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: 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.

Novel Excerpt: Here She Lies (Part 3)

For part one, go here. Or part two, go here.

The car slows to a stop. Milly looks out and sees a long cement gate that encloses a green park, filled with tall cypress trees that cast shadows across the entire park. She takes a few deep breaths and exits the car. The hot summer sun pricks at her skin, and a stale breeze tugs at her cloths and hair.
She looks at the oxidized metal sign:
Hillside Memorial Park.
Open six AM to dusk.
A small breeze catches Milly’s hair as she lays out a white sheet from her bedroom to sit on. Scattered around, tall cypress and eucalyptus trees tower above her head, and although it’s midday, a shadow falls across the large park. Streams of light glow from the tops of the soaring trees and shoot to the ground like stars falling across the sky. Some of the rays fall on Milly’s face. She takes in a deep breath to steady her breathing as she and Charlie sit down. To her, this is home and she can’t imagine going anywhere that might take her away.
Milly reaches over the cotton sheet into a pink Easter basket, pulling Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches out. She place one in front of herself and passes the other to Charlie, but doesn’t take a bite; rather, she looks at a tombstone in the lawn next to her.
Elaine Milly Ray
Beloved Wife and Mother
August 2nd, 1969 – November 1st, 1999
Milly tried to write a letter to her mother earlier in the day about last year, but it was too hard. Instead,she told her mother about what she and Charlie had done over the summer, even the impromptu road trip up the coast to San Francisco. At the very bottom of the letter, she wrote, “Here’s to my last year of Hell and another great year in Heaven for you. I’m going to make this one the best of all. God help me,” as a pit formed in the bottom of her stomach.
“Hey, Char?” she calls, handing the newest letter to her best friend.
Charlie reaches out and grasps the sealed letter, marked Mom’s Birthday 2007 in his hands.
“With the others, please? And did you bring 2004’s letter?”
“Yeah. Here.” After shoving the first letter in his pocket, Charlie hands Milly an old, folded piece of paper. She opens it slowly, cautiously, like the words on the page would fall off and spill onto the ground if she moves too quickly, and reads:
Dear Mom, 8/2/04
I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and tell you how much I love you. I miss you so much. I’m doing alright. I’m going to be a freshman! I’m so nervous. Charlie says it’ll be fine, but he doesn’t know anything about high school. I still don’t have boobs yet. When did you get boobs? Jonah makes fun of me all the time… He’s lucky that I don’t make fun of him for having them. We still don’t get along. He still drinks, but I guess I’m not surprised anymore.
Today, Charlie surprised me and came over. His grandma drove us to your grave, and we had an old fashioned picnic. It was really nice to talk to you again. I think Charlie misses you just as much I do. We’re gonna visit you every year on your birthday. I love you, Mom. See you next year.
Love,
Milli-pede
“Will you ever want the rest of those letters back?” Charlie asks. Milly folds the letter and thinks.
Elaine died of cancer sixteen days before Milly’s tenth birthday. Before she died, she gave Milly a box of letters: one written for every birthday Elaine would miss (until Milly was the age of twenty-five), a letter for all nine of her previous birthdays, and letters marking important moments in Milly’s life—first boyfriend, becoming a woman, high school, college, getting married, first baby, etc.
Milly tried to read all the letters right after her mom died, but most of the letters were complicated and hard for her to understand. It made her more angry and confused. Her mom was gone and she would have to face the fact that she was alone with Jonah. He tried to throw away the letters at one point, when Milly was eleven. Ever since then, she’s kept all of the letters she was given or wrote to her mother with Charlie.
“You ask me that every year,” she laughs.
“I’m just waiting for the day you want them back.”
“That won’t be for a long time,” she says.

Excerpt: Here She Lies–Novel

In honor of the first Sunday of August, I’m posting a little except from my novel. The book is finished at 76,000 words, but I’m currently in the grueling editing process of this seven year project. Nonetheless, I’d like the chance to share a snippet of the beginning. Without further delay:

Chapter One–August 2, 2007

It’s hard to know exactly where November “Milly” Ray’s story begins, but it probably starts somewhere on Delatorre Drive on a hot summer afternoon in California or in a parked truck in the mountains of San Bernardino or perhaps in a hospital room in a nearby town—although chances are that’s where this one ends—but it could also begin on that same street ten years before at the bottom of a bottle of Black Velvet or the end of a piece of paper covered in the most elegant handwriting.

Whatever the case, today, her story starts on a porch before summer’s end and Milly’s final year of High School begins.

Delatorre Drive situates itself at the base of the San Gorgonio mountains where the valley accumulates the hottest wind and the driest summers. Milly’s tan skin glistens, causing her brown bangs to stick to her forehead. She slicks the sweat away and keeps her eyes forward, waiting for a red Jeep to pull up in front of her house and the boy with curly black hair to emerge from inside.

In the open window above her head, she can hear the loud swearing and slurred words of drunken man. She fidgets on the porch, causing the cement steps to dig into her thighs.

“Hurry up, Charlie,” she says under her breath. Milly looks at the bracelet on her wrist containing a variety of different beads strung together with a bright green thread. She holds a circular, translucent bead between her fingers, rolling it over and over again. Beside that bead, there’s a cheap plastic purple heart, a green, iridescent circle, a bright blue square with corners worn from time, and a white square with a black letter “N” carved out of it—its ink similarly faded—followed by more beads of varying shapes and colors all tied with a square knot, hanging loosely from Milly’s wrist. It was a necklace once, but over time, it grew too small and so became a bracelet.

From upstairs, Jonah, Milly’s dad, calls her name over and over again. Milly jolts up, her fingers still pinching the clear bead on her wrist. She skips the steps down the porch and stands against the cream stucco wall of her house, his window above her head.
Her fingers stroke the different textures of her bracelet until she feels the edges of the blue bead. Her eyes flick down at it before rising to search for similar objects—the neighbor’s hose box across the street, the garage door, a window. She looks down the street, but Charlie’s car is still no where to be seen. She sees other houses, all the same two-story, cream 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.

The door to Jonah’s bedroom slams.

“Crap,” Milly says under her breath. She peels herself off the wall and starts down the street. Milly steps carefully down the road, avoiding uneven slabs and cracks overgrown with weeds.

The sun’s heat pricks at her skin and beads of sweat bubble from her forehead. The dry air sucks the moisture form her mouth. After passing the first couple houses, she already regrets walking, but there’s no turning back now. Suddenly, at the end of the street, Charlie’s garage door opens. Milly flops onto the sidewalk, which burns into her skin, so she gets up and takes cover under a small tree front of a neighbor’s yard.

The Jeep slows in front of her until it putters to a stop and a plum of smoke rises from the exhaust. 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 Milly looks at him and sees someone like her little brother and has since they were young children.

“I told you I’d come pick you up,” Charlie calls out to her.

“Well, I felt like walking.”

“It’s 104 degrees, Nova. You’re sweating like crazy.”

She shrugs. “You were taking too long.”

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

Again, she shrugs. “Let’s get going, yeah?” She yanks the door of the Jeep open.

“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 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. Charlie slams back on the accelerator. Eventually, they reach more trackhomes that are newer than Milly’s house and those homes unfold onto a small shopping center with a Chinese food restaraunt, 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 exhahling when they turn onto Cherry Valley Blvd and the school is out of sight and a long stretch of road lies before them.

Cherry Valley Blvd slices through rolling hills of yellow grass that’s freckled with resilient green bushels. The sky is a bright enough to blind her, but she keeps looking anyone. The hills seem to go on for miles, contrasting the congested neighborhoods of Beaumont.

She and Charlie remain in silence as the turn onto the I-10 Freeway, past the cities of Beaumont and Calimesa and Yucaipa, toward Redlands and their final destination: Hillside Memorial Park.

Poem: Milly is Not My Name

I will be Agate, with her turquoise glasses
and smile like a broken picket fence that needs new paint,
whose mom sends her to school with cosmic brownies
and an apple cherry juice box. She arrives for the day
wrapped in Daddy’s arms and eagerly waits to go Home again.

I will be Carley, with her shiny hair
and bright pink fingernails, glittering in the sunshine
of our school playground. She is Master of the Monkey Bars;
boys try to look up her dress as she swings across,
and I don’t know why, but they keep on looking anyway.

I will be Rachel, with her Ken doll and Barbies
and green backpack so bright it hurts my eyes to look at.
She plays with Mabel, Gwen, and Denise, and sometimes,
their dolls do naughty things when Teacher isn’t looking.
She knows where babies come from, and everyone asks to sit by her.

But I am me, with my matted red hair
and a sunset, fading into dusk, streaked across my arms and legs.
I hide at the back of the class because Teacher won’t stop
asking about Daddy, and Carley wants to know why
my eye looks gross and why my lip is so fat, but I can’t tell her

And I am me, with my empty bedroom
and doll whose head is cracked like mine and whose arms and legs
skew apart and whose body is thin in the middle
where I hold onto her for dear life. I am the canvas of my daddy’s art,
but he only paints in amethyst, sapphire, and onyx.

I am his masterpiece, but I am so tired of being painted.