The key, I was told once,
is to play Iago…
and make them all love you.

Hero. Villain.
Good. Bad.

Perfect. Flawed.

Look at me,
right in the eyes
and tell me you aren’t both.

Well I’m the hero…..aren’t I?
(Are you?

So prove it, prove you’re the hero.
Make me believe you are flawless.
Tell me you meant well for every single action you’ve ever taken.

But then there are too many heroes,
this town ain’t big enough,

I can see it in your eyes,
in everyone’s:
the storm clouds of doubt roll in.

Am I the villain in someone’s story?
(Are you?

So prove it, prove you’re the villain.
Make me believe you’re broken and damned.
Tell me you wanted to destroy everything you’ve ever touched.

But then we’re all bad guys,
misery loves company,

So what to do, then,
with the vacillating emotions
of our own tell-tale pendulums?

The key is to play Iago,
and make them all love you
despite themselves.



I cannot fathom a world
in which I were a SWAT team
and treated everyone I desired as a locked door.

My body is a safe place,
not a safe to be cracked open
I am not here to have my contents
spilled out before you
like blood across a tile floor.

I cannot believe in a world
where having political power
means you cannot be held responsible.

Having a padlock does not imply
that brute force is the only access point.
How dare you see a lock and decide
that a battering ram is the only way inside?

I cannot imagine a world in which
my trophies allowed me
a Get Out of Jail Free card.

If you enter a home that does not belong to you,
they arrest you, so why is it
that no one ever asks the house
why she didn’t fight harder?

I cannot conceive of a world where
we are more concerned about the reputation of criminals
than the safety of survivors.

Bodies are like Kensington Palace,
not to be broken in and destroyed,
you need to be worthy of the space,
and you need a fucking invitation.

I cannot fathom a world
in which I were a SWAT team
and treated everyone I desired as a locked door.

if that matters

I made all my choices like I was pushing buttons,

the what-happens-if-I-do-this phase we don’t really grow out of.

The only way we communicated was sex,

and I think it’s because our mouths stayed mostly shut.

I always chose locations I could easily leave,

like committing all my sins in one place would contain them.

Sometimes even in the same room he was somewhere else;

I wonder if I hated him. I wonder if that matters.

I chose him, and he chose not to leave me,

and that was near enough to the same thing.

Wanting more would point out weak parts in our armor,

so we both pretended we are invincible.

In the end I gave him as many goodbyes and kisses as I could handle,

which ended up being one of each.

if he could see me now

Stupid girl,
You thought he meant it didn’t you?
Really thought this was it.
Thought it was real.

Stupid girl,
You remember the last one don’t you?
Should have paid attention.
It was obvious.
Listen up.

Stupid girl,
What is it gonna take?
You need to understand.
The fantasy’s not yours to take.
You know that.

Stupid girl,
You haven’t learned a goddamn thing have you?
Once should have been enough.
You’ve been here before.
Pay attention.

Stupid girl,
You did this again?
Get it together.
You don’t get happy ever after.
Sit down.

Stupid girl,
Haven’t I told you?
They all say what you want to hear.
You shouldn’t listen.
You know better.

Stupid girl,
Started to believe it didn’t you?
You feel for it again.
You aren’t one of them.
A whole future isn’t for you.

Stupid girl,
I warned you and you didn’t listen.
I told you this would happen.
It’s April, stupid girl.
It’s April, and you get nothing.

(you don’t) let me explain myself

The truth is,
I don’t understand what anyone means
when they say they don’t understand me.

(so many critical pieces of me
are represented in the world
that sometimes
when I see them
I feel exposed.)

I could explain myself
if you’d watch a ballet,
let your eyes follow a dancer’s fingers,
see them flutter after a pirouette,
….then you’d understand me.

I could explain myself
if you’d drive at night with no destination
with the windows down, let some blues guitar
stream into the summer air and your heart,
….then you’d understand me.

I could explain myself
if you’d stand on the edge of a cliff
really feel the breathlessness and height,
let the wind wrap its arms around you,
….then you’d understand me.

I could explain myself
if you’d listen to spoken word poetry,
feel the punch to your chest
when a powerful metaphor hits your heart,
….then you’d understand me.

I could explain myself
if you’d watch paint being mixed,
a brush swirling color together,
the feeling when it blends just right,
….then you’d understand me.

Sometimes I feel (invisible)
like a joke no one gets
and I have to keep explaining myself
but no one ever thinks it’s funny
because I have to keep explaining myself

without my voice I disappear
and I have to keep explaining myself
but they just stare uncomprehendingly
because I have to keep explaining myself (or I’ll vanish)

I explain myself
every day,
in moments
(that you aren’t listening to)

how strange to be strangers

Ten years have passed and unexpectedly
they share the same set of walls,
representing opposite poles of the same planet,
standing as far apart as space will allow.
Where their gazes used to attract they now repel,
bouncing off, pushing away from each other,
so no one else will notice that
they recognize themselves in the other.

He knows all the shades of her skin in summer,
the taste of her mouth at the beach.
She knows how it feels to curl up in his lap,
the sound of his laugh when she teases him.
He’s familiar with the exasperated roll of her eyes
and knows her favorite kind of pizza.
She remembers every peak and valley of his body,
and knows lines from all his favorite films.

They remember building a fence and digging a garden,
and leaving books on each other’s shelves.
They remember lazy nights spent entangled on the couch,
and choosing colors, fabrics, music.
They remember choosing a Christmas tree,
and hauling boxes into a new house.
They remember walking hand-in-hand to see fireworks,
eating ice cream on a porch in the summer heat.

But ten years have passed and suddenly
they are held by the same cage,
oil and water poured into a clear bowl,
pulling apart as quickly as reactions allow.
Where their spaces used to flow together they now stand rigid,
the tight discomfort of shoes that no longer fit,
hoping no one will notice that
they’re pretending their apathy.

(how strange it is
to be strangers,
for the first time
in their lives together)

telling her twice, and why it’s never funny

Go back and visit that moment where you learned a hard lesson.
Yeah, that one.
The one even your subconscious shies away from.
The lessons that stick with you are the ones you learned the hard way.

Count on the fact that I’m utterly insane and won’t go away or something.

I’ll say this for myself:
I learned ‘em hard.
He taught me lot.

You make me violent towards women.

For a long time, I wished I could delete him, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-style.
Just gone, rubbed away in a cloud of old-school chalkboard dust.
I thought about how much easier it would make my life.

What, did you think I was gone?

People don’t understand
why I obsessively lock my front door,
why I lay awake most nights in April,
why it makes me jump a mile to hear a switchblade open,
why I check the backseat before I get into my car.

Did you get the gift I left in your car? I think it’s a fair trade.

For awhile I wondered if I was just making him into the villain of my story, casting him in a role he didn’t deserve. Maybe I was being melodramatic, making things out to be worse then they were, maybe things were never That Bad.

Sorry about all the noise and blood.

Injuries heal. Bruises disappear, bones mend, scars fade.
Anything physical can be fixed as long as you don’t die of it.
But there were moments I wished I would,
(and I’ve got a pretty high tolerance for pain so I’m thinking it was actually That Bad).

I’ve got far too much time on my hands now, and I’m not entirely sane.

What doesn’t fade is my anxiety
when someone comes up behind me on the stairs,
when someone opens the door without warning,
when someone makes a joke about abuse.

I don’t know if you’re avoiding me because you want to or because the police ordered you to.

You know the jokes,
we all do, the ones we all let slide way more than we should.
Because we’re “overly sensitive” if it hurts us.
“What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?” “Nothing, you’ve already told her twice!”

I found that my right hand will most likely be in too many pieces forever now.

Those jokes are like getting slapped.
They’re not like getting punched, oh no,
I promise, that hurts more
And my friends say them, and strangers say them, and people I love say them.

I’m pissed and I can keep going forever, and very likely will.

And they “don’t mean anything by it” and it’s “just a joke”
but none of them have a fucking clue what it means
to look in the mirror and see rock bottom
and learn a lesson because you’ve seen your own blood too many times.

They dropped all the bullshit about me being dangerous or whatever so I’m not going to stay away from you for long.

Go back and visit that moment where you learned a hard lesson.
Feel what you felt then.
The impact. The weight. The emotion.
I dare you to make a joke about yours.

I’ll probably give it a week before I start hunting.

Advice To My Younger Selves

Dear 19,

I know you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams,

shadowed eyes and bloody fingernails,

sleepless nights and bruises and whiskey,

and they all want to pretend they don’t see what he’s doing.

But help will come from unexpected places,

so when you hear sirens, I promise,  it’s the beginning of the end.

Don’t let go. Keep fighting, every single day;

put that blade away in a drawer,

and I promise, you will make it through.

Dear 20,

I know he seems kind, after all you’ve been through,

but he has secrets of his own

so I advise you to go looking for his skeletons

and don’t wait for them to arrive on your doorstep.

Listen to his words but pay more attention to his actions,

and you’ll discover who he becomes when no one is looking.

PS – If you’re wondering, he is. Trust me.

Dear 21,

He doesn’t love you, (no, he doesn’t)

and I know that won’t stop you from trying,

but when he promises forever,

protect your heart a little better.

Don’t let him leave you sitting alone and silent,

and yell at him, this time, before he slams the front door.

Straighten your spine and know that you will be smarter, next time,

With whose hands you lay your heart in.

Dear 22,

Of all the things you will feel in this life,

This one is the hardest, I swear.

Breathe. Cry. Breathe.

Feel all the things you need to feel.

Don’t fight it, let it out; yell whenever you need to.

Trust me, you’ll need to.

It gets easier every day. I promise.

Dear 23,

When you’re feeling apprehensive about that date,

it’s for a reason — don’t go.

You’ll make decisions you shouldn’t have,

have conversations you’ll wish you hadn’t,

and you will be in tears by the end.

Give yourself a little more time to heal,

Being in love is not a tax you pay to exist.

Dear 24,

It’s going to be a tough year for you,

But you’ll survive it just fine.

Take your control back.

Be self-assured even when you don’t feel that way.

Fight for the things you’ve earned; make people hear you,

and if you don’t get what’s yours,

make sure you go down swinging.

midnight train

your love

and my love

ride different trains

Your love pulls me in,

invites me to your problems,

includes me in your fears,

drags me into fights.

My love protects you from harm,

covers your ears at loud noises,

stands before you when bombs detonate,

throws up shields when words attack.

Your love buries its hooks into my skin,

tugs at my hair,

burrows into my chest,

bites at my lips.

My love is committed,

building you a fire,

wrapping you in blankets,

saving you from drowning.

Your love is involved,

clawing for favors,

pulling skeletons from closets,

dragging me to the bottom of the ocean.

My love is




Your love is




your love

and my love

ride different trains






I Didn’t Want To

I said the words.
I didn’t want to.
I dragged the words up
from the pit in my stomach,
fighting them, pushing them away from me.
The first time I said it, the story collided
with the horror, the empathy,
the well-intentioned pity
on the face of a friend.
You have to tell it again, she said,
So I said the words.
I didn’t want to.
I stared at perfect creases
in dark blue uniforms
and vomited the words again and again.
Bright white flashes in a cold room,
photos of the ink-like stains on my skin.
Cold metal under my fingernails,
dry cotton inside my cheek,
sterile fingers pulling at my hair,
taking more pieces of me.
You have to tell it again, they said,


So I said the words.
I didn’t want to.
A suit and tie I’d never met
asked for details no one would remember
but I tried, I tried, I tried.
I watched his furious scribbling
and, knowing the stakes, recalled
every single hurt that I could.
My hands suffered from aftershocks
so I hid them, clenched in my lap,
burying my shame and weakness.
You have to tell it again, the suit said,
So I said the words.
I didn’t want to.
Everyone rose for a man in black robes
and we began their war of credibility.
He’s there, right there, at the corners of my vision
and suddenly my skin is made of glass,
ready to shatter if anyone presses too hard —
they’re all pressing too hard — this is all too hard —
I just want to go home.
Their questions imply things of me,
Asked-for-it / deserved-it / wanted-it / liked-it.
I feel their words pouring over me,
try not to breathe them in,
hope that I can reach the shore before I drown.
I tread water for hours, days, a week,
Before a dozen strangers come back.
You have to say it again, said the man in robes.


They said a word.
They heard all of my words
and gave me back just one,
and that word was supposed to give me more,
give back the pieces of myself that I lost.
But my stomach feels empty without that pit in it.
What now?
The chains tethering me to that moment
have finally been unlocked;
I don’t have to tell it again.
There’s no one left to make me say the words.
So I wonder: