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abandon all hope ye who enter here

by-the-book hysteria

 ​
You think I’m keeping it together 
But
I’m struggling
The words tumbling from my mouth sound wrong, muddled
The mind like a river dragging a log
The pain makes them feel loaded like a gun
Sitting on my tongue 
Ready to fire but the gun is stuck
   “I’m sorry”
It stings, burns 
Pricks the corner of my eyes
I feel the creak of the bed we shared in my bones
I told you I was bad at apologies, and “I miss you” seems harsh and I regret the way I say it 
It doesn’t fall sweetly from my lips the way our whispers did a month ago 
I say I miss you and it’s the hardest, 
The heaviest sound,
like a thousand pounds of earth dropped into my throat
And I can’t say your name
I tried but it sticks and it stabs, 
It aches
It bleeds
Bittersweet
like wine that was left uncorked too long, my lips tingle like I’m about to be sick
Please, say something 
I can’t speak anymore
And your eyes are studying the white-knuckled grip on myself
So hard it makes my soul sink to the floor
I hate your silence
Your vicious silence
Please say something 
I love you
I love you
Please say something
I love you 
love you 
Say something 
I

twist & howl

 ​
Today I feel like an animal.
I woke up and stretched muscles burning under skin
Feeling the shift, the cracking of bones
Like I’ve some sort of transformation sitting within
Like I don’t have nails, but claws and I can’t remember where I’ve been
And something in my reflection says ‘sin’ with a grin
And warning me to not look too closely at the skeletons under my bed

Today, I feel like an animal.
   I hear the drawl of the girl who’s voice I loathe 
And my teeth ache
I want to tear out the muscle and vocal chords 
And see bright red spills on the floor
And she won’t speak anymore 
Blonde hair buried in brown dirt
It’s hard to quell the urge to hurt today
But I’m trying for the sake
Of keeping peace
While heat lives at the base of my spine
Twitching, waiting
Seeking something distracting to take the pressure off my tender tongue and teeth

Today, I feel like an animal.
   I look at the man I love and 
Lips, hands, cunt
Burn hot 
Rushing, churning
whispering, hissing words in my abdomen, thighs, throat
“Blood will have blood”
The whispers say love will have blood.
I want to feel my nails in his back
His body heavy on mine, his groans in my skin
I’m going blind but for the blinding need for him
And his gaze feeds my desire and it’s almost too hard to keep control 
But he can’t read my mind and I’m mostly grateful
I taste the blood in my smile
And wonder if he could too
If my kiss would taste like the violent truth.

  Today I felt like an animal,
An impostor in human skin 
I woke up with no memories of tearing flesh or being fucked,
But with the ends of a dream of four legs and warm pelt.
Awake to walk among those living easy in the sun,
And yet, so aware of the full moons desires living in my blood.

identity crisis

I am Love
I am light in a darkened heart, healing of the strings infected by too much tugging, the dimples you didn’t know you had on your face. 
I am something sunny and free and I don’t give a shit that my teeth aren’t straight when I smile for you, I don’t care about last night’s eyeshadow smeared over one half of my face or hair that’s curled in maybe one place. I don’t care about past mistakes. I am the flower, grown from a seed, petals curled out over a dress that is never something you would wear unless you were happy. 
I am an honest grin, singing within, the comfort of a hand on skin, the laughter from lungs. Loud and shameless and echoing, 
echoing, 
echoing in ears and eyes
I am soft sighs, soft voice at midnight
Early mornings without a rush. I am the blush.

I am Lust 
I am the ripping of lace, the smell of the leather, the silk wet with sweat, 
I am a game you don’t beat, but baby we can make that bet
I am bitten lips, bitten necks
Destroyed hairstyles, a hiked up dress
I am the prey and the hunter rolled into one, the animalistic nature and more than one-and-done, I am the pride at a moan, the scream in a throat, the glorious mess that follows our coupling, the perfect red light against a torso, the bruises on thighs 
I am the rabbit hole
Go down
Down 
down
I am not fun, and I am not easy.
And I am never sleeping.

I am Pain
I am the crack of lightning of a door slamming, the loudest silence ringing, the anger sitting in the stomach, the bile and shaking 
I am the physical heart breaking, labored breathing
The rush of fear that you may actually be dying this time
Who can survive this feeling?
I am the crying until the tear ducts are dry, the words trapped between mind and body, the broken wing of a blackbird, the eyes closing
Opening
Closing
Please let me be dreaming 
The pleading
 “Oh god, don’t let this be happening.”
I am the first drink, and ones that keep following.

I am Numbness.
I am the nightly click of the lonely lock
The solo dinner, the Netflix-binging and canceled plans.
I am the drink that you take every night, the empty cigarette boxes, the unemptied ashtray,
The melatonin taken nightly, the quiet bath, the dodged calls from friends and family
I am the avoided restaurant, the resignation of a Valentines Day, the box in the closet that you can’t look at yet. You can never look at it yet. I am the forced smile, the ache in the body, the busy, the hours filled with anything, everything, the desperate occupation of the mind, please. Anything.
I am the hateful quiet as the brain keeps on thinking
Thinking
Thinking
I am the agonizing attempt to cut out feeling, 
because who wants to feel like their heart never stops breaking?

finding love in all of the corners

 ​

I found love here
I found love in family photos of my young parents apartment at Tulane, the bright feathers of the pet parakeet I never got to meet
I found love in photos of memories I could never hope to keep as an adult
I found love on the other side of the street at 12
Spied black hair and pale skin
First real brush with infatuation 
Starring shameless jailbait seeking validation for my inability to ever feel young
And feeling so much younger across from him and finding that I liked it
I found love that I didn’t realize was going to be a trend I’d have to spend the next 10 years fighting against. 
I found love hidden in my mother’s bookshelf long before Lolita came along
I found love in my own form of sex education courtesy of being grounded  for lying
I found love in trying 
I found love in street names in side-walks, crumbling infrastructures, in tangles of jasmine and magnolias and Spanish moss that I pretended was hair
I found love in witchcraft tours and a small black cat.
I found love in the boyfriends I kept hidden that were a phone call away and often never more than that
I found love in the divorce, found love in my stepfather, in a household divided.
I found love in my youngest brother in his unicorn costume and wanting to cry because he was so beautiful and I did not deserve a chance to be a sister again.
I found love in growing
And sadness
And loathing
I found love in losing everything
Family ties never before tested by distance
With every inch of my home at the mercy of more water than I knew existed.
I found love in the bag of clothes my aunt sent us when she found out we had lost ours
I found love in the one person who didn’t ask what I lost in the storm
I found love in my father’s voice on the phone
“You’re coming home.”
I found love in my mother’s smile understanding that I needed to go
Because do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? 
I found love in St. Louis Cathedral, in listening to a prayer that meant nothing and everything to me 
In candles and choir music
I found love in bars on my 21st birthday with my stepfather buying my drinks and walking with me by the river like nothing had changed even though everything had. 
I found love here
And strength
I found love in finally being fed the fuck up and unwilling to waste anymore time
I found love in forsaking the old and picking up the new 
A new life without an old flame
I found love in the terror of what was truly picking up the pieces of my heart and starting over
I found love in stage-fright and first drafts
Love in running wild at night with the sun at my back
I found love in a Melody I had never heard sung before and never wanted to stop hearing 
Found love in a firm handshake
Love under the red lights on Halloween 
Serpentine dancing
With hips between my thighs 
“How many times can you do it in one night?”
I found love in kisses sharp like a knife
In knots tied just right
In the sharp stings of leather and sweetness of silk and lace
I found love in that place between night and day
It isn’t tomorrow yet until I’ve slept
And I found love in avoiding the world outside of the bed
I found love outside of my own head
I found love in loud nights and quiet mornings and loud mornings
No one is awake at 8 a.m. the way New Orleans is on Mardi Gras
I found love in my grandfathers laughter at his first carnivale
Love in my brother comfortable behind the bar, how despite his shyness, how he had come so far
I found love here
I found love in new voices
In drunken confessions screamed over someone’s karaoke
Love in the graveyard at 1 in the morning
I found love in the line of a jaw
In the curve of lips and hips
And the sips of drinks at any bar we could get to
Found love in shared absinthe
Found love in thin walls and trying to keep it down, people are trying to sleep.
I found love in lessons that could only be learned the hard way
I found love here, 
filling the beats between the lines
I found love in illusions and trapdoors
In props and people hidden under the floor,
In tears shed for the same deaths every night, in the ghosts echo calling for war and the terror of realizing that “Let be” was goodbye, every time
Now cracks a noble heart
And underneath it all, I really am coming apart.
I found love at 3 a.m. singing an aggressive version of Piano Man with seven people who’s sides I had not left for 3 months.
I found love in the art of learning a person deeply in that time and still being wrong
I found love here
I found love on Wednesday nights
I found love in the devil’s details, the end of a lie, in erasing a man, in exhales of smoke and sighs. I found love buried in the warmth of Mortimer in the dead of “winter”
I found love in the first red leather dress, penning my pain on paper, too many amaretto sours and the desire to do more than simply touch and see, living beyond being half a human being.
I found love in coming home. Home to the arms of goddesses, werewolves and beasts. 
I found love in all they’ve taught me.
I found love here.
Right here, 
living in the spaces in between word, thought, and deed.

not yet

“Happy birthday”
We screwed because I was sad and you were bored with being lonely. 
We screwed because I was a challenge, and you were too easy to pass by.Maybe you were used to calling the shots, but that night, I made you keep the lights off, refused to even tell you what my real haircolor was and wouldn’t let you take off my clothes.
You wanted to go slow, to make it last, draw out each kiss, each loud gasp, but I didn’t want feeling, I wanted fast. 
I had my clothes back, 
empty eyes and smile reattached before you could switch the lights back on. 
It was a defense mechanism that you promised I couldn’t make last
I remember how hard your confidence made me laugh.

“Happy birthday”
We didn’t sleep.
We stayed up for 24 hours driving from place to place 
I didn’t argue when you called it a date.
Reading me tales of werewolves for a bedtime story when we never actually got to sleeping 
Too busy laughing and kissing
Burying hands in my hair
Digging nails in your chest
Biting. Writhing 
Mouthing words into your shoulders
And terrified that you would be able to feel them and work out what I was saying.

“Happy birthday”
My mouth tastes like wine
Tastes like pride
Echos of sharp slaps
Under red lights
Feels like a warmth on the back of my neck 
Feels like trusting a trust fall
Feels like laying in a warm bath
Feels like I always imagined what falling for someone felt like without thinking about what comes next. 
The fear didn’t even have a place in my heart.
Not yet.

“Happy birthday”
14 hour lipstick smeared to my chin, dress hiked up
The couch should be too small for us
It’s the last thought I have before I focus on the line of a jaw through the mascara I’m sweating off
I don’t remember what we had disagreed about before
Just remember opening the door and pulling you in 
And begging to be made sore before morning
I’m not confessing my fear of birthdays–or that the only benefit of the day is that you’re here
So I begged to be fucked 
hard enough
Long enough
With enough fury to forget that the clock was ticking down to midnight at all.

“Happy birthday”
I woke up still drunk with an arm around an empty whiskey bottle, and your love letters ripped to shreds in my hands 
I swore never to look at them again.
To pretend like you hadn’t packed your things. Pretend like you hadn’t left your key on the table next to a forwarding address. 
Pretend you hadn’t left me a mess, and disappeared into the night.
Swallowing the argument i held in my mouth when you said that we no longer felt right because I couldn’t speak through lungs that felt too tight. 
Left with the scarf you forgot and your letters–
I’ve never felt so lost in my life
The room was too large
Filled with every word I could think of that was too late to say,
I wanted to burn your letters, but
I grabbed tape to repair the damage anyway.
And at midnight, I drunkenly told myself “Happy birthday”

Months later, I sent the card with the only words I could think to say:

Thank you.

Thank you
For the gifts of hard kisses
Warm embraces
Laughter in the grocery store at midnight
The burn of whiskey running down vocal chords 
Therapy in tear tracks and healing words
Thank you for the whispers against my neck in the middle of the night 
The sting of leather around wrists, against thighs
The mornings we woke up slow 
The sound of soft sighs
Thank you for the experience of requited love
And the lesson in the unrequited goodbye.

not an addict

I want to unravel you 

I want to find the odd thread out and
Pull
Slip the knot loose 
   I want to let you loose to cross a line
Tap into the primal gene that lives in you
And attack it with mine
Give me bruises and pain, fine
But give me that part of you that chooses fight over flight 

   I want to watch you burn

Like something in Hell’s bright horizon
Give way to the insanity rising
Because there’s nothing sane about
the way you move and the wicked things your mouth can do

   I want to see your hands curl around my thighs and wrists
I want to watch you shudder and twitch
I want you to watch me
love it
   I want to watch you close your eyes when we’re there at the edge of the cliff
I want to see you stripped of your fear of falling
I want you to jump with me

Take my hand
Keep your eyes on me,
Give me a kiss

There’s no better way to crash and burn than this 

the camera in the confessional booth

I pray

Not often I’d say but
Occasionally
I’d told you that I do and
You smiled like it was
The strangest secret you’ve ever been told
More than the stories behind the tattoos under my clothes
You asked me what I prayed about today
And I never did tell you.
I don’t believe in giving all my cards away
When my deck is stacked just right
I know who holds the ace
I knew when I crawled in the small space
Of a confessional booth
And you followed me in
Proclaiming you would listen from here for this take
I knew
I was the queen of this game
Door shuts
It sounds like the click of your lighter at midnight
“Ready?”
the sliver of light
It seems abnormally bright
“Script ready”
Did my voice just shake?
“Action.”
I’m pretending I don’t see the smirk on your face
The call echoed in my ears
In the wall behind us while we listened
Listened too hard to
Really be listening at all.
The light from my phones flashlight
Tracing over the words being whispered on the other side of this booth
I made my first mistake
I looked away from the words
And I saw you
Glint of eyes
Line of jaw
I saw you like I’d never seen you before
Like I hadn’t seen you every day for three weeks
I pray
I give up the ghost–
I couldn’t pretend that I wasn’t paying attention to you
to the electricity coursing through this booth
I confess
You made me a mess of nerve endings and short breaths
And my hands hurt
Nails dig in palms staring at your lips
Your hands
I pray hard
I pray you touch me
I pray you make good on that look your giving me
I pray for the bite behind those lips
I pray for your grip on my calf–it’s a weird thing
The barest touch can do everything to me
I pray
You’re shifting my perceptions
With the inflection behind your eyes
In the heavy heat of this small room
I haven’t turned the page of my script
because I can’t stop looking at your lips
Please don’t make me beg with my eyes
I can never do it right
I can’t speak
They’ll hear
What’s code for “Please just an inch over. Come a little closer.”
I’m going insane
Can’t you see?
This room is smaller than an elevator
I’m not claustrophobic but I can’t even breathe
Can’t you feel?
I’m burning the air
I’m praying for our sin so often alluded to to be freely given
In a church no less
How much more religious could I get
About how badly I crave the curve of your neck?
I’m prepared to burn to death
“CUT!”
Well, fuck.

Time’s up.

you’re probably an axe-murderer (but don’t worry, i am too)

“How are you?”
I hate those three words
Because you don’t mean them when you ask.
It is a gateway, a bridge to something more
when it’s coming from your mouth.
Meant for an honest answer I have never said out loud
It is a dagger to my chest
It is the burning of a book
It is the emptiness
Of an unanswered howl
In the night
It is a trick of light and sound
Like the pain behind a hiss
Like your kiss on trembling lips
like your heart
And we both know that doesn’t exist.

“How are you?”
Confused,
That’s nothing new.
From youth
I grew
Because of you
Into desperate Juliet trying to steal the poison from Romeo ‘s lips
And I’m the woman fading back into Nabokov’s nymphet
Clever and careless,
And stealing mothers red lipstick
I’ve always been and will be
The impulsive girl who sits on her hands to keep
From slitting her wrists
but you and I both know
I’ve never needed a weapon to
Kill myself with.

“How are you?”
Is the terrible sound that keeps me awake at. 5 a.m.
I have nightmares of you asking
To serve as an alarm where
Your kiss once had that job;
To introduce me to addiction
You first gave me the liquor from your lips and the smoke from your mouth before telling me
To steal my own whiskey and cigarettes
To fend for myself
As long as you allowed
And hasn’t that always been your way?
Give me a taste to hook me like the fish
And then cut the line with the hook still in my lip?
And leave me wandering aimlessly adrift wondering all the time, is it my fault you jumped ship?
Can you blame me for asking?
Can you tell me without sighing?
Do you remember what truth tastes like on your tongue?
Telling me you’re not a liar
by nature was a lie if you
Ever told one
Every time you touched me
Kissed me
Fucked me
Filled me
you were killing me
And still had the audacity
To label it “Healing”
Darling, when will I learn
That on your surgery table
I will always be dying?

“How are you?”
I lie and say I miss you
I lie because I want you
I lie and say I’m tired of fighting
I lie and say I’m done crying
I lie and say I want you
Because I want you to not suspect of what I aim to do
I want you so I can hurt you first
So I can slither my way into your home
So I can poison my lipstick and hide daggers in my dress
Because while capable of living and of loving
I want to hurt you
And I want you to not see it coming

“How are you?”
“Why are you asking me?”
Because I can’t tell,
Your eyes are hard and your jaw curves differently
Your thoughts aren’t clearly written across your face like they used to be
And I don’t surface smile behind an invisible leash
But underneath?
we see each other’s real faces
I see the disinterest in your eyes overtaking love
Two sets of lips spilling out lies
And you see my sanity decaying
our facades are disintegrating
And we’re looking more like Dorian Gray’s painting
Houdini himself couldn’t bring you back home to me
And I can’t go back to being simply sweet and naive
So is it any surprise that our goodbye was less a break-up and more an act of disappearing?

It’s been 2 years.
You don’t say “How are you?” When you sit down
And It makes you look rude
And no one here knows us from those other searching night owls in this city
But do they watch?
And can they see that
Even after an hour
you still refuse to speak?
That you’re staring me down to wait to see if I will crack?
But I’m older now
And I followed different tracks
Into different woods
The monster within lives for the experience I used to lack
And, lover, this is a game that two can play at.

the run away

I remember the first time I saw you I thought
you looked like mischief made flesh and oh god
Was that ever my weakness
I loved your full name but you liked to go by X
And I made a joke about you being one of superman’s villains
You threatened to spray me with Windex for my sass
You called me a brat.
I decided I wanted you right then, right there.

Our conversations always went like that.
We flirted relentlessly as only we were capable of doing with each other,
while bystanders waited for fur and fists to fly
Because people didn’t know we were flirting.
I wasn’t sure we were flirting.
Just that my body turned stressed when you would come up behind me to check my progress
I could feel the challenge in your voice when you pointed out I couldn’t help making a mess, could I?
I called you monster
You called me menace
I stared hard at your mouth waiting for you to kiss me, to get close enough to feel the heat from your cheeks
And you knew
You knew you made me nervous, made my hands twitch and my pulse beat
Instead I got an impish smirk and a “Get back to work.”
And sexual tension to choke me for days.
So I wore distracting skirts
And tried to make sure THAT debt was repaid.

I tried to describe you in a way people might understand but I didn’t know how to do it without making myself sound crazy
So I just spat out phrases
Hoping someone would get it.
It didn’t feel like enough.
“She’s wildfire. She’s a field of thorns. She’s Loki in female form. She’s drops of water when you haven’t had water in days. She’s pleasure and pain. She’s like a wild animal. She makes me insane. She isn’t heaven. I like it when she kisses me hard and calls me brat.”
I don’t think I ever told you that.
It never felt like I described you right.
And I’m sorry. I never told you what it felt like to be with you those nights
How it felt to sink into you, to watch you move and feel the way you kiss
And bite and hear the way you hissed when one of us moved just right
How I struggled to keep up with your clever tongue and words you whispered meant to keep me on my toes
The way you made me earn every moan because you’d be damned if I was going to get lazy on your watch
And I never thanked you.
We knew you wouldn’t be a heaven
But maybe a salvation
I never thanked you for kissing me through confession
I never thanked you for each scratch
Each laugh
Each encounter that left me feeling like I’d run through the woods with wolves at my back
Each moment you made me chase you like I would prey and each moment that you made me say your name just to prove you could.
Or the way you made me pick myself up from the floor
And reminded me that it was okay to cry
Over a failed engagement
And it was okay to be tough too
And refuse to cry at all
That it was okay to not want heaven,
Or not know what I wanted yet
I was 22, who said I had to be set?

I never thanked you
I paid your body tribute but never told you of the nature you tore out of me, something I hadn’t seen or allowed myself to ever dream about
You turned me into something wild and brave, unafraid of being caught in the leaves with a lover, and taking chances on the games other people play
Something human, after forgetting what it felt like to feel that way and still
Something animal, that wanted someone’s blood and someone’s bed
Something that told me I wasn’t yet at the end of my life
Something that could outrun the night
And I knew the moment we shared the kiss that pushed us into “fight or flight”

I’m sorry I was a coward
And I left you in the night.

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