Mayda Del Valle – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

By: Monday, August 13th, 2007 02:34 pm GMT -5 61,698 views 12 Comments

This might be my favorite single performance from the entire Def Poetry series. There’s something really, really attractive about the sensitive, strong, beautiful woman. It’s that balance, a yin and yang of vulnerability and confidence, that builds intrigue, making her someone you want to be around.

When I first watched the show, YouTube wasn’t what it is today, so I spent a lot of time on the HBO forum tracking down transcripts of the poems. I had put out a plea for anyone that had a copy of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” to email me. Wasn’t I surprised when I got the following message:

From: Mayda ****
To: Justin Dickinson ****
Date: July 2, 2005 2:56pm
Subject: <no subject>

Hi this is Mayda del Valle. I saw your request on the HBO site and am
sending you a copy of the poem as requested. It’s attached as a word
Document so you just need to download it. Hope you enjoy it! And thanks so
much for the kind words and support.


I was stoked. I never thought I’d hear from her directly. Very cool. I found her bio and realized she attended college in my hometown. Even cooler!

Here is the poem it its entirety:

to all the boys I’ve loved before
part 1:

we are not your mothers
and are not meant to be
it is not our responsibility to raise you into respectful beings
you have been weaned from the breast of a woman for years
yet you come to us
wounded and half filled with promises you can only keep half the time
trying to suckle our sense of self dry
we’ve become much to accustomed to sleepless nights and damp pillows
have become accustomed to waiting for our empty beds
to be weighed down with the bodies of men heavy with the scent
and the hands of other women
mornings with swollen puffy eyes are becoming routine
and we simply wanting to be loved
simply wanting to be able to love ourselves unconditionally
simply wanting to be held and feel safe
simply wanting the truth of whether you can really love us or not
play Hester Prynn
wear scarlet letters on our chests
become adulteresses
cheating ourselves out of what we truly deserve
willing to settle for less
willing to act like a little less than a goddesses
willing to sleep with the enemy
men too scared to stop acting like boys
thinking we can love away their scars
so we take the lashes of the insecurities they pour on us
and lick our wounds in quiet mourning for the little girls we lose by the minute
fast fading memories of playing hopscotch
and skippin’ rope
we now play freeze tag with each other’s hearts
play hide and seek with our love
if we just don’t breathe maybe we won’t get caught
up in the spider’s web we weave while waiting for what we give away to be returned

part 2:
you said you had a photographic memory
but apparently you forgot that honesty
begins by being real with yourself
and the ones you claim you love
should have never wasted my time
and just acted like the man you claimed and told the world you were
made a production of setting my folks at ease with tales of how you’d do all it ever took to never break my heart
I guess you thought you were talking to a roomful of the deaf and blind
figured they didn’t hear you
coz I never saw it coming
but the truth cannot be hidden
what’s clouded in darkness will always come to light my love
you shoulda known that
claiming you saw my light so clearly and brightly
so I left
chasing paper trails of promises you’d already set on fire
left with nothing but the ashes of who you’d written that you were
and singed fingers from trying to grasp the impossible

and the only thing I’ve really lost
are lukewarm kisses
that for too long I kept trying to tune the beat of my heart, a few lies, and stories
about honesty and truth

I guess shit happens
I just wish it wasn’t me

and I guess
it’s so much better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all
I know that’s some easy shit to say

but I’m still gonna try to live by it
I’m still gonna try to put my faith to rest in it

I will sleep on dry pillows now in a bed big enough to love myself in
I will awake these coming mornings with my eyes dry and shining
full of the knowledge I am priceless and worth nothing but honesty
I will remove the scarlet letter from my chest and hold the hand of the little girl I used to be
and say I’m sorry to her
I’m sorry for cheating you out of the joy you have always deserved
and I will wait
for a man
to come along
that can give me the truth of how much he can really love me

©2005 Mayda del Valle

Disclaimer: I’m not taking credit for this poem, rather, I’m trying to, in my own small way, add more visibility for the poets and spoken word artists I’ve seen that I feel are amazing talents worthy of worldwide fame and fortune. If, for whatever reason, this page makes it to the artist, first I’d like to say “awesome, what’s up? you rock!”. Then, if you would rather I didn’t have your work on my site, email me and I’ll gladly remove it.

If you like this check out all the Def Poetry posts.

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  • Maggie said:

    Thanks for posting. She is an awesome poet!!

    • lakiyah mccarter said:

      i love mayda del valle im gonna say her poems at my school

      • leelee said:

        thank you, this really helped me

        • Lety said:

          This poem is Awesome and so is she…
          So many people can relate…
          Thankz for postin the words to it also…
          i’ve been lookin for them for hours and couldn’t find them….