writing form: duplex

a “duplex” is a poetic form, created by jericho brown. it’s a poem of couplets (stanzas with only two lines) that grows off of itself, where the first line of each next couplet mirrors the previous line (the last line of the couplet before it) and then the last line of the couplet introduces a new idea or image. the very first and very last lines of the poem mirror each other as well. [i know hat could be confusing to be explained with no context, so check out the link and maybe read my description while going through the poem??]

while poems often involve a journey, my favorite duplexes from jericho display movement , or makes its intention moving closer to somewhere possibly more vulnerable or more honest. this feature of movement is what inspired me to attempt the form. (p.s. i’m not sure if the form has to be indented in this way, i just replicated his structure here to learn the form.)


lightning flashes before my eyes can adjust

i’ve got too much white in my eyes

a static blade gathers iris and tongue

time be going by so fast

minutes turn into echo chambers of gravel and salt so quickly

learn, unlearn, learn — splinter on

petal open to get to the truth

every step i’ve taken has been to find myself

there are so many roads to get to the self

i study my veins in winter trees

the bloodrush means we existed

the heart beats, sends lightning before i can ask why



i’m just an awkward human being. and being an awkward human being on zoom is so difficult. and today i did a lot of awkward things on zoom so i’m going to go crawl in a ball and just take a nap… but first here’s some word food…


[…feel the butterflies sometimes.

like u try to h o l d i t in.

your fuzzy edge.s

hoping the tongue won’t spill your j e ll- o.

after getting tongue tied for a while.

been misplacing names and time in your head.

been making a scarf out of the pit.

out of the lightning casted down.

i tell y ou we a refreckl es on whispers…]


while 2020 has ended and 2021 has taken on its face, reflecting on how far we’ve come is important. to be honest, i have no more faith in this year than i did the last. while i’m getting ready to turn 20 in march, i have been thinking about my growth during my time at the university. it’s really hard to imagine much of any grand milestones, especially since my freshman year was ripped in half due to covid and i’ve been under lockdown in my apartment ever since. i feel upset and angry when i think about my lack of a “real college experience” on campus in east quad, in dining halls, in lecture halls.

but even though i can’t feel as safe as i used to right now, and even though it’s difficult to believe that i have done my best in “making the most” of my college years, i still find moments when i am able to appreciate the fact that the person i am today has learned so much since the first time i physically set foot on campus. i’ve made friends and grown apart from others. i’ve cried, vomited, and laughed. i’ve had fun and had days that i would rather forget. i’ve been embarrassed. i’ve felt guilt and shame. i’ve performed on stages, gotten involved in organizations, won a hopwood award for my poetry, and learned and developed a more compassionate and complex view of the world and myself. i’ve found love. i’ve found depression. i’ve found warmth and art and i’ve felt winters that have stayed long after its snow melted.

i have a better understanding of how i want to live my life in this moment, but that understanding has also brought great uncertainty in my safety and my success. i’m black, queer, and trans. it’s been really hard to survive, but i also have felt great when experiencing the smallest things. sometimes, though, i feel nothing at all. i don’t know whether or not i’ll “make it”. but i also realize that there are more people in this world who are more scared than fearless in the face of reality. i take comfort in that. i’m lost and i’m sure that i’m lost.

waves: walking

another thing i really enjoy writing about is connection. and while this is a very broad topic that tons of people enjoy writing about, and many people in general strive to understand, it still has its interesting aspects. there’s so many ways to approach understanding connections, and we can find ways to translate these methods and processes of thought over to many (if not, all) other displays of connection that are seemingly unrelated.

i’ve realized that i often times glorify perfect human connection, and this forces me to neglect entire aspects of my relationship with another person, work of art, myself, etc. i often times try to assign blame to myself, the other person, or both for the flaws that exist in the relationship, when in reality, trying to foster perfect connection is virtually impossible. we can get lucky in our lives and find people we “click” with, or overcome obstacles in our relationships that enables them to grow for the better, but what does it really mean to connect?

i feel that a connection isn’t just about similarities, but it’s also about the ways in which you challenge them and they challenge you; butting heads, trying to get past each other’s walls, the things we empathize with and the things we could never understand. it’s becoming increasingly interesting to think about in the context of 2020, and the ways in which i think about the people, institutions and systems (created by people) that harm people with my identities.

anyway — that’s all a part of it. that’s why i believe there are infinite ways to connect with someone or something. this concept gave way to this poem, in which i approach my relationship with my mom from a place i never have before with a experiences that i’ve ever thought about deeply until recently.

taken in the law quad last year. by me.


the cramps come dance on my mama’s legs at night

setting light in her thighs, she stomps them out in the hallway.


when the cramps throw a dagger at her, my door flies 

open. the bat signal we negotiated with having said nothing. 


my hands pressure the bed. my hands, a servant to thee.

i came running from the shadows, the forest of my dreams


to hook my arm in yours in this hallway drenched in drowsy silhouettes and walk.

i pledge to rid the body of all that is wrong right next to you. 


this is how i’ve figured to give my love to thee:

one, two, and—if needed—another step times three. 



waves: blacklight

photo cred: me. in my apartment with my partner.

{trigger warning: childhood illness}

this whole year has brought about many hours of reflection for me and my life. one thing i’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to process is my experience as a cancer survivor. i was diagnosed with stage 4 hodgkin’s lymphoma at 16 years old (my junior year of high school). while i’m in remission now, the trauma i have tied to that experience is something that comes up again and again — especially during something as stressful as a global pandemic. the precautions i take to protect myself and others from the virus (like wearing masks, washing my hands often, disinfecting everything i come in contact with) feels eerily similar to the precautions i had to take while protecting myself from infections while being treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

i don’t talk much about my experiences, and part of the reason for that is because, well, it isn’t pretty. having cancer, being treated for it, fearing that it will come back, and having a deadly virus going around that only intensifies my anxiety isn’t something i can talk about in a few minutes or hours and be done with. i think about it all the time. and i take the pandemic very seriously mostly because of my fears.

i just wanted to let anyone who is struggling with processing or navigating this pandemic know that they are not alone, and things REALLY suck at the moment and it’s okay to acknowledge that. it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to fear the uncertain future ahead of all of us. it’s okay to talk through your feelings with people you love andcare about, including yourself. this poem, ‘blacklight’, is one of my many attempts to do so. fun fact: this is a contrapuntal poem, which means that it can be read in at least two different ways 😉



that moment when you look                                                                            your eyes don’t adjust to the darkness

        it’s just dark                                                                                                             and thick wet black

        and i tell everyone i know it’s just my shadow                                          it’s just the back of the throat, i say

        and they believe me                                                                                           and no one asks further questions

        but i’ve been trying to figure out,                                                                                  like,



how do i come to terms with the tumors growing in my body?

how long have they been there?

was there a such thing as light before the universe?

did darkness come from a wounded womb?

has anyone found its keyholed belly?




waves: the intro

photo cred: my phone, accidentally, while i was at a party summer 2019.


as my first blog post, i just wanted to say hi. i’m excited to see what i’ll do here. while we’re all tryna navigate this chaotic world, i want this to be a place for me — and hopefully, you reading this — to breathe. i was looking at the first couple lines of this poem on an old google doc, and thought i’d revisit it as a retrospective of my feelings about passion. sometimes, i feel so low that it’s hard for me to feel passionate about the things i know i want to accomplish in my life… and this year hasn’t been very helpful in picking up my mood. as a black trans person, i can say from first-hand experience that the world isn’t always so kind. but, there are moments (like, this poem i’m sharing) where i am able to say, “here i am. and that’s enough.”  so, i hope you like it, and, welcome to my blog.


sometimes, i forget my body can take these torches 

of veins and light these pipelines of blood.


sometimes, i forget that a chest of living wishes 

finds home under my tongue

and that memories can dissolve into me like sugar there. 


sometimes, i forget that my organs are not made

of drying sand or the wind of a thousand last breaths,

but of flesh: warm, bare, and waiting 


for me to find the things that make me believe

i am living.


red’s the color of blood