your ugly girl

I was that girl you left

waiting in coffee shops while

for 2 hours you did

your makeup

 

I was the girl you outshone

brought to parties

to deposit firmly in a corner

 

gaze anxiously fixed to

my beat-up sneakers

every step of the way

 

barely considered friend

sometimes

I was just another accessory

the inanimate owned

in front of others

I was background noise

until my presence faded altogether:

static

 

and then

so quick to free yourself

to cut me loose, a weight

suddenly realized and stifling

when I started to shine a little

on my own

 

I guess it’s because

you probably never intended

to see or make use of me

as anything else

but your ugly girl

 

I was right, wasn’t I?

I was right

I was right to end it

this is what I say aloud

this is what I tell myself

as I curl into

the creaky mattress

and remember the times

you were here

 

listen for your familiar

tread on the stairs still

a knock on my door

 

I strain in the silence

to listen

and feel

you again

 

even if it’s right

what I’ve done

I ache

 

because it feels

wrong

the invisible sad

you don’t see this, of course

 

but sometimes it’s so hard and

I force myself to cry

until my throat is raw and red

fluttering

like ribbon

 

hoping to wash it away

but there is no drain;

it just collects

 

and you don’t know

 

how fragile I’ve always been

news flash:

same old same

heartbreak

in every fist I make to keep it in

keep the sad locked up

quiet

shush you

 

lips closed

but trembling and

always on the verge

of telling

but I won’t

I can’t

 

I know better than

to disturb the facade that is

all of us going through

the motions by which we’re

so easily

convinced

of each other

 

you can look for the sad

but you won’t see it,

of course

 

because I bury it

so deep

all you notice

is the smile

which I draw on with lipstick

to make you more

comfortable to be

around me

 

and you continue

blissfully unaware

 

but you don’t know

you don’t know, of course

that the sad

never stops

missing you

I miss you, and I’m filling those empty places you usually inhabit

inside of me
beside me

with wine and conversations
with people who look over my shoulder when they talk to me

friends who are suddenly too busy
too far to give me a moment
for despair

they don’t want to hear
how I’ve been gutted by your absence

and how the bloody tracks I leave behind in the bathtub don’t
quite appease my pain

Instead I’m told: chin up
and smile so
I’m shrugging off the feeling of wrong that keeps echoing
off the walls
in all the places
in which you aren’t
but I have to be

my sharp angles brittle and unwelcoming, and the softness giving way to the wasting

the wasting away
of a me
without you

I don’t like myself this way

and if you saw

you wouldn’t like me either

see you at our reunion, bitch

is it fair that tormentors get

happy endings in the form of

symmetrical wedding photography where

her teeth are so white and clean in her smile

you’d never imagine she was so full of

shit

 

look at that evil bitch’s happiness

look so gooey sweet

 

and I don’t want to hurt her myself

but shouldn’t the universe hurt her or something?

 

where is that bad karma lurking and when will it

come to fruition

burst inside her like a ripe appendix

with a message from me saying

this is what you get

 

for fucking me up all those years ago

 

giving me sleepless nights and so much self-hate

I filled notebooks with blood-red ink

might as well have been bleeding

 

leaving me breathless and choking at the thought of

speaking

voice trapped in a box of shame and

a body bent to hide my ugliness which was said

to be buried right into the color of my skin

and even the shape of my shadow unsightly

 

tear tracks dried on my face

I was a clown

to her

at ten years old

 

staring at bridges and trains and knives with

the deepest yearning

 

her laughing into my face and telling me to go ahead and

die

 

well, I’m not dead

surprise surprise surprise

there I go

surprising us all, myself included

 

so see you at our reunion, bitch

 

where I hope to smile

because I’m too happy

to care anymore

 

(your misery an added bonus)

I’m not good at this

when it’s just me here

that’s when I get the most fearful of doing something

touch-and-go

 

left to my own devices

who knows what ways I’ll come up with

to hurt myself

 

people see me outside and think I’m okay

oh so well put-together this facade of

mine eyes hold lies

treachery untold

 

left on my own, I unravel

 

I sink into my bed and glaze over

at the ceiling

melting away until I feel cadaverous

and only then

do I notice what’s happening

 

I know I’m waiting for somebody else to stop me

look, this is self-sabotage

and I’m so quiet as I spiral

 

I lose words in the fog

 

I forget

basic

function

 

I forget

myself

 

because

 

I no longer know

what the fucking point is

reject pile girl

back then we

we were glory days

and sake pub nights

photo booth adventures reflected in our

gaunt, exaggerated faces

because we’d forgotten how to sleep

and were too defiant

to admit needing rest

 

you were the closest I felt to loving a girl

you were best friend shivering with me

in full costume and make up heading into

the empty street

with leaves and garbage crunching under our cheap, fake leather boots

 

we were anarchists

my hair was blue, yours white

and we used to shout fuck you to people

who looked at us funny

 

and we probably deserved funny looks

because there you were

so beautiful

and there was I, raggedy-Ann, plain-Jane androgyny/

butch girl so out of place, out of touch

with the world

 

I think I dyed myself color

just to be seen

I think I was your opposite

because otherwise, I knew I’d fade

out, your ever-sidekick novelty

out, damned spot

 

but then I moved away

and we weren’t us anymore

 

you stopped caring about

what I had to say

 

and I learned to look in the mirror

without cringing

I learned that I might just be

beautiful too

 

you stopped caring

about me

 

and you weren’t overtly unkind

just thoughtless and that hurt more

because you faded me out

out, damned spot

 

and left me

in a reject pile

miles away from where

you’d ever have to see it

liar liar liar

how many do you think you can tell

before I stop you right there

before I recognize the disease living in the whites

of your lying eyes

 

your gaze is deliberately aimless

and emphatically sincere

 

a cheap imitation of flawless performance

for a fool who couldn’t afford

to lose her imagination

and wake up then

 

you think

I should have no reason for suspecting

you but

you’ve always thought

me as innocent, guileless

woman-child

for you:

 

I am petals pressed in between

your pages

preserved too well

and as unsullied

as the day you met me

 

but as you’ve lived your life

I’ve been living mine

 

and along the curve of your carefree grins I’ve seen

that nervous twitch at the corners

the bead of sweat that trickles from your upper lip

down your throat

where a telltale inhale of just not right

unreality lives

 

I know now

when you laugh it’s

strange and hollow

you throw your head back and make a display

of yourself

 

but not for me

 

and to keep me from walking

you’ve held my hands tight

forced me to face the illness that is you

with your lips pressed against my brow

crooning words like

baby and please

and I would never

 

you are an act

meant to convince

 

- well it doesn’t convince me anymore -

 

but baby

does it still work

on you?

childhood lessons

how long I was still

and afraid

before

I learned myself

better

 

I was a girl

waiting as long as I had to

unwilling to return

to the outside

because it wasn’t safe

then

it wasn’t safe

ever

 

I was a girl

who lied everything

until parts became

real

until I forced

myself to live

that way

 

Lies like

You’re not scared to a trembling lip

You don’t need anyone
to red rimmed eyes

You don’t feel pain to blue-imprinted skin

 

And now I don’t cry

in front of others

 

And now I laugh at monsters

because they’re nothing

in comparison

to people you love

 

And now,

I expect to be hit

always

but never flinch

 

Because

I learned

better