Once upon a time, there was a girl named Shaquana…

**Author’s Note** This was my first slam poem, written by the 15 year old version of Shaquana. 


See I speak words so people can know who I am.

Because I need people to know that I am somebody

I want to say everything on my tongue and never stop until you understand me

Because where I come from the name Shaquana has no meaning but the origin of the projects

So I have to fight to help people know me

Because I know who I am

I remember waking up one year ago and realizing who Shaquana was and that’s when everything fell into place and it all made sense

And that’s why I speak

Because when I open my mouth who I am comes out

And so I began

Growing up like most Black kids

With a single mother

In the projects

One sister, two brothers, one cousin

Five fathers, no daddy

Hundreds of roaches

Plucking roaches out the cereal box listening to Ghost Face

Eating mayonnaise bread and oodles and noodles

Walking barefoot on Black feet and Black toes

And the rhythm goes

Where I’m from sounds like

My mom screaming at my little brother to close the fucking door

It sounds like Storm’s gunshots blasting holes in Demo’s chest

Like seven year olds cursing their mothers out in Spanish

Like the Chinese couple with the thick accent saying thanking for holding the door

Like the sirens of the police car cruising right after Flaco has just been sliced

Where I’m from sounds like the crying of poor ghetto souls looking for a way to freedom

It tastes like

A refreshing dollar twenty five ice cream cone on a hot ass 95 degree day

Like collard greens and neck bones fogging up the kitchen window on Thanksgiving

It tastes like a double cheese burger on the dollar menu of the McDonalds around the corner

Like penil and platonos from the Spanish restaurant on Madison Street

It tastes like molded bread and expired cereal from the 24 hour store up the block

Like the Tylenol PM my mom takes to get rid of her headache

Where I’m from tastes like the sweetness that only project love can give you

And so

In this world where mercy has no friends

And innocence knows no eternity

Youth can be lost so quickly and quietly

It can leave the mind


I began walking without touching the ground

Talking without opening my mouth

Feeling without touching

And the simplicity

Was lost

And complexity was found

And shit that made sense no longer had meaning

And people weren’t so perfect


The meaning of that is…


I forgot days when infinity plus one was

Biggest number

And when you weren’t considered homeless

If you lived in a cardboard box

Only a kid with an imagination

Remember those, imaginations?

Remember when your biggest problem was

Whether your crush would ask you out

And you could honestly believe you had ten true best friends

Those were the days

Then I grew up

First came death

Then betrayal

Then confusion

Next emotional abandonment

And it kept coming

Sadness (real sadness)





More confusion, more betrayal, more sadness

And depression and lonliness

And ultimate heartbreak

But don’t let me forget memory loss

At least memory loss of the good simple times

I only seemed to be able to grasp the pain and sadness

With it came cold heartedness

I soon gained the philosophy

“Fuck the world and everyone in it”

I began fighting constant battles and wars with passing

Days, weeks and months

And soon to become years

Fighting for the present to become the past

Pleading with these days not to last

Longing for a past known innocence

I began to gaze into the eyes of the

Young and naive

And I met a non familiar friend named


That grew in my heart

And I continued to grow and learn as my innocence continued to be torn apart

And so, do you get me now

Do you understand the words that I speak

Because I told you before

I need you

To understand