I’ve heard that as a relationship 
grows older, the distance between them grows too –
first emotionally, even if it’s subconsciously, 
and then physically, as seen as they sleep on either ends of
their king size mattress. Maybe that’s why I love 
a small mattress, I think it will force us to stay together.
Sure, you may want your space, and I will give that to you 
daily. Feel free to take up beautiful amounts of space, 
and move freely around without me because we aren’t one
person, but we can be two persons that come together at night 
and close that distance between us so that there is no more space.
There’s just you and me, squished on a small mattress,
and I couldn’t be more comfortable, first physically. Then emotionally. 

Shayla Hickerson
22 November 2020


rain falls heavily above.
i hear the droplets smack loudly against the roof
and i fear that it will not provide enough protection.
if the ceiling caves in, we’ll be exposed to the brewing storm.
but fear not my friend, i will pull the covers over our heads
and let the rain fade out as our ears drown in our sheets.
now close your eyes and fade away too, towards sleep.
let us wake when the storm passes 
and our sorrows dry up in the warmth of day. 

17 January 2021

‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and Other Songs To Cure Your Emotional Stunting

The year is 1979, punk’s first wave has come to an end and the new wave has already begun. Though early punk brought rebellion and a lot of progressive ideas for its time, for the most part it still upheld traditional gender ideas. Women were groupies, men were angry and playing with the idea of gender was nothing more than a shock tactic.

The year is 1979 and what would become one of the most prolific bands in rock history, The Cure, release one of their early classics ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. The single was released as a standalone track from their debut album, and it dates back a year or so before the beginning of their infamous goth period and well before their pop period. It is as close to classic punk as they ever got. Guitar, bass and vocals – nothing fancy. Yet in a lot of ways, it was telling of what would come later and make them so successful across styles: vulnerable lyrics, catchy melodies and a knack for the bitter-sweet. 

The song chugs along with a simple three chord progression, a bouncy ‘The Clash’-esk bass line, some intricate and fun lead guitar work all paired along with a wonderfully innocent but constantly moving drum part. The song seems like a run of the mill breakup classic-punk track but the chorus, like most of Robert Smith’s best work, possesses a vulnerability that catches your ear and forces you to listen. When the rest of punk was angry and new wave were either angry or intentionally cold/emotionless, Robert Smith rebled with a deep sadness. And his music would become a method for many men to experience and deal with their own emotions. “I try to laugh about it, cover it all up with lies, I try to laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes, because boys don’t cry” – if reading that doesn’t cut deep for you then the song (and this piece) probably isn’t for you.

But if you’re like me — male, small, brown, emotional, genetically predisposed to neuroticism – you might have been told ‘boys don’t cry’ quite a few times while growing up. That phrase might have sunk deep and put your tear ducts out of business except for the one day a year where you undergo a complete meltdown. That phrase might be the reason why when you have a bad day you feel trapped inside your emotions without a method of release. If that’s you, then The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is probably for you… And so is all the music I’m about to recommend. Will this fix the years of emotional stunting society has caused you? No, that’s what a therapist is for. But it might give you some music to help get those tears going and emotions out of your body.  

Close To Me – The Cure

If you’re looking for some more music by The Cure, then I can’t recommend ‘Close To Me’ enough. Through a beautiful balance of a deeply sad vocal performance, upbeat instrumental and lyrics about relief the song embodies catharsis. I truly believe its one of the greatest three minutes in music history. if you need to get some emotions out of your body, I don’t think you can go wrong with this track.

I Get Along Without You Very Well – Chet Baker

For the more Jazz inclined denialists, Chet Baker’s rendition of this standard should cut deep. Like all of Baker’s vocal work the key to this track’s greatness is in its delicateness. Simple piano lines, soft drums and Baker’s classic whisper sing come together to tear you open.

Ghost Town – Kanye West

Kanye probably isn’t a good person. In fact, he’s probably barely a functional person. But to deny his ability to create musical ecstasy would be unfair to ourselves. If you’re feeling down about yourself and you just need a way to release those emotions this might be the track for you. The beat is impeccable, Cudi’s verse is heart-breaking and PARTYNEXTDOOR’s verse is nothing short of a religious experience.

A Change Is Gonna Come – Otis Redding

Originally a track by Sam Cooke about a man who feels so crushed by the world that he needs to believe a change is gonna come. The track certainly has an undertone of being about the black experience in America, but its lyrics are still generic enough where it could be about anyone who feels pushed aside by the world around them. Otis Redding does a mostly faithful but, in my opinion, superior cover that’s absolutely soul crushing. If this can’t get those water works going, I’m not sure what will. 

The New – Interpol

In our life there are some relationships that bring us so close together we become tied to them. When those relationships end, it can feel as though a part of ourselves was given to the other person and lost permanently in the abyss of a breakup. Nowhere is this feeling better captured than the penultimate track of Interpol’s incredible debut All The Bright Lights. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best straightforward breakup track in existence. 

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

This is another track with a political tint, but a much stronger one than A Change Is Gonna Come. In the title track off Gaye’s magnum opus he laments the death of young black men to police and in protests. He then stakes the claim that “we’ve got to find a way to bring some loving here today” and that “war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate”. The political message might not be agreeable to everyone. It’s certainly a reference back to an increasingly less prominent form of activism often associated with the 60s and hippies, but ultimately the song isn’t about political strategy. Its about mourning the trauma of a community. Either way, if Gaye’s musically divine pleas for an end to brutality doesn’t at least pull on your heartstrings, I’m afraid to say you may be dead on the inside. 

Dried Rose Petals

why is it that I find it so hard to wake up in the morning?
i’d rather sink beneath the sheets and lose myself in dreams.
but the morning starts slow, and i go slower as my body aches 
how can I face another day when it starts with soiled thoughts? 
fill the tub and give me a moment to ease my emotions.
the weight of my comforter can be replaced by another
as i lower myself, i look to the waters to weigh in as comfort.
bathe myself in dried rose petals, soaked and cleansed. 
the rose petals become less and less distinguishable, but
i fight to distinguish myself from them as they dissolve to nothing. 
maybe it’s enough to last me another day. let the tub drain.

11 April 2021

Too Tired to Continue

Music plays undisturbed in the background. The sound drifts through the air leaving the traces of a sweet, melancholic melody. It is the only noise disturbing the thought traffic in my brain. The sound is faint, but the words are clear and crisp leaving an imprint on the eardrums of those within reach of the rhythm. When the melody reaches me, it leaves more than a sole imprint. Just as a traveler walks into a hotel and leaves with the same suitcases, so should the rhythm of a song disappear once its last note is played. Yet, this is not the case. The music plays, diving into the groove of my memory and leaving… which in turn leaves me feeling nothing but a numbness throughout my essence.

Shayla Hickerson
8 December 2015

An Extinguished Gasp

They say that darkness is solely in existence because it is the lack of light. Yet light can be created and extinguished. Whereas the darkness lurks in the shadows of the universe. The essence of darkness is still there, hidden within the particles of the light. It creeps into the cracks of the universe, not always to be seen. The darkness creeps quietly and waits patiently for the time that the light falls one last time. Just as a star dies, the ultimate reaction does not automatically fall to the birth of darkness. The light flickers; it shakes and reveals how fragile its entity truly is. Once its emitted rays disappear, its absence solely exposes what was there since the beginning of time.

Shayla Hickerson
7 December 2015

Hello, Darling

Sometimes I get these thoughts in my head which are never intentional. They’re those thoughts that enter without giving a knock on the old noggin. Then I sit here like a fool with a smile that sketches across my face from ear to ear. My cheeks begin to ache, but the smile never fades. It’s one of those foolish smiles that either makes the Joker jealous or cringe. Sorry for my dorky reference, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been thinking about you. Nonstop. Everything I do or see reminds me of you. Even the sheets of my bed are affected by your touch. Your sweetness lingers from the night before as we cuddled and talked. The thought of this leaves me in a state of tremendous happiness and I find myself wanting to let you know how beautiful you truly are. So I guess the best way to start is with a simple….

Hello Darling,

The best words to follow are from I quote I once read: “you are a caricature in a land of stick figures”. I have never met anyone who can affect me the way you do. There is so much more to you than what meets the eye. When I stare into your gorgeous eyes, I see so much depth and intelligence. Sometimes the thought scares me, but it excites me at the same time. These are just a few reason as to why you’re my world… why I want to explore your world… why I want to explore the depths of your entity… why I think I’m beginning to fall for you.

My darling
My strong, exquisite Sasquatch
My little bawcock
My honey bunches of oats

Shayla Hickerson
10 November 2015

Surreal Feelings

It all felt surreal, as if I was in a dream. The light seemed to shine through his eyes even during the darkest hour. 

I’d be lying there with the sensation of being a thought amidst the endless, roaring sea of the mind. I’d float about in the peripherals of one’s conscious; then the subconscious would whisk me away because I’m one banal thought in many. 

Yet, the light in his eyes act as the limelight shining only on me. He reminds me that every individual quark within the atom is relevant to the entity.

Shayla Hickerson
4 October 2015


The feeling begins when a certain thought creeps into your mind. 

It’s a pleasant thought which makes you smile uncontrollably. You can’t help yourself as a smile stretches across your face from ear to ear. You haven’t smiled like this in a while, so it aches. Your cheeks hurt, but the smile won’t leave you. 

Then the feeling starts to grow on you, within you. It crawls down your throat, leaving a tickle as its trace. It crawls towards your chest. As its touch is felt, it leaves a warmth which spreads all throughout your body.

Nothing else really matters in that moment.

Shayla Hickerson
18 September 2015

De Beauvoir and the Other

And now! For a little philosophy… This piece is influenced by Simone de Beauvoir’s works explaining that the identity of women is defined in reflection to man. Basically, in short, similarly to how the cold is known in the absence of warmth, the female is known in comparison to what man is not. The male is the Self, and the respective feminine counterpart is the Other. Thus, in continuation of my exploration of my female identity, I present to you:

You were Adam and I was an Eves-drop,

Hanging on the edge of a sense of home.

I was given a role to perform;

Objectified by society and deemed useful for a few things…

In a place called home.

It’s supposed to be my comfort zone,

My safe place,

A safe haven.

But I realized I wanted to save haven.

You might have been Adam, but I am

A woman sitting in the heart of civilization,

Creating my identity within the societal rib cage.

I create my role regardless of your reflection.

I choose to be my self, 

As opposed to the Other.