time will tell

he doesn’t know
love escaped in
the middle of the night

he slept a good chance away
she’ll never return
she’ll never stay

he kicks at the pillows
and tears down the drapes
clutches his heart in disbelief

this isn’t his fate
oh, but it is
is he ready for a life

of brutal honesty and loneliness
time will tell
or will he kill time too

So, You’re Thinking About the Last Time You Kissed Someone

And if it hadn’t been for that one commercial, you probably would’ve forgotten it.

The words “Heart Breaker” are painted in white on a jean jacket or jean pants.
Photo by Michelle Cella via Redshot

Have you seen the “First Kiss” Hershey’s Kisses commercial? You know the one with “Eric” mentioning all the positive aspects about the kiss while “Lisa” shares the negative aspects about it? Yeah, that one. The first time I saw that commercial I thought to myself, “What is this business? I hope they’re not an actual couple.” But then I thought, “Hmm, when was my last kiss?”

I mention my last kiss because I clearly remember my first one. I was thirteen, in my last year of junior high, and gearing myself up for high school in just a few months. My boyfriend was a tall, heavy, beautiful black young man, who was originally from Florida and played football for our school.

He would go on to be scouted for a high school other than the one I was expected to attend and make quite the name for himself.


We dated for three years. He got a head-start on cheating on young women well before his late teens and our breakup was disastrous. His mother adored me and I loved her. I hated that her son and I ended the way we did. But we grew to respect each other enough to be cordial as we got older.

He even asked me out again, which was quickly shut down before he could mumble any other words. I had my fill, and I wanted no more of him.

But our first kiss, although hurried and done in a sneaky way, was also extremely memorable. His lips were full and had just the right amount of moisture. There wasn’t a lot of tongue — just enough to be coaxed into a soft lulling — eyes temporarily closed, heart racing.

We pulled away from each other and smiled. Then we held hands. We were official.

I am certain that for as long as I live, I will remember that kiss. It taught me many things about love and lust and being lost all at the same time.

Have you thought about the last time you kissed someone? If you did, where did it lead you? Hopefully, you didn’t scramble down the rabbit hole as I did.


My last kiss . . . When had it occurred and with whom was it? This was my struggle topic. But the more I saw that commercial, the more my memory bank deposited blips of its happening into my view. I believe I blocked it out because he is married now — happily married.

For some odd reason, I have it in my spirit that I am not supposed to think about things that brought me joy if the person with whom that joy had been shared is married to someone else.

Is it wrong? Does it mean I lack respect for what he has gained? Am I allowed to reminisce and not fall for those memories once again? Can I?

One thing I loved most about our relationship was kissing and his hugs. He gave “come-to-me-bear-hugs” and I would lose myself in his embrace. He would also do the forehead kiss, then lift my face to his — my lips to his, and I would melt for him.

We didn’t last. We couldn’t last. But we remain friends.

When he sent me the invite to his wedding (to view it online, because, you know, a global pandemic), I was excited. I pondered about what to get the soon-to-be-married couple. I decided on matching aprons, a book about lasting love, and his and her “married to” bracelets. I beamed looking at the photo of the two of them and nodded my approval.

He deserved this — to be happy — to find his match. I tell anyone willing to listen that we had a great thing. It just wasn’t the right thing. Our schedules never meshed. He worked odd hours, and I had a job that required a lot of me and my time.

It was only fitting for him to reconnect with someone from his high school days, fall in love with her once again, propose, and the rest is history. His being happy makes me happy.

But his was the last kiss I had — the last real kiss. My ex after him never drummed up enough sensual intensity within me to move us from dating to intimacy. I just couldn’t connect with him in that way, and eventually, we called it quits. It was well overdue.


But that commercial . . . That damn commercial. If they did not produce it, would I still have that last kiss memory buried deep inside my mind? And now that it has returned, what am I to do with it?

I think one day soon, I will hoist it back to the lone corners of my mind only to be conjured up once again when “the last kiss” is up for discussion.

It has a home. Maybe it will end up there again for safekeeping.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

He’s Getting Married - No, Not to Me

And, I couldn’t be happier for him

To my surprise, on August 29, 2020, I opened my mailbox to their invitation. One of my exes and his fiancé are marrying soon. I guess I cannot really call it a surprise. I knew I would receive an invitation. He and I spoke about it, but I buried it in the recesses of my mind and sort of forgotten about it, until yesterday. This will not be a belligerent recanting of how I am hurt or upset or even bitter. I am undeniably happy for him and his wife-to-be.

*Jay is a catch. He is a man I would be more than happy to recommend to a woman deserving of him. He’s intelligent, witty, creative, and in touch with his feminine side — he is a listener who heard me every time I had something to say. And if there was action needed for us to work, he stepped into that action. We just did not work, and there are reasons for that — all of them outside of our control.

I think it’s important for couples in intimate relationships to recognize when the spark disappears and is no longer attainable to move on from one another in that realm. Jay and I stayed friends — good friends, the kind that check up on each other and have lunch or dinner with each other when he is in town. We had/have so much in common, and that remains. But, I knew, years ago, I did not want marriage. And even if we had made it as a couple, I doubt, if he proposed to me — I would have said “Yes.”

Learning of this significant news caught me off guard. I’d sent him a text message one evening, as I am apt to do from time to time and we sort of fell into a discussion about life and he later said, “Hey! Did I tell you I am getting married?!” To which I replied, “You most certainly did not!”

I wish I could describe the overwhelming feeling of elation to you in my response. I want this for him. I have always wanted him to find happiness and whatever he believes that to be — it is my hope it manifests.


I gazed at the invitation for a long time. I looked at him and his beautiful wife-to-be and smiled. I shook my head in disbelief — this is happening! Jay is getting married. And I smiled again. The background image is of the two of them, standing in a record store, holding up an album, and on it are their names imprinted announcing the date. I thought to myself, “This must have been his idea.” We both love music and it is one of the first things that connected us to each other.

Now, this woman, this beautiful person he found to spend the rest of his life with, will get to enjoy his talents and all of whom he is.

They prepared for the times in which we live. Because of the global pandemic, the number of people who can physically attend is limited, however, they will stream it live. I will be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I will also send them a gift. I am more than happy to share in his joy in this capacity.

I wanted him to know I received their invitation. I sent him a text message that read: “My invitation came! Thank you! It’s beautiful and I’ll be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I’m so happy for you!” Knowing him as I do, I knew he’d respond within moments — that’s just him. And he did with, “Lol. Ok. Cool. Glad you got it. Did you have any questions about the live stream? And thank you!!”

When I think about who he truly is and who I truly am, we couldn’t last — not on that level, but as friends? There is a beauty to who we are as friends that needs no explanation. I love him and want only the best for him. I have watched his siblings grow up, begin their own families, move away to cultivate and enrich their lives, and I now know he is doing the same.


Four years ago, I may not have been as equipped to feel this way for him — to want him to find true happiness outside of being with me. I held on to some emotions that needed releasing and extracting from my system decades before, but this is what aging does — this is what growth does — it allows you to reflect on what you need to change deep within you and put it into action.

Because of this, I can tell you with no doubt, I am happy, truly happy for this man I once loved intimately and passionately to begin his life anew with his wife-to-be. I wish them wedded bliss–and anyone with evil intentions cannot harm or touch it. And should they want children, that they are happy, healthy, and equal parts of both of them.

He’s getting married and everything in me shouts in elation. And nothing else.


*Not his real name.

Come. Sit, Please. Tell Me What You’re Feeling.

How My Boss Made Space for Me When I Needed It Most

I had an emotional breakdown at work. To be frank, I have been met with more responsibilities, lack of support from my direct higher-up, and an indescribable amount of tension within our walls due to America’s current state of affairs. My role has shifted. Not only do I register patients for imaging scans and invasive procedures, I also screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering our waiting areas. My hours, on some days, are longer than others and my shifts have been inconsistent. I have been exposed to positive COVID-19 patients as well as patients who presented with symptoms or who have been around someone diagnosed with Coronavirus, COVID-19 in the last fourteen days.

I am currently on my ninth day of self-monitoring as our Employee Occupational Health team believes I have not been in contact with these patients long enough for it to warrant actual testing for COVID-19 — I am presumed to be safe enough to be at work. In each scenario, I was prepared, wearing a face mask, gloves, and goggles. They too had on face masks — one was wearing gloves. I was with each person for about five to six minutes. Upon verifying their status or confirming symptoms, these patients were directed to the PUI (Patient Under Investigation) facility where they would, in fact, receive their care.

I should have prefaced this by stating, we started the Coronavirus season with three screeners. One of my co-workers who screened with me is out on medical leave, post-surgery. The other has had two panic attacks due to exposure to positive patients and the fear it brings along with it. I stand alone, doing what I do to ensure the safety of myself and others.

But, I don’t feel safe at all.

From the constant cleaning of our front doors and entryways to questioning over one hundred fifty people per day, and dealing with the various attitudes that accompany some of these people, I am worn thin. Because we are short-staffed, there is no one else to turn to. We are all trying to make what we do work with the help we still have. It is not easy. There are many days where I dread getting up and taking another stab at the workday, but my bills are not going anywhere and I still have to take care of Jernee.

One of the recent changes among the ones listed above presented to us by my direct higher-up was to have us come in one hour early on our respective closing days and reduce our lunch break by thirty minutes. (That would be a 9 to 10-hour shift with a thirty-minute break.) She emailed this order to us one of the days I was scheduled to close. I received the message on my phone and upon reading it, the anger that had been boiling up in me unloaded.

I typed in a rage-response to her what I would and would not do and why it is wrong of them to ask more of us, then take even more from us as well. She passed my thoughts on to our center manager and since she and I have a history (she used to be our direct supervisor, left the center for a year, then returned, and is now the current center manager), she called me into her office to speak with her.

Come. Sit, Please. Tell Me What You’re Feeling.

I sat in her office knowing full-well why I was there. I had “acted out of character”, my response to an ill-fitting request of those who are already overworked, underpaid, and thrown into roles, not previously designed for them, was not what they were expecting. But, our center manager understood this. She said eight words to me, “Come. Sit, please. Tell me what you’re feeling.” And, I did. As I expressed what I felt and why and was open about how we’re being treated and what it does to me, the tears rolled down my face. My breaths quickened. My chest heaved. Sobbing became something that could not be contained.

She said, “You can take that mask off. I don’t need to be protected from you.” She handed me a box of Kleenex and let me continue. She listened to me, truly listened to me. I saw the expression on her face change from “concern” to “understanding.” In the midst of my storm, she tried her best to be a raft — something that provided safety. I cried until there was a sense of relief in my heart. She assured me they would find a way to lessen some of the weight hoisted upon us recently.

She did. She kept her word. But she has always done this. She informed me on that day if I ever felt the need to express myself to come to her — to not let my feelings stay pent up until they have nowhere else to go but out and in a way someone will not understand it or expect it. She ended our conversation by saying, “I am saying this because I care about your head (pointing to her head) and I care about your heart (pointing to her heart).”


Fast-forward to six days later on the evening of June 04, 2020, my co-worker, another African-American woman, was faced with the blatant tongue of a racist patient we have an obligation to serve. The next morning, she could not wait to come to my station in an attempt to tell me what happened. She teared up as soon as she saw me, and I felt it. I already knew something happened the night before that would change our center — change our leadership. We talked as quickly as we could and I ached for not being able to hug her — to provide comfort. I said, “We are not who they say we are. Do not let them live in your heart. Don’t give them room there.” She shook her head in agreement at me, wiped the tears from her eyes, thanked me quickly, and went back inside to register patients.

On the same day, I had my run-ins with a few racist patients who flaunted their “Trump for President 2020” paraphernalia upon entering the building and attempted to bypass donning masks. I was not having it. I stood my ground. I always do. I always will. You will not treat me in a way that is not aligned with how I wish to be treated or refuse me the respect I deserve. I am not a child. I will not be spoken to as one and I certainly will not bend to your rules for me without my consent.

I got through my workday as I always do — with prayer, belief in the work I do, and assistance from my co-workers. But, the pain was there. It sat in places in my body where I have not felt it before. My heart is heavy and it must show on my face because as I was leaving, our center manager said, “Tre . . . Come here, please. How are you feeling? How are you dealing with everything that’s going on in the world right now?” And all I needed was an invitation to tell her what was/is on my heart — to fully express just how hurt I am by the hands, tongues, actions, and behavior of her people.

I cannot be in her position. She cannot be in mine. She will never know how I truly feel just as I will never know what it’s like to be on her side of things trying to understand what is going on in my head — in my heart. But, she is empathetic to our plight. She has assured us we do not have to deal with ignorance and if someone brings their nasty behavior into our building and attempts to toss it at us, she is to be summoned to the location of such things. She let it be known, “You do not have to deal with the stupidity of others. You come and get me and I will handle it. I do not want anyone here feeling less than who they actually are. I won’t stand for that.”

I am forty years old. I have been working full-time since the age of eighteen. I have been Black my entire life — this will never change, however, this is the first time, someone in a position of power at any of my jobs has taken the time our center manager has to hear me.

Does it change what I feel or ease the heavy weight on my shoulders? No.

But, it is a start.


*Author’s Note: One of the worst things you can say to me is “I don’t see color” or “I don’t see race.” I need you to see me — to hear me. Seeing who I am and what my plight has been opens the doors to the conversations we need to have regarding systemic racism, social injustice, and how we can create change. I don’t need or want anything else. My boss has taken the necessary steps to sit her employees of color down to hear each of us out — to be there for us. That is how you move towards change.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You 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.