance. But even
if our books end up
in the remainder bin.
75 percent off..
You can't help praising
your creation. You'll forget
how painful that folio
felt on your forehead.

You'll
spend the royalties.

(c) Behlor Santi 2002
Behlor Santi

Is twenty-one. A female. Living in New York City. Has been published before, mostly in ezines. And is working on some book.