Relationships are so hard

Again, I sat waiting around for him to come home. I was tired from working all day and from walking around the city, but not as tired as he’d be after spending something like 16 hours carrying kegs and mixing drinks.

How had I ended up like this, again? Waiting on him like a fool, like his pet. As if I couldn’t leave the house. As if I had nothing better to do than stare the clock down all night, again.

I hated myself for my laziness, for my insecurity, for my overwhelming desire to have him near me at all times. There was no good side to it anymore. Either I was wrapped up in him when he was home, coddling him like a child and holding his head to my breasts,or I was paralyzed with missing him, touching myself to the thought of him and staring, catlike, out the window of our apartment.

I hadn’t been like this a year ago. I had been a wild lioness, a silent predator slinking through the day with my long hair hanging in the sun. I had been like a fish, sliding through the night with my speckled skin slick with sunscreen.

I longed for the late walks in the forest, where we never carried flashlights, but clung to each other in the darkness and the cold. I had felt so sad then, so stagnant. But he knew how to drag me out of my shadow and force me into life.

I had wished for a way to explain these feelings to my friends. He’s a bad influence, they told me, you’re using him and you know it. And I was using him. This was no secret, especially to him. Yet he came to me, again and again, a habit he couldn’t break.

Is it right to attribute his presence to my progress? Maybe it wasn’t about him at all. Maybe I was capable of these adventures by myself.

I feel like I’ve hit a wall. Nothing excites me anymore. Every day feels like a rerun of an old sitcom with a bad laugh track. I force myself to exercise. To eat right. To cook and clean and groom myself. To practice my singing, my drawing, my writing, and the practicing of my instruments.

But I feel stuck.

I don’t like anything I produce. I don’t like any of the thoughts or feelings I have. My body hurts everywhere all the time and I feel like it is terminal. Like this is the way it ends and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

I used to feel like he was supporting me. Now I feel like I’m using him as an excuse to not accomplish anything.That resentment is creeping in. Every time he works 2 shifts in one day – which is almost every single day – every time I have to do his laundry, wash his dishes, pick up his messes. I feel like I’m pouring all of myself into him and he’s just pouring his money into me.

I’m so frustrated I want to fucking scream. I want to hurt myself because I don’t have any room left in me for this pain. I am full. I am a bucket of dirty mop water that has been left in the back and ignored. I am rotting and cold but nobody has noticed that I’m dead yet.

Why doesn’t he love me?

The only time we see each other now is at night,when he comes home to sleep. He gets upset at me because I don’t want to fuck him. I don’t want to fuck him because I know I only get a couple hours with him each day,and I feel used when all he does is fuck me and fall asleep. He says he shows his affection through sex.

This is starting to upset me, again.

I hate feeling like this because I know I’m right. He’s been working hard so that we can have this stupid lifestyle that I don’t even want. I don’t care about any of it. He didn’t care about it either until a few months ago. It’s not fair for there to be sacrifices to be made at every fucking intersection of adult life.

How the fuck am I supposed to feel when the person I love, who says he wants to spend his life with me, doesn’t even spend entire hours with me?

I know this is irrational. I know I’m going down the rabbit hole I always go down when I’m lonely. I just feel so pathetic that all I want is to see him and all he wants is to stay away from me for as long as possible.

I hate giving everything I have just for him to come home and consume me.


The second time I was raped

the second time i was raped didn’t count.
the second time i was raped wasn’t rape
because i got back in bed with my rapist.
i got back in bed with my rapist after
the second time i was raped.

when i woke up
my underwear was around my ankles,
and my jeans brushed against my toes
and it felt like a crumpled paper bag at the foot of the bed.

i was aware of moisture
between my legs and on my thighs
like paste sticking to my thighs.

i got back into bed with my rapist
after cleaning myself up in the bathroom.
it was not my bathroom
and i could not find a rag big enough
to wipe the moisture from my legs.

i got back into bed with my rapist fully dressed
and was surprised to find him naked.
i was surprised because i knew i hadn’t been raped.
not for a second time.

i knew that he must have just gotten too warm.
i knew that he must have just been too drunk to realize
that he had gotten undressed.
he was still asleep.

when i got back into bed with my rapist
i was aware of another breathing body
in the bed next to this one.

the second time i was raped didn’t count
because there had been another person in the room.
people don’t get raped
when another person is in the room.

i got back into bed with my rapist
and i grabbed his hands and pulled them around me
because people who have been raped
don’t ask their rapist to touch them
and i had not been raped.

as the body breathing in the bed next to me woke up
so too did the body breathing in the same bed as me.
i felt him grow hard against me.
i felt my tongue swell up in my throat.

they spoke to each other in a way
i could not understand
because i felt as if water was rushing into my head
and i could not hear anything.

i laughed when they laughed.
i groaned when they groaned.
i remembered drinking more of my rapist’s rum
than i should have.

i remembered him kissing my neck in this bed
and i remembered saying no.
i remembered the body in the bed next to mine
telling us to shut up. telling us to go to sleep.

i remembered saying no so many times
that i must have lulled myself to sleep.
but i did not cry. not on the drive home.
not during breakfast with my family.

i did not cry because i had not been raped
because normal people don’t get raped twice.
but people like me do.


On my eighth birthday my friends came to sleep over. We blew up balloons with our sticky Lip Smacker coated mouths. We rubbed the balloons on the carpet, on our hair, and stuck them to the walls, to one another. I was the last one to fall asleep. Fearful they might disappear, I watched their dreaming bodies shifting under brightly colored blankets.

I remember being 19 years old, and feeling unreal when I was anywhere but buried in my sheets. I got drunk one night, and then every night. I screamed to a stranger that I didn’t love you, that I could never love you, because I would never love myself enough to have any excess love to give to you.

I felt the desperation for closeness at 19 like I felt it at 8. Like I felt it in your apartment every time you left the room to bring me cinnamon bread, or pour yourself a cup of tea. You must have felt it too, from the way you pressed your nose to mine, hard. When you looked into my eyes I liked to think it was because you knew you needed me. Now I know it was the other way around.

I felt like crying all the time then. I was 19 and everything hurt the way it did when I was 15, when I was 8. Except I couldn’t just climb up into the silver maple in my parents’ yard anymore. I couldn’t bite my knees to diffuse the pain like I did when I was 8. I couldn’t just starve myself to focus the pain like I did when I was 15. I had to drag the pointed end of a pair of scissors, or the tip of a safety pin, across my arm until redness flowed from my skin like rain trickling from a rooftop gutter.


Now I am 21, and I am wondering if I ever had any love in me at all.

Everything triggers me


please don’t tell me to write more
when my hands are shaking
i’ve dulled every last pencil
just to ease the quaking

please don’t tell me i’m boring
when i’ve got bills to pay
but i spend all my money
on that liquid decay

my mind’s soaking in it
for months now I’ve drowned the flames
hoping love would inspire me
but i’ve just been taking names

for now i’ll satisfy myself
with trite thoughts of tomorrow
as if any of us have got
that much time to borrow

This is meaningless


Since you disappeared

I’ve imagined you a hundred times, a hundred thousand times. The teardrop shape of your mouth, the white scar in the arc of your left eyebrow. Yet I am unprepared for the smell of you, and the blackness of your eyes.

I cross my legs, trying to ignore the throbbing along the seam of my jeans. My mind replays scenes like you forcing yourself up the front of my skirt, like one of your hands on my lower back and the other over my mouth.
I close my eyes for a moment, shut these things out.

My name on your lips sounds like a curse. “Are you listening to me?” you ask.
I shift my gaze from my own hands to the paintings on the walls of the coffee shop, miniature depictions of brown animals in snow.

You’re still speaking, but it doesn’t matter what the words are.
You’re stuttering like you always do when you’re upset, and your jaw tenses up as your hell black eyes try to force an answer out of me.

“I fucking hate you.” This is what I want to say to you, but instead
I part my lips with the tip of my tongue, wrap them around the straw in my drink and sip.

The veins around your temple tighten and release like a fist.

I want you to hit me.
I want you to do it, like I know you wanted to do it that morning in my car, when I told you I’d fucked somebody else.
I want you to grab a fistful of my hair, pull my head back, and bite me hard on the neck.
I want you to tell me that I like it, tell me how hard it gets you, how you want to
eat me alive and make me cry.

I know you could do it, and I’m terrified.

You start to raise your voice and then, realizing you can’t do this in here,
take a breath and clench your teeth.
“Can we talk in private?” you ask.
I tell you no.

I think you could kill me, if you wanted to, and I’m terrified
that you might want to.

Instead, you change the subject. Ask me if I’m seeing somebody else.
I take another slow sip of my drink. “Yes.”

You ask who, like it doesn’t matter, but you know that it matters.

I say that I think you already know who it is.

You exhale, and I’m reminded of the noises you made on my bed
when I pushed my palm over your mouth and told you to shut up.

“Then you fucking lied to me, didn’t you?”

I laugh, running my tongue along my front teeth. “I never lied. He was just a friend. He isn’t now.” Your silence is your most lethal weapon. “Are you seeing someone?” I ask.
Even as the words escape my lips I want to suck them back in. My heart is in my mouth, swollen and choking me.

“No. You know why?”

“You can’t find anyone else to put up with you?” There’s some kind of freedom in saying these things. I know you want to make me pay for them, but you can’t anymore.

This time your voice is steady when you reply. “I can’t figure you out,” you say.
“I always thought you were this cute little girl, so shy and quiet, and then you’d surprise me because you were funny. So funny. And you could ride a dick, ooh could you ride a dick. You made me crazy. But you were my woman. My sexy, stubborn, silly woman. And now I hear you telling everybody that it was my fault, that it was me that broke you, and that hurts me. Because it was you that broke my heart, you fucking slut.”

I’ve reached the bottom of my drink, and it gurgles. It feels as though my lungs are balloons and you’ve reached over and stuck pins in them both.
I look up into your eyes and they’re soft and kind now. This is the way you are. Your words are enough to make me want to die but your eyes deceive the coldness of your heart.

“Does he make you cum?” you ask. Your fold your hands on the table in front of you like a surrender, but I know better. “Does he make you scream like I did?” Your voice is hot sticky caramel.

And suddenly I am buried in snow, I am on fire. My hands tremble and I shove them under the table into my lap. I am not weak. I am not weak.

“Hmm?” Your eyebrows stretch upward, baiting me to answer. “Does he do that for you?”

I cannot stop the images now: the open mouths, the beads of sweat sliding down my breasts, the pressure between my legs, your tongue unceasingly licking at my skin. And I hate you so much more.

Something brushes against the inner part of my knee and I glance up at your face to see you smiling. One of your hands is missing from the table. It doesn’t take me long to figure out where it has gone. My legs are bare except for the cutoff shorts you bought me for my birthday last year – was it only last year? – and I know these have affected you.

The table is small enough that you can reach further up my thigh, your fingertips drawn toward the heat. “Stop,” I say. You ignore me and I can’t move. “Please stop.”

“But you don’t want me to stop, do you?” You push the small strip of cotton between my legs to the side. You can feel how wet I am.

I say your name.

You say mine.

I want to cry. I want to kiss you. I want to leave. I want to take your cock into my mouth like that straw I’ve been playing with. I want to kill you. And yet I know that what I want doesn’t matter. You will get what you want.

You always do.


I like your room

I like your room when you are in it
Perched on the chair beside the closet.
The dresser is stained by your green thumb
Which impetuously gathers roots lonesome.

I like your room when I am in it
Sprawled on bedsheets, gently skylit.
I trace eggshell cracks on the white wall
As you walk on long feet down the hall.

I like your room when we’re together.
Your arms wind round me like a tether.
Hiding your face amid threads of gold
You breathe my name into me threefold.

I like your room when we are in it
And all around us is a vignette
As you strike my tongue like a fresh match
And press in close so the flames can catch.


Blood in the water

I approach the lake like I would an old friend. I crouch, allowing my fingertips breech the still surface. The wrinkles that echo across the water assure me that it remembers me. But will it forgive me?  The wet, onyx colored ellipse stretched out in front of me is interrupted in the center by a small sandbar. The white moon hangs like a bare light bulb above the water. Its cool light settles around the sandbar like a halo, taunting me for my sins. The moon is a witness. Everyone who looked up at the sky tonight saw the same vacant stone. Does the moon keep secrets, or is it whispering what it knows to a stranger right now? The moon is a projector, and in the reflections generated by its pale light I see my own terrible face. I see my own terrible hands. They tremble, an illusion of the ripples in the water. I bend forward to remove my shoes, methodically undoing the double knot in the laces. One black-socked foot, becomes wet with lake water, then the other joins. I peel off my socks and fold each inside its according shoe. My long toes dig into the gravelly sand. I have practiced for this. Since my conception, I have swum through this world. This lake is just another body of water to try out; it is nothing to be afraid of. I step in, only bare from the ankles down. The warm wetness soaking the hem of my blue jeans is a trillion tears. Needy like a small child, the wetness clings to my pant legs, weighing me down. I accept it, and tumble forward. The water rushes into my ears, until I hear nothing but the erratic pounding of my heart. No one will hear me scream here. No one will see me adding to the trillions of tears enveloping me as I take in nothing but blackness.