Here is Warsan Shire’s poem, 34 Excuses for Why We Failed at Love:
1. I’m lonely so I do lonely things
2. Loving you was like going to war; I never came back the same.
3. You hate women, just like your father and his father, so it runs in your blood.
4. I was wandering the derelict car park of your heart looking for a ride home.
5. You’re a ghost town I’m too patriotic to leave.
6. I stay because you’re the beginning of the dream I want to remember.
7. I didn’t call him back because he likes his girls voiceless.
8. It’s not that he wants to be a liar; it’s just that he doesn’t know the truth.
9. I couldn’t love you, you were a small war.
10. We covered the smell of loss with jokes.
11. I didn’t want to fail at love like our parents.
12. You made the nomad in me build a house and stay.
13. I’m not a dog.
14. We were trying to prove our blood wrong.
15. I was still lonely so I did even lonelier things.
16. Yes, I’m insecure, but so was my mother and her mother.
17. No, he loves me he just makes me cry a lot.
18. He knows all of my secrets and still wants to kiss me.
19. You were too cruel to love for a long time.
20. It just didn’t work out.
21. My dad walked out one afternoon and never came back.
22. I can’t sleep because I can still taste him in my mouth.
23. I cut him out at the root, he was my favorite tree, rotting, threatening the foundations of my home.
24. The women in my family die waiting.
25. Because I didn’t want to die waiting for you.
26. I had to leave, I felt lonely when he held me.
27. You’re the song I rewind until I know all the words and I feel sick.
28. He sent me a text that said “I love you so bad.”
29. His heart wasn’t as beautiful as his smile
30. We emotionally manipulated one another until we thought it was love.
31. Forgive me, I was lonely so I chose you.
32. I’m a lover without a lover.
33. I’m lovely and lonely.
34. I belong deeply to myself.
I have been, for months now, doing lonely things. Walking the dogs by myself, their leads rubbing my hands raw, their urgency something I hold back, or use to accelerate. How fast can we experience this walk? How quickly can we move through the trees? No, no, we’re missing everything. Wait. The day is already too much. Let’s just stand here for a moment and pee on everything.
I close the gate, and walk through the leaves, and want nothing more.
What has happened to my country? To the humans around me who cannot seem to pry their faces from their phones? Hunched over like the small illumination is keeping them warm.
Or it is me, alone, separating myself a little more from the compression of information? Data files. I have a pile of books to read, but I have to shake off everything to be able to sit with them, and read page after page. I have to retrain myself for chapters in the age of paragraphs.
Am I judging you? Do you feel judged? Was there a time, that you remember, when love was a solid thing? A conversation that went on so late that we found the chairs up at nearby tables. A broom nudging us toward the door, and the night, and home again to more solitude. Do you remember conversation?
I remember it like something that sank slowly in the the distance while I pulled myself ashore.
I feel my humanity less with humans than with my dogs. Though they watch every day for squirrels, and doves, and deer on the trails, they seem to crave an interaction with me above everything else. The pack. The family. The tending of one another.
I spent the summer preparing for a little less. So I won’t be disappointed. But it never quite works out the way I plan.