Ayanna Owens


she entered the world early 
birthed years before the date 
her eyes painted wide to the beauty and disparity of the world 
she is beautiful in a twisted way 
sort of like a china doll 
her kind face a stark contrast to the storm raging in her mind she speaks of traumas and evils 
to protect those she loves 
yet they diagnosed her saying 

you are psychotic 

you are wild 

you are not normal 

she used to cower 
but it was too hard 
keeping her growing intelligence inside 
they saw her as a threat to society 
and maybe she was 
For they knew she was more than life 
she is the universe boiled down to a drop 
a silver tear that ran down the face of the
purest and into the mouth of those with ill

she writes letters to her lingering dreams 
her world in the very ink she uses 
she yearns for someone to share with 
yet when she opens her mouth to ask 
poison is injected under her skin 
they trap her in the prison 
bound by spoken words and harm 
those only entrapping her because of fear
her beautifully destroyed soul 
sings for help 
a melody the wicked disregards 
a melody that only those born 
from the liquid of the universe 
can sing to 
that beautifully broken girl 
who searches but never finds 

that beautiful broken girl 
who loves so much 
yet with one word can shatter your heart 
and with one smile the storm 
raging inside her 
seems to pause 
with one smile from her 
the world stops in the middle of a rainstorm 
in the middle of tragedy 
everything seems to stop 
to get a glance at her earth shattering beauty 

if only they heard your plea 
if only they knew what crashed beneath your
beauty what internal battles you lost 
if only they knew the intricate design of her small
body everyday shoving compliments down her
but it is never enough 
she tries 
she tries to laugh 
and smile with them 
she tries to calm her stormy eyes 
and balance her sharp cheekbones with her glossy
forehead but they don’t love her 
or know her 
yet she tries 

that beautiful broken girl 
is at the precipice now 
debating if she should let the waves crash over her
so she falls into the abyss 
not knowing what pain would follow 
It is easier than opening her eyes to such a 

she tried and she is numb now 
every cut penetrating her skin 
every thought floating the sea of emotion 

makes her cower 

my poor baby is tired, my poor baby tiger ♥︎ 


as the years went by 
my skin faded 
slowly at first then rapidly 
all because i understood 
what they meant 
my mouth full of is nots instead of aints 
discussing books instead of rap 
refusing to fill my mouth with the foul, bitter water 
they drank 
with every refusal, discussion, and correction 
my brown skin slowly turned pale 
my “friends” even helped peel my brown skin away 
they promised me 
“it will be painless” 
i didn’t realize they meant temporarily 
they pulled and pulled 
i was what they thought 
“white ” 
my eyes loved it too 
the purity 
the innocence 

my hair
burned flat 
turned blonde 

my hobbies 
named me 
my bright green eyes 
dimmed to a glazed blue 

waking up to the pale face 
they said i had 
brushing the curl out of my hair 
and removing the essence of me 
everyday peeling more skin 

yet something changed 
a brown patch of skin grew 

it always happened but 
this time 
i told them to stop peeling it away 
and they left it 
but disregarded me 
as my skin made its return 
i began to embrace 
my big black booty 
my big black lips 
i indulged myself in the hobbies 

they said didn’t align with my blackness i painted 
i painted a galaxy on my skin 
warm with liquid stars disguised as tears i sang 
i sang songs of country love stories and autumn leafs i danced 
and boy, i danced like the world 
was watching 

and i still am
making sure to kiss my beautiful brown skin 
lathering it in rosy oils and perfumes 
but not every day is so beautiful 
when i do cry on those stormy nights 
i blame my skin 
i blame my mind 
i blame my heart 
but the stars shake their head 
and the moon tells me 
that i honor myself every waking moment i am
alive and in those moments i wish i had learned
earlier that my brown skin is mine. 

Tiger Woman Rise 

tiger woman rise 
is what he used to say 
johnny, the only man that could ever love 
the brown skin 
raised in a different country 
the claw marks ran down your lovely thighs 
your smile diminishing 
every time they put you down 
your friends used your beauty to achieve a 
you deserved 
your mom spoke of sorrow and scarred you 
limiting everything you could be 
because of johnny’s people 

they told you, tiger sway your hips to the top 
when he told you to read and love the world 
to take care of the very earth beneath your toes 
where your ancestors were buried but still lived in your soul every word rushing from your mouth 
the very pain that heals you is the same pain that sets you apart yet the very man who you called father silenced you he didn’t care about you, your wellbeing, or your values he let them do it to you 
he let them take the only power you had against the world
he was supposed to love you, but you are a tiger woman not meant to be loved by any mere mortal 

not meant to be loved 


not meant to be kept 


not meant to be safe 


“tiger woman, you are free from any restriction,”
johnny said while painting stars on her thighs 
your stripes paint the universe 
your skin colors the very world 
your potential cannot be determined 
you are not meant to sway your hips 
swallow your spit 
you are meant to shove your heel through that door and 
dominate the very world they control 
to show a love and compassion 
the love and compassion you never received 
to empower other women who were shut down as you were 

tiger woman 
tiger woman 

tiger woman, johnny cried as his blood spilled over the
soil the very soil “johnny’s men” owned 
like a martyr, he left the words freedom 
coated in blood 
after that day you never would forget his
love you would never back down from a
challenge never cower away from sharp
never bow down to anyone 
soon you would conceive his child
and his child would be me 
the mix between the african savannah grass and the georgia
ranches even though i have only heard whispers of you, daddy 
thank you for helping the strongest animal in the forest regain her
voice and in the silence of it all when the soil bloodies again when
color is again seen as a weapon 
i will hear 
tiger woman rise 

The Cracked Bus Window 

she looks at him through the cracked bus window 
as the cool wind kisses his neck 
and the sun caresses his shoulders 
he doesn’t know the eyes that peer past his clothes 
past his skin 
searching for a heart 
searching for the remnants of the past 
that twinkle in his eye 
that smile 
that kindness 
when it’s hard closing her eyes 
she thinks of his embrace 
even wears their secret promise of forever 
as a flag of hope 
love whispers to her whenever he is around 
with its light cooing voice 
she drifts closer to this precipice 
not wanting to fall 
but not wanting to stare 
at the sharp sweet words 
that would pierce her skin at the bottom 
but she looks at him through a cracked bus window 
wondering if he bares anything of hers on him 
hoping her name spelled in ink 
bled through his head 
to fill his mind with love 
but she looked at him through the cracked bus
window and all of a sudden she was the one on the outside 
the cool wind kissed her neck 
the sun caressed her shoulders
and she looks to see 
him staring at her through the cracked bus window. 

Love’s sister 


sleep fought me 
its arms laced with acid thoughts of lingering love and pain 
the cold pillows create an illusion of security 
as a warmth spreads through my limbs 
the dark sings a melody only lonely souls can hear 
And my tears sing along 
as they start their journey down my lips 

the heart connected to the mind 
the mind connected to sorrow 
she is the sister to love, the one who has a grasp on my heart 
as she squeezes my heart, her seeds of doubt are planted in my chest 
my throat burns from the words i never said, 
they itched to fall out of my mouth like a sweet-savory syrup 
so they could fill someone's head with secrets and thoughts 
the thoughts that poison clarity 
the thoughts giving hope to those inevitably heartbroken 
i said what needed to be said 
and he did what he wanted to do 

i close my eyes yet the feeling 
the pain of want, need, sorrow 
why does she choose to torture me when she knows i’ll do anything, 
rip my heart out but save his 
pollute my thoughts with ill intentions and darkness 
yet leave his pure 
remove my personality, dreams, and virtues 
so he may remain with his 
i fell in love with the taste of his flaws and sins
yet mine never appealed to his appetite 
he never dreamed to heal my wounds 
to show me the universe that he looked upon, 

he only left me in the dark 
if only he would have noticed 
that i grow in the light 
i let those eminent words push past my lips 
spilling out like a peaceful stream of water 
but once it touched the cool air, it turned from water to a bitter
wine a poison that only sorrow could understand 
a poison that helped me open my eyes

About the Author: Ayanna Owens is currently in 10th grade and attending North Kansas City Highschool in Missouri. She comes from a family of 7 and they are her everything.  Many times, they are the inspiration for her work and passion. Ayanna also runs a custom painted jeans company and dreams of her New York Penthouse. She wishes to look back at her life in admiration of all the things she has done.