Dear Toni…

Dear Toni,

They say I’m dark. My writing is too sad. Yet you found a way to create beautiful art from ugly reality. You’re not afraid to discuss all the grotesque fragments of humanity and imagine the results. You remind us that being a parent is an honor as well as a responsibility. God controls the falling action of our children’s story . We control the rising action together. They gave you awards for your vision, your eye, your creative mind but I think it is mostly for your boldness. Your writing is bold, confident, and authentic. Thank you for loving your subject matter, US. Thank you for creating stories where we win after we lose. Where we rebuild after we’re destroyed. Thank you for not being afraid to make us cringe. Thank you for making us appreciate every second of being parents and guardians. Thank you Toni.

-Shaun L

Women’s History Month

A True Woman


I can make you laugh harder than the rain falls.

I can give you the kind of loving that makes you reject all of your calls

And be absent from work.

I’m not interested in your wallet

I want the will of your being and the substance from your very soul.

I want the honor of growing old.

I’ll tell you my age.

I’ll tell you the exact year and the precise time I was born.

Wisdom is my badge proudly worn.

I can fry up some good food and meander through your stomach to your heart.

I can order an auto part or change a tire and be on my way without waiting for AAA.

You can beat me to the mirror in the morning.

I know who I am and I know what I look like.

I am a woman not a “bitch.”

I’m not a part of some monolithic group suffering from “that time of the month.”

I only really shop if there is a need for it or if it fits “just right.”

Please don’t interrupt me while I’m watching the game or the fight.

I am not a harlot or the downfall of mankind because of “original sin.”

I was just being a leader, his rib, his backbone, aiding his decision.

Sometimes I cry but you do too.

That doesn’t make me weaker than you.

My strength is measured in resilience and my ability to absorb other people’s pain.

I am a woman

A true woman

I am not ashamed.

By:Shaun Nickens

*This was going to be an Art Saves Lives submission but the deadline was changed.