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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Color Coded

when i first asked my mom if i could do slam poetry
she told me it was just to keep black kids off the street
for a moment i felt envy
green stirring through my veins
because the conflict in my story wasn’t good enough to be told
but then i woke up
i realized how fucking selfish i was
and this was not the place to win back my narrative
because how could words be unreadable on my ivory pages

i came up with these lines months before Ferguson crumbled
and locked them in for weeks after
because i was afraid i would offend the good people
that this poem would profit off pain i am not entitled to
but yesterday anya told me
because i’m white i must write
i must speak up
because i have the privilege to be heard
because if poetry is supposed to keep black kids off the streets
maybe in those 4 hours Michael Brown’s body decayed on a blacktop
there wasn’t enough spoken word
there were no words spoken
because no matter how many times Eric Garner recited
I can’t breathe
the snaps only came from his lungs
my entire life i disobeyed my mothers orders
spitting poems instead of reciting them
because i was born with the power to defy tradition

for the first time i am terrified to write a poem
i am afraid to snatch a pencil from more deserving fingers
to appropriate someone else’s story

so i’ll just tell mine

i was always taught that less melanin meant more
but in the warsaw ghetto whiteness didn’t multiply bread in grandma’s hands
didn’t fill the garbage can she where got dinner
i’ve been told i am so different, better
but did my ancestors’ skin make them prouder slaves in auschwitz
were the jews forcibly birthed through sewn labia born more dignified?
ashes are raceless
all this white supremacy was reduced to gray
but at least our refugees became survivors instead of thugs
today they burn down temples in Paris like crosses in South Carolina

mom, do you really think we’re so above them
because the fire that slaughters us comes from rockets instead of guns?

being white
didn’t revive my deadbeat dad
didn’t stop the house from burning down
didn’t enlarge the hotel room
or shrink the boys who poured pennies on me shouting kike
what gives me the right to stay silent when police go free
and complain that Josef Mengele retired in South America
how can i criticize the nations that stuffed us in cattle cars
and sent us to slaughter-camps
when i can brush this off as someone else’s problem
will i be the next american generation who tears off my skin
so i don’t have to face reality
gouge my eyes to grunt i didn’t see shit
because i become the target
not when they see my skin
but ask for my last name?

the reason I’m so privileged
is because a nazi split open my grandmother’s legs
my beautiful blonde hair is the ugliest part about me
so if you think minority means deformity
then i guess you’re right
because i only have one finger for you

black lives matter
and we shouldn’t have to put a hashtag or race in front of it
lives matter period
and sometimes we have to remind ourselves that
by seeing our corpses next to each other in the mass grave of oppression

and ill tell you something
my mother comes to every poetry slam
and will the first to applaud these lines
not because i changed her mind
all these words were in her
i just had to rearrange them
release syllables in her heart
trapped in a rip cage laced with false pride
to  remind her that
although only love is colorblind

poetry should never be color coded.

Monday, December 8, 2014

After Ever

i did not love 
the night you 
were mine                           
it was after i left your bed
my heart settled in your sheets.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Horny Poem

I’ll give you a choice.
You can either take off the beanie, or wear nothing but it.

These are the lines I practice saying to you in my head
When I see you in your seat
I can’t help but picture you in my bed
I know how I’m supposed to be seen not heard
But would you rather these words be read?
Wait, let me set things straight

This is not a love poem.
This is a horny poem.

Because baby you turn me on
Get me hot and sweaty like  a marathon
And make me want to take things off
Like that fucking beanie
Hipster I want to make your hips stir between me
Is that line inappropriate?
Because I wanted to follow it
With some crazy shit I want you to do with my nipples
Yes I said nipples
I mean I’m almost 19
And boobs are hot
Or so I thought
When I wore my special bra today in class
You know the one that doubles my Ds
Well honestly I’m already there but today I swear they looked like Es
Probably because you’ve enlarged the size of my heart
Are you studying biochemistry?
Because you’ve incredibly and endlessly
Recharged my hormones to ecstasy
Heavenly, heavily, and aggressively
Transforming me to those dreadfully helplessly enemies
Who let guys reduce their density
Leaving me floating
Supposing if D = M / V
You are massively reducing my volume
Because I actually can’t eat around you
My stomach has become a game of cat’s cradle
I’m not able to digest
How obsessed I am
With your chest
And how I’d like to press my bare one against it
Shit I want you to walk me home then come in
Pin me down and kiss me
Not with your lips
With your mouth
But these words are replaced with doubt
As soon as we come out of lecture
Because I’m sure you have better places to go
And with cooler girls to be
I watch you bike away
And say these words to no one
Except me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When Your Best Friend Tells You She's Dating Your Ex

When your best friend tells you she’s dating your ex
You know you’re going to end up writing a poem about it
You feel lines forming
As you ask her, on a date? and she tells you just plain dating
You try to act unsurprised and quickly change the subject
To how much you’d like to watch a new episode of orange is the new black
and when she gets up to pee
you manically repeat the words kill me
Because you already feel like you’re dying inside
you stick your tongue into your tea
Even though you know its too hot
Because that edible is kicking in
And you don’t normally do drugs at 10 in the morning
But you were just having that level of a shitty day
That you just wanted to be up so high that your feelings look like ants on the ground
But now you shove some more sushi down
Trying to clog your throat from the verbal vomit

When your best friend tells you she’s dating your ex
You wonder if she’s taking so long
because it takes a lot of fucking effort to shit all over you
And you can’t tell her you feel bad
Because then you become the jealous bitch
You don’t have the right to control her life
It’s her decision
But its not about the boy
But it’s just the fact that she did it
When she knew it would hurt you
That you’re not the kind of girl who gets over things
You crawl under them and you still have scars from their barbed wire

So you don’t say anything
Even though you feel like a stream of gasoline slithering across a parking lot
And no one will donate a match
There’s a fire within you but you just feel like pollution
And when she takes some out and asks you to follow her to the shoot
And you watch her stuff a black bag down
You find new sympathy for used tampons

You stare into empty spaces in an attempt to export your mind
And even though the file is too big you try to refresh refresh refresh
But you’re stuck on the same old page when it’s been updated
and also you’re computer has been stolen
And so is your phone
because the person you’d call when something like this happens
When you are hurt in the kind of way
where you just need to be told you are right
Is too busy rinsing blood off her knife
Everything is disconnected
You never want to speak to her again
but you want to because she’s the person you tell these things
But now there is nothing left to say because even though its her face
Those are not the ears you’re used to
They can’t hear you right
You are going to sound possessive
Over someone who doesn’t want to be with you
And you don’t really want to be with
But you could never really stop loving someone
When you fall
You are opened up
And even though over time the wound is reduced to a scab or scar
When you brush against it
It still hurts
And she is not a pair of raw fingers she is a lit cigarette

And you’re thinking all of these things
Concentrating on empty space in the room
As she keeps on mentioning his name
When you try to disassociate the & attached to his and hers
You become thankful for the weed
Because it becomes an excuse for your inability to function
Or hides the handprints from the  slaps across your face
Every time she looks at you like everything is alright
and expects you to think everything is alright
And you tell her not everything is alright
in a thousand monologues in your head
But your lips don’t know the lines

So you decide not to watch the next episode of orange is the new black
and let her think that your life is falling apart rather than the friendship
You scurry out of her apartment
And try to forget how to breathe because every intake comes out as a cry
You can’t walk straight and you nearly run into a woman
Who flinches at your presence
and tells you she’s not used to being close to a prostitute
she starts muttering to herself “unholy whore” “unholy whore
And when you look down at your tee-shirt and shorts
you don’t know if she’s mentally ill or a hallucination
Because nothing feels real anymore
And you aren’t sure if it ever was in the first place

You’re in a stream of unconsciousness
and you drown your way back home
And lay on your bed sobbing
Wanting to reach for the phone
but there’s no one to call except your inner strength
Which is held up by toothpicks
You’re all alone which is a relief
because you don’t want anyone to see you like this
But a curse because you’re not flexible enough
to rest your head on your shoulder and cry on it

When your best friend tells you she’s dating your ex
You know you’re going to end up writing a poem about it
And you can’t
Because it feels like
It feels like
It feels like
I can’t come up with a metaphor to describe it.
It just hurts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Last night I realized that I’m not in a single picture on my wall
Out of all 50 images
I’m not in one
As the clock struck two
I knew that I was in those moments
And my face is placed above my bed
It’s not really my face just a retouched head
All my life I have been told to edit
It’s not done until you’ve reread it
Redraft your papers
Spell check your poems
Don’t ever make the original your final decision
It was only a matter of time before my body became just another place for revision
I just never thought it would get to this
What started as removing a zit
Became full fledged air brushing
I used to put blush to emphasize my cheekbones
But now I move my cheekbones to emphasize my blush
Even when I’m rushing
I draw on my eyebrows in the mirror
And then again in photoshop
I’m a house 
Without foundation my walls will drop
And as I razor off the fat on my thighs
I wonder if that’s the only part of me I’m slicing off
I always liked my nose but last night I made a job out of it
Went to down
Shrunk it down
Then made the photo my pro pic
It’s not just about reducing the size of what my mother always called my ugly fat lips
I brighten and widen my eyes
Lighten the shadow
Line the liner
And I don’t want to sound like a whiner
Because I don’t think I’m ugly
I just have been told I’m not typically pretty enough
To know that I’m probably not at all
Now don’t be appalled
Don’t ask about my insecurities or mentality
I’ve just accepted that guys will always date me for my personality
My priority will never be getting into the top sorority
I’ve accepted that reality
Let me explain and refrain
That I am not ugly
I’m just prettyif
prettyif I had less acne on my face
prettyif there was less fat around my waist
if my eyelashes were thicker I’d get you drunk like liquor
prettyif I possessed a more lifted chest
and i didn’t jiggle when i walked
and my crooked bottom tooth didn't show when I talked
the dress I tried on would look great when I finally lost those 20 pounds
and any guy would dance with me after a couple rounds
I just need a filter
that could change water to alcohol
my skin to a complexion
a jpeg out of my reflection
but my face never cleared up
the diet never worked
my misaligned tooth never felt like a cute quirk
so before I went berserk
I edited out the if
Ariel Sobel is now a beautiful girl
She just rents out her world to Mark Zuckerberg
She’s thin
Has perfect skin
She might be single
But baby you want to be relationshipped in
But no one can reach me at my web address
It doesn’t matter how many likes I possess
Last night I asked my roommate if you can recognize me on the internet
And was surprised when she said yes
I’ve realized that this poem is never going to be finished if I don’t stop editing it
I’m never going to fixed until I stop telling myself I’m broken
Never going to be whole until I stop tearing myself apart
I can’t be pretty if I can’t let myself be
And it doesn't mean anything if I only make the term
Skin or pixel deep
And the only like that matters
Is the one that comes from me.

. . .

. . .


Ariel is available and interested in anything creative!
For spoken word performances & workshops, web & graphic design, or other writing/film projects please contact via email at arielsob@usc.edu.
New York & Los Angeles work preferred!