Clutch (20/30)

have you ever seen a man
unafraid to die

the clinched fists
and look in his eyes

when I saw him
charging in my direction
I panicked

had no idea
what made him
come crashing my way
like a freight train
going far too fast
for the load it was carrying

felt the steam
screaming a reminder
of where we are
and what happens to men
who end up in the hands
of those who swore
to protect and serve

so as he passed
my rubber band arms
strapped around that wrecking ball
and I did what I do best

I held him

“what the fuck do I do now”

watching man after man
jump directly
in the path of destruction
shoved to the side
like raindrops
meeting windshield wipers
at max speed

I held on tight

whispering a nickname
that didn’t have the right
to continuously fall
from my lips
urging him not to fight
but he couldn’t hear me

digging my feet into the ground
forcing this hurricane

oh, yes
I panicked

knowing his fists
would be no match for a gun
knowing his angry words
might meet a fearful bullet
knowing an approaching siren
meant this
might be the last time
holds him


he is a lion

fighting to protect his pride
fighting to sink teeth
into flesh
fighting like
“what’s a cage to a king”
and “you ain’t no tamer”
this be no circus
this be real life
where knock on neighbor’s door
gets greeted with last breath

here I am woman
holding onto a man
trying to decide
whether to drag him down
or hold him up


I’m thinking
I was supposed to be in bed
I was supposed to be home by now
I was supposed to not care
this much
and why can’t anyone help me

and he is down
seated on stairs
between these thighs
these arms wrapped tight
these legs ready to vice grip
but he doesn’t fight

the police are near
and we all step outside
the night takes us
across the street
running around the block
searching for my car
driving strangers
to random destinations

is an every day occurrence
and daily fear
that another black body
will lay cold in his own blood

that an officer will mistake
his pain for a weapon

that they will shoot first
and not apologize later

I have felt so guilty
for clutching him
for not letting him
“be a man”
for putting my heart
where it does not belong

but I’ll be damned
if I stand by
and watch
someone I love
enter a battlefield

when the dust settles
and I reach my friend’s house
I am a mix of frightened
and pained
I am relief
in not having to tell his mother
“I’m sorry”
I am a strong woman
I am an abandoned ex-lover
I am a body of aches
and pains
and a quiet voice repeating

“I couldn’t let him”
“I couldn’t let him”
“I couldn’t let him die in front of me”


This Body Ain’t No Invitation (19/30)

nothing about these curves
says “touch me”
nothing about this smile
says “this is for you”
this body ain’t no invitation

I am not moving my hips
to entice you
not hoping you see something
in lil ‘ole me
this is not a desperate plea
for attention

not a knock at your door
in a coat
and nothing more
trust me
I’m not trying to seduce you

this is self-care

wearing what I want
moving how I want
this my song
can’t nobody tell me different

this is black girl freedom

escaping into music
to feel closer to my god
shaking out the demons
and daring them return

oh, how comfortable
some men feel
claiming ownership
of a woman

how we dare be moving
and breathing
and it not be an offering
to their egos

how we dare be
and it not be
an early birthday present

this is what it’s like
to be a woman
out in public

this is why I carry a knife

|This poem is based on an experience I had out with some friends a few weeks ago. Originally, I told the story of how a guy grabbed my ass and what happened thereafter. I literally took out the entire middle of the poem. I like it better this way.

Turning Blue (18/30)

“Should I be wading?
Should I be wading for you?
Don’t keep me waiting
I will turn blue…”

I have a really bad habit
of asking people to stay
knees to ground
fists clinching pant legs
wondering why
you would ever think
to walk away from me
in the first place

just tell me
how come my love
was never quite enough

how come everyone
and everything
becomes your priority
and I’m left to deal
with the tough stuff

I’ve tried
giving you space
giving you affection
the benefit of the doubt
and time

blaming myself
blaming your wife
blaming every single
fucking flaw of mine

praying to god
crying to god
yelling at god
nothing seems to work

and I’m
sick of waiting
sick of the triggers
sick of getting my feelings hurt

’cause if you really wanted me
you would be here
and I wouldn’t have to
make all these excuses
and I wouldn’t have to be
so fucking patient
that’s some shit
that I never could get used to

waiting for a phone call
waiting for a text
gave up on first
I’m just tryna be next
waiting for “I miss you”
waiting for the day
I can stop waiting
for you to love me

the way I love you
the way I need
a way that’s not lazy
a way that feeds

this broken heart of mine
that never seems to mend
that won’t let you

I should let you go…
|*from Jhené Aiko’s “Wading“, which I sang softly while writing this

Anxiety Goes Shopping For Sneakers (17/30)

the panic began to rise
so I sat beneath a stand
tucked at toddler level
phone in hand
scrolling my way to stability

he asked if I needed space
then gave it
while keeping near

he didn’t rush me
didn’t make me feel childish
didn’t show a hint of embarassment
just wanted to make sure I was okay

I called out that I was ready
he came back offering a hand
then held me in such a loving embrace

this is how you love a person with anxiety

how you offer up yourself
as safe space if needed
how you acknowledge the condition
while treating the patient with patience
how you make the screaming colors
grow quiet and still

this is why I married him

Black Girl Buys New Underwear (16/30)

when a black girl finds
underwear that fit

when she covers her body
in comfort and grace

when she twerks
in front of mirror
stands tall without tugging

it be the greatest hallelujah
the sugar in the kool-aid
the chicken on the waffle
all voices at the function
singing “before I let you gooooooooo”

and it’s time to go

out into the world
with a hip switch
and a swag unmatchable
a cool smirk
and a spine stretched rubber band
towards the heavens

yes, honey!

you betta strut in those garments

you betta walk like god painted you
fresh this morning

you betta put them undies to werk