Review: Andrea Gibson – When the Bough Breaks

Andrea Gibson – When the Bough Breaks is a promising slam poetry album with deep introspective poems and poetry. The album has poems about war and sexual orientation. Many of these songs deal with the uncertainty of life and the uncertainty life brings. One of the most overlooked poetry albums of 2006.

For Eli was a poem written in 2003 about an American soldier named Eli who came back from Iraq after he finished serving in the American Infantry.

Eli came back from Iraq tattooed a teddy bear onto the inside of his wrist above that a medic with an IV bag. But Eli says the teddy bear won’t live. Eli’s only 24 and Andrea has never seen eyes further away from childhood than his eyes old with a wisdom he knows Andrea would rather not have. Eli’s mother traces a teddy bear onto the inside of his arm and says, “Not all casualties come home in body bags.”

Andrea swears she’d spend the rest of her life writing nothing but the word light at the end of this tunnel if she could find the fucking tunnel. She’d write nothing but white flags. Somebody pray for the soldiers. Somebody pray for what’s lost. Somebody pray for the mailbox that holds the official letters to the mothers, fathers, sisters, and little brothers of Michael 19, Steven 21, John 33. How ironic that their deaths sound like Bible verses.

The hearse is parked in the halls of the high school recruiting black, brown and poor American citizens while anti-war activists outside Walter Reed Army Hospital scream about the 100,000 slain as an amputee on the third floor breathes forget-me-nots onto the window pain. But how can we forget what we never knew our sky is so perfectly blue it’s repulsive?

Our lies have seared the sun too hot to live by. There are ghosts of kids who are still alive touting M16s with trembling hands while we dream ourselves stars on Survivor. Another missile sets fire to the face in the locket of a mother whose son needed money for college and she swears she can feel his photograph burn. How many wars will it take us to learn that only the dead return the rest remain forever caught between worlds of shrapnel shatters body of a 3 year old girl?

The mortar of sanity crumbling stumbling back home to a home that will never be home again Eli doesn’t know if he can ever write a poem again. 1/3 of the homeless men in this country are veterans. And we have the nerve to Support Our Troops with pretty yellow ribbons while giving nothing but dirty looks to their outstretched hands.

Tell me what land of the free sets free its 18 year old kids into greedy war zones. Hones them like missiles and then returns their bones in the middle of the night so no one can see. Each death swept beneath the carpet and hidden like dirt. Each life a promise we never kept.

Jeff Lucy came back from Iraq and hung himself in his parents’ basement with a garden hose. The night before he died he spent 45 minutes on his father’s lap rocking like a baby

And don’t think for a minute he too isn’t collateral damage in the mansions of Washington they are watching them burn and hoarding the water. No senators’ sons are being sent out to slaughter. No presidents’ daughters are licking ashes from their lips or dreaming up ropes to wrap around their necks in case they ever make it home alive. Our eyes are closed. There are souls in the boots of the soldiers. You wanna support our troops? Bring them home and hold them tight when they get here.

Andrea Gibson gets in touch with her LGBT+ side on the poem Andrew. This makes sense given Andrea is a dysphoric individual who often utilizes names associated with the opposite sex. Gender dysphoric individuals often desire to adopt names associated with the opposite sex. Whereas “Andrea” is typically reserved for females, “Andrew” is more masculine.

When Andrea was a kid she would sometimes secretly call herself Andrew. She would tug at the crotch of her pants the way only pubescent boys do. She ran around pounding on her bare chest like Tarzan. It’s not that she thought she’d grow up to be a man. She just never thought she’d grow up to be a woman either. From what she could tell, neither of those categories seemed to fit her. Andrea knew from a very young age never to say, “Hey dad, this Adam and Eve thing isn’t really working for me. I mean, what about all the people in between?”

In the 3rd grade, Lynette Lyons asked Andrea where all of her Barbies were. She lied and told her she got in trouble so my mom took them away. She didn’t dare say, “Barbie sucks, Lynette! And for that matter Tommy, so does GI Joe.” Andrea just wanted to grow into something none of us have ever seen before. Gender is just one of the ways we’re boxed in and labeled before we’re ever able to speak who we believe we are or who we dream we’ll become.

Like drumbeats forever changing their rhythm. Andrea is living today as someone she had not yet become yesterday. And tonight she will borrow only pieces of who she is today to carry with her to tomorrow. Yes, Andrea likes girls.

I rate this album 5/5*****!

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Writer, narrator, research archivist, and content curator for Bout Dat Online.

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