Three Pieces by Lyric Saint James

The Benefactor

Our benefactor called it a “Swarm.” Swarm is defined as many animate or inanimate things massed together and usually in motion. I call it necessary. An inconvenient rush of truth for us—the homeless. An affiliation to Pavlovian illustrations.

It’s 8 p.m. at the shelter. I’ve walked in from washing out my underwear and socks. I can’t afford to do my laundry on the regular. The Benefactor is a young woman. A foreigner from across the pond is my guess. She still has her accent. Her accent is hard to place like trying to distinguish between Ireland and Scotland. I think it’s Russian or Serbian maybe even Czech Republic. She has a piercing that is common of those from the Motherland (Africa) not Mother Russia. It looks good on her. She has a crate filled with a donation of snacks. I know it’s not currently bought at a retailer, the dates are expired. I make my selection, it turns out to be a rancid package of nuts I would later throw away.

As the Benefactor moves towards the table where she will place the snacks she espouses in a loud voice. “Here are some snacks.” In an inaudible voice she finishes her sentence, “For you to swarm.”

Her voice and tone are laced with stereotypical arsenic otherwise known as judgement. She perhaps thinks we’re wrecked because our circumstances are not identical to hers. I wonder if the Benefactor knows that for some of these women it’s their first meal of the day—the expired snacks. Swarming to get the timeliest expiration dates to increase chances of getting something edible and not clinical. I think she judges us because no one has come for us. Living like the incarcerated without indictments. I want to tell the Benefactor: “You’re here too.”



The Blanca over there with her man is hating on me. Blanca’s mad about the Sorel’s I’m wearing, that has had at least one other owner. Blanca’s mad about the holey skinny jeans I’m wearing with another pair of pants on the inside—it’s cold. Blanca’s upset about my fabric belt that is fraying. I’ll need another soon. Blanca is perturbed about the scarf and gloves I wear. The three shades of pink, two sets of black—four sets all together. I picked them up where I found them, each being warmer than the set I had before. All of them on now because it’s 3 degrees below zero. Blanca’s mad because she can peep from my collar and see five layers; all different colors. One shirt. Two jackets. One sweater. One hoodie. Blanca’s mad about the three hats I’m wearing; one is not warm enough by itself. Blanca is hating on me; her man still likes what he sees.

I want to help Blanca understand jealousy is not an attractive trait and I want to give her a book of my ancestors allowing her a glimpse of how I am supposed to look. I want to tell her in the Ebonics she may have already attributed to me: “Yo, ma. Yo boo has already had me.”


Ella Ya Estaba Aqui?

Mrs. Racist and the Diamond are at the shelter waiting for the third bus. Mrs. Racist’s tirade is about Don Senora. Don Senora no habla ingles. Mrs. Racist reproaches that Don Senora shouldn’t be here in the United States—Si no habla ingles. The Diamond scolds, “Solo estoy de acuerdo.” With the Diamond’s support Mrs. Racist continues…She offers that she knows that Don Senora swam or floated over on an inner tube coming through Arizona or Texas.

Me no comprende porque Senora Racist y Senora Diamond son los immigrantes. Senora Racist’s family tree is from Europa, Senora Diamond from Africa. Texas era Mexico antes de Guerra. Don Senora is the Native.

Senora Racist hasn’t heard the stories of the One Who Rings. The stories told of Mexico. Women who are found of the roads of Mexico murdered and raped. Natives stepping over their bodies and continuing their journeys because it is commonplace. Por eso ella esta aqui?

Senora Racist and the Diamond are ignorant of “bring me your masses yearning to be free.” Uninformed in that Mexicanos y Nativos Americanos were already here. Senor Columbus is the immigrant who traded slaves.

Quiero decir a Don Senora bienvenida, pero ella ya estaba aqui.