the art of breaking up

he says I look like

ophelia, but the way his spine

entangles mine terrifies me. he says I look

like ophelia, resembling bits of

lightning striking stardust.

he says I look like ophelia, but he wasn’t

supposed to know about my favorite

books and secret freckles. broken ribs and

the sound my car keys make as they

hit the pavement. he says I look like

ophelia, drowned by our reality. his smile

threatens to tear through me; I will never

let it. he says I look like ophelia, but the

words he uttered were never kind. he

says I look like ophelia, but my days

spent teary-eyed and ready to

put a gun to my head tells my father a

different story. maybe I do look like ophelia,

destined to rip through this god forsaken

land; dismantling the masculine guilt trip

he’s built in my brain. ophelia was never

a trophy wife; neither will I ever be.

michael || april of 21

bathroom tiles and

chipped pink nail polish

dried flowers and burning

buildings, she’s

drunk on her own

hatred and she’ll never

know it.

pixie stick induced vomit

and dizzy spells.

all because you forgot to eat

for yourself

little girl. why do you stretch

your flesh and rupture your

organs only for

these boys? he doesn’t

want to know your

middle name, so please

don’t tell him about the stars and

instead let him cry about your pretty

face and the honey

dripping from your tongue

because you won’t let him taste

such freedom.

now let his mother

cry herself to sleep,

and his sisters will never

know how pretty you

looked on april sixteenth.

when beautiful didn’t hurt anymore

I thought of you

as my fingertips skimmed the

earth, crushing objects beneath the weight

of girlhood.

wild goose chases and red shoes

and the lifeless bodies of women turned

out to be dead.

mothers of the lovers of the deceased,

taking the same highway home,

sun blinding your eyes as I curse at you

from five miles in the opposite direction.

and my mother tells me

to be careful, that boys aren’t always what

they seem. with their benevolent

mildew eyes and rattlesnake

tooth gaps.

these things provoke remedial

ecstasy at a moment’s notice, proving

that I am just a child; bearing scars

that resemble the orchids my

grandmother keeps on her

kitchen windowsill

spill your guts and call me yours for once

I always dreamt that my future held last-minute poetry slams in the midst of euphoric nightfall, and that my hand was meant to be held tighter than the grip a girl once kept on my throat. Through muffled music pouring from the grocery store overhead speakers I hear your red sneakers skid to a halt before you kiss me for the third time this evening. Yes, we’re nearly grown; but for a split second when the universe breaks in half I feel like a child again.

One time in April of the eleventh grade he asked me how such pretty people could throw away such pretty things. I remember biting my lip so hard it bled before telling him that people grow tired of beauty when they realize it yields little pleasure beyond sight.

There’s always a brief moment during girlhood when nobody cares and the world pays a considerable amount of time on its opinion of you. You’ll grow tired of the curse words you loved so dearly in middle school, your acne will probably worsen, and that dandelion poking out of the cracked sidewalk is the brightest part of your Thursday. Maybe you’ll meet someone, a human your age perhaps, that makes moon rocks seem lighter and silver spoons appear prettier. They’ll teach you to breathe easier and hold you when the heat of the moment burns an exuberant golden green.

poinsettia daydreams and the incandescent plight of a sixteen-year-old boy

I’ll trade my sweet ecstasy for

your forlorn attempt at capturing me.

I’ll cut your hands off entirely

the next time you touch my body.

I’ll tell your mother every word

and dirty proclamation you’ve

presented to me.

I’ll let the world know how cruel

boys like you can be; yelling sweet

nothings at the top of your damn

lungs while simultaneously burning

bridges and lighting up caves.

mothers, raise your boys to respect just

so that the girl next door doesn’t

end up as the girl next dead.

fathers, raise your daughters to carry

swords on their tongues and

lightning rods on their hipbones so

that your neighbor’s son knows

when to bite his lip before it bleeds.

let it be known that women like

us were not made to be subtle; but

rather to raise infinite hell.

I wanna put this feeling on a bumper sticker but I can’t describe my current state of mind.

I’ll kick inspiration in

the gut before I push

through this writer’s block. the

process of letting my sadness rot

while I attempt to reconstruct a

face from my disproportionate memory

is a plagued road not taken.

and yes, I’ll sit here as the salt hits my

face and my innocence slips away.

I’d tell you all the scandalous

things I’ve taken part in; such as reading

past dark and driving in the rain,

skipping church to paint my

nails another color. but I’m letting

the current purple hue chip

away because it reminds me

of that third sunday in july

change the weather when you return from oblivion

I knew him only blind, as if time had been grabbed by a force of nature. Humanity spun and sputtered when I described to him the way I felt perched among the churchgoers, piercing through my mother’s wall of anxious fear of my tendency to burn bridges before they’ve been fully built. Time stood still; I wanted to breathe again, to feel my lungless angst turn to stone in the presence of his nomenclature. If you asked me what falling in love felt like, I’m not certain I could regain the capability of telling you. Imagine the world is burning and never stopping, idolatry fixates on a facade depicting your happiest memories and impressionable made up scenarios. He adores your damning sense of dread, the screaming song of nature clawing at your ankles, and the way you dress your body in the world’s finest deceit. My soul had been bludgeoned and the obnoxiously green, glittery eyeshadow borrowed from a sister was smeared in obscured bits upon my flesh. If I had known that leaving you on the other side of the moon would’ve eased my heartsickness, I might’ve filled your soul with balloons.

confessing to what I want but cannot grasp

love and war dawned on me

when my knees hit the ground,

running like small children when

their mother rings a bell

I mix my emotions for you

at the drop of a hat, into the melting

pot they go

I twist my hands like your

grandmother twists licorice

around her fingers;

strawberry was michael’s favorite

I know because he told me

he told me about the way you

adjust your socks when you’re

reminiscent of your youth and

the playlists we made for mama back

in 2016 and how your middle name

is just the old southern baptist church

hymnals spelled backwards and

burned twice in the name of apathy

and simply for the sake of a lullaby

you told me the act of proving

yourself to someone through

artificial loving was over-promoted,

and that I would learn to regret

the way I give my heart away

yet still, I want to taste the venom

I want to learn the poison

you tell me to save myself,

save myself,

save myself,

I hear you say softly before

I drown out your words in a red

velvet ocean of angst fueled exhaustion

and satin rebellion

his eyes are the color of dirt and I want to see them closer

cold coffee satisfies her

needs on days when the soles of

her sneakers are holier than the

pastor’s sunday sermon and when

the boys won’t leave her alone,

afraid of her nurturing ways that

reminds them of their mothers;

strong and resilient and unfeeling

she’s destined to burn libraries if we

let her read too much into the world

now tell me,

is it the way she wears her hair on the

mornings when the weather

drains her empathy and goodness?

if she let them I bet they’d

cut her open and sever her kisses

they’d steal her childhood heroes and

artificial poems

he’s brewing a doomsday

trophy wife mindset within her,

determined to drain her of this brand

of godless femininity

and somewhere there is a soul that

isn’t fueled by testosterone-induced

nonsensical values that dreams of

writing sonorous music on her

skin with his lips

and then both boy and girl will find

that grief is healed by momentary

pleasures of spontaneously unbridled

teenage euphoria

things that make me tremble in my grandest form

he wants laser tag makeout sessions

I want dark chocolate and

a good pair of overalls

he wants electrical currents

felt through my fingertips

I want to breath life into

the other end of the telephone line

and flowers as dead as my bones

he wants to build a home with walls

as green as the countryside

I want to hold my body softly as I

slowly lose my way

he wants girls with blouses

that are simpler to unbutton

and bra hooks easier to unhinge

I want to burrow in the

ground unaccompanied

he wants to touch my scars

to heal them

I want to rip myself open again

desperate to be easy on the eyes

he wants to know what heaven feels like

but these wounds taste like hell

I am poetic in nature, though

scandalously snide

he wants to gift me grief

wrapped with a bow

I want to burn his ambitious nature

from the inside out

oh, love, I want to ruin his

silver screen teenage dream

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