Coping Still

And if I had stayed,
I'm not entirely sure where I'd be coming
home to.
If your lap would become rest stop
for my head,
would your fingers travel through my hair
a map made by tangles, the way they did
the first night I kissed you?

Were we really like that once?

And if I had stayed,
would that home be welcoming?
Would I not miss you the way I do now,
except be physically closer?
Would you leave the sound of lasers and
boss levels to stay with me until I slept?

But I didn't stay.
And lately I miss you more than less.
But I don't regret leaving,
because in the process,
I reclaimed myself.

So I'll stay lonely.
And the questions can remain unanswered.
It hurts, but it's truly for the best.

Seep

Lately, I’ve been walking through memory.
I have a boy,
who’s toying
with the idea of FaceTiming me.
I creep upstairs
lit by the glow of a phone screen,
and each shadow closes in.

I’m beginning to wonder
if I let the feel of you
seep into my skin.
I’m tip-toeing around rooms
and looking at spots on carpet
where your body once laid.

I’m letting the past get the best of me.

I’m thinking of different places on my couch
where I kissed him
or he held me
and you’re like a stain
that won’t get out of that damn carpet.

Eyes closed,
my chin on your chest,
you’ve been 22 for about 20 minutes
and I won’t let you leave.

It wouldn’t be the last time you stepped into my house,
but it’d be a memory where your girlfriend
and your mom weren’t the first to reach you—

and three years later,
I’m trying not to,
I’m telling myself I’m in mourning,
in healing,
waiting on a plan,
and not re-considering
the idea,
the promising heartbreak,
the never coming to fruition
possibility of
you.

Unearthed

Our eyes meet
and suddenly we are an excavation sight.
I’m pulling you out from my smile
and you’re scrubbing me out from under your nails.
We are laid bare,
fossilized laughter
and tear stains.

They find an urn of us
mixed with my childhood memories
and your grandfather’s ashes.
It says:
“Here lies
vitality,
promises,
stone warriors who didn’t dare budge,
who couldn’t for the life of them
imagine simply leaving someone.
Who had the courtesy to be cold to the touch.”

They’re dusting off your scar now;
brush strokes like my finger tracing the back
of your hand.
Like security in something;
love in someone,
even if it’s just at a personal level,
even if you just adore their smile.
Even if your heart stops when you see them months later and no words bubble to the surface,
but you’re now drinking coffee and they’re avoiding your eyes.
They’re just trying to get by
and accepting the change of seasons.
You’re no longer asking for reasons
to why they didn’t stay.

And once again they walk away.
And things could never be the same.
Your best friend is mad because of all the pain
you went through,
but you’re not “her” anymore.
And he doesn’t say goodbye before he leaves the store and it’s like you never happened even two summers ago.

They found the wreck of us, kid.
Picked it up and held it in their palms
as gently as if it they could break it further.
They heard all the words we said at night,
saw all our shared smiles.
They held back from brushing the tears off my face when I cried.
They saw the way two hearts beat in sync, but one still had to break,
because taking that leap, wouldn’t have guaranteed for an easy landing.
They saw what was,
compared to what is,
broke the bubble of what
could have been
and decided to bury us,
give my mind some rest,
once more.

“Write it for the Rest of Us”

“To All Black Girls:
We finally see you.
We value you now.
Know you’re loved.
Know you’re beautiful.
Know you’re worth——”

To All Black Girls:
Shit that white people say:
We FINALLY see you.
We value you NOW.

Tell me, sister,
when you were carrying the burden of having too much melanin,
did it give you hope to know there was a future where we might see you as human?
Tell me,
sister,
did you know how many of your loved ones and your kin would have to die
before we finally stopped turning away our eyes?
Did you see the injustices of both sides and feel your worth growing?

To All Black Girls:
Sing me your song.
Tell me of the children you lost,
The culture you buried,
the hair you cut because it did not lay straight.
Remind me of the way your body was pillaged like a village,
and all of those who tried to defend you
were either hung up or burned at the stake.
Tell me about the times you saw a body
doused in gasoline AND swaying.
Tell me of the hatred of my own men.

Tell me they were blind then.
Tell me they did not devalue you because of the color of your skin.

To All Black Girls:
I am senses wide open .
I hear the hallelujahs rising instead of the wailing.
I see you raising your eyes to up above.
I’m listening to the swelling of your lungs.
I feel the movement of you linking arms and rising up.
Shouting along with you:
“I am here.
I am human.
I am enough.”

That should be enough.

And yet,
shit that white people say:
#alllivesmatter
when death after death was occurring,
and we refused to acknowledge unless it was a white baby found in a garbage bag, but we would have to face facts.
Footage of Ferguson was playing daily in the news
Chance of thundershowers mixed with a cry of “Hands Up; Don’t Shoot”.
If #alllivesmatter
why did we did not choose to raise our voice
until the riots were among us and we were fighting to join them,
white skin congregating with a blackness we exiled
because privilege is granted
due to name and a designated white womb.
We are constantly advancing ‘cause of of lack of pigment
and you are silenced though we brought you over to put you to use,
yet we are mad when you prosper and want to produce
change.

Us White People:
We hate it when things don’t stay the same.
When the tides shift and so does the power,
when we are deserving of all the bad titles.

To All Black Girls:
I am finally apologizing.

To All Black Girls:
Can you forgive me now?

Kiddo

I will always be a child to you.
I may never get the responsibilities laid upon your shoulders
and my back will never be strong enough to carry them for you.

Once,
in the fall,
the sun beating on our backs,
and with the weight of fifteen pounds on my shoulders alone,
I asked you to carry me.
You said okay,
but I’d have to leave my bookbag behind.

I am sorry
that all this time,
I was the biggest burden of all.

I am sorry
that I have let you live as a personal burden
not on my back,
but rooted in my soul;
nourished by false hope and heart-wrenching dreams.

Despite what I’ve seen,
I am always forcing you to walk beside me.

You never came back to
(let alone for)
me.

Disjointed

You let me sit in your car;
and I know I did it just to be near you.

And we listened to the random songs
you played off your phone
and I felt myself
sinking into your
passenger seat
so that way something that belonged to you
would know the feel of me.

And after all this time,
I still shouldn’t be looking for someone like you.

I know that.
I know I matter even less than
a little bit.
I know if you were to keep up
with the number of poems
I have written with you in mind,
you’d be sick of it.
(And that’s not counting
the alternate realities I’ve made;
but I always kept you “taken”,
out of respect
for your relationship.)

I’m finding the irony
that Tracy Chapman was playing
and “Fast Car” hits me
like piano on my chest
in the key of “K”:
A note that doesn’t exist.

Like our relationship
that never was.

But just so they know
all the smiles just might be fake——
for the times she said
I have low self-esteem
for the way I’ve deemed myself
not worthy of respect
but rather hands all over
and smoke-filled haze,
know I am still willing
to be at your feet
if it means I can somehow stay.

If it means that once again
we are the fitting pieces
to each other’s crazy.
If it means somehow,
there is once again
a you
and a me——

I’m still trying to figure out
my reason
for waiting.

Greenhouse of Glass

They tell you
that my skin is too sacred
for you to dwell in,
like my body is a house made
of glass and they don’t want to see
traces of your soiled hands
smeared against the panes.

I tell them
my skin was soiled
due to their pious ways long before
you ever touched me.
If anything, my body was a rotting
garden, and you were uprooting
my doubts and dirtying your hands
with my once wicked ways.

You tell me
my skin is ripened fruit;
scab your palms against bark
as you reach for me.
Brush your fingers along my cheek
like one bite could equal paradise
and you are so undeserving.

I want our endless possibilities planted on my lips,
I want my words to twist
like ivy
toward you, toward this,
an us, no matter how dirty
your hands or my past
may be.

The facts remain as these:
I bloom under your touch.

You are my garden of plenty.