Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 1



Maya Sheppard


Black Girl Magic

In America, you don’t exist.
You don’t fit within your own race—

blacks are painted with different shades
like the split taste of Twix.


A LightSkin stares into his eyes,
he steps back and watches your dark chocolate skin melt,
he looks down and say words that made his throat ache—

“You’re too dark for me.”

Just like that your self-esteem vanishes,
your smile crumbles.

You whisper, “I hope your future
daughter’s complexion isn’t seen in vain.

Walking away you hold your head up high,
as you fall into a billion pieces.
You’ve never seen your skin as hideous for mankind—

Your ma always said, “You was created by honey
with chocolate. Your black girl magic excels.”




Poisonous Beauty

Though her dark skin glows,
she prays to God for lighter skin,
and admires the deadly bleach.

She drags it along the white tile
as her tears create waterfalls.
She does not see her beauty as unique.

Pouring the poison in the tub,
the chemicals churn through the air.
She has forgotten she has to breathe.

She stares at her reflection,
screaming at The Man upstairs,
slamming her fist into the glass—
watching the shattered pieces pierce the skin.

She slides into the tub of poison,
the burning of skin is tolerable,
but gasping for air is impossible.

The forced LightSkin is wheezing—
she grips the sides of the tub.

Closing her eyes one last time,
she’ll never get to see the better product,
her black girl magic floats away in all that chemical.


Maya Sheppard: "I am a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University, with a Creative Writing Major and a minor of Literature. I am from the city of White Oak, Texas."




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