Poem: We, the Rapists (trigger warning)

Rape,
The fair and just punishment
For being.

A righteous consequence

For those short skirts
And that drunk blood
And being out late
And letting me pay
And being alone
And the friendzone
And the needs of
Your fellow man.

What I see belongs to me.

And if you show too much
I’ll touch.
If you show too little
I’ll touch.
If you’re too loud
If you’re too quiet
If you’re too young
Or too old

If you don’t say no
I’ll touch.
I’ll touch.
I’ll touch.

What I see belongs to me.

These your repercussions for
Wanting too much
Trying to be equal
Ignoring my advances
Denying my rights.

Tame the bitch
Remind her

“I am man.”

Let us poke and prod the daughters
Of our families and friends.

“Not all men,”

But with stats like 1 in 6,
there must be more than 1 man.

Is it shame that ties our tongues
Or guilt that makes us scream?

If he is guilty, why not I?
What I did was worse than he,
but I’m a good guy,
So that can’t be.

I didn’t know it was rape
I didn’t bother asking.

I didn’t know it was assault
I just wanted to get lucky.

I didn’t know it was molestation.
Her eyes were shut, so she must want it.

I didn’t know it wasn’t wanted
she was too drunk to speak up.

She made me wait so long
she owed me so.

She said we’d have sex long ago
But didn’t want to too many times.

Her words were hushed
No “no” was mentioned, though
I admit her knees were stiff
And womanhood was tight.
I thought that just meant she liked it

We laughed and drank stiff tequila
Until she passed out in my car
When she woke with my head between her legs.
I thought that’s what she wanted.

She tried to pull away but
God it felt so good, So
I held on a little tighter ‘til
I was good and ready to let go.

It’s not my fault,
They’ll tell you so.
We’ll blame it on my alcohol
Or hurl guilt onto the media
Or maybe I’ll just curse the porn
Filling up my browser history.

Protect our sons
And fuck our daughters.
Don’t let lying whores
Ruin the lives of growing boys.

We all make mistakes
Let us forgive
And be damned to
Any consequence.

My body is a right and privilege,
And all yours belong to me.
I’d never say that aloud,
But my action declare that belief.

My needs are all your problems.
And my ego, your damnation.
It’s not dark corners
you need fear, my loves.

It’s me and my good intentions,
it’s nice guys and blurred lines.

Poem: Indulge

Not running away from the pain
is the bravest thing I’ve ever done–
Choosing against addiction
Choosing against obsession
Choosing against rage
Choosing against self-destruction.

It seems obvious,
but when faced with the unthinkable,
it’s the embrace of an escape,
the whisper on my shoulder,
the promise of forgetfulness,
and this ledge I come back to
again and again.

But as I stare into
the abyss of fake freedom,
I have chosen again
and again to walk away–
To charge into my darkness
To face the throes of my secrets
To conquer my own demons.

Numbness is the promise
to which I say “no.”
And it is the hardest and
most courageous word I’ve yet used.

To simply sit with my heartache,
and remind myself to just
keep fighting,
keep hoping,
keep loving,
keep talking,
keep writing,
and to always

keep going.

Poem: thin lines

It’s hard to love your body

when it’s the reason:

repeated

repeated

repeated

repeated

damage and transgressions.

It’s hard

to not want–

claw

shred

rip

–your own skin off

with shining acrylic

nails, a coffin shape,

etched to kill.

Or make yourself unappealing—

to get so

fat

averted eyes protect your dignity—

or conversely

to get so thin

you can’t

be seen. To be

so thin

that you disappear.

Or

skip the thin

and just

disappear all together.

You can’t violate the air,

Or the mist,

Or the wind.

So become the sky

line drawn

like a race track to heaven—

or hell.

depending

on which God you

believe in. Perhaps

just the abyss.

A white nothingness for all

eternity. With so

much bullshit,

a lot of nothing

sounds

sweet.

Poem: kids think the darnedest things

As a little girl,

I wished to be a boy

in hopes that you might

love me more.

.

When I became a woman,

I learned that little girls

Ought be careful what they wish for,

For you wished I wasn’t yours.

Poem: Wolves in our Closet

13 years of memories,
I count and shovel through
Recounting your transgressions
and tallying the lies,
And the multitude of times
You looked me in the eyes
Without a hint of the dirt
Piled in your mind.

No twitch of regret,
no downcast gaze,
Just a smile and a nod,
A hand reached out
To comfort your lost sheep.

I once called you hero.
I called to you in need.
With open arms,
You held me while
I’d weep.

But in the night
Out from shadows
With twitching hands
And thumbs.

There was poison in
Your fingers And
Corrosion in your head.

For 13 years,
You had your secrets.

For 25,
I called you friend.

But for 6 months,
I’ve called you nothing,
But the wolf hiding
In sheep’s clothing.

Poem: Psychopaths and Socrates

We aren’t supposed to stare at the wall while we think. Philosophers and great thinkers stare at ceilings and stars, engrossed in the answers to the universe.

Only psychopaths stare at walls. We cannot be bothered to turn our heads to heaven.

Because the walls have answers heaven can’t provide. The wall holds secrets of humanity. Who cares about other galaxies—I want to understand the world around me. I want to understand you.

So I will keep staring at walls, lost in the galaxies in your mind, listening and waiting for the epiphany that will bring you back to me.

Excerpt: Here She Lies -Chapter One (Rewrite)

CHAPTER ONE–August 2, 2007
November “Milly” Ray crouches underneath the front window of her gray stucco house. Her chest heaves under the sharp California sun.

A man’s deep voice yells from the open window above her, “Where are you?”

Milly covers her mouth to quiet her breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

She doesn’t dare move her feet, even though tall, dead grass pokes at her legs and butt. She slicks sweat away from her forehead and keeps her eyes forward, willing the red Jeep with the curly-haired boy to appear.
The stucco wall to digs into her back. Hurry up, Charlie, she thinks.

A beaded bracelet hangs loosely on her wrist, and Milly clutches one of its beads between her fingertips that are slowly turning white.

Above her, her father, Jonah, mumbles to himself; his voice is hard but the words are strung together like a bracelet, indistinguishable from one to the other.

Milly’s fingers stroke the different textured beads threaded together on her wrist until she feels the bead she’s looking for. Her eyes lock onto a square, blue bead. Inhale. She looks across the street, searching for similar objects—the neighbor’s hose box across. Exhale. A garage door. Inhale. A window. Exhale. She looks down the street, but Charlie’s car is still no where to be seen. Inhale. She sees other houses, all the same two-story, gray-colored stucco as hers. At the far end, ten houses down and a good half mile, the cul-de-sac seems to form around one house that sticks out among the rest: a deep blue, two-story home with horizontal boards and a wrap around porch—Charlie’s house. Exhale.

The front door slams open.

“Crap,” Milly says. She jolts up and starts running down the street. The sun pricks at her skin and beads of sweat bubble from her forehead. The dry air sucks the moisture from her mouth. After passing five houses, Milly’s eyes flick back to her house. But Jonah is nowhere in sight. She slows down, careful to avoid the uneven slabs and cracks in the pavement.

Suddenly, a red Jeep blows through a stop sign at end of the street.

“Finally,” she says and flops onto the grass of a neighboring house, hiding in the shade of a canyon oak tree.

The Jeep slows in front of her until it putters to a stop and a plum of smoke rises from the exhaust.

Milly goes to it and yanks the door open. “You’re late, Charlie. Again,” she says.

Charlie offers her full-tooth smile. “So sorry, princess, practice took forever.” Milly rolls her eyes.

He looks her up and down. “Why were you walking?”

“I just needed some air.”

“It’s 104 degrees.”

She shrugs.

His eyes narrow and gaze in the direction of her house. “Is Jonah home?”

Again, she shrugs. “Move your crap, so I can sit down.”

“Sorry,” Charlie says as he grabs a half-drank gallon of water from the passenger seat and throws it into the back seat. It lands on top of his wrestling bag. Milly plops into the seat, and maneuvers her feet away from the graveyard of Red Bull on the floor. The seatbelt clicks as Charlie slams the engine into gear. Milly cranks the AC, and rests back, listening to the Van Halen CD booming from the Jeep’s speakers.

Charlie, Milly’s best friend since childhood, is tall and lean—built for wrestling. He has brown eyes and milk chocolate skin. His face is oval-shaped with sharp cheekbones and a smile that could melt the hardest heart—he’s easily one of the more attractive guys at their high school, but to Milly, he’s like a little brother.

Charlie speeds out of the neighborhood past a blur of cream houses and trees and brown yards, slowing the Jeep only enough to roll through stop signs before speeding past other houses. They drive out of the track-home neighborhoods and near the half-million dollar homes where Charlie slows a little, so Milly can drool a little over her dream houses, until they reach a small strip of land and then a trailer home park. He slams back on the accelerator. Eventually, they reach more track-homes that are newer than Milly’s house and those homes unfold onto a small shopping center with a Chinese food restaurant, an ice cream parlor—Milly’s favorite, Stater Bros. Grocery store, and a small liquor market—Jonah’s favorite.

As she and Charlie drive past Beaumont High School, Milly’s stomach flips. She takes a deep breath, only exhaling when they turn onto Cherry Valley Blvd and the school is out of sight. Cherry Valley Blvd slices through rolling hills of yellow grass that seemingly go on for miles.

Eventually, Charlie turns the radio down, and Van Halen fades away. He looks over at Milly but can’t catch her eye.

“Thanks for coming to get me,” she says.

“Of course. If he was that bad, you should have called me,” he asks.

Milly shakes her head. “Like you’d answer?” she teases.

“I would have!”

“You don’t let anything get in the way of practice.”

“You are more important than wrestling.”

Milly smiles. “It’s not that big of deal. I’ve avoided him most of the morning.”

After a while Charlie asks, “Are you okay?”

Milly plays with the bracelet on her wrist, rolling a circular bead over and over again, counting under her breath. One tire, two tires, three, four, five. “I already know what you’re thinking. I’m fine.”

“You always say that.”

“Because it’s always true, Charlie. I’ve lasted this long. Another year isn’t going to kill me.”

Charlie takes a deep breath. “You sure?”

“Yes.” Her eyes fixate on the road, away from Charlie’s gaze.

Charlie’s mouth opens to say something else, but he quickly shuts it again. Milly straightens her back and puts on a smile. “Would you just calm down? Stop worrying about me.”

“I won’t let this go.”

“Just give it a rest. I can’t handle another lecture this summer.”

Charlie focuses back on the road, taking a deep breath. It doesn’t matter how much this bothers her. Eventually, she’ll listen, he thinks.

“Maybe if you moved with your aunt, you’ll have to go to another school. But at least that way you won’t have to face everyone after last year…”

“Drop it, Charlie. I’m not moving, and I’m not running away from anything or anyone. Last year is no one’s business: including yours. You promised.”

“I’m sorry,” he says.

“No one’ll remember what happened last year anyway,” she says. The pitch of her voice rises. “I’m sure a lot of things happened over the summer for everyone; they won’t even care about me anymore.”

The car is silent. They pull off the freeway. Palm trees spring up every few blocks, and front yard after front yard sports brown lawns.

It feels like a boulder sits in Charlie’s stomach—he shouldn’t have pushed it. Everything changed last year, even Milly and Charlie’s friendship. She won’t admit it, but Charlie knows she thinks about last year a lot. She shifts in her chair and plays with that stupid bracelet, rubbing it like a genie that can fix all her problems. He slows at a red light. The only noise comes from the traffic of the overpass and the incessant click-click-click of his blinker. He can’t stand it anymore.

“There’s got to be somewhere—someone—better.”

“We’ve been over this a thousand times; there is no one else who wants me and no one I want. I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but that’s home to me—”

“God knows why,” he says while rolling his eyes. She glares at him. “Sorry,” he says quickly as he pulls off the freeway.
“This is my senior year, and I’m not going anywhere. I feel really good about it, and nothing that happened last year is going to stop me from having a good year. Just drop it, okay?”

“All right, all right,” he says.

The car slows to a stop. There’s a long cement gate that encloses a green park, filled with tall cypress trees that cast shadows across the entire park.

There’s an oxidized metal sign hanging from the gate: Hillside Memorial Park. Open six AM to dusk. Milly takes a few deep breaths and exits the car.

Poem: Joshua and the Devine Dysfunction

With cocaine in his veins
and a temper to match.
Jameson on his tongue—
The fire was set
with the words of a love song
He can’t seem to forget.

I’ll be his scapegoat
if that’s what he needs,
but at the end of the day
he just wanted to leave.
Didn’t wanna be the bad guy,
so he blamed it on me.

Poem: Rewrite the Stars

The breeze whispers
in my ear, singing me
your lullabies.

She tells me all about you
and the wings
you sprouted overnight.

She tells me how
she carried you through
Clouds that soaked your skin,

How you tried to
catch their vapors
in your tiny fingertips.

She tells me of
your eyes, lit by
the midnight moon.

How you stretched your
tiny arms to touch
that white balloon.

She tells me stories
of the stars you
dance with in twilight.

And how your giggles
light them up for me
every single night.

Short Story: The House on Sutherland Lane (Part 2)

If you missed part one, catch it here. Otherwise, here you go:

“Leave that poor woman alone.”

“As president of the HOA, it is my job to care about our neighbors.” “That’s just your excuse to be nosey.”

“Bite your tongue. I just want to help.”

Emily made a rather large and embarrassing scene last year when Tristan left her for the local school teacher, who was twenty-two. She threw his stuff everywhere, screaming and cursing left and right. She kept saying something about how she never should have come here and how she hated him and wished she never left California and how she would never make this mistake again. They were only married for six years. Eric and I have been married for twenty- three, and sometimes I wish he’d leave me for another woman.

Eric doesn’t say anything else, and I don’t wait for him to speak. I already have my coat and gloves on. I open the door and step into the sharp air. It’s getting so cold, breathing hurts. I wrap my scarf around my nose to warm the air.  I clutch my arms to my chest, trying to keep out the cold. As the light fades and the street lights turn on, each passing minute seems to drive the temperature further south. I reach the curb before Emily’s house and stop a few feet before her garden.

I watch her focused eyes and steady arm move quickly between weed and plant. I watch the way she deftly clips, pulls, and hacks at the garden’s plants. The result is stunning. The garden starts at the curb and goes back six feet into the yard. Every few feet, a new plant erupts from ground. A stone path separates the two sections evenly and leads to the house. The front row of flowers is a maze of marigolds and the next row is full of small pink and red roses.  White lilies line the stone path and end a few feet before the house.

“Your garden is beautiful,” I finally say.

She jumps with a start. Her eyes meet mine and narrow. Her lips form a flat line. She looks back at the ground, and her arm whacks the weeds harder.  I wonder if it’s me she imagines in the dirt.

“Thank you,” she says, so quiet I almost miss it.

“You’re welcome. How do you keep them in bloom so long?”

“Meticulous pruning,” she says, and her eyes flick up. She snips the head off of a small rose bud.

“Oh,” I say. A cold breeze slithers up my coat. I move my back foot closer to the house and wrap myself tighter in my coat. “It’s so cold outside. Aren’t you freezing?”

“No.”

She wears a long sleeve shirt covered in mud and small moth holes. Her pants are worn and muddy, as well. Her skin is red and small patches look nearly frost bitten. “You look it,” I say.

“I’m not.”

“You know, Mrs. Robins down the street uses these plastic bags to keep her flowers from dying in the cold. You put this bag thingy over the flowers. It works like a miniature,” I pause. “You know I can never quite remember the name,” I laugh, but it sounds forced. I hope Emily doesn’t notice.

“Greenhouse,” she says.

“Oh, yeah! That’s the one. Well, anyway, I’m sure if you talk to her, she’ll show you how to keep those beautiful plants alive all winter long.”

“I won’t be here much longer.”

“Oh? What do you mean?” I try to stifle the excitement in my voice, but it’s hard.

“I mean, I won’t be here during the winter. I’m going back to California. I couldn’t care less to live through another winter here.”

I don’t say anything, but the knot in my stomach loosens slightly. I repress a sigh of relief.

“I’m just getting the yard ready to sell,” she says.

I look at the garden, but my eyes wander to the house behind it. The brown paint is peeling slightly. The panel walls are loose in areas and completely missing in others. Not to mention, there are several small holes in the roof. “What about the rest of it?”

She glares at me, and my face turns pink and hot.

“I don’t have time to fix the rest of it. I don’t care about it much either. We bought it as a fixer upper, so I don’t mind selling it that way.” She doesn’t say her husband’s name, but we both know that’s who she means when she says “we.”

“Oh,” is all I can say. I wait a few more seconds, but she stops looking at me and resumes the work on her garden. “I’m sorry to see you go. I know we’ll all miss—“