Just because I own slaves doesn’t mean I’m racist.

Your father speaks of his youth with revelry. Spills his life across the table like an overturned drink, covering everything. Your mother doesn’t speak. Any stories of her premarital life come from your father’s mouth.

The women in my family are bitches.

This is my angry black woman poem. It’s loud. It’s angry. It’s black. It’s woman. It’s loud and it’s angry and it’s black and it’s woman because y’all love to watch us be loud and angry and black and woman.

How to succeed in heartbreak without really trying: First, do nothing. Become one with your couch.

You were at the hospital when I was born. There must’ve been something about three generations being in one room that made history seem tangible. So easy to touch. So easy to hold.

Black privilege is the hung elephant swinging in the room.

I almost forgot what it feels like to be loved because I loved to be Liked.

Y’all don’t know nothing ‘bout a scorned, burnt body.

Poems are bullshit. Unless they are screamed or howled or thrown in your face.

My mother tells me to fix my hair. And by “fix” she means straighten. She means whiten.

“There are women who men fall in love with,” I tell him. “And then there are the rest of us.”

I can’t believe
no one else can hear
I am screaming
inside my head.

You tell me, “Loosen your tongue. Make it lighter.”
As if I ever complained about carrying my history in my mouth.

I am not thinking of Death, but Death is thinking of me.

It’s hard to see an invincible man break.

Mom, my depression is a shape-shifter. One day, it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear. The next, it’s the bear.

Love can only be described the way it is lived: in parts, hoping that the whole makes sense even though we know none of the pieces do.

I can count the number of times I’ve prayed on one hand.

A lullaby sung by the steak knife to my sister: Hush little baby, come find me. Sneak tiptoe quiet to the kitchen where I’m catching all that moonlight in my teeth.

And then there was that time she had me cornered in the kitchen, back against the wall and she got so close I could smell the potato chips on her breath. And she was yelling, “Hit me! Hit me! Hit me! Do it! Do it! Hit me now!”

My roommate doesn’t remember being found passed out in a snow bank in the middle of the night, a block from our house.

Ojichama is what I call my Japanese grandfather. In 1945, his Tokyo home was burned to the ground. Grampy is what I call my American grandfather. In 1945, he was serving on the aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La, sending off America fighter pilots to burn down Japanese houses.

Dear Dennis, I still think of you. Dear Andre, I saw you kiss her. Haven’t looked back. Dear Patrick, You’re just too young. Dear Eric, I said horrible things about you. Your teeth are fine, it’s the rest of you I don’t like. 

Everyone wants to give a writer the perfect notebook. Over the years, I’ve acquired stacks.