The Trouble With Poets. Or, Trying.

I. December 2nd


So tell me your darkest fear

Tell me how you fear yourself above all

Warn me not to care

But I will still be here


Tell me you will hurt me

I will show you my healing wrists

Tell me the world is cruel, dark and unforgiving

I will show you the chasms of skipping heartbeats


Hold me to you with palms flat against my chest

I will show you the beauty in resistance

Hold me to you as you crumble

I will catch the broken pieces on my tongue


We will fuck between palms, fingertips and broken hearts

Write poetry with death

Revive dreams long since forgotten

Swap our skeletons and hollow souls


We will quiver in pools of scarring tongues and self-destruction

Watch the darkness kiss sunlight with touching palms

Listen to shuttering breaths

You will close your eyes and shut me out


Talk to me about the war you are having inside

Collapse all foundations of fear

Tell me your darkest secret

Show me your ugliest mask


I will still be here.

Please, just never hate me more than you hate yourself.


II. Lessons on Loving the White Man (after Jeanann Verlee)

Or 10 things I would say to me on November 29th

Or Reasons why I am a Masochist




This will end how you have guessed

Do not fight the inevitable

It will be easy to find perfection in his privilege

And beauty in his broken

Ready your heart for the open

And bare

And lost in his voice




You will meet him when you least expect it

Him, thick rimmed glasses, eyes full of secrets

Him, head down, entangled legs on dancefloor

Him, holding the skin between your black and shorts

You, holding on for sanity and leading him into your sanctuary

A sopping open book

He will look into your eyes and ask about you

Your dark eyes will grow to be a euphemism for your skin

You will speak in euphemism disguised as prose




His black and patterned cowboy boots will find a home at the foot of your bed

Your bed will grow used to unravelling threads and facial hair




You will swap poetry but your metaphor will not be rich enough

Your command of your mother tongue will not be as fluid as his French

Do not allow yourself to gravitate towards him

The first time he hurts you; read the signs

The next morning, regret everything you are

Wait on his apology, it may come

When he tells you not to care; ignore

He will forget the things you talk about.




Time will pull you into your respective worlds




When he says I love you, check to see her name erased from the top of the message

Stay up all night thinking about it, convince yourself

That your dark and bitch are worthy of love

Do not question it in the morning; he will forget.




The night you bare your soul

Do not expect the courtesy of a response

Do not check your phone more than once

Do not text him again to remind him you exist

Do not expect him to love your damaged as

You love his dirty and hidden

Do not fall into the nine year old girl wishing she was white so the other kids would stop touching her hair, so their parents wouldn’t be so scared of you coming over




Remember it is all in your head

Remember he has never uttered your name in public

Remember he will never mention you to friends

Remember he has only ever noticed your black and thick

Remember he is not yours

He will find her again in a city of apple blossom and mangled consciousness

Sit in empty bathtub and console yourself with wine




Black is designed to absorb beauty, make white light forget to illuminate.

What made you think he could see the flicker beneath your heavy chest?

He loves your heavy chest

Do not let him appropriate your bones with this idolatry

Do not let him refashion your Ochun Aphrodite

You have spent far too long twisted and open as the legs of fertility dolls to surrender the story in your melanin to him

Do not let him use the word nigga until he understands why

Do not let him use you to affirm his identification with rap

Do not let him use you to cement his rebellion against his parents and privilege

Your love is not your oppression, not a misappropriation

Do not regret the missing silk in your hair

These kinks and coils were gifted to you by generations of women who bore children on their backs, grew phoenix from scalp as husbands raised open palms, your mangled afro is your strength

These coils will hold you together on the darkest night.


Do not let him force feed you his fix me

I’ve never been with a black girl is a warning

Black girls always get given white boys to fix before he

Realises he needs someone his parents would be more comfortable with having at the dinner table

Black girl typecast peripheral




Do not love him more than you love yourself

You will need to be able to fix your broken

On days when it feels like this melanin does not belong to you

When he realises that

Men like him

Are not made to love

Girls like you


Wait, when he looks you in the eye

Remember how it will end


The third begins with a poem by Him,


I will call it ’Again’


Last night you made me feel my body was mine

and whole and not a cut up montage for

a feast of men and women to devour

with hands and teeth and eyes while by the hour

the god inside retreated to his store

of worlds and threw them into the divine

wide universe as far away through time

as hand or arm or leg or thigh could swing

as heart or eye or ear or mind could see

when last night you reminded me of me

and how my skin and your skin could be a thing

of everything and how our thoughts could rhyme

if not commensurate while last night you

perhaps thought nothing of the things you do.


III. Revisiting Shattered Glass

Or, A Love Letter to Moving On and Loving You Still


There are fights I am not yet ready to raise fists

for and I am not yet ready to stop loving you

but these limbs had grown weary and these hands

are coming undone and these eyes are no metaphor


There are words which refuse to find themselves between us,

“I loved you.” “-

I am more afraid to say you hurt me than to keep thinking you

don’t or won’t care “-


And words abstract our being

All that we are is poetic license, retone and touch up until

Distance                                                                    is                                                      warmth

Melt me down to                                                                            concept,


you cannot love in the abstract,

cannot feel in the abstract

Still brand the inside of this mouth your

own and I will bear your contorted crescent moons


and watch dawn with me


but this silence is not poetic

just prose


and these limbs are not lithe

not smooth, cannot contort and this heart is no acrobat,


There is no beauty left in this space

But I see beauty in us, everywhere.



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