To the place where lullabies contain death-notes
Where our screams are songs
Bleeding wounds heal
And our nightmares are dreams
I’m sleeping, or at least I’m feeling myself fall asleep.
My head is clear on this warm, clear night, and the trees are whistling “goodnight” softly with their multicolored leaves for the summer. Crickets chirp previously on the grass floor adjacent to my black brick apartment building. And it reminds me of a home that for the first I don’t mind missing. A small smile graces my lips as I picture a sweet woman coming in to say goodnight to the child I was once was, proceeding to turn on three fans to help circulate the air, close the blinds so no one can see me (but I’d open them after she was gone), and lovingly talk sweet nothings to me before bed. Mama did have a way of making bedtime a special adventure before bed.
The smile on my face deepens in a lazy haze as I sense a familiar presence wrap around my exposed waist. The bony, semi-muscular arms settle just below my torpedos and pull me closer to someone who makes my body instantly relax beyond reason. A muffled voice asks something, I say yes, and then those hands begin tenderly stroking the softness of my belly. My unmarked flesh, lightning streaks of stretch marks, and the undersides of my breasts receive gentle touches that lull me further into slumber.
In my mind, the events of the day seem to threaten the peace I feel on the inside of my body. Crossing streets made of hot asphault that turned into dumb weights attached to my calves. My heart tightned at the thought of that catcaller whistling and screaming after my passing ass when crossing the street in front of his blue chevy truck. The woman who refused to respect my pronouns and gender me correctly, because she thinks my simply stating who I am and setting that standard of respect is against her “freedom of speech” honestly made me think some dark thoughts about her. The gears in my head were working overtime as anger, frustration, and anxiety rolled into my C-PTSD, causing my stomach to tie into an unbreakable knot. Reality, what was happening now, was becoming lost to me.
It was all slipping through my fingers so fast.
When my black cat Lucifer came up and began tickling my nose, I took that sensation as a means for climbing out of the rabbit hole. I focused intently on my cat’s slim tail running under my nostrils like the mustache it was trying to be. I then thought of my black bunny Judas Isariot sleeping the night away in their little nest of a bed. It brought a smile to my face thinking about the way their tiny nose would scrunch up at random moments making them the cutest thing on the fucking planet. The light pink of Judas’ little sniffer caused me to remininsce about that nice senior man walking past me on the sidewalk on the way to wherever life was taking me at that time of the day. He wore brown pants with suspenders laying on a cleanly pressed sky blue and white long-sleeved dressshirt. Walking much slower than me, he did not seem to be in a hurry. He only took in each moment as it came and seemed more grateful than the average person for it. I had smiled and waved at him, and he did it back, and man was it nice to know there are still kind souls out here who just can be decent to other folks.
I made it a game, to see how many good things right now could make me recall the small yet beautiful things of earlier. That little plant I have at the corner of the windsow sill behind my partner reminded me of the green of the countless trees I passed while walking down Evenant Avenue and then up Leeson Road, simply taking in all of the sights and sounds that graced past me in each moment. The birds that flew over my head as I walked besides houses older than me, my parents, and grandparents combined, the drivers who had a billion and one things to do but had to beep their way through the cluster fuck of traffic that happened around 5 pm each evening, and there was no forgetting the laughable amount of trash that I came across in the street, making me wish that there were more trash cans placed at various points on the sidewalks.
None of those things were perfect, but they were able to help me become grounded in the present moment again. They all showed me living a real life outside of my bedroom. There were assholes I faced with a middle finger and kept myself moving onward. Fellow passerbys being kind and compassionate, even if it was just a one-time hello being said, warmed my heart closer to peacefulness. Instead of reaching for the top of the rabbit hole, I helped the top come down to my level, feeling the knot unravel into a flow that wrapped compassionately around my whole self.
The bliss settled me into a calming blackness as I pressed a soft kiss to my joyfriend’s calloused palm and joined hands with sleep.
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I feel the sadness
Choking my body
And it sliding up
Through my nostrils,
Down my throat
And towards my belly button
Mixing with the water
That makes up most of me.
Fighting is all I know.
Resisting is my nature.
But Lord God!
I feel myself weakening
More and more
As I wait to be rescued
No one sees
Is killing me.
Does anyone care
That I’m dying
Right in front of them?
After all the waiting,
I do the one thing
That I swore
I’d never do.
To the overflow.
At first it hurts.
The overflow tightens
Its hold on me,
Force feeding me
And rolling waves
I was gaslit
My heart out to.
The exhausting annoyance
That came from
A perverted asshole
Sexually harassed me
With his words
And his voice
Reeking of privilege
He knows he can abuse
The skin of my face
Of every time
To gender me correctly
And be a decent person
To free speech
And “being themselves”,
Because their refusal
To see and respect me
Other than a “female”
Not even a girl or woman
Honors some god-given truth
The “natural family”.
But in reality,
It only protected
Bigoted bitches, and
Cunts who can’t
Until my heart stopped.
Until there was nothing
Of the old me left.
Whatever I fought against
Was always a part of me.
It was just now joined
To my everything
Without any fight.
Now the real healing
Is about to commence.
I choose to be sad and real
Instead of happy but fake
So that other people
Are comfortable in their bullshit
While force feeding it
Into my mouth.
It looks like cooking
And waiting for the food
To burn just right.
It feels like being annoyed at roommates
Doing whatever they want and
Not washing a wine glass
That they know you use
And had also drank from.
It sounds like the fire of the stovetop
Burning hotter and hotter
As the depression swallows me up
In its suffocatingly comforting waters.
When the food is done
The leftovers are heated up
And the juice is poured
Into a recycled Pure Leaf tea bottle,
I am just simply being
In my sadness.
Made my roommate’s
Pad fall into the toilet
And all I did
Was wipe off the water
And put it back on the
It dried and looks like
They won’t know
What had happened.
I mean they aren’t good
With telling me things either.
They’re even worse
With not noticing
When I need someone to
Be there for me.
Sad and real
Is not a trend
Or a movement.
I simply am being
What I am
At this moment,
Even if it means
Doing it alone.
Image Description: Black text on white square block image reads a short writing/mini poem as follows below.
I feel safe under the trees.
They move in the gentle
Motion of the wind.
I know I can rest now.
I know that my body
Will not be exploited.
I know that my rest
Will not be politicized.
I can fantasize,
Anything in my dreams.
My inner child
And I are one.
I am free
In the wide landscape
[Image Description: White text on black image reads poem as follows.]
That little girl
Who I sung my love song for
Deserves the best in everything
I’d die for her
Fight armies for her
And is my only one
I love her so much
She is magic and so worthy
And I’m never letting her go.
Bullshitting myself on the daily
Moment-to-moment screwing up everything
Because I don’t have anything left to give the world
Because I have nothing left to give myself
My self-loathing intensifies as I hear fellow humans start their day
Cars flood the the intersection next the three-way stop sign
Next to the tree
That marks the wooden house with a red door
Screeches and hip-hop music blend into my annoyance
Birds chirping have me wanting to scream at them
But I don’t utter a word
For I am that unable to care enough
That’s why I did not shower the night before
And I unfortunately itch in the worst areas possible
I become frustrated at life moving on without me
From the steps of roommates meeting creaky hardwoord floors
To long-wailing squeal the bathroom door makes before closing or opening
And when life is playing its usual hum as the day progresses
My insecurities intensify
They are deadweights that pull me farther down
And down into an ocean I never learned to swim in
Life is too scary, too unpredictable and potentially traumatizing
That while I lie down
The place I made my safe zone in my mind
Becomes my prison
And I only want out because I see others being free
Wishing they could be my key
But then I am reminded that I am my own key
That I must unlock myself from the deadweights
In order to float back up
And if not that, then at least stop myself
From sinking further into the oblivion of depression
While I lie down
I fight that fight
And struggle with all my might
Because what is easy will keep me stuck in my pain
Trapped inside an endless cycle of nothingness
A nothingness that increases the distress of my mind and body
Yet what I want
The wanting to join the rest of the world
And be that person I dream of being
An individual who lives their dreams
In balance with their demons and light
That amount of effort, that amount of dedication
Frightens me back into abandoning myself
On more mornings than I wish to admit
I got so good at abandoning myself
Giving up before a day started
Because the possible challenges awaiting me
Seemed more treachorous than it was worth
It is only when the day is gone
When the night is waning
And just before the birds begin singing for the new dawn
That I see how much I could have gained
If only I fought to take off the deadweights
I have grown so accustomed to carrying
In my sleep
I am the nightmare.
I am the dream.
I am the god.
I am the Satan.
I am the moon and the stars, the sun and the comets.
I fall like rain and rise in time with the tides.
I flow with winds that travel beside mountains from times of old.
I am at once the wonder and also the terror.
I have known and hold both innocence and perversion within the confides of my soul.
My body has been torn apart then put back togther with the scraps of sanity I grabbed with each trial I suffered.
I know the gray areas are only bridges that keep the infinity within me anchored.
And that makes me no less the powerful human I am right now, the one I always will be.
I am Jourdan R. Lobban.
And I am Riv J. Lobban, Riv-Rayne J. Divinity.
I know that I am a survivor, a warrior, a miracle baby and person whose existence is worth celebrating.
I am at peace with the light and dark within myself. And I love all parts of me from feriociously ugly to downright beautiful.
For everything I have done that is unspeakable, I hold myself with compassion, nurturing, love, and non-judgemental, unconditional accpetance. I know that the reasons why I did those things came from parts of me deeply wounded from all the trauma I experienced.
I know who I am. I embrace who I am. I accept who I am.
I am the king who defies all.
A queen of her own right.
A downright Godx With An Edge.
And most importantly, a flame that lights up in the dark without any fucking apology.
Image by Luis del Rio
All of it’s weird.
There isn’t a specific pinpoint for the peculiarity of this new stage in my life.
I could be poetic in my description, however, only one phrase best sums all the my emotions and sensations I feel inside of me.
And that is, “What the actual fuck?”
Extra, extra emphasis on the word “fuck”.
I moved out of the only home I ever really knew and took a one-way train ride to the one and only buckeye state. Most of the things in my possession are already destroyed by the trash compactor because I had to throw out almost everything I had. There were journals, books, clothes even, and it still had to be removed from my life. And in addtion to cleaning out my entire dorm room, setting up my new phone with service that I now pay for, booking an Air Bnb for a week while I figured out a longer-term housing situation, and filling out electronic paperwork for leaving my university permanently, everything was preparing me for leaving Delaware, my childhood home as well as prison, behind.
I spent most of my short twenty-one year life living from bedroom to bedroom. The one bedroom I spent the years of my early childhood to my late teen years is seared into my head like a hot iron emitting pulsing gas while stuck into cooling water. The four walls covered in paintings picked by my parents, banners with my deadname drawn in the style of Philadephia Zoo artists from when I was child posted above my bedroom door and ontop of my windows to the outside world. Back then, my neighborhood was the whole world to me. Walking around the many streets, with varying houses and townhouses, listening to birds who sung their hearts out in joy of their freedom, it was all I really knew. It took many years before I was allowed to walk outside, and then all over the neighborhood. It never made sense to me until I was older why I never received a key to the house, which was that my father never wanted me to have true autonomy over myself and my life. So for the time I was naive, I relished whatever little liberation I received. Those walks were little sneak peaks into a life I dreamt in secret of having, one where I went wherever I wanted without needing anyone’s permission, made new friends, experienced rad as hell adventures, and fell in love with wonderful people, hoping one of them was my soulmate. I was sincerely envisioning for a one-and-done type of deal. Whenever I came back to the house, the deepest parts of my subconscious knew I was officially back in the cage again, never knowing when I would taste the exhiliration of liberation once more.
That was my life for twenty years. And I thought it would stay like that for the rest of my life, a sanity-searing cycle of broken promises, violent codependence, and brief, rare moments of the freedom I so long craved. It was all my body knew how to live on. It was what I was conditioned to experience.
A nightmare will never be enought to describe it, but it was a nightmare, a nightmare I slowly began waking up from.
I wasn’t ready, no way in hell for sure. But it was happening, and I realized soon enough I needed to get ready.
It was time for me to break out of my own tower. The motivation?
The tower was crumbling ontop of me.
A young girl told she was bad
Her blackness conceived into evil perception
Conception of her being
Based on perverted sexualization
Of her shape
Of her curves
And the melanin-soaked skin
That people feared for all days
A father with many faces
And only she saw the fury
Only she felt the silence and violence
While the women saw his glory
A dead mother made into a martyr
But no one heard her pleads for a savior
A school that only remembered what she did wrong
Forgetting her many deeds of good
As they attacked her on all sides
A bad little black girl
Is to always be punished and unseen
Violated while she hopes
For relief from unfair grief
Insanity was born
Deaf to those closest to her
Everyone’s rage drowning out her voice
The men who preyed while she prayed
Licked their lips at the sight of her hips
The women who scowled in jealously
Because of her unreal innocence
The continuum of pain
The vacuum of suffering
With each punch
Blow to the face
That cut into her back
Each time a person
Then cursed her
Before abandoning the girl’s begging form
A tower of screams was built
Higher and higher
Into the unknown skies
Only to fall
With no one around
To hear and see
The jarring sound
Slash through the apathetic quiet
The world wrapped itself in
Like a blanket that kept it warm
From the silent genocides of its imaginations
Now is the era
For the change
Epic and earth-shattering
Heaven and hell
They both stand at attention
The girl would no longer keep the universe
Locked inside of her
When she took her first step
On her right foot
The second step on her left one
It all came out
Nothing held back
All colors and numbers
Will forever surround
The never-ending space
Is where screams are our songs
Lullabies contain death-notes
The blood of our wounds heal
And our nightmares are dreams