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.

Exceprt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Unknown Chapter)

The ocean line expands before me, pulsating, tugging at my memories.
Sofi holds my hand, and Gloria stands rigid at my side. She looks over at me.
“I know this place,” she says.
I nod. “This was my favorite beach. We came here when we were girls.”
“Ah, we used to race to see how far we could swim. You were such a good swimmer for being so little.”
Her words feel like a wasp sting to my gut. “My parents brought me here when I was young–every summer–until…” I snap my mouth closed.
“Haize? Why are we here?”
There’s salt water running down my face, then. The stones in my chest multiply, but the pressure built behind my eyes for nearly twenty years rejoices. Relief and heartbreak–how these feelings are so deeply intertwined.
“Teddy’s here.” My voice is barely audible above the crashing waves.
“How do you know?” Sofi asks.
“This is where I left him.”
Gloria doesn’t speak. Sofi unclasps her hand from mine and wraps it tight around my waist. She’s young, but in that moment, I watch her childhood fade. She won’t remember Glass after today–none of us will. I can only pray that we remember each other.

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.

Poem: Your Name

Like a dirty word,
Like an accusation,
Like an insult,
Like a crime.
I hear it, and
it’s like being punched
in the throat,
Like being slit from
breast to navel,
Like being startled to
A heart attack,
Like having someone leap
From around a corner.
How my entire body Jolts,
Intestines to stomach
and lungs to heart.
Like each part of my body
Can’t bear to stay in place,
Can’t handle the immobility.
Your name makes every
molecule of me,
desperate to flee.
The contents of my stomach,
Rebel against its tract,
Against the weight of your
Secrets coming to attack.
They revolt against the pressure.
They demand to purify,
To eat away at my esophagus.
Expelling what I’d eaten to
Cleanse me from the inside.

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: Beyond the Fragile Glass–Unknown Chapter

There was a low murmur in the trees that night. I should have known then she was coming.

The sun had begun to set, and darkness hummed in the east with the wind. Crickets chimed as I stood on my porch, ringing like alarms. The trees in my neighborhood seemed to whisper her name is they danced around me.

Angeline, Angeline, Angeline.

Their warning gave me pause at the front door, tousling my hair, desperate to hail my attention.

But I pretended not to speak their language. “Everything is fine,” I said, slamming the front door behind 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: Drag Night

The mahogany double doors open

and the woman submerges into a cloud of smoke.

The fog machine ushers her into the room

and into a crowd of cheering people.

A large woman, dressed in purple sequence,

clad in fish net tights and eyeshadow

sprawling from ridge to lid, descends the stairs.

The woman at the door ignores the parade.

High on tip-toes, brown sandals pushing up, 

she scans the bar, examines the booths, and

searches the crowd for the face she seeks.  

With a disgruntled breath, into the crowd

she plunges, deeper and deeper through the

veins of bodies standing shoulder to shoulder.

Screams of laughter erupt and the dancer

mimes the words of “Like a Virgin.”   

But the woman in jeans and the yellow blouse

pays no mind and hinders no search.

She escapes the sweating merriment

and to her relief, a familiar face sits.

At the bar, eyes glued to the performer

as she parades around the bar

and serenades her loyal onlookers

sits a man, beer in hand.  

The woman steps toward him,

placing her arm on his shoulder.

He looks up at her and she smiles. 

“Funny bumping into you.”

He pulls out a seat for her.

“You’re late.” His arms rests on her knee. 

“Looks to me like the show just began.”

“So it has.”