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Ariana Oct 2018
I am 6 years old
it’s Christmas again and I pretend
that I’m not excited.
My fingers are sticky and the house
smells like cinnamon, until family drifts in
permitting the scent out through the open front door.
Polite blather is washed out by the deep roar
of a man’s laugh, he says,
“Santa’s not black.”
Eyes dart from me to the door,
me to the floor,
back to the door.

8 years old and
I didn’t go to school Monday
because anxiety rules my life and
twists my stomach. I rise above it on Wednesday,
untwist it, and march back to my desk,
impressed because everyone’s eyes are now
focused on me. Actuality sets in when I sit down
and Connor asks me if I heard that the kids
called me “Blackie” on the playground and
and came in from recess.
I suppress my welling tears, he sneers,
and I laugh.

10 years old,
it’s summer again and Reno says he wants to play
football. With bare feet and lip gloss I eagerly cross
the road to the school, ring the bell,
and as I wait, I trace the names of crushes engraved
into the metal and ultimately settle ******* on his.
But today is different.
He approaches with a new game called “Slaves”
which doesn’t feel like much of a game when
only one gets a gun and you can’t outrun it. So I bite my lip as
airsoft pellets sting my back, my legs.
Tears stain my childish face and I let him chase me
because I adore him, however,
I don’t think he likes me anymore.

12 years old and
A jewish boy called me a ****** today. He is bold
and unafraid of the repercussions,
I want to speak but I have nothing to say.
Tongue pressing my teeth
I breath deep and … my friend yells “****.”
I don’t know what it means but it seems like he does
as he runs from the room into the open arms of our principal.
Detention for me,
She’s Jewish too.  

13 years old and I
don’t know what it means when they call me
*******. But I can only assume that
it means that I am still not welcome here.
I catch a glimpse of my teary-eyed reflection in the
lenses of my teacher’s sunglasses,
black and chewed-on by his dog.
He scratches his fair hair and tells me,
“Natural selection will take care of this,”
Miffed, I don’t know if he means me
or them.

14 years old and
it’s the first day of black history month.
For lunch my school is serving fried chicken
and watermelon, it’s either that or PB&J
so I grab a tray, drag my feet to a table
and I sit alone.
A hush washes over the room
and soon, a single piece of watermelon leads
a barrage of lunch in a food fight where
I am the only target. So
Broken-hearted, I pick up the mess and throw it in the trash.
My pride and my new shirt,
lay stained
on top of the pile.

I smile in the mirror as if that changes a thing, and
walk out of the bathroom and into the hot sting
that radiates from their gaze. I tell myself it’s
a phase, and in due time I’ll have a place where I am safe
from them-
but Sharpies stain and the school budget doesn’t include paint
so the words “Go home monkey” will remain
on my locker, covered in tape,
as a daily reminder for the rest of the year.

I didn’t mean to curse at Rachel’s mom
but she asked me if I’d spoken to my Uncle Tom today and
I lost my ever loving ****.
I excused myself to the porch where their dog tried to bite me,
because she doesn’t like brown skin or loud mouths either.
I‘m never going back.

With a baby in my stomach
and a lump in my throat I sit, arms crossed, across from
my principle; He says that attendance is an integral part of
my success this year, so it’s best for me to
postpone my diploma and stay at home.
I respond with “no thank you” and stare through him as
he walks me to the door.
Before it swings shut his whispers catch up and
I cringe as he swears to his secretary
that he can’t be expected to save us all.
“It’s a statistic.”

caught in between a woman and a child
I dangle in space, contemplating my place in
a world that’s hell-bent on hating me before recognizing
my worth.  
By now, I think, I know that it won’t stay dark forever, so I eagerly
await the dawn, crouching in the corner
hopeful that I will one day be UNseen.
And I truly believe that I am a Warrior,
a force to be reckoned with.
Because I am grown now, well adjusted, unscathed, and
wholly unaffected.

I am 23 years old and
I still don’t know what it means to be left
unbothered. But I’m oddly familiar with what it’s like being
followed through the store, questioned by a clerk,
and rushed out the door.

I live by the rules of being black,
always walking on eggshells,
and underselling my personality.
Stay in line, don’t get mouthy,
let it roll of off you, it makes your skin thicker.
Always get a receipt and a paid sticker because
if you walk too quickly, they might think that you’ve
stolen. Be sure to open your mouth wide
and enunciate, because a single missed syllable
could be the difference between earning respect or pity.
And I am tired of being pitied.
Pitied by strangers, pitied by friends,
pitied by myself.

I am 23 years old and
for the first time, in a long time, it is quiet.

Only under this cloak of silence
have I begun to pry loose the armor that grew over
my brown skin. The armor that cinched off my ears,
covered my eyes, and protected me throughout the years.
Beneath it, I’ve discovered gashes
cut through to my bones,
once-soft flesh now turned to stone,
and I am no warrior.

I am still a 6 year old girl who spent so much time
crafting a shield to protect myself,
that I never had the time to learn about myself.

Beneath my armor
I am

I am

And I am Black.
"At the age of twelve, before I had had one full year of formal schooling, I had . . . a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering." Richard Wright
Ariana Jul 2018
You left my ego deflated,
limply dangling from a frayed white string
over the couch,
in the family room where my mom and dad sit
but never speak.
Ariana Jun 2018
My best friend says that I’m “high maintenance,”
but I maintain that I have above average standards and
a slight tendency to whine.
All jokes aside, he
claims that there’s not
enough time in the world for
me to find a guy to keep by my side
long enough to get a ring.
But my fingers are just skin covered bone,
and they weren’t born to be adorned in
gems, in ores; Because Baby,
I am an ore.

“But maybe you should tone it down,”
he says.
Tone it down? See I don’t like the sound
of that suggestion, or the inflection in his voice
as if the choice to love and be loved
doesn’t belong to me.
Because it’s mine
and I keep it inside, cradled up in a box
guarded by eye rolls and locks;
For better or worse, if you
find the key I’ve been told that loving me
feels like drinking from a glacier while hot coals
blister your feet.

He whispers,
“I think you need to be realistic.”
But where does realism separate itself
from pessimism because right here
they feel one in the same,
and I find it strange that someone who
claims to care about me and my well-being
would plant this seed of despair. It’s unfair because
I’m not insisting on perfection, just someone
who believes in me, flexion,
and can value longevity and a wildfire-life
dotted with strife and mended
with 3am kisses.

I persist, why is it so much to ask
to find someone who can love me and all of my quarks?
Someone who knows me and how
I only bite into a PB&J sandwich jelly side down
because it tastes ****** up when
you flip it around. And how I love
the sound of marbles rolling on
glass table tops; Or that cyclops
eye that appears as the space between you and your
lover’s nose dis-appears.

All I want is someone to dance with,
every day.
I want to sway in the sun
with bare feet and ***** toes gliding
over the soil on my ****** front lawn. I want Bluegrass and
shot glass afternoons, with coffee breath mornings.

“You okay?” He’ll say, before I’ll wink and smile,
all the while screaming into the
unoccupied corners of my mind.
All jokes aside,
I thought this was feasible, real,
and reachable.
But my best friend says that I’m “high maintenance.”
Ariana Nov 2017
I wonder where
the tree stands whereat Fall's
first golden leaf drifted listlessly,
from attic to basement,
announcing her arrival
to It's roots.
Ariana Oct 2017
My poetry is a mosaic of pointed fingers, big bright spotlights,
and epiphanies highlighting "their" toxicity.
But it just hit me:
If I say that I see with my
eyes like I do, why couldn't I see that
I'm toxic too.
A little more than misunderstood
For the most-part
Of her life,

A magnet
For destruction,
Was all sorts of strife.

Made of best intentions,
A valuable, fine jewel;
Priceless and rare,

Kindness was the fluid
running through her veins;
Her heart was only capable
Of empathising,
It couldn't help
But to care.

A wounded healer,
Strong enough to know
That her pain was never in vain,

Her experiences came with lessons,
A gift she offered with pride,
Not with shame.

There weren't many
Trials or tribulations
that she didn't overcome,

She was always
A little miss understood,
A little warrior,
A champion,
Second to none!

In all of her downfalls
She was still ever grateful,
Never was she guilty
Of being unappreciative
Or resentful, whilst in pain,

As hard as it ever got,
She didn't stop to count
The numerous falls,
Or blows that she received;
She just kept on getting up
And again,
And again.

By Lady R.F. (C)2017
  Jun 2017 Ariana
I took a shower tonight.
But I didn't wash my hair
Or my body or my face
Or even my toes.
I took a shower tonight.
And although the water was as hot as it can go
I stepped in and my whole body froze
From my hair
To my body to my face
To my toes.
I took a shower tonight.
And I just sat on the shower floor
I put my face in my knees
Let the billion clear little razors
Roll down my back
And down the drain.
I didn't cry.
I didn't break down.
I took a shower tonight.
And I just sat on the ground
And I sat in the shower.
Till the hot water turned cold.
Three hours of sitting
of mini razor blades rolling gently down my back
And in just a moment.
I'll get in my bed.
And I'll lay.
For about six to seven hours.
Until seven am
And then I'll put on my eyeliner
And be on my way.
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