Poetry: Selections from Glory Cumbow


Those jagged roads led to nowhere,
and they kept tripping down them
to dead ends anyway.
They already knew the carved paths
wouldn’t take them to any particular destination
but their mind was consuming itself
from the inside out,
so their judgment was cloudy at best.
And still
they found themselves returning and returning
and returning
to those streets
cornered by nothing but the same broken pathway back
the way they came,
hoping, instead, to rewrite a map into their skin
to force the roads to slash forward into the wilderness
and take them
where it’s quiet,
where their brain wasn’t screaming.

They died.
or at least,
they thought they did.
An honest mistake to make
considering the agony of reality ending into
untethered nothingness.
But the shell that had been housing
their core,
their true self,
had cracked open
unleashing a new and tender being,
into the world.
The suffering was not a death,
but a birth.
The ache of new muscles flexing
and fresh lungs inflating
was terrifying.

Always asking what comes next,
because something must happen next,
but answering that question felt impossible,
because their hands kept grasping
at nothing but air.

If You Did All The Right Things 

Longing for a lullaby,
knowing that even if it was sung over me,
I still couldn’t slip into sleep.
Desperate for someone to catch me,
knowing that I wouldn’t find relief
if stability stopped my freefall.
Aching to be held,
knowing my nerve endings would refuse
to acknowledge the touch.
Say the perfect words,
reciting the very script I wrote in my head for you;
pursue me with the affection I crave
even as I shove you away.
It won’t matter;
peace doesn’t know me.

The Pit in My Stomach 

She was a smile.
She was a doorway to discoveries
that I didn’t know I needed.
She picked up a book
and read words
she thought might heal me,
and I knew I was in trouble
when my heart skipped at her voice.
I’ll remain changed.
But today she’s my stomach ache.
She’s the weight on my chest,
and my ribs crack.

Glory Cumbow (she/they) is a writer living in North Carolina. They work as a strategist helping other writers to get their work published. They are dedicated to the arts and work with local theatres and sing in their community choir. When they’re not writing, they enjoy traveling, catching live shows, visiting art museums, and volunteering with Charlotte LGBTQ+ Pride.