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  • Jimmy Broccoli


My mother speaks softly – yet, with urgency and with passion –

her mouth very close to my ear

So I will clearly hear her –

so I might plainly understand…

“let it end here” she whispers,

“let it end here with you”

(I am 13 years old)


My brother’s black combat boots were made for stomping

Plath would describe them with German words…

But that isn’t exactly the case here -

they are English (very English) with proud yellow threading…

I sit alone in a corner painted unblemished white,

my young, uneducated, and ignorant skin, delicate -

my older brother is hardened and cracking alabaster (he is 17)

boots and braces – boots and braces…

I watch him – I watch them -

with unrestrained curiosity and with the longing to belong

“why don’t you come join us?”, she asks with a gentle and genuine smile –

She looks at me sideways, as if I am a dog…

She sits next to my brother on the couch, his hair cut short

I return her smile – “okay”, I say as my shyness instinctively looks down at the floor

I look up to see her skin – it glows like flawless pearls, like fresh ivory in the sun

I see my brother smiling, his arm authoritative, protectively and lovingly wrapped around her

“I’m Julie, your brother’s girlfriend” she tells me, while extending a hand of welcome and hello

“I’m Jimmy”, I bashfully whisper

and from that day – I was always included…

Nobody picked on me at school again –

Nobody – ever – not even once

“1488” my brother says in a serious tone with a cig hanging from his lips –

as he cracks open another beer -

His testosterone mates sit around us – on the loveseat – in the floor –

on plastic chairs we’ve brought in from the outside patio…

Our home is a sort of meeting place…

Julie sits half on my brother’s lap and half on the couch armchair -

She smiles at me warmly – and I smile back at her…

My insecurities and social awkwardness (for years) cut into me like fresh wounds -

Then, my brother’s girlfriend brought with her thread and a needle –

She stitched me up. She made me feel whole again (or, for the first time)

At first she called me “Little Bird” – now she calls me “Betrachtung” –

because I am becoming my brother… quickly

“All cops are bastards”, my brother’s best mate says

“Fuckin’ right (!)” my brother says loudly and with authority

…I sit on the floor, proudly chalky – and nod my head approvingly as I sip my first beer –

with anarchist boots on my feet, a plaid shirt buttoned all the way up (boots and braces) -

I’ve learned to look at people sideways – as if I’m always judging them – as if they are dogs -

and I do it well (I’m now 15)


They are like the unwanted bleeding rust on metal farm equipment –

They are like the vomit that follows a good night of alcohol on the town –

They are the vermin that walk our streets…


Into our home…

They bring it into our fucking home…

Like molten lava that has been vibrating fiercely beneath the surface that suddenly explodes – they force themselves through our front door –

knocking my mother backwards as they shove passed her…

It is white hands against black bodies and black hands against white bodies –

…with unrestrained violence -

Fists and anger and reputations and judgements and fists and fists –

and blood…and a young black boy near the fallen television is knocked down and is no longer moving…

Unstable and already wobbly cheaply-made tables and chairs collapse as human faces, backs and limbs are crushed by them –

The sloppy upholstered couch with gaudy flowers is quickly upended as glass bottles and ceramic dinner plates fly through the air –

Smashing against people – smashing against the fucking walls

It isn’t until the living room lamp falls to the wooden floor beneath does my mother begin screaming…

The clay lamp shatters – dramatically smashing against the hardwood…

…with my mother fucking screaming…

Julie’s face is bloodied…

– my brother is fighting like hell –

My brother’s best mate has a knife, and he uses it – it’s the first time I’ve watched someone get stabbed…

Moments later my brother gathers me in his arms and wraps his bomber jacket around my body – protecting me –

he motions to Julie and to our mother to follow -

we run into my bedroom and lock the door…

…as all hell rages on beyond us

The sounds from the ambulances and the police cars are growing louder…


Two months later, my brother dies…

A black boy stabs him to death in our front yard during the glaring light of the early afternoon Saturday sun –

I watch his body hemorrhage upon the grass until it no longer does –

His eyes, then, stare blankly and are still and without emotion into the mournful sky

I listen to my mother scream –

and she hasn’t stopped…


“It ends here”, I say with authority

“it fucking ends here”

It motherfucking ends here, with me


The world is truly a magnificent place

When you accept its beauty – all of its beauty

It is multicolored and breathtakingly splendid in all its shades…

and I see it all…

Finally - I fucking see it all (I am newly 16)

I look into the grey sky above – the rainclouds are quickly moving away…

Re-introducing beautiful light blue,

the storm clouds being replaced by cottony white…

“It ends here with me” I scream with urgency and with passion

into the clearing sky above

I scream these words so that others will hear me –

so they might plainly understand


German language reference is from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”, from her collection of poems, “Arial”.

Braces = Suspenders

14 – 14 words used by neo-Nazis/fascists (and known as “14” – often spoken as a greeting – sometimes followed by “88”): “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

88 – Heil Hitler. “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet and spoken alone or after “14” (1488).

Betrachtung – German for “Reflection”.

Photo: Jimmy Broccoli with the mask from his second collection of poems, "Rabbits".

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