An advocate for mental health, disability, and chronic illness–she pens her words carefully but manages to add so much strength to them too. She is an active contributor to A Cornered Gurl and is giving our little community lessons in life through words. The poem that I have selected to feature is entitled, “Lines On My Body.” It is an amazing flow of words and ends solidly too. Everything about it makes me happy to be a writer of the genre, poetry. And now, “Lines On My Body.”
Lines On My Body
I want these lines on my body
showing my journey,
expressing my womanhood–
bold patterns of identity
from a feminine hand.
But there is part of me
that shouts don’t do it!
No man will touch you– (not this man but maybe the next). No job will have you– (not this job but maybe others).
So, perhaps, like that poem about
the old lady wearing green shoes
(or was it purple? or red?)
because she finally felt free
to do so — perhaps, like her, I’ll
finally cover myself in the beautiful
images of my life when I’m sixty;
when I don’t need to care about
the bank manager anymore, or
the boyfriend. Maybe then I can say:
I don’t have a photo album or
a Facebook page — don’t need it. It’s all on me. Part of me. Come.
My speech precedes me. I was raised in a home where reading was mandatory. I had to read. I had to learn. I was programmed to not only listen in grade school but pay attention and gain as much knowledge as I could. On top of all of the knowledge gained, I had to study longer, work harder, practice more, and not only be good, but great. I had to be more than my peers and I had to do so because I was a girl, I was black, and we lived on the East side of Savannah, Georgia (predominantly black area). I spent time watching orators give long-winded speeches about education, the arts, culture, the need for funding in Downtown Savannah, etc. I had teenagers for parents who struggled to raise me and did not seek higher education but drilled it deep in my bones that I would, in fact, obtain a college degree.
Thus began my grooming for a world that would look upon a young, black girl and not only respect her but allow her to play on its field. Or, this is what was supposed to happen according to my elders.I entered spelling contests and won. I wrote essays, poems, and short stories and was encouraged to test the waters, no matter how deep. I spent the bulk of my summers in Bronx, New York with my mother’s biological mom and her baby sister. Oddly enough, I have this unique blend of accents — not quite Northern, but not all the way Southern, either — a mixture. I have often been told, “You are too proper,”“You talk White (seriously, what does this mean?)”, and my favorite, “You speak so well, you enunciate everything.” Oh, really now? Am I not supposed to?
Black women are intelligent too, you know. We read. We study abroad. We not only enroll and are accepted into Ivy League universities, but we graduate as well. We are innovative. We are unique. We can take nothing, turn it into something and allow it to multiply because we have had tons of practice in being resourceful.The fact that I am clear in delivering messages to you when I speak does not make me special or you superior.It simply places me in a category you may not be familiar with and that is reason enough to ask yourself why.How many black women do you know? Do you venture out to be friendly with them? Do you listen, truly listen to what is being said by them when holding a conversation?
We have the words of our ancestors pouring out of us, why would you even think we would not be heard? What makes you think that what we say would not be clear, concise, direct, and appropriate? I do not want to be anyone’s common statistic. How you form your thoughts surrounding who I am and how I operate in life is between you and your current mindset. It does not have anything to do with me. I love to watch the look on the face of others when I open my mouth to speak, especially if there is an important topic to discuss at hand. I am tactful, I am steady in my thinking, and not only am I direct — I know my facts when I have to.
When I speak — I am showing you an entire race and the many cultures that make up who we are. When you hear me, you hear a woman — a black woman giving you her thoughts.If ever we have a debate, slight misunderstanding, or an argument, know that what I will say, you will not forget. “But, you speak so well.”
I had a friend, a long time ago, who read something of mine posted on another writing platform and ripped it to shreds. Another friend who saw the comment from that friend of ours sent me a text message that said, “You are not writing for the minds of those who cannot understand, Tre. You are writing for the cosmos, girl.” Since then, I have taken the last bit of her comment and applied it to my life. I am living for the cosmos.
What am I? Who am I? How do I fit into this world that oftentimes does not see me? Black can be offensive to those who are not used to being bold.
Let me break that down…
The very force in which we make ourselves known is too much for some to handle. When we get together and voice our opinions on things that matter, subjects that are for our personal gain (and rightfully so), the passion in which we express ourselves to some is too intense. We are intense. We are extreme. We have every right to stand tall, proud, and be forthcoming about who we are and what we give to a world that still benefits from seeing us ostracized.
Someone asked me recently who I am — how would I describe myself using only three words? I said, “Black, woman, and bisexual.” She then looked at me as if I had two heads, one viciously snapping at the other. I asked, “Should I expound?” And of course, I needed to. In the American South, I have three strikes against me before I open my mouth. I am Black. I am a woman. I am bisexual. To be just one of these three descriptions in 2019 is a struggle, but to be all three? That is a welcome mat for homicide.
Some say, we are living in a forward-thinking age, but we are nowhere near a time that will lend us peace wherever we may roam. I am being reminded daily that I am beautiful. That I am designed just right. That every layer of skin and its tone is what I was meant to carry. This is my cross to bear — I have to search for these reminders. I have to dig. I have to create the space I need for comfort, it is not readily prepared or given to me. I have to take it.
I Am Black’s Beauty…
“i am always burning and no one knows my name
i am a nameless fury, i am a blues scratched from
the throat of ms. nina—i am always angry.” — Mahogany L. Browne
I dated a guy while in my twenties who said to me, “There’s nothing left for a man to give you, Tre.” I thought it to be the oddest, most ignorant thing for someone to say. The comment led to our first major argument. Do I not need love? Do I not need comfort? Am I not worthy of someone who can step in and just be what I need him or her to be when I need it? He tried to explain to me that his comment was solely to point out that I was independent, in constant survival-mode, stable, and did not need “help” from him. This was before my coming out days, but he knew of my sexuality — he knew who I truly was.
To say that we were “young and dumb,” would probably be apt, but we both knew what and who we wanted and it was not each other. He needed a woman who needed him and often showed it, made him “feel like a man.”I wanted a man who acknowledged my independence, stood by it, and still loved me without measuring what I could and could not do. It was best that we parted ways. That experience taught me that all that I am will not be accepted by everyone. All that I am will not be applauded by everyone.
Black is sweet. Black is love. Black is light. Black is struggling to make ends not only meet but stick together forever. Black is golden. Black is the blues and soul-saving poetry. Black is picking up the pieces, putting them in their rightful place, and moving on.
Black is the high road, the road less traveled, the road to all of your yellow brick roads. Black is new. Black is old. Black is learning to step aside and honor the ancestors’ calling upon us. Black is sincerity.Black is bold.
Every single day, I am paving a way for myself where in the past, I felt as though I could not. And in the South, I still feel that I cannot. I may not be what someone wants or expects of me. I may not have what someone needs or expects from me. I may be the very last thing you think about and can only provide a tiny space for in the corner of your weeping mind. But I know this —
I am bold.
This is a more in-depth breakdown of the following piece:
Every once in a while, I come across a young Writer who surpasses what I expect from that young one–Braden is exactly that type of Writer. He does not back down from a challenge and can flip micropoetry into long form and back to micropoetry without missing a bit. He is this month’s feature. Braden is in his last year at the University of Georgia and was just recently accepted to complete his Master’s as well. He is one of my favorite Writers to collaborate with and each time our minds meet, we make something so very special.
There will be two of his works published here today; one, a 5-word response to the topic of “Rejection” and the other is a superb poem that highlights the torment of humanity, the possible fall of love, and the gods who rule the world, but still let it crumble among its men.
humans turn their
belly-up, barbed branches
tearing apart their
seams. watch them fight a war now,
play-things enamored with the indefinite —
losing their minds over
elusive and tormenting
because they once had a taste
of such heavenly ambrosia.
watch from the skyline,
eagle-eyed overhead with underhanded
magic, lancets slice through
pseudo-divine blood pacts.
wonder the questions, wander
for answers —
why do they eat up the inevitable?
piece apart timelines, time
zones separate then and now isolation is human nature.
with a flicking wrist
we could decimate
would cower at the thought.
but in their ignorance exists
unfeigned fortitude, solidified
by their thirst for ungodly
I am posting this here as well just in case there are some young, active users on Medium who may not receive letters from A Cornered Gurlor may not know how to begin their writing journey with a publication. WordPress, you are family–I know how you are about our young ones, how we have to raise them up, give them their space, and allow them a chance to step foot into this world the way that they need to by sounding off… Here is just one opportunity. There will be more.
Young Minds of Medium
A Challenge: Let Me Hear You Roar!
This is a call for submissions. Young Minds of Medium — this is your challenge. I am looking for work from the young Writers here on Medium, ages 15–25. Submissions will be reviewed and posted on Mondays and Fridays during the month of April. This is your time to shine. I want to hear from you. I want to feel, connect with, and help you bring to light what you have held inside for so long — what you want to write about but may not know how to.
Your theme: “Let Me Hear You Roar!”
What am I asking?
Give me the anger that’s swelling deep inside you, channel it and let’s get creative with it. You think you can’t put what you’re feeling into words, try me — let’s make it happen together.
I am looking for:
Fiction (no more than 850 words)
Non-fiction (no more than 850 words)
And, your heart. ❤
•You will need to be a current user on Medium for this challenge. Request to be added as a Writer by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Please Add Me” as the subject line. For the young ones, ages 15–25 already contributing to ACG, please submit your work in draft-form directly to A Cornered Gurl for review, scheduling, and/or publishing. You can submit twice per week, your works will be published on Monday and Friday of that week. Please have a suitable image for your work with notable credit to its source/artist (please include the link). You can find a host of great images via Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels. If you are the source for your image, please caption that.
Please subtitle your entries “Young Minds of Medium Anger Call” and tag your pieces with the following “Growth” & “Anger.” The other three tags, you can choose at your own discretion. CHALLENGE SUBMISSIONS BEGINS NOW!
The start date for publishing the YMOM pieces is Monday, April 1, 2019, and the end date is Monday, April 28, 2019. Other contributors to ACG, please do not fret. You can submit as you normally would to A Cornered Gurl and your work will be published as well, however, a total of three pieces will be published on Mondays and Fridays for all other Writers, leaving the floor wide open for our young ones. I hope you can understand and accept this.
Please remember that A Cornered Gurl is a read-for-all community and there will be no metered paywall or locked pieces published here. Thank you.