If

If people weren’t constantly changing,

then we would have all the time in the world.

But they are.

 

One day you might be you, and the next you might be someone else.

I live in fear

thinking that one day I might see you

and not see you.

That I might notice the shell of the person I used to know

but miss the connection we once shared.

 

So let’s not wait until we’re two different people,

and make this moment

that you’re you,

and I’m me,

count.

What Am I Missing?

No, I’ve never been in love.

 

I’ve never experienced that blinding light

That poets always describe

When witnessing the smile of their beloved,

As if the sky cracked open every time their lips parted,

And unleashed the holy heavens upon this blessed love-struck individual.

 

I’ve never felt the rapidly increasing beat of my heart,

Crashing against the entrapment of my ribs,

Begging to be unleashed

For the sole reason of proving to my love

That yes, it beats only for him.

 

I’ve also never felt that burning under the skin,

That sickly sensation described as jealousy,

When witnessing my beloved

Slowly fall for the Aphrodite seated across from him,

Her words weaving a web of seduction too enticing to resist.

 

I’ve never been burning with anger over a love lost to another,

I’ve never cried for days over a love not reciprocated,

I’ve never had to fear the day my love leaves and never returns,

And I’ve never spent a day of my life,

Fully content to be with the person I love.

 

But, maybe love isn’t worth all of the trouble anyway.

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.

Quote

“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

We Part Ways

I’m his last appointment for the day.

His meetings ran thirty minutes over, so he asks me to walk and talk instead.

It’s raining outside.

I don’t have an umbrella, but his is big enough for the both of us.

I’ve got long clumsy legs and he’s got a limp, his knee agitated from the rain.

We bump elbows and shoulders casually as we try to find a stride befitting our umbrella and unwieldy gait.

“Tell me what’s on your mind,” he says, as if we began this journey with the intention of gouging our souls of feeling.

I dodge an oncoming umbrella made slick and sinister by the rain.

“I focused on the image of the rose too much. The next thing I knew, I was talking about the degradation of the human condition over the course of time. That’s not where I wanted to end up. I wanted to talk about the purifying powers of fire. I wanted to write of the world in flames,” I confess.

We pass a huddle of the homeless, all trying to protect their blankets from the cold wet.

“What saddens me is that most women never realize how beautiful they are. Some societal thing—I don’t understand it exactly.”

As he’s speaking I catch the eye of a tall Black man, puffing on a blunt as he leans against a building, looking like he knows where to find all the time in the world and then some.

“But what I’m trying to say is that even the beautiful things come from ashes—people burn and they light the world with them. Take this feeling you have, utilize it. Write down what you feel, and don’t edit. Whatever you have to say is important enough to keep. If not for this work, then for life.”

I stare at the smoke billowing from a manhole in the middle of the street as cars run over it, the fog quickly kissing the front of each as they speed by.

The rain makes broken pitter-patter sounds on the roof of his umbrella, the noise unreasonably satisfying.

He looks to me and smiles.

I smile back.

We part ways.

War for the People

We were trying too hard–

The consequence of getting into it;

It was above our heads and I saw it,

We saw it,

Coming.

Corrosion of the heart occurs in two steps:

Apathy and loss of memory.

 

Never been the one to remember

How it feels to forget,

Until I stepped into the confines of society

And learned that memory is too important

To the preservation of humanity.

 

There’s no lost love between us except the

Hearts we lost leveled in the land of our loneliness.

But I couldn’t tell you where our warpath was headed

 

Till it led us to God’s acre,

Lost in a departed culture,

Waiting to receive the crowning we so deserve.