The Boudica Series – A Night of Poetry

This year has been one of opportunity and excitement when it comes to my writing – both my prose and poetry – from signing my first deal with St Martin’s Press to being a featured poet at James Ruggia’s Backroom Broadsides.

But I must say, taking part in Dominique Sinagra’s THE BOUDICA SERIES this summer has been extra special, mostly because it meant I got to cross paths and work with Dominique, a phenomenal young woman and playwright, but also because the experience tested me on so many levels. I had to be organized, I had to be confident, I had to be personable, I had to step outside of my comfort zone and talk to folks for half an hour about my words, about myself.

It was terrifying and exhilarating and brilliant and if I’m being honest, I cannot wait to do it again. So thank you, Dominique, for letting me grace your stage for a bit, goof around with folks, laugh at myself, and share my work. It was magic.

Thanks also to my girlfriend, Destiny, who caught all of it on my iPhone. And because I’m nice, I’ve broken it down a bit so you can pick and choose which clips you want to watch, or hell, skip ’em altogether.

As always, my hands insisted on being part of the show – however, they’re slowly learning to control themselves.

Slowly.

Which really means they’re still all over the place, just not as wild and crazy as when I first started doing these things.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy…both my words and my hands.

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I opened with a short, kind-of-sweet piece of romance

then my words for all the brown kids of the world

my Frida Kahlo-inspired poem

what happened after Anton Sterling and Philando Castile

an ode to my nose – yes, I said my nose

words for an ex

a writing prompt from the heart

and finally, the closing act

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Writing Myself Out

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As a child, I have a distinct memory of my mom telling me by no means did I need to be married to have my own children, that I could have as many children as I wantedย on my own so long as I was able to care for them, that I did not need a man to have children.

Yes, my mom is amazing and progressive and wonderful, this I know. But that’s not what strikes me most about this memory. What stands out is my desire, even back then, not to be married.

I was never the girl who wanted the ring and the wedding and the man (or woman). I never fantasized about my wedding day or my dress or my name next to his (or hers). When other girls did the same, I wondered at their desire to be suffocated by another because in my mind that’s what marriage represented: a lack of freedom, a loss of independence, submission of my desires and dreams to another.

And yet, I was one of the first of my family and friends to get married.

I should have known when he told me to hide my engagement ring from his friends the same night he gave it to me that everything about what we planned was wrong. I should have wondered at his insistence we marry when he knew full well I wanted to do nothing of the sort. In fact, I told him once while we were dating that I could be with him always, I was loyal, I was a taurus for god’s sake, I just didn’t want to be married.

And yet, I said yes.

Over the years I’ve often thought back to that moment when I stepped out of the shower and wrapped in a towel, he gave me that ring and I said yes. Why did I say yes when I knew in my gut, my answer was no. Or maybe sometime later. Or maybe this is moving too fast and we should think about it a little more. Or maybe let me breathe, motherfucker, you already moved your ass into my apartment when you knew I didn’t want you to, now this, too?!

And yet, I said yes.

There is much about myself during those years I don’t understand, but mostly is my inability to stand up to him. Ever. Prior to him, I had always been in control, the holder of the reins, the one with all the answers, all the plans. With him, nothing of the sort. I gave into all his demands and desires, setting mine aside to keep him happy and feeling like a Man.

Because that’s what attracted me to him in the first place – he was a Man among boys. He knew what he wanted, he was brilliant, he was sexy, and he had a panty-melting voice. He took charge of a situation, made decisions, didn’t ask what I wanted because he could make that decision, too. And after a string of guys who couldn’t be bothered to make the most of their talent or brains, he was a breath of fresh air.

Little did I know the very qualities I found attractive in him would become the very qualities I also grew to abhor, the qualities that left me gasping for air and wondering how to escape. And even though those qualities began getting under my skin during our earlier moments, I remained with him seventeen years.

SEVENTEEN YEARS.

Because not for nothing, I was a perfectionist, so even when my life was not so great and I was hardly happy and I wanted out, I remained and I made sure everyone, and I mean everyone, thought we were rock solid. We were “that” couple to most who crossed our path and it was my job to maintain the image, not expose any of the cracks and fissures, the impossibilities of being “that” couple.

And then I started writing.

And then I turned forty.

And then everything exploded.

In an article on poetry and her work, Emily Carr discussesย writing herself out of her marriageย – the second I read that phrase, it struck a chord. It’s exactly what I did.

I wrote myself out of my marriage.

My worlds, my characters, my words – they captivated me in ways nothing or no one had or could. They empowered me, fulfilled me, became my obsession and once I gave them freedom and allowed them to escape the confines of my jumbled up, cramped-t0-capacity, full of dragons and swords and skin-tingling sexed up brain, they became my everything.

I wrote.

And wrote.

And wrote some more.

The words poured out of me, morning noon night, landing everywhere in our lives, taking up my time and space and affection, pushing him further into the recesses of my here-and-now, and in the process, they gave me strength and fortitude and goddamned motherfucking balls. And somewhere in all of that, I became me – ME – and he became not so important, rather insignificant, more an equal than someone to consider first.

He often asks in frustration and anger for me to list the things I did wrong in our marriage and because I do not want to engage him in such pointless conversation, I say I did nothing. But I know exactly what I did.

I wrote.

And through writing, I rediscovered myself, that badass girl who loved her girlfriends and laughing until she snorted and rough kisses and tangled bedsheets and whiskey and taking chances and the beach and the woods and living life loud and hard. And who wanted freedom wrapped in tenderness and love, but most of all, freedom. Freedom to be herself in whatever form she might take at any given moment.

Freedom.

Freedom.

Freedom.

So I wrote some more. And kept hacking away at that thing called our marriage.

Once I found myself and stopped putting him first, all hell broke loose, gently in those early days, so gently we both believed we were having fun, but then not so gently. And even so, I kept writing and he complained and grew distant and changed and I didn’t really care because I had my words and my strength and fuck him, this was about me – we’d done enough of him.

And yes, I did a lot of other things to destroy our marriage – I am far from perfect and I am most definitely not easy to love – impossible, if you ask him – but my main nuptial crime was finding my words because once I found them, it was only a matter of time before I would circle back and find myself and once I found her, the rest would be easy.

I wrote myself out of my marriage.

Thanks to Wyatt and Dev and Ryker and Jools and Darby and Jedda and Abha and The Sanctum Trilogy and Dutch and Juma and The Keeper Series, that’s exactly what I did. Thanks to poetry and sex and love and rhythm, and their interplay, their beat, their uh-huh, that’s exactly what I did. Thanks to my friends and my family and my tenacity, that’s exactly what I did.

I wrote myself out of my marriage.

I never intended this to happen and despite what he might believe, I never intended to hurt him, but nor was I ever meant to be captured in a net and placed inside a jar. I was never the girl he imagined, I simply snuck into her closet and borrowed her clothes for a while, all to suit his purposes. And then…

I wrote myself out of my marriage.

And in the process, I gained what I’d always wanted, since I started asking questions, since I could remember:

FREEDOM.

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*this piece was also featured onย The Huffington Post