And I sing and dance and smile.

Then I realize that the tempo
is a bit too slow.

And if I listen to only that,
I could keep lying in bed.

Isn’t it genius?

Pretending we are happy.
Shouting it to the world.

But not being too bright
as to misconstrue the real message:

We’re not happy at all,

Just trying
our hand at acting.

Most Mornings

I wake up in the darkness I fell asleep in, with my laptop beside me. I glance down and look at the time on the radio clock I got when I first came here. I exhale and stay on the bed, maybe one second, maybe two. I get up and push down until I’m feeling for my slippers with my feet. Walk slowly until I can get to the light switch. Flick. Light. Look in the mirror. The scarf I tied my hair with last night only moved a little away from my hairline on the side I slept on. Bathroom. Pee. Wash my hands. Upstairs to the kitchen. Cereal. Heat the milk up first, then add the cereal. Downstairs, to the folded bed against the wall and in front of the one I slept in. Drag my laptop down towards me and prop it open. I have time to watch a little more of the drama episode I was watching last night. Chew chew chew, while keeping track of the time. I’m finished, but I can keep watching for exactly two more minutes. The app on my phone says the bus will be down the street soon. If I don’t start getting dressed in two minutes, I could miss the bus and be late for work. I hate being late, for anything. Fine. Two more minutes and I pause the episode. Bathroom, brush my teeth quickly, then run back in and put my clothes on. Six minutes till the bus comes. If I don’t leave right now I’ll have to run. My bus pass is already in my bag. I know that. My keys are in there too. Do I have my phone and my earphones? Need those. Scarf? Need that too. Gloves? Just shove them in the bag. I can put them on later. Am I good? Have everything? Think so. Almost through the door I turn around and glance around my room in case there is anything I forgot. Nothing. Okay good. Check the time. Five minutes. I’m going to have to run. Damn it. Upstairs. Through the door. Make sure it’s closed properly behind me. It is. I run. Down the steps, onto the sidewalk. Across the street. One more, and down the hill. Three minutes. I’m good. I’ll catch it. I get to the bus stop and check the app again. No need. I can see the bus coming around the corner. Okay good. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. That was nice.



This was obviously written a while ago since it’s summer now and I have no need for a scarf or gloves. I have no idea why I didn’t publish this. It looks done to me.



And I engulfed
Each little bit
And piece
While pieces
Of me
Fell off,

And I let them fall,
Bit by bit,
Never looking back
Or down,

Holding my head up,
Closing my eyes,
With my hand
Always in His.

What would You like
Me to do,

Should I do it now,

Do I have to
Do it

I’m scared.

And my chest
Would grow stiff
While my eyes
Would well up
And I’d forebode
And forebode
And make myself sick
I’d see monsters
And catastrophes
And hellfire
And angels
And I’d pray
And read verses
To make it go away
And all the while
He’d stand beside me
Watching me in panic
Until I’d wade through the water
And fall exhausted on the shore
Sucking in every breath of air
Like there wasn’t another one left,

And when finally I could breathe
Like I wasn’t a fish out of water,
I would tell him thank you,
And smile at the sun blinding me.

Into the Future

Into the future I tell myself that I’ll be fine.
I won’t see anything bad.
I’ll be doing better.

I won’t cry anymore
Because it’s just too much
And my body is tired
And my mind can’t think.

I’ll be fine with being around people
And I won’t aim to spend
The least amount of time
Possible outside my bedroom.

I’ll no longer think
I have to be the one
To suffer just because
I don’t want to start
A quarrel with someone.

Making everyone happy
Will not be my responsibility.
I will no longer live
Trying to fulfill
The expectations of others.

I will not walk around
With invisible weights on my shoulders,
And ninety-nine percent of my smiles
Will be real.

I wake up
From the future
With my trench coat still on
And I see me in a corner
Hugging myself,
With my forehead on my knees
And my arms around my legs,
And I wish that me knew
It would all change
One day.

Writing Growing Up

According to my mother, I never left her alone whenever I saw that she was reading. I always poked my head into the book to see what it was, and she eventually started reading to me. My father didn’t get it.

“How can she understand at her age?”

He asked something like that when my mother told him to read to me one day because she was busy cleaning or something.

“What do you mean how can she understand? She knows. Think she doesn’t? Read it to her and see.”

My mom had been buying and getting little books for me and my father hadn’t known. I was my mom’s little smartie.

Before I started going to school, my mother made flashcards for me and taught me words that way. She said my teacher argued with her when she came to pick me up after my first day.

“There is no way this is her first time going to school,” she said, “she is way ahead of the other students and knows all the material already.”

“No this is her first time. She’s never gone to school before.”

“How is it that she knows everything already then?”

“I read to her at home, and we practice with flashcards. That’s all.”

The conversation carried on that way and in the end the teacher acknowledged my mother for doing a good job with me.

When I started primary school, I always read my textbooks as soon as I got them. The English ones I mean, the ones with the stories. Up until the ninth or tenth grade I never tried reading any of my other textbooks. They didn’t have stories. Why would I read them then?

In seventh grade romance novels were the trend. Everyone was reading and circulating them. I was in.

“Hey is that book good?”

“Yes! It’s about this man…”

“Let me borrow it when you’re done.”

“Oh, I can’t. Ashley already asked for it, and after her it’s Chantelle.”

“Oh. Well I’m next after Chantelle then.”


It was like that most of the time. We were all in line for books. More than one too. If I couldn’t borrow one, I asked around for another. As soon as one student was finished with a novel it was passed on to someone else and someone else and someone else. For a while, I never bought a book. I didn’t have two hundred dollars. I would rather save that money than use it to buy a book I’ll only read once (I can never read a book more than one time). But eventually I did. The bookstore was just down the street from school and we had to pass it to get to the taxi stand to go home. I went there a lot, for stationery. I needed pens and pencils, binder refills, folders, items for special projects. I rarely bought books in there, but I always looked at them. The romance section was off to the side where the cashiers’ desk was. I located the little area that kept Mills & Boon, Silhouette, and Harlequin, always noting the prices. I think I only ever bought two, after much deliberation. I still remember the title of the first one: The Millionaire’s Forced Bride. It was a really nice story. They all were.

It pretty much ended after that. The last two years of high school were for us to prepare for our final exams. The CXCs, which every high school student in the Caribbean would take. Some of my schoolmates still read for fun. I didn’t have the time. Or maybe I did. I just wasn’t that interested anymore.

The writing was something else entirely.

I wrote my first song in the third grade. It was supposed to be three of us, but after one of my classmates suggested a title, I ended up writing almost the whole thing. I sang it for my teacher and she was as proud as ever and wanted me to sing it for the principal. There was a bit of an accident in the tuck shop that stopped that from happening though. There was too much smoke.

In the sixth grade we had to do a whole bunch of projects; charts, poems, songs. It was fun. I wrote a song about rivers, and a chorus about filtration. We made raps about other things as well, and poems were always in the mix. I kept all of these in a folder, and I kept writing poems.

One evening after hearing the news, I suddenly felt really sad and started singing. I was singing my feelings. When I realized where it was going, I got up, turned the lights on, and got a pen and a sheet of paper. I wrote a song. It was my first song. Well my second song, if I counted the one from grade three. I’m still not really sure.

I wrote on and off like that and by the time I was in grade eleven I had fifty songs in my folder. That was a lot. They weren’t all good of course, but I had written them all. In that same grade I got baptized and moved to another country. I thought of burning all my songs since they weren’t gospel, except for maybe five of them. I was now a Christian after all, and these songs weren’t Christian songs. I didn’t burn them. I just left them behind. I felt bad about that, felt I should have made a decision. I should have gotten rid of them since I was now a new creature and I was to do away with my old self.

At church I talked to an elder about my singing and songwriting. Well, all I needed to do was consecrate my voice to the Lord and only sing for Him from now on. Okay. I decided to do the same with my songs. I bought a new notebook and wrote all my (now gospel) songs in.

When I came to America, I had already graduated from high school in Jamaica, but I came in December when the school year had already begun and for a bunch of reasons instead of going to straight to college, I went to high school again; grade twelve. Fine. As long as I didn’t have to repeat grade eleven which I had already gone through (grade eleven is the last year of high school back home). Some time during that year, I asked my stepmother to buy me a cute little book I had seen on our way out of a department store. I had been writing poems and they were all on loose paper. I needed them to all be in one place. That book would be the place.

I finished high school, again. And I finished community college. I’m now on my third book of poems and looking to buy a fourth one because the one I’m using now is almost done.

Stories? I’ve never been good at writing those. English was one of my best subjects in school, and I write fairly well. I’m just not good at making complete characters. I don’t know how to describe them, or the setting. And though I might have a nice story made up in my head, I can’t make it all work out once I start writing it down.

I’m reading again. Slowly but surely getting back into it. It’s making me want to write stories, though I know I’m not really good. I would like to publish a book one day, but I’ve never thought of it being fictional. My last pastor said I should really think about publishing my poems because they’re really good. Maybe I’ll publish two books then, one with my poems, and the one I still haven’t figured out yet.





No More Honesty

I had been honest before.
It didn’t work,
Even though I was asked
To speak freely.

I learned, well.

Now I am silent.
I speak only words
That are acceptable,
That won’t attract questions.
I smile when I need to,
Sometimes I even sing.

Faking happy.

With my silence.
My silent cries,
My silent prayers,
My silent wishes.

My silent anger,
My silent frustration.

I don’t say love,
Because I don’t know love.
It isn’t there.
I lied.

Now I am silent.
I will never say
Those words
To you

Not until I am sure
They are true.

I’m sorry I was honest.

I probably should have known
That you didn’t honestly
Want me to be.

Well now I am silent.
You won’t hear
Anything else
From me.