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Just a Woman

By Nailah Starks, Dillard University

A woman, I have become

a child with no morals.

How can you spell beauty without the ‘but’?

I have chased mountains and cried rainstorms to be seen-

to be heard.

My identity died with him and my innocence behind bars like she.

And as a gift of my fleshly desires, I have another looking up at me.

I had promised to change, but I guess I’m a liar.

And you, like everyone else will do nothing but hang your head and leave me.

All my life I’ve been called pretty and beautiful but-.

That’s always the catch. Always the insecurity. Always the fear-the bad part.

I’ve searched forever for a love to fill this void but like my sister pouring her scorching spaghetti noodles in a strainer, only pain and regret poured over.

Why should I suppress and condemn my desires to be stimulated to small talk about cars, sports, and sex?

My voice-never expected to be used.

I suppose like a girl I am meant to be seen and not heard-


I am tired of holding my truths in the depths of my soul-my spirit is up in flames.

Why should I keep silent about the dysfunctions that come from home especially in the black community and the effects that it has on our psyche?

Why should I have no opinion about the exonerated 5, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, or black boys and their flamboyant dreads?

Why should I mask my opinions about number 45 or the ideals society has forced down our throats like a pill to solve all our problems?

Why should I hide my problems?

Why should I ignore my fears and my hurt feelings and my fallen faith and my half ass smile?

Why should I but why do I stand so boldly in the face of others yet break down as soon as the night waves goodbye and there is no one but me left on the dance floor?

Why should I ignore the fact that we’re all lost and that some are just better pretenders, masters of “keeping it real” if you may?

Why should I ignore the fact that we’re all statistics and my story is not that of my own?

Why should I continue to be in love with a boy who hates me and a man who’s emotionally deceased? Why should I chase what I feel is lost if God not meant it to be a gain?

Am I not a growing woman? Worthy to be seen and heard, loved and respected, kept and desired?

Am I not that of a woman

“but” only?

A woman but loud

A woman but weak

A woman but simple

A woman but easy

A woman but an attitude

A woman but daddy issues

A woman but trust issues

A woman but family issues

A woman but clingy

A woman but petty

A woman but untrustworthy

A woman but angry

A woman but spiteful

A woman but unfocused

A woman but crazy

A woman but skinny

A woman but ugly

A woman but unkempt

A woman but no common sense

A woman but low self esteem

For am I not that of a woman

deserving to be just a woman

with no “buts”?

About the Author

Nailah Starks is a 20-year old Sophomore English major at Dillard University with a vision to become a successful teacher and writer. Her poetry has been published in the 2019 and 2020 Appelley Rising Stars collection as well as the 2020 Upon Arrival anthology by Eber and Wein Publishing. She also has her own blog, Praying Girl, and her own business, N&N Charms. Nailah's personal mission statement is to educate, influence, transform, and inspire people who face adversity through her writings and personal experiences.

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