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get busy loving

My Aunty Shirley turns 80 today. She is a light in all our lives. At her Zoom party (because of course we had a Zoom party), someone asked her what the secret is to a long and happy life. What she said inspired my poem tonight. I love her so much. I hope you all have an Aunty Shirley, although mine is the absolute best there is.



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52 things.

Fifty-two weeks. Fifty-two Sundays. Sixty-four posts. Countless words. One incredible year.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say in this post, and not a lot of time actually writing things down. Have I ever done something for this long? Anything? What do I say? What message is so important–what message matters so much–that it marks the end of my 52nd week of writing about the things that matter the most?

I’ve written short stories, Spanish homework, interviews, that one sci-fi thriller that I never finished, and lots and lots (and lots) of poems. For months I’ve been asking myself: what will I do at the end of my fifty-two week experiment? I’ve spent an entire year writing about what matters to me, to those I love, to anyone, really. What happens now?

I’ve learned so much about myself in the past year. I’ve learned that I still really miss my mom. I’ve learned that that’s okay. I’ve learned that when I make up my mind to do something, I can really, truly, actually do it. I’ve managed to figure out what really matters to me, and why. I’ve learned that people care what I have to say. That I say it well. That my life and my thoughts and my hills and my valleys all matter.

So, as I asked at the beginning of this post, what message do I want to send? In this moment, I have no sage advice to bestow. Like all good conclusions, this post has raised more questions than it has given me answers. So I’ve decided to leave you all with the same questions I have asked myself almost every Sunday afternoon since September 22, 2019. I encourage you to ask yourself these questions, too, when you think you may be losing your way. When you’re finding it hard to sit comfortably in the present moment. When you need a reminder of what matters.

Thank you for reading my work. Thank you for the Facebook comments, the Instagram DMs, the text messages asking me what exactly I plan on writing about next week. Thank you specifically to the professors who showed me that my writing has power. Thank you to the friends who stayed up with me on Sunday nights–keeping me awake, keeping me writing, convincing me that I hadn’t, in fact, completely run out of things to say. Thank you to the friends who would come to class on Monday mornings and tell me they read my blog post over breakfast. Thank you Gramma, who sometimes couldn’t figure out how to access the page, and diligently emailed me until I resent the link. Thank you to everyone who continues to show me what matters. Thank you for mattering to me.

What will become of 52thingsthatmatter.wordpress.com? Will I continue to write on this blog? Or will this site become a relic of one crazy year of my life? I’ll admit that right now, at 10:11pm on Sunday, September 20, I don’t know if I’ll post next Sunday. I can’t imagine not posting, but I’m allowing myself the Sunday off for the first time in 52 weeks. If I need it. I don’t know. But I do know that next Sunday will come, the sun will set, and I’ll see my little notebook sitting on my desk. And I know that I’ll keep writing.

I can’t believe I didn’t close my closet door before I took this picture.

“52 weeks from now, I hope to look at this blog and find it filled with special milestones. I hope I’ve written about things both magical and mundane. I hope to see growth.”

– me, 52 weeks ago.

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missing midnight

I wrote this poem in large part because, during school holidays, my friends and I made a habit of spending our time together between the hours of 10pm and sunrise. Game nights lasted for hours, and we showed no signs of ever getting sick of each other, somehow. Two weeks into my senior year of college, and one thing (or two?) away from my complete collection of 52 things that matter, it has finally dawned on me that our ‘last’ summer together is over, and that we spent it 6 feet apart from each other in broad daylight, with a curfew curbing our nocturnal fellowship. While this poem isn’t entirely autobiographical, it is heavily based on that feeling of laughing without ceasing, surrounded by the people I love. Does this piece cause a memory or a feeling to bubble up in you? I hope it’s a good one. And I hope you get to feel it again.



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la aurora

“La aurora” is the time between darkness and dawn. The closest I’ve come to describing that exact moment is “daybreak”. Mornings have the tendency to blur together these days. I’ve taken to lighting candles in order to ground myself in this new reality of work/school/life from home. What grounds you?



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laugh big!

Hello! It’s my first day of senior year tomorrow. And it’s a friend’s first day of her first year tomorrow, too. And although I regularly write my fair share of very sad poems, I just very badly wanted to write something happy tonight. I am so grateful for a great many things.

There is so much sadness and so much pain. I know you are carrying your own. We are all feeling collective pain, too. I hope we can all learn to share Black joy as quickly as we seem to be prepared to share Black trauma and Black pain. Share Black joy. Share your joy.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy!



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the great calm

I hope everyone is home and safe. A 7pm curfew here in Jamaica (and school opening pushed back one month) has many of us wondering what the coming weeks will look like. On our family video chat this afternoon, we talked about finding our joy in the things we can control and letting go of the things we can’t. That, and the pouring rain that’s lasted all afternoon, are the inspirations for tonight’s piece. And tonight’s peace. Enjoy.



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i am here

I often struggle with knowing what to write. I started this blog to write about things that matter. To me. To someone. I’m about one month away from week 52, and I don’t really know how I feel about that.

More often than not, I quip that each week may finally be “the week.” The week that I finally can’t think of another thing that matters enough to share with the world. (Or with my small world of 30-50 weekly readers).

There are some weeks when I manage to convince myself that there’s nothing to write about but love and loss, and that I’ve entirely exhausted both of those avenues. And yet here I am, continuing to post each week, because I told myself I would! And I have. Thank you, as usual, for reading.

Below is my wordy, hodgepodge poem about stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.



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i climbed to the Blue Mountain peak

This weekend, my father, my sister, and I climbed to the peak of Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains. It was a challenge. And it wasn’t really our challenge. It was one of my mom’s bucket list destinations. We did our best to get her there. I wore her sneakers. Talk about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, huh?


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21

I’m 21 today! Thank you so much for all the well wishes and memories you’ve shared. For this week’s post, I’ve allowed myself some lazy haikus, because I’m focusing on socially distant family time tonight! But I couldn’t miss a Sunday! So here are my free-written haikus about my feelings on my 21st birthday. Thanks for reading!

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semantics

There is a poem at the end of my rambling! Feel free to scroll past all of this if you’ve gotten used to this being a poetry blog (like I have!).

Well, it happened today. I did not want to make a blog post. I don’t know where this came from, and I don’t really know how this post is going to end, really. I’ve been writing lots this week, but none of it feels ready to share, and with the world in the state that it’s in, none of it feels like it has a place on anyone’s timeline. Thank you so much for reading.

I also can’t find my writing pen. Yeah, I’m the kind of person who only wants to write with that one special pen. Yet somehow I’m also the kind of person to misplace pens. Not a great combo.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. And how much time I dedicate to different tasks/things/people/dreams. And how we experience time differently depending on so many different factors. So I guess that’s what this week’s poem is going to be about! Time. Good talk. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Tell me in the comments how you’ve been spending your time. What dreams do you have? What do you need to get there?



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9 months in

(There’s a poem at the end I promise)

The past 9 months have taught me that pregnancy must be a hell of a ride. I’ve had a blog for 9 months and it feels like it’s been forever.

A lot can happen in 9 months. But I feel like I said that 3 months ago when I was halfway through my 52 weeks.

I guess the difference now is that I’ve had to start reflecting on what’s next. Where’s my writing going to go from here? Where am I going to go from here?

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and lots of people’s lives are in some sort of limbo. Thinking about big things like graduating college, going to grad school, getting a job, deciding where I’m going to live—that stuff is big and daunting. Unavoidable, yes, but I find it a lot easier to think small. What’s next for my blog? Now that I’ve reached the 3/4 mark of my 52 week experiment, I’m wondering what the next chapter of my writing life will hold. 

I’m rambling now, as I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, big or small. But I do, as I have every Sunday for a while now, have a poem for you. Enjoy! Thank you for reading!


How Father’s Day felt this year.

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step one

Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. I hope this can offer you some encouragement.

(FYI if you are looking for new ways to contribute to the BLM movement: tinyurl.com/Resources4-BLM put together by my incredible friend Charity)



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not enough

Writing is hard when it feels like all the vocabulary in the world is not enough to express how terrible everything feels. There is no single string of words that I, or anyone else, can use to address anyone that will say enough of what we all need to hear. I felt so helpless trying to write a poem tonight, so instead, here is as cohesive a set of thoughts as I could muster to try and explain what I have been feeling this week. Please spend 5 minutes looking at your friends’ Instagram stories if you don’t know where to start learning, donating, supporting, and making meaningful change. If you don’t see those types of posts on your timeline, make new friends.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to talk. Thank you for reading.


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loss during covid-19

Hi all. I know so many of us are tired of reading post after post about this pandemic. This is just what was on my heart this week. This has been hard for so many of us in so many ways. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about loss during the pandemic for a writing seminar. Along with this week’s poem, I’ll put a copy of that piece at the bottom of this post. I know many of you come here for a quick read, so I’ll put the poem first, but if you’re interested, I recommend reading the seminar piece first, as that was my inspiration for the poem.

This week alone, so many people I love have lost people they love. Each time I got the news, I’d think back to my piece and to how awfully real it has become for people. I’m sorry if this week’s post is a bit heavy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.




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lists

How much can you tell about someone by looking at their trash? How about the lists they write on sticky notes and napkins and on the backs of receipts? The lists that fall between car seats and under beds and to the bottoms of handbags?

I bet you can tell a whole lot. Let me know what you think of this story told in lists.



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stuff i wrote this week

I’ve had lots on my mind this week. Here’s three poems I wrote. Enjoy!


I slept in my mom’s room for a week after she died. I wish I had written down what it felt like, but I don’t think I had it in me. I found her green juice in the fridge one day that week. I left it there for a while. I think I ended up drinking it. Being home, turns out, is still hard. Here are some haikus:


Crucifixion sounds awful. I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. I can’t imagine having to endure it. I tried to put it into words here.



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halftime?

“Twelve days ago, I bought that notebook. Today, I am starting my blog.”

September 22, 2019

“This first quarter has been incredible. I’ll see you again with another update at halftime.”

December 22, 2019


Wow. Six months ago, on September 22, 2019, I decided I had to start my blog. Three months ago, I reflected on how far I’d come a quarter of the way into my 52-week project. A friend asked me today whether I think I’ll keep going–whether there’ll be a week 53. Here at halftime, I feel pretty confident saying yes. This blog means so much to me, and I love so much that I can look back at my writing, my forms of expression, and people’s responses to it every week for the past 6 months. So this week, I want to share 2 lists and a poem: things I’ve learned, pieces I’m proud of, and a reflection on what 6 months can embody in one’s life. Thank you so so SO much for reading.

Things I’ve learned:

  • I really prefer writing poetry to prose.
  • I’ve gotten pretty good at Instagram stories.
  • I think my favorite adjective might be “magical.” I use it a lot.
  • Self-reflection is a crucial part of my grief process (and my life process, too).
  • I still miss my mom, and will probably miss her for the rest of my life.
  • People feel things, and they appreciate seeing those things written down.

Pieces I’m proud of (although each piece I write holds its own special place in my heart. click the name of each piece if you want to read!):

  • Resistance – my most-viewed piece. an interview with the incredible Carla Hill.
  • viaje a la luna – the time I directed and starred in a one-woman show about Federico Garcia Lorca and his love life.
  • monster – the time I found a nonsense quote in my notebook and wrote haikus.
  • anatomy – about how ‘feeling bad’ isn’t just in your head.
  • you’re riding a bus – a piece about anxiety.
  • let’s cook – a piece for my sister.
  • quarantine – literally last week’s piece. i just really liked it. recency bias, maybe?

halftime. a poem about what 6 months might mean.

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honey and miel.

This week, I’ve been fascinated by translations. Translating words, expressions, emotions. I decided that I wanted to write a poem that sounded beautiful in more than one language. It was tough finding the right words in English (that also rhymed!) to express what I wrote in the original, Spanish poem. Since I know not all my readers are Spanish-speakers, I’ve put the not-as-beautiful direct translation of the original below as well. Thanks so much for reading. Enjoy!




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let’s cook

I liked the format of last week’s poem where I typed it on my computer as opposed to straight into WordPress. Let me know if you like this format (is it hard to read? did you prefer it before?). In case you find it difficult to read, I’ve pasted it directly into the reader to facilitate! Thanks for reading.

Also, it’s my sister’s birthday. This poem is for her. Or for me. Or for both of us.


let’s cook like Mom did.

.

i never wrote down recipes 

or paid much attention to the ingredients 

but i remember 

all the rules i’ll never need like

.

how to keep the chicken breast moist and

how much cream cheese to use in the dip.

.

but let’s try anyway.

.

and we’ll fight over 

how much salt and

parsley and 

tomato and

garlic.

.

and we’ll put 

way too much black pepper

in the cheese sauce.

.

and we’ll argue about tape on 

christmas eve

and we’ll hug in the kitchen.

.

and you’ll preheat the oven 

and put the pot on the fire.

.

and i’ll try to act like i know better

and you’ll sometimes let me.

.

hug me and whisper about how it all feels 

and let me convince you

for once

that you’re not alone.

.

and i’ll apologize for everything and mourn those 

unfixable sadnesses

that we are living

alone, together.

.

let’s make the pasta 

and be best friends

and love each other.


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i’m okay.

Lots of people have been reaching out asking if I’m okay because of the content of my poems. I appreciate everyone’s concern so much—thank you. I am fine! I have just been deeply driven to evoke emotions with my words; these words do not reflect some internal struggle (although I am a firm believer in the power of internal struggle).

I asked a friend to come up with a sentence of inspiration for me. The sentence could carry as much emotional weight as my friend wanted. It could be happy, sad, excited, mundane—anything. The sentence below is what my friend came up with. And below that is what I did with it. Enjoy!

“I’d like to think I’m okay but I know I’m not.”


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#DearWeepingWhiteWomen

An impromptu self-timer photoshoot, some sticky notes, a Sharpie, and a short poem inspired by @staceyannchin.

Dear Weeping White Woman

I will no longer be apologizing for my anger.

I will no longer be apologizing for my tears.

I will no longer be apologizing for my nihilism in the face of a world that has placed me firmly under a glass ceiling, within 4 glass walls, with nowhere to go but down.

I am too busy unlearning generations of trauma to be your shoulder to cry on. 

I’m not sorry for my big feet or my big hair or my big ass or the fact that I take up space.

I’m going to need you to stop apologizing too, by the way.

Stop apologizing for what your ancestors did.

Stop apologizing for your lack of ability to do anything.

Your apology is a lie you tell yourself to absolve yourself of the responsibility to act.

Decentralize power. Center black voices in the black narrative. Don’t take my voice from me. Don’t take my platform from me.

Don’t weep for me. 


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letters from home

What is home? What does it mean to go home? Who is home for you? I ask myself these questions a lot, especially when I feel that terrible feeling of unbelonging in a space that was meant to welcome me. This week’s freewrite explores the fleeting half-formed thoughts I’ve had when considering what home is, and why it hasn’t been the same since the day my mom stopped occupying the physical space that she had in my life.

Enjoy this incoherent collection of pieces from letters I wish I could send.


all I know is that home hasn’t been the same without you…

but of course he feels that way, we miss you in everything we do…

can’t they see that they won’t get through to her like that?

don’t know if I’ll ever go back there. I really miss that cat…

every time I go home, it looks stranger and stranger to me…

finding and creating home has been equal parts strained and free…

getting into Boston Logan Airport became home…

home is having breakfast in the dining hall while browsing reddit on my phone…

Iceland was only home for about ten days, but it was home nonetheless…

Jimmy’s funeral program told me I was home when I set it down on my new desk…

keys in the bottom of my bag fit locks in places I hadn’t seen in months…

like when I start tearing up after hearing your name once…

maybe it’s just too hard not hearing back…

not that I don’t see you all the time. It gets worse when I have to start to pack…

open to therapy, of course, but so far none of those offices have held even a hint of home…

pretty much all the time. I even sometimes tear up when I take out that comb…

questions, questions, questions, and no home in the answers…

recently got the part! And now she’s a dancer…

so very proud, even though sometimes we still fight…

there’s home in the teacup that I bring with me anywhere I have to stay the night…

understand where they’re coming from, but I can’t hear them over the drumming…

vicious cycle. But I like to think of it as a becoming…

when will I get to see you again?

xylophone lessons that you’d take me to when I was ten…

yesterday, sitting there with so many of the people I love was the home-est home I’ve felt in a while…

zouk music playing in your brother’s house reminded me of your smile…

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she

never

coffee never woke her up like the day she sipped it while listening to the abridged story of your life.

she never breathed as clearly as the moment the breeze swept through your hair and it began to dance.

her heart never beat out of her chest until you called it forth.

words never got caught in her throat til she tried to ask you when she could see you again.

always

she always thought she’d find her person far away from her little town in her hot and humid corner of the world.

people always saw her for who they thought she should be, until you saw her for who she is.

the birds always sang outside her window, she had just forgotten to listen for them.

other

other beds had left her cold.

other mornings had been harder to greet.

other lovers invited vile endings and bitter goodbyes, but the daisies and nasturtiums in every laugh that leaves your lips blossom far bigger and smell far sweeter.

sometimes

sometimes she wonders if she’s moving too fast.

sometimes she has days she’d rather not have.

sometimes she thinks of you more than she reckons she should.

sometimes

she worries you don’t want always.

always

second guessing until she remembers you’re thinking of her just as often.

often forgetting that she never said

never

until someone asked

if she could imagine life with someone

other

than you.

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from a small town at the end of the world

My love,

Since my last letter, so much has happened.

Bella fell ill and had to be put in the sick room upstairs with Aunt Mae. I’m sorry my love–we lost her within that week. We think she went in peace.

Aunt Mae is still holding on. If this letter does reach you, she may be gone by the time it arrives. I can’t deny that it would relieve some pressure.

Little Mason just took his first steps last week. Although he’s never met his papa, I’m sure he misses you terribly. I tell him about you every day.

We worry about the river these days. It is our only source of water since the well was contaminated. The acid rain is, of course, undrinkable. We cannot take the risks that we used to. Our systems take so much longer to recover. I worry when Eli coughs.

The sea level finally rose above the barrier with the last tsunami. Wherever you are, I’m sure you felt the effects of it too. As you can imagine, we don’t have the man power to make it any higher, and anyway, it’s too late now. The flats are flooded, which looks almost beautiful from our little perch. We hope everyone down there evacuated, or managed to pull through somehow.

I worry for the children. The sun’s flares have made it impossible for them–or any of us–to go outside at the height of the day. They aren’t able to get sun as we did when we were young.

The cathedral finally crumbled and fell. The bell made an awful sound. We knew it was coming, but it still hurt. Looking out at the flats and not seeing the spire is just another reminder of the end of all we know.

It’s been so hard not hearing from you. I can only pray that you are receiving my letters. I wish there were a way for you to write back.

Marcus is fine. Jaime still has not returned.

As for me, I’m just doing my best to hold on for as long as possible. I get weaker every day.

Although Mason is walking now, I’ve decided to continue breastfeeding him for as long as I can. The food we manage to gather daily wouldn’t be enough for all of us. Since we lost Bella, the pressure has eased of course, but I fear putting Mason onto solid food would make me complacent, and we are all only getting hungrier. Still, I fear sometimes that I don’t eat enough to produce consistent milk for him. On some days, my bosom is dry.

Ally’s piano lessons continue to brighten my day, although my hands are growing too tired to teach her. We had to use one of the manuscripts as kindling, and I only wish I had played the song one more time before we lost it. The piano, like everything else, is slowly falling apart. We will play it, as promised, until we no longer can.

I hope you’re okay, my love. I hope you’re alive. I hope you find Gordon soon. We all miss him just as much as we miss you.

I know you don’t like when I say this, and I hesitate to write it even now. But I often wish you hadn’t decided to go searching for him. Our days are numbered, and I just wish I could spend these last ones with you.

Each time our cooling system breaks down, it becomes more difficult to fix. And with the flares, you know we can’t survive for long without it.

The last hurricane took out the few fruit-bearing trees that could withstand the heat.

It would be a great help to have you here hunting. Although I fear the animals aren’t doing much better than we are.

I miss you, my darling. I will write again when I can bear it. I hope you still watch the river as you promised you would. I wonder how many of my letters you’ve missed. I continue to pray that I will see you soon.

Love always,


things that matter: climate change

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you’re riding a bus

You’re riding a bus. It’s late at night and the flickering of the fluorescent lights above you is starting to mess with your head.

You remember thinking that you should’ve turned back for your headphones as you were running out of the door earlier, but you thought you mightn’t have enough time to catch the bus if you turned back now. And so you didn’t.

But you regret that now, because all you can hear is the wheels of the bus rolling down the asphalted slope of the hill, and the occasional loose pebble being flung by the wheels up onto the side of the bus with a “ping!” It’s almost like each pebble is perfectly timed with your inhaling breaths. Exhale…2…3…4…5…inh-ping!…exhale…inhale…ping! Hyperventilating now, ping–exhale–ping–exhale–ping–exhale. It’s uncanny.

You’re still riding the bus. And now you’re slowly falling asleep. The only thing keeping you awake is the fear of missing your stop. Your stop. Your stop. Where are you going? Where are you coming from? What are you chasing? What are you running from?

You don’t recognize anyone on this bus. You thought you’d gotten on with friends. But you’re alone here. Where have they gone? You miss them a lot, but for some reason you can’t remember any of their names. Or exactly what their faces look like. Or how their voices sound. You miss them. You reach into your pocket and take out a blank piece of paper. You decide you’ll try to draw them. But you have no pencil.

The bus is slowing down, you think. You just got off the highway. Or are you about to get on it? No, it’s not slowing down, you’re just so tired. You try to occupy yourself with thoughts of what it is you have to do when you get off of the bus. Surprise, surprise–you can’t quite remember. You know you’ve got so much to do, but you lost your to-do list. You look down to check if it’s in your bag and you realize you’ve left your bag. Great. The blank piece of paper in your pocket isn’t helping either. No pen.

Your heart starts to race and you start to wonder when exactly it is you’re supposed to get off. You look up to see what the next stop is but all you see are the lights. They’re blinding. You look away. You’re getting hungry. Or you’ve always been hungry. But it isn’t real hunger, is it? When last did you eat? When last weren’t you hungry? Your pockets are empty and you’ve crumpled the blank piece of paper in your hand.

You open your eyes. Oh no. You fell asleep. Did you miss your stop? No you didn’t, you would’ve felt the bus slow down. As a matter of fact, when last did the bus slow down? There is no one left. But the bus didn’t stop. Where did they all go? What time is it? When were you supposed to arrive? Will you arrive? Ping! Those pebbles. Where are you?

All these questions have made you tired. But you can’t fall back asleep or surely you’ll miss your stop. You can suddenly feel all of your clothes on your body. The piece of paper in your hands. You are aware of each swallow. Each blink. Each flicker of the lights. Each move you make. Each heartbeat. Each breath, and the faithful ping! accompanying every inhale. When last were you aware of these things? Of anything? Of yourself? Of yourself on this bus?

You’re riding a bus. You’ve been riding it for as long as you can remember. You can’t remember getting on, and you’re waiting to get off. There is no driver. There are no passengers. There is only you, the fluorescent lights, and a blank piece of paper.

Ping

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anatomy

I learned some anatomy today.


What happens in your stomach when you mess up:

The hot acid of guilt bubbles up

Into the pit of your stomach 

And makes it 

Dance.

.

It twists and turns in a waltz and

Steps on toes and

Loses count and

Tumbles.


What happens in your chest when you realize you’ve fallen out of love:

That tight feeling 

Is actually

The rope you’d been 

Weaving

The whole time 

.

Except all of a sudden

There are all these knots and

The more you try to unravel them

The tighter they get 

Until

.

Ouch.

.

And the rope breaks.

And the love seeps out of the frayed ends.


What happens at the back of your neck when someone you love hurts you:

The hairs on the back of your neck

Become the spines of a cactus

And all of a sudden you’re in the desert 

.

But you’re cold.

.

And the hot desert sun hits your eyes and they 

Water

And water

And don’t stop

Until they’ve run out.


Why your hands get clammy when you’re holding someone else’s:

Your hands don’t understand 

That the sweat leaving them 

Isn’t glue enough to

Hold them together.

.

But they try

Because what’s the harm

In a couple of clammy hands

Doing their best?


That ball in your throat when you’re trying not to cry:

It’s filled with all the things that went wrong

Surrounded by all the reasons not to break

And dammed by a wall of frail fear that

Is slowly chipped away as

The ball does its best to squeeze its way out.


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monster

I was looking through my writing notebook for inspiration for this week’s post when I saw something I don’t even remember writing. It inspired me to try and write some poetry using that random string of words as a prompt. I haven’t tackled haikus yet, so I decided to give them a go. Here’s the prompt:

“Once upon a time there lived a monster under my bed. We’d have tea parties every night when I couldn’t fall asleep. I miss him a lot. :)”

I like to imagine someone reading these to the monster under their bed at different moments throughout their life. Let me know what you think!


a haiku about pushing through difficulty:

shadows moon and stars

just before the dawn of day

my favorite moment


a haiku about amendments:

i like your pictures

where are you and where am i

can you paint me in


a haiku about letting go:

don’t leave me again

it’s so hard to say goodbye

wait just one more hug


a haiku about growing up:

monster, come back here

i still want to play with you

all alone again.


a haiku about grief:

it’s so dark in here

why can’t i see anything

i can’t stop crying


Please consider subscribing for more!

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being home is hard

I used to love being home. My family is a huge part of my identity, and I grew up thinking of my cousins more like little siblings. I still love being home, and seeing all my family. I miss them so much while I’m away. However, when my mom died, home changed drastically for me. I don’t miss my house the way I used to. I don’t miss showering in my shower, I don’t miss sleeping in my bed. I don’t miss cooking in my kitchen.

I’ve found it a lot harder to write pieces for the blog while here. While abroad, I had so much more time and peace of mind in which I could meditate on my feelings. Being home, all my feelings continue to hit me like a ton of bricks, preventing me from effectively breaking them down and look at them relatively objectively. One might say that being here, surrounded by all the people who love me so much and are most affected by this collective loss, has brought my emotions too close to home.


close to home

Getting home is 

Putting on a new skin

Zipping it up quickly so that 

No one knows 

It’s me.

I leave

myself

at the arrival gate

of the airport.

I abandon my flannels for frills

I hand in my converse and slide into sandals

I don 

Sunglasses

Handbag

Nail polish 

Flowery dress.

I strip away

Leg hair

Armpits

My flannels

My boots.

Give me grocery list

Laundry to fold

Hair to control

A family to hold 

together.

I am Pascale personified

My mother incarnate

Does she know who I am when I am not her?

Do I?

I slip into my skin at the end of each semester.

I am my mother.

I am home.

I am free.

I am 

me


Please let me know what you think. I love hearing your feedback. Even more than that, I love talking about and remembering my mom. I’ m always, always happy to chat about her and tell stories about her. Thank you for reading!

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viaje a la luna

How much do you know about Federico García Lorca? My answer to that question has changed dramatically since I completed the second half of my Spanish Literature and Cinema course here in Barcelona. In order to get quickly to the meat of this week’s post, I will try to summarize the parts of Lorca’s story that are most closely tied to my project.

  1. Lorca was born in Granada, Spain, in 1898.
  2. He was a poet, a playwright, and a creator in every sense of the word.
  3. He was heavily involved and influential in the surrealist movement in Spain.
  4. He was executed (assassinated) at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
  5. He was gay.
  6. He was (probably) deeply in love with Salvador Dalí.
  7. Dalí consistently rejected Lorca’s sexual advances.
  8. In 1929, Dalí and famed Spanish writer and director Luis Buñuel wrote and produced the surrealist film Un chien andalou (warning: jarring and surreal in every sense of the word).
  9. The film was fraught with subliminal and overt messages of repressed sexual desire, religious guilt, and death.
  10. Lorca assumed this film was a jab at him and his unreciprocated sexual advances toward Dalí.
  11. In that same year (1929), Lorca wrote the ‘script’ to a movie–Viaje a la luna--that he would never see filmed. It is presumed that this script was a direct response to Un chien andalou.
  12. 90 years later, my Literature and Cinema professor assigned us a project to bring Lorca’s script to life.

Now, our professor warned us that Lorca’s script would be difficult to adapt for a plethora of reasons. It reads like a poem; a series of 75 moving images that when put together tell a surreal, plotless story about sexual desire, disgust, confusion, and repression.

I did my best. I tried to put myself in the mind of Lorca, who was surely experiencing romantic, sexual, and emotional turmoil due to a combination of the unrequited love of Dalí and the oppressive homophobia of 1920’s Spain. (Reminder that he was executed by fascist forces who described him as a “socialist” who engaged in “homosexual and abnormal practices”).

So with this context in mind, please enjoy my interpretation of Federico García Lorca’s Viaje a la luna. I think I would like to edit it further in the future (as it turns out, I really enjoy doing multimedia work!), but below you will find the version that I submitted for grading and had to share in our last class meeting of the semester! I tried to keep it PG, but if you read the original script, you’ll see how that proved difficult. I also tried to pay homage to some of the techniques and motifs used in Un chien andalou (you’ll see the similarities if you decide to watch both). This has been my most ambitious one-woman-show to date and is by no means a polished piece of work, so please please please share whatever feedback you have! I love engaging with my readers (and this week, my viewers!). Enjoy!

(content warning: internalized homophobia, implied sexual intimacy)

viaje a la luna

Relevant translations:

  • 1 año antes = 1 year earlier
  • el prometido = the fiancé
  • 6 meses antes = 6 months earlier
  • la misma noche = that night
  • viaje a la luna = trip to the moon
  • ¿la quiero? = do I want her?
  • ¡arrepiéntete! = repent!
  • socorro = help
  • felicidades = congratulations
  • Sr y Sra = Mr. and Mrs.

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Post-Incident | part 2

This is a continuation of a story I started about two weeks ago. I am continuing to work on constructing complex characters, consistent narrative structure, and subtle-but-solid world building. Click here if you haven’t yet read part 1!


Our characters so far:

A farmer.

A banker.

A nurse.

An expectant mother.


End of part 1:

“…I’ve been in love plenty of times. Soulmates aren’t real, though. I can tell you that for sure.”

She fiddles with the wedding band on her finger.

“Let me tell you why.”


Nurse brought a spoonful of canned soup to her lips, blowing on it not out of necessity, but out of habit. I wanted to laugh at the normalcy of it. While sometimes I managed to find a bunker whose owner had had the foresight to install solar panels, most of those had been stolen or damaged during or just after The Incident. I hadn’t had a meal cooked on a stove in almost a year.

She continued to chew the unidentifiable chunks slowly. The farmer, whose name I could never remember, seemed to notice her reluctance. I guess sharing a bunker for 6 months will help you start picking up on people’s cues.

“You know Nurse, you don’t really have to tell us about this love o’ yours. It was just a question to pass the time. If it helps, I don’t really believe in soulmates either.”

“I’m just trying to figure out where to start. It’s a long story.”

“How long can it be? Of course they aren’t real. How can you believe in such a joyful idea when we’re living in the middle of this hellscape? Do you think The Incident could have happened in a world that ran on magical ideas like soulmates? I mean, just look at Exhibit A over here!”

He spits.

“You think she’d have come here alone if there were any such thing as soulmates? I mean, just look at–“

“Neil! How dare you say that?”

As his eyes land on me, my hand instinctively clutches my abdomen. He looks like he’s about to continue his rant until Nurse gives him a look that stops him. My eyes begin to well up as, once again, the wall I had been slowly constructing around me breaks down. Nurse comes over and puts and arm around me while the farmer looks like he’s just about ready to sink into the floor. He says in my defense:

“Fer all yer years of bankin’, you couldn’t calculate that that isn’t somethin’ you say to a woman?”

“I’m just telling it like it is. How could anyone have left you to fend for yourself in these conditions?”

“Neil, that’s enough.”

Tears are now flowing freely down my face. This is one of the many times within the eights years since The Incident that I could really use a drink. Turns out that fending for yourself, fighting for your life at Sources, and being stuck in bunker after bunker with strangers helps a lot with sobriety.


I am suddenly thrust back almost two years to when I first laid eyes on the bunker by the lake. Over five years post-Incident, a fully-stocked bunker was a rarity. Yet that’s what we’d found. When we managed to get the door open and go inside, we both burst into tears. Patrick picked me up, spun me around, and kissed me in a way he hadn’t kissed me since before The Incident. Since before we had to spend 5 years worried about staying alive, afraid that occupied bunkers would be much less inclined to open their doors to a duo. For that year, we lived an almost-normal life, keeping each other company and forgetting about the rest of the terrible world outside our bunker.

I’d only realized I was pregnant when I started showing. I thought the vomiting was due to the amount of expired food in the bunker. The missed periods were normal after 5 years of living ration to ration. When I woke up that morning, I went to open another can of food for our breakfast, as usual. I walked back towards the bed with the can on a tray, about to make a joke about giving us a romantic breakfast in bed, but the look on Patrick’s face stopped me before the words left my mouth. I could see a thousand thoughts running through his head all at once. He was looking at my belly. As I looked down, it all clicked into place. I was sure that I was pregnant, probably at about 12 to 16 weeks at that point, and Patrick knew it too. And we had no idea what we were going to do. We had gotten too comfortable in our little paradise. Raiding Sources and getting accepted into bunkers was hard enough when you were two people. Doing it with a newborn was unthinkable.

Each morning for the next four weeks, Patrick said to me the simplest words of encouragement. I’m sure it was all he could muster. Most days, before I even opened my eyes, I would hear him whisper to me:

“We’re going to be okay.”

Those words were all that kept me going through the sleepless nights that followed.

They kept me through daily tears.

Through the awful thoughts that constantly plagued me.

Through the hunger that I tried to control as I refused to increase my daily food ration.

Through the night that we were awoken by a noise that shook me to my core.

Through the walk towards the entrance of the bunker as I followed behind him.

Through the fear I felt as he looked out the peep hole and decided that he had to go outside.

Through the pain I felt when he shouted at me that I had to close the door to the bunker right now and wait for his knock before I let him back in.

Through the regret I have felt every day that I didn’t follow him out.

Through each and every day that followed as stood looking out the peephole and waited for his knock.

Through the day that I accepted that it was never going to come.

We’re going to be okay.


I suddenly realized that the farmer was still berating Neil and that Nurse still had her arms protectively around me. Neil was looking right at me. I guess that at some point in my daze he had had a change of heart, because he said:

“Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed. I don’t know your story.”

I took a shaky breath.

“Yeah, you don’t. And you never will.”

I knew that whatever Nurse’s story was, it was bound to give me a brief respite from the bottomless pit into which I felt myself falling. And so, silently begging her to forgive me for forcing the conversation back in that direction, I said:

“Can we just get back to talking about soulmates, please?”

To be continued.


Please let me know what you think! Are you interested to find out what happens next? All feedback is welcome and appreciated!

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the world is grey

This story has a fairly straightforward message, I think. I hope I tell it in a compelling way. Please let me know what you think!


The world is grey. And black, and white, and everything in between. It wasn’t always like this. I remember, as a child, there were countless other colors. But as the world revealed itself to me in all its fallen ugliness, my colors slowly disappeared.

My fluffy blanket no longer held its soft pink hue. Instead of bright red, my toy fire truck was now a dull charcoal. The birds outside my window still sang, but their radiant feathers no longer shone blue.

By the twelfth grade, none of my books came in color and my highlighters all looked the same. Trees weren’t green, the sky wasn’t blue, until the day she came.

I expected each partner to be ‘the One.’ Was that too much to ask? They came and went, and with each one, my world remained bleak. I was lost. Aimless. Desperate.

The day she came, I felt a flutter. I wondered if this was it. She checked boxes I didn’t know I had. She said everything I didn’t know I needed to hear. I knew she was going to be my forever.

Imagine my growing concern when, each day, I would search for the glimpses of returning color that I was sure would begin to appear. Imagine my panic when she would describe to me her polychromatic existence. She’s perfect, I would think. She’s everything. Why is my world still grey?

Convinced that my eyes were deceiving me, I surprised myself and everyone else when I asked her to move in with me. If my heart didn’t want to figure itself out, I would give it a bit of a nudge.

She said yes, of course. Her world was brighter than it had ever been before. We were sharing a home before the end of that month. Before the end of the year, I had asked her to be my wife.

My wedding day was grey. We kept it traditional, of course. Our vows were loaded with gratefulness for the beautiful color each of us had brought to the other’s life. I worried that I would be found out. That I would mix up my greens and my blues. The colors that were now nothing but a childhood memory. At the reception, each toast caused the knot in my stomach to grow tighter.

For the first year of our marriage, the only time my monochrome was broken was one unremarkable morning when, at breakfast, she began to sing me a song. I don’t know what it was about that song, but without asking, I could tell it came straight from her soul. She sang it softly, to no one in particular, certainly not to me across the kitchen counter. But I heard it. The more she sang, the more I felt the invisible weight lifting off my shoulders. I felt so light that I thought I would float. And then came the most extraordinary moment. The flowers she had picked from the garden that morning turned the palest of blues. Right there in front of me. For the first time in longer than I could remember. It was blue. 

I never forgot that moment. For the rest of that year, I relived it over and over in my head. Yet to my utter dismay, each time I replayed that sweet memory, that beautiful pale blue would fade. One day, it was right back to grey.

What did I do wrong? What have I been doing wrong this whole time? I was living a colorless lie, and the cracks were beginning to show. My wife became distant. I wondered what had changed. I’d always been good at pretending everything was okay. And then came the longer work days. And then came the silent nights. And then came the fights over nothing. And then, and then, and then.

And then, one day, she said the most heartbreaking words: “I think we should see a color counselor.”

This was it. I no longer had to pretend. I didn’t have to live a lie anymore, because my wife was starting to see grey too. She was falling out of love. The pressure that had been building since the day we were wed finally dissipated in this moment. What replaced it was worse. It was guilt. 

I had stolen years of this woman’s life. I’d taken her love. She had been pouring her soul into a vessel that could not hold it.

I was defective, and I had selfishly strung her along, hoping that one day I would fall deeply enough in love that my world would no longer be grey.

When she moved out, the only company I had was our empty, grey house. On our bedside–my bedside–sat our two grey rings. I was alone. No self-help book could cure me. The prime-time stories of people finally seeing color after years of therapy caused me nothing but envy. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I missed my wife.

The process of letting go is a difficult one. I sometimes wondered what it was I was trying to let go of. All I ever saw was grey. Doesn’t that mean I didn’t love her? I began to write my feelings. I began speaking them to myself aloud. I began to encourage myself, little by little, to go outside. To go to therapy. To eat breakfast. To make the bed, in which I was finally able to rest on most nights.

One morning when I woke up, before I even opened my eyes, something emerged from the depths of my being. A song. Her song. Our song. I began to hum her song and I realized that for longer than I could keep track of, my weight had been lifting. This morning, I was floating. 

I got out of bed, still singing, smiling now. I danced around the room, now fully conscious of the monumental shift I had been experiencing so slowly for so long. I waltzed into the bathroom. I froze. I stood there. I was stupefied, shocked, and very, very confused. I was brown.

My stupor was broken by a knock at my front door. My heart told me who it was. I threw on a robe, flew down the stairs, and flung open the door. There she stood. My wife. With a bouquet of pale blue flowers in her hand.

I gazed at her beautiful hazel skin. She gazed back at me. She could see in my eyes that I had finally found the love that I had been missing. The love without which I could not accept hers. The love without which I could not give of myself. 

Our world is not grey.

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Post-Incident | part 1

I wrote a story, and I didn’t think it was ready enough to share. I got excited about it, and now I think I want to make it a lot longer than it was originally. So this week, I decided I would instead focus on my world-building. Most of my work thus far has been poetry and personal narrative. I figured it was about time I tried my hand at some post-apocalyptic story telling. Here you’ll find the introduction to a story that I will work on developing/completing in the coming weeks if I get good feedback on it!

I think I have the tendency to try to cram a whole lot of information into not a whole lot of space. I also have trouble leaving some things to my readers’ imaginations. Trust that in the coming weeks I’ll be reading a whole lot more short fiction in an attempt to discover the secret of balanced narrative! I’d love to hear some feedback from folks who have experience writing fiction. What do I do well? What do I need to work on? Is anything about my story unclear or confusing?

Even if fiction isn’t your forte, please let me know if you like it and would like to hear more! Thanks for reading!


It’s a wonder the kinds of questions that emerge around a fire at the end of the world.

A farmer.

A banker.

A nurse.

An expectant mother.

It seemed so foolish to use these labels. None of them mattered in an underground bunker 8 years after The Incident.

People had been traveling from bunker to bunker, foraging for food as long as they could, hoping to make it to the next Source before their legs gave out. The mass exodus just prior to the Incident meant there were a number of well-stocked Sources left abandoned right before they were needed the most. By now, we were about a week away from the last of the food in this bunker, as long as another person didn’t find us. Or—what no one was willing to say—as long as we didn’t let them in.

We sat around the fire like we were at an AA meeting. It was almost funny to think I had attended those a lifetime ago, before the Incident. About a year ago, I’d begun introducing this activity to the people in each new bunker I found. Every Sunday after the food was rationed, we’d go around in a circle and remind everyone—mostly ourselves—where we’d been. It helped me keep track of time. It helped us get to know each other. It helped us keep stock of the bunkers we knew about, and showed us areas that weren’t worth searching. It showed us how far we’d come. It proved to us that we could make it a little bit further.

“This is my fifth bunker. My last one was about twelve miles southeast of here. It didn’t end well. There were three of us, and two of us got too sick to leave. I was the third. I got out of there with about three days’ worth of food. I don’t think those other two made it out. It’s not worth going back there to check for food.”

“This is my 5th bunker this month. I think. I had bad luck a few times. Woke up one morning in my last one and the people I’d been staying with had packed up with the rest of the food and gotten outta there without me. They were a married couple. They left me a granola bar.”

“I’m lucky, I joined Nurse here almost half a year ago. No one’s come across us but you folks. It got lonely, but at least we didn’t have to worry about rations much…”

Apologetic and grateful faces looked up somberly. Thank yous were muttered as our activity ended prematurely, painfully aware that our food stores were all but used-up.

We didn’t know how many Sources were left. Communication between bunkers was spotty at best. Most people who found bunkers these days usually weren’t willing to let many people in. We sat quietly, hoping someone would attempt to break the silence.

“Y’all ever been in love? You believe in soulmates?”

“That’s a depressing question.”

“I know. What a waste of time.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, are you in a rush? Running late? ‘Waste of time.’ Yeah, right.”

“Shhh. I know it’s tough. This is our last week here. Let’s not fight, please. I’ll answer the question. I’ve been in love plenty of times. Soulmates aren’t real, though. I can tell you that for sure.”

She fiddles with the wedding band on her finger.

“Let me tell you why.”

To be continued.

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I got sick.

I was sick this weekend. And of course, being sick, all I wanted was for my mom to take care of me. So here’s my emotional rendition of what happened this weekend. It’s a bit all-over-the-place in style, but I felt as though this was the best way to convey what I went through emotionally during this time. (Don’t worry about me. I am taking medication and beginning to feel better now, thank you!)


It began on Friday.

03:42. Bus stop. Alone.

That scratch in my throat still hasn’t gone away…

Good thing I have those lozenges.

Why did I book a flight so early in the morning? 

05:38. Airport. Shannon has just asked me whether I managed to get any sleep.

Why didn’t I sleep? 

Why haven’t I been able to sleep for weeks?

Why have I been waking up tired and lying in bed awake?

What is wrong with me?

08:47. Plane. Landed in Paris.

Man, I should lay off talking for a while. My throat is really beginning to bother me.

11:35. Metro station. Cold as hell.

Am I miserable because it’s freezing? Or am I miserable because I’m sick? Is it freezing because I’m sick? Am I sick because it’s freezing?

15:02. Airbnb. Lying in bed. To the group chat.

“How swollen do your tonsils have to be before you go to urgent care?”

“I’d assume it’s when you can’t breathe.”

I decide to take a nap.

16:37. Airbnb. Lying in bed. To Gramma.

“…If it gets any worse I may go to urgent care.”

“Don’t wait. Go before it gets any later. Nights are the worst.”

I take another nap.

20:47. Uber. Raining outside.

Nights really are the worst, aren’t they?

20:53. Bicetre Hospital compound. Lost by the prenatal building. The Uber driver could not find the driving entrance to the premises.

I walk about 10 minutes in the nearly-freezing rain, following signs to “Urgences adultes” (Emergencies – Adults).

The rest of the weekend is a fever dream of sleeplessness and being reacquainted with my subconscious.


I shed my first tear talking to the intake workers at the hospital. 

“Mais, pour quoi pleurez-vous?” (Why are you crying?)

“Parce-que ça me fait mal.” (Because it hurts.)

It hurts. It hurts being far from home and it hurts not knowing what’s wrong with my body and it hurts not having my mother here to make everything better.

My tears flood the waiting room as name after name is called that isn’t mine. A nurse walks in. “Madame X?”

Not me.

An audible sob escapes my lips. The old man who keeps running away from his nurses asks me why I won’t stop crying.

At minutes to midnight: “Mademoiselle James?”

Unbridled relief.


As I lie down in the examination room and await a diagnosis, it begins.

Her pain was so much worse than this.

And it doesn’t stop for the next 48 hours. 

Things would be so much better if she were here.

Back in bed. Can’t eat. Can’t drink. Can’t swallow. Can’t sleep.

Remember wishing you could feel her pain?

Hours later. No rest. 

At least she is at rest.

Sunrise. Craving sleep, if only to see her in my dreams.

I miss you. Come see me.

I force myself to stand and get dressed. I need to fill my prescription.

She was so strong.

Through labored breaths I tell the pharmacist that I’m looking to fill my prescription. No I don’t have local health insurance. Please may I have a receipt to claim back. Here’s my ID. Yes it’s British. No, I am Jamaican. Yes, I picked the wrong weekend to come to Paris.

“Vous parlez très bien le français.” (You speak French very well.)

“Merci. Ma mère est haïtienne.” (Thank you. My mother is Haitian.)

Pride.

Back in bed.

How did she do it? How could she stand the pain? (Editor’s note: as I prepare to hit “Publish” on this post, I am all-too conscious that her pain did not end with antibiotics and painkillers.)

I force 8 spoonfuls of vegetable soup past my swollen tonsils.

Her last meal.

Dad calls. I don’t want him to worry.

Did she not want me to worry?

Friends call. Friends text. Friends offer help. Friends do what friends do best.

“Good fren betta dan pocket money,” says her voice in my head.

She’s with me.

Peace.

A dedicated bench in the Rotary Peace Park at Hope Gardens.
Kingston, Jamaica.

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I know you know.

This story is not (entirely) autobiographical. More on this at the end of the piece.


It started one Monday morning when I looked up from the book I’d been reading for just long enough to notice the people on my morning commute. That’s when I saw him looking at me. At first, I was taken aback. I wasn’t used to being noticed. Or maybe I wasn’t used to noticing I was being noticed. I quickly returned to the safety of my book.

Through a series of sideways glances, I confirmed to myself that he was there the next day. And the next day. And the next. By Friday, when I saw him there again, I began to wonder whether he’d always been there.

I decided eventually to eschew my sideways glances in favor of a head-on peek. When I saw him peeking back, the tiniest smile appeared on my lips. It wasn’t until he smiled back that I felt the smallest flutter of butterflies in my stomach. Quickly following those butterflies was a twinge of guilt.

The next twinge didn’t come until a couple of weeks later when I noticed that his usual seat on the bus was empty. Not only did I notice his absence—I missed him. That’s when I felt it. I felt the third twinge when I saw him fill his seat the next day, a stuffy nose and a half-empty box of tissues likely explaining his previous day’s absence. I was relieved.

We exchanged our first words on a particularly busy day when the only remaining seat on the bus happened to be next to me. When we pulled up to his stop, I knew that we were finally about to take a step that we couldn’t take back. He got on the bus, saw the empty seat next to me, cracked a smile, and sat down. I asked him his name. Since then, the seat next to me has always been his.

I know you know. I’ll spare you the details because I’m sure you know me well enough to know how it developed after that. I know you’ve noticed the pep in my step. I know I’ve been acting differently. I know my smiles have been genuine. I know you can tell I’m finally excited to go to work in the morning. Or rather, to be going to work in the morning. You know I was unhappy for such a long time. I eventually managed to convince myself that it was okay to get to know him, and now look how happy I’ve been. How could you not want this for me?

He and I began to talk about everything on our mornings together. Things you and I hadn’t talked about in years. I stopped telling you about work ages ago. Talking about the weather with you is pointless. They sometimes feel like just words into a void.

I think I felt the most guilty when I took my ring off for the first time. I looked down at the tan line where the ring had been for over 25 years. The ring that you had put on my finger. The ring I’d decided to take off that morning on the bus before getting on to his stop.

Funnily enough, that morning was the morning I decided I should probably tell him about you. I suppose it speaks volumes that, despite knowing about you, he still came to sit next to me the following day.

I was so grateful that telling him about you hadn’t scared him away. At our age, most people aren’t looking to be involved like this. I’m still hiding it from the kids—I’m afraid they wouldn’t understand. He told me to take my time.

Anyway, I’m telling you all this now because things are getting pretty serious. I like him a lot, and I don’t want to sneak around anymore. At our age, that just feels childish. I’ve spent night after night crying silent, conflicted tears. It’s time.

So…I’m bringing him to meet you. This weekend. I know it’s strange. It may be unorthodox, but I feel like I owe it to you. I need your blessing.

I’ll see you tomorrow, my love. I’m sorry I haven’t visited in a while. I know you’d tell me there’s nothing to be sorry about, but I say it anyway. I’ll bring that polishing cloth that cleans the marble really well, and I think I’ll allow those flowers that have sprung up to keep growing. I know you know I love you. And I know you don’t want me to be alone. I’m so glad he understands that you’ll always have my heart. Thank you for having loved me in such a way that I know this is okay.


This story is about a lot of things. It isn’t my story, of course. I’m not a widow. I wasn’t married over 25 years ago like this narrator was. And to all the aunties and uncles reading this: no, I haven’t met the love of my life on a bus in Barcelona!

For me, believe it or not, this story was inspired by my journey through my mother’s death and the grief process. I miss her so much that it sometimes feels irreverent to enjoy life when she isn’t here to enjoy it with me. Falling in love with life, this life that I am still learning to navigate without her, is a journey that I know I will be on for a long time. Whether it’s a guy on a bus or a new tv show I really like (so far, it’s been loads of the latter) I have to keep reminding myself that she wants me to love life and to live it without being sad all the time because she’s gone.

Please let me know what you thought of my story. What did you feel while reading it? Could you tell what I was getting at from the beginning? I really wanted to play with reader expectations throughout the piece. Leave me a comment and let me know.

Thank you, as always, for reading. Feel free to subscribe if you’d like to see more of my writing each week.

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Whose story is it anyway?

I think I overextended this week. I took on a piece that I did not have the capacity to produce effectively in a week. It was a story that began shaping up nicely until I tried to communicate the experience of feeling a negative emotion that I had never experienced before. Why was I so reluctant to tell a story like this? What capacity do I have to get other people to feel something that I myself have never felt? Am I allowed to tell a story that isn’t mine?

As a black student at a PWI (predominantly white institution), I think about the black consciousness a lot. I think about black people in academia. I wonder whether “telling my story” is a privilege or a stipulation of being educated as a member of a marginalized community. Is non-black academic writing about the black experience a form of voice-stealing?

Readers, what do you think? If the “something” that I want to write about is something I care about deeply, but it’s also someone else’s identifier (and not mine), should I leave it to them to tell that story?

I haven’t finished that story. Not only have I still not decided whether I should tell a story like that without having experienced something like it myself, I also realized that I hadn’t figured out exactly what emotion it is that I thought I’d be sharing. That was a perfect recipe for some writer’s block.

ThinkWritten.com came to my rescue. In my desperation to shake the block that had developed thanks to my reservations, I frantically googled “poetry writing prompts” and picked one of the first links that I saw. One self-administered pep talk and some more procrastination later, this blog post was born.

I compiled a list of my favorite prompts from the 101 suggested in this article on ThinkWritten. I picked my favorite three and I just wrote. I enjoyed being pushed by these prompts so much that I will likely use this list again in the future to work on certain writing and poetry techniques.

I hope you enjoy the following poems. I’ve left the corresponding prompt at the beginning of each poem so that you know what inspired each one. Remember, leave me a comment letting me know what you think about my predicament.

Who is allowed to tell which stories? Why was I reluctant to complete and post the piece that I originally had planned? Was my decision born of respect for another person’s emotional property, or of the desire to remain in my comfort zone?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Taste the Rainbow: What does your favorite color taste like?

I never understood why the characters in children’s books didn’t like porridge. What’s not to like about thick, goopy, semi-hot, strangely-textured grey slop? I know. I was a bizarre kid.

For me, the color grey is warm. 

It’s the thick covers under which I would cower with my sister during a heavy rainstorm on a cloudy day.

It’s the sweatshirt that fits comfortably around me as I write this.

It’s the black and white silent movies that keep me company when meditation fails.

It’s my mom’s old pajama shorts that I wear on the nights when I miss her too much.

Grey is the area in which I have the agency to decide for myself what’s black and white.

It’s the taste of creamy oatmeal porridge that will always remind me of home.


Stranger Conversations: Start the first line of your poem with a word or phrase from a recent passing conversation between you and someone you don’t know.

I’m sorry that all I can offer you is an apology. 

An apology like this is easy until you’ve been on the receiving end of one.

One day I started skipping the sympathy because I know it wasn’t what I needed.

I needed…what? I don’t know. I needed to know someone was there.

There’s nothing more one can say.

Say you’re on an anonymous Internet forum one day and someone says that their mom died three moths ago.

3 months ago and a year is when my mother passed away. A year already. A year at last. Time passes at once painfully slowly and unbelievably quickly. How?

How does it pass in such strange ways?

Way off in a cloudy memory, I see myself reflected in a stranger on the internet.

Internet stranger, I’m sorry that “sorry” is all I can offer you.

All I can offer you in my apology is a listening ear and a virtual shoulder to cry on.

Onward, my friend. Onward we go.


Home Planet: Imagine you are from another planet, stuck on earth and longing for home.

(Editor’s note: I wrote the following as a finishing stanza to a poem that I hadn’t fully formulated in my head. As I struggled to write the rest of the poem around the ending, I could not find the flow that I was looking for. I ultimately decided that this may work even better as a set of standalone lines.)

The worst part about missing home is that

I know 

I can never be home again. 

Because home is you.


The Letter D: Make a list of 5 words that start with all with the same letter, and then use these items throughout the lines of your verse. {This can be any letter, but for example sake: Daisy, Dishes, Desk, Darkness, Doubt}

Luckily, you’re in the library again today.

Life has a funny way of doing that.

Looking around at all the other people, I almost let the butterflies that I feel convince me once again not to walk over.

Listen, it’s now or never. I’m already halfway to your table. Here goes nothing.

“Hi, I’m Lia.”


Thanks for reading. Let me know if any of these prompts inspired you, too!

i wrote a sitcom pilot

Hello! I just submitted my finals! And I am so tired. And I’ve decided tonight to share one of the fruits of my labor.

I wrote a sitcom pilot! Now, it’s no Office sequel, but I think I held my own. Here’s the script of the opening act of my pilot episode! And send me a message if you’re interested in reading the rest! I’ve got a whole season proposed, so, lots to share!

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