Poetry and body art.

I am ugly.

And that doesn’t mean I’m not PRETTY,

I’m just so ugly-stuffed with life

that it shows on my face and my body.


I turn heads when I walk, flaunting my ugly.

I laugh with all my teeth, and nostrils flared, and eyes squinted ugly.

I cry….UGLY, snot streaming over my lips, face red,

back in school some jerks two doors down said,

“she sounds like a monkey!”



I was the only Asian in my grade, shortest in my class ugly.

didn’t act like all the other girls, scared of my own growing body.

I am flat-chested, no-hips ugly.

I was black eyeliner and loud music,

curtains drawn, scratching at my skin

with safety pins ugly.


But out in the daylight, perfect grin,

sweet, smart straight-A student

all that ugly held down with a pile of books.

I knew all the answers,

sitting at my desk with my hand up, pen poised on paper.

I thought I could turn all that ugly

into a perfectly formatted resume.

Toss that ugly up into the sky

like a graduation cap and stroll into adulthood

with nothing but beauty.


That’s not how it works.

I am deep, molten mantle around an iron core ugly.

The tectonic plates in my face sent up

eruptions and formed rifts above my brow.

I was ugly with layers of foundation and concealer,

ugly with silence,

ugly with the need to be seen mistaken for consent.

And then ugly for attention shaking ugly ass, flipping ugly hair,

batting ugly lashes, look at me just please don’t see

my ugly.


Then it went down into my joints and bones,

tired achy ugly.

My golden summer skin looked jaundiced when winter hit.

Ugly circles under ugly eyes, chapped lips.

I am an expert at ugly. I deserve a degree for the ugly I have been

and the ugly I have seen.

I collect and categorize kingdoms, phylums, classes of ugly.

I speak and transcribe ugly.

Mix pigments of ugly into perfect hues.

I dream ugly dreams.


I am ugly like days of rain.

Ugly like thick smoke.

I am ugly like a cat trapped out in the cold, looking for a home.

I’m ugly like death.  

Ugly like decay.

That sick sweet smell that never goes away.

Like dirt and seeds that struggle to sprout.

Ugly like leaves, ugly like trees.

I am a forest of ugly. I am an ugly country surrounded by angry,

ugly seas, the tides of ugly pulled by an ugly gravity.

I am the ugliness of a galaxy with its raging forces of energy.

I am monumental masses of ugly revolving around a central point.

I am light-years of ugly. My ugly bends space and time.


One day I’ll collapse into dense, dark ugliness, but I’m so ugly far away

that from back on earth, you’ll look up for years to come

and see me shine.

2 thoughts on ““Ugly””

  1. Oh my God, hunny. First and foremost, I never leave comments. This was SOUL touching. I write poetry and love reading other works of beauty. I really hope that you get my comment.

    If this is you that I see in the picture, you are beautiful. If I am mistaken, I need you to understand that Beauty is not skin, but rather SOUL and SPIRIT deep. I really do hope that you do not walk around feeling so down b/c hunny this world in itself, all the hate crimes, body shaming, sexual assault is UGLY. It takes BEAUTIFUL souls like ourselves to recognize and address. This work of art was soooooo deep. It brought me back to moments in my childhood. I was a late bloomer. I did not have an entourage. Look at me NOW !! I wish you would write a second one entitled “BEAUTY”. I will be sharing with others !! My heart touches yours in spirit.

    – A soulful beauty

    1. Thank you! It means a lot to me that you took the time to write this.

      I wrote the poem as a way to reach out to others who felt low about their outer appearance, and to transform the meaning of the word “ugly,” and even celebrate it. There is so much pressure, especially on women, to look a certain way, and it can be quite damaging.

      I want you to know I don’t actually feel this way, though I used to. The piece is a reflection on the impact of beauty ideals, and my way of confronting those ideals.

      Thank you again for such a thoughtful and warm comment! Comments like these are why I do poetry and art.

Comments are closed.