Dean Atta



after Patricia Smith

Because every restaurant, coffee shop and bar stool seems to become a therapist’s coach
Because I ask too many of the right questions and don’t make enough small talk on a first or second date
Because I am not his therapist and refuse to be-because I have enough problems of my own
Because I prefer my own company
Because we would be better off as friends
Because if we were not dating we would not be friends
Because I have enough friends
Because I would rather sit comfortably on a sofa with a friend who has no desire for me sexually
Because he’s straight
Because I think in binaries
Because I understand so very little, barely my own needs and desires
Because I’m not as honest with myself as I need to be to relate to others authentically
Because I have only glimpsed my true self in mediation or caught in a united vibration on a dance floor
Because I am on a journey but cannot carry passengers
Because I am not a vehicle for another’s self-discovery
Because he’s in the closest
Because he’s incommunicado
Because he finally tells me I deserve better and he’s right but not for the reasons he thinks
Because he didn’t try to be better
Because he abandoned our story
Because my break up poems are better than my love stories anyway
Because I have only loved a woman in the way I hope to one day love a man
Because I put her on a pedestal that grows taller like some enchanted tower
Because my fairytale has two princes
Because I picture a husband, a house and two kids
Because maybe I don’t want any of these things
Because maybe I came out too soon
Because I have only had sex with men
Because my therapist said sex wasn’t the problem, my attitude towards it was
Because I stopped seeing my therapist
Because every time I had sex I would leave feeling like an empty broken biro
Because I’m not prepared to be a blank page for them or an open book
Because he says he doesn’t have a good relationship with reading
Because I have a dyslexic heart that tries
Because you can’t redraft a first date, first kiss or first fuck
Because it didn’t feel right
Because I wouldn’t introduce him to my mother
Because he’s an angry atheist
Because he loves a God that hates him
Because he worships his reflection
Because “mirror, mirror on the wall”
Because he didn’t look the same as his picture
Because he didn’t look the same in the daylight
Because Grindr, because Tinder
Because he Google searched me and apparently that made me intimidating
Because he doesn’t want to be the subject of one of my poems
Because he demands I write him a poem
Because I won’t write him a poem until we break up
Because the only fairytale I can write is the one where I save myself. 



Dean Atta was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize for his debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up, and have appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Dean is a member of Keats House Poets Forum and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. He has a Philosophy and English BA from the University of Sussex and a Writer/Teacher MA from Goldsmiths, University of London. Dean is a Tutor for Poetry School and a Writer in Residence for First Story. His debut novel, The Black Flamingo, will be published in August 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books.

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