In Our Place

They are reminding us
of our place
within the lines of subordination:
Lest we forget
that a statue’s legacy has greater value
than any blood running through brown skin
Lest we believe
for one moment
that our lives
could matter more
than their hurt feelings
Where they find fault
in our very existence
our human tendency to make mistakes
is punishable by death
because there’s always
to prevent excessive force used against us
by any means necessary
always necessary
to tame the threat
we pose


Where daring to speak out
against acts of brutality
makes us anti-police
and therefore anti-American
because the standards
we’re expected to meet
are always elevated further
as we approach them
so they can show us
just how close we almost came
(maybe next time)
Where our humanity
is so casually disregarded
sons of bitches we are
for daring to kneel in defiance
of an unjust system
whose rules bend only for those
with the power to
limbo below them or
lift the bar as they choose
whose voices can tell us
what it is
we are refusing to stand for
muting our outcries and
retelling bastardized versions of
stories that feature our
They’ve pandered so hard
to their collective guilt
they believe they’ve done
no harm
and in fact
they’ve done so much to
help us
they just don’t understand
how we could be

Wishing for the Blues

The Blues. It didn’t occur to me how absurd an analogy to depression this is until I found myself annoyed to see it in the myriad articles on depression. Like a poorly made sweater, it doesn’t quite stretch over my head, and I can only fit one forearm into a sleeve because it just doesn’t fit. And I’m not sure I want it to.

Because depression isn’t blue. Because blue is too lovely and too vibrant and too calming a color for a condition so void of all those things, so void of everything. And honestly, those days when I wrapped myself around the pillow and hoped to sleep through the weekend, I’d have killed to feel Blue. The countless hours of burying myself under mounds of shame and anxiety, I’d gladly pass on to have the Blues. To feel Blue would have meant to be at peace. Or something good like that.

Continue reading “Wishing for the Blues”

love with(out) a limit

infinite as my love is, its supply is still in danger of extinction. extant for only as long as it is preserved, a shared light never dims, but if mishandled and squandered, can die out.
my greatest mistake was loving (every one of) you too selflessly. believing in myself only for my capacity to love you unconditionally. bartering my dignity for your acceptance, and having less of both, every time.
self. less.
in (each of) you, I now see the difference between receiving and taking. those who take what is given to them come to expect it, to presume it theirs to have, to waste, to abandon. rather than receiving–with gratitude, with humility, with love–all I gave of myself, you instead took it with preemptive declaration, impatience. you did not value my love, and I accepted your devaluation of me in the name of the natural resource called unconditional love.
perhaps the one thing I can credit you for giving me is the understanding that only those who recognize the beauty of my love’s abundance will protect it from depletion. that I must be the gatekeeper of my light, lest I become vulnerable to eternal darkness.

from the gray

being his safety net was somehow reassuring, the knowledge that he would be back to fall into me, a comfort. even though it was always temporary. loneliness does that. the yearning heart will accept the unacceptable when it means a moment without pain. a moment of forgetting he was not mine.

I am his hammock no more. can’t be. will not be. he may have chosen to settle, but that doesn’t mean I will. he must learn to live with his choices, as I have been forced to live with them, without any net to catch my falls. my love was not meant to be his getaway in the shade. while he was always my exception, I remained his excuse. but the gray was never my hue, so I have cut the net. for good.

Call it Courage

Cowards run, forever in fear of death, of change, of pain, of any challenge that elicits questions about their purpose. The valiant, however, recognize that in order to truly live, they must die and be reborn.

My eyes crawl open, and I realize I’ve been here before. Lying on my left side, the matte of my congealed blood pooled on the stone, I remember my last visit. I’d dangled from a fraying thread, facing the inevitable, final crash once the string’s last grip gave way. Continue reading “Call it Courage”

dangerous mind

mind games are possible because the mind is the greatest weapon in our possession. like any handgun, self-inflicted casualties are likely when this weapon is handled without care.

with a bit of circumstantial evidence, gut feelings, suspicion, and a piece or two of hard evidence, the mind can spin a narrative so convincing, we believe it as if we witnessed it. to doubt its validity makes us question our judgment, and challenge the reason we dismissed in the process of crafting the narrative. and as if it held a gun to our temples, we refuse to disregard that story our speculative sleuthing has written, because our minds have convinced us it is true. or else.

things are only as important as we think they are. we assign value and meaning to everything around us, and treat those objects and ideas according to their worth. but the danger is a fearful mind; no weapon so powerful should be handled by something so irrational.


Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past.”

we’ve all done it. whatever it was–be it the deep set eyes, a hand flung in the midst of an explanation, the slew footed gait, the alarming laugh that erupted mid-joke–something about the person we met triggered an association with someone we once knew.

the trouble begins with our inability to distinguish between the person we used to know and the individual who is currently in our lives. we inadvertently and subconsciously associate their laughter with the nails on chalkboard sound that our friend/lover/colleague from once upon a time used to make our hairs stand like quills. these minor irritations give way to greater offenses, until even the most silent exhale from the person quickens the rage we now harbor toward our unsuspecting friend.

i taught a girl a few years ago, who deliberately set out to be as disrespectful to me as she could for the fifty-five minutes we were together every day. she said offhandedly to another student how I was just like her mom. knowing the history between her and her mom, the pieces that wouldn’t connect finally clicked. as long as she could not separate me from her mom, she would remain hateful and defiant. our relationship would be fractured until she was able to acknowledge that i was a different person from her the one she saw me as.

when we allow the inevitable “you remind me of…” to dictate how we treat a person, we are making the mistake of believing our perception is reality. we perpetuate the damage of our past by hurling the emotions we are unable to process at someone whose only crime was laughing the same way. we rob ourselves of the chance to build a better relationship with someone else, while life goes on for the ones who have wronged us. who do you see when you look at me?

merits of martyrdom

what good is sacrifice to a nonexistent god? when nothing is gained from the losses incurred, when the damages serve no one well, sacrifice becomes sabotage. no merit exists for the self-appointed martyr, whose motives will forever be questioned.

are you doing this to be seen differently by the world, or because you want everyone else to see the world differently because of you? anna deavere smith’s question about artists rings true for anyone who does something for “the greater good.” because the sobering reality every lens shows us is that injustice and evil have a permanent residence in our world. there simply is no greater good, because as much as we are all in this together, we are in it, first and foremost, for ourselves. that for all the progress we deem laudable, there’s so much work to be done. that at the heart of altruism is and always will be a kernel of narcissism.

to diminish the significance of someone else’s beliefs in the name of sacrifice, to deny yourself and those you love in the name of a nonexistent greater good certainly guarantees that you will, indeed, be seen differently. the acts of heroism by those whose demons hold their hands at every turn are acts of cowardice. we are only as noble and as strong as our greatest flaws. any injustice done in the name of justice slanders justice’s name. and you will not sign your certificate of sacrifice with my blood. you. will. not.

the light (so heavy)

“Full is not heavy as empty, not nearly my love, not nearly.”  – Fiona Apple

the ache motivates us to seek comfort. but it also drives that antidote away, shortens its shelf life. emptiness is too cumbersome a void to fill by anyone except its host. because the ache, it is cloistered in fear. fear is empty. yet it is weighted with need, expectation, and dependence. fear is all at once wanting and incapable of love.

until i looked my fear in its hapless face, and saw how it sagged with emptiness, i could not receive love. I could not receive what i could not be. instead, i received who and what i was, and consummated my fear. for as long as i was empty, so i would be.

we attract what we are, and accept what we believe we deserve. like lint on a felt roller, all that was lacking in joy and love clinged to me. it jumped on and held on fiercely because i thought it was meant for me. it was not until i put down the burden of fear that i could see how weightless faith is by comparison. learning to believe i deserved and would find better led to faith that i would. accepting only what brought me joy began with giving it to myself.


hope is many things, but fearless is not one of them. put fear in a linen dress and strappy sandals, and let the wind tousle her hair, and before you will stand hope. her conviction will challenge even her inner skeptic, so much that she believes her hope is more than an illusion.

faith, she is bold. faith has the power of her conviction, and needs not play dress-up for others. she wears what looks best on her, and is most suitable for the occasion. she does not see defeat in setbacks, anymore than she sees triumph in success. faith has no time to waste worrying, because she’s too busy being proactive. where hope and fear lie passively in waiting, faith is doing. faith is action.

when i am most uncertain about tomorrow, my hands instinctively reach for the linen dress, although i know better. for once the sun settles behind the horizon and the dress lies in a wrinkled heap in the basket, fear walks barefoot across my floors. i know that wherever hope walks, fear is in tow, as they are inseparable. i must update my wardrobe if i am to embrace the timeless fashion of faith.