‘You can’t be a poet, you’re too tender.
You’d never be able to stand the blows
it takes to tell another’s story.’
‘And besides that,
you don’t have a poet’s touch.
You burn me. You scratch me.
You leave gaping holes in me whenever you look at me.
You’re not soft enough to be a poet.
The noise in your head has to be turned down first.’
I yawned. Looked out the window.
Considered tenderly pushing him out of it.
‘So, what can a mess like me be?’
'Well,' he began steadily, like this was
the introduction to some grand speech
he had practiced in the mirror,
‘Lucky for you I love you too much to let you go,
so even with your flaws,
you can be mine.’
I waited for the punchline. It didn’t come.
He had his hands outstretched towards me,
waiting for me to take them and laugh with him
about my flaws all the way back to his place.
This was it. My fairytale.
Prince charming was a wolf in a secondhand suit,
licking his fangs at me in a rundown diner.
And here I realized, as I excused myself to
‘powder my nose’, and then slipped out the
side door, my worn slippers hitting the concrete
faster than ever before, that perhaps I am not a
damsel in distress, looking to be saved.
Maybe I am the villain. The obstacle.
Maybe every prince has been taught to save me from myself.
Or maybe, just maybe,
I am not a character that has been written before.
Maybe no woman has. We are too multi-faceted, too real.
We have circling wants that cannot be shoved into two hours
and have a happy ending slapped on them.
Maybe the stories are not telling enough.
Maybe it’s up to me.
Sometimes I want to
jump into the water
and swim until
I’ve reached a place where I
can let go of my burdens
and be free.
Even if that place
is under the sea.
I was born into a line of women too afraid to leave.
My mother sleeps with her eyes open in his bed
and wills herself not to cry to strangers
when they offer her a glass of wine.
I have seen her pack her suitcase in her head
as she nervously wipes her stained red teeth,
always snapping out of it and straightening her skirt
before she makes it to the door.
Even in her dreams, she is terrified of him
not having a meal to come home to.
I did as I was taught and gave
“I love you”s like apologies,
staying even when I began mixing up
“growing up” and “giving up”
never even noticing my tongue had
slipped until I was corrected.
Five pages of my journal began with
“reasons to leave” and still,
I did not tell myself to run,
just continued to scribble things
I needed to change about myself,
saying that my shaking bones did not
excuse my shortcomings,
that I needed to be more for you.
I wish someone had told me:
in the struggle to love another better,
do not forget to love yourself.
You are more than your failed relationships.
Your lovers do not shiver when you touch them
because they can feel ghosts beneath your skin.
When he talks to you about “forever”,
do not be afraid to say “no.”
You come from a line of women who
forgot what “no” tasted like,
who kept their feet out the window
but felt too guilty that someone would have to
clean up their mess to ever jump.
But you are not your mother
and do not need to put makeup on
before he wakes up
out of fear that he will see desire to be more.
You do not have to open your legs to him in sleep
because your grandmother taught you to
never turn down somebody who says
You were born on a battlefield
with white crosses in the spaces where
love took a bullet to the chest,
but you are more than a wounded soldier.
The moon is sleeping in your stomach,
waiting to remind you that
you can glow without
somebody’s hands inside of you.
I wonder if anyone ever told you:
just because he says he can
does not mean
you owe him yourself.
• a transphobic woman is not a feminist
• a racist woman is not a feminist
• a homophobic woman is not a feminist
• exclusionary feminism is not feminism
i love laughing about the friend zone because it’s so dumb like you know most of those dudes aren’t even IN the “friend zone” they’re in the “ugh god not this dude again” zone