• Call + Response

Two Poems by Lisa Holden

"Untitled" and "Crown" by Lisa Holden


I feel weird, strange even.

What is it that I’m looking for?

Is it intimacy?

It didn’t use to be intimacy.

It used to be adrenaline, excitement, a story you tell your friends with a sly smile, a giggle, and a sigh

The stories kept me company at night, not a body, and unlike a body they wouldn’t leave me in the morning. But, at some point that changed.

Stories became as fleeting as bodies, and I sought to find warmth in someone instead of the delight of deviance.

I became weak

I became vulnerable.

So much so that I continue to write these small mental inventories well after my vulnerability has been exploited and preyed upon. I find myself in between missing the excitement of nightly excursions and wanting to find a home within someone.

But maybe homes aren’t meant to be found

Maybe they’re meant to be built.

I’ve dulled my tools with too many fixer-uppers and my materials have weakened with time.

Maybe we all aren’t meant to have homes, and I should continue laying my head somewhere new every night.


Unwilling to build.

Unwilling to settle.


He said he likes when I wear my hair out

The kinks and coils wrap around and in between his fingers, entangling him I know, entangling us I hope

4C can stand for many things

Care, caresses, calls in the middle of the night, commitment?

Maybe it stands for less than I thought

When he looks upon my crown he calls me African Queen

But you’d show reverence to a queen, you’d die for your queen, you’d love your queen

Besides, I’ve never even been to Africa

He rubs my skin at night

Appreciating the browns, the yellows, the mahogany

If only he could see the blue

Or the green when I glance down at his screensaver covered with loose curls, light eyes, and the abundance of ever-exposed pale skin

I wonder what queendom she rules over in Africa

My dominion starts from the door and ends in his bed

As time goes on, I tire of his kinks and he tires of my coils

My skin, like his disposition, is too dark

My crown turned to thorns

I am exiled from my queendom

My royal name stripped

I am no longer African Queen, but instead black bitch

My thrown usurped

But my crown never falls

Lisa Holden is a poetry and prose writer currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has poetry published in Unapologetic Magazine. The Temple University alum continues to navigate the topics of blackness, womanhood, mental health, and love through her writing.