Alone With Our Thoughts
Volume V: Quarantine Edition
“Learning not to crumple before these uncertainties fuels my resolve to print myself upon the texture of each day fully rather than forever.” – Audre Lorde
By Lana Tafere
There is a disquiet lies upon my soul; it has inhabited the chambers of my heart from time
running about unchecked in its crimson corridors
leaving behind it the refuse of years gone by, a collection of debris and shattered glass
clogging up my insides until I couldn’t breathe but
Keep silent, it said. No one will hear you, anyway.
So I did. It continued to wind its way round and round until
it had filled my heart with its restless rage
then it moved on to my other organs, a contagion spreading
by way of veins and arteries
it populated me completely.
Soon it was the only thing I knew
it had even climbed up behind my eyes and had the audacity
to sit there watching my world,
making me feel like an outside observer
in the life I had been given
It made its home,
planted its flag and called itself conqueror
I have been its silent disciple since.
By Lana Tafere
I see myself floating away,
through concrete and acrid air
to a place golden with possibility
bathed in indigo
somewhere wet and dark where
leaves drip with honey and
time doesn't exist.
I see myself shedding
ripping away layer by layer every
shred of negativity
growing plump with pure mirth
laughter bubbling up from my gut, glowing
in my cheeks and
through my eyes until
the world can't help but notice.
I see myself
spreading my legs
I see myself
Unafraid. She is magnificent.
Artwork by Rodni Hicks
By Dyandra Harrison
My alarm rings &
It voice is yelling,
Demanding me to enter the space that is my room.
It’s the loudest thing I hear
I don’t hesitate
I switch it off,
I lay in bed and just take a moment to wait, patiently.
Patiently waiting for any sound, anything beyond me
A sign, the sign
Sounds of sweet whispers coming from lively little ones,
Cars rushing with purpose,
A beat of my heart
Or a small reminder that I was alive
My alarm was the only thing I could hear
By Lisa Holden
I had learned long ago that pain does not simply go away, it lingers longing to be remembered.
At times I feel it call to me.
I save space for it in the hollow of my chest next to the food I eat and the air I breathe.
It nourishes me.
And when all else has gone I know it will never leave me.
At times I may hide it like one does a crooked smile
Or I may tuck it like a misplaced hair
Other times it’s just there
Plainly in thin air
But I appreciate the care with which others ignore it
Subtly accommodating to the same gravity that’s crushing me
Maybe one day I too could dare to simply pretend it isn’t there
Things in Suspension
By Dyandra Harrison
The tension I feel on the ground,
Any time, all times that you’re around
Will they, won’t they
I wish the question was does she want to
The answer will always be yes.
Fear, a slow grand carousel wandering over my head
Filled with the wonders of what negativities have been said
Dreams can’t coexist with anxiety
And I ensure that a cloud of smoke hides my view of my nightmares
Mental rope I hold onto with my neck
I can feel it gripping, tugging
I want to go on a small vacation but my life is the price of the check
I wish I loved myself as much as I tell others I do
I wish I could blink and feel a chariot whisk me away through softness, kindness.
I wish that wishes were real
“Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.”
– Audre Lorde
On a Wednesday Afternoon.
By Neffetari Edmond
It’s 2 PM, you’ve smoked the rest of the weed you could scrounge into the bowl – your eyes are hazy, bloodshot red, your body feels groggy, your mouth dry.
“How did I get here?” You ask.
You’ve quit your job, again – or maybe you were fired, one too many call outs, and a no call no show, “Who cares?” you shrug, you hated working there anyway.
You place two feet on the ground, and your body halts, the feeling of needles flow up your leg – your foot’s asleep – of course, sitting crisscrossed on the bed with your right foot under your ass isn’t the best choice for long-termed relaxation.
Placing two hands on the bed you hoist yourself up in an attempt to walk over your dresser you scream, “Fuck!” you bend down, and under your barefoot you find the earring that you haven’t seen in weeks.
You discard it, throwing it into a pile of dirty clothes you’ve been meaning to wash, or a pile of clean ones you been meaning to fold.
You walk over to the dresser and grab the bottle of Klonopin, you aren’t feeling anxious – yet, but you want (see: need), to feel calm – to feel more normal. You down the pill in one gulp, feverishly finishing a glass of water that you got from the kitchen two hours ago.
You sink back into your bed – which hasn’t been made in days, (at least you’ve washed the sheets this weekend right? Small victories.) You look around your room and grab the remote turning the TV on and off before settling on watching Regular Show – (or at least having it play in the background so you can feel less alone while mindlessly scrolling through apps on your phone). You switch from Twitter, to Snapchat to Instagram and back to Twitter – you even stumble upon the Kim Kardashian game that you said you were going to delete – you decide to play. The sounds of Mordecai and Rigby’s antics fill the room while you meticulously dress your avatar to get the most stars on jobs – A list baby!
A Conversation with Veronica Thomas
Writer and Editor
So, give us a quick overview of the projects you’re currently working on or involved with.
I’m working on four things right now. Of course, Call and Response Journal (an annual literary journal for creatives of color). We’re headed in a new direction style wise; our content isn’t far off from what we were doing before but we’ve incorporated a few personal touches, so I’m excited to showcase that. Then, I’m working with The Body of Home for Love non-profit which is a healing resource for black womxn survivors, and it’s just been a great restorative and healing space to work in. I’m working in a team of all creative black womxn, I mean, what more can I ask for! Also, personally, I’m still working on my first poetry book- I created it before but then I scrapped it. I’m in a different mindset, I’m in a different place in my life, I don’t want to publish old work. I feel like that wouldn’t be authentic to me. I feel so much more confident with who I am now, the work I’m producing, my creativity, also me personally, and the way I interact with others. I’m just coming into my own as a completely different Veronica, so I don’t want to put out older work, I want to put out my newer work so I’m still working on that. My newest project, which I’m so excited to get started on, (even though unfortunately COVID has sort of set it back) is turning one of my short stories ‘Our House’ into a short film.
You mentioned how it felt good being in a space with black womxn creatives, and I was hoping you could speak to that experience.
It’s just a different lane. Everyone comes to the table on a different level. It’s a team of black experienced womxn who have been doing their thing for a minute now, so they come to it and they come to it correct. I’m so excited to learn from them, I’m so excited to collaborate with them. We work as a well-oiled machine; it’s just smooth. I’ve never felt more affirmed working with a group. So, it’s really heartwarming to work with a team who gets it, and, not only are they black womxn, but they’re doing work specifically for black womxn. It’s for all identifying womxn, not just for straight cisgendered black women; it’s for everyone who needs the healing, so I love the team.
How has quarantine affected your creative process?
Quarantine has been inspiring me. I feel like that’s sad to say because I do feel slightly guilty because I feel privileged. I have my own bedroom, I have my own space, I can walk outside, you know? That’s a lot of privilege to have during this time, and, because of that, I have a lot more time than other people to work on my writing and to work on my different crafts and projects. I feel guilty about it, but I have been inspired.
Advice for creatives during quarantine?
I would say, and this is my advice for any time of the year quarantine or no quarantine, don’t force it. Don’t force yourself to write because when I was uninspired I tried to write and I look back on my work and I’m like it’s… crap. I know I shouldn’t say that because it is apart of me even though I didn’t like the work, but I would say give yourself some time to become inspired. Give yourself a break. You deserve a break. Even if it takes you a year to pick up a pen again, take that break because writing is a gift. Everyone has the capacity for it, but writing is a gift. It’s a drive, but it only turns itself on when its ready to you can’t force it. So that would be my advice: don’t force inspiration it’ll come to you.