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Oct 2018 · 1.3k
Conviction
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.

15
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.

16
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.


17
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.”

18
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.

Today
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.

Inadvertently,
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.
Oh!
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
naked.

I am
breathless.

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
Jul 2018 · 166
Untitled
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.
Jun 2018 · 72
Criterion
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.”
Nov 2017 · 115
The Hills Are On Fire
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.
Oct 2017 · 119
10:21 PM
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.
Jun 2017 · 150
A Penny For Your Thoughts
Ariana Jun 2017
I heard them say
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it,"
But I wish they would tell me
what to do if it is
Broke.
I'm penniless.
Jun 2017 · 228
68
Ariana Jun 2017
68
Origami flowers and paper cranes
cloak my desk and litter the floor,
and one more
for each day that you haven’t been mine.

But it’s fine, I’ve more paper.

So I’ll keep folding, and repeat
step one through step eight. But now
it’s getting late and I can hear you
around the corner.
So in order, I’ll rehearse step eight through
fourteen as a means to bridge
the rift at the ridge of my
mind.

I can’t afford to be alone,
adrift inside.

Because I fear if I weren’t folding this paper,
I might foolishly try to manipulate the
stars
in the deep purple sky. My nights spent
mapping a light dotted guide. Then it’s
inside reverse, crimp,
and crease, until it’s one
perfect piece of art.
I fold, in part, because I know
that without this sheet, I would aim,
in vain, to
crease time and space into pretty paper shapes
where I’d reside in the folds with you.

But I am no Asteria, and the stars
are not mine to hold.

So I continue to fold, and
restate step one through step eight
and I’ll wait for your resonance to
dissipate.

I overheard last week that you need a new hobby
and since you know it can't be me,
consider origami.
"True love is always wanting what's best for someone, even if that doesn't include you."
May 2017 · 143
Basophobia
Ariana May 2017
When I sit down and think of
you,
as if on queue I feel like a crater might open up
beneath me at any second,
swallowing me whole in one traumatic, melodramatic
gulp.

And I know that when I plummet
down
down
down
and further yet down, I’ll
exceed the speed of light and sound, set afire and
Hellbound. But then I’ll close my eyes and
swallow my pride. Because although the journey is
no doubt unnerving,
I’m every bit deserving of the ride.
Apr 2017 · 360
Germinate
Ariana Apr 2017
He and I
sat on his bedroom floor planting a garden last night,
silently hoping that something might sprout.
Because we can’t shake this drought and
the water is stagnant.
He knows, and I know that the new life we’ve sewn
will flourish and thrive
because to keep it alive is to follow
the recipe.
So there we were on the ground;
hand over water,
water over soil,
soil over seeds,
the very least they need
to blossom and grow.
That might be what we needed, a formula
to help us bloom in
the cover of the night,
a strong man with a green thumb to
clip our blighted leaves before we dried up
and blew away in the wind.

But he’s not a seed,
and I am not water.

So let us sit and dig
through the dirt spilling onto the floor
and implore this new life to burgeon.
"We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us."
Apr 2017 · 576
Bury the Hatchet
Ariana Apr 2017
and lie down beside me.

Lay your anxious head on my chest to
cancel out the echoes
of our **** words and absurd thoughts, just

Breathe.

For now we’re distraught.

But remember,
our distress today says nothing of yesterday,
nor which way tomorrow will steer us. Whether it be high or low,
you need to know that I’m only here because
I want to be.

Because to be here with you, and you here with me,
is to create the most beautiful storm.
Apr 2017 · 258
Check, Yes Or No
Ariana Apr 2017
His eyes burn so brightly,
they’re so amiable. Tell him.
If only to loll in their glow
for a moment.

Uncertainty.
It latches onto my frame, suffocating me,
extinguishing the tender flicker
that I long to feed.

But he’s breathtaking.

Bathed in light, sculpted with precision.
His figure merely a vessel,
a perfect receptacle, designed
to defy the weight of the stars.

But he is not mine, and I,
not his.

Nevertheless, his lips are full bodied,
kindred to a ripe cherry wine.
The power of his smile so electrifying,
it paralyzes my soul, frozen in time.

With eyes capable of holding every star,
every solitary wonder. He is resplendent.

But nevermore, mine.
Apr 2017 · 517
House Person
Ariana Apr 2017
Tonight I decided that I love the way that he looks
at me.
With eyes softer than infinite rolling clouds,
they make the finite
nature of my haphazard existence feel appreciably less
confining.
This is old, but ******* he's more beautiful than ever.
Apr 2017 · 192
Word Jumble
Ariana Apr 2017
Have you ever met a beautiful soul whose fate
rendered them useless
60 years too soon?
Who, like the moon, had a gravitational pull
strong enough to move mountains? With a voice
so gentle and full, that it could lull the world to sleep?

If you have, you should know
how that creeping notion grows until you’re
entrapped
in an infinite web
of why them and not me’s. No self-fabricated answers
can remedy the craving
for a finite explanation.

I yearn for an idea, though
a meaning would be preferred.
Like a dictionary definition, a simple collection of words,
to sum up
why
I’M still here.
Apr 2017 · 460
Civil Sunrise
Ariana Apr 2017
On a quiet night in late November
I fell in love with a sunset. I grabbed ahold and rode
him into the night, but gradually he shed his vivid garb as if
it clung too tightly to his celestial frame. It’s nothing short of a shame because
what I adored the most were the enthralling ways his hues danced
pirouettes with precision,
softly staining my skin and sinking downwards and inwards,
tinting my innards with his alluring, warm palette.

But temporary tattoos wash off with time and cold water,
and the most psychedelic of colors will one day fade to a prosaic shade of grey.

I wanted to stay

But the starless black sky that he raised before me was filled
with unknowns and I’d rather be left alone than let down,
because I am only human.
So mortal that when he abandoned his dazzlingly
colorful mirage, I sabotaged every flicker of light that I’d learned to hold on to,
heedlessly metamorphosing until his dispirited shades of blue
became one with my shades too.

But I want to thank him for letting me in.
Because before him, I never knew how a color felt
or how it tastes.
And as I chased him across the horizon,
he taught me that yellows and reds taste like eating candy for breakfast
and feel like soft skin, akin to his own.  
And when he let his blues and blacks linger on my tongue and
occupy my lungs, it felt like tumbling down the most precipitous ravine
where at the bottom, unseen, the flavor of dirt overwhelms
your palette.  Like choking
until you’ve a head bursting with fears and muddy tears in your eyes,
obstructing your view of the most beautiful sunset our Earth has seen
in it’s years of being.

Thank you for helping me see.

And I can only hope that one night when the sunset has begun to die down,
you choose to wipe the dirt from your eyes and
become the sunrise.

Because just as colors fade, with time,
mud will wash away.
My only wish for you is happiness.

With each sunset comes a sunrise.. <3
Mar 2017 · 197
Up In Smoke
Ariana Mar 2017
When I was a little girl my dad assured me,
“Sticks and stones may break your bones,
but words will never hurt you.”
But he was wrong all along, because he didn’t know
You.

He didn’t know that you’d be gifted a tongue as sharp
as your mind. And how was he to know that beneath the glow of
your smile lay a row of teeth, ready to feast on my tender flesh.
Nevertheless, I’m impressed.
Because your lips, which once tenderly rested upon mine,
morphed effortlessly from a loving simper into a resentful scowl,
clinging to every syllable and vowel you
expeled.

And your eyes.

You’ve the kind that can burn holes through
my skin, capable of scalding even the toughest of souls
into recession. See,
I adored the way your eyes burned when they were
aflame for me. But today, I am meek.
My eyes struggle to met yours, for I learned that one solitary peek will
set me ablaze.

But still, I love you.

So light a match and tattoo my skin with burns,
for over the years I have grown and I have learned.
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me.
Mar 2017 · 751
Solipsism
Ariana Mar 2017
Today I caught myself watching the clock, tirelessly counting
seconds, minutes, and moments; for in that short time it was clear,
I am here.
But how much of me?
The blood coursing through my veins, feeding my flesh,
feels thick and real; but is it just a projection, my perception
of BEING?
Could it be that my outward senses are nothing more than
a coping mechanism, a tether if you will,
meant to keep my mind still and my body grounded?
When released from my dermal prison, will my consciousness escape me,
or will it rise up free with no boundary?

Perhaps we are sturdy and real, something I can feel,
something to grasp.
Or, perchance, we’re merely a cloud of energized matter, buzzing madly
through time and through space.
An imaginary face, nothing more.
Although the latter leaves a bittersweet taste on my fictitious tongue,
now to me it is clear. This isn’t so much a poem about
Clarity,
as it is a poem about questions.
Question.
Because if the cold ceased to bite, and the bee never stung,
would I be someTHING, or would I be someONE?

— The End —