My Grandmothers Tell Me to Stop Crying
I. Barbara: Stop Crying Over Boys
I did not cry all that time for you to do the
same thing and not stand up for yourself.
You’re fine and if you aren’t, you will be.
You come from a line of planted women
Planted as in buried alive,
As in you tried to drown us but we drank it
Clawed our way out of the ground and
cooked dinner with the dirt still under our
fingernails kind of women
Venus flytrap women willing to swallow a
man whole and choke on his bones before
having our throats slit into a bouquet again
Dandelion women who have bent easily and
Who wilted into wedding bands and men’s
So how dare you let some anything
except God’s own hands root you to
anything you don't want
Use the voice we taught you that you
Make your own money so no man can claim
you as his own.
Drink wine, watch Fraiser, and read more
The sky is not falling and even if it is, you
know what the femmes in this family do
You come from a line of smoking women
Like we shouldn’t have been burned in the
first place but we will gift you these ashes
Because you don’t have to burn anymore.
This line ends with you
You have generations worth of tears to
You are allowed to cry, but you are not
allowed to cry for long.
II. Cleo: Stop Crying Over Failure
Stop looking for my legacy in your face.
III. Soni: Stop Crying About Dying
That psych nurse did not think we were a
She said two broken people could not fix
Did not think about how one knife sharpens
She can’t tell that we’re family, either
Can’t see past my light eyes, your brown
We do not share blood but who couldn’t see
I gifted you my snarl, and my wild hair
I gifted you a halo and wings made of
You grew your claws on your own,
remember to sharpen them every morning.
I have you seen with a dead heart before
Cobwebs in your aorta and all
I saw you, you curled onto the floor
claiming your heart was split in two but I
knew they were just growing pains
Slapped the word “burden” off your face
“Heartache” is a word that does not deserve
a line in your poems
Take your fucking meds.
You aren’t broken, your body just hurts
because it is growing
See the wings are breaking through your
spine and cracking through your skin
And that you’re free now to fly.
You tried to die.
Not even you can kill you.
Cleo (they/them) is a Black femme genderqueer poet. They have been blessed with opportunities to perform through school and the ACUI in their home of New Jersey, Boston New York, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia, both individually and on poetry teams, either for showcase or competition. They were a member of Penn State’s 2019 1st place earning CUPSI team and a member of the 2018 2nd place earning “Ashe Not Ashy” FEMs tournament team. They aspire for their work, whether it be in elementary education or poetry, to be honest, healing, radically joyful, and unapologetic.