FIVE Poems

by Briyana D. Clarel


& exhale

kitchen chicken recipe list grocery store shop see look cart stop start dance carry bags
paper plastic smile giggle singing in the aisle holding hands walk back to the car silly
lifting mood unpacking put away cabinet fridge shelf can't reach microwave cart jar box
chip clip container contain lid keep inside close let out fill up empty out to dry wash soap
scrub get off liquid soap clean dishwasher run plate serve spoon scoop give it up share
split cup break dissolve ruin trash garbage can recycle reuse repurpose remake we
make we made we saved we spent we shopped we cooked we ate we consumed we
were full. 

breathing love

remembering to be tender 
blossoms and breath 
surprises and softness 
singing you to sleep 
kneading the tension away 

i feed you because i love you 

sometimes the only words i can find
are hugs 
and touch 
and heartbeats

i won’t hide
i love me 

let’s be
be suns
or maybe moons
celestial either way 

we glow
growing up and down 
maybe we break
but let’s keep
growing back together

let’s be

let’s be

butterflies breathe 

i wear black 
         i can't hide black
black has always been
i can be loud angry upfront because
people see black
always been black 
and kissed 
soul and skin

and i knew it

black was gifted to me before i met light 
the rest
i gifted to myself after
digging and dissecting
painful process of
knowing dark
     hands busy with even more words for my different 

hard to be as loud angry upfront about that

i built my own rainbow
patchworking colors together 
to welcome each step  
shades bolds neons brights
passed down
sent along
stitching my way 
quilting a path from
fiery fragments shoved into my hands
and pastel pieces presented with care

hoping what i’m constructing and 
making up 
as i go will 
hold me 

   g reminds me that i'm human
i deserve to feel human
but the joy elation 
and butterflies feel like someone else's
something i cannot own
only borrow 
play dress up for moments 
then return 
black queer girls don't get butterflies
can’t let heart bump at the sight of another 
black queer girl 
only let dread and fear occupy
tummy space 
been told nothing else belongs there
i'm not supposed to feel flutters
not in this body

when will i let myself
live joy?

i always mind
still learning how to be in my
stop transcending
to other places the only way i know
to get through

suffocating joy
stifling sadness
i suppressed to survive
not feeling is not existing

still learning to
let butterflies breathe 
to trust
that they float exactly where
they're meant to be


i am finally feeling.
forced myself to
and it is most definitely
arresting and
is on the other side.


you loved me in my dreams

we breathed silent understanding

you held me

we didn't hold back

we still let go


Writer’s BIO:

Briyana D. Clarel is a Black queer writer, performer, and educator passionate about musical theatre, mangoes, and memoirs. They are the founder of The Starfruit Project, the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Homology Lit, and a member of the sketch comedy team The Rhubarbs. Briyana’s writing is published in cavity, Black Youth Project, MELANINzine, and more. Follow their adventures @briyanaclarel and