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Posted in Poetry

“I Believed” by Cortney Joseph

All because I believed I could,

I flew far beyond my wildest dreams,

And conquered a world I’d once feared.

 

All because I believed I could,

I pushed myself far beyond my limits,

And paved a way for me to

Exceed far beyond my imagination.

 

I believed I could,

And I did.

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Posted in Monthly Playlist, Music

July 2018 [Monthly Playlist]

I’ve said it once before, and I’ll continue to say it; it has become so hard in this day and age to find and pick out good, quality music. Certainly, a good turn up or ratchet song is okay. I’ll be the first to admit that Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy gives me LIFE. However, I feel that a lot of today’s music is missing heart, substance, and the magic that made hits of yesteryear timeless.

Let’s be real; there are so many songs out now, over-saturating the radio that we will NOT hear ten years from now. Some of the lyrics hold no weight behind them, and all you’re left with is a beat that’s either completely similar to another, or sampled in hopes of gaining the same success off of a past hit.

It has become a bit of a task, lately, to find songs in recent years that I genuinely like or enjoy when I hear them. For July’s playlist, I decided to highlight just a few that have managed to catch my attention. Some with great vocals, some that are just okay. Some with outstanding lyrics, some that are just catchy and match perfectly with the beat they’re over. I hope that you enjoy them just as much as I do.

 

 

Posted in Short Story

Last Day by Cortney Joseph

I’ve been confined to small spaces and four walls for as long as I can remember. Trapped, struggling to free myself as I navigate my way through what are supposed to be some of the best moments of my life.

No one, and I do mean no one, has cried as much as I’ve cried in these long, drawn out, twenty-six years of life. No one, and I do mean no one, has felt or understood or come to know pain the way I have. It thrives when I’m at my highest, sitting back, waiting to drag me down to the pits of sorrow and depression; waiting to laugh and taunt, show me that I have been and will always be a nothing and a nobody in this world.

It’s a wonder I’ve never tried to end it all before now.

 

Sitting in my little cell; a normally bright bedroom darkened with the aid of all lights shut off, and all shades closed. Stuffy, hot; smothering me as I try to find one good reason to stick around for another year… another month, week, day, hour, minute or second.

Wondering when things will change for the better, and when life will finally start offering me the things that I’ve worked so hard for; a few of the things I want and need most, what I truly deserve.

I used to believe that it couldn’t be all dark days. I couldn’t spend more than ten minutes shedding tears, screaming from the very bottom of my soul, asking to be relieved of pain I shouldn’t feel.

But, here I am … day number one hundred and ten, hour number twenty-two. Lying on the floor, screaming at the top of my lungs as tears fall. Head pounding, eyes burning, and someone beating on the door trying to figure out if I’ve simply injured myself or if I’ve finally lost my mind fully.

 

Of course, I pull myself together when the time permits, and I gather my things and make an exit as if all is fine. But in truth; I’m tired, exhausted… and this time, a short nap that I’m sure will be suggested won’t be enough to cure what I’m feeling.

The final straw has been broken, the last nerve has been tapped; and I feel as though, if I don’t pull myself away now, I’ll be in pain for the rest of my life.

Who’d want a life of pain and torture?

Not I.

 

 

After showering, I grabbed one of the many notebooks I kept on hand, a pen, and my backpack before slipping into a pair of shoes. I grabbed a black jacket and walked out of my bedroom without a second thought.

Though I heard those living in my home talking, laughing and joking; I didn’t bother turning around to say goodbye. Didn’t even make it known that I was gone.

I closed the door, locked it, and made my journey down the street.

 

Before long, I was two blocks away, sitting at the bus stop waiting. People watching. I could see one of the many mothers of the hood; yelling and screaming as their kids, stair steppers, ran away yelling and screaming about what they were and weren’t going to do. The words ‘bitch’, ‘ass’, and ‘motherfucker’ flying around as it was typical to scream those things to two, three, and four-year-olds… and not a single person sitting on their doorstep or driveway bothering to step in and teach the young mother a better way to handle her children.

Though I wanted to say something; it simply wasn’t my business. Besides, I’d be sort of a hypocrite. Running away to escape being told how to live my life, running away to escape being told that I mean nothing, and care for no one but myself… just to tell someone else how to live theirs, or how to run their own child’s life.

It wasn’t my business, and I went about minding my own by opening my notebook, pushing the button on my pen down. I began writing the first thing that came to mind.

My final poem. Instead of forcing something, I simply let my words flow. Whatever came out, that would just be it. If it was liked; fine, and if not, that was fine too. Wouldn’t matter; I wouldn’t be around to find out what people thought.

About twenty minutes passed before a bus finally showed up. Paying my fair and speaking as the driver spoke to me, I made my way all the way to the back and sat by myself. Writing again, this time, three letters. One, to the man I loved most, and one each for the two women I loved most.

I tried to keep it upbeat and positive, but feeling the way I felt; the truth slipped out through every word.

 

Making it to my best friend’s house, eventually, I pushed my notebook into my backpack, and took a deep breath before knocking. A few seconds passed and she opened the door, smiling wide before she pulled me into a big hug.

It’s been so long since we’ve seen one another, and for half a second I felt guilty for what I was coming to see her for.

“I wish you would have called me. I would have taken off work and we could have hung out tonight.”

I shook my head, clearing my throat as I took a seat on her couch. Not wanting to take up much of her time, I decided to get straight to the point. “Sorry, but you know I hate going out anyway.”

“Well, it could have been just you and I. We would have found something to do. Could have had some drinks; mercilessly tease and lead on some drunk men trying to be our sugar daddies.”

I smirked, shaking my head as I looked down at my hands. “Nah, I just came to ask a favor. I hope it’s one that you won’t mind doing for me.”

She looked at me, I guess confused by the sad and despondent look on my face. Usually, when we were around one another, I could throw on a smile; fake the funk, and make it through a decent day or night before retreating to the center of my bed to cry the remainder of my time.

But not now, not today.

 

I wiped away the few tears that slid down my face, asking the one thing I never believed I’d be able to ask her for. “Even though you still joke around from time to time, you’re the saved one. You know how God, grace, and his favor works.”

She nodded, clearing her throat as she sat beside me. “I do.”

“And because I know he’ll listen to you; I was hoping that you’d say a prayer for me. I uh, I kind of need some type of sign or guidance before the end of the day, and I know that He never hears me when I ask for myself.”

“He does hear you. And he answers, when he feels you’re ready to handle whatever you’re asking for.”

I gave a tiny smirk. “I wish that were true. But please, will you pray for me, pray on my behalf.”

She nodded. “Of course I will.”

She took my hands in hers and I bowed my head, closing my eyes.

 

 

Leaving my best friend’s house an hour later, I opted to take a walk. By now, my phone had been ringing back to back. Sometimes I’d send the callers straight to voicemail, other times I’d just let it ring. Even cut my phone off for about an hour before I finally cut it on just to check the time. They were still calling.

I didn’t want to talk. Because I knew what each conversation would be.

Where are you? I’m coming to get you.

Why would you do that?! You’re such a selfish bitch. You don’t care about nobody but yourself.

You are loved! You are wanted! You are needed!

I’m glad you’re gone, stay gone. You needed to get your bum ass out anyway. You don’t do shit.

Again, nothing that I wanted to hear over and over until I got to the point of crying again. I was doing enough of that; bursting into random tears each time I passed some child that was lucky enough to still have their mother in their life. Bursting into random tears each time I saw some mother loving on and caring for their child the way I always wished I’d been taken care of.

 

Walking past a community center, I took a moment to stop and walk inside. I noticed that there was a large bulletin board, one that seemed as if it were free for anyone to post things. There were job notifications, missing posters, and so much more. Grabbing one of the tacks sitting in the tray up under the board, I pulled the poem I’d written out of my notebook, after quickly pulling it from my bag, and posted it to the board.

I read over it for half a second before signing the bottom and walking out.

After that, I went wherever my legs took me, before finally catching a bus back to my own city. Stopping at my mother’s grave, to have one last conversation with her, I found a small bench in one of the BREC parks and took a seat, folded my arms across my chest as I watched the sun set.

It was beautiful. An array of colors blending as the temperature dropped a little more. The wind blew around me, kissing my cheeks every so often before taking it’s time to blow my hair in various directions. People passed by in quick succession, some speaking and others nodding as they went on their way, hurrying to whatever great things they must have had going on in their lives.

I sat on that bench for hours, well past nine p.m. before I finally answered my phone and let one person, and one person only, know that I would be home soon.

 

 

Walking through the door, I was immediately met with stares, harsh words, questions, and everything else I wanted to avoid.

“Excuse me, where are you going?”

“To the bathroom.”

“No! Bring your ass back here. You’ve been gone since early this morning; ignoring calls, avoiding people, and you think you’re just about to waltz in here like everything is fine? You’ve got some explaining to do!”

I sighed, turning to face the aunt that was speaking to me. “Fine, what do you want to know?”

“Where the hell were you?!”

I shrugged my shoulders, looking at all of my family members. Individuals whom I couldn’t even remember the last time they asked about me, asked what I was doing with myself, or supported any part of the dream I was chasing blindly for so long with no results. They were all waiting for an answer, probably expecting me to give something stupid or half-assed. I decided to tell the truth. “Where was I?”

“Yes!”

“I was waiting to die.” I excused myself, heading straight for the bathroom. I set my bag down on the side of the tub, digging in and pulling out those three letters I’d written. Then, I removed my jacket and stripped down to nothing but my bra and panties. Placing the notes in different places, I took a deep breath before turning on the faucet in the sink, clearing my throat as I took one last look at myself in the mirror.

I was hideous; looked exhausted and haggard. I bent down, scooping up a bit of water into my hands before I splashed it on my face. For some reason, I thought that might snap me out of whatever this bad feeling was. As soon as I turned the faucet off, I could hear some of my family members arguing from the living room.

Of course, they were trying to place blame. Who would make me feel this way? Why would I fake something like this? What type of help could they get me? I just need to eat and go to bed and I’ll be just fine.

As usual, never anyone checking on me. Actually seeing about ME.

It was decided, I was doing the right thing.

 

Grabbing the knife that we kept in the bathroom to open boxes or cartons, I bit down on my bottom lip before taking a seat on the floor. My back was to the wall, feet pressed against the side of the tub. Though the bathroom was as plain as day; to me, it was another jail cell.

Small walls, confined, trapping me. I could walk out, and face more questions and opinions that no one asked for. I could walk out, and be sent back to therapy or be put on harsher medications.

I could walk out, and be judged, tortured, and made to feel like a mistake for the rest of my life.

I didn’t want that.

I quickly leaned forward and grabbed my bag, pulling out my notebook and pen. I wrote out a full list of my accomplishments, underlining at the very bottom, after writing in bold print that NONE of those things had ever been enough. Then, I wrote one last note, printed largely to make sure the point wasn’t missed. Sliding it under the door, just a little, I cleared my throat and tossed my bag into the tub before leaning back against the wall.

And then, one wrist at a time, I brought an end to twenty-six years of pain, grief, struggle, and abuse.

Sliding down, until my back was against the floor and I could only feel the large mass of my hair separating me from the cold tiles, I closed my eyes and thought about my last day.

I ran away one last time, traveled around a city I’d lived in all of my life but had never seen in full, spoken to the one girl who’s believed in me for over ten years, spoke to the one woman I wished I hadn’t lost over twenty years before I could even get to know her. I’d told my father I loved him, and wrote what I felt is surely the best poem I’ve ever written in my life. Sad that it only came at the very end. I hadn’t eaten, had only drank one glass of orange juice, and gave one of my most prized possessions to a little girl who’d stopped by the bench and told me that she dreamed of being a writer one day. She told me a story, and I told her that she’d be wonderful, far greater than me.

Then, my last thought came to mind. What I’d written in that note that I slid under the door.

 

Now I won’t be a burden, and you won’t have to pretend that I matter or play such an important role in your lives.

Now I won’t have to throw on fake smiles anytime you come around; and now, I will no longer be severely depressed or have to struggle searching for happiness that will never come.

To those who loved me at some point, thanks. To those who couldn’t wait to see me go; you’re welcome.

Goodbye.

 

Soon to be forgotten, X.

Posted in Poetry

“Before The Sunshine” Is Here!

After much procrastination and a short delay, I am proud to announce that volume ONE of two in my #Moods Series, Before The Sunshine, is now available for sale!

Sold directly through Amazon.com with no third-party sellers, this short poetry collection is available for $7.

As is all of my work, Before The Sunshine is a labor of love and a complete piece of my heart and soul, gifted from me to whomever should decide to take a look.

______________

Before_The_Sunshine_Cover_for_Kindle (1)

Before The Sunshine is a small collection of poetry showcasing emotional poems and feelings long hidden by Cortney. Volume one of two in her #Moods series, Before The Sunshine represents the downs of a young woman trying to find happiness and peace in her life.

Be sure to grab your copy today!!

Share your thoughts with me via twitter, @MyPenWritesNice or @WrittenByCort using the hashtag #B4TheSunshine.

You can also let me know what you think via my facebook page. I’d love to hear all thoughts!

I can’t begin to express how glad I am to have finally have this work completed and out in the world. Volume two, After The Rain will be here before we know it.

Posted in Short Story

Little Green Apples by Cortney Joseph

They were in his father’s apple orchard. Vibrant shades of green all around, providing a cooling amount of shade on a scorching summer day. A dainty hand lifted itself to pick of the fruit, a smile dancing across lightly glossed lips as she waited for a response. Time seemed to move a little too fast, and she wondered if he’d felt the quickness too.

He could only stare, admiring the way her skin glistened beneath the sunlight that forced its way through the leaves. The droplets of light kissed her bare shoulders the way he wished he could, gently with each slow move she made as they walked a straight line and filled baskets.

A hand placed at the small of her back, she froze at the chill that ran down her spine. Turning to face him, she smiled. Instantly lost in the beauty of his bright blue eyes.

“Am I only here to pick apples today, Liam? Or did you have other things in mind?”

 

Liam shook his head, tucking tufts of his curly blonde hair behind his ear. “This just seems to be the only way we can be around one another, without watchful eyes, to enjoy ourselves. Sucks not having a car; otherwise, I could take you all over the world for more fun.”

“What bit of it there is outside of Hollygrove, right?”

He nodded, shoving his hands into his pockets. Sweat was forming in his palms, his nervousness becoming far too evident. Liam chose to hide it, forcing a question that had been on his mind for quite some time. “Imani, I want to ask you something.” Moving to the next tree, she asked him to go on while she picked a few more apples. “How come you always leave at the end of the summer while your parents live here year-round? Don’t you ever miss them?”

“I still hear from them too often to actually miss them.”

“Ever miss Hollygrove?”

She stood still for a moment, taking the time to think before she answered his question. It was something she’d never focused on, something no one had ever bothered to ask her. Not her parents, not her guardians back home, and not the few people who knew of her summer trips and excursions.

She answered honestly. “I miss absolutely nothing about this place. Not the heat or the bugs, not the airs I have to put on when I’m here, the friends I am forced to associate with to keep appearances. Certainly not the country club. Nothing.” Liam lowered his head, and at that moment, Imani realized how harsh her words must have sounded. She dropped the apple she’d just picked into the basket beside her and turned to Liam, smiling. “Except for you. I always miss you. When the school year ends, and I know where my summer is going to be spent, you’re the first thing on my mind. The only thing that gets me excited to come here.”

“Ahh, Imani, you’re just saying that.”

Without warning, she threw her arms around Liam, holding on to him tightly until he returned the gesture and affection with a comforting embrace. He cared for Imani deeply, felt relief that she cared for him too. “I mean it. And I’m going to miss you, but I don’t want to dwell on it because I don’t want to cry.”

 

Imani pulled away, adjusting her top as she looked around aimlessly, her brown eyes landing on the bit of the sky that peeked through the trees. “And why dwell on it and think about it now? We’ve still got all afternoon to spend together before we have to get on with the hard part. No use in thinking about sad goodbyes right now.”

They were alone in the orchard, nothing to be heard but the sounds of a few birds tweeting and fluttering overhead. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Looking down at his watch, Liam took a deep breath. “Want to go somewhere else, find something to get into? Maybe we can meet up with Austin and Makenzie. I know how quickly you get bored being in one place for a long period.”

Imani shook her head, making an admission she’d kept to herself for many summers. “No, I like it here with just you and me. I like being around you, without others, because nothing is forced. Things are never weird or awkward. We can laugh and chat away about any and everything, or we can just chill while doing and saying nothing at all. I like the comfort I feel, that we can be bored together and still somehow have the best times. I like that this has become our thing. I enjoy your company, the safe spaces you create for us to be free. Most importantly, I’m not ready to share my best friend with anyone else. Not while I still have time to keep you all to myself. If that’s okay with you.”

Throwing his arm over her shoulder, Liam planted a kiss on Imani’s cheek. “Perfect.”

 

The remainder of their afternoon was spent in bliss and contentment. Their time in the orchard ended, to be followed immediately with a playful swim at a lake only they knew about, hidden away from the prim and proper surroundings of the gated community their parents loved so much. Away from the eyes and negative energy of those that didn’t approve of their relationship in the first place.

When that concluded, they lay beneath the setting sun, lightly swatting away the few bugs that dared to flit around them as they talked about everything and nothing.

When she returned to her parents’ home, Imani was greeted with packed bags sitting beside the front door. They were lively, oblivious to the lack of excitement in her eyes. Walking into the living room, she spoke softly as her mother and father shared an embrace, dancing with one another the way they did every evening. Their love and zest for their life evident and sickening to the sixteen-year-old that stood before them. “Celebrating early, huh?”

“Don’t start that, Imani.” She threw her hands up, taking a seat on the couch as she watched them sway back and forth. She recognized the song playing as her mother’s favorite Nat King Cole standard.

“I just think it’s a mighty big coincidence that you’re busy all summer long, and then the night before I leave to go home, suddenly, you have all the time in the world to laugh and enjoy life. Must be great to get the kid out of your hair.”

Candice sighed lightly, slipping out of her husband’s arms. “Now you know better than that, Imani. There’s no place we’d rather you be than here with us. But we want you to have the absolute best in everything, and that includes education. As great as Hollygrove is for the wealthy, their school system is not one of the best. We kept you at St. Croix because they have the best teachers, the best programs, top rated…”

“Yeah, you’ve explained it all already, Mom. It’s fine.” It wasn’t. However, at this point in her life, Imani had learned that there was absolutely no use in arguing back and forth with her mother. A woman who made up her mind the first time, and kept it made up for all eternity. Her father, though she adored him, simply shelled out the money and Imani had yet to be able to step to him without him offering a raise in her allowance as a solution.

 

Kirk looked at his young daughter, pained to see anything other than the bright and beautiful smile Imani usually wore. Taking a seat beside her, he waited patiently for her to move into his open arms, holding her close as he spoke. “I know it’s not easy, but before you know it, you’ll be back with us. How about next summer we take a family trip?”

Candice perked up, nodding her head in agreement. “Yes! I bet you still want to go to Paris. It’ll be an awesome trip before your senior year, and you’ll have so much to tell all the girls at St. Croix.”

“I don’t even like them, but sure.”

Candice continued, brimming with excitement as plans formulated in her mind. “In fact, we can spend the whole summer traveling around Europe. Lots of food, lots of shopping, the arts and theater. How’s that sound?”

Imani shrugged her shoulders, wiggling out of her father’s grasp before she stood. “How can I object? You’ll think something’s wrong with me if I do.” She headed upstairs to wash up.

Dinner was short, to her relief, and she made the first excuse she could think of to avoid last minute family time.

 

Imani rushed to her room, locking the door so that neither of her parents would barge in unannounced. She set an easy atmosphere for herself within her personal space, throwing on a pair of shorts and an old hockey jersey after a long shower. Lying back on her bed, her box braids dangling over the side, she stared at the ceiling, wondering if Liam were thinking of her too.

As she did at the end of every summer, she wished she’d gathered the nerve to tell him everything she felt for him. The things that went beyond what she knew best friends should feel for one another. And at the same time, she thought they may have not been meant to be anything more than what they were.

Just as she felt herself dozing off, lightly humming along to the song playing from her stereo, her phone began to ring. Looking over at her nightstand, the lights flashed throughout the clear receiver and it’s base. Turning on her stomach, she reached over and took the phone off the hook, placing it to her ear a moment later.

Her voice was soft, fatigue dripping through the single word she spoke. “Hello?”

“I don’t think that last goodbye was good enough. I think we should keep talking until the very last minute possible.”

A smile spread across her face as she twisted the phone cord around her fingers, lying back as she shook off her sleepiness, jumping into another conversation with Liam. They’d say all they had to say now, Imani would make sure of it.