United States

23 neurotic crows in a recycled flesh suit
he/him || 17 || intp-t || lgbtq+
prosaic poet & sci-fantasy fiction writer
community ambassador alum [summer 2020]

standing in solidarity with those angry

Message to Readers

Any feedback, good or bad, appreciated.
Likes are nice but comments on what you liked and didn’t like help me grow as a writer!

you will always be from alabama

April 14, 2020

you are from the South. the South has taught you many things. 
you have learned that the seasons are “hot” and “not” and that there is no logic to them. 
you have learned that the sky in July glows electric blue, that the sun burns white-hot and makes you dizzy if you stay out too long.
you have learned that mosquitos are not to be messed with. you have learned mosquito hawks are your best friend, and you have learned not to be afraid of them. 
you have learned that blueberries straight from the bush are juiciest, jalapenos from the back garden are the hottest, and corn grown yards from where you eat is the sweetest. 
you have learned there is both good and bad about where you live. 
you have learned that the stubbornest people on the planet are Southern. 
you have learned that “Southern Hospitality” only goes so far.
you have learned you cannot escape your birthright. 
you have learned that, in the South, you cannot change. you are stagnant, like the stiff air in the middle of June. 
you will always be your father’s little girl. 
you will always be the one “who doesn’t like girly stuff.” 
you will lie and dodge questions about why you don’t come to Girl Scout meetings. you and your mother will butt heads about your desire to quit. Eventually, this will taper off, but only because you stop asking. 
you will worry your relatives when you cut your hair, they will tell you they are relieved that you did not shave the side of your head. you will not tell them you wanted to. 
your Catholic great-grandmother will ask you why you don’t have a boyfriend yet, you’re so beautiful, and you will laugh with her awkwardly as she slaps you on the back. 
you will stutter through thank-yous when your great-uncles and aunts call you “beautiful girl” and “young lady.” every pronoun will feel like a drop of cold water on your face. you will pray you don’t drown.
you will feel like your family is just trying to humour you at thanksgiving and christmas breakfasts when they ask how you are doing in school, and you will stumble through a conversation you don’t feel worthy of. you will watch other conversations unfold, easy and languid. you will feel jealous and grateful at the same time. you will wish you felt that connected, and thank your stars that you are not. 
you hate the bridal showers and baby showers you are forced to go to but your father and other male relatives can escape from. you stick to your father like a cowed dog when he does attend one. weddings make you feel sick.
you are told not to be selfish when you hide to find a moment of peace. 
you hate seeing the pictures your relatives keep of you when you were younger. you don’t recognise the person staring back at you. you avoid those pictures, head tucked down. 
you dread easter gatherings. you panic when on the rare occasion you have to go to Mass. your single act of religious rebellion is to burn a candle for your dead great-aunt and pray that the earth brings her spirit peace. 
you will wonder how much your mom’s sister knows when she hands you the Pride edition of Entertainment. you will thank her profusely anyway, and add it to your hidden but prized collection of queer literature.
you won’t know what to do with the makeup she gives you. you'll wear it one way and feel fake, another and feel electrified. Then you will wash it off and turn out the lights, hiding from your reflection. 
you will wish you could accept the keys your grandfather offers you to his SUV when he notices you’re melting into the walls at a cousin’s birthday party filled with people you’ve never seen before. you wish you were allowed to drive, just to find an escape.
you will hold your breath as your grandmother thumbs through a literary magazine that you have used your new name in, and you will cringe when she asks who that is, why it isn’t spelled “like a girl’s name.”
you will breathe a sigh of relief when no one else questions it. you will be shocked when some occasionally use it. you will wonder what they think of it, for days upon days. you wonder what they would say if you came out.
you will gravitate silently towards the family members who feel safest:  the ones who see you as your age, the ones who treat you as an equal, the ones who seem to know things. you stay near the gay cousins or the ones from exotic places like Miami, or New York, or anywhere but here. 
anywhere but here.
you cannot escape the South. 
you may leave it, but it never leaves you. 
you will always be from Alabama. 
it will catch in your skin, your bones, deep in the pits of your stomach. 
it will show in your tolerance of humidity and your intolerance of cold. 
it will slip out in words like “cotton” and the “y’all” you can’t manage to get rid of.
it will be with you in what you know, how much you know, your memories of your home.
it will welcome you with sticky arms when you return. 
you will feel like “country coming to town” whenever you leave it. you will feel very much like a fish out of water when you talk to a cute girl from Utah, compliment another from Washington on her writing. you will hope neither of them notice how anxious you are, the shakiness of your eyeliner. 
“Alabama” will always sound like a curse, a judgement heavy on your shoulders like a yoke and you cannot run from the metal plow or what you carve in the earth behind you. 
you will feel like resistance is futile. you will wish you are normal, that you don’t want to change, that you even knew how to articulate how you want to change, or how to explain that it’s less a change and more a peeling back of an old shell that doesn’t fit anymore. you will wish it felt like home.
you try to keep that spark of hope alive in your chest, the hope that you can escape and change, 
because one day, it will ignite you and your old self will burn and burn and burn. you will be reborn from ash. 
you fear it, but it still dances in your daydreams. and you laugh. 
one day, you will escape.
one day, you will peel back your old shell.
one day, you will be as bright and hot as that Alabama summer sun. 
one day, you will be saved. 

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  • sunny.v

    i am also joining the train of people whose comments were removed! for what, i’m not sure since there were no ~naughty words~ but it might have been the unsubtle vitriol towards southern homophobes that i’m similarly tired of dealing with. anyways: this is still just as lovely after the sixth or nth time rereading it. “ you will feel like resistance is futile. you will wish you are normal, that you don’t want to change, that you even knew how to articulate how you want to change, or how to explain that it’s less a change and more a peeling back of an old shell that doesn’t fit anymore. you will wish it felt like home. ” if that isn’t the best few lines in the world. growing up *different* (which I’m, well, in the same boat as you) in a southern state is a whole new level of hardships. it’s not really easy for us southern queerios, but i hope you can at least find your peace. and this piece has inspired me to hold out for when i find mine. “ one day, you will be as bright and hot as that Alabama summer sun. / one day, you will be saved.” as weirdo said: stay strong. you’ll get there one day <3

    4 months ago
  • mia_:)

    Oh my freaking gosh! I've been meaning to read this since it won (congratulations; you ONE THOUSAND PERCENT deserve it) but never got to it. And it is so well written and heartfelt and amazing and is probably one of my favorite pieces on the site! So personal and enthralling and I couldn't tear my eyes away! You should feel EXTREMELY proud to have written something so impactful and beautiful. I wish I could write even half as eloquently!

    4 months ago
  • poetri

    OMG CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You deserve it 100%, this poem is incredible!!!!
    (results just came out on tumblr in case you havent seen, you won, go check them out!!!!)

    6 months ago
  • The Midnight One

    Wow this is... amazing I don't have words, incredible.

    6 months ago
  • loveletterstosappho

    hi hi hi i'm joining the train of people whose comments were removed, i have absolutely no memory of what i wrote and i asked if they would send me the original comment so i can edit it. idk i think i might have said something about escalation cause that still really stands out to me

    7 months ago
  • Maryam

    Okay, this may be one of the most strong and heartfelt and incredible pieces I have read on this site! It was so carefully done. All the words were so beautifully placed and the phrases so well used! Everything about this screamed "I know what I'm talking about, come listen to me!" This is real talent. Goo duck on the contest <3<3<3

    7 months ago
  • PouringOutTheSun

    wtw removed my comment for cursing ! basically it was just me singing your praises because this is incredible ! Phenomenal ! Excellent and wonderful !

    7 months ago
  • jaii

    (wtw removed my original comment because i said a naughty naughty word :/)

    ayo, enby from washington here. this seems like a personal reflection so i'd just like to say stay strong my friend. my family is full of homophobic meanies so i know it can be hard, but i know you can stay strong :)
    i really love this piece; the pain conveyed in this piece is so strong. it isn't coated in fancy metaphors and imagery which is new and refreshing. the repetition of "one day" in the end is really powerful and that last line is simple but packs a nice punch. wonderful job!

    7 months ago
  • bambiamby

    oh wow wow wow. every sentence was phrased so carefully and beautifully. like aosdhfnkjdkvnjd. how? you make every single word stand out and shine. this is a m a z i n g.

    7 months ago
  • Wicked!

    Oh my god, this is so good. The emotions here—the despair and then the hope—just feel so real. I love this piece.

    7 months ago
  • r|A|i|N

    my god this is enthralling. it feels like every word has a meaning of its own and a special reason for its being there. this work is like a fantastically spun web of splintering social change. well done.

    7 months ago
  • rainandsonder

    this is such a meaningful piece and you bring it alive so well, with your descriptions of the south at the beginning that feel so visceral it's like i'm there, and the journey the piece brings us on, it's a lot and it's so strong and such an excellent piece!

    7 months ago
  • Deep_Breaths

    (Sorry to comment on a random piece of work) Yes, you may use any prompt you wish. Mine are for inspiration (or use)

    7 months ago