Some days I wake up feeling like rain has entered me intravenously. Mango strands turn to teeth in my mouth and water pours out those mango teeth. I can’t tell if they’re tears or rainwater. I can’t tell if that water will grow crops of mango trees or drown them in salinity. In my mouth, the words turn to mango soup; I call it butternut squash stew. In my life, the words have kept me sane. Kept me going. Kept me from going. And still going. In my words, the life of my rhymes falls right out the cracks. I see sunlight leaking from my pores when the world threatens to enclose on me. Between the world and me there is only darkness.
On my darkest days, I find light. I go back to my prayer. I go back to my words. I let the mush-mouthed mangos form strands, tendrils; help me, keep me together.
I wrap myself in a shroud of mango puree. In guava juice, in Kern’s. In the back of a tan Volkswagon Vanagon, stick shift edition. Me and my family all on the floor of it. Eating from the same styrofoam
containers that I now call home. That I now eat all my meals from, as an adult, the same red spaghetti I loved as a child. Drinking the same red juice I drank as a child. We call it Vimto. Call it keep me on my toes.
Sometimes the words feel like mango strands in my veins. I see mango juice leaking when needles prick me. My blood is orange, like red meat I chew, mixed with spaghetti sauce. My mango words help me thrive. Mango words keep me dreaming of sunnier days between here and. There is no there. There is no I, here. I hate that I need to start or stop writing. I wish it was an endless string of words, like mango stands, like mango strands. Let that main go, man.
I’m that mango man.
And sometimes the words feel like mango mush in my mouth.
As if I’m trying to fill a void in my writing by writing about nothing.
By speaking about not-writing.
If you asked me what my biggest struggle right now is, I’d say: emotional numbing. Trying to feel-not the world as I feel too much of the world creeping into me.
I’m too nice a guy to keep the world out. It doesn’t
require my complicity; the world will take
me just the same.
In my mouth, the words stick together like mango strands.
I say I learned how to write in Seattle. In Seattle, where they run from the rain. In Seattle, where suicide is glamorized, as is pain.
I say I sit in Minnesota now, years later, on Facebook, watching racist articles about Seattle.
Does Seattle have a diversity problem? No, just a culture of injustice.
The words don’t do it justice. In my mouth, the words stick together like mango strands. Like mush.
Everything in my favorite coffee shop is overpriced, but I pay for ambiance.
In Seattle, my old city is dying of coffee shops.
The coffee beans taste to me like discarded mango pits.
Like dying mango trees.
My tears string together like fungus from old mango strands. Dried mango hands hold the world together in my mango-mang.
In my mouth, the words stick together like mango strands. Like mush.
Let that mango, man.
Said Farah: "I am a Somali-born, Seattle-raised writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My work is in conversation with third-culture writers who’ve sought to explore questions of identity, place, and belonging. I use writing as a way to parse the natural conflicts which arise from my multiplicities. I am a 2018 Alum of the VONA / Voices Workshop for Writers of Color and an MFA Candidate at the University of Minnesota. I have had work published or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, New South, Bluntly, and an Anthology of Contemporary American Muslim Writing by Red Hen Press.