The Babel of My Yearning by Taj Burroughs


Pretty/ Skinny/ Black/ Boys 

Who called you a beauty? 

Took the sun from the sky 

Placed it on your head 

Called you a king 

Idolized the lining of your chest 

Kissed the swaying of your hips 

Praised the tightness of your skin 

Could they find me too? 

Swathe me in the fabrics of your splendor Tip me in the remains of your makings 

Make me the ninth wonder of this world For you are the eighth 

Pretty/ Skinny/ Black/ Boys 

Who I prayed to see in my mirror 

Took my marks and stretch them around my waist

Pulled tight to form the desires of my lovers

Is there enough space? 

To squeeze myself into the image of mastered beauty

Trade myself for a chance to be loved 

Would I be good enough? 

To hear my name said softly 

To dance to the depth of your tone 

To feel a blessing trickle down my spine

To be kissed 

O, how I want to be kissed 

Pretty/ Skinny/ Black/ Boys 

Who I’ve cried to someday be 

I hope my brother thinks he’s beautiful 

And the arch of his bean bellied body 

And the wideness of his walk 

And the softness of his rolls 

And the melodies in his breath 

And the joy in his jiggle

And the wonder in his waddle 

And the Beauty in his smile 

When I look at him 

I begin to cry 

“Protect him from his reflection” 


Little plump boys deserve loving reflections

Don’t they?

A Love Poem for Black 

I watched as he gave way to Midnight Voyagers

and their exploration to find the sweet spot

leading them through dark grass and angry trees

to his Cross 

Their hands rough (rope around his neck) 

Their eyes strained (reflect raging fathers) 

Their sweat runs (taste like a child’s mourn)

Each thrust, fucks away the shame 

And before the tongue sibilantly slips to its natural form

They stiffen, to protect their image of a man

Purloin Black of his right to escape the bench special

And keep him for another night 

to melt underneath the still heat of a streetlight 

He deserves a love poem 

Give him a love poem 

One to accentuate his curves 

One to awe at in passing reflections 

One to moisturize his curls 

And stun all the girls 

He deserves a love poem 

Give him a love poem 

One he can sing aloud 

like prayers 

that even God stops to revel in 

One to make his lips twist and his toes bunch

One he can dance to 

down to the bone 

One to drink warm, in a bitter place 

He deserves a love poem 

Give him a love poem 

One to listen to 

when hearing becomes memory 

One to pen in the palms of his hands 

Clasps them as he bows to his newfound beauty

One to quilt 

One to mound to his back

One to carve into every park bench men have made their holy ground 

He deserves a love poem 

Give. Him. A. Love. Poem 

To show his momma how it fits 

To make his daddy cry 

To leave shameful love in the closets they hide 

And be held by this strange type of something 

Only heard in pieces 

To place at the altar 

Praise it ‘til the day he dies 

He deserves a love poem 

Give him a love poem 

A love poem for Black

 Chasin’ Butterflies 

the feeling is exhaustin’ 

chasin’ the same butterflies since I was a child 

hopin’ it rest easy in my palms

hopin’ it touch me like a friend, like a lover ask me about my shortcomings 

why my hair was so dry 

why my nails nubbed 

why I spoke, angered, at my own sound 

about my battle wounds and what they’ve become of me

hopin’ it flutter away with all my pain 

use it as a palette 

to tinge its wings 

as a child, i was told when a butterfly rests beside you

it meant you were a special type of somethin’

that nature named you its vessel 

that God trusted you with the most delicate of life

so i prayed for butterflies to come 

and for them to bring their meaning 

the feeling is exhaustin’ 

chasin’ the same butterflies since I was a child

ritually proving my worth through silence 

finding better words than truth 

not wasting time on process 

but rather avoiding exile 

through that pretty healin’ 

healin’ ain’t pretty 

chasin’ butterflies ain’t pretty 

it ain’t paintin’ canvases on sunday mornings

/ it ain’t reading on mastering yourself 

/ it ain’t dancin’ like white women in your living room

/ it ain’t running a mile 

/ it ain’t overpriced yoga classes 

/it ain’t face masks 

/ it ain’t touchin’ myself 

/ it ain’t fuckin’ 

/it ain’t eatin’ or prayin’ or lovin’ 

chasin’ butterflies looks a lot like 


and grieving 

and hating yourself enough that others don’t have to

it’s leaving room for pity to comfort you

it’s old photographs 

it’s the left and right sides of your bed starting and ending your days

it’s returning to childhood couches you thought you’ve outgrown 

chasin’ butterflies 

is buildin’ a home 

over and over again 

watching your walls lean into yearning before it gives way

it’s burning all your burdens and the houses they reside

it’s trading in love for attention 

the kind of attention 

where he doesn’t even know the color of your eyes 

the kind of attention 

heard from silent car rides in the dark 

the kind of attention 

where he just takes from you 

as you go back every time his headlights call you to the door 

chasin’ butterflies 

is someone else thievein’ your kisses 

thievein’ your beauty 

the one you could’ve sworn belonged to you 

the one you thought fit you so well 

chasin’ butterflies 

is being paralyzed 

calling it stillness 

being abandoned 

calling it migration 

it’s being scared to go back to new york 

it’s being scared to move 

it’s being scared 

the feeling is exhaustin’ 

chasin’ the same butterflies since I was a child 

hopin’ it rest easy in my palms 

hopin’ it ask me how hot the sun was 

hopin’ it take me to a garden that i could dream in 

not a garden but a heaven 

a heaven where I don’t have to chase butterflies 

where they’d just rest

and i can too

Taj Burroughs (he/him/his) is a young Black, queer, plus-sized artist from the streets of Queens, New York. The poet, actor, creative is currently earning his BFA in acting at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Taj believes in the power of the pen and the deep connection it has to healing, ancestry and spirituality. He’s learning new ways to love himself and lead a healthy life everyday. You can follow his journey on instagram @tajburroughs 

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