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Rukmini Kalamangalam

brown boy runs (bhaag lardka,bhaag)

watching brown boy go through TSA,

I feel my mother’s contractions duplicate in me which makes sense,

telepathically speaking, because

we have had seven lifetimes together or hamara saath janam ka saath hai aur

we haven’t spoken in seven months or

someday, we will not have spoken in _______ years

on my mother’s side I have 14 cousins one boy and once (one good time)

he scaled a pole so high he no choice but to become flag caught running,

red gravel staining his Nikes at night, he is still running & my father is angry

we haven’t won Olympic gold even after all the running so instead of running we watch

my cousin-brother hang proudly flag pressed to neat corners ends split

like all they need is some tel & yes

one time Hasan Minhaj said the n-word on TV

but more importantly my other cousin

married a white man & they went hiking the day of their wedding

the earth in Arizona our kind of graveyard eroded red soil

remembering we don’t bury our dead, the groom’s mother kindly provides an urn to the happy

couple. when the bride has her first stillborn, my family will call it a second period. she is now

a woman. at 30 she has grey hair like the rest of us. at 30 she will tire of the color red, red as her

wedding sari, red as her mang and this urn, with its blue elephants, will help. nothing will help.

really, at the wedding she wore an eggshell white dress with her hair straightened &

there were statues of Ganesh at every table I took one the

remover of obstacles a sweat-slick dig in my side that mustached white guy a sweat-slick

dig. he does not know about our cremation ceremonies. or that our songs are just for us. or that

when his shoulders curve balle balle that does not turn me on. he calls me exotic (translation:

vase). grips where my lehenga meets my waist (translation: hourglass). his wedding gift the

earthquake of his feet, all the way from California (translation: he has deemed me breakable).

when deemed worthy of breaking by a white man, brown boy

is sent to random search the crook of blue gloved fingers & powder free latex doesn’t help.

watching brown boy going through TSA, I bear my legacy. It is easier to see him still

than watch him run


Rukmini Kalamangalam is a page and performance poet from Houston, Texas. She is a graduate of Carnegie Vanguard High School and a current freshman at Emory University. In 2018, she was named Youth Poet Laureate of the Southwest and a National Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador as well as Houston Youth Poet Laureate. Her poem, “After Harvey,” was set to music by the Houston Grand Opera. She has been published by the Houston Chronicle, ABC 13 Visions, and Polyphony Lit , with forthcoming work in Blue Marble Review and Lue’s Monthly Newsletter. She has been recognized by the Harris County Department of Education and nationally by Scholastic Writing Awards.

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