Election Night

It is 6 PM 

November 8th, 2016.

Vanessa and I are in a restaurant 

drinking a pitcher of sangria. 

On any other night, 

we would be talking about guys 

or poetry, or guys who do poetry 

but tonight, 

we swallow fear 

between sips of red wine

and chopped fruit. 

 

Tonight

we have a front row seat 

at the apocalypse, 

but the tv

hanging over the bar  

is on mute. 

 

When a state turns 

red as spilled blood 

on stolen soil,

it doesn’t make a sound. 

 

But the howls of my ancestors do.

 

7:00 PM and I tweet:

 

“I don’t want to have to write a poem

about trump winning this election. 

it will literally kill me.”

 

7:30 PM

I imagine the sangria 

is poisoned.

what if I’ve been drinking 

what can kill me all along? 

 

I stick an orange slice 

between my teeth, 

and suck out the juice. 

this is the most powerful 

I feel all night,

all this sweet nectar 

at the mercy of my mouth. 

 

I was a whole fruit once. 

my family was, too

before we were 

picked from trees

and squeezed into pulp

so White America 

can enjoy her Sunday Brunch. 

 

How many oceans do I have to cry

before they taste the salt? 

 

It’s 8:30 PM

and fuck Florida,

fuck her oranges too,

fuck everyone in this restaurant 

who isn’t grinding anxiety 

between their teeth. 

 

It must be nice 

to be so privileged

that you don’t hear 

your stomach growl

before you eat. 

 

I am a nation of brown girls starving, 

wondering when we became the meal,

realizing we have always been the meal. 

the menu didn’t change 

America just got comfortable 

showing his teeth. 

 

9:30 PM and there is a man 

across the bar celebrating. 

his joy strangles our grief 

without saying a word. 

 

10:30 PM 

and I am at a loss for words.

Vanessa tells me a story

about her grandmother & Obama,

I think about the trees growing 

in her hometown in Ecuador, 

how safe those roots must feel,

but going back isn’t even an option

for some people. 

 

What do you do

when your home threatens 

to swallow you whole?

when you drank all the poison, 

and now your glass is as empty 

as the promises that brought you here?

 

I am an unstable boat 

in the belly of a beast,

but this nation 

still can’t stomach my anger, 

will still call this poem “overreacting,”

will still say some shit like “well, it didn’t kill you.” 

 

Yet.  

 

It is 11 PM 

and Trump is going to be President…

as if America never held me in her womb,

as if that wasn’t my first drowning. 

 

I think about how 

I’m not going to leave the country,

even though this country has left me,

and that is the saddest truth...

 

that I am stuck 

in the place I am being devoured,

with no other word to call it, 

but “home.” 


"Election Night" performed at The Definitive Soapbox

An original poem by Aman Batra, performed at The Definitive Soapbox (Fox Coffeehouse, Long Beach, CA).