I Woke Up Like This

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Every time I wake up in the morning

I wake up prepared for war

I prepare to be demeaned, judged

For things I cannot change

Can change

Attempt to change

But never really change

I wash my scarred cheeks

Acne scars marked their territory years ago

Brush my

no-braces-having

had-braces-at-one-point

may-need-braces-again teeth

Beyoncé prominent

Because who better to wake up to

than the queen herself?

I wake up prepared for war.

I iron my size 18 jeans

focusing on the thighs twice the size of what they should be

The butt that could be more round

But took after my father’s side rather than my mother’s

Could be lifted

Maybe the gym isn’t such a bad idea

I grab the jacket that hides my arms

The one that covers my back oh so nicely

So no one sees the ridges and rolls

that ruined my high school experience for me

The one that the boys loved to lay me on in the dark

But never wanted to see in the daylight

I untwist the bantu knots that crown my face

Slightly wishing I still got the perms

That my mother so desperately put into my hair

I wake up prepared for the war

That I didn’t necessarily sign up to fight

The one I add fuel to daily

by being the carefree black girl

defiant in the method that I live my life by

Within the hour that I have been awake

I have fought battles inside my head

that no one can see but me

I have launched a thousand ships

eager to conquer

I woke up prepared for war.

My lipstick is a deadly weapon

Dark like the thoughts of my mind once were

Dark like the shadows that I can cast

with my undeniable power

My eyeliner

On fleek

The wings I draw

representing the wings that I desperately

used to wish I had

The ones that I acquired some time ago

I continue to prepare for war.

But there will never be a moment where my smile –

With its yellowing teeth

That chip in the front that’s too small to worry about

The pink lips that could stretch miles

The ones now burgundy with anticipation

The ones that get chapped in the winter air

if I leave my lip balm at home

That could warm a room to summertime temperatures

Even during the worst of winter storms

Is not on my face

Every morning is a new day to show the world my ambition, my hopes, my dreams

My shortcomings and my faults

There is not a moment where I do not thank the universe

For giving me everything I need

To be different

To be unconventionally beautiful

I wake up in the morning prepared for war

And I do it flawlessly.

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