Haley. 3

She sat on the wooden bench

Her rain boots dangling

Water dripping

She looked at me for an explanation

So much grief

devastation in a pink rain coat

“Do you want to play with me, Haley?”

I felt smaller than her

Patronizing and empty

I hope she didn’t feel that too

“No” she said.

Her eyes pooled and I drowned

Looking at her for a feeling I could discuss

We are both gasping for air.

Her mom comes

Looking better than I expected

But I’ve never been on a first name basis with it

The closest I’ve been is pink ribbons and commercials

I ask her how she’s feeling

Afraid to pry

Afraid to seem careless

They walk out of the classroom

And I stay on the bench with that little girl

Longer than I mean to.

Cory. 3

He screams at me

A lion cubs mouth

Of silver teeth

Like bullets he’s chewed

One day he came back from the dentist

And he showed them to me

Smile as wide as the horizon

Beautiful, but


He spit at me

Exchanging Saliva for syllables

I grabbed his hand

Trying to be gentle

But he refused.

He screamed

Then walked near me

I saw tears that seemed like family

Familiar and consistent

I told him his anger was understood

But not tolerated

His Batman shoes were at my knees

He yelled.

Shiny teeth.

He put away his power

So I put away mine.

And while he breathed in between his tears

I remembered where his power came from

And I held his hand.

Titans Hand

I feel myself crumbling

By force

Of a weight that feels like a titans hand

By a burden I’ve given myself

I am atlas.

I watch myself

In the mirror

And there’s questions in my eyes

I am too embarrassed to answer

Even when I’m alone

I’m insincere.

I cry.

A haunting low wail.

Quiet enough to mean something

Not loud enough to share.

I hold my knees as tight as I can

This is how I keep it together.

Floor Petals

You asked me to look into your eyes and see true love that melts underneath your eyelids when you smile at me. To feel protected by calloused hands that lie because those hands have seen neither hard work nor a woman’s embrace for longer than a year. Have you ever been chained to anything? Why do you take me as a slave? Do you know the feeling?

Why so rough?

You kneel to my stomach and inhale the cocoa butter and speak to her, and say sweet words that soar from your lips and sit behind my bedroom door. You left them there. Soon as the sun rises the petals from those pretty pink roses fall on the floor. You gave them to me a week ago when you were sweet. The softness on your lips as I greet you at the door, playing a part that you audition me for then telling me I didn’t get it.

And here is why.

Baby, you’re too cold, you tell me. That baby doesn’t make you my baby, I told you that. I love you and those soft waves I float on at night between your thighs, you drown me when I need it but I’m not your man. Don’t let anyone else swim in your waters, but you’re a woman so you’ll let them float anyway. Don’t take it that way. You need to play your role. Baby I’ve seen you build those walls made of all those hearts you’ve shed and built anew over the years, all those beautiful hearts. I saw your light seeping through the cracks and I needed that warmth for myself, I was cold. You were so bright. so I convinced you to let me in, and you did, but that wasn’t enough. I need you to shed once more and walk behind me as I am the man.

But why?

Am I not what you want your daughter to be? Part of you flutters inside me. You speak to her and sing and nights go by and drums play in my head and heart and I toss and turn on a pillow where your head rests when you crave sleep and my touch. Does it flinch when I cry from words you toss towards me? and turn your back when the wetness you see is in the wrong place? Do you flinch? Do you feel what it feels? If so, how are you standing? You drown out my sobbing with the radio volume as I sit next to you in the car, and at that moment I’ve never wanted to switch places with you more. To be in your seat and drive away. But you will never allow that because to earn your love I have to forget how to drive. To earn your love I have to see my strength as a weakness, but what will my castle be made of?