Ben Figueroa - Whistle (Poem)

from by Shayfer James



Jersey City based poet Ben Figueroa wrote this poem using the song "Them Screechin Wheels" as prompt.


Imagine you
Imagine you bi-polar
Imagine you depressed
Imagine you chronically ill
Imagine you are me.

Imagine you bi-polar, depressed, and chronically ill.

Imagine no one likes you
no one said that,
but you just can’t stop thinking it
can’t help feel it, every time they look at you
when anybody looks at you
they just keep looking at you…
Imagine how much you’d hate yourself.

Imagine losing your mother.
Imagine losing your mother to Alzheimer’s.

Imagine how your murderer of a mind twists that to hurt you.

Imagine your mother welcoming Alzheimer's
to erase the torture of having birthed you.
Imagine her
Imagine her all consuming disappointment
when after she’d gone through all the trouble of forgetting you,
you still come to visit her in the nursing home.
Imagine her stroke.
Imagine her feeding tube.
Imagine her knotted limbs.
Imagine her dying.
Imagine her dying.
Imagine her dying just to stop you from visiting.

A slow twist of the knife. Your devil brain can turn anything bitter.

Imagine your daughter,
oh your sweet daughter,
just Imagine her.

magine your daughter saying "I love you"
Imagine you saying "I love you too"
Imagine the whole time you're thinking "God, you have low standards kid".
Imagine you meaning that.
Imagine You meaning that.
Imagine you meaning That.
Imagine the shame in that.

Imagine dying.
Imagine dying.
Imagine dying.

Imagine you doing this to yourself all day.
Every. Day.

Imagine the weeping hole your soul becomes.
Imagine the mewling railyard cats that come licking at the torn edges of you,
Imagine the children,
there are children sprouting from the mud,
from the cesspool of your insecurities,
their skin pale,
bellies swollen with all your swallowed emotion.

They wear my daughter's face like a premonition,
my mother's sagging breasts and stroke twisted arms like terrifying armor,
they speak in my love's voice,
and sing a truth, whose words I've come to know by heart,
"There is a ledge somewhere that fits your feet like a warm pair of slippers.
There is a blade in your mother’s kitchen cupboard thirsty for you.
There is a breeze that prays to be your last breath. Do not dissssssappoint them.”

The S drawn out like the whistle of a steam engine.
Imagine you floating
Imagine you floating off
Imagine you floating off into darkness like a wisp of smoke, a wisp.

Can you imagine it?
Can you see it?
Can you see the bottom of this?
Can you see how far down we are now?
How little hope there is here?

Imagine something going wrong.

You've missed the bus,
argued with your coworker,
made your partner angry.

Imagine what that feels like.
Imagine what that feels like here.


Where you can’t but hate yourself, and the cats won't stop tonguing the wide open of you, and the children, the children with their judgment, their razor truth, with their crying, the trains, the trains never coming in, but still the constant whistle, the whistle like it's just before that hill, back and throbbing almost ready to come tumbling round the bend, never showing up, that whistle always showing out, it sings "Do not dissssssappoint them.”


from March of Crows: Jersey City, released April 6, 2016
Written and read by Ben Figueroa



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