Taylor Steele


it is 9:36 and, shocker, I’m drunk again

and sure it’s a Wednesday morning

but! it was just Saturday night a few days ago

and some things are worth celebrating twice


and yeah, my only company is the thought of absolution

because i don’t want whatever life this is anymore —

but! i’ve got myself this bottle of yellowtail merlot

which is the only merlot i can afford — soooo it’s my favorite


did I say it was Wednesday, i meant Tuesday

i calculate time by how long it takes me to finish

a bottle because every clock I’ve ever owned

ticks so slow they must’ve all been broken


sure they’re right “twice a day,” if my vision wasn’t

too blurred to read it, which it tends to be, and now it is…

and there i go again with the actualizing of bullshit things!

speak a thing into the universe enough, and it will grant it to you


like: let me cry myself to sleep, i say, and boom sleep. or

we’ll play don’t ask don’t tell with my sexual trauma, so

my triggers freak him out and make him leave, and bam! he’s gone. and

i’m sure all the times i’ve wished i were dead will come to haunt the ones i love


i’m the crazy aunt — with no nieces or nephews

i give birthday gifts to babies that don’t exist

i swear i only bought the gin for the teething

i mean my own. i mean i’ve got sharp bones


bursting through my skin, and it fevers me at night

only wine softens my whining. only wine gets me

to sleep when the world around me burns into bigger fires

i remember i will never have kids with the man i shouldn’t still love


and swig. i try to take a shot for every murdered black woman

that could’ve been me and lose count in time to pass out

i don’t have a problem…       i have many problems

like, there’s this buzzzzing bee in my brain


and it keeps saying all the wrong people love me,

and so there they appear! like magic! on the patio of my DMs!

asking me how my day is and i can’t tell them

i’m drunk because it’s 10am. and the bee doesn’t stop there


so i drink, and the wine is an unholy solace,

sorry Jesus! bet you thought your blood

was destined for more than this

and now there is a whirring behind my right ear


like a prayer. i think it’s saying watching netflix

and eating 2 servings of chicken pad thai

alone at night is my birthright. as if i didn’t birth loneliness

my damn self from all my damn wanting


like i’ve wanted to die more times

than my mother has prayed. and my mother

is a good christian woman. i drink, and pass out,

and eventually i wake alive but away


i know i said it was Tuesday, but I think

i’m stuck somewhere between days

i think i’m stuck somewhere

i think i’m stuck


cirque de la lune

i smack myself silly — into stupor — white lights spin in my peripherals — it’s a circus here — the stretch between my hand and cheek — a tightrope — my palm smarts quietly — the elephant in the room — prickly, pink tutu of a face — i switch hands — i juggle.


i smack myself — the thing i do instead of — aren’t some traumas better than others? — my hands think so — stuck in the middle of night, i step back from beyond the veil — unload me from the cannonball — stop myself from becoming a ghost.


i smack myself — i swell — a parade of red balloons; a lone trumpet blares — signals the start of needle acrobatics — nothing pops — i tempt with fire next — nothing beats my own good hands — tomorrow, someone will look — consider a fight, a fall — no — i tamed the lion.


i ain’t no royal black

i ain’t no royal black.

instead, just an

uncelebrated nigga.

got light-skinneded teeth,

inherited a bad back

and worse knee: call it

generational trauma.


i come from

a city cupping its

own blood, dripping

through contorted

fingers. still, i don’t know

much about this city

except i survived it.

but i ain’t special.

just got legs enough

for walking: call it

a traditional waltz,

a two-step to a false



my black is good

at metaphors when

ain’t nothing real

enough to find a home in.

like, yes, this freedom .

this barbed wire prayer,

this swollen lunged promise,

this bruised ghost. i don’t got

much, but i got language.

got no crown, but my

tongue was forged much like

a diamond: through

imperialism and greed.


still, i am a humble nigga.

got a dollar i made out of

whiskey and a dream.

got skin that’ll make me

a legend someway or other.



Taylor Steele is a Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based writer, educator and performer. Her work can be found at Apogee Journal, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Rogue Agent, Blackberry: a Magazine, and more. Her chapbook, Dirty.Mouth.Kiss, is available on Pizza Pi Press. Taylor has written for The Body is Not an Apology, Anomalous Press (formerly Drunken Boat Journal), and Philadelphia Printworks. An internationally ranked spoken word artist, she has been featured by Huffington Post, Brooklyn Poets, Button Poetry, and is a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. Most importantly, Taylor is a triple-Taurus who believes in the power of art to change, shape, and heal.

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