wisdom in unconventional places

A Rapid Rhyme

Books on Shelves
Photo by Huynh Dat via Pexels

A Rapid Rhyme Audio Poem


Who would take the bait?
It’d be an added fate to
the mix, we nix the tools we
often use, afraid to partner up with
fools who choose to disguise themselves
& place their wealth on the shelves of
life. That’s right.

Kick back, take it all in
my friend–it’s only the beginning.


Originally posted to Twitter as an experiment.

The little things that make me smile . . .

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Praying Mantis, praying–perhaps?

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Jernee: she finally let me brush her hair so that I could take a decent picture of her.

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Oh, dear . . . a deer.

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My copy of Kristin Garth’s latest book of sonnets.

Sometimes, all I need are the small reminders in life to let me know I’m still living and grateful to be alive. Sometimes . . . this is what I love most about living–the little things.

Crimson Skins (Poetry & Prose) by Devika Mathur: A Review

Crimson Skins by Devika Mathur, Kindle Version available via Amazon

Firstly, I would be amiss if I did not state how honored I was to be asked to review this wondrous work by Devika Mathur. From what I have come to know of the writer, she is steadfast in her talent, dives into the raw and gritty surfaces of her feelings, and has no trouble sharing them with the world. With a style not akin to many writers I have read, Devika expresses herself with poetically sound language and a definite strength in her prose.

The aptly titled debut book, Crimson Skins, begins with “Olive Skin” which is a surefire opener, with power-packed phrases such as “My mother has a concave slippery mouth, untouchable with the slick tunes of time” and “She stitches her concrete bun as a belt of Ganges.”

The first section of poetry gets even better as the writer continues to deeply express herself using a style I like to call “raw surrealism.” “A fixation” is a good example of this. Two lines I found myself reading multiple times because I loved them that much are: “I have seen the postcards of vintage ink our lotus bodies sinking like air” and “You step on to my body, peeling layers of SCARS.” She is no stranger to poignant line breaks and metaphorical stanzas. Many of her poems, from what I have learned, are meant to be absorbed slowly–savored. It would not be wise to rush through them. And really, why would you want to?

“A swan of longing” is another favorite poem of mine. Devika uses a few nature images in this piece, however, the raw and gritty feel is still alive. “Climb up my knuckles, rest on the mount of flaky skin” says so much while not using many words. It’s succinct and compact yet still sends a punch straight to the gut. Another line that held my attention is, “Sew and move up. Climb to my cheekbones, now”–the imagery is intense and active. Reading it took me to another place, one where I would not mind venturing to more often.

Crimson Skins has a variety of work any reader will enjoy. The book isn’t basic and will be able to go the extra mile for years to come. I will be so bold as to say many of the pieces featured in it has the staying power of words by a few greats such as Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, and Virginia Woolf. It ends just as it began, with an intense piece of writing showcasing the writer’s talent.

“The art of silence” is placed exactly where it needs to be–the best for last. “Quietness, comes to me like sex, wild hum in the lost arid air” caught me off guard and I doubled-back to make sure I read the opening line correctly. I did and it is perfect in every way. The ending lines are as follows: “Cities often collapse while searching another one, and here is my tombstone, polished gold grave, beneath twigs of moth.” I read those lines and I know what poetry is. I feel what poetry is. I will remember what poetry is.

Crimson Skins comes as no shocker to me with its high caliber of writing and a plethora of poems and prose to choose from on which to connect. Devika Mathur shows that she is no novice to the world of writing. I look forward to its debut in June of 2020 and will be one of the first to purchase my copy. If you are a lover of poetry and writing that seeps into your skin and rattles your bones, then you should too.

I will be purchasing the Kindle version before the weekend is out, however, I also am going to purchase the paperback version when it is available too. I had the grand opportunity of diving into this work of art prior to its publication and I assure you, it’s worth every accolade it will amass within the first few weeks. Let’s support a fellow WordPress writer, shall we?

A Cornered Gurl Presents

QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers

Quintessence: Issue #1, Spring 2020|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

“Quintessence” is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.

I am fighting back a few tears at this moment because what I envisioned for A Cornered Gurl is finally here … A Cornered Gurl Presents QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers is published and ready for your purchase, perusal, and praise. We will take your constructive criticism and pointers too, as we intend to grow each year. I always knew I wanted to start a literary magazine, however, one to be shared annually. It is not lengthy and does not include more than fifteen writers. I knew it would not be an anthology or a journal. I plan on keeping the published writers in each issue to a minimum of around sixteen to eighteen.

In this first issue, there are fifteen writers, including myself. The magazine has three sections: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry. It is an “8 X 11” full-color and glossy print layout, consisting of 42 pages. It includes four of my original photography prints as the images accompanying the beginning of each section.

We have worked incredibly hard on this as we wanted to give our readers something special.

Currently, Quintessence is published through Lulu and is awaiting possible distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online notable sellers. The current price is $17.00 (USD) for a paperback which is at the discounted rate of 15%. It will remain $17.00 for three weeks in paperback form. After that three-week period, it will revert back to its normal price of $20.00 (USD) per copy.

Because this is the first issue and we want the word to get out as widely as it possibly can, I have also included an e-book copy at $6.50 (USD). However, with this format, you do not get the full aesthetics of the beauty of this magazine. My copy came this morning and I have held it so much that if the magazine were a person, I am sure it’d demand that I unhand it.

Below, you will find links to both the paperback form and e-book (to be sold only on Lulu) form of Quintessence. Now, that I have cried a few tears and seem to be a little overwhelmed with happiness, I want to thank this issue’s contributors:

Anto Rin, Anthony Cloe Huie, Elizabeth Helmich, Crystal Lady, Gladysdaeweeks, Roxana Ștefan, Sam Kimberle, Tien Skye, Terry Barr, Ngang God’swill N., Sara Weaver, Wild Flower, Willow T. Lovelace, and Barry Dawson IV. Thank you guys for your wondrous words, your tireless efforts in A Cornered Gurl, and for your ways of encouraging others.


Quintessence: paperback

Quintessence: e-book

Thank you to each of our readers, supporters, family, and friends and of course, our community here on Medium. Without all of you, our growth and this magazine, would not be possible.


Peace and blessings


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.


Addendum: I have created a direct link to Quintessence and also if you go to the site directly as opposed to viewing from the Reader. If you look to your right, directly under my “gravatar” is the tab and image for Quintessence which will also take you directly to its page. It is also populated as an additional page via the navigation bar.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Black Firsts: Octavia Butler

The “Queen Mother of Science Fiction”

Octavia E. Butler. Image via curiousfictions.com.

Octavia Butler, born on June 22, 1947, gifted us with a genre of writing we had not experienced from African-American artists and writers before her or alongside her. Her work transcended time, broke down universal barriers, and shifted the category of “science fiction.” She wrote with a vigilance that somehow felt oneiric yet quite real while reading her work.

We could have been her characters. We are her characters.

The way she beckoned a plot and described her settings could pull you from wherever you were while reading her books, short stories, and essays and deposit you to that very spot. She was mythical yet real. She was defiant yet obedient. She was skillful yet willing to learn more about her craft.

She was a writer I simply had to read. My first book by Octavia Butler was the enthralling and still incredibly popular, Kindred which was given as a reading assignment in my African-American Literature class when I was in college.

It is a story of a young writer (Dana) shifting through time, traveling from her current period of the 1970s in California back to the days of antebellum slavery in Maryland. There, in the throes of thriving slavery, she meets her ancestors (Rufus and Alice Greenwood) and experiences the life and times of what it meant to be enslaved, but in temporary doses brought on by dizzy spells that initiated the time traveling.

She was mythical yet real. She was defiant yet obedient. She was skillful yet willing to learn more about her craft.

Butler depicts just how painful the shifts in time can be by bringing on dizzy spells that land Dana in various places during the antebellum slavery days where Rufus always seems to be in some sort of trouble and Dana arrives in the nick of time to help him.

By her third trip shifting, she and her white husband Kevin are both placed at Rufus’ home where they had to prove to the young master that they are indeed from the future and their stay in that time gets longer and even more intense.

It is an invigorating and impressive read as well. However, I did not expect anything less given the reviews I read before diving into reading the book for the first time. Plus, my African-American Literature professor gushed openly about it and was sure it would change our lives after we read it. It changed mine.

I wanted to know more about this writer who was unafraid to test the waters and completely transform the way I looked at science fiction. Thus, over time, I bought Parable of the Talents, Parable of the Sower, and Fledgling. I was not disappointed. Butler shares her gift of diving into the unknown, encountering mystics, and the push and pull of spiritualism with every read. I read her work and want to know what was growing in her mind — how did she come up with the talented work she gave us?

Butler became a receiver of firsts. She was the first science fiction writer to earn the McArthur Fellowship, class of 1995. She was forty-eight years old when she received the award. A few accompanying her within this class was journalist Alma Guillermo Prieto, writer Sandra Cisneros, and filmmaker Allison Anders. Butler also won the Hugo Award and Nebula Prize respectively, for not one, but several of her written works; Bloodchild and Speech Sounds, and Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower.

She is also known as the “godmother of Afrofuturism” which is a title never bestowed upon anyone else. Much of her vision for her work can be seen in videos by Beyoncé, in episodes of Black Mirror, and in movies by Ava DuVernay.

Butler shares her gift of diving into the unknown, encountering mystics, and the push and pull of spiritualism with every read.

When I mention my favorite writers, she is on that list. I have written a few pieces that toe the line of science fiction, spiritualism, and fantasy because of reading her work. She inspired me to push the envelope and never be afraid to try new genres in writing.

Read: The Trinity Marson Two-Part Series and Calypso, the Robotic Woman

Octavia Bulter died at the age of fifty-eight on February 24, 2006, from a stroke. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly fourteen years since her death, however, the work she produced lives on. I will always remember her as the “Queen Mother of Science Fiction.” Butler’s body of work, the way in which she devoted her time and skills to encourage young writers via workshops, and public speaking about her personal growth in the sci-fi genre (which was traditionally dominated by white men) are symbols of Butler’s willingness to help writers hone their craft.

Also read: Sky’s Falling Girls

At first, I thought Butler’s work an esoteric brand, but as time passed, that view has changed. Not only is her legacy a strong one in the African-American community — she is widely known and acknowledged for her efforts and accomplishments as an African-American science fiction writer.

To Octavia Butler: the first to do so many things in the world of writing. There will never be another.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as the piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.

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