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.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Online Dating:

I Almost Did It Again

man and woman sitting and laughing
Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira via Unsplash

In my mid-twenties, I logged on to an online dating website. If you asked me today, I swear, I couldn’t even tell you which one it was. It proved to be a decent piece of my life at that moment as I matched with a handsome young man who was incredibly intelligent, independent, secure in his job, funny, and respectful. We lasted all of three months. In all honesty, we were unclear as to what we wanted from each other in the beginning. After that third month, I noticed we were good together, compatible. We enjoyed each other’s time, we did jigsaw puzzles together, went to the bookstore, walked in the local parks, etc. We had in-depth, intense, and impressive conversations. However, he did not want anything serious.

I did.

Thus, our end made its way in front of us all too soon. I think about him from time to time. Although we only dated for three months, those were a pretty damn good three months and I smile when I think of them. Every so often, I wonder how he’s doing. If he still lives in the Greensboro area. If he ever got his own business up and running. He was the first guy I dated who kept an immaculate apartment (much like myself) and at that time, I thought it odd as the only young men I’d ever dated, almost never really cleaned house or cooked, let alone had a place that was worth leaving my place for one night or two. He had all these things yet we did not work out.

The more I thought about him, the more I realized–I was dating a male version of myself and today that seems pretty creepy but that’s what it was. It was going to fail and fail hard and fast had it not done so when it did.

But, something pressed upon me a few weeks ago. I have been thinking of saddling up the old horse and getting back on it to give it another go. I did so on Thursday night. I e-trotted over to eHarmony, answered their compatibility questions and guaranteed matching assessment quiz, built a profile, tossed up a few photos, then promptly deleted it. I lost my nerve. The fear that landed itself in my lap was palpitating and real. One moment, I was excited about the possibilities and could not wait to see what my new age and this new year has in store in the land of dating and the next, I was the Cowardly Lion.


women's black leather zip-up jacket
Photo by Naitian (Tony) Wang via Unsplash

I no longer bite my nails, but if I were still doing this, they’d be nubs. Within seconds, an indescribable sense of nervousness overcame me and all I could do and think of was to back out and back off. Before anything could even begin, I shot it down. I did not let it live a life of two to three days.

Nothing.

I told my best friend about this and she said, “It is beginning to concern me of the rate in which you’re letting fear prevent you from doing certain things. What’s the worst that could happen?” And I instantly thought, “Well, the worst that could happen.” I did not tell her this, though. She can overcome fear within seconds–she just does whatever it is she wants to do. If it needs questioning later, it’s questioned. But, I overanalyze things and create a small place in which I dare not go and this is what keeps me from doing many of the things I set out to do.

Last year, I overcame several of my fears and I am learning to be gentle with myself about the things that need work–about the things for which I still have mounds of hesitation in my spirit. I won’t rush things, but I am planning on not remaining in the bowels of the unknown for too long either. I know what I want. I know who I’d like to have these things with, but I am still unsure if I want long-term or dating only. I believe the last thought makes itself known within the first few weeks of dating someone. From what I recall, one can usually tell after two to three dates if one surely wants to keep spending time with the person one is dating.

According to a few statistics compiled by eHarmony,

“Female users aren’t just looking for hook-ups . . . Only 33% of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60% of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.”

This is good information to know as I am surely not just looking for a hook-up. This next statistic is intriguing and gives me a little hope about the way the dating world does things mostly now:

“Online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”

I know at least four couples who met their mates online and they are still together, three of those four couples are married. That says a lot, don’t you think? But, the older I get, the more I know/feel I do not want to be married. This is my now. Who’s to say what I may feel like or know deep in my bones one to three years from now.

So, I almost gave online dating a try again. I was so close. If I were to give myself another pep talk, build myself up to a place of belief that perhaps, a committed relationship could flourish for me too, there is no telling where my mind will lead me. But, will I stick it out, though? I guess there’s only one thing to do in order to know . . .

I still fear it just a bit. Just a tiny bit.

Featured Writer for December

Christie Alex Costello is a gem of a writer and I am happy that she is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl. She brings an airiness to the publication that isn’t often shared and I am delighted to have her as a part of our community. Christie shares with us in her first published piece, the true beauty of love and what it feels like to her. And, it’s not one of those listicles or checklists that we are all so tired of seeing as well. This piece is what landed her the feature:


What Love Really Feels Like

This is not a checklist.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The world spins quickly and while you hope it slows, it never does. Everyone keeps moving, calls keep coming, and each morning the sun builds faster over the horizon. Your world needs stability, yet all you find is madness.

Someone catches your attention for a moment. Everything around you seems to slow as you meet this unfamiliar set of soft brown eyes from across the room. A calming sensation wraps around you like a warm fleece blanket; this is safety. Looking into the soul of this human, your heart begins to race. The sand turns in your hourglass as the two of you shake hands. Welcome to my life, you think to yourself. You begin to speak your name but your throat feels like a hot shot of Fireball; the taste simulating and terrifying all within a single instant. Their hand feels like the kiss you waited for and never felt that first time.

As years go on, this sensation becomes more familiar to you — almost becoming accustomed to this person whom you seem to know well, or so you think. Your eyes have a harder time finding the fire which once burned so brightly. A third sensation builds — an ocean wave of turmoil at its core.

“Am I enough?”

Yes, but in a depth that you never knew existed until you do — you look into the crystal ball but have no understanding of how to read even your own message. You reach, search, and talk with strangers just looking to find a sense of grounding. You find none. The world returns to its fastest speeds yet. Your toes grip the ground to find balance. You wonder to yourself as you stare across the room, stuck in your own head.

“Will I ever be the same without them?”

No, you won’t, and you wouldn’t want to be.

No one warns us that water can get this deep, too deep to tread lightly in. The sensation of its blue vertical drop beneath you is captivating and frustrating. Self-love becomes this necessary ingredient now, a prerequisite to keeping the other human connection beside you; anxiety ensues. You are the depth that you once found daunting to swim in. The other human and yourself are now intoxicated by the power of this vast feeling of surrender; it is becoming hard to pull everything apart — these emotions feel like volcanic eruptions spilling into a world you both created. Although on some days, it can feel like an easy life, living as you watch from a different point of view. The power of your own existence.

“Has this always been our purpose as humans — to understand love?”

The same eyes from all that time ago stare into you now. They are brilliant. You have found a sense of home here. Those glimmers of acceptance hold your soul captivated and mesmerized, worn at the edges like a good book you’ve found yourself reading over and over again. The stillness through the chaos feels like a drunken spin of serendipity.

You think to yourself, this is us.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

I Won’t Apologize For Loving Me

You Shouldn’t Expect Me To

Christina Morillo via Pexels

You came with your demands and like the lonely loner I used to be, I agreed to them. I washed my body in your honey-do lists from hell, neglecting who I was and what my purpose is in life. I fell in love, instead. I clung to the idea of someone other than myself loving me — connecting with me, and this, I thought is what made me whole. When the years became stumbling blocks, I realized somewhere deep in the crux of us, my world mattered less. Self-love was a thing of the past and you settled into the beauty that beckoned it. You had made your voice heard, your goal accomplished. I was half of who I was before you and less than half of who I should have been after you.

noun: self-love: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). — Oxford dictionary

Do you know what it feels like to have the love of your life stop loving you? Stop making love to you? The damage was done and wading through those waters took up most of my energy and the rest of my twenties. I tried to give you more as we aged, even without your embrace — even without your love. I did not recognize the change in me until we parted ways, again. This time would be the end. The last chapter of our story built itself around our gloomy demise and I succumbed to it like a bee to honey. There would never be an us for the future.

It was for the best. It is for the best. I carried this mindset; moved with it, changed counties, cities, and states with it, yet you reappear just when I feel like I have moved on. I think this is your magic. This is how you draw me in. Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle down with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them. They wanted what they longed for — searched for. They have their “happiness.”

“Congratulations to you, what you wanted is what you got now . . . So you don’t gotta worry about me, you made it clear that you’re unhappy, (yeah). Go ahead and have your fun now, just remember what goes around comes around.” —”Karma”, Queen Naija


I notice that when I begin to love myself, to pay attention to myself and give my heart what it needs, old loves fall from the woodwork and make themselves known. I am left mentally screaming at them, “THIS IS MY TIME TO LOVE ME. DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME, PLEASE!” My voice goes unheard. People who know how to break you will break you. They know the right buttons to push. They have seen the storyline and played their parts in the ending — they wrote the manuscript. I have decided that I am not cut out for acting. If I hurt from it, then I’ll hurt from it. But, I am done going back to spaces where only half of me is being loved and the other half is avoided. That’s no way to live.

Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them.

I Can Smell A Toxic Relationship

“By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy.” — Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D

While I was in those relationships, no one could have told me that either of them was toxic. I would have countered with every excuse in the book. I would have placed my partner on a pedestal and shared with the naysayer that “things are just in a bad place for him right now” or “she’s struggling with some things, there’s a lot on her plate.” I was blindfolded. I also had a false sense of love wrapped around me and I wanted to keep that. Anything that felt like love from another person to me felt right.

Over the years, I have examined and reassessed these two relationships. I have processed memories, collected dominant scenes, and broken them down for better understanding. During those times, not only was I independent, I could be controlling. With memories of what I saw in my home, growing up taking over my characteristics, had I not changed, I would have found myself continuing a cycle of harmful behaviors toward myself and allowing the same from others as well. I was willing to take the bullshit of it all if it meant that I was loved. But, was I?

Now, I can spot the beginnings of a toxic relationship. I can smell it. I know it. Memories spring up from the past if a certain phrase is spoken — if similar behaviors are displayed. The first thought to me is to communicate what I am feeling — to share why I may feel unsafe. If the reaction from the person is one of anger, placing blame, and any semblance of violence, I do not stick around. It could be as subtle as belittling me or projecting their hurtful feelings on to me and I flinch. I know it will not end well and I voice this.

Feel it crippling your heart. Ooh baby, can you feel it tearing you apart? That’s right, that’s love. When it comes, you never wanna give it up. — “Let it Burn,” Jazmine Sullivan

I am learning that loving myself is far more important than any inkling or falsehood of love from anyone else. The depths in which I am taking are scary. I will not lie. It is both amazing and frightening to learn what you will allow and what you will not allow when you begin to truly value who you are and what you deserve. I had to make a decision: Do I want to experience what love is supposed to be or do I want to keep experiencing what I thought love was?

“If it hurts, it isn’t love.” — Chuck Spezzano

And I will tell you, I am tired of hurting from a false sense of love and the love I feel now — while loving myself, truly loving myself, is the opposite of hurt. I want to hang on to this for a little while longer. I won’t apologize for it.

No one should expect me to.


Originally published via Medium and featured in the Relationships tab as a piece behind the paywall. The link shared is a friend link. 

But Will She Stay?

Or, Will He Go?

MUSICAL SELECTION|EMOTIONS: DON’T ASK MY NEIGHBOR

I did not budge. I was not going to call the cops because I have a fear of them now that cannot be described. I do not feel protected. I do not feel served. I would rather not have my mom and best friend collect my body from a holding cell at my local precinct because my conscience would not shut up.

But I listened . . .

I was having a relaxing bath, soaking my aching leg, while reading and it happened . . . A door slammed. Her trembling voice followed. His shortly after. It shook me awake from my jump into another world and I instantly knew what this was — an argument. My walls shook from the second slam of a door.

The bathroom walls are paper-thin. I silently prayed, “Lord, whatever is about to happen, please don’t let it be something that will make me call the cops.” My new neighbors found themselves in a twisted situation and this place is not kind to those disturbing the peace, but while things played out, it sounded as though they may have needed this to happen.

That may be an ass-backward statement, but what I mean by this is perhaps this thing could be the defining factor of their relationship — of if there will be a relationship after tonight. A woman’s voice when rattled can break you. If you have any peace in your spirit, you will feel every word falling from her lips.

“IF YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME, THEN SHOW ME!”

She was cry-shouting at him and she said this over and over again and I felt my heartbeat quicken and my hands began to shake. I had not been around a couple arguing in years and this stirred up a fear in me that I forgot existed. I wanted to cry, I felt like I was about to cry, but his voice powered through . . .

“I MOVED HERE FOR YOU!”

She did not back down. She yelled her testimony to him. She made her reasons known and the back and forth of it came right back to her original statement, “If you want to be with me, then show me!” He said something that made me cringe — that made me want to jump out of the tub, throw on some clothes, grab my steel bat, and call my cousins to let them know what was up, but I remembered who I am. It still did not stop me from tearing me apart when he said, “I AM A GROWN MOTHERFUCKIN’ MAN. I DON’T HAVE TO SHOW YOU SHIT.”

There was quiet. It became too quiet. The kind of quiet that shows itself right before the main event and I thought, “I have to make sure he does not hit her, that she does not attack him.” I had to wait it out. I know what a blow to the head sounds like by a closed fist. Or, how a back cracks when it’s slammed against a wall. I grew up in a home where violence was the frontrunner for many years until it was not. I had to be sure they did not physically hurt one another. But verbally . . .

The damage had been done.

It passed, like a storm . . . Like a kidney stone punching through one’s bowels shoving its way into the light. A mellow tune played, what sounded like another door gently closing introduced itself, and the night began to feel safe again.

I wonder if she will gather her things, relocate to wherever she ran away from, or if she will stay loyal — glued to his side. I wonder if he will step it up. If he will try harder, if he even needs to. I wonder if they know just how thin the bathroom walls are and how afraid I had gotten hoping and praying that I did not have to call the cops.

There will be that awkward meeting when we pass each other in the morning. That brief, knowing smile or head nod. No one will mention a thing and we will go on like it never happened. But I will look at her and I will know that her heart is breaking.

I will silently tell her that mine is too.


Originally published via Medium.