le cul entre deux chaises

the thing that hits you first is the smell
a thickness
i don’t know whether it’s the trees
the collective breath of insects
the alchemy of the Sun and Its people
what i do know is it’s different here
on cue my bones are denser
my skin browns and sizzles
my lips fuller
glistening
home becomes more difficult to define the longer you are away
now intangible
fleeting.
and when it visits – for It chooses and not you –
i breathe and i breathe and i breathe
it is not the where
though the where is like a calabash and
how can you drink without your container?
it is who it is why and most often it is when.
when you are at your most transparent
and when you are at your most full
when you and your special love go and just Be
it settles in your teeth.
when you are furthest it breaks bread and reeks of your sweat
when you are cradled
child-like
and that smell –
it is that smell alone that is your heritage.

photo: swazi landscape

an update | a little love letter

hello humans ☺︎

i’ve been trying to figure out how to begin this update/little love letter without being too weird about it, but after a ton of different permutations there’s really no getting around it because weirdness is in my bloodstream so, uh, hi *nervous giggle* and welcome (back) to Writer Sometimes.

i’ve always been a book junkie, some would say a touch on the precocious side, so words have been with me since i was old enough to recognise what they were. when i started writing, however, there was very little intentionality behind it. i was dealing with the death of my favourite uncle just days before my 13th birthday and there was a restless tinge to my grief, like my heart was crumpling and my head was going to explode. on a whim i tore a page out of the phonebook and picked up a permanent marker, and a few minutes later my first poem was born. i haven’t been able to function without writing ever since, and i have piles and piles of journals chock-full of my preteen issues (reading through old diaries is scary, y’all), teenage angst and adolescent growing pains. as i continue to evolve, so do those musings. writing is intensely personal for me. i don’t believe in writing for the sake of writing (yeah i said it). for me to write is to feel, and if the latter is missing, writing becomes disingenuous. thankfully (or not), the combination of me being a libra and an enfj means i have no shortage of feelings, but the point is my pen and my limbic system are deeply intertwined. hence the name of this space.

so why did i start this blog?

there are thousands of blogs on this here interwebs, most of them geared towards visibility and a very deliberate message. they tend to be littered with imperative statements ranging in topic from how to grow natural hair to how to get your first million by the time you’re 25. i’m a consumer of many of those blogs, and think many of them are brilliant and have brought their owners great success. but by no means am i interested in reproducing them or being part of the blogosphere writ large. a year and a bit ago i showed a poem to a friend. she didn’t even know i wrote, and encouraged me to post it on social media. a few glasses of wine later, inhibitions severely lowered, i did it. the flood of commentary and general warm fuzziness made me choke on my cheap moscato. all types of people, those i never expected to have read anything i’d written and those who’d known me for years, friends and professors, people familiar to me and strangers, were finding comfort, joy, healing and all kinds of other feels in my words. it was kind of startling to be honest. but i continued to share, at least what was comfortable to share. at a point social media became treacherous territory and the words demanded a home. so here i came.

i wasn’t really sure what i was doing but i was doing it all the same. and now, a year later, there are people subscribing to this space and it feels like an intimate conversation every time i post something. this blog is not meant for mass consumption. it’s designed for those who led to its creation in the first place. those who stumble on it and then stick around. the little family that’s amassed along the way.

so, on that note, bye humans. thanks for seeing something in me that i never really saw myself.

k, enough mush. more words soon come.

warmly,

– B

Oh, But You Can Warsan.

There are a hundred things I can attribute to this.

Maybe it’s the broken wine glass on my floor,

Maybe it’s the unfinished prayer I started in the shower this morning,

Ropes taken months to wind tight unravel in a sigh and I,

Consumed,

Catch it in the nick of time,

Throw my body hanging off the other end so my weight will be a stopper,

Women – how are you not terrified?

Do you not see your fathers in the arch of his back,

Thousands of lewd men in the curve of his lip when he looks you up and down,

You want to separate silhouette from shadow but sometimes when he moves too quickly,

You duck a blow imprinted in years of memories,

And You.

So unbelievably human,

After I sewed angel wings into your skin,

After I washed your feet with holy water,

After I spoke to God over and over again to make me clean enough for you to lie down in,

I’m jolted when I realise that you too, need oxygen,

I have ripped myself open for lines of you,

The pain is my pleasure and I used to laugh at those who were

Clearly under some sort of spell,

But how could my heart get this big without magic?

And here I am, reduced to nothing but feeble, open arms,

So if turn your back on me,

With those hairline fractures gathering like clouds,

I will run until I’m free of your smell,

Until your molten chocolate melts off my clothes,

Until I’m lost…

And can never trace Home back to you again.

Eye

The eye of a storm is the calmest, they say
The eye of a storm is the safest
Tell me
Dartmouth –
Where is your eye?
Where do I go to breathe?
To brown skin and feminine without
Packs of hyenas trying to steal my secrets and
Leave me for dead?
Leave me gasping for air in the middle of crowded rooms
Leave me trying to hold my
Friends’ broken bodies together even as I
Disintegrate around them like soft
Ice cream cones in
Acetone
Dartmouth –
Where is your eye?
Can you even see me?
Or does the
Idea
of my black body, the
Illusion
of my dangerous femininity
Enter the conversation before me
Does my activism precede my humanity
Do you perceive me to be a
Collection of
-isms
Threatening your pristine
Ivy
Dartmouth –
Why do I scare you so much?
Raging hurricane, wild wind and rains
Drowning me
Filling my lungs to
Capacity and still my
Pitiful, barely whispered
I can’t breathe
Makes you tremble in your
Boots, the
Boots you stand on my neck in to
Shut me up, the
Boots you wear as you dig my grave, as you
Shovel
debtacademicrigortoxicwhitewaste
Over my head
Into my throat
Dartmouth –
Where is your eye?
You dragged me here by the
Tongue on a
Chain made of
Rainbow-coloured diversity strings
It’s the least you can do to
Keep me
Alive.

And All I Could Do Was Cry

how we ache for the days when we weren’t the exception —
as if it weren’t enough that we’re the only Black girls in the
conferences and the lecture halls,
as if we didn’t already have to shovel our Black Feminism down
everybody’s throats,
hurtle backwards to the days when love from a Black man wasn’t yet a
favour to the brown-skinned girl, and the
melanin hadn’t yet become a flaw, something to forgive,
you’re my first – he said, as you started to smile –
Black girl, and the bottom of your heart fell down down down through the
uterus so much like his mother’s own, past the
womb whose twin shadow, whose ancestor
made room for his black ass for nine months
way back —
before that light caramel colour became the perfect compromise, for him to
parade you like a bright yellow lamborghini aventador for
his friends, and STILL (my God what a catch she is)
take you home to cook the evening meal for his mama.
are you surprised he won’t hold you at night?
this man, this kind of man, scared your skin will
stain the white, white satin of his bedsheets,
this man, this kind of man, terrified your
Blackness will seep into him slowly as you breathe the same air, and then
maybe, just maybe he’d be forced to love himself,
this man, this kind of man, who
pulls on the kinks in your hair as he bends over you, like he’s
trying to fuck the African continent out of you, and you
wonder how it is that those curves can still feel like home to him, when his
hands fall away like guilty priests caught in a nunnery or a preschool playground,
as soon as the lights come back on.