There’s an apartment on the corner,

Graffiti on the cement

The gate is weak and leaning towards the dead grass.

An eye-roll for those who worry about the beauty of the neighborhood


A mom lives there.

With a contorted heart

She threw herself to the soil

so she can hold hands with her little boy.

She looks from the window.


Small balloons on the sidewalk.

Disney Characters smiling at me.

They don’t belong here.

They float on a string tied around a candle.

A white Jesus with his hands outstretched.

He doesn’t belong here, either.


A black boys picture hidden between the small teddy bears

holding satin hearts.

Every time I drive by I look out the corner of my eye

Trying to ignore it.

Like everyone else.

Like everything else.

I don’t belong here.

Winter Ball.

You stop me in the hallway

After first period and tell me that you can’t

take me to winter ball cause I’m too flat chested

That night

I locked my door and cried into the tissue

that I used to stuff my bra.


You always hug that girl

who comes to school in heels

so I arched the soles of my feet over the rejection

and the pain wasn’t even worth your attention.


“Why is your hair so short?”

So I burned my ears

before I learned to fold them down

To set things straight,

It’s not short,

just curly.


But I couldn’t fit it into the ponytail that I could twirl

while you asked me to winter ball.

So in high school

I put glue in my hair

forcing what I wish I was

to be bonded to what I am.


I cried because I thought I was dying

My mom told me that’s just my period

So I laughed with my friends about it

as we bonded over woman things and talked about

losing our virginity

at winter ball.


I keep my eyes closed when I think about you.

So maybe I’ll wake up and the reason my heart beats this fast will be because of a dream.

Because you’ve chased me with a knife made of stories I’ve told you.

And you know it’ll cut me


Cause you still haunt me.

So you chase me until we’re exhausted

and I try to reason with you

I shield the wrong part of myself

I’ve fallen in the garden we’ve made together in spring

Nothing has grown in months

Except for these white flowers that brides hold.

But I wake up

And it still hurts.

I shouldn’t have given you that knife

Floor Petals

You asked me to look into your eyes and see true love that melts underneath your eyelids when you smile at me. To feel protected by calloused hands that lie because those hands have seen neither hard work nor a woman’s embrace for longer than a year. Have you ever been chained to anything? Why do you take me as a slave? Do you know the feeling?

Why so rough?

You kneel to my stomach and inhale the cocoa butter and speak to her, and say sweet words that soar from your lips and sit behind my bedroom door. You left them there. Soon as the sun rises the petals from those pretty pink roses fall on the floor. You gave them to me a week ago when you were sweet. The softness on your lips as I greet you at the door, playing a part that you audition me for then telling me I didn’t get it.

And here is why.

Baby, you’re too cold, you tell me. That baby doesn’t make you my baby, I told you that. I love you and those soft waves I float on at night between your thighs, you drown me when I need it but I’m not your man. Don’t let anyone else swim in your waters, but you’re a woman so you’ll let them float anyway. Don’t take it that way. You need to play your role. Baby I’ve seen you build those walls made of all those hearts you’ve shed and built anew over the years, all those beautiful hearts. I saw your light seeping through the cracks and I needed that warmth for myself, I was cold. You were so bright. so I convinced you to let me in, and you did, but that wasn’t enough. I need you to shed once more and walk behind me as I am the man.

But why?

Am I not what you want your daughter to be? Part of you flutters inside me. You speak to her and sing and nights go by and drums play in my head and heart and I toss and turn on a pillow where your head rests when you crave sleep and my touch. Does it flinch when I cry from words you toss towards me? and turn your back when the wetness you see is in the wrong place? Do you flinch? Do you feel what it feels? If so, how are you standing? You drown out my sobbing with the radio volume as I sit next to you in the car, and at that moment I’ve never wanted to switch places with you more. To be in your seat and drive away. But you will never allow that because to earn your love I have to forget how to drive. To earn your love I have to see my strength as a weakness, but what will my castle be made of?


Coffee Strong.

My legs are strong enough to carry me and your burdens

I carry mine in this purse.

It bounces off my hourglass

As the light countdowns.

I begin before it allows me.


My thighs exchange greetings

As I walk to the coffee shop

Necks wind as I sway to the door


Dark skin glistening at the counter

A smile.

Black coffee please.


“Is someone sitting here?”

My stuff is there. All around this place.

You hold your hands up and acquiesce.

Walking backward for your protection.


When I leave I can see noses in the air

Inhaling the fragrance

Gifted to me by my mother

I bring it with me to the street


“Fuck you too then bitch.”

I laugh at how that used to make my shoulders rise.

A corner boy with gutter words

Bitch dripping from his fangs.


Rejection is bitter

To a pack of wolves.


My coffee is stronger than you, boy.