Penny For My Poems

thought-catalog-470876-unsplash.jpgAnother day of poetry for you, here’s something new— short and sweet. I’ve been doing a whole lot of writing in the past few months, trying out new styles and working through what I can. What I’ve got for you today is a lot more recent, partially because my old writing is on my old phone, but also because this has been my headspace for a while now.

Though they may seem self-explanatory, I’d like to think there’s a lot of meaning in each line. Poem number one is a mirror of another poem I’ve written (shout out to you if you recognize that first line), but I changed the angles a bit. And that second one was written while not paying attention in English class– I’d like to think it was more important at the moment, but my professor may not agree. So give these a quick read and let me know what you think. Maybe you can figure out the full meaning along the way.


One

hernan-sanchez-160709-unsplashAs I lay my head to rest

I wonder if

you’re resting too.

I wonder if that rest is what

you needed, what

you knew

was coming. I have questions now

too many…

If only you

could come back home and answer them…

one thing I know

you can’t do.

Two

lucas-sankey-365365-unsplashCreep around my edges, careful that you be

around the glass, sharpened pieces

that have become of me.

Let your fingers ‘bout each door, who’s locks are

never shut, never hinged, confirmation

of which you may be sure.

I’ll let you in, let you close though

our fingers never touch, call to question

of your purpose here to show.

ornella-binni-148189-unsplash (1)For you are here, a lie to hold

within the brokenness I know; for your

beauty may never grow old.

But let your presence hold me steady,

bring me peace until you go; hold me up

till on my own, I can be ready.


Have a beautiful rest of the week everyone, see you Friday.

 

Poetry in Modern Antiquity

aaron-burden-272517-unsplash.jpgHappy Poetry Place day! Sorry again for missing the last one due to technical difficulties, if you want to know the poem I was going to share with you, take a look at Tyler Ford’s “Too Much” here. In my AP Lit class senior year, we had a poetry unit where we wrote one poem and chose to perform another. For the performance, I was torn between this poem and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Though in the end, I chose Angelou, this poem still holds a special place in my heart. So go ahead and check it out and if you’re interested, Ford’s Twitter is here too! Otherwise, just to make up for last month, I have two of my own works to share with you today.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but these two are a new style I’ve been playing with.

My English class has been getting into a lot of sonnets and Renaissance poetry lately so I wanted to see how I could use that influence in my own writing. Though I may have steered clear of true sonnet forms, as I have a major midterm to focus on rather than counting syllables and rhyme patterns, take a look at these and tell me what you think— they’re a little different, the question is if that’s a good thing or not.


One

barby-dalbosco-20629-unsplash.jpgTell me how long our voices lie

too quiet, for we no longer see

the truth behind these actions, I

see nothing changing, for we long to be

stronger in the stances we take

and louder in solidarity.

We are breaking down the walls you make;

Now hath our voices set us free.

As a poem of power, this one comes from not only the issues I see on my own campus but those around the world. People are beginning to really stand up and say what they need to say. That’s what this is. And it’s never been more important.

Two

‘Tis no less of poetry, but

spilled feeling that you make of me;

in time, in youth, in chastes unknown,

here be love I hath not been shown.

eli-defaria-124757-unsplashFor I suppose if maybe we

may come upon a day when we

hath break our chains and all restraint

our lusts and hopes not far or faint

but strong and loud, power in divine

love, to leave our cold bondage behind.

Now this one was a real experiment, to play with the words we have left behind in a concept that will never really fade from poetry and art— love. I wanted to see what I could do with it and, though I may be biased, I kind of like how it sounds. Short and sweet just like I promised, but I’d appreciate some feedback and commentary, so let me know what you thought of these in the comments below!


That’s all I’ve got for you today 🙂 Have a great rest of your week, see you Friday.

A Black Woman’s Battle Cry

priscilla-du-preez-172598-unsplashJust like I promised last week, here is my piece that was performed in the Original Women’s Narratives Saturday night. Fair warning, there is explicit content in this and it’s a bit longer/stronger than what I usually write.

For good reason.

Growing up, I feel like the conscious stares whenever my classed talked about MLK in elementary school or the mumbled apologies when I walked past someone saying the n word in high school always showed up in my peripherals. Not because I wasn’t ready to notice them– I was– but because I was tired of having to notice them.

Did I ignore the stares? Yes.

Did I accept those apologies with a nod before moving on? Yes.

Should I have? I don’t know. That’s the thing, I don’t quite know where I stand on what it means to stand up for myself without seeming like the angry black woman in my own head.

That doesn’t mean I never said anything.

Sometimes I might stay quiet, but that doesn’t mean I plan to. I let my writing say what I usually won’t. So this is me, my definition and what I know I need to fight for in my own life. What we all need to fight for– not only equality, but equity.


Here is my spoken word poem, A Black Woman’s Battle Cry.

A Black Woman’s Battle Cry

eye-for-ebony-399310-unsplash.jpgWhen I was thirteen, I realized my hair was not like the other girls.

It didn’t swish and sway, shining as I walked.

It didn’t grow past my ass in less than a year.

No, it was different, it was curly, messy, kinky as they say.

All I knew was what it felt like, that I was different.

Then my mother called it one word: nappy.

That is the lifestyle of a black girl living around so many others who look nothing like her;

Standards get confused, unspoken boundaries get crossed

and people might ask me if I get “tanner in the summer”

or “did your hair grow 10 inches overnight?”

All I could ever reply was “sure.”

I let it go.

Because it’s not their fault they were ignorant, that they didn’t know…

Except maybe it was.

In youth, those words are a mistake.

In adulthood, this becomes ignorance.

etty-fidele-407371-unsplash.jpgBecause when the ignorant boys believe in that mistake,

they grown into ignorant men; they belittle me.

Whispers here and there, as I see a nudge and hear the words

“I ain’t never tasted chocolate before.”

As if I am some commodity to be consumed and disposed of.

That is not what I am.

Yet it makes me question exactly what defines that; what defines me beyond my skin color or my hair texture?

My athletic ability or my home life?

My academic record or my grammar usage?

What about my skin color makes it seem like it’s okay to overstep the bounds of being treated like a human being?

No, you may not touch my hair.

No, I do not play basketball.

No, I do not come from a one parent household.

And no, I am not someone you can throw the word “nigga” around with because you think the color of my skin is some invitation to violate the simple rules of morality.

Just because you know someone who looks like me, just because you’re friends with people “like me”

does not mean you know anything about who I am.brannon-naito-414362-unsplash

You do not know me unless I allow you to.

You do not touch me until you hear the word “yes.”

Am I a black girl, born and raised in a nice town, who acts a little more white than black?

Am I an achieving, dedicated student, with brains overlooked for color and assumed to be less than I am?

And am I a minority at one of the most prestigious CSU’S, representing women of my color while holding onto my own identity?

Because I am a scholar, I am an African American, I am a second generation college student, I am a minority,

and I am a woman.

Not a single one of these things alone can define who I am, yet we live in a world where people act like any one of them does.

Where pay is determined by chromosomes.

Where equality is determined by color.

And where opportunity is determined by causation.

So my question is, does society determine my purpose too?

Is it my nappy hair that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the girls;

camila-damasio-2720-unsplash.jpgNo easy “5 minute hairstyles” or “elegant updos done easy” that applies to me in doctors office magazines.

Or maybe the way they see me as a commodity, an opportunity, before tossing me around and treating me like a toy;

Not because my skirt was too short, because I was “asking for it.”

No, because they wanted to try out a darker shade for once.

Or maybe it’s the difference between a man and a women when I do everything I can and yet, my “womanhood” takes away from my proficiency.

Just enough to get paid twenty percent less, take out another dollar for the unprofessionality of my “nappy” hair.

How do we define purpose, define being, without looking past what we see?

How do we make change when so many people do not seem to want to see it at all?

I want to walk into a room and not be judged by my skin or by my body, no. Judge me by my mind.

By my intelligence.

By my character.

For it is believed that being born into different circumstance automatically puts you three steps back from the rest.

As we live in a world where it is assumed that the color of our skin and identified gender are constraints of our being.aman-bhargava-282998-unsplash

But they are not, if anything at all, they are simply boundaries to push,

lines to cross,

and glass ceilings to keep breaking down again and again

until they can exist no longer.

Because I am an African American, nappy haired, powerful woman who wants the equality I deserve.

And I’m ready to break this shit down.

The Resilient and the Risen– Black History Month

Just like that, the first month of the year has flown by. Maybe it was the three day weekend Cal Poly students had or just a lot going on for the new year, but here we are folks. Welcome to February, or as I like to say…

Welcome to Black History Month.guilherme-stecanella-371624

Since this blog started with my writing after all, today I want to talk about one of my favorite African American women— Maya Angelou. As a voice of many, Angelou was involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1959 as well as the Arab Observer in 1964, the only weekly news set that used the English Language in the Middle East. In the 50’s, she joined the Harlem Writers’ Guild in which she met the likes of James Baldwin who became a mentor and friend later on.

After traveling in Egypt and working in Ghana, she came back to the US and became a professor at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem in 1982, also accepting an appointment of Commission for the International Woman of the Year by Jimmy Carter. Though I wasn’t alive yet, some of you may remember her deliverance of On the Pulse of the Morning at Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993, later meeting former President Obama in 2010 for the Presidential medal of Freedom.

As if that wasn’t enough, she was also the first black woman director in Hollywood. Angelou found herself becoming a bigger part of history than I think she could have ever imagined, as she worked her way across several industries and platforms, sharing her perspective and her voice at every single one. She died in May 4 years ago at the age of eighty six— her words now live on through the pages we keep on our shelves. I know that I’ve got a few.sandrachile-483700.jpg

Speaking of pages, there is one poem I have of hers taped to my wall: Still I Rise. Back in my senior year of high school (back in my day), I performed this poem for my class during our poetry unit. It wasn’t hard to choose. The way her personality exudes throughout the poem, her words of resilience unwavering and incredibly smooth, this was one poem I didn’t mind standing in front of the class to perform. It holds one of my best high school memories and one of the writers who helped pave the way for African American achievement along the path to where we are now. Tonight I want to honor what she has done and the words she left behind.


So without further ado, Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

noah-silliman-163561.jpgDoes my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

samantha-sophia-374229.jpgOut of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Whatever challenges you currently face and anything that stands in your way of success, I hope you can find your way to rise above it. Happy February everyone, have a wonderful weekend. And Welcome to Black History Month.daniela-cuevas-21263.jpg

 

Big News and a Few Haikus

I haven’t tried my hand at metered poetry enough in my life and I’ve never been one to have a lot of big news, but today’s your lucky day— looks like I’ve got a little bit of both to share with you. andreas-kind-338509

First, the Haikus.

If you’ve been following my blog posts for a while now, you might remember that I went to a monthly show at my school called Another Type of Groove in February for the celebration of Black History Month. At the show, I watched people get up and perform countless kinds of poetry or spoken word, before being introduced to Judah 1 and his art with dirty Haikus.

Yes, those are exactly what they sound like.

But because of those Haikus, dirty or not (they were very entertaining), I was introduced to another kind of poetry that I hadn’t spent the time to be fully immersed in yet. I decided to change that.


So without further ado, here are some of my own haikus:

Number One:

jose-a-thompson-206102Open eyes that see

no light; that is not honest,

but artless facade

Number Two:

Sometimes I wonder

why you can’t understand that

you make me nervous

Number Three:

I want to wake up

and find the hole in my chest

no longer empty

prabuddha-sharma-180986Number Four:

Your body is the

foreign script I had never

learned to translate

Number Five:

They say my skin is

black but my insides still bear

a whitewashed canvas

 

Any thoughts on those? Feel free to leave me some comments below, I would love your feedback!


And now for the Big News:

This year at Cal Poly, I have been accepted as one of the many female writers of Her Campus. Now what is Her Campus you ask? Well, it is “the #1 new-media brand for the empowered college woman. Written entirely by the world’s top college journalists – with 11,000+ contributors and counting… supplemented by local content from 350+ campus chapters nationwide and in 11 countries.”

cassie-boca-385643.jpgYou can take a look at the national organization here, which has its own body of editors, writers, interns, etc. as a journalism and article hub for aspiring writers. If you want to take a look at the part of the organization I just joined, it is specifically Cal Poly’s female identified student body within the Chapter Network, which you can take a look at here.

As a writer, I submit pitch forms, ideas, and use the platform as a place to publish my own work as well as have a voice and network with countless incredible women who share my passions. At Cal Poly, we are ranked as as a Pink Level Chapter, meaning that we are in the top 20% of all chapters out of the 330+ across college campuses nationwide.

For me, Her Campus is a big step towards my future in both writing and publishing; it can open a lot of doors for me. This was the third time I had applied to be a writer with HC on Cal Poly’s campus and well, I guess the third time really was a charm. My first article, co-written with several other women in the club just went up this week and you can check it out right here!

So I just want to say thank you to each of you, for coming along on this journey with me and checking in every week— big things are happening andthomas-kelley-276597.jpg I can’t wait to see where I end up next (hopefully finishing my novel, but you know…)

Happy Veterans Day, thank you to all those who serve in our country, and as always, have a wonderful weekend everyone 🙂 Until next time

For Maddie Elliott

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls kristina-m-m-158842I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.

This is for Madeline Elliott.

Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of personshe could connect with anyone.

From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.


I wrote this for you Maddie.

I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.

I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.

I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.sabine-van-straaten-280388

And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.

There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;

Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.

There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving

and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.

But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,

the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.

So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;

aaron-burden-195608The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.

What do you do when they’re gone?

You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.

Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”

Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.

Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.

You hold on to the love they left behind for you.

And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.

Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time jerry-kiesewetter-189034goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.

Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.

And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have

to leave something good behind while we can.


My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.

In the words of Helen Keller,

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

Another Week, Another Challenge

I am now two weeks into my second year of college and I’m beginning to remember what it was like to be constantly going— these are busy lives we live. Between early and late nick-morrison-325805classes every day, studying when I can, working when I should, and making time for the people that matter to me, there’s a lot to do these days. In some ways, I would rather be busy; it forces me to be productive with the time that I have.

But there are downsides to always planning productivity in free time.

Does anyone else get tired of doing the same routines every day? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that I know when I can expect to be busy or not, but it gets a little boring after a while. We’re only two weeks into classes, so of course I’m still figuring things out here like everyone else, yet I know I’m going to get to that point of boredom and monotony soon enough. With the first day of fall finally here and classes back in full swing, it’s time to really look at what kind of year I want this to be.

Because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but undergrad is only 4(-5) years of our lives. I’m already down to 3 left. I’ve got to make every little bit count.

Last year I came into college with this idea that even though the next four years of my life were supposed to encompass a social life, responsibility, growing up, and living a good life, I felt like my primary necessity was academics. So when I came to Cal Poly, I did more than prioritize my schoolwork— it’s almost all I did. Sure, I had my fair share of late nights spent doing absolutely nothing productive or random movie nights to watch The Grudge or Insidious. But there were too many nights I said “no, I’ve got to study” or multitasked instead, even when I didn’t need to. Looking back, it may have been excessive.javier-graterol-16314.jpg

If you ask anyone I lived with last year about me, they would probably say that I was put together, organized, and oh so focused. I actually heard that comment from people a lot, especially when friends were coming back from parties at 1Am and they walked into the common room to see me working on a chemistry lab. The thing is, I don’t think those are the right words to use for what I was like last year— not quite. So I want to set the record straight about freshman me, the correct term for what I was: I was not put together, organized, or truly focused when I needed to be… I was stressed out, constantly. So I worked to try to balance it out.

Staying up late to study or finishing things early, that wasn’t me trying to be the best student I could, that was me trying to do everything I could to keep the deadlines and the anxiety from catching up with me.

It was me trying to make up for flaws in myself that weren’t actually there.

But did the studying and the working ahead help at all? For short term passing classes, I guess it did, at least according to my okay grades. In the long run though, I look back and see all the missed opportunities to get out of my own head for a little while and out into the real world. Instead of pacing myself, I was always going at full speed and in the process, I didn’t take the time to figure out more than just my own academic habits.

So this year I am making one big change: I’m going to go out and live a life worth living. Not just one of academics and late nights spent with a calculator, pablo-heimplatz-243307but also of quiet nights with my best friends, and weekends of beach hopping for bonfires, and gym time that doesn’t feel too scheduled or forced, and doing at least one thing I love every day. Even for just five minutes.

Because this is important.

For my sophomore year, I am going to live my life in a way  that feels not like an obligation, but an opportunity. Maybe that’s the opportunity to join some new clubs and actually go to all the meetings this year, or maybe it’s making more and more friends all across campus until I can walk into any room and recognize at least one face. At some point, I think we all develop our own conclusions about what this life holds for us, and right now, I’m changing mine. I used to believe that my schoolwork was everything, between track or soccer or school clubs; my schoolwork always came first no matter what.

Yet now, I see that it’s more complicated than that. A lot more complicated.

Because schoolwork is still a priority, absolutely, but now, so am I. I have to pay attention to how I’m doing, how empty or full my life feels, and what I can do to change that. There are things we cannot learn in a classroom or simply by reading a book. And there are things we need that we cannot get out of a purely academic setting, like love, or friendship, or experience, or motivation. Many of these things might start off in a classroom, but to live a fulfilled life, we’ve got to go further than that.luca-bravo-24241.jpg

Take it from Hercules, we have to go the distance to experience this life for ourselves and push the limits of what we can do. That means getting up early some days just to see the sunrise, or going out with a few new faces simply because you have no good reason not to. Whether we hit a few roadblocks along the way, run after a few busses here and there, or  ]fall down a couple times, that’s all a part of it too. This is about living these lives that we hold, and for me, living out these last three college years with all that I’ve got.

I’ll leave off with Langston Hughes, in a short poem of what this is all about, and I’ll see you all next week.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”