you innerstand now: becoming is a road of counted breaths.

-Cheikh Athj

by Cheikh Athj


fear is many bodies. torop. allow yourself to feel them, but do not stay stuck. move past fear toward courage, knowing it comes from fear. if you fail, face fear again. without it, there would be no courage. hala: do not stay stuck. once courage is embodied, allow it to push you toward love. this is one way to become courageous.

fear can push you toward love, or cr|me. allow yourself this dual. this is how you will know the fight for love. if you are pushed toward cr|me, know you are still being pushed toward love. cr|me is the embodiment of fear. once here, it is hard to not stay. cr|me is like skin—a loose permanence; dense with rooms, each one host to whispers.

if you decide to embody cr|me, stalk its halls. leave no door chained, window shuttered. never block airflow—cr|me needs breath. visit each room. whatever is in it when you enter, witness it speak. no matter your fear, relieve issues making your core weak. do not hold sweat. if constricted, rely on counted breath. this is the embodiment of cr|me.

lay down your weapons. embodying cr|me is a road to fugitivity, its shadows. do you fear the fade? cr|me is a road to darkness—a loose permanence, a remission, a unification ritual.

return to the source. regenerate through disappearance.



a process of submission. there is a push and then a give. things happen rapidly and appear out of your control. it is easiest to call it nature—a remembrance, shedding to become. you’ve been made soft: misted cliff hovering in the air above you, an enraptured body of water.

if fear approaches you during this transition, recall the nature of its touch. it is monstrous within you, host to many whispers: what is this becoming? how many directions will you walk in at once? a spider dangles in the doorframe as moths scale the corners in helixes. it’s how soft you can become that frightens you. or how it feels natural? taste your skin, its salt. you are a shoreline and you’ve been here before: a moonless destination. flowers growing from the night beneath your sweat.

it is natural to fear—you are passing between worlds. most stay stuck in their meat, host to claustrophobia they won’t name. yours is breaking, reclaimed.

you are becoming anew. there is a push and a give, a fall before the plummet. you have to die first, and death is a deep crack—a pit of crossroads, a transit between breaths. a shoreline. embrace it as a lover or miracle: let it change you. you are learning new breath.


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a requirement of vulnerability. anxiety is germane to this becoming, curiosity of the bodies you can become. you are here and you suffer in this becoming— skin known yet still too new. an ancient strangeness. you shake in this naked, fear fluttering your core. will you crack?

hala: this is a new fugitivity. you will wear it as the n|ght and cause the familiar terror that blooms in its unknown. stretch your flesh as a throat, dangle in its door frame. disappear into regeneration and thicken with knowing.

embrace the dark. as you bloom from beneath your sweat, witness how expansive you are. every part of you becoming a moth.



water remembers. elders are pools of memory and you periodically desire to swim in old skin. it is gone—the earth has taken it back. the only place left is your flesh: matrix of mortal potential. this is a new life, a fresh cry. seed beneath the night.

did you spill beyond your boundaries? you are still afraid and this is still the truth: all becoming is laden with sweat. salt has always been indigenous to change. darkness is making you again.

water remembers. learn how your elders have become, what allows them to experience your impermanence—how large you are becoming. they have known the changes you withstand. they are moths beneath sweat, ushering the n|ght. speak with them; scale cautiously the cracks they have to offer.



without darkness, light does not live. you innerstand now: becoming is a road of counted breaths. learn again how sweet you are in your sweat and scared, how sacredly selected you are. an eight limbed helix. you can swallow light. you can craft the moon. everything is a decision. your power is no longer greater than you can withstand. this is new skin, with room to breathe and grow.

you will be further disarmed. you will molt again. darkness moves as skin: peels, sheds, becomes earth. you will always fall toward truth.

hala. you will be further disarmed. during these deaths remember: any fugitive is falling toward their truth. you will seem impossible, yet gravity holds you too. the dark is yours, as you are it. enjoy this skin, its ancient strangeness. it is hard not to stay once here.


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| seek the clarity of admission. | am here because there are shoulders that cushion m| every fall. | do fear, do reel at the largeness of the night and do decide descent. | plummet with empathic regret. everything is a decision, and | decide to be here.

| am a dream manifested to reach tomorrow. m| ancestors, n|ght they be, hold me in my cr|m|nal|ty. they are unspeakably proud of m|. they crave m|. | hold them as a sp|der in a doorframe to learn the virtue of patience.

| am a mansion of whispering moths. and will treat m| body like as its own largeness, calling m| name into it so | echo and ring within m|. as old skin becomes ash and earth, | will urgently pass thru death to become.

water remembers. this is a process of remembering. | am water learning to remember.


Cheikh Athj is a black creator based in Philly. With roots in sunshine band, poetry, and photography, Cheikh seeks to create worlds that display the Black trans/queer form as continually existing. You can find their work on various platforms, including iTunes, Gawker, and New Black Man (InExile), among other publications.