Like with every other book that has been through the editing process, there were things that didn’t make it into the published version of Flawed Happiness. Superfluous themes and excerpts wound up on the cutting room floor, only to be swept into unnamed files in the dark crevices of my laptop. 

One such file contains a series of spoken word poems that were sprinkled throughout the first draft of the story. They culminated in the final chapter with the protagonist, Athena, reading a poem on stage at an open mic night {a scene that remained, but the poetry was replaced with a different piece}. My intent in using the poems was to represent the movement of Athena’s self-realization from subconscious to conscious thought in an artistic way; however, as my publisher bluntly pointed out, I’m not a poet. And, in fairness, they’re right. I have never taken a poetry class, have yet to read the works of Rumi, and couldn’t tell you how many syllables are in a Haiku.
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A line from the classic movie, Wayne's World
But even though I’m not a poet, I’ve always had an affinity for listening to spoken-word poetry, as well as hip-hop music {I believe that good hip-hop, unlike the empty, mainstream stuff that fills the pop radio airwaves today, is composed of lyrics that are no less than urban poetry}. I mention music also because, as I’ve said before, I draw a lot of inspiration from it. As a teenager, I would often stay up well into the night, hypnotizing myself to songs by everyone from Nas to John Coltrane, and translating my muddled, adolescent emotions into prose in a journal adorned with Keith Haring artwork. 

Now, like the poems that were originally in Flawed Happiness, they didn’t follow any literary rules, and probably wouldn’t make much sense if anyone else read them. However, in both instances, they led me to where I needed to be, even if in the end their words weren’t perfect. And that in itself is pretty poetic.

So, in honor of National Poetry month, I’m blowing the dust off one of those raw and imperfect cutting room floor files to share with you. It speaks to Athena’s Greek and African heritage, which was initially a more significant theme in the story. Here’s how the first chapter of Flawed Happiness originally opened:

I am a descendent of royalty. Queens and Kings of Greek gods and Nubian empires whose civilizations birthed the earth’s first philosophers. The astronomers. The artists and the architects. The poets and the revolutionaries. 

My ancestors surround me. In every feeling of déjà vu; in the lines of a century old statue in the park; in the smell of the air and stillness before a summer rain; in the texture of sidewalk chalk and the laughter of children skipping with their laces untied; and of course, in music... the rumble of classical, the purity of acoustic, the pain of blues, the soul of Motown, the angst of hip hop.

And here I am. Her majesty. Seemingly, as far away from the kingdom as one may be, misunderstood, misguided, missing. Too often I walk these city streets, my body aware of where I am, my mind constantly seeking where I am going. Somewhere. Nowhere. 

The epitome of usual.