I sew red thread into my skin
Bleeding an embellished pattern
Twirling thorny stems with soft fingers
Oh rose, I’m getting older

Bloody Hell, Bloody Hell
I’m under your spell — hard to tell
When I need to change and find direction
Dancing wild, crash the sounds, I’m dancing wild

I am formless, I lose my body
I lose my body
Puff of smoke
A swarm of bees, a murmuration of starlings
Traveling butterflies
I’m in migration, hypnotized by an
Insatiable desire to run, to get away

In search of my breath,
Have you seen my breath?


Dark chocolate covered so sweet
Bee’s honey dripping slowly as you speak
Strutting your coco butter sheen
Soft waves of r&b bouncing
Like your curly hair in thick humidity

Scared of what you see
Constantly thinking of what could be
Feeling repressed in democracy
Confronting all the time in DC
Trying to just BE is exhausting

The silence between the noise
Is the only time you can think
Without influence of social persuasions
Social medias carelessly acting like reality
Teaching our youth empty morality

And when you hit a quiet street…

And when you hit a quiet street You walk…


May 6, 2019

Two weeks before, I was a guest on this incredible radio show featuring local DC poets, I performed at DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency Open Mic Night, a self-proclaimed “anti-authoritarian, collaborative pro-humanity artists’ collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community, and resistance.” I met one of the organizers, Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram, and he invited me to be a guest on his Quintessential Listening: Poetry radio. The mission of Quintessential Listening: Poetry is to provide a forum to examine topical events and contemporary issues through the power of poetry. The live format offers poets and spoken word…

Queen of the Wild Things

I fell apart right before your eyes Everything was going fine Until I wasn’t alright My mind a melting canvas With hot colors streaking The beautiful picture I worked so hard making Seeping into my mind I knew they were coming for my mind I felt myself try to fight Scared to let it take you too I ran into the night I have monsters in my mind They lay peacefully asleep When I am happy They yawn and turn over And they dream their monster dreams Pray for me when they wake It happens so fast when they decide…

Artist: Maren Devine

How does one articulate the total collapse of mental and physical health? It felt as if I were nearing the end of an entire lifetime. Time violently rebelled against my life. Any second I could blink and then my grandchildren would be in front of me, asking for caramel candies. I’d have secret conversations with my daughter giving advice about life. A pitcher of sweet tea would be on the stove and my life’s will would be sealed in a mahogany desk drawer. In it would describe my cremation wishes. How I’d want my ashes to be strewn across the…

Painting by Mira Dancy: “I came to painting from writing poems, and it always was a feeling that these women appeared in the paintings kind of mid-sentence that compelled me to push them further.”

I remember when my grandmother used to push my sister and I on the tire swings at our neighborhood park in Texas. With a pitcher of sweet tea in one hand, and a new cigarette in the other, she would say with the raspy voice of a seasoned smoker, “Who wants to go to ol’ Milroy Park and swang on sum tires, hmm?”

It sounded like she was singing the blues every time she spoke. A rotting pain ventilating from a dark, enigmatic past suppressed deep within her small frame, and she filtered it out as melancholy conversations with whomever…

Painting by Laurel Burch: The inspiration for this theme came to me out of a reverence and belief in the sacredness of beings, and creatures, and all living things.

My skin is purple

Underneath I’m red

I feel responsible

For the monsters in my head

I lie awake in my bed

Is this life until I’m dead?

Is this my life

Until I’m dead?

I am growing branches from my shoulders

My leaves turn green

In the spring sun I bear fruit

I was awake when you whispered

You loved me

I was awake

When I pretended I was asleep

I’ve been awake to many things

And pretend I’m asleep

To keep myself sane

To protect myself from the suffering

Am I strong, or am I weak?

He began…

Art by David Choe

It’s been a while since I’ve asked myself this question

They waxy leaves green, once sweating with

The spring dew, have withered brown

And their brittle, little remains faintly sound

Under the slightest of weight

The eager sun that beacons the world awake

The crisp apple mornings of fall turned sharp

Striking hard

The cold wintry sky

Contrasting the buoyant sunrises of summer that

Tickled the blue sky pink

Teasing the day

The sunsets flirting with night

Everything now seems curt, stymied

Nature’s growth has stopped and it reflects

Not only in the leaves, but itself manifesting

In the rushed

Fingerprint drawing by Nicolas Jolly.

Im staring out the window

My leg propped on some pillows

Jazz playing in my headphones

Looking at the world below

Overcast — what a beautiful word

Describes when the day

Takes a break from the sun

Clouds blanket us in grey

Everyone sighs in unison


It feels content and empty all at once

It gets comfortable with the silence

The hushed tones get quieter

Until there’s none

It doesn’t take offense

A woman

Standing at the corner of 8th and D

Her headphones in too

She must have been listening to some great music

By the way she…

Fingerprint drawing by Nicolas Jolly.

I woke up to a misty Saturday on the morning of January 5, 2019

Still snuggled in bed, I finished reading an article I had fallen asleep to the night before

My sheets were clean, soft, warm, and smelled of cotton

One of the little pleasures of life

After finishing the article, I went to take a shower

I decided to listen to the latest Chris Hayes “WITH” episode

Poured a cup of coffee from the kitchen, got dressed, and headed to the Shaw DC Public Library

If the story were to stop here, it would seem like just another…

Brianna McGowan

Dancing at the intersection of programming and spontaneity. I have the strength to be better, and to love. Twitter: @mcgowanbrianna1

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