gasoline sickness

by Ria Chaudhary, age 15
gasoline sickness Ria is a freshman. Writing has been a major part of her life since she was very young, and is both her creative and emotional outlet. She writes for her school's literary magazine, Vertigo, and frequently receives recognition at competitions such as the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is very excited to share her work with you.

“and they told stories, too, of gasoline sickness, / the bloodshot eyes and ragged breaths,
the sleepless nights and sleepwalking days, / how they were homesick/homesick/seasick/homesick,”

 

and they told stories, too, of gasoline sickness,

the bloodshot eyes and ragged breaths,
the sleepless nights and sleepwalking days,
how they were homesick/homesick/seasick/homesick,

the unsteady children riding unsteady waves into an unsteady future,
the ground and the capitol walls always
hours
minutes
seconds away from breaking,

how they had gone from sanitized news to desensitized people,
from sanitary streets to desensitized passerby.

how they built the walls around them,
they brought the hated to them
with their unwillingness to believe
and unwillingness to change,

poisoning the bodies of some,
with lead and bullets and dirt,
and poisoning the minds of others,
with ignorance and neglect and hurt,

how this world had so much and was still yet so empty.

how a few hard workers,
a few believers,
a few who see how it should be

cannot push past the fragile gasoline outline of a world
where empty houses and galas take place
while people starve to death right outside.

for you cannot push away your conscience
(as much as you may try)
and the sickness,
the empty, numbing, kerosene and matches,

will burn you from the bottom up.

 

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