External Lies

“Do you understand me?”

He asked.


The answer was always no.

She would never understand.


She slides the earrings into place,

Letting the gold hoops swing and glimmer

As she slips her socked feet into black heeled boots.

Her white jeans are strategically ripped

From the tops of her thighs,

To the base of her ankles.

Her black shirt is cropped,

Letting her bare stomach

Serve as a beacon of her defiance.


When she was twelve,

Her mother told her to wrap her hair in scarves,

Or else the others would hate her

For the simple fact that it was different.


Today, her hair is loose,

Curls of blonde, red, and black

Coiling in every direction

As they frame her made-up face.


When she was seventeen,

Her drunken uncle told her

That wearing make-up

Was sending the wrong idea to the men around her.


Today, her eyes are dramatized

With thick black liner and elongated eyelashes,

And her lips are stained a deep red

To amplify the pleased smile that

Curls up the ends of her mouth.


When she was eighteen,

She was told by her teacher

That, when she spoke with conviction,

It was equal to that of an assault to his person.


Today, she speaks her mind

With the same amount of conviction and certainty,

But three times the confidence.

She will gladly be the bitch

To finally say what she’s thought her entire life:


She’s sick of this shit.


She remembers how that attitude came to be,

The day she was given a talk.

He sat her down

And began to speak.


She watched as his lips moved,

But the stream of words seemed to float harmlessly to the ground

And disappear into piles of nothingness

Right before her very eyes.


She remembers staring at the floor in wonderment,

And marveling at the futility of words.


She took note of how unaffected she was,

And how much that affected her.


But, when she looked up

Into the eyes of her lecturer,

She saw her own reflection—

And she was proud.


“Do you understand me?”

He asked.


The answer was always no.

She would never understand.


How could she be beautiful, but not too beautiful.

Smart, but not too smart.

Bold, but not too bold.



She couldn’t.

And she would no longer try to be.



With twenty-six letters, hundreds of thousands of combinations can be made, but this one, by far is my favorite.

When spoken, it dances off the tongue like an eager lamb, more than ready to meet the altar, naïve in the ways of death.

But it is the feeling, not the sound of the word that draws my favor. It always begins as a dull ache that burns in the center of my chest, an ache that depends and simmers until there is a gaping hole where my heart should be.

Because it reminds me in a gentle way, that no one will ever call me by such a name. It is my favorite word because it has been, and will always be, lost to me. I am a piercing cactus in a sea of daisies. Who would be willing to hurt themselves to love another?


b e l o v e d ,

b e    l o v e d .


i can't.


I never had dreams before you.

And then I only dreamt when things went bad between us. Waking up without you, feeling very acutely that I was alone.

When I think of us, it doesn’t hurt like it’s supposed to. It just aches. Because I know that whatever we had, what once felt so special, now, means nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if you ever think of me. If you ever look at that bed we used to share and miss us in it. But then, I think I already know the answer, because I rarely do myself.

I just don’t understand. I thought you were my first love—in those moments, you used to say to me, no one could ever love you as much as I do, and I believed you.

So then, why, when I think of you, do I feel such apathy?

It doesn’t suit the love I thought we had.

Sensory Deprivation

just because his skin is warm honey

does not mean it will taste as sweet.


that was the mistake i made,

when my nose was too close to the

rose petals of his hair,

the smell, deep, pungent,

masking the scent of faded smiles

wafting from the onyx of his eyes.


our interactions,

hues of greys and reds,

blinded me to the silence,

that absence of sound that

sewed my ears shut

whenever i entered

the wordless realm

of his mouth.


what i could not hear,

i chose not to see,

and so i let myself float

in his chamber,

ears clogged,

eyes shut,

mouth sealed,

body vacant of

the color of my being.

a whitening,

which left me empty

and cold in a pit

of nothing,

waiting to stop waiting on

my own awakening,

ready to come back to myself.



hear no evil

the hurt.

it lasts in a strange way.

not always present,

you think you’ve healed.

but it shows up in the form of something else.

for example:

your insecurity.

how it can mold itself

into the crack of every little thing you question about yourself.

your self-hate.

how you subconsciously link it back to the thing you let hurt you.

your sadness.

your lust.

your greed.

your selfishness.

your paranoia.

your inability to be unapologetically you,

because you always find yourself thinking back to those moments she told you

why you weren’t right, and you believed her.


“I tried to make a home out of you, but doors lead to trap doors, a stairway leads to nothing. Unknown women wander the hallways at night. Where do you go when you go quiet?

You remind me of my father, a magician … able to exist in two places at once. In the tradition of men in my blood, you come home at 3 a.m. and lie to me. What are you hiding?

The past and the future merge to meet us here. What luck. What a fucking curse.”

-Warsan Shire

Two Lies and a Truth

1. I want to be with you.

Those are the words I was always too afraid to say to you. I thought, if they were to be spoken, in the way I would have more than likely spoken them (rushed and clumsy with little to no eye contact), then they would have lit like the tip of a Molotov cocktail and blown our entire dynamic to pieces.

2. I want to be with me.

The mantra I recite in my head every morning before I drag my still lifeless form from my nightly grave. The real reason, I always told myself, that I refused to utter the former statement. As a woman of the 21st century, it would be a waste of a Black female body to shackle it to the same dead stone I would have been fated to in any century prior.

3. I don’t know how to be with anyone.

If the other two were half lies, this was the full truth. I don’t understand what it means to have somebody outside of myself and feel, with unconflicted conviction, that I have every right to reach out and grab that hand and mold it with my own. That it’s alright to fix my mouth to call out your name and expect you to turn, face absent of exasperation or annoyance, and look at me with that quiet, insistent knowledge that your name on my lips is poetry to your hungry ears.

I just ask that you forgive me for being so insecure in my belief that I can be loved. I never meant for it to act as red herring to my unfaltering belief that I could love you in every way I could never imagine you would want to love me in return.