808s and Heartbreak

I’ve learned how to overcome addiction, how to navigate the
intersections of the criminal justice and mental health systems as a
black man in America, I’ve learned to be self-reliant for my mental
health and the importance of having a strong support network. I’ve
moved to an entirely new state to get away from the demons that chased
me, only to find that no matter where I went, there I was. I struggled
to find acceptance within my various demographic communities and
realized that until I found acceptance within myself, I could never
gain it from external sources.

I volunteered extensively at the
Ballard food bank for several years on and off, I saw how people
became humbled when the capitalism they were so in favor of a few
months ago turned around to bite them in the rump. I was in awe of how
coming to a food bank forced people to swallow their egos in order to
feed their families. That the food they were taking for free was
donated by grocery stores who were ready to throw it out, because it
was so close to expiration.

It made me realize a lot about how
capitalism is an inherently heartless system, about how bottom lines
are always valued before the very lives of people. America is a cold,
heartless place; even more so if you don’t control the means of

I read Bukowski, Vonnegut, Bradbury. I read Heinlein and
Silverstein. I began writing, poetry, profusely. I performed at open
mics and poetry slams for almost four years, and developed some
invaluable friendships that lasted well after I grew to hate
performance poetry.

I moved back home to Somalia and learned to speak
fluent Somali for the first time since my childhood. I learned to read
it and write it and translate documents from English to Somali with
ease. I understood what the cultural context of my Somali background
truly meant to me, how it unwittingly gave me the backbone of my

Even though I was unware of any real sense of self within
me, it existed, but buried beneath countless layers of assimilation
and adaptation. I learned that I could grow to absolutely hate
writing, and not write a single word for years at a time. I also
learned that it was a part of me, and that I would always come back to
it. Like an old friend who you haven’t seen in years, and pick up
right where you left off as if they never left.

I learned that I was
of a lot greater value to my Country than I had imagined. I met and
saw people who barely finished high school overseas helping to
actively change the narrative in Somalia. I realized that being a
bilingual, creative and determined young diaspora returnee gave me a
lot of advantages that I would have never had if we hadn’t fled
Somalia during the civil war.

I realized that trauma, deep seated
childhood trauma, never really leaves you. I learned that some wounds
can be scarred over but completely tender underneath the epidermis. I
learned that old psychological wounds can be easily reopened once you
walk the same scorched earth that you did as a child. I learned that
pain can never be avoided, and that the longer you try to sweep it
under the rug, the more it will hurt when that dam eventually ends up

I learned that love waits for no man, or woman, and that
those who get hurt end up trying to hurt the next partner they come
across. They think that lashing out at someone else will somehow help
them feel better about what the last person did to them. There is too
much backlash and side splash in this world.

There is little, if any,
true love to be seen.

I learned to protect my heart, by any means

I learned that words, no matter how seemingly heartfelt,
are little more than lip service. I learned that trust shouldn’t be so
easily given to people for the content of their words, because even a
snake charmer can lead a python to its demise with the sweet lilt of
his flute.

I learned that I have to move on, somehow, and that my
future is based on doing everything within my power to help save my
people from themselves. To help build Somalia, to pick up the
scattered remnants of rubble and painstakingly stitch them back

Just like this little heart of mine, I’m gone let it shine… Let it shine,

Let it shine,


Let it shine.


12 thoughts on “808s and Heartbreak

  1. Said as I’ve told you many times. I truly enjoy reading your work. This was more personal and I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to learn about you in a different aspect. You have a gift a talent- share it!


  2. Just about every lesson, experience and thought resonates so well with me.
    It was so well worded that beyond getting the point across I felt a great sadness and hopefulness – pieces like this give me energy (it’s much needed when I’m in low supply).
    Stay strong brother and above all else keep growing!

    Liked by 1 person

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