I swallow my pain

It tastes like used needles

Empty of delight, sharp-toothed

I am fetal position

And I ask you to stop

You are the whole world

You are hate, unmasked, volatile

And ready to destroy 

You are ugly and twisted and angry

And force yourself into me

Despite all my best intentions
I sometimes match you heat for heat

You turned my heart into lead and 

My mouth into rust

I tense until I am taut and then

I am snapped string

Damaged goods
My face is what I begin to wear to pretend

That I am okay

You heap upon me all your misunderstandings, untruths and blame
And I catch it all, more fool me

Because for some reason

As you grind me under your heel

My arms have refused to close you off

Even though all you do is

Hurt me

It’s like I’m hoping for you to get better

It’s like I believe in you or something

Even though you often give me signs that you don’t get it

That you are cruel and unyielding

But I am getting tired of waiting for you

I am getting tired of waiting for justice 

That never comes



I can put on their clothes

Talk how they talk

Walk their walk even
I can blend right in until that moment 

Realization hits me
No matter what I do

My brown skin outs me
I have no power here 
I am nobody 


she put herself in a box

on a shelf somewhere, thinking: I’ll get to that later

and then never did


she woke up, of course

20 years down the road

as if emerging from a nightmare

she shivered in cold sweat

wondering how she could have

lost herself


trying to retrace steps

as if all of those years

– all those selves she could have been –

were really in a box somewhere

and if she could just find it

she could go back

to who she used to be

like none of them happened


in too deep

I crawl inside your darkness with you, willingly burrow so far until I could be said to be part of you now in a way I could never be part of anyone else. And we trust each other in a way that being faceless and nameless manages to promote the deepest, most vulnerable-bellied kind of trust. But I only trust you to spill over until I can measure the damage that loneliness has done to you, done to other people. In this sense, I trace your fluttering pulse, and see that maybe you do want to live more than you’ve said you do.

Maybe making death threats is the only way you are ever able to garner any kind of love, even if it’s that weak, pitying kind of love that can’t ever be enough to satisfy the emptiness of your days. And maybe you’re so desperate that you’ve convinced yourself that this, just the sound of my voice humming in your ear as you speak is more than enough for now.

Sometimes, your honesty is cruel because here I am thinking I’m going to be the one to fix you and then there are moments of you turning it around and fixing me. And now I find, because of this, that every time we haven’t spoken is a day I grow to miss your loneliness. I miss hearing about how you managed to step outside of your house, how you tried to talk to someone at the bus stop because it’s like hearing myself. With others I have to pretend an empathy I don’t feel just to put on the face of a person better and kinder than me. With you it comes naturally. And I don’t have to talk to anyone else about you with a sick sort of viciousness that comes with hating how fragile you are, how stupidly fragile humans can be. Instead, I see myself and I understand you better than you probably think I do.

When we hang up, I kind of hope to meet you somewhere and become the kind of person you’ve said you are looking for. I kind of want to be the one to share your darkness. But I also hope we never meet just because I’m scared neither of us would measure up and it would become awkward and we could probably never talk again. You’d never call in again, and I turn into a ghost when things stop working.

And that possibility scares me much more than it should.




There’s a lake at the end of my street

The sidewalk just ends and the lake begins

so I could keep walking until I’m fully submerged

in its January waves

swimming out far enough

that no help could come

(at least not in time)

looking up as I paddle with my legs and arms getting stiff with cold

body temperature plummeting

barely keeping my head above

this winter meniscus brushing my lips, then my nose

and turning me blue


I could look

for glimpses of my house

until I sink




no more of this, okay

I will not let you in

I’m done with wearing

this vulnerable skin

I’m done with being

some fragile skeleton



I’ll become the ghost of your


I’ll imprint memories of us

until whether you’re asleep

or awake

my name

is on your lips


my image burned into your eyes


So that we both suffer

from this disease

until we’re both contagious

and volatile

and crashing


Because it’s your fault

I was careless


I trusted that you would know

when I wasn’t safe

when I was afraid

of misstepping

and having to leap out of the way

of your indifference


I trusted that you would know

when you no longer loved me

and that you would say it


instead of keeping me prisoner


an ugly insanity

I want vices,


and visible

reasons to shun and

be shunned

And I want,

more than anything,

the kind of insanity

people are comfortable with

and not this

embarrassing kind

which people take pains

to look away from


bravery or something, I guess

They call what I do bravery. They put me up on some pedestal of whore/martyr and ooh and ahh over me. They look at my long locks and long, long legs and say oh you’re so beautiful, I don’t know how you have trouble.

They don’t see the scars on my inner thighs; they don’t see the extra flesh bulging out from underneath the wire of my bra, my bra that now has trouble holding my breasts. Because I’m doing that other thing when the dissatisfaction has settled so deep inside me. I’m endlessly hungry and think that once I sate this lust of mine, I’ll be happy.

And I shrug to myself as I consume another jelly doughnut, feeling at least 3 rolls spanning from that underwire to my belly. If you can’t be happy, the consolation prize is being well-fed.

Still, I’m somehow brave. Still, I somehow have all the answers.

But all I do to elicit this admiration is put on my face. I put on my face and walk out into the dark street and then into a bar. I sit there, and I wait for love. Or whatever passes for love in that fleeting moment between my third beer and the eighth.

I go back to a faceless person’s place, we rut on his dirty sheets, and then I call a cab and come home, feeling emptier than before.

That’s what bravery is now. Bravery is hoping for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong people.

Bravery is holding out, and then giving in at the first touch of somebody who isn’t repulsive. Bravery is apparently the same thing as desperation, as that fog of neediness that rises to choke you because you’re lonely and can’t stand to be alone for another moment.

I guess, you could say, that bravery for me is not just ending it altogether.

If that’s bravery, fine. But really, I’m just trying to pin down happiness.

I can’t say I’ve never been happy. I go through moments of pure happiness. It’s addicting. It tastes like sunshine and fucking skittles and puppy kisses. But then, the thing about happiness is that you always need more of it to keep going. You need it, or otherwise every other moment without it is so pale and grey and heavy in comparison that you can’t bear to go on.

Happiness is a pill that’s too expensive for me to afford, most of the time. Happiness is sometimes at the bottom of a pint, underneath some sweaty human being, and sometimes it’s so much more. Sometimes it’s actually getting to see some fucking stars for once. Sometimes it’s bathing in the sea and baring my breasts on a beach and feeling free. Sometimes it’s just lying on the floor of my apartment, Mr. Fish swimming happily in his little tank, and the both of us listening to a record I just bought at the market.

But I tell these stories to admiring friends who are attached to people they say they love. Attached to what are called “significant others”. Significantly, this might be what makes them think of my life as some courageous tale. They ooh and ahh and envy me this life of fucking strangers.

This sad, pathetic life where all I do is put on my face, and hope for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong people.

Unbeknownst to them, one day I’m going to do the really brave thing and jump off this pedestal, in hopes of shattering into pieces so tiny that trying to find happiness will no longer mean anything to me.

This, I think, they’ll call “cowardice”.



Our ceiling has an outlet. Every time I tip my head back and look up, I can see it. And who knows how long it’s been there. And who cares really?

Because you aren’t here. And it’s not funny to see it when you’re not here with me to laugh about it.

When the shower-head exploded last week and I had to call the landlord to replace it and the woman from the apartment downstairs came up to knock on the door to tell me the water had dripped down through her ceiling, it wasn’t funny. When I fell asleep curled up uncomfortably on your grandmother’s tiny Italian couch, my feet and head hanging off either end, that wasn’t funny either. Not even when a boy was singing and playing his guitar under my window, almost as if he was serenading me but most likely he was drunkenly serenading the night. Nor when I saw the apples you left in the fridge wrinkling like pitiful little balloons, losing all their air and collapsing into themselves.

You didn’t knock on my bedroom door to tell me to get up. To ask me if I wanted to go for breakfast at that breakfast place we always go to with the most delicious home-fries and your favourite blueberry jam.

You didn’t take over the kitchen with all your dishes, your 90’s dance party music blasting through the apartment, waking me up and then lulling me back to sleep because when you’re here I feel safe enough to sleep.

I feel safe when you’re here, you know?

I know if I feel the sadness well up in my throat, I can open your bedroom door, lie on your bed with you and not have to say anything.

I know if I need to be outside, you’ll come with me and I won’t feel so aimless and lost just walking around like I do when I’m by myself.

I know I can talk to you about anything and maybe you won’t approve of some of the crap that I pull because you want the best for me, but you’ll be supportive anyway.

I know that sometimes I feel sad even when you’re here but that you’re my best friend in this whole wide world and when you’re not around I’m less.

I’m less than me.


I don’t know how to undo the parts of me that hurt.