I am shirtless on my porch. Double-fisting mugs of tea in this summer swelter. Determined. I have built up a well of unshed tears and sweating seems to be the least painful way (if it even works like that) to rid my body of this excess of fluid. I do not want to feel my feelings but alcohol was not for me and sobering up is proving more complicated by the prescribed pills I already use to curb the chronic pain of an injury I struggle to not regret. Behind me is a plant in the window, slowly wilting due…

*I thought I had more time to say goodbye. So I wrote and addressed this to Sheila Roberts-Veatch to read while she was alive. I wish we had more years and I am profoundly thankful for the ones we had. Since she died before this could reach her, I am making this public. May she be carried onwards in these words and in our memories.

You once asked me what life I would have chosen for myself. And I told you “…regardless of the grief and loss and complications, I am here…. and I am grateful.”
Here brought me to…

There is not enough time in the day to write all of the eulogies that need to be written. But at least let me write my own just in case they kill me before I’m ready. They meaning the state, most specifically, the police. May my loved ones have more time to care for each other if they aren’t busy trying to find the words to sum up my life.

So I will write to the best of my honesty and I ask of you to please use the eulogy if they kill me within the year. And next year…

when they call us dead before we die
but our hearts are still beating
where do we go if not the grave / in minds
underground. foundation.
we build upon
something becoming nothing
someone becoming never
so it seems to be the case / they make
when they call us dead while we have breath / beckoning from coffins
they talked themselves into this demise with us.

still, we call them monsters like they deserve a way out
of the ground they try to put us in.
we give them titles they should not own
digging our graves as surely as they wanted

I had another voice before this. I believe it to be true. Somewhere in some womb, forever unknown to me, I heard a mother-tongue calling. But that was in another life I barely remember. A life briefly lived where I stayed. I mean, I was kept and I was not a stranger to myself. But I live this life now in a language I have coopted as mine through assimilation. Rough out of my chest but easy out of my lips, I speak in fragments; I know myself enough to utter aloud tales of reclamation and am unmoored from my…

Pictured: The family I know that will love me unconditionally

If I wrote the piece I am scared to write it would go something like this:

I was adopted into a white family that claimed they had unconditional love. I was brought up in white communities and even lived in Oregon, founded to be a white utopia, for a brief spell. And even when I lived in Kenya, I lived on the school’s compound where most of the teachers were white and therefore were my neighbors. These spaces, families, and communities loved me. There is no denying that. But the love was conditional for many. Only when I did not…

Photo by Kate Macate on Unsplash

I love you. I need you to know that before I begin. Because this is painful and I am asking us to step into the hard with no real direction out. This is not goodbye. At least it does not have to be. This is a crossroads. You love me and you are married to your whiteness and we cannot exist like this any longer. So either you must get a divorce or we must become braver apart than we are together.

We are something, you and I. Never nothing. Never not formerly something great. Now we are broken, for…

This Is Us

The beautiful world I am imagining has a place for you in it. Can you say the same about me?

Photo courtesy of the author.

Last night, election night, I stood on the precipice of today and embodied every inch of my being. There I was at the fence peering in at the White House while Beyoncé’s Freedom played behind me, wondering how many more moments I will get after this one. I wonder how many people out here voted for liberation. And liberation from what and for who. On my hand were five stories of love in my life I had written before I arrived so I would remember why I voted and who I voted for. …

“I just kinda feel like I’m unworthy of this life. God gave me life and as much as I try, I’m living in sin. And that is the message I’m just getting from all these people around me. And I hate liking women. I wish I had a choice, maybe I do. But all I know is I’ve tried everything I can think of to be “cleansed from my sin” and I still can’t. I’m fucking wasting my life…. even if God does not view me as the devil’s work, does that mean that all of these adults around me…

TW: Self Harm

Karen poses for a picture by Lisa Gray

Here I am, sitting on this porch, computer in hand, watching the world move around me. The neighbor beside me has a dog that watches him smoke a blunt and I am not mad that the breeze is blowing towards me. The breeze is forgiving, breaking the heat and swirling around my face. I am one house in a long row going to my left and an alley that breaks me up from the house of my smoking neighbor. I watch the mosquitoes take my blood and half-heartedly try to kill them before I decide they are…

Karen Leonard

Athlete. Artist. Writer. she/her.

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