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little things

you said you’d be there for me next time
and next time is right now and you boarded that flight anyway
you said you would call me when you got off the plane
not like i was sitting by the phone or anything
and you said we’d talk about it before hand
but by the time you got back you’d already had sex with her twice

so don’t tell me that you’re going to clean the dishes after i cook if you don’t mean the pot that i scorched making the rice & peas
and then expect me to get up in the morning & make you grits with no clean pots
and don’t ask me what the fuck i’m yelling about like you don’t know

because every time i wear that slinky dress out, we’re not spending enough time together
and whenever that girl calls, you’re in the mood to cuddle
and i only feel distant on the days i’m not coming straight home after work

and when i cry alone in our bedroom nothing’s wrong
and when nothing’s wrong you sleep in your studio

and i haven’t touched you in weeks
since you weren’t in the mood anyway

and i want you out of my face
but you disappear for days

so let’s have a shouting match about who gets the last of the cereal

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if you loved me i would probably end up killing myself on accident

if you loved me i would run headfirst into a brick wall with you
because when we link arms i believe in us so much that i don’t believe in the real world
and that wall is a cartoon wall in a movie set that will just tip over

…from the force of our love

if you loved me i would dance in traffic with you
because when your hand encircles my waist everywhere is just a field of daisies
and those honking car horns are merely a symphony playing a song

..to honor our love

if you loved me i would dive off a cliff with you
because when you take my hand firmly into yours my spirit is so light that i could fly
and we are merely diving into clouds which will create a soft fluffy cushion to break our fall

..into love

if you loved me i would spin in circles until i threw up with you
because when you kiss me the room starts spinning and i become light-headed
and we are simply spinning in the opposite direction to create an equilibrium so the room will be still enough

..for us to make love

if you loved me i would swallow live snakes whole
because when you touch me the army of butterflies fluttering on my insides makes me levitate
and i need the snakes to eat them so they don’t carry me away from you

..my love

if you loved me i would sit through a hurricane with you
because when we do it the whole world tumbles around in the sheets with us
and “a hurricane” is just what people who don’t know what’s going on call us

..making love

 

but you don’t love me
so i guess i’m safe

me for sale

take my hair
call it permed
call it textured
call it all natural fibers
make a perfect halo of loose curls on a high yellow model
take the kink out of every strand my gramma ever slid a hot comb over
make one product that will straighten it and another that will curl it back the right way
box it in cardboard and put it on the shelf
sell it back to me

take my mouth
call it pouty
call it collagen
call it exotic
make a humbly-sized lip coated in volumizing optical illusions
take out that evolutionary throwback quality that justified our subjugation
make an incision to bring them down to size and an injection to plump them back up
suck it into a tube and lay it under glass
sell it back to me

take my sound
call it a revival
call it rock
call it world music
make a commotion over the originality of blue-eyed soul idols redoing decades old black anthems
take the struggle out of all the melodies we ever moaned our passions over
make the lyrics about middle-class white today-isms that we can all relate to
record it on wax and slide it in a sleeve
sell it back to me

take my religion
call it spirituality
call it kwanzaa
call it paying homage
make a non-denominational altar in honor of all your favorite beliefs
take away my ancestors and erase the context of every deity we ever invoked and every shrine we ever knelt before
make the hallowed into fashion accessories and the rites into irrelevant pastimes
record it on parchment paper and bind it in leather
sell it back to me

take my skin
call it spray tanned
call it ethnic print
call it fake baked
make a complexion just dark enough that you don’t need no melanin to achieve it
take out that rough midnight that we lost our freedom over
make a cream that will bleach off that nasty history and a machine that will bake it back on clean
bottle it in a spray can and store it at room temperature
sell it back to me

sell the knock off
make it sparklier than me
have it be so good that the original just looks outdated
call me traditional
call me unprofessional
call me oppressed by my own culture
buy the rights to my existence
make it palatable for them
have the look so down that they think you invented it
you be creative
you be worldly
you be fashionable
in my brown skin

us.

us.

 

me.you

you.me

me.intriguing with rambling analogies to communicate the things that lie outside the boxes in which we often find ourselves confined while

you.using concise sureness so eloquently put, made the same thing sound like verse,
engaging

me.so we met and drank of each others concepts and philosophies and ate of salad because

you.where a vegetarian and, now inebriated off of those libations, with no particular intentions invited

me.better looking standing here than i ever did seem in those photos, to come see
you.better looking outside of that shirt than you ever did seem in it, laid down next to

me.skin soft like the parts of me tucked away under the bravado that you saw through else would i be here with

you.for whom comfortable was a word forgotten until you asked to drape your arm across my waist meaninglessly and yet so relevant to

me.melting into that gently heaving chest like the cocoa butter you smelled of, i belonged here and didn’t realize it until

you.impressed at how easy this piece fit into your puzzle, drew attention to how much i drew you to me and how much i drew you to attention and who would have guessed that

we.tumbled through the sheets like an mudslide and nobody can do anything but get out of the way watch their house fall down under the pressure of

us.equally as passionate about our people, our country and our be bop, and

we.don’t stop just like hip hop and neither do our arguments until things get dizzy, miles and brubeck who i also put you onto and you wrote love poems about

us.set to cool jazz for when we chilled and hid the ones from when it got heated from

me.falling uncontrollably like precipitation into love with

you.yet still clearly a storm but there were dry spells because you loved me and listened to

me.and i heard you too until the thunder came and then it seemed i was fighting for us alone because

you.stopped carrying an umbrella but somehow managed to stay dryer than

me.too tangled up in our kinks to pick up on that far away look recently acquired by

you.like you had something on your mind but just not

me.you

you.her.

On (not) being trans

nonbinary

i’m not trans

i’m not trans because i don’t want to talk to you about it
because i’ll wear a dress to your wedding, i promise won’t embarrass you in front of your fiancée’s family
because i was so surprised to hear that you just want me to be happy loving whoever i want to love that i don’t want to fuck it up
because i’m not going to sit here and explain non-binary gender to a woman who has stared back blankly at every accomplishment and trauma i’ve had for the last 29 years

i’m not trans because my identity is intersectional
because i’m not white
because i don’t have access
because by the time i found out what ftm stood for, female-bodied was already outdated and i couldn’t figure out if i was supposed to be cafab or dfab

i’m not trans because i’m not a man
because i’m a fucking faggot
because a transman called me ma’am last night
because my preferred gender pronouns are plural and i don’t know how to make that make sense

i’m not trans because my body isn’t wrong in the right ways
because i don’t hate my breasts until i’m trying to put on a button down
because they don’t make the type of body i’d be comfortable in
because i have triple d’s and a full goatee without surgery or hormone injections and i hate them both equally

i’m not trans because i’m not here for your love conditional, post-racial, binary, one-size-fits all assessments of my gender
and i don’t need to explain myself to you

– The Colored Fountain

plus

i’ve been fat the whole time you’ve known me

that means i probably intend to stay fat

it means my love affair with food is deep

and good-fitting jeans are just a jump-off

it means i bought a snack to eat while i was making dinner

and called it foreplay

it means that, remember that time when you called & and was like ‘oh i can’t talk right now’ & you was like ‘who’s over there with you’ & i was like ‘nobody’?

i lied, it was a half-gallon of soft serve

and…half a pack of oreos

…the whole pack of oreos

it means that the other woman is betty crocker

and if you don’t get that bass out your voice i’m moving her in & you out

 

it means that if

through some miracle of modern science and zumba

i were to get skinny

it would probably just be a temporary stop off on my way to elastic waist pants

so i’m not throwing out the big girl panties just yet

and if you don’t love my big voluptuous fly amazonian ass

right the eff now

you don’t love the real me

old head

you can see cracks along our edges

but our faces are young & vibrant and dewy like teenagers

because we are like them too aren’t we?

 

giddy at the prospect of stealing eager glances at her before shyly staring at the floor

her cheek–your shoes

her forehead–your shoes

her lips–the wall

her eyes…

her eyes! how they caught yours

how they locked

 

awkwardly discussing our adult day to days as if we were flirting for the first time ever

sitting too close on the bleachers behind the school giggling nervously in hushed tones

accidentally touching her hand–apologizing

bumping into her thigh–apologizing

spilling your drink on her–uncontrollable giggling

staring at her…

blushing, at the very idea

of clumsily, haltingly reaching for her waist

 

realizing that you’ve been waiting nearly three decades

to play in the little sunbeams of some other woman-child’s affections

 

but there is weather in our nail beds

we have clawed through stone barriers

and our backs are water logged

we have been left out in the rain

and our feet are dry and wrinkling

we have wandered across distances

 

heaven knows we have been alive this entire time

 

it’s just that briefly, when you regard her

all taut thighs and heaving chest

all doe-eyed and the pouty-lips

we are passionately innocent

we burn

we go back to a time when things didn’t happen when they were supposed to

but our faces are young & vibrant and dewy like teenagers