30 Seconds in His Heart for Two Days


Free Verse Poetry

I used to date a boy from
the West Side who went
to our school on the East Side — 
we were both young and dumb,
unattached to anything, still
searching for our own scents
and places to belong.

I hadn’t yet found the courage
to tell young men, I also fell for — 
wanted — young women, but he knew.
He saw me on the court, often — 
against girls, against boys, against
anyone who thought they could
cross me over and land a bucket.

My father taught me how to dribble.
My cousin forced me to use my left hand — 
I’m right-handed.
My uncle and grandfather dared the
boys in their neighborhood to give me
one shady look or it would be their ass …
They had better let me on the court,
and they did.

But back to the days of me
tucking long shirts into 
Cross Colours shorts and lacing 
up Karl Kani boots while carrying
a gym bag full of basketball gear — 
sweaty from a hustle on the 
court until streetlight o’clock.

He wanted me.
I wanted him.

And so we were, for five years — 
off and on. 
He was the only one who could
score multiple points on me; taller
by a whole foot and two inches, my 
plan would be …
relax in 3-point country and let
it rain.
Shooting was my saving grace.

We were the real 
Love and Basketball couple,
scheming on and off the court.
I’d lost a lot of things with him — 
a lot of firsts were torn down,
spat on, and stunted.

I hadn’t learned that
it only took 30 seconds to
pierce his heart.
It took 2 days for him to 
settle in mine.

Were we too young to 
be that much in love?

That was the question 
my parents asked us.
But my father loved this
boy — plotted on him marrying me,
and was crushed when this
did not happen.
I had ruined it — that was inevitable.

He found someone else when we 
were in our 30s — kept in touch
over the years until he proposed,
then it was unholy to speak to 
me … I used to be happy
he had finally gotten happy with
someone else.

I used to be …
As I got older, I just
accepted it — neither happy nor 
sad, just aware that these things
happen, and we had 
to lose each other in order
for me to find myself.

I can’t run up and down 
courts anymore — my shins
are bad, my lower back is 
garbage, and my knees have
seen their last days swerving to
box someone out for
a rebound.

But I remember those 
30 seconds. I remember those
2 days. 
I wonder — does he?
Should he?
Probably not.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Blahzay Blahzay, Danger. ©1996

I Wish You Were Still Here

A Lamentation for Chrissy

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

And I’m not lying.
I tell people, “I’m trying”
because really, I am.
But my heart breaks every
single day still, and it feels
like I’m watching the
world crumble before
my eyes.

People don’t want to be
around the grieving ones.

It puts them in a place
of discomfort — shifts them
from good times to
“Is this still happening?”
and since I can’t quite
answer their questions,
I bubble up in the safety
of my home and swat
at the hard times slowly
creeping up my stairs.

If you were to tell me
this would be my life
ten years ago, I
would’ve uttered some
common phrases like,
“The Devil is a lie” or
“You can’t predict the
future,” and I would’ve
swiped my tongue gingerly
across my two front teeth.

Nothing can bring hell
like the death of a loved
one — like the sound of
one heart breaking into
a million pieces and scattering
itself throughout your entire

How does it feel to walk
around with your insides
regrouping while you
find your center?

I am told it’s okay
to struggle — to flounce about
with my head bowed, searching
for the writing in the dirt
under my feet.
Where there’s dust, there also
will I be …

I don’t want to dissolve
into the muddy waters
of this stomach-churning
world, so I pull myself
out of the quicksand of
despair and snail on
while I still can.

I wish you were still here.
I am second-guessing myself
again. It’s almost like
a default setting, and
every time I try to move
through it, I sink even

I have trouble
seeing past my most
hated self — it’s hard to
shove that part of me
deep into a closet
and throw away the key.

I feel like I have to
soon, though.
Because if I don’t,
the sun will back away
from me and never
lay itself at my heels again.
And that, my beautiful cousin,
would be a life I
don’t want to live.

I love you.
I always will.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.


Part III: Iesha

Photo by Maleka Ali via ReShot

Let me guess . . . You’ve been talking to Deidrick, this is why you’re here now, huh? I don’t mind talking to you if you don’t mind me snapping a few shots of this venue for a friend of mine. I dabble in photography — on the side. I graduated early — this past June. Deidrick’s coming out this year — late baby. I take a few art classes up at the rec center every other weekend. Other than that, I work at a local ice cream shop — you know, Dinnizzo’s Gelatos & Things? That’s my second home. By now, I’m sure you know, I’m Iesha . . . Iesha Selah Ndiaye.

My family is from Senegal. I’m the first one to be born here in the United States. Ugh. I hate saying that, but it’s like some base form of introductory etiquette, so it’s ingrained in me. The few things my parents wanted for me were to get an education, ascend to heights they could not reach prior to moving here, and become a doctor. Well, I’ve crashed all of those things, except for education. I excelled in all of my classes since elementary school and even graduated from high school with honors.

I am also taking classes online with a local university to get a degree in Early Childhood Education. I have fourteen months to go and I will have my degree in hand. After that, I have to do an internship at a school in my community for at least three months before I can begin working professionally full time.

“Everything happens for a reason,” people say. I met Deidrick when I was fourteen. It was my second year of high school, his first. We hit it off instantly. I’d like to tell you it was his charm that roped me in, but really, it was the way he always seemed aloof around me — sort of like he just couldn’t calm down long enough to simply be. I adored that about him — he didn’t try to macho up or subdue it.

He was natural — we flowed into each other from the start.

Of course, we didn’t plan on becoming young parents. I don’t think anyone ever really “plans” on becoming young parents. We’d always been careful when we were intimate, but the one time I forgot to take my birth control pill is, of course, the time the condom tore. . . and here we are. I never thought it would upset Deidrick — it never crossed my mind. He’s a sensitive young man, caring, understanding, and his parents did a great job in raising him.

I calculate my menstrual cycle. You get into the habit of doing this when you’re on birth control, so when it didn’t come on at least three days past its date, I worried. This was on a Wednesday. I’ll never forget it. Saturday morning I was nauseated. The smell of my mother’s Ndambé sent me running for the toilet. I panicked — heavy breathing, blood rushing to my head, the whole nine . . . I called Deidrick, and I told him I could be pregnant, but I was going to buy a kit from the store up the street and go through the motions later to know for sure.

He never floundered. He said, “Babe, if we are, then we are. And we will be great parents.” I was flabbergasted. I mean . . . I was happy, but I was also taken aback. Again, I never thought he’d be upset, but I didn’t expect him to be as calm as he was, either. I bought the test, took it, and well . . . you know the rest.

For the last few months, my mom and I have been attending my doctor’s appointments on schedule. I take prenatal vitamins; I walk two miles every morning, and I meditate and do breathing exercises. My mom’s a Doula, as well as a Herbalist, so . . . I am well taken care of if you can imagine.

Deidrick and I have been tossing names around for our baby girl. I’m dead set on Aida Lily-Grace Miles and he wants Aida Désirée-Grace Miles. It’s not too far off, but there’s just something about “Lily-Grace” that sticks with me. I can’t let it go. I have a feeling, though, I’ll be moved to compromise as time gets closer.

Welp, that’s the last shot. My friend is going to be pleased with most of these, I’m sure, but I have a lot of editing to do now. Then, I’ve got to work this evening. This was a nice chat.

See you around.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part I and Part II


Part II: Family Ties

Oh, so you’re back again, huh? Here to pick my brain some more? We’re one more week closer to the due date of my baby girl than we were before, and lemme tell you, I cannot contain my excitement! I told my girl, she better be glad we’re not having twins. Twins run in my family, you know. My mom’s a twin — her and my uncle Roderick . . . fraternal. She’s older by six minutes, and she loves to drill that home when my uncle Rick thinks he’s got a one-up on her in anything.

Because the two of them have always been close — naming me “Deidrick” was a no-brainer for my mom. She’s Deidra, her twin is Roderick . . . you see the breakdown, right? I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had to correct people on the pronunciation of my name. It’s simple, really, but some folks make it so hard. “Dee-drick.” Two syllables. Not hard, right? You’d think my name had like fifteen syllables in it the way people butcher it.

Not only are my mom and my uncle Rick twins, but my grandaunt Maureen and granduncle Maurice are also twins — Mom’s aunt and uncle. Yo . . . they are the coolest old people I know! My uncle Reece is the owner of a supreme vinyl and more store called The Last Days. You can find everything in his record store from Fleetwood Mac to Prince to The Average White Band to Fantasia, and it doesn’t end there.

This cat is so smooth, he smokes a pipe and wears a different Fedora every time I see him. And, he speaks in this lull type of tone — sort of like someone who is about to kick game to his crush, but knows what he’s doing. Think Gordon Parks — yeah, similar to him. I love hanging out with that cat. I can’t wait for my baby girl to meet him.

Now, Aunt Maureen is the female version of him. She’s a seamstress — owns her own place, too. A spot not too far from where I’m moving to she’s named Lines-A-Plenty. She’s big on fashion too — doesn’t leave home without a cashmere throw for her shoulders and keeps the finest yet simple skirts and blouses in her closet. When she smiles, the sun steps back to give her room. Baby girl is gonna love her.

What’s funny is Moms is a lot like Aunt Maureen and my uncle Rick is a lot like Uncle Reece. They took on the qualities of their father’s siblings instead of being much more like him.

Well, that’s a good thing cuz that cat is all sorts of trash.

I ain’t tryna disrespect my grandpa, but you know . . . I calls ’em like I sees ’em. He stepped out on my grandma more times than Moms and Uncle Rick can count and eventually, he just left her with twins who were six years old and a two-year-old who looked just like him — my uncle Mason. He’s shaping up to be just like my grandpa. I haven’t seen Uncle Mase in about two years and my grandpa — who knows where that cat is. I mean . . . it is what it is, you know?

Yo! Remember the car I told you, my homeboy, Amar asked his uncle about? It came through just three days ago. His uncle Khalil wants $7,500.00 for it — said he knocked off two grand for me cuz I’m young and tryna make my own way for my family. He said he’s willing to work with me on monthly installments, too, until the car is paid off. I told him I want to put $1,300 on it to get it outta his possession — then, I’d pay just under $700.00 for 9 months. My uncle Rick is a mechanic, so he’s going to check the car out for me — make sure ole boy ain’t tryna sell me a dud.

I think things are going pretty smoothly for us. Iesha is gonna work until the last two weeks before her due date — that is, if our little precious doesn’t make her entrance sooner than that. I told her she can take a little more time off if she feels like she needs to, but she’s adamant about working as close to her due date as she can. I have learned my lesson about tryna talk Iesha outta something she’s got her mind set up to do.

Nah, I don’t want those arguments.

I’m looking forward to that phrase, “Happy wife, happy life” because I am going to ask Iesha to marry me — probably in the next two years.

I’m the oldest kid in my family — gotta younger sister and a younger brother. Those two are excited about my baby girl as well. My sis just turned sixteen and my kid brother just turned thirteen. Those two are always at each other’s throats. I’m surprised my parents haven’t lost their voices from all the yelling they do at those bugaboos. I’ve always been a peaceful, real chill kid, you know? Moms and Pops never had any issues with me, and if I have anything to do with it, they never will.

Can you believe it, man?! I’m gonna be a dad soon. Like, really soon. Listen, I gotta hit the store up and pick up a few things for my mom. She’s making fried pork chops tonight — she needs cornmeal, flour, seasoning salt, and a couple of other items too. Duty calls. You know where to find me to shoot the shit.

Stay safe out there, man.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part I

The Eyes Don’t Lie

Living with keratoconus and the treatment I’ve sought.

Important things. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt ©2021

I had my follow-up visit with the Duke Eye Center for my recent diagnosis of keratoconus on Friday, October 22, 2021. The news my ophthalmologist/corneal specialist shared was good. There is no scarring and no significant change in my eyes — no additional con-caving or coning of my corneas. This is good for multiple reasons, but I’ll just mention two of them. 1. Negative progression of the corneas is minimal. 2. It keeps me out of the tunnel with surgery (a cornea transplant for both eyes) as the light at the end. If you remember, I mentioned not wanting to even think about surgery, so I am ecstatic about this recent news.

My ophthalmologist wanted the same tests done as my previous visit, but two more had been recommended as well. One process required a numbing agent for my eyes. The nurse’s assignment was to assess the pressure of each eye. She announced her need to get near me in order to do this — as she rolled on her stool closer to me, my breathing halted. I am not a person who cares for people in my personal space, however; I recognize sometimes; it has to take place in certain situations. As she dropped the numbing agent in the first eye, I stopped breathing and she held her hand up to go to the other eye and said, “I need you to breathe, Tre. This doesn’t work if you don’t breathe.”

I instantly exhaled and inhaled as I normally would. I apologized — informing her it was simply my body’s natural defense and reaction to someone getting so close. She smiled and said, “It’s absolutely normal and expected, but you still have to breathe.” And breathe, I did. After the numbing agent had been applied, she said softly, “Blink. Blink. Blink.” I did as instructed. She announced coming closer to me again and this time, there was a device in her hand (it looked a lot like this, I failed to ask what it was and I beat myself up for it when I left the building) and she rubbed the tip of the device on my eyeball rotating it in small circles. She did the same thing for the other eye.

The look on my face caused her to giggle. She said, “Wasn’t expecting that, were you?” I most certainly was not! To have someone rub some type of device which captures the pressure of your eyes on your actual eyeballs was clearly not on my list of to-dos that morning when I awakened. Afterward, I saw little black dots for a few moments. It took a few more minutes before I could see clearly again without the little black dots and swirlies, and then we were off to yet another room where I would wait for the ophthalmologist.

I appreciate my ophthalmologist. His bedside manner is one I’d rank a 10 out of 10 and he’s also pretty funny. He entered the room as he did six months ago — ecstatic and noticeably happy to do his job. We elbow-bumped, and we were off to him asking me a few questions to which I had the answers. He began by telling me about the numbers collected at the most recent visit versus my previous one. He also showed me the slight change in my corneas by using the cornea model in the exam room. Just in case you’re wondering, a healthy cornea model looks like a huge contact lens and a cornea model deformed by keratoconus looks like that same huge contact lens bent bottom-up as if it were going to tear in half and come clean off the eyeball. *shudders*

He was pleased with the numbers, and images gathered from the testing. The reassurance I received from him about my current status eased my nervousness and worry as well. I am in a good place to still be a candidate for scleral contacts, however, no surgery is needed at this time. The scleral contacts are supposed to help sharpen the blurry images and my need to squint (natural reaction) to try to see small writing or images far away. To have a sharper vision will be a godsend and I await it like the day awaits nightfall.

Taking into consideration the fact I am severely near-sighted, have astigmatism in both eyes, and have also been slapped with keratoconus, and my vision has not changed drastically in the last six months, was paramount. The news was the best I had received all morning, and I could not contain my elation. Before leaving, they had advised me to continue with the changes I have made, keep up the Pataday regimen, and take as much time as I can away from devoting my eyes to the blue light of electronic devices.

Listen, I appreciate the $5.00 off coupon the center gives for the Pataday eye drops. That mess is expensive for a teeny tiny bottle. But, I digress. It is necessary, and it works.

As it stands, I have an appointment with my optometrist on Friday, February 25, 2022, for my annual eye exam and the fitting of the scleral contacts. I will follow up with my ophthalmologist/corneal specialist on Friday, May 20, 2022. He wants me to have at least a few months under my belt using the scleral contacts before coming back for additional testing. The flip in visits between the two of these doctors for my eyes will take place for as long as my ophthalmologist deems necessary. Keratoconus is lifelong and currently, there is no cure (outside of surgical procedures), so I’d better get rather comfortable with the entire process of it all.

I am thankful for decent vision insurance — I could not afford this level of care without it. By stating this, I am not flaunting the value of my healthcare coverage, but the truthfulness of the aspect to the level of care of which I am receiving. The care is not an inexpensive one and my pockets do not run deep. Take care of your eyes, beautiful people.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Read more about this: The Beginning and The Follow-up.