are you happy

are you happy

the clouds have gathered slowly.

maybe it’s because I briefly gave up writing

poetry and pretty words and

things that I thought only little girls did.

I did not even notice how dark it was

until I could no longer see my hands.

This entire poem is so cliche.

I asked this question at a party last night

to no one in particular, receiving no response.

Why is this question so difficult to answer?

are you happy

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nostalgia

nostalgia

overcast day

I came to present a paper at a conference.

feeling foreign in my business clothes

formally dressed in this place where I was so casual

no bra bare nails no skirts long hair no heels my bare face

I had this event on my calendar for months.

reptilian,

is how I felt,

seeing the remnants of the skin I had just shed,

but still uncomfortable in my new face.

This was the first time I had come back since I left last December, and now I admit that it was because I was afraid.

everything so familiar, the quad, the clock tower, my professor, some of my classmates,

yet so different, with a new building sprouting and people not recognizing me and the most important people gone or changed.

nostalgia and nausea, and discombobulation.

I came with two friends from my new life and seeing them there made me feel even more out of place.

everything is different, but still looks the same.

omniscient tickling of my brain that tells me that I have been dreaming that I have been back here since before I left,

stumbling around the quad in my dreams, sleeping in JRC, talking to Kierra about everything, kissing under the street light,

and your hands cupping my face while I look into brown or blue or green eyes that only seem to blankly stare back at me in my

nightmares.

As I give my friends a tour, images flash back to me of memories that feel only weeks old but are actually from a year ago.

Talking to you under that tree, sitting on that marble bench, saying good bye to my Mom for the first time in that parking lot,

learning that my grandmother died in that parking lot, crying in my car and in that office and in that room.

I am very proud of the paper I gave, and I was commended by professors and peers by how I answered questions afterwards.

I couldn’t fully appreciate it because of the suffocation I was feeling from my new skin tightening around my neck.

It didn’t occur to me until now, 5 days later, that I was dumped twice in that same building, just one floor up.

Doing homework with him on the couch outside of the chaplain’s office, doing homework in the booths, crying in that

bathroom. Giving Danny the riot act, telling Evan that he could trust me, doing homework in those booths,

writing the paper I presented on Friday, you meeting me there, my phone not working,

you not even unpacking your bag,

you telling me that we need to talk, you telling me that we were too different,

you telling me that it wasn’t my fault,

you telling me that I was too liberal,

you telling me that you didn’t mean to hurt me, you crying too.

you getting angry when my anxiety escalates, you putting your head in your hands,

you not responding when I say that it isn’t fair, you apologizing.

you saying goodbye.

me feeling my stomach sink like a rock, me in total shock,

me unable to convince you that we were the same,

me seeing that you had already changed.

me feeling defensive, me feeling violated,

me starting to cry big fat tears, me turning red, me my nose starting to run.

me feeling exposed, me telling you off for doing this in a public space,

me texting Kierra to ask her to stay awake until I came home and that it was over,

me crying some more, sobbing into my sweater to muffle the noise.

me still having to tell you that it’s okay, me holding your hand.

me wiping my face off in the bathroom, me staring at my face morphed by tears in the mirror.

me barely holding it together. me asking to walk home alone.

me walking past all of our street lamps, me hiding in darkness so no one would see my face or hear my tears.

me crying myself to sleep that night, me waking up.

me getting into the business school the next day, me feeling genuine pride and joy, me being congratulated by my classmates.

me writing my paper, me doing my homework, me studying for finals, me acing my classes, me dancing with Kierra at formal,

me seeing the students I tutored succeed, me taking charge of my peers at work, me being given responsibility,

me loving my work, me looking toward the future, me packing up my stuff and putting it into storage, me leaving Oxford behind.

me coming to business school, me joining a sorority, me struggling in my classes, me loving my friends,

me making impulsive decisions, me being reminded of you with him, me calling my family every day, me turning 20.

me doing my best, me being proud of what I do, me having genuine friends both new and old,

me being more me than ever before.

I know what I was afraid of now.

I was afraid of remembering this and so much more pain that comes with growth and adulthood.

I was afraid of coming and finding that everyone had forgotten me and it was as if I was never there.

I was afraid to remember that this place was once my home.

red popsicle in the sun

red popsicle in the sun

marble stairs,

grassy quad,

classes sit in circles

leisurely learning in the sun.

I walk past

licking my red ice,

strawberry lemonade,

yum!

My lips are red

from its cold kiss,

painting my smile strawberry.

Alas, now it is done,

but my quiet enjoyment of

such a simple sweet treat remains.

warm weather

warm weather

all the girls

with their long skirts

colorful clothes

blowing in the spring breeze.

bright spring,

dark in my room.

she is sad,

won’t let in the light,

wants to go home to

the sunnier place that she calls home.

It will end soon.

I’ll be able to open my windows,

turn on the lights soon.

all the girls with their smooth legs

hidden under their long skirts

blowing in the quiet breeze of spring,

while walking to class in a hurry.

wet and cold

wet and cold

it’s raining outside and

the ground is hot

but the air is cold.

he didn’t want to see me anymore,

“this has been fun

but not what I was looking for,”

he said.

that was a week ago,

when the ground was cold and the air was colder

but the world was without water,

so no frozen fragments fell.

I guess he did not enjoy the lemon drops,

or seeing me naked and bear.

the condom broke, he pulled the ripcord.

It’s raining outside,

I’m cold but it’s warm inside.

It is bright and warm and welcoming inside,

don’t worry I am fine.

Justice, Justice.

Justice, Justice.

My momma always told me

that G-d loves me.

But when I told her

we were driving down the highway

when I told her

that G-d just wants us to be happy,

she got angry.

No! She said.

G-d doesn’t give a shit about being happy!

G-d doesn’t want your happiness,

money and opportunity stolen from others.

G-d just wants what’s right.

And we stared out into the road.

G-d said in Deuteronomy, “Justice, justice shall you pursue,

that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Justice, Justice.

Justice, we shall pursue.