FlashbackMy father shuts his door against the heat,
and cowers in the air-conditioned dark --
sleeps off the war.
He battles in the far-off gloom, and wet,
and terror, breathing labored, heartbeat quick --
a fight ahead:
I push in, switch the light on, then a start --
he rears up, and begins another war,
with me the foe.
Braced against his rage, bearing the brunt
of blows, and shouts, and rains from anger past,
I stand my ground.
The secrecy and shadow of his fear
and mine emerge, to twist from damp and bright
to dry and dim.
I never cry. He pushes me away,
slips back into the cold and arid room,
brings on the night,
fleeing sharp images of combat,
closing past and present -- shuts his eyes
to time and me.
things I learned at 11 am while I was half-asleepithings I learned at 11 am while I was half-asleep2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I’m spending most of my time
not crying, and I’m sorry,
but I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone
as much as aspirin, or lullabies,
or the cheap wine sold for two dollars a bottle,
or overly-apologetic letters bending over backwards
to make a point of themselves, or the pink petals
blooming on my wrists like flesh and blood miracles,
or the songs named after women
things may not change,
but you will have to.
I am most alone
surrounded by people
and the buzzing in my head of words
that should have lost their meaning
back when I discovered
they never meant anything
Dedications are only relevant
to people who appreciate shitty poetry,
or you. Insanity is writing the same thing
over and over and expecting it not
to sound clichéd.
and as much as anyone will swear otherwise,
I am a statistic. A number, an example,
a case study in the manipulation of
narcissism and moving on
on unlearning how to diethe space between intention andon unlearning how to die2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
inaction has been redefined. they say
the first step to sadness is
to be happy. the second step
is learning loss. they tell us
depression is an abundance of emotions
but everyone here is a balloon
deflated with time, a sun
dimming as years eat away years
and everything changes but
nothing's really different at all.
we drowned before we even saw
the sea, dreaming of that cemetery
a million miles deep; and still,
I cry for the people worth forgetting:
the girl who couldn't take enough
sleeping pills to live her dreams,
the boy so doped out on an inability
to live that he told us about his trips
to Jupiter and back, and
expected us to believe him. the girl
with a ghost smile named after the prayer
she was born to forget, the boy
who slept like an angel and cried like
a fallen, and me, me
choking on gravity and the ever-growing
weight of my own fucking inadequacy
tied tightly around my neck like a noose
not quite designed properly, right,
because I survived.
Starving sleep and apologies.My sleep is starving.Starving sleep and apologies.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
It is shivering sweat like snow
across my shoulders as I sob scream
after scream against your skin;
"sorry, I'm so sorry,
go back to sleep."
I am sad
and struggling to stay
together but you slump
against my sickness
and hold me
016. Excuses -- GarbageAsk me to get anything done,016. Excuses -- Garbage1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
and I'll pick you a reason I can't,
probably out of the garbage
I got from my parents.
He hit me, or yelled and yelled,
he drank or rubbed me the wrong way,
or raped me or didn't;
she told me I fucked her dry.
Excuses blow themselves
over the front lawns of my days,
gritty and undesirable.
I stab each one as I come to it.
This is how I get out of cleaning
toilets, going to church, breastfeeding,
buying groceries, volunteering at the shelter
or the soup kitchen, grooming myself.
Instead, I spend my days
and the brighter evenings working
my way across my lawn,
gathering excuses for tomorrow.
beauty is a state of mindforgiveness is thebeauty is a state of mind2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
scent the violet leaves
on the foot that stomped it;
I am beautiful in remembrance:
I am beautiful
in a body two sizes too
large, in eyes dilated
with questions (eyes
you cannot name; gray
like the ocean, blue
like the heart, green like
the fever dream I cannot
wake from) I am the
hair of a lion, a wild
thing, ignition upon
tempted glance. I am the skin
you cannot name, always fleeting;
you always see
but never truly take in.
and I know a boy
carved of ivory silence,
Dysania9.22.13Dysania2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I know that today you didn't feel like getting up.
You thought the light from the window
looked a little less harsh from your pillow,
felt like gravity was stronger than most days,
thought that if it was any stronger,
it would swallow you whole.
I know you almost didn't get out of bed today.
I know you almost didn't pick up the razor today.
You almost didn't care enough to mark your losses,
to tally your skin with ritualistic conviction.
You almost didn't make that sacrifice,
but sometimes the voice that says
"atone" is the loudest one.
But know this-
Your body has been met with the force of gravity every day,
and has still managed to stand up right.
Your heart loves you more than you do,
it is stronger than diamonds,
every time you thought it had shattered,
that surely it would stop this time,
it kept going.
Your veins are tree roots,
and no matter how much you try to dig them up,
they keep you firmly planted.
They are beautiful.
You are beautiful.
No one else has the sa
a sliver of the galaxyto the star girl on the edge of my tongue:a sliver of the galaxy2 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
your hair dye is fading; you are a patch work
quilt comprised of sleepless nights and
the world around you romanticizes
the sadness that fills you like a broken well,
but you know they’re wrong --
having a darkness that threatens
to overwhelm you every single moment
isn’t glamorous at all.
you’ve started to trace your skin
with a knife again, itching to press
a little harder, to draw on your body
the only way you know how.
but you won’t.
because that will mean
that you’re just as far gone
as they think you are.
and there’s still a sliver inside of you
that doesn’t want to let go.
--the girl on the other side of your mirror
suicide riski.suicide risk2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
you are six shades of sadness
on a too cold, too big seat,
a shrunken apostrophe and
paroxysmal, the balls of your feet
strumming the hours gone
("i want to go home,
please, please, i just
want to go home").
it is your relief and your regret
that she knows you so well.
It is she who brings forth a doctor
then, when you are past talking-down, done,
wrung out and horse-footed in your need
("let me go home, please,
please, i just
need to go home")
softly accented words spoken off to the side:
"Yes. Let's keep her voluntary now,
it will be quicker: but if her wings sprout
and itchy feet sample corridors,
we'll make it an order."
("if you go home,
the police will return you,
please stay a little longer")
you are seven hours of waiting,
free to leave until you try and
another doctor says
"I can't get a read
on her lethality and
there are no beds".
("let's go, please, i want
to go home, and they
don't want me here")
she is concern coated in fury,
a righteous expletive
this won't end up as a suicide notethere aren’t enough momentsthis won't end up as a suicide note3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
to love you, or words
in the English language to call you
beautiful. there aren’t enough
heartbeats in me to dedicate you
something you might deserve.
you can no longer lie.
a vengeful earthquake births itself inside
your unkind frame-- bones and skin and
muscle knotted together as an attempt
at something durable; but when you scream,
you don’t wake up. your world
collapses in mounting seconds. words
are a currency and you are
finally rich. you have lived
in the mouths of ghosts for so long
that you can walk through walls;
you aren’t here, you’re choking
on other planets from a lack of oxygen
and understanding. but I will love you,
I will love you; dear wallflower,
your petals are not wilted. dear
anonymous, I could give you a name.
dear hopeless, there are not enough words
in the English language for how beautiful
you really are.
what I forgot to sayto the girl who lives like a hurricane:what I forgot to say2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
don’t expect to tell me about
your addiction to self-harm and
Nyquil and have me smile;
although, as I shiver from lakewater
and things less tangible, I seem to
acquire a talent for glossing over the list
of things I need to tell you--
is an asshole. California does not
begin and end in a tiny town where
people operate like clockwork around
the same happy working song. I am not
a fountain of wisdom, and, to be honest,
I can barely understand you over the
thunderstorms in my own brain.
you are beautiful and you are
to the girl I left back in time:
purpose is not a given. I am
the same teenage angst who used
to wear too much eyeliner and
complain about my future
as I’d foretold it-- loveless and whiny,
like me. I am her plus a few more
self destructions and minus
a lot more days to continue striving
alongside you for simple goals and
simple friends and simple memories
I won’t remember.
to the girl who see
Thank YouMy name is Nicholas Aaron Swaner,Thank You2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I was born in 1993 on April 17th in Urbana, Illinois.
I am six foot, I weigh two-hundred eighty pounds.
I have brown hair and grey eyes.
I have one younger brother, Matthew,
and one parent, Jennifer.
Sometimes I write things.
In September of 2013 I lost my identity.
I’ve been Indian burned
and Native American zinged
and meds had been missed
with a mess at midnight;
I’ve had spilled pill bottles
clatter past the doorhinge,
but never has that killed me.
Living in a house with shatterproof carpet,
frosted glass ceilings, blind window sills,
not knowing where the walls are.
that kills me.
In September of 2013
I lost sight of my reaching hands
with a fluster and a cluck
and I couldn’t seizure the day
best friend, better person.
Held me up against myself
when the depression worsened.
Taking the yellow line trains
to my house and back
answering my late night questions
loud and with fear:
purifyI could take a dozenpurify2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
let the scalding water
burn the bruises
out of my skin,
empty the Atlantic
into the grating on the floor
and still not
be clean of you
The BeachIf my grandfather’s brother hadn’t been murderedThe Beach2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
then maybe he wouldn’t have hit you so hard,
seeing bare feet and hard times and
the violence that repeats itself over and over
because tragedy sends shockwaves
that still echo when you’re grown.
I know now that when you scream at me
you’re not really my mother.
You’re fourteen again
being punished for a crime that happened years before you were ever born
mourning for a life that vanished like footprints on the beach
and left a lonely child
trailing through the sand and never finding someone older,
never finding the right way home.
I know I have it lucky –
kids in those decades used to disappear like air
I know I have it lucky
one bruise is better than three or ten or thirty
I know I have it lucky,
it’s better to be sad and scared and still alive.
I know I have it lucky here.
Out on the beach there are only bones.
(w)retchI used to think of death as something(w)retch5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
dark and distant,
immeasurably far away
and hopelessly deep.
now that it is upon me, weighing heavily
in the caverns of my mouth,
it is the easiest decision I've
ever made, the easiest thing
I've ever swallowed.
the fact that I failed is an
I have snapped a string,
I have deviated farther,
I am two-fifths dead
and one-fifth cold
warning signsI should have known things had begun to slidewarning signs3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
when my dog stopped eating,
curled against me, our ribs slotting together,
the wild look in her eyes;
when our bed became a ship on a restless sea,
no longer for sleeping,
she ached by my side. And we lost so many weeks.
She tells me she will love me forever
and I believe her
because I am fragile but she's not afraid anymore.
She's angry with me,
snubs my attention, but
keeps just one sharp ear tilted
towards my laughter.
a study in futilitysometimes it seems as thougha study in futility2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
is a series of relapses.
I’ve learnt the ropes
I know just the way it goes:
I can map out every curve and bump
I can sense the end
of each golden-aged
it actually happens.
that doesn’t make it easier.
no Sisyphean task
is any better
because you can feel the boulder
start to cut into your palms,
feel your ankles
start to twist, feel the ground
start to shift.
every time I fall,
it feels like the first time.
we're all mad herejamie arrived in the summerwe're all mad here2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of 2002, his knees weak beneath
the pressure of a decade. he had beautiful
eyes once, blue as the ocean, but they
have faded beneath the weight of
medication and diagnosis (they say
schizophrenia, but he is never less than lucid).
eleanor arrived in 1998, and she's
been screaming ever since. the other
(inmates) patients whisper in the
hallways when her screams change pitch; some
say that she killed her daughter in cold blood
but she is too distant to lay waste to the
falsehoods and speak the truth (the doctors
are still waiting for her to go hoarse).
max arrived in 2004, his limbs still
blue from the womb. he will see out his
days here, in the endless catacomb of
white washed walls and padded floors, but
he will never learn to speak (down syndrome,
and parents who balked at the thought).
emily arrived in 1996, and she is at home
with herself. she allows two visitors a week,
and speaks only in the third person. she cannot
feel the ticking of clocks or the cha
Sun CupThe air tingles. It is my spider sense. I scoop up Superman and Batman and run out of the living room and up the stairs and into my bedroom which is the smallest in the house. Then I close the door, but I still hear them.Sun Cup3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Dad says, “Where the fuck have you been?”
And Mummy says, “With my friends.”
And Dad says, “Which friends?”
She went out with Terry. Terry is her bestest friend, apart from me. He let me have Superman and Batman.
And Mummy says, “Lola,” so I guess I am wrong.
And Dad says, “I don’t fucking think so,” and there is a bang and a bang and a bang, like he was throwing things inside the house. I hate him.
I love Mummy. I can’t hear her.
* * *
The front door opens and slams shut. Then I open my bedroom door.
“Let’s go!” I tell my men (Superman and Batman). “The coast is clear and we must complete our mission.”
Then I run down the stairs and I stop because I do
The Female SuicideTwenty years of nursingThe Female Suicide1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
emergency room wounds
and my grandmother
puts down her fork, rubs
her brow and tells me
the female suicide
is a more methodical,
A woman will close
the curtains, cleanse
their apartment of clutter
for the first time in months
and proceed to overdose
in the comfort of their
A woman will do this
because she is aware
someone will have to
discover her like this.
Someone will have to
bury her like this.
My grandmother says this
because when my uncle speaks
paramedic about the male
he pronounced dead from
a house’s television antenna
he never mentions a burial.
For you, no more.I have spentFor you, no more.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
most of my life holding my breath
above the waves,
just in case
they break me down
And I have spent
most of my life drowning in love
for hearts too full to home me,
propping myself up with cardboard
promises and sorry tarpaulins.
And I have spent
most of my life living for other
people; a doormat for woes and
loneliness; a spare body in their
bed at night.
I say no more.
Love letter to myself.Small handed girl,Love letter to myself.3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
you've written the truth
of your scars wherever there's
space to write it
and I love you.
They painted over
the rape you wrote about
on the front door of
your Uncle's house
and I love you.
They took the floorboards
of your bedroom out where you'd
carved the shape of your
father's fist into their
and I love you.
You shook the sand of
your fifteenth birthday out of
your hair and into a jar
you keep under the bed to
remember a girl with crooked
teeth and bony knees who
fled and flew
and I love you.
You've built yourself into a
fortress with nothing but your
fingernails and shredded skin
and you let him in when he
waited by the door instead of
forcing his way
and I love you.