Naysayers Need to be Ignored. Tuned out. Self-appointed judges Hidden behind social media profiles Are cyberwaste for a reason. We live in a country That prides itself On freedom and Freedom is Letting the woman You are inside Take a walk outside—among us. Honestly, There's nothing wrong With having your beauty lean Toward a dark, otherworldly aesthetic: Teased black crown of hair, Facial foundation Like snowy Northern winter, Long black lashes above brown eyes Flutter like moth's wings When blinking, Vampiric fangs Show in your blackened plump lip smile, Black leather collar with leash ring On neck, rosaries & crucifix, companion pieces, Shiny black claws tip your fingers, Lacy black dress, Flowing sleeves, Black leather conch belt with chains, Torn fishnets, Demonia® platform boots— Your keys To contentment Are worn. “Dressing up normal” Would seem like donning A Halloween costume. The most liberated People live out Their best lives. Visiting cemeteries in the day, Prowling shopping malls with friends, Attending live concerts or doing photoshoots, You're demonstrating liberty The U.S. Constitution only mentions and The slavish Normal would envy and Freedom is Letting the woman You are inside Take a walk outside—for keeps. W: 3.11.22 [ For Mamie Hades, YouTube®/TikTok®/Instagram® sensation. ] SUBCULTURE I'd spent my entire Young adult life In active search of Myself. Racism Made me leave the Heavy Metal scene. Backstabbing Made me leave the Punk Scene. High school clique-level immaturity Made me leave the Circle-A scene. Lack of a lover and peers of similar tastes Made me shed Black Gothic threads In favour of colours. In my pursuit through the crowds, I found myself in pieces, went From Metalhead To Punk To Goth And Anarchist combo. Those years, those stages were fun, But they ended With dissatisfaction Or the taste of spew. The Mainstream don't want me And the Underground doesn't either. I don't see a contingent of folks with Open arms, happily chanting One of us, one of us, one of us To me Any time soon. Through the looks, crowds, years, stages, I found myself in pieces, went From Metalhead To Punk To Goth And Anarchist combo. Now, I'm nothing But a subculture of one. W: 5.3.22 [ For Barbara Mercer, Darren J. Beaney and Nick Paleologos. ] Bio: Pronouns: He/him/his Dee Allen. ________ African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on creative writing & Spoken Word since the early 1990s. Author of 7 books--Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black [ all from POOR Press ], Elohi Unitsi [ Conviction 2 Change Publishing ] and his 2 newest, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate [ Vagabond Books ] and Plans [ Nomadic Press ]--and 53 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.