Posted in Blog, Poetry

My favorite poem from this year

has finally been published!

You can access it here. (Edit: This link works on all browsers except Chrome)

I write a lot about historical black figures, but Emmett Till’s story touches me somewhat more than other people. My first poem about this particular moment is here.

For those that do not know the story of Emmett Till, here goes: Till was visiting relatives in the South where it was said that he whistled at a white woman in a store or something to that effect on August 24th, and word spread around town.

Upon hearing this, the woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, along with a few accomplices kidnapped Emmett Till from his home, had his wife identify him as her “attacker,” and drove him to a barn where he pistol-whipped and knocked Till unconscious. His body was then beaten, disfigured, shot and then thrown into a river, weighted down by a seventy pound fan.

Three days later, Till’s body surfaced, found by two boys fishing; he was too swollen and bloated to recognize. He was very badly beaten, he was mutilated, he was shot, and he was nude, save for a ring with the initials “L.T.” which is what they used to identify him.

His mother requested that his body be returned to Chicago and that his casket be open at his funeral, displaying her then disfigured fourteen year old son’s body for the world to see. It is said that you could smell his body from two blocks away.

His killers were acquitted (not surprising for the time), even though they body admitted to kidnapping him. Mamie (Till’s mother) “didn’t cry enough” on the stand. The jury was virulent in their racism and some even later admitted that they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty; they just didn’t think that killing a black man unjustly warranted the death penalty.

Decades later, Carolyn Bryant, the woman Till was accused of making advances toward, retracted her statement. Emmett Till died over a lie. He died because someone believed a white woman just because she was white, and he died alone and scared without living much life. This is what hurts.

He did not deserve this. No one deserves this, but these lynchings still happen today, just under a different name.

Posted in Blog, In progress, Poetry

30 in 30

So, April is National Poetry month, and I am determined to write 30 poems in 30 days. Have I lost my mind? Probably, but nothing beats a try but a fail. It is Tuesday, April 11th, and I have only 8 poems I believe, so I’m already behind. Any advice, cheerleading, and/or favorite prompts in the comments below would be helpful. I am also going to include a list of my favorite prompts below, some of which I have used this year, some in previous years.

I will start to share a couple if I like them, but more often if I don’t like them.

Prompts I like/have done/plan to do:

  • Start each statement with “I will” or “I want”
  • Blackout poetry from old textbooks or papers
  • Re-write a poem written when you first started writing.
  • List poems. (I LOVE list poems even though I’m not necessarily successful at them)
  • Portrait poems
  • Let your pain write back to you
  • Write about waiting
  • Begin with “This is not the last poem I will write…”
  • Write a love poem to someone without using any of these words: love, like, heart, passion, fire, desire, forever, roses, kiss, dream, moment, together, soul or baby.
  • Write a poem that admits a dark secret of yours.
  • Find one of your favorite recipes. Write a poem that utilizes some of the steps of that recipe.
  • What did you say?
  • Go to a place that means a lot to you & write about it
  • If It Were To Be The Last Time or The Last Time
  • The places you have left yourself
  • Noisy beds
  • Stories about scars or bruises
  • “I have done this before and more.”

If I can think of more, I’ll add them, but if you think of any you’d like to see, leave a comment below!

Posted in FYMBF, In progress, Poetry

Snippet letter from the first draft

Like I said in my previous post, the first draft of my nonfiction project (there’s a poetry one coming too!) was written entirely in rants, letters, and poems. Here is a combination of all three from the first draft, something like a prose poem. Feel free to comment and/or make suggestions. I originally wrote this a few years ago and have not come back to it until now.


My best friend wanted a picture of me. I sent him one after a long spiel of why I did not want to send him one. There should not have been a negotiation, but he knows his power and he owns it and he uses it accordingly.

I wonder why me saying “no” does not stick. I wonder if he really loves me or just likes what I give, which confuses me because it isn’t much.

But he tells me I am beautiful, so I forgive him and forget about the weight he adds to my shoulders. Then he sends me a picture of his dick. I laugh. Not because it is funny, but because I am uncomfortable, and I do not know how to tell him “no” without 1. Feeling bad about it and 2. Him not taking me seriously.

He knows I do not want him like that. He knows I am mostly a lesbian. He confuses me. I confuse me. When I talk to him, my voice should not waver like an old record. It is clear I have let him rot in my ribs for way too long. This needs to stop. He is hurting me. I am letting him. I do not want to anymore.

Posted in Poetry


dear ashley,

you are not unclean.
you have been peppered
with experiences
not everyone goes through
and you have pushed
past, exploding
into particles
everyone can digest
but still growing
into your own.
do not apologize
for taking up space
blocking blackboards
with your hair
being angry at injustice.
you are not just there.
you are everywhere
and your words are worth
something. you should not
give up because you are
not liked. risk being
unliked. you are
beautiful either way

dearest ashley
you touch more than you
know, just as others have
touched you. now you must do
shoot for what you want
forget obligation
focus on dreams
poetry, passion your power.
it is not on you
to change the world.
be a part of it.
see what it wants of you
let it be.

Posted in In progress, Poetry

Easy (Tentative title)

I am easy to slide down eardrums
relatively pleasant to look at
because no one is quite
sure what to do with me
I pronounce every syllable
and I am still working
on acceptable hairstyles
I do not speak unless spoken
to but my mind is always working
cogging along
before I can be anyone else’s
idea of a black girl

my ex boyfriend liked black girls
different black girls
he made the distinction
of calling me better than
prettier than
whiter than other black girls he knew
because I didn’t wear weaves
if only he knew that wasn’t a compliment
had the nerve to say I dumped
him because he was white
and I pro-actively black
raising right fists
while educating myself
about our atrocities

what happened in the south
the caribbean
leopold in the congo
down in the cargo holds
being three fifths of a person
couple hundred dollar price tags on our heads
denied civil rights, marriage, families
while women carry products of rape
serving trays of food to the father
and men mate horses
their hands turning rougher than steel
picking cotton in the fields

it was never about color
but it was always about history.
black history and what he failed to realize
I am unapologetic with my blackness
because I spent too long
hating myself because of it
so I am easy to slide down eardrums
I present what people white
people want to hear
and they pretend to listen

but in the end
I am just another black girl
nothing special to you
but to me, we are everything

Posted in Poetry

vickers road

jagged vines
white siding
two black doors with single
diamond windows
rocking on hinges
splayed open
into hallways
windows fallen
to ground
splintered wooden steps
rusted over railings
no more mown grass
or laundry on clothes wire
golden daffodil garden gone
green for sale sign leering
from the screened-in porch

my father says i cannot
move into the unoccupied house next door
though his mother
my grandmother
lived there
and his childhood and mine are there
it is not as safe as it once was
when i walked down to hanlon park
and I only had trouble
with cars not letting me cross
but baltimore is baltimore
it will only hurt you if you let it

i don’t want to write this poem

a police badge leers from living
room windows
i am only visiting
i can only visit
peeking in a five year old
me with a crooked smile
smiles from the mantle
my father doesn’t trust me
enough to open the door
trust inhabitants of nearby homes
on vickers road
when all i want is strawberry
candies, steel-cut oatmeal, mashed
to watch the summer olympics
in a sleep number bed
and gaudy jewelry from the fifties

i am too old
to play pretend
reimagine my childhood
it won’t be the same
i know
but it is wanted