what happens in a black woman’s heart when fighting becomes too much

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Photo by Jeppe Mønster on Unsplash

I cut holes in my heart on the regular

or rather I let the beasts in with their knives.

The headlines read and the slicing begins —

viscera and pink coming to life with red deep like roses,

like angry cheeks.

If I cry who will it help?

And if I fight who will win?

And if I just hold their names inside my mouth,

will anyone remember?

After the last notes are sung

on the dusty instrument of a tired throat,

where will they go?

I just…

Let’s get one thing out of the way: women have sex

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By now, most people have heard about or listened to Cardi B’s “WAP” featuring Megan Thee Stallion. The song has spawned quite a few responses and think pieces, and I thought I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. I won’t be analyzing the lyrics of the song or speculating on the intentions of its creators. Instead, I’d like to talk about “WAP” as it fits into a bigger conversation about women, sex, and a woman’s sexual agency.

I was born in the 80’s and grew up with 90’s Hip Hop and R&B. I also grew up in a…

Taking prescribed medicine doesn’t make you a failure

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I am lying on my back and have been for hours now. I am trying to breath through what feels like a thick layer of lead over my lungs. I have been this way for weeks. At first I thought it was Covid, but with none of the symptoms — no cough, no fever, no loss of smell or taste, I have to strike that from the list of possibilities. I find certain positions that bring relief — lying on my belly propped up on a stack of pillows, lying with my legs against the wall, lying in child’s pose…

Or the day I stopped smiling at men

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photo by Kevin Turcios

I remember very vividly the first time a man sexually harassed me. I was the tender age of 18, working as a dishwasher the summer before heading off to college, just trying to make some money to keep gas in my car. I actually really enjoyed my job as I didn’t have to deal with people. My little dish-washing station was off to itself, and all I had to do was keep the white plates white.

The guys in the kitchen were what you would expect, a little rough around the edges, but good-hearted. They treated me well, and I…

A Slice of Life Behind the Oaxaca Teacher Blockades

For weeks now in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, teachers in the CNTE teacher’s union have been blocking highways as a form of protest against education reform. This story blipped on CNN and the BBC for a moment after the government sent in federal police to “handle the situation” and people were killed. And then, the story went away. But, like with most news items the story didn’t end there.

I moved to the Oaxacan coast about a year and four months ago, but have been living in Mexico off and…

I know that my job isn’t the problem

I choose to be where I am

I choose to believe what I believe

I don’t really believe I am old, most days

I am tired, but that is also a choice

Mostly I have stopped being me out of fear

Fear has been the loveliest of poisons,

the strongest of allies in my self-defeat

I am ready to stop naming days

and counting minutes and hours

I am ready to paint skies that only exist in my mind

I am not as ready for revolution as I thought

I have lost…

used to be when I was feeling hopeless

I would pick up my pen

find solace in well-crafted sadness

inked on unlined pages

now my impulse leads me to bury myself in forgetting

why put on this familiar cloak again

I know its weight as well as breathing

instead give me my soma

little shining pills that jolt me away from my real


this pen

these words

this truth

that depression’s hold on my hands is less frightening to me

than its hold on my mind

than the fact that it has convinced me that perhaps

the rejection letters mean that I am simply no longer of use

than the fact that I believe it

What Happened When I Started to Draw on Walls

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We’ve all been there—stuck at a job that isn’t awful but isn’t good, not as many invitations out as we used to have, and spending a lot of nights with the TV and a beverage of choice. I hit my wall after the New Year, a fairly typical time when hopes and dreams begin to dissolve. Still at the job that I survive daily, still not really sure what to do, I began to force myself back to my sketchbook. I started by just drawing a bit first thing in the…

It creeps in when I least expect it. There are no specific triggers, there is only this slow imperceptible falling falling falling, until here I am in a fetal position on the floor. It doesn’t matter how much I smiled that day, or how many hugs I received, or if some handsome man told me I was beautiful. Depression doesn’t care that life is good. And it is hard to explain to people who see my life, that none of those things contain the darkness when it comes. …

riff #73

the whir of the refrigerator sounds like the humming of ice the roosters kikiriki their morning greetings a long mosquito parlays his way into my back right between the shoulder blades a pool of itching wells up there suddenly a cat his scream a dog growl little orange cat on the patio completely unscathed ants crawl around my feet the morning birds slowly wake up the songs in their throats shake out feathers a large truck struggles up the hill red tail lights glowing in the morning dark the sound of a motorboat off in the distance fishermen…

Raychelle Heath

Freelance writer, teacher, artist, being

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