You make me beautiful,
Because you make me smile.
My smile - is yours.
That joy - also a reflection of you.
You can’t go through life so afraid of pain you don’t pull on the chains that bind you.
You can’t go through life hoping to change but avoiding the things that remind you -
Shame is only the shadow cast by the doorway of breakthrough,
So be brave and forgive yourself for all your mistakes.
There is no real power in shame, for those who refuse to live in their chains.
So be brave, be brave.
There is freedom in grace.
If you were a book
I would grasp you with each hand
As I sink into each page -
Your poetic quicksand.
If you were a book -
My favorite book of all -
After years of gazing into you,
Your words would still enthrall.
When your binding is undone
And your cover slightly torn,
You would be just as lovely
With your pages touched and worn.
If you were a book,
I would hold you close all night.
I could read you without words;
I could read you without light.
You're like liquid poetry
A gasoline waterfall
Pouring into me
Until my engine stalls
But some words are
Fluid and fat
Caught in my throat
*When I'm reading this one day,
I'll wonder - was I alive here?
I'll just be an untitled story
Known only to myself.
I don't believe in love.
Because love, to me,
Looks like screaming.
I believe in the soft thump
Of a hard-cover book thrown at my head.
I believe in the gentleness of your hand
As it flies across my face.
I believe in the value of words
That dripped like poison into my heart.
My blood is ***** because
You are in it.
So I don't believe in family, either.
But like a carpenter with a block of wood
A sculptor with a lump of clay
Here I am, with my craft, deciding -
I will make a love I can believe in.
With touch, with words, with a family -
And it will be entirely separate -
Entirely complete (like me)
A rap song playing in this coffee shop
tells me women are only good for ***.
I wipe off my makeup
and pull down the dress
draped around me like the softest chains.
I am not like the women in these songs.
Once – though – I tried to be.
(Because we who were not free
all believed in the promise
and false security of
striving and beauty.)
I want to shake the younger me
and scream at the men around her:
She is not your American dream.
She is a thinker. She is worth protecting.
She is not this icon.
I want to scream at the men who compliment my body
and those who ignore me because of it
at the boy from my freshmen year in high school
(“You like her? But she’s so tall…”)
I am not just a girl,
even though I’ve been told,
“Beautiful girls earn more money.”
I’ve learned that I hold a different kind of beauty.
Not the 5’8” skater-girl
Nor the 6’2” glamour queen
But someone between –
– between languages and instruments
and classes and battles –
I put on my armor.
And I will emerge,
no longer screaming in anger,
but quietly certain in my own worth.
Not all victories are followed by blaring trumpets.
Mine will be a silent one –
but no less violent a struggle.
My beauty does not define me.
It will fade, but not my victory.
Never trust what is taught.
There was a time it was taught
All black men were *******.
Today it is taught
That *** makes you free.
I don’t believe what’s been taught.
I don’t believe my society.