you upset me more than you deserved to,
had me thinking that maybe you represent
everyone else who
didn’t earn my tears
but still got them;
people i put faith in
whose batteries would eventually die
and whose lenses would get stuck in the past,
never to open again;
love i thought was everlasting,
laughter i assumed would never end,
close strangers i called “best friends”
and every other instance
they are like you,
enjoyable until after the warranty runs out
and on one random day, they just conk out
and there’s nothing left i could do
but get upset and move on,
then replace them,
forget what i learned,
only to get hurt again.
maybe i should re-evaluate
who and what
i put my trust in.
a tough, bitter seed–
selfishness, i never knew
you could be so mean.
on a sunny spring afternoon
during my freshman year of college,
i found my voice.
not the voice of assertion or anger,
but the true revolutionary in me.
it was as if
someone dropped a piece of burning coal
inside my arteries
which steamed my soul,
sizzled in my mind
and simmered on the tip of my tongue.
the flame was sparked
and i spoke!
little old me who was used to letting things slide
opened up her mouth with eloquence
and spoke with pride as i openly identified
the ignorant sin committed against me and others.
i was so excited that i told my lover,
sharing every detail about the incident.
i reenacted my response and waited for him
to affirm what i had expressed
but instead, he said
“Baby, the world ain’t that serious. Who cares about all that?”
my strong black coffee self
turned into decaf,
i was diet store-brand cola with melted ice,
a deflated balloon.
he turned and kissed me
and said, “Forget about all this silliness and focus on now.”
and when he pulled my pants down,
my whole psyche dwindled to the ground.
my victory now felt like personal defeat
and i realized that i had made a fool of me
by attempting to connect with one
whose consciousness flowed
on a different frequency.
our love was static and instead of changing the station,
i got used to the white noise,
kept quiet each time i was ignored,
beat down the fighter i wanted to be
all for the sake of him loving me.
thank God i’m free.
my plans slipped from my hands and
plopped into a muddy puddle.
being a seeker, i feel compelled
to roll up my sleeves and fish them out
but being a germophobe,
the thought of getting my hands dirty
i can imagine the grime that would be stuck
under my fingernails for months,
seeping out each time i touched my face
or put my hands together to pray.
i could see ruining my favorite clothes
with stains that won’t go away with two wash cycles
and Lord knows i don’t have money for drycleaning.
so here i am staring at a nasty pile of water
that gets murkier by the minute
and i’m stuck.
it’s raining on my head,
my socks are wet,
and my dreams sink further
than i can see.
it’s hard for me to
get my hopes up
because i’m used to hopes bringing me
through dark alleys
that i don’t want to go
and leaving me
without a road-map to get home.
i’m used to the positive being negative
and the negative becoming neutral
so that sadness is not out of the norm,
but considered natural.
i’m trying to reverse the meaning of hope,
redefine it in my dictionary of experiences
so i can fully experience this
concept that takes audacity to achieve.
to believe that good is going to happen
is so much more scary than expecting the worst.
but still i beat the dust out of my traveling pants,
hoping for the delights of life
and dances in the rain,
life without the feeling of being insane.
hope will change
my outlook and help me get past
this redundant page
in my book and onto the next.
i do not belong here in this world.
there is no real place for me.
if there is one, it is probably in between
the cracks of a brick building
where no one could see
and i feel pressure coming
from all sides.
i have so much brewing on my insides
that i could open up a factory
and produce emotions unknown to most
on an assembly line of mundane days
and fake smiles
and going to sleep with the hope
that tomorrow will not be as sad
and waking up the next day disappointed that
i do not know where i belong–
perhaps in an ocean where waves crash and hit me
so that i can wake up swimming and feeling
so my bruised and atrophied
muscle of a heart can beat
with some sort of energy,
so that numbness will no longer be
a defining factor of me.
i am out of place in this atmosphere where daily
i walk around without my body.
i do not wish to exist in the spirit realm
where the shell of me is lying and trying
to convince others that she
i do not belong in a world where
i constantly have to control
my moods and curb
i do not belong in this mental state
and i am hoping that one day
i will find my spot where life feels safe,
where grief and hiding abates
and i can finally step
and look in the mirror
at my own face and see
that there is purpose to this pain
and i do
in this world.
i am so frequently on the edge
of inconsiderate acts
that if i got my act together,
i’d get my facts together
and proceed to jump off the cliff
of “I don’t have to take this”
and lightly land in a place
where foolishness doesn’t exist.
i am so tired of being taken advantage of
that i yawn disappointment
and dream resentment
and if i were a cartoon, i wouldn’t snore Z’s
but a never-ending sequence of “Negro, please.”
i don’t want to be a mean but
i’m so used to the hurt person being me
and i wonder just what about my identity
causes me to be more prone to this activity.
is it my smile?
perhaps it is too inviting.
or maybe it’s my honesty
honesty is so rare these days that
most people treat it as if it were fake
or hold the truth-teller to the same standard
of that lie-teller who played with their mind the last time.
so here i am left feeling
when that person has moved on
to the next interesting pawn
in the chess game of their intentions.
i don’t want to be captured anymore.
just let me be
because these arms are sore from extending love.
this throat is raw from opening up.
this mind is exhausted from pondering the possibilities
that could never be
and my heart is bewildered that i even bothered
to risk again.
so goodbye, my friend.
i bid you farewell for
it is time for me to depart from this height
to a new land where i demand
to be treated right
and hopefully one day you might
muster up the courage, consciousness, and capacity
to be able to join me.
i feel like i set myself up
like i get my hopes up
for a specific person only to be let
by standards they didn’t even know
my heart is tattooed on my wrists
so that with every exchange,
a new person gets a glance and
no matter how often i try to
wear long sleeves
to hide the tops of my hands,
the ink is inevitably seen.
i’m not sayin i wanna walk around
without a heart or
be a cold woman
but i feel like i don’t know how to
manage this organ i’ve been given.
it dances to its own rhythm,
shuffling and sliding
about 70 steps a minute,
grooving faster than seconds
so it’s no surprise
that no matter how hard i try
to keep up, i fall behind.
this muscle that is the only the size
of two fists
is swifter than all of my logic
and limbs combined.
it provides me with lies
and with each new beat it
neglects to teach
me how to beat
it pumps blood to my arteries
but is still the part of me
that i resent.
i wish i could hold my heart in contempt
for refusing to be honest with my mind,
setting me up with false expectations and trust
and making me crazy whenever i sense
the slightest hint of love.
but for whatever reason,
i still love this heart i have
because when what is in front of me
it speaks to me and tells me
that it is built with the capacity
to expand to other beings
so despite the hurt of my feelings,
my heart is the only route
to get to the true feelings
just to impress you
i went out and bought some new clothes.
i figured if i dressed fresh enough, i wouldn’t have to be alone.
so i maxed out my credit cards and spent all my bread,
and when i walked past, you didn’t even turn your head.
just to impress you
i tried to lose weight.
so i went to the gym and tried to sweat away every curve in my shape.
i worked out for hours and my diet put me in the worst mood,
and then i found out your favorite thing to eat is soul food.
just to impress you
i got my hair pressed.
i figured maybe you didn’t dig my afro and thought it looked a mess.
so i got my hair done so silky straight that it bounced as i switched
and then i heard your last girlfriend was a natural chick.
just to impress you
i decided to perform a song,
so i called in sick from work so i could practice all day long,
i shook it like Beyonce and had soul like Joss Stone,
but when i looked out in the audience, you had gone home.
just to impress you
i decided to just be me.
and for the first time in forever, i finally felt free.
i stopped trying to trick you and allure you with lies,
and just like that,
i finally caught your eye.