Hello everyone! I’m Kiarra, but you can call me Kiki! I’m a Baltimore native who has been living in North Carolina in a house full of estrogen for the past couple years, though, come August, I’ll be starting university (a college full of estrogen) in Roanoke, VA. For the past 18 years, I’ve been defined by my shy girl persona and unpredictable fashion style but feeling like the outsider only did more harm than good. Whenever I had to run away, I knew I could find solace in words–the ones I never said; I knew I could be comforted, held secure inside tight margins.
I’m sure I’ve been reading since birth but I started writing stories in elementary school. Stories about faeries and werewolves gradually evolved into a brief period of horrid Harry Potter fanfiction by 3rd grade. I briefly wanted to be a pop star, so I wrote a poem about my Black Britney Spears fantasy in 2nd grade that earned me an award. Soon, the ideas for stories kept coming but I could no longer pose for prose when the only words that enthralled me were in meters and verses. I do not talk much and I can never quite gather the words I would like to say; I used to leave written notes for my mother whenever I felt emotionally vulnerable—poetry as self-care. I would adore being as beautifully rearranged as the letters on a page, to be as poignant as the syllables that rest in my pen.
Writing is one of the few things that come easily to me, just like coordinating colors or snacking on junk food. I hope to relate to my readers with my poems, to finally feel connected to the world and to myself. It’s been my dream to spend the rest of my life writing professionally, poems or otherwise, for so long now and I hope I’m at least halfway there to my goal.
The Birth of Venus
in the beginning,
god created teenage girls
and shaped my organs to resemble the Disney princess music box that sat atop all of our shelves
hums reverberate throughout my lungs
so this is love
of lace and flabby thighs, third grade boys would avert their eyes cast in the fires of
(so this is what makes life divine)
sighs of teen angst or some chemical imbalance
goes great with my new feet which stomp all around the room
I’m parading around like a girl in a novel by Judy Blume
I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream
seems as if I live in a home of
high up in the bell tower where cobwebs linger for no one wants to dust up there
if my skin is brown and my eyes aren’t fair
hair, will you grow?
I’m sick of being Celie for the teenager in me solely envies Shug Avery.
arms like branches wade through the sea
estrogen bounces off the wall and trashcans full of tampons
I am like the wallpaper.
hung upon the wall for 16 years
(and starting to peel.)
everyday your mother passes by with a sneer,
“we really should change that wallpaper, dear.”
looking around here, you’d think,
she’s got everything.
I’ve got arm hair and leg hair aplenty.
I’ve got pimples and blackheads galore.
I’ve only just begun and my brain is sore,
but what for?
part of me is missing, part of me is lost. you see,
I’ve dropped my identity and no one turned it in to the police,
you see, I’m afraid I left a piece of life within the cracks of the city.
you see, a piece of me will linger on the sole of every shoe.
you see, I am dragged across the road with gum splattered across my face.
because I’ve lost her a long time ago and I’m afraid I’ve lost my sight.
what light through yonder breaks my heart quivers and shakes my brain makes
mistakes and why does my soul ache when I pass a
mirror, mirror on the wall,
and I have to suck in my stomach.
when will my reflection show what I have to hide?
I’m stuck between my ribcage and that thing inside.
I want to float away one day
(perfect, without flaws)
I want to be stripped from this new body of mine
more faults I seem to find as my age seems to climb
when the girl is 16 she will prick her finger on the needle
of a spinning wheel
and fall into a deep slumber somber wasting hearts palpitating
I’m afraid that I might need saving.
see, I’ve been idolizing Sylvia since before I was born
and mesmerized by Kurt in his melancholic form
my body splits apart and my head is forlorn
and my limbs fall apart and my reasoning’s torn
and I forget what even my soul was made for
I want to disappear.
but I’m not sure if I was ever here.
(I was a member of a non-profit community theatre group for the past 3-4 years and at the beginning of every season, we’re prompted to create and perform an original presentation that describes us to the entire group. I wrote this piece to perform at the beginning of my second season, weaving movement, song, and poetry together to tell the story of myself. A snapshot of myself at 16, I’d just begun to make note of my depression, how it was always there, how it will always be there. I’d just begun to realize that, so far, I wasn’t a prime candidate for adolescence. I’d just begun to accept that being a normal teenage girl was not my forte.)
An Ode to Teen Witches
eye of newt, toenail polish
there’s glitter on your altar
you sacrificed your soul,
poured a ring of salt on your heart just to be OK.
double, double bubble stuck on the soles of the shoes you’ve worn since 6th grade.
to the girl who boils tension tamer tea in her cauldron to banish
all demons bubbling in her chest.
you wish to cast a spell on his heart but that’s not consent even if his letterman jacket matches the color of your
you’ve tried to sink the mountains on your chest but they only seemed to get bigger.
you’ve tried a bat-bogey hex to eliminate the girlhate that surrounds you.
the kitchen broom doesn’t fly even when you’re trying to impress a beautiful girl
who could complete your circle but also
be your first kiss.
you’ve tried wands and pentagrams but your room still smells of heavy smudging
(rather than heavy petting)
blessed be to your offerings of mutilated Barbie dolls
blessed be to your grandpa’s mystery stew you tried to reanimate so you could have a friend
because no one notices you at school
(so mote it be)
(This poem celebrates the witch in all of us. The babes who don’t usually get recognized, only dismissed. I grew up with the help of a teen witch with my own name, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, who taught me to recognize the magic in me.)
I speak for the trees
for the quiet girls who steal things from Wal-Mart
and don’t go to concerts,
I speak for the leaves
for the wiry hands bruised indented with every paragraph you’ve ever written
seaweed isn’t supposed to be brown but did they white wash that too?
wood chips off are you fading? have you forgotten to speak?
I speak for the branches
is your heart too weak?
I speak for the oxygen you breathe
heavy gulps in in never out because it’s easier to take than to give
you leave your cursive on the doors of bathroom stalls in an effort not to be forgotten
a shortcut to existentialism your heart’s never beat
so much all you wanted was
a touch here and there, a thumbprint that cared
I speak for the books
for the paper that’s stripped
unzipped your stories from your bodies and abused
why bother to recycle a piece of trash
if you didn’t know it came straight from a goddess
I speak for the roots that have held you
the roots you have grown yourself
you weren’t born with the guarantee of stability.
(When there’s hardly any visibility for girls like you, you have to make yourself known, sometimes to yourself. I needed to make myself aware of my own existence, to make myself aware of my own importance. This past year, I lost my voice for a month, even though I hardly used it, and I felt as if I was disappearing. Consider this a wakeup call.)
Ain’t No Hollaback Girl
sometimes my body gets picked out on the street
curses like vultures vying for my meat
I’m told I’m supposed to fight back,
to be mean–
sometimes I smile, to myself.
because I’ve been taught that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if you behold me in beauty aloud—
because in elementary school I learned that you could be anything you wanted to be and all I want is to be pretty—-
because I was raised in the midst of a girlculture that asserted it’s male dominance on my body that blossomed too soon and told me
I would get used to it.
it’s only natural to come to love your abuser,
if you’ve never known otherwise.
(I wrote this poem after being street harassed while walking with my best friend. I usually just glare my perpetrators into oblivion or shrivel up because being noticed makes me anxious, that someone is aware of me and I have nowhere to hide. She, however, brandishes her weapon in the form of her middle finger in no time, comes up with terribly clever and insulting phrases to yell, and occasionally reports the men who catcall us by phone. I envy her but still, we’re never taught how to react to street harassment when you’re suffering from a terminal case of Shy Girl Syndrome.)
The world is divided into two types of people.
Those who are here and present, people who
Every minute, every second of the day they live in motion
Their bodies sway like palm trees blow in the wind.
The world is divided into two types of people.
Those who are here
And those who are not.
The ones who managed to slip away through the tiny spaces between your fingers,
Who got stuck in the thread that pieced together the fabric of your flesh
(and managed to escape)
Love, love will tear us apart: make me feel like you have a heart.
You made my hairs stand up on edge when I felt you go, you make me wonder everyday:
Am I here?
I think people only exist once they sneak to lay in someone else’s bed; in their domain you are foreign but welcome and warm
And if he can’t stand the heat, then get out of my memory.
When a ghost makes a home in your soul, how ‘bout you give us a call?
When you incinerate everything and need to sweep your chimney, there is too much ash on my bones
And they call it cholesterol.
There are two types of people in this world.
Those who remember
Those who forget.
You are a tree and we were your leaves.
Your branches got longer. You forgot us. We fell.
But I remember what tree I fell from/ I remember how you rustled us out/ I am here/you forgot/I remembered
You are not here.
Tracing the outline of his face from a photograph I took in my mind,
I hope you still look like the father I once knew.
(This was the first poem I’d written after a particularly long bout of writer’s block and I performed it in a small poetry battle of the schools (we won!) It was the product of a writing prompt to use certain words inside the poem, and it ended up as catharsis.)
Cut the Cord
for those of us nursing dear the fear of becoming a mother.
could happen too soon, a curse on your womb
that was born too late.
our mothers taught us not to become mothers
we cradled our fear,
growing steadily as we reached the same age that they bore us.
we cannot become the carbon copy of our mothers.
but we all turn into our mothers,
(Motherhood is one of my greatest fears, I fear having to pass on pieces of myself to someone who has no say in the matter whatsoever. I’m quickly approaching the age that my mother was when she had me and it’s always lingering in the back of my mind that I could become the person I always said I would never be.)
you’ve been given the chance to be normal
but you still shudder at the thought of him
tasting the sadness
in your lipstick
(if you ever let him in)
you could close the gap
but let him slip through the spaces
between your teeth
(if you let him close enough)
you could swallow him whole
before he ever got the chance
to consume you first
(if you had the strength)
you could make him believe you’re beautiful.
(Whenever I fall in like, I worry that I will lose my mask. That the cool grrl pretending to be me will lose her cool and I’ll be found out. I wrote this after I fell in my first mutual like with a boy I was sure couldn’t fall in love with my sadness.)
To Do List
-wake up. no matter how entitled you think you may be you do not have the authority to control your death.
-move. let awareness breathe life into your blood, let your body know you’re full of love.
-eat. fill yourself to capacity; you’re no good when you’re running on empty.
-be. leave remnants of your existence on every door handle, on every floor; when you enter a room, you are more than you ever were before.
-breathe. do not let the world forget you are here.
(I often write the usual to-do list to keep on track of what I need to be doing and by when. Otherwise, my anxiety builds to a crescendo and I find I haven’t done anything I was supposed to. I need to keep myself busy and on track, but in the midst of writing down that I need to do laundry and apply for loans/jobs, I usually forget to add the necessary things I need to live by.)
You can find more of my work, (including these), here! Any feedback is much desired.