JKLM (I wrote you this letter)

Audio version


You will sit and you will wait for his hair
  to be under your fingers
     you will wait until he has no hair left 
       and your hair is breaking too

you will climb into bed
    with his lips inside your thighs
and realize he is not real
and neither are you

you will dream of his voice
 with your hands between your legs
            you will feel the length of him
                          every time you swallow

your body will shake
    whenever his mouth opens 
your legs will become rubbery
             every time he says words 

you will climb out of your body for him
  your parts will turn into pieces
  you will locate your skull
                hanging out of your automatic skin

you will stare at the dressing
 around your bones
     lay next to it on the floor          
        because you cannot lay with him

you will hold your corpse above him
 where his hair used to be

ask how many times you will die for men
  who go on living
ask if he'd be willing to die for you


and if he says yes
you will be born again between his legs

if he says yes
you will draw him a new childhood
with what's left of your hands 

if he says yes
you will praise the love he was before he came into this life

if he says yes
you will find yourself flat between his fingers
open and buzzing

you will give up your ghost

you will apologize/
  to all of your collective trauma
   forgive both your parents
    you will hold him up
     with your left and right sides

he will reattach your fingers
 he will bury his old self
  you will marry his new self/
   with your knowing of him

he will know you too
 he will remember you too
  his shed hair will grow back
   you will grow new finger nails

he will grow new arms for you
  you will grow babies like him

name them the first letter of his
   and your grandfather's name

you will lift up/
and let go of all your false starts
you will burn all their Dear John letters

his eyes will grab you in the face
  as if for the first time
he'll say he knew you at seven letters

he will weep at your speak
          he will live in your knees
            sing to you like your 21st birthday 
              hold your hand on Lenox Avenue
                 then recreate you in a rap song
                   and make you the hook

and for the first time, you will have a body
for the first time, you will know your name
for the first time, you will be a woman

you will let him in with both hands and both legs and you will come quickly/
          as if, for the first time. 

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‘You Had No Father, You Had The Armor’

I wrote about inherited trauma and the way my relationships with my brother and father informed my attraction to men. This piece began writing me last summer after I listened to Jay Z’s album, 4:44.

Here is an excerpt:

I begin thinking about the way people both transcend and encompass gender. I think about the way I am absorbing and categorizing gender and I begin to ask what I mean when I say I cannot connect with men.

*This piece has brief mentions of assault*

[Image description: Red background with four black outlines of bodies that look like shadows. Standing in front of them are seven outlines of brown and silver body shaped armor wearing skirts. Armor is in the shape of bodies but there is no face or body inside it.]


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What Hateful Sermons Taught Me About Love

I wrote about coming into my identity and coming out to my family by accident, and some of the things that came up for me back in January after listening to Kim Burrell’s sermon that went viral.

Here’s an excerpt:

I do not use the word boyfriend because I do not yet know that is the right word. I do not know if he knows yet either. He is still making a space for his gender, and I am still trying to understand why gay and straight do not feel like polar opposites to me but more like individual planets I do not belong on.

…It is not about being queer — what manifested as homophobia was just a placeholder. White supremacy dictates that Black people fit into images and these ideas seep into bloodlines and psyches and skin until the standards for being an acceptable Black person are too high for anybody to reach.

[image description: two hands holding a bible open. Image is tinted red with a dark background.]

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Dear You (Who Isn’t Ready For Me)

in all of my openings there is a silent space
a width that expands or a come hither
or the larger part of the most honest part of me
and it spells ‘yes’ like lips parting and breath leaving or thighs riding

and that is where I know the most about me
that is where I get bigger and fall over on me
that is the tongue where I taste the most raw
that is where I drip
that is where I will find your whole mouth

there will be a part of me that lifts up and over
as a result of knowing you
there will be a layer of me that widens out and falls down on me
whether you fall in love with me or break my heart or both
there will be a death of me and a birth of me
because I will change drastically as a result of opening up for you
and I am not mad about that

I want so much to spill out for you
I want so much to be wet for you
and you may grab me by the hair
with a forcible gentle because you want it so much too
and I will say ‘baby, grab me by the hair of me. show me you want it badly too.’

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Loss For Words: Selective Mutism And The Complexity Of Sexual Assault

My essay about consent, disability and my orientation, went live on The Establishment this week!

Here’s an excerpt:

I know I will never like boys the way I am supposed to when I become suffocated by his head and arms. He thinks he is kissing me. I know this part is supposed to feel good, but it feels very rough and I do not know why. Usually I pick the boys to do the things because I like them and they say nice things or hold my hands. But today is different. I am cold and glazed over. I am not sure but I think I have become a doll. I have stopped being a girl and I do not like being a thing.

* Discussion of assault*


[Image description: Cartoon girl with big textured hair; hair and face colored with shades of brown, light brown and tan. She looks sad and appears to be a person of color. Maybe she is supposed to be me.]

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Why Are You Afraid of Love?

I wrote about inter-generational trauma, emotional labor and femininity and masculinity after watching Beyoncé’s Lemonade. This piece went live on The Establishment yesterday. It’s my first paid piece and I’m very proud of it 😉

Here’s an excerpt:

I will never embody Blackness in the right way, and I will never embody the right image of a Black daughter. Long after my parents are separated, I watch my mother do the emotional work of 10 women. I see that for my father, this is not enough. I begin to interpret this work as birthright, or a facet of femininity.

I begin to conceptualize my father’s behaviors as inherent to masculinity. I carry this on top of my bones until it seeps into my skin and before I know it, my relationships. In some way or form, I become an image of my mother; finally understanding why it feels like some part of my attraction always has something to do with my dad.


[Image description: a lighter skinned woman with lots of thick, straight hair, clutching herself. The background of the photo is yellow in color. I can’t tell if it is Beyoncé, or someone who looks like her.]


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Letters Home

Listen here

What black lies in white with brown smudges?
what hands lie in wait for mixing colors? 
I want to paint blue in front of you
hold services for your adolescence
I will spread out for you like spillage
for the love of do-overs and whole hands
I will slide through the bless-ed opening
bury myself in full collage for you

What black bleeds quietly over hard lines to love white too?
what brown edges eat the litany of childhood happening new?
first 3 times then 5 years old
your face was full and painted over
then you fed me forward and I fell back
afraid of your recital
now 6 years counted and I reach for solid melodies
in place of memories and effigies

We are black and white double sided irony
or late 80’s finely diced analogies
(the aftermath of carelessly carved out romantic fatalities)
starting from Cortlandt Avenue and stretching to Richbell Road
up and over several bridges
I do not want to paint the rain on Brooklyn streets
without ever knowing how it heals to be blurred lines for you

If we are both hungry and wanting to be widened
if we can color in and I am moved by the eyes on you
then will you eat all of my excess yes?
I will take back everything that ever poked the white space of you
fall back and open through holes and drippings
and blue out whatever bled your face red too
spit my colors out and fall backwards into you
eat you black and white
(digest you raw)
after I love the holes closed
fill in everything that ever hurt the space of you.

*I committed to writing a love-themed poem every Friday in February. This is the last one and possibly the most difficult one to approach saying in words.


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Longer Around

I’m rounded and warm on the table
a solid bowl for you
in the wake of your flesh leak
I think mostly of your eyes
the outline of the space
between your give and my bite
or the shadow that follows the shape of you
when you’re facing me
now I am out and over with a spoon
ready to be slapped or served to you

I traveled through your clothing
digging through threads and fabrics
to try to taste your wound
thirsty and wide in your pocket
I dreamt about the space between skin and eyes
or the outline of the bones of you
you were the heavy wet part on me
you were the length of time around my body
you were dripping pointy pieces
you were hard to dry

I hear you closer now, solidly
more honestly now
you were ringing in my ear
now I’ve come back down
and here you are an ocean near me
you’re full and you’re the reprise
that I missed both times before
I am fuller too
in the wake of your other face
I am honest too

I wasn’t listening at first
but now I’m tied and knotted
solid around you
I’m not pained by what we both need to learn
I’m the longer version
moving in and out
with all of your fibers
ready to touch your center and wrap up in the length
then round out again for you

I’m not going to lie or make up a story
about what we both wish were different
I’ll be whatever I can be
if you are open for my give
I’ll be lined and separate
I’ll be full circle
if you want
I’ll be careful
I’ll be fluid
I’ll be chorus for you.

*I’m writing a love poem every Friday in February. This is the third one.

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Mirror Limit

Now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day
and I am painted red with your hands
and your splitting chest
soon you will be sliced open and closed back up
maybe you will not budge this time
stuck between my hair and your teeth
loaded like those words you bled
when I first ate your kiss closed

the weather was ripe for running into you this time
I dreamt you offered me a sweater
I dreamt you saw me wider than your jaws
and I fell into your ask
you would probably think my sleep senseless
you have much more to entangle between now and next streetlight
and that corner or your icicles

I wondered how much weight you could lift
or if you could lift me into the air
if your eyes would look different
if you had me up and around your waist
we were not that cold but you had your jacket
I thought about what you look like in glasses
my glass house and your melting lips
I remembered that you never asked

still, I wrote you down with my best hand
the same one that lied twice
after I realized you had dimples
after you’d stopped straightening your hair
it was then I started to see what you looked like
beige and brown colored turnover

and I’m not shy
you look like kiss full of my thighs
you look like beg and I kiss you open
you look like you could flip me over
dangle me red in your mouth
now it is a different ask on a different street
about five blocks away from your original face
this time, you bite and I taste you back open
this time, I say yes.


*I’m posting a poem every Friday in February. This is the second one. Click the link to listen to it.


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Bubble wrap

I could not taste you close, when you first fed
you were brown and beige colored memory
then nearly four years later, we met again
between Fort Greene stares
my rolled up hair
and my fingers numb
I was cold and waiting for you

you pulled my stomach warm for you
and we spread over empty cracks in sidewalk spots
climbing near each other with bated breath
the crowd around was blanket bubble
til the one with red eyes dropped and spit obscenities

I wanted to say I knew before (I always knew)
but we were holding more than distance missed
and that bag of molten memories
you were such a lovely frozen thing
it was almost like we never fed
or you were warm and heavy sex
and I was cold and dotted kiss

I read you down and out that night
and now we’re liquid street sign things
up outside of my own permission
I knew about the transition
on the highest height
before we met

I knew you like Brooklyn before the blankets dropped
I knew I would get stuck in you
before the house was built
or the backyard knew
but you were strong in what you thought you should do
and I couldn’t say “if it’s not too late, I want you too.”
I would rather remember the shape that ice cubes make
I would rather pine for you.

I’ll be posting a love or love-themed poem every Friday in February. This is new/unedited.

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