The Heaviest Burden

For the nights when our love don’t love us back.

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The heaviest burden

The most urgent concern

Is when tears burn your face from the words of others because 

The worst sounds come from sobs in pillows smothered with covers undercover

Doused in brokenheartedness 

The hurt that our mothers vowed to protect us from

The heaviest burden

When you feel like a burden

unwanted and unappreciated 

Don’t you hate it?

When somebody rather drag you out like last night’s trash just because 

You and your crown are too heavy to lift?

But don’t you hate it even more when

You put your own self in that trash bin?

The heaviest burden

When you feel sorry for yourself and 

You start to tear yourself down just like everyone else did 

As if they really needed help with it

You take in the words and you start to believe 

The alibis and the lies 

Against your spirit 

You can see you falling out of love with yourself so loud and so clear you can hear it

A car crash, a tree fall, a falling apart

Damn, it wasn’t like that from the start

Damn, has an artist ever been more dismissive of her own work

Of her own art?

The shit is taught. And she listened.

The heaviest burden

The rising from the fire

The guilt of a liar that

Only lies to herself 

She needs some help she

Needs some medical attention 

Did I mention that wounds cut the deepest 

From self inflicted

Injury?

Well tell me where to start because

The heaviest burden is me

Somebody tell me where to start because 

The burden is too heavy 

I Still Don’t Like History

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Me, at an overlook of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 2016

I pass by the house

The childhood of my dreams

All the love I could ever want or need

Was in it

Y’all did it

The Black American Dream

Y’all did it

And I like to look back but

That doesn’t change the fact that

I don’t like history

I hated that class with a passion

The past

Because it’s almost worse than math

Because the numbers say the odds are against me

What’s worse than that?

House on the lake south of the river

Apartment building downtown

Still reppin for the hood

Y’all did like the white folk

I guess to some people that’s supposed to mean you done good

The perfect home torn asunder

By the perfect storm

It was warm

But I knew something wasn’t right

My tears burned when I would cry

When y’all would fight

But it was still warm

Forehead kisses in the middle of the night when y’all used to check on me and

tuck me in tight

Under my skylight

Under the stars

The tension was so thick between y’all I could cut it with a knife

But what does an 8 year old know about knives and

What does an 8 year old know about life?

You went your separate ways and it had to be done

It was for the best

Y’all had a good run

Somebody dropped the ball

The last inning, the end of the game

I was in the crowd, I was your biggest fan and

I still am

But I still don’t like history

Now I’m grown and

Whenever I’m alone

I am haunted

As yesterday whispers in my ear today is in tears because the what ifs of tomorrow burn

Like the tears from when I was 8

I am worried and afraid of

The childhood of my dreams and

All the love I could ever want or need

Worried and afraid of history repeating itself

Souled Out

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Because sometimes, in today’s America, there is no such thing as forgiveness 

you can’t make me say

I forgive you

while the blood is still wet on

the pavement or

on your badge or

on the American flag

and when that blood dries

my face

will still be wet with

tears and thousands upon thousands of years because

there is no such thing as consolation

you can’t make me pray

for the one caught red-handed while

people pay for his lies and

his alibis watching

black mothers cry

watching

their beautiful black babies die

I will never forgive you

you forfeited that kind of love

the moment you made the conscious decision

to hate me

you can’t make me

you can’t make me paint a smile

on this tortured face any longer

because meekness has tainted the canvas enough already and

my load is far too heavy

to keep carrying your weight and

carrying your guilt to

ease the burden

it’s too late for Kumbaya and

your “sorry” makes my ears bleed

it brings me too much pain

and I won’t hold your hand

because it is stained with

the blood of my brother

And I can’t make you wash your hands

 

The Friend in the Family by Fantasia Alston

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There was this friend in the family

Who always came around

He’d make the kids smile

Whenever they began to frown

He was so damn cool

He was so damn nice

He was so damn handsome

And oh so polite

One day this friend in the family

Gave me a wink

I was in so much shock

I could barely think

Am I going crazy?

That might be so

Fantasia, calm down

It was nothing, let it go

This friend in the family started giving me money

Buying me candy

And calling me honey

I had no guidance

So naive and lost

Wanting to make a friend

No matter the cost

“He wouldn’t hurt a fly”

That’s what everyone would say

But this friend in the family

Tried to rape me one day.



I became a recluse

Always stayed inside

Because on that very tumultuous day

A part of me died

A few cousins took notice

Asked what was wrong

But I kept saying “nothing”

While pretending to be strong

The more time passed

The weaker I became

His presence around my family

Was driving me insane

Who would be next

If he couldn’t get to me

A predator like him

Shouldn’t be free

I finally spoke up

Told my cousins about that day

They were definitely in shock

But brushed what happened away

Acted as if it never happened

So he still came around

The very few I trusted

Had certainly let me down

I guess it wasn’t a big deal

Maybe I should be more vibrant

And when he sexually assaults me again

I should just remain silent.


unnamedFantasia Alston is a guest writer for theblackertheberry.org. She is a 22 year old free spirit  and visionary who spends most of her time  writing poetry, reading (preferably mystery books), and doing whatever she can to help better the community, whether it be volunteering at the nearest homeless shelter or picking up any litter found on the solid surface of the Earth. She also enjoys painting whatever comes to mind, cooking, meditating,  and taking long walks to nowhere.  She currently resides in Columbia, SC. She is a writer for #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE, an organization that supports and empowers girls and women to stay in school. Learn more about her and her work here. Follow her on instagram here.

For the Ones that Ain’t Here

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His notebook was his canvas

He painted such a beautiful world

Such an artist

Drawing with his words and with his verbs

Not quite like the chalk drawing that outlined his body in the crime scene on the street curb

When his momma heard

She screamed and

She fell to her knees and

Called on Jesus

Then with God she begged and she pleaded

Not for her son and

Not for her self

But she prayed for the world and all that it needed

Defeated by

The laws of the hood

The politics of the block

Life on the corner and

This street and that set law and order

Momma said do good and

Momma said live right and

Momma said say your prayers every day and every night

But Momma didn’t tell him about the wrong side of town or

How to act or a plan of attack for

When the goons come around

He passed and some weeks passed too

And then one night all of sudden and out the blue

Momma took his notebook out of his room and

She flipped through the pages and she looked to the moon

Then she apologized for speaking too soon and

For letting her son believe the world was so beautiful

I Had to Remind Myself

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I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

The world knocks you down

to your feet and

Knocks the wind out of you

As if you don’t deserve to breathe

 

It stole my soul

Temporarily

Missing: Myself

Last Seen: Forgetting

Who the fuck she was

 

My search started with a mirror

I was so scared and it was so clear

I knew

Better.

I knew that I was

Better

Than I gave myself credit for.

 

I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

I had to rescind the transaction

After I sold myself out

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

Counterfeit money gets caught up in

Your register

 

I died

and then I was revived when

The mirror told me

 

Who the fuck I am

The Conversation 

Police brutality and the war on black men forces poetry out of my soul. It also forces hard conversations with the people we love.

I had to have

the conversation

with the man I love
I told him to just

Lay

Just lay on the ground

When they come around
As I spoke I felt that rope

Tied around my throat
And it hurt.
I told him to do whatever

they say

I told him to pray

While he lay

As I choked

on tears and pride
Two black men murdered 2 nights in a row in July

There’s no other option

The man I love
Has

Got

To

Survive
I had to have

the conversation
I felt him lose his patience

as fear consumed me

And there was nothing he could do about it
I felt him lose his power

While murderous thoughts devoured

my heart and my soul and my bones
Engulfed in flames

Set ablaze by the videos

On my social media page
I had to have

the conversation
“I’m gonna be alright” he said

And he held me tight

While I kissed his forehead
Then we said goodnight.
Each minute that passed while he drove home felt more like an hour
I lost my patience.
At least we had the conversation
But then I thought about

His dark skin

His boldness

His unyielding power

His smart mouth

His charisma

And his confidence
Yall know how a man is

He

Has

Got

To

Survive
There’s no other option.

 

Black Blue

Your skin, the perfect shade of

perfect

I like it

when it glistens in the sun too

But I love it

When its that dark black blue hue

but do you love your black blue too?

They called you black

and all the other kids laughed

and made you feel

inferior

but the joke is on them when

our own folk pretend that

their hate is your hate

Because they hate their own skin

To begin with

Your blue black has endured

the many evils of

this world tenfold

And yet and still, it upholds

Soft as cotton, bright as pure gold

not that bright like artificial light

but that dark and natural and brilliant type

like the best night of my life

When we fell in love

The type of night that make you wanna

sleep outside because

Only on the darkest night

Can you see all of the stars and

All of the sky

I want you

And your black blue too

But I need you

To love it

And love it fiercely

As I do.

Pills

 

PILLS

Your heart beats strong

God let it be

You are blessed and you

You

You Are loved

But to you, love is

how much of life you can miss

sleeping it all away

Sleeping on your youth

And the dawn and

The day

I pray:

Lord, may your hands put the pills

Up in a place far far away

I hate the sound they make in her purse

I hate it in the worst

Way

It’s the worse way to waste

borrowed time you can not make stay

I can not just say STOP TAKING THEM

I know God I know I know

it doesn’t work that

Way

But God, just listen

I know it may sound

twisted when

I say I’m so conflicted with

My emotions

Do you know what I mean when I say I’m

Stuck somewhere in between

being optimistic and

being realistic

about her disease and

about her need

I need answers

Please.

How did she get this?

Addicted.