Friday, May 18, 2018


The carpet sits beneath me, a dirt painting on the ground
another pretty girl pants under your silhouette
you wanted a cracked water main, but I am a blood fountain
how do you discipline yourself?
my body, an afternoon performance

"I do love you, but I'm not in love with you."

Only some dirt gets to be mud - wouldn't it feel good to be stepped on?
When he is bored, all things become an entrance
I was a tender object living in a home you'll never invite me to
Turn screams into moans; call it healing

Looking up from a pair of thighs, I wake up like a lap dog
When I ask how he wants me, he does not answer
What a privilege to be bored rather than bound
See no victim, only pleasure seeker

Do not stop until you have frightened everyone
until you can hold a thorn without bleeding
until you hide panic into laughter
until this intersection of trauma and pleasure
means nothing to you

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Men, and other Perpetrators of "Unbelievable" Stories

It is a Saturday night and my phone chirps with all the wrong suitors. One time a man used the same breath to recommend I stop being such a "cunt" and to call me "fat." I try to remember Rachel's words, how "fat" is a thing we all have, and not an insult. In her cropped slacks that show off her skinny ankles I know, despite her desperate desire, that she too does not believe her words. How can something be so unbelievable, yet so predictable?

A young man I had a Spanish class with many years ago knocks on my parent's front door, asking if they need any painting. My father answers and despite the fact that I, mere minutes ago, explained why I had come home for the weekend, that I am scared, that I am hiding, the front door swings open. Within seconds, he eagerly shares my name, my school. My thighs bruised, still healing from an all too real panic, my terror stands juxtaposed next to my schizophrenic brother's paranoia, "It's happening. She is just as delusional."

I can not remember when I first learned that men can not handle my honesty. Perhaps, it was when I was fourteen, locked in a purple girlhood, and forced to speak my truth: a truth that would trigger years of emotional abandonment. When I told my father I was raped, he used it as a bargaining piece to escape speeding tickets, or avoid having to pay for my college's required meal plan. To an officer, "Why don't you ask [detective] Kevin about me," or years later, in a car headed to my primary care physician, "Girls who are raped often have difficulty swallowing." Squeezing my arm, he sent me out of the car, encouraging me to lie. "Just say that you have an eating disorder. Go in there and lie like hell." Like the sexual assault survivors whose horror complicates swallowing, my father could only stomach the reality of my truth disguised in dishonesty. When he said they will not believe me, what I heard was I don't believe you.

Learning of my sexual abuse made my parents afraid of me. Summer of 2011 and my father sits on a under-stuffed green chair. Inspired by my brother, who had jumped out of his window in a fit of psychosis days prior, he lists off the worst things that have ever happened to him. When my childhood rape does not make the list I spend the next fifteen months with a needle in my arm.

There is snow on the ground when I kiss a Navy boy on the mouth. This pleases me. Weeks later, I, an in attempt to be upfront, admit that I am into someone else. "I don't want to hold you back," I say. My honesty, again, renders me "crazy."

At 15, my high school English teacher asks, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Saying Goodbye to April

One hundred feet away I am an enticing splash. Two feet away I am slow drying cement. The grubby hands of uninvited schoolchildren fight each other for space, begging to declare they were here. This is my first taste of desperation.

In a December 2012 circle, I could not cry. New and naive, I still believed we'd met again. Who we are at seventeen should not define who we are for the rest of our lives. I imagine a prettier April. Lighting a cigarette in my parent's living room, I am careless, the coffin nail burning a perfect circle in blue sweatpants. Across the street, I climb atop a small horse. Galloping, my inner thighs bruise with familiarity. My pony calls this learning and all the men in the audience agree. Achey, I enjoy the pain of forced adulthood.

I was eighteen the first time I remember being mistook for a prostitute. In lilac cutoffs and a tie-dye t-shirt, my tips from a busy summer day spill onto a gas station counter. "Be careful out there honey. You are so young." Her voice quivers with pity as she beckons her co-worker. Afraid of my youth, the sweet nectar of a freshly untethered sexuality, the second store clerk scolds, "But you're so pretty."

A man, circles his car. "Where's your daddy, baby? You got a boyfriend?" Finger licking the shadow of a harness, my knobby knees carry me, sprinting, up a flight of white stairs until I am back in my room for the night. Climbing into bed, having nothing to grasp onto but myself, I pulled at my own orange hair and scream. An observer glued to a story in which I am not a character, a tragic symbol for a pain I've never known, I bend over to vomit. I should of cried when I said goodbye.

The Rabid

Read through every word you have written in the past eight months
blinking at yourself in the mirror, every night for eighty days
could you look at me and still declare, "Humans are very genuine creatures"

I was gritting my teeth and panting
when they examined my body without seeing me,
in their glances they said, "It's time to put her down"

Myself, I imagine pushing you down a flight of stairs
so violently, your upper lip splits
my fury petting me like a lap dog
howling in my ear

They found me, the perfect rabid
uncompromising and covered in drool
damning everything within reach

I have dreamt of pushing ten people
down a flight of stairs only to say,
I have arrived.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Fantasy of Uniqueness

Spring 2017.  

A woman I call mom always when I'm talking about her and never when I'm talking to her inquires about a new him. When I tell her I do not trust men who have not suffered, she knows I am lying. This time, I do cry.

Fall 2016.

Saturday night's look: eight months off crystal & dating a trucker. I'm embarrassed and too sober until a rich girl in glasses shoves a plastic cup full of a Celiac's disaster into my hand. You look real pale and smell like sadness. Rich girl won't stop talking; you take the cup. Clean shaven, he looks a lot like this musician I was really into when I was 15. I wonder how many people tell him that, but then remember the type of people with whom he surrounds himself. Your pop culture is not my pop culture.

No grit. No edge. Cliche, no - predictable. 15 year old me went on a walk; 21 year old me wants to go home, but doesn't recognize the way back to campus. Mutual disinterest. I'm switched out for a sorority girl whose blond hair doesn't come from a box. No longer giddy on a turquoise couch, traded in red Colorados for black Audis, pink ribbon laced creepers for black booties and called it a recovery. How scary it is to think I've healed.

Through an SMS screen I learn that you're "terrified" of making moves on girls.

January 2017.

So terrified that your loneliness becomes my responsibility. So terrified that you remind me that my body is too woman to really mean anything. Too woman to be considered a threat. Against a '06 Pontiac Grand Prix my arms blossom into the dead wings of a cork-pinned moth. My PTSD, your victory lap. Through torn stockings and a semen stained dress that now resides at 201 West North Street, I learn that you are what is terrifying.

Do rapists remember the women they rape? Are we hand selected and groomed for meeting some sort of baseline criteria? Or is it like a video game, with our various identifiers equating to various scores? +50 feminist! +200 acquaintance! Your high score dependent on my tears, I am what must be conquered before entry into the next level.

February 2017. 

A bored and exhausted woman asks for what feels like the hundredth time, "Are you going to class?" What a privilege to be annoyed rather than petrified. I begin to wonder if I have an identity outside of academia, but the thought is fleeting. "I believe something happened to you," and like that, I remember exactly who I am: a series of holes waiting for a baseball bat. "In high school I used to shoot two grams of heroin a day and here I am." That shuts her up. Attendance, as if that's the ultimate indicator of one's sincerity.

In the library, I pretend not to be afraid of you. "You're smarter than the other two. I've got a special plan for you." My spit on your face is nothing compared to your cum on a red chiffon dress. Shame that I wasn't wearing blue. Monica Lewinsky jokes make better punch lines than rape poems.

A new man, older, wearier, leans over a porcelain sink, thick hair pouring into the basin below. It’s like I have ADD, only for people. "Why do you always look like you have a question?" Why does all sex taste like breaking and entering?

Blondie calls to say me too.

March 2017.

I am walking into work when I become a stock character in a story that will always be yours. Most days I am more victim than survivor. A drain clogged with too much emotional baggage, I spend more time in the Title IX office than I do being conscious. There are days I want people to believe me more than I want to be alive. I'm making yet another scene in the mouth of trauma.

April 2017.

I spend a weekend in Detroit responding to a report of an incident you'll tell your mother never happened. To my twenty six pages, you'll spend 12 minutes misspelling my name in a series of nine sentences.

I fell in love with every pretty thing, but now know better than to pursue it. That makes him a hero & me a tragedy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Woo! The aftermath.

It's 1:58pm on a Tuesday and I'm not late when I see one of my favorites out of the corner of my eye. I'm fumbling with outdated technology and am too ashamed to acknowledge his existence. When a woman with whom I have worked for four years suggests I only like two things I want to cry, but upon further consideration, realize her statement is more a reflection of herself than it is of me.

"You should think of what it does to a person when you tell them something like that."
She's afraid she's offended me and wedged behind nervous laughter, declares that she's convinced I like her too. I suppose she has allowed me three things now. Switching between two armors, I am distracted by my own daydreams. There are so many beautiful ways to die. Like a tipsy schoolgirl, I nearly trip, and giggle myself out of the room.

In an office with two black bags, she asks what I think of a new him. I tell her I do not trust men who have not suffered. She says I don't trust any of them. This time, I do cry.

Freshmen year, a roommate who studies frogs, "You're always angry and you smoke too many cigarettes." Same year, but this time a boy, on two different occasions, "You'll never be happy." and "Stop internalizing." This inspires me. I stop smoking so as to not be like him.

Two summers later a Navy brat confirms, why yes, he has not seen me smile all weekend. I tell him perhaps he has not given me anything to smile about. He considers himself charming.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

my sister, the mean one, pulling my hair

Wake up. Go to class. It's critique day and I'm not an art major. Sad boys grow up to be accountants. Meanwhile, I'm in the bathroom cutting the string off a tampon. "Oh wow, you deal with disasters." He talks in speeches. I laugh too loudly. Car air always feels more fake than non-car air. No one seems tired and I am reminded that I have so much more life ahead of me. "Once you were seventeen. Now you are not." Somehow I have fooled the whole room into believing in me. Sweaty in a new space.

I can't walk home alone at night. There are so many other things to sing about besides being lonely. Or cold.

En route. A woman with ten butterfly tattoos on her back. I spend the next two weeks spitting out gossamer wings. I wonder if my uncle goes to strip clubs and what type of patron he is.

In a dream, Lauren calls, "I'm proud of you for being everything I'm not - everything I'm afraid of." Why does every holiday feel like the last supper? Look oily; smell peonies. Sitting next to her in a car that reminds us both of our father, she is seven months pregnant, but I take up more space somehow.

"Keep him still," an operator spits.  

"I know what you did Carol! I have an attorney. You better watch yourself!"

I am barefoot on summer grass and he is not still, so when I ask myself how I got here I already know the answer. As always, in the film version, they love each other. Hand holding throughout suburbia. Move your lips and say nothing. I edit out their voices and place my tongue in their mouths. That way no one can disappoint me.

In my dream, the love doesn't run out. In my dream, I am not barefoot on the lawn.