Poetry

[poem] war paint

Instead of crying, I did my makeup in the middle of the night. Here are my thoughts.


When your words land
like fists,
instead of fighting back,

I will paint my eyelids the hues
of a fresh bruise.

I will choose shades that look
like black eyes
and old wounds. Like
how warriors smear their faces
with the blood of enemies slain,

I will take my pain
and beat my face bold with it;

with every brush stroke, declare
I am done with hiding.

I am done with apologizing.
I am done shrinking myself
to the size of your expectations;

wearing your accusations,
allowing them to tint and taint me.

If you do not like my colors,
I will not tell you I am sorry.

I am not sorry.

I am not sorry.

I will never let you make me sorry again.

Fin.

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[snippet] Poem I stole from Twitter.

Note: The first two lines, in bold, are from Richard Siken bot (@sikenpoems), a robot Twitter account that, I assume, tweets out scrambled lines from Richard Siken’s poems. 

The rest of the lines are mine.


Don’t you see,

it’s like I’ve swallowed your house keys:

 

like I am the latch,
the lock,
the thing that opens the door that takes you
some place you have always looked for,
never realizing you left it long ago.

(the bookshelves are dusty, the bed
is still waiting for you to return.)

My actual favorite lines from Richard Siken are:
My dragonfly,
my black-eyed fire, the knives in the kitchen are singing
for blood, but we are the crossroads, my little outlaw,
and this is the map of my heart,

 

I wrote this a year ago. Still true.

I wish I could tell you there was an end to this.

I wish I could tell you this was a phase, a rainy season;
after, that there would be a long, mild summer: all sun
and no burning.

I wish I could tell you that sadness
could break like a fever, and after you are better.
You are stronger. You bounce back.

You are stronger, maybe, but you do not bounce back.

At least, not the way you used to.

I wish I did not have to tell you
that the world would grind you down.
That it would tell you to stand up for yourself, but each time
you dared fight, it would sucker-punch your gut,
send you crumpling to the floor, leave you
breathless, grasping your middle, gasping for air,
waiting for the next blow.

I wish you didn’t have to know
what all those blows feel like.

But you do,
and so I say to you
the one thing I still know is true:
life is terminal, but it is survivable.
You learn to live on a little less oxygen,
take the punches as you are dealt them–

even, eventually, shake off the bruises.

It will take getting used to, but the good news is
a body can get used to anything.

Even bruises, darling,
even sadness.
So pull your punches.
It’s only pain.

Fin.