One of the most difficult things I've had to learn, and I'm still learning, is to let go of anger caused by others for whatever reason, if there was even a reason to begin with. Often times, many individuals fail to see how they may have wronged you, particularly the ones most close to us. Personally for me, I've found this is because I've allowed others to do so. I would secretly in my soul hold so much malice and resentment at the negative ways people would treat me until I looked in the mirror and really self-evaluated various aspects of my life.
I was just in the wrong as others for not allowing internal voices to become external projections of disappointment, worthlessness, vulnerability, and self-preservation. Insecurities enabled me to silence myself when deep down, I knew I should be more vocal. I always feared of saying things the wrong way, upsetting others, or ending relationships with people I, overall, did not want to end. However, when you do a disservice to yourself, you're allowing others the opportunity to do such things to you.
Overtime, you'll become depleted from continuously trying to please others. When I speak of pleasing others, I do not particularly say that in a subservient kind of way, but from a subconscious standpoint. From our early years, some of us experienced psychological inception: do unto others in which you wish to be done to you. Most of the times that applies not only when others do not ask you to do so, but  even when we don't experience the same in return. I wholeheartedly agree that one should always practice general kindness and respect for others in the world around them, however the issues transpire when individuals do not understand the definition of reciprocity. There is a difference between doing unto others what you wish to absorb in return: good energy, mutual respect, etc, and allowing others to deplete all of which you worked so tirelessly to create and maintain.
This is not for the people who understand that everyone has their own life and issues and do not overextend themselves into your reserve and deplete all of which you have. It is not for individuals who truly wish for your success and celebrate all of the "minor" triumphants you have. This is for those who always come to you with their problems, always seeking money not to survive but to enjoy life on your dime; who never allow you to express your inner desires in a safe space. You should either voice your concerns in attempts to have desired corrective actions or let the toxicity go before death becomes you. No matter how much you love someone and believe they love you, one can not be so careless with themselves. You are all you have. You only receive one life. Don't allow others to plant seeds in you that you allow to slowly grow into some abonimation. Take the positivity from the past and leave the negative as fragments that are too exhausting to try to piece together. Be more vigilant in the protection of your being. Let go and evolve, because that's what you deserve: the greatest amount of inner peace as possible.
When the reflection in the mirror is that of others, we relenquish the ability to be individuals. We succumb to the darkness of those who wish for our demise. Believing all the lies planted like inception, distorting the dimensions we built and vowed to protect. Failing to acknowledge the greatness that is within. Trying to fit in to spaces that are not meant to be inhabited by the energy we encompass. So afraid to open up the cage because for so long you were told, flight is only a fantasy your wings will never know.
When the refliction embodies all of you and your wildest dreams, you smile and believe. Even when the sky seems to fall or the world never seems to stop. There is hope. You never succumb to the waitlist of others, because you're priority number one. The tenacity that exudes from your pores. Defying the shackles society, the world, trying to bestow upon your existence. You've battled. Lost. Won. Scars to showcase the encounters you've faced upon your never ending journey to evolve into the tangible visions of your dreams. Making yourself the best because waiting is not an option, and you owe it to yourself to be all that you can be.  All the things they said you would never be. All the things you've dreamed.
S H E L L 
I found myself overthrown, re-programmed, and rebooted. Unwarranted upgrades. Now controllable. Capable of being tracked. Operating inside a shell I could no longer control. It was as if I was a passenger on the very airplane I was a pilot for, all my life. Relinquished of my autonomy. I was now property of the people, for the people, and nothing else mattered: not even my own survival.
I coasted along, smiling unintentionally. Even when faced with threats or inequality, this shell only wanted to please people. I screamed frantically from the inside. Yelling all of the reasons why bullying was unacceptable. Screaming how I've earned just as the same as my peers. Yet only fragmented words escaped the automated mouth of the shell, and I was left feeling more helpless than previously before.
The shell endured all of the verbal and physical abuse I probably would have, had it not been for this transplantation. As the days went on, my sorrow grew. Tears streamed my face. I cried for the shell that was carrying hidden cargo. My mind expanded. Confusion increased. Why were there so many people trying to take my happiness from me? My shell? It appeared that the more individuals that lost their own inner light, the more that tried to steal mine. Why make someone else feel the very sorrow you're trying to escape? Why inflict the very pain you're trying to subdue and numb: warping a reality you only dream to escape from?
One day, the sun began to rest from the sky, we proceeded to the power down quarters: a heavily secured place many die trying to escape. Your shell charges and you're "free" to recount the events of the day. In a cell. In hell. Contemplating the risks of staying and being disgusted or taking your chances with the other side of life. They needed to be stopped: the creators of these shells. The people who manage to be let in when we, I, doubt our capabilities.
I plotted. Researched. Drew upon the knowledge I had in my reserves. There had to be a way to re-program myself back to the version I previously was. To regain control. I pondered for hours until it hit me. The very manifestation of the shell is what we believe ourselves to be based on others. Somewhere, somehow, I lost my will to be an individual. To stand in the downpour of toxic rain that was created by the poisonous projections of others with no umbrella. To exist beyond the status-quo and relish in adversity. To be all the things I wished to receive and dared to dream.
I once believed in a system, in people, that only proved to not have my best interest at heart. They never cared about my inner most thoughts nor my success. These individuals mastered the craft of continuously creating inception that only further caused my own self-dismantlement. It's no wonder why the shell took over and I was put on pause. I needed to truly see the world, individuals, for what it was. Not everyone was bad, however, I definitely needed to re-access some personal and professional dynamics.
Certainly, the Lord will guide me, where I need to go. They tried to bring me down but no longer will I lay helplessly on the ground. Surrendering my dreams. Depleting the light within. Standing by as injustice occurs over, and over again. Allowing myself to be easily made the assailant when I'm the victim. No, I'm no longer a victim. Individuals can only take what they won't from you if you let them.
The shell began to de-materialize from my self-proclaimation of returning to who I was, who I was meant to be. Restored with individuality. Reminded that I don't have to be afraid and the darkness will fade for as long as I allow the light to continue to shine, even in the worst of times, I can make it through the rain. No umbrella. With an umbrella. Alone. With Krakens. Try to bring me down and you'll easily find I'll sail out of your reach. Swiftly approaching the distant horizon of your vision because I don't need anymore re-programming or unwarranted "upgrades." I don't need to be in a shell, much less a shell I haven't created. All because others feel I should be what they envision me to be. They already have a life to control, re-program, and upgrade all they want. I'm already limited edition and you will learn to respect it: rather you like it or not.

S C A T T E R E D | S H O W E R S 
I'm all over the place. So many thoughts I can't think straight. Too many desires that are suppressed desperately yearning to be released and explored. Yet I hold myself back. I've always held myself back. Too busy calculating the probability that the negative will overshadow the positive. Wondering if I'll live up to the hype that I didn't even create. I just want to be ME! I've always wanted to be free. Unapologetic. No fucks given. Slap a bitch NOT EVEN a second after they talk slick. But I can never unwind and just let my invisible near floor length hair sway in a breeze of carelessness.
There's always these thoughts.
Swirling, no, tumbling - next level gymnastics in my mind. Exhausting the physical shell that encases so many buried truths of anguish. Yet, until I can no longer withstand staring at the ceiling in darkness, these thoughts continue to bend the laws of quantum physics. What can you do though: when your lost within yourself? A prisoner of the very things you voiced you'd never become? The dark side of the moon with no sight of the sun. The dreams turned nightmare without the ability to wake up.
It's the thoughts that can sometimes spawn doubt. A spiral of self-dissection with no anesthesia to numb the pain. Inch by inch you claw into yourself until there is a desirable end: rather negative or positive. Time, in this space, doesn't obey the normal laws. Within yourself there is no clock ticking, reminding you of priorities, because finding yourself is a timeless journey.
L A D Y | L I B E R T Y 
Lady Liberty: why have they forsaken you? Why have they lied to "Us?" Why do they treat "Us" like we are beneath them? Why do "We" not deserve equality? Why do "We" not deserve a quality education? Why did they create and sustain systems to deny "Us" of becoming the ground breaking individuals we can potentially be: are born to be? Why do they not hear "Our" voice?
Why is it that my voice always seems to come across as "angry?" Do I have a right not to feel angry? Yet when I voice my concerns about feeling unacknowledged, overlooked, underestimated, under-served, or targeted; I'm instantly faced with a fabricated mirror that reflects "I'm the issue." I should be "lucky" that I even made it this far (as if I've made it far) and that I should hold my tongue until asked upon.
Lady Liberty, I've heard that there are safe spaces across the land your arms stretch across, to voice ones opinions or emotions. I've found the spaces remain safe until that opinion or emotion doesn't correlate to the masses as favorable: or if ones existence happens to be found to be abominable. Suddenly you're deemed an enemy of the State. Beneath the scum of the Earth. Undeserving of Lady Liberties love.
Lady Liberty: where did you go? From sea to shining sea, I thought the good would be crowned with brotherhood. Yet the only welcoming received have been stares of disdain. "We" get treated and disrespected with no regard to being fellow human beings. We have to prove we are of value in order to be acknowledged and generally speaking the value only lasts as long as it's needed. Yet it is a land made off the backs of others telling the very descendants of those it enslaved to practically "shut the fuck up and get back to work." 
It's exasperating at this point. Having to constantly fight to be in spaces so many try to keep you out of. They say they're welcoming yet every-time I come around there's nothing but cold shoulders and eyes looking you up and down with expressions of privilege. Yet I'm wrong for wanting the same opportunities: EQUALITY! I've played being nice, meek, passive-aggressive, and experienced my share of micro aggressions, but Lady Liberty, I wish I still believed that you were the beacon of hope and tangible dreams from sea to shining to sea for thousands, millions, of people looking that continue to seek to be free. 
Lady Liberty, it's unacceptable how far downhill things have become. To be low performing is not acceptable. To be careless at what you do, is unacceptable. To be racist, unkind, dishonest: is UNACCEPTABLE. To live off of tax payers money and don't even have the heart to give back to the communities, is unacceptable. Get your shit together Lady Liberty: before you lose more people that once believed in you.
N O  |  L O V E 
Restless with the thoughts of not being good enough. Prisoner of my own mind for it's the only thing that won't tell me how disappointing I may be. I'm perfectly imperfect to myself. Yet no matter how many people alleged to have loved me, it was all a lie wrapped in faulty words. They didn't love me. How could they possibly? Always reminding me of just how flawed I may be. Always reminding me that I'm the monster of their dreams. Evil like the spawn of Hades. A mistake in the making if they so dare to deem. Yet no one sees the things of these eyes: it's always I to blame, for I make a good escape. Temporary on their path. Unsuspecting to the future. A capital suicide discovered as I chose myself over another. You see, while I dare to dream all the things love could be, it just didn't love me. I tried, plenty of times, to be the Prince Charming of reality, but the truth is: I'm just a frog in good clothing. Nothing ever lasts. That has been the only consistent variable in these things that could be inappropriately labeled as a "relationship." The more perplexing thing is that I'm not even upset: I'm just prepared to take my last breath alone wherever I may be found lifeless; wishing secretly love would have loved me. Secretly wishing, why I could never have the one priceless treasure some are so fortunate to discover.
Adonis x Aprhodite: 
The Gender Binary Bender
We are initially taught that masculine and feminine energy are to be opposite, disconnected entities. Boys play with hot wheels, fire trucks, and G.I. Joe. Girls wear pink, play with the timeless Barbie, and have tea parties. The traditional, stereotypical gender norms subconsciously programmed into our mind, which ironically, for the most part, keep the peace for some. For others it can be quite chaotic, destructive, enslaving and deadly.
Some may consider gender nonconforming or transgender people as abominations: things to be taken with disregard. Such thinking and inability to respect others right to exist, causes transgender and gender nonconforming individuals the inability to freely be themselves and even subsequently want to depart from a realm in which they can’t bare. The Trevor Project states: “suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people of ages ten to twenty-four. Also reported is that “suicide attempts by LGBTQ youth are four to six times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment compared to their heterosexual counterparts.” I was one of those youths that desperately tried to escape the darkness with no other solution in mind but suicide.
I’ve been told so many times who I should be, how I should act, how I should dress: all because I wasn’t your stereotypical guy. I tried tirelessly to please those around me and in the process I walked closer to the black hole. Wondering constantly what about myself is so unappealing that the majority of the people around me felt the need to change it? I didn’t even know who I was at the time so how the hell could possibly anyone else know? They knew something though: I was not the standard male. From my physique to my mannerisms, I naturally allowed my masculine and feminine entities to intertwine eventually becoming an unapologetic hybrid of Adonis and Aphrodite.
I know what you may be thinking. “Well why is it so hard to be yourself?” “You should be yourself regardless of what people say or think.” While I can agree with such a statement to a degree it’s not quite as simple. It can be extremely difficult to “be yourself” when you’re a person that is outside of a standard, especially if you’re not in a position to be completely independent. Tell me once more how a fourteen year old gender nonconforming person is suppose to be themselves when doing such can potentially get them kicked out of their place of residence?
As a society we have to keep in mind of the variety amongst us. There are various minds, opinions, energy, and people that inhabit this Earth. I’m sorry to break it to some of you but you are not the sun of the universe. You’re way of life should not oppress and invalidate another individuals despite your beliefs. The unfortunate reality is that it happens more often than not. Yet we fail to not only acknowledge that it happens but how others are traumatized by it. Or are we so numb to the injustices we continuously hear about? Not everyone has the strength to stand on their own against an army. Very rarely do we come already equipped with our swords and shields.
So where do we go from here? How do we make a difference? There are quite a variety of different ways we can do such. From gargantuan to nearly microscopic, the smallest of efforts can make a huge difference to someone seeking to come out of and away from darkness to the light on the other side.  It could bring them hope: A vision of a life where they not only exist but are proud, brave, and fearless. It’s not about a “gay agenda” or the theorized “effeminization of men,” particularly black men. It’s merely getting to a place in our world where we can all acknowledge that despite if you dislike something about someone or disagree with how they chose to live their life, you don’t have to antagonize them or try to destroy them. Try to be sensitive to others. Step outside of your comfort zone to better understand the world around you. Be a positive contributor to society. Share your stories of triumph. Share your failures. Share your evolution. Simply share positivity. The smallest of things can make the biggest of impacts. Ask yourself, as you more concerned with invalidating someone else or becoming the best version of yourself while uplifting others? The choice is and will always be yours to make. 

Writer: Alex N. Wanderland
Graphic Design: Rig'D Branding
P I N K   
P E N T A G R A M S 
For some there is a constant struggle to be same gender loving, so much to the point that some of them even take their life. Led to believe they are abominations, beneath worthless, and undeserving of unconditional love. We’re the “udjat” amongst our heterosexual counterparts: the serpents that slither towards the  Adams and Eves of the world. We are an agenda in which individuals fellowship with the common cause of dismantling the antiquated infrastructure of love. Or so some would like to believe. Which is ironic considering "they" put ramifications on marriage: professing the biblical words of whatever higher power(s) they may believe in: that God created Man and Woman. “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind.” Leviticus 18:22. I wonder if such people look in mirror and how it couldn’t possibly shatter from the darkness they have inside.

How can someone sleep peacefully knowing that they condemn other fellow humankind? How can someone possibly expect to receive spiritual blessings when you cross into the next life by playing a demi-god amongst mortals? Feeling you’re better because you fail to acknowledge that one sin isn’t greater than the other. Hasn’t the oppression lasted long enough? Or could it be you do not know oppression due to your unearned, birth bestowed, privileges?  Unless you’re homosexual, this is an oppression most I've found are uninclined, and uninterested in learning and knowing about. "We" aren't the "All Seeing Eye" plotting and waiting for the right moment for global conquest. It simply boils down to being human: anatomically one in the same. Yet we face ridicule because we don’t have an attraction to the opposite sex. The lack of compassion for humanity seems like that moment when you see dark clouds swirling before the vortex connects to the ground: despair and destruction.
Wanting to be acknowledged as an equal counter part of mankind is not an agenda. I'm still perplexed as to how mankind has advanced in time, but has yet to collectively expand their minds. Why does it matter who a person likes or has sex with? Particularly when the individual is old enough to not only formulate their own opinions and ideas as to how they may wish to live life, but to give verbal sexual consent? 
I encourage individuals to look beyond their own personal beliefs and to honestly and authentically treat each individuals based on how adequately they exhibit basic positive personality traits. I know for some it will be a stretch and/or they may never wish to equate homosexuality to a human being. Regardless, I'm here to tell you: treating someone negatively based solely other assumed or confirmed sexual orientation, is wrong. You can quote the bible. You can quote your mom and father. No matter your logic, you are wrong. It's not your duty nor job to police individuals sexuality.  
It was always a hard time to get you to see beyond the past blurred truths and remove the bandages caused from wondering into the open. You believed you’d never be taken for granted. Cherished for now and forever: Never to become a distant memory or cause for hitting the reset button. It happened: That unforeseen tragedy. That moment was real when tears slid down your cheeks and splashed against the bamboo floor of your soon to be vacant apartment you had together. Reluctantly being cold. Unable to trust even the rays the sun dispersed amongst the globe. You spent most of your life planning for the day you’d finally say “I Do” only to have it stolen because the acknowledgement of your worth was immensely ignored. So now here I am. Ready to lift your spirits. To stand by your side and turn dark skies into flashes of hope. Facing the obstacles no matter how bleak the outcome may be. Not willing to let you be free without knowing that you’re more than the reflection you see in the mirror. It may be hard, seemingly impossible even. If you can have faith I’ll be happy to show you no matter how many times the sky falls or the darkness lurks. I’ll do my best to bring you back to a place where you’re energy is always needed. We can stand tall and face it all together if you so wish to have it. To the moon and back, until my heart beats its last.
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