Featured Poem of the Week

Abdullah I. Shawaf emailed me recently to be added to A Cornered Gurl. I had read a few pieces of his via Medium and enjoyed each of them. To receive that email, struck a chord in me, one that was happy to be awakened. His first contribution to ACG is a heartfelt piece personifying love and how love would react if we as humans asked it how it truly felt about its role in life–about its role as something we chase, yet handle so carelessly at times. I was happy to receive this piece in the ACG queue, review it, edit only a few areas, and get it published. I am honored to share this poetry-prose piece and Abdullah I. Shawaf with each of you.


When We Asked Love, Who Are You and Where Do You Exist?

As he was eager to be asked, he told us about the place where everything seems darkened and hopeless.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

The greatest combat in history happened between love and hatred in a neutral heart — when both of the armies held a sign: “A winner takes what he puts his hands on, and the loser loses his right to vote.”

There we asked Love, one of the survivors, who are you?
And as he was eager to be asked, he answered:

I’m a flower shining in the dark, trying to forget that flowers need light to survive.

I’m a leashed power that stayed on the war line for a complete life, willing to change but not having the green light.

I am the survivor of the cold war, where survivors tell the story before they are gone.

Where soldiers’ powers are made of life events, and their colors are either darkened or blank.

Where the two sides fighting who will be the part who takes over and drives.

And from there, the events were to decide whether the heart leans to the good or the bad side.

Then I realized that no one controls his life, as his events shaped his mind.

No one was born violent, but what changed him is his environment.

I’m convinced the first call to racism was a joke that made everyone laugh, but the victim, he cried and got more soldiers on the hatred side.

He was upset by how people throw their words like daggers, and they don’t care about how much it hurts. And soon, racism was no longer a joke; it became a thought.

But one thing is sure; no one completely changes.

No matter how much hatred is there, there will be love somewhere.

You will find love in the strangest places where you never expected, it exists there.

It’s hidden, deep and covered under the ashes, waiting for the chance to be unleashed.

And soon it will be.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Writer for February

Ngang God’swill N. is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl and has been for quite some time. I have the great pleasure of watching this young man spread his wings and get rather vocal on Medium. Just from interacting with him and reading his work, I can tell that his heart is genuine and he has his mind set on reaching out to others and connecting with them too.

The piece I have selected to share is a non-fictional piece detailing the importance of letting boys express themselves, cry, and get emotional when they need to so that when they grow up to become men, they understand their emotions and know how to love genuinely and give vulnerable pieces of themselves to others. It is a letter in poetical-prose that touched me as soon as I read it.


Don’t Let Them Become Like Me

A letter to you all.

Hello you,

You may not have known or realized this, but remember all those times I couldn’t speak, that I shut the door and hid from you? Rember that I blocked you and rejected your calls. Do you remember all the days I couldn’t smile, when my voice was a shameful whisper?
I was begging you to save me.
I was begging you to read me, to reach me.

Photo by bimo mentara on Unsplash

It’s like this you see, a man must not cry. Must be bold and sharp, strong and enduring, like a super being. But where should I keep all this pain I feel boiling inside, this confusion that chokes me, this insecurity and fear that threatens to break me? Where should I keep these tears that drown my heart, flood my lungs and leave me gasping for air?

You fail to see that I am human too. When you cut me, I bleed; and when you kiss me, I feel those wild sensations too. I sleep when I get weary when my bones ache and my breath feels like a bath of boiling water. But you shut your eyes to all these and dish out violence upon my gentle heart. Stealing all the compassion, the love of my boyish heart, and the color of my toddler days. How much do you think I can take?

How can you now demand water from a rock? How can you ask me to give you love? Where do you think I will get it? I do not know love. Ask me for pain; that is all you’ve ever given me.

You were consistent in my dosage; generations, eras, millennia. It has always been the same, I remember. So ask of me pain, and I will give you all that you have given me, and like the good servant in the Bible; I will also give you all the proceeds it yielded.

I didn’t stop loving, the choice was never mine to make. Attention-deficit is all I have ever known, blindfolded and plunged into an illusion that tomorrow rests on my shoulders alone. Systematically, you heaped the world on my shoulders, one piece at a time till you could barely see me beneath it all. Slowly I slipped into the darkness underneath and sipped in the darkness. It was a gentle process, incessant and scheduled, till my soul became a shadow; with logic for a compass. Now you know why I dish out the most hurt;

Because I am even more hurt and broken than this world.

Somehow, in all this blackness, this journey of pain, abandonment, betrayal, and brokenness, you expect me to be something I’m not. Caring, sensitive, respectful; YOU LIE!

It is painful to scrape off layers accumulated over the years, I will have to relive all the wounds again; the fights and loneliness. The days I realized that my sister’s proper raising was more important than mine, that I was just not important.

How do you expect me to forget the entitlement lessons drilled into me on the battlefield, the silence where I battled with purpose and personality? Tell me how to forget family responsibilities on my shoulders at age twelve, or the pressure it brought. I was a man, RIGHT?!

How can I forget the sacrifices, the stories that haunt my mind; the horrors I have lived? The things I have done and the decisions I have taken that have caused so much hurt to people. Tell me how can I get back the pieces of my soul, the ones I traded to help fulfill my role as a man. Because I am at a loss, I am yet again in another chat with self; of purpose and personality. Will you let me find an answer again? ALONE!?

I have been a man all my life, and I understand what the pressure can do to one’s sanity. You can’t understand as I do, this penis is a personal cross.
Still, from the madness and insanity, I try to reach out to all that is mine. The love you stole from my heart, the laughter and warmth that once made me tick, the calm and cordial temperaments that once made me. The same things you denied me and gave my sister, then praised her over me, as though the choice was mine.

And it’s known that destruction is an easier path, but here, this pit, dismantling is near impossible. It is like having a go at a baobab tree, with a broomstick praying and hoping for a miracle; I will persist still. But for these little ones, these baby brothers you just birthed, please be kinder to them.

Here is a unique chance to right all the wrongs, to wash away the stain. Treat these lads right, tell them it is okay to cry, to love and to not always know the answer. Teach them that it is okay to be human, to make mistakes. Teach them that humanity is a team — brother and sister — and that life is a team sport.

Don’t let them become like me; let them be better.


Originally published inA Cornered Gurlvia Medium.

Featured Poem of the Week

Sylph Hemery contacted me recently to be added to A Cornered Gurl and I reviewed her profile, read some emotional and relatable pieces and knew she’d be a great addition to our community. Below is her first contribution. I connected with it upon the first read. Here’s hoping you will too.


Some Poems Spill Out

Free Verse

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

My crammed heart, chokes, splits open.
Dis-enslaved blood bestrews the naked page.

The wine red drops speak in tongues,
Ecstatic searchings for sacred words with hands

To hoist me up,
To steady the teeterings and quakes,
To sate my spine with pristine dignity.

In these words, I stand without cowering,
Scoured of hunching shame, brave.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Writer for January

Anthony Cloe Huie

Anthony has been on Medium for as long as I can remember and I used to edit and publish his work in This Glorious Mess a few years back. Naturally, when I opened up A Cornered Gurl to all writers on Medium, I reached out to him as I wanted to be able to continue to work with him and have his work published in my publication. I knew Medium’s readers would benefit from his lyrical approach to poetry and his rhythmic and melodic refrains. He has a knack for writing about love, the heart, and maintaining relationships. I love what he brings to A Cornered Gurl. The poem that earned him this feature is “You’d Be My Do-Over.”


You’d Be My Do-Over

Daniel Adesina@exileartisan

 Although we said goodbye so very long ago
still the slightest whispering of your name
brings back every loving feeling, every
painful memory
Each and every thought of you
reminds me
what I lacked then in courage to love you
I still lack in courage now to forget you
You are my sweetest thought
my bitterest memory

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Life has not treated me unkind in any way
and truth be known, when I awake
each and every day
I am blessed, having no regrets
glad to know the world around me
has decided to stay

Still those thoughts infectiously
chip away at me
chasing away my rationality
Sometimes I am not the me I should be
the slightest of distraction has me
thinking this way
What is it about you
I just can’t say
But your memories just keep
getting in my way

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Today I chased away
my final memory of you
I know that is exactly
the thing I said yesterday I’d do
but today my glass is dry
the bottles are all closed
I am a different guy
I am on that life’s natural high
Not looking behind me
because I could not stand
to see you waving goodbye

So forgive me, please
if sometimes my feelings get in your way
And if at times you wished you too had
turned the other way
Nothing will ever change yesterday
to become today
And if distance will have to be
the saver way
that’s okay
cause
in my heart, you’ll always stay

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

A Cornered Gurl

How We Have Evolved & How You Have Helped

Dad sitting on a couch reading to his two young children
Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

I opened up A Cornered Gurl via Medium to all writers on January 5, 2019, and since then, I have watched the publication grow by at least 388 more followers. We are currently comprised of 159 writers/contributors with about 75 of them active on Medium. We are a publication that has reached the 1100 mark with 1,123 followers. Our theme–our dedication within this publication is to give you writing that is brutally honest, vulnerable, and relative & relatable. We are writers who, “Break out of the Box” and this is shown with every piece published in A Cornered Gurl.

Nine months ago, I updated my “About” page via WordPress aptly titled, “Who Am I?” to include what we are doing at A Cornered Gurl and how we thought many of our readers could help support us and catapult us near our goal. This effort has not been in vain and this post is being drafted to not only thank you for your monetary gifts but to also thank you for your readership. Without readers, writers would not exist. Because some of you clicked on the PayPal button directing you to our “funds” link, we have been able to gift twenty-four of our writers small monetary payments for accomplishing certain milestones and goals both in the publication and in the real world. That dollar figure is up to $262.00 as of today. These milestones and accomplishments include:

1. Meeting or exceeding 1K claps in A Cornered Gurlvia Medium.
2. Meeting or exceeding 500 claps for three consecutive posts in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.
3. Being a winner (there are usually 3-4 selected) of any of our challenges held throughout the year.
4. Making incredible headway or impacting the community online and off (Graduating high school, college, entering a Master’s Program, or volunteering).
5. Donating time, money, and efforts to anyone in need in some way, shape, or form.

In A Cornered Gurl, we are built on community. It is important for us to not only encourage one another but to help each other grow and we are doing that by exploring many of the facets of writing available to us. I find it imperative to share the works of our contributors here via WordPress as well as I believe words are gifts given to us and should be thrown into the ether in any way they can be. You have seen Featured Writers and Featured Poems for the past seven months and this will continue in the new year. Some of those featured writers are; Esther Spruill-Jones, Christie Alex Costello (currently featured), Jackie Ann, Braden Turner, and Fatima Mohammed.

Our end goal, as we are nearing the end of this year, is to be able to present one of the local homeless shelters here in my area of North Carolina with a check that would not only go toward providing meals to homeless people but a place to sleep or rest for a few nights for many of them too. The breakdown of their funding is as follows:

Donations:

  • $25 – 10 meals or 1 night of shelter
  • $50 – 19 meals or 2 nights of shelter
  • $100 – 39 meals or 4 nights of shelter
  • $250 – 97 meals or 10 nights of shelter
  • $500 – 194 meals or 19 nights of shelter
  • $1000 – 388 meals or 39 nights of shelter
  • Other

Where would ACG like to be according to this breakdown? We would like to pursue efforts from the $50.00 to $250.00. With this amount of funding, as you can see above, we would be able to change a few lives temporarily. To me, that’s us giving back as we honestly can not only with our words and talents but with a donation too. If you would like to be someone to help us meet our goal, please click on this link to issue your donation. If not, we can only hope that you gift your time, efforts, money, etc. in some other form to assist, love, and aid our brothers and sisters across the globe during this season of giving. And please, know that you have done enough and we are appreciative!

I cannot thank you enough for your eyes, minds, souls, and hearts. Having every one of you along for this ride has been an experience of the highest kind and I am humbled.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Peace and blessings.