Lisa Senters is a writer I’ve been reading on Medium for a few years so when the time came for her to be added as a contributor for A Cornered Gurl, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I love what she does with words–how she can forge simple connections with them by the way she places them. She is a words-worker who doesn’t shy away from being vulnerable and sharing raw and heavy work with us. The poem that lands her this feature is the aptly titled, “Don’t wait to speak it.” I think you’ll understand why sharing this is important when you read it.
Don’t wait to speak it.
I have something important to tell you.
But, I’ll wait.
After the knock at your door
and the fucking divorce papers.
I feel pain in my heart
when you say
you are heartbroken.
I remember the poor boy,
from the projects,
the foster kid.
I toted the red balloons and roses
you gave me, class to class
on Valentine’s Day.
I carried them home,
balloons bobbing, tap-tap
at the top of the school bus.
That was in 1986.
So it goes to say
I’m terribly proud of you.
I see a grown man
with the soul of a poor boy
who loves no less than fully.
A good father.
A good husband.
A good family man.
I’m so sorry.
When you told me that you moved
into an unfurnished apartment
and, she has the kids,
I had tried to imagine
how you must feel.
How could I know that
you didn’t want to be alive?
Shannon Mastromonico is a recently added contributor to A Cornered Gurland is a powerhouse of talent. With the ability to visually capture her poems and prose with her own art, she brings something extremely different to our publication. Her words are sharp, vulnerable, and edgy with a hint of “matter-of-factness” to them. I am happy to present to each of you our Featured Writer for the month of March, Shannon Mastromonico with her debut poem:
Until Planets Move
This marks new ground
is a pain plateau. Going
through too many dark forests
foraging for peace. Lost
Until planets move
and color shifts
Respite by chance
of wandering stars
and moon dips
Abdullah I. Shawafemailed me recently to be added toA 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.
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.
Ngang God’swill N.is a contributor toA 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.
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.
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.
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
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.