I am tangled in the moment
when you laid me back on the beach,
flat in the sand
and your eyes were so close to mine
that I could see your lashes like spider webs in the sun’s reflection.
And I am having trouble breathing,
as I count backwards from ten
ending at the moment you removed your jeans
in the broad daylight of our sunlit haven in the trees,
unbalanced on just one foot,
not drunk, just awkward—
you want this as much as I do.
My white skin blended into the sheets,
as you pressed into my hips,
and I’m wondering if you liked it—
the way I am soft and you are hard,
how I am fragile and silent
and you are large and loud enough to fill
all the quiet, empty places inside me.
I am caught up in circles now,
that begin at the beaded sweat on your brow
and end with the scratches I left
on your sun browned back.
I am in circles now,
never ending circles,
that start off quickly in desperation,
and wind down slowly to sweetness.
We want to repeat the pattern for hours.
that begin in your eyes
and end in mine:
I see you,
I see myself,
I see the way you see me,
and suddenly, I am tangled again,
the spider webs of your lashes in the sunburnt sand
making an ocean that flows between us.
The waves are roaring in my ears;
I pray they don’t recede.
Now I am sick to my stomach
just looking at you
sick and sweating cold,
gripping sides of chairs
and my best friend’s hands
and nails digging into my own palms,
trying to steady myself with pain.
And I don’t miss you
but lately my bones feel hollow when I think of you
as if when we fell out of love,
all of the marrow was sucked out at once.
And now I’m dry,
like corn husks after harvest,
like flaking pale skin in the hissing winter wind,
dry like the desert you grew in your heart,
dry like clay baked for too long.
And I know that the most dangerous place for me would be
alone in a room with you.
Because just the thought makes me shake like
a slender pine in a hurricane,
shake like I’m freezing cold in August,
shake like how I shook when you said “I love you”
and I couldn’t reply.
My own heart was freezing me from the inside out,
and I huddled under five blankets that night,
but still couldn’t get warm.
In the morning I let you touch me,
and as I came,
I was cold.
I may have broken us,
but you cracked us—
Like when I didn’t want to have sex,
so you refused to sleep in the same bed as me,
and stormed off to the couch to sulk in peace
to some overrated punk rock record.
Or how about that time
when you argued with me on a train,
about how my lack of desire made you feel insecure.
As if my body was up for negotiation,
as if it was some type of barter or game:
“I’ll give you one orgasm, if you give me one minute of cuddling.”
Or how about this one:
“Fuck me or I’ll feel bad about myself.”
You have the audacity to wonder
why I never wanted you to touch me again.
I was the one who felt pressured,
I was the one who felt sick to my stomach,
not moving as you stroked the inside of my thigh,
too choked up to say no when you choked me—
But still, you were the one crying at 2 a.m.,
never understanding that sex has nothing to do with self-acceptance.
And that the entrance to the space between my legs
can never be a substitute for love.
And that I didn’t want you anymore because
I knew you didn’t want yourself.
So next time I hear you talk about consent,
I’ll remind you that it isn’t consent when one person is in tears
and it isn’t consent when you scream at each other about it
and it isn’t consent if one person can’t wait for it to be over
and it isn’t consent if I’m just fucking you so you can go to sleep at night
and it isn’t consent if I try to tell you no and you get angry.
You once told me
that you destroyed all the things you loved the most—
I didn’t believe you then,
but I sure do now.
-L.A, “It Isn’t Consent If”
There are a lot of things I am sorry for, but this is not one of them.
Because, I said,
This isn’t really a good thing.
Because I love with too much apprehension.
Because the seed of bitterness grows strong even in the summer.
Because my heart will think I’ll love you but I wont,
because I’ll tether myself to the ground at your feet, because
I’ll fall so heavily you won’t want to catch me. Because
my heart either feels broken in my chest, limp, dead in my hands,
or pumped so full of ecstasy that it speeds up to the point of eruption.
Because I have only ever known how to love the microphone of a moan or the podium of an erection and I can never find the ground in between that doesn’t involve my heart.
Because I fell in love with you when you ran outside to catch me
and swung me up in your arms like my heart wouldn’t break your back.
Because I’m so tired of falling and breaking and mending and gluing and saving and wrestling and putting myself back together alone.
And I can’t just enjoy it because I am exhausted from hoping and finding and fucking and fighting and crying and rinsing and repeating and squeezing myself out so tightly and crumpling like a ball of paper in a clenched fist.
And I am tired of trying to fit myself into people who don’t want me.
Because I have loved and been loved, shallowly and deeply,
and I have no idea which one hurt more.
when I noticed that you were using me
just to prove that someone could love you.
And instead of doing that job yourself,
instead of just loving yourself enough for yourself,
the black hole of your self-deception,
the quicksand of your self-importance
sucked in all my love
and refused to spit it out.
I know, dear, it has never been that easy
to just wake up one day and decide to live with love,
but I’m saying fuck you for convincing me that you would try.
And fuck you for lying to me,
saying you were always all right.
I thought that you would know,
better than the rest,
what it felt like to never be enough:
to love and love and to press your palms flat against
to feel their heart beat breaking,
and to wish they were having a heart attack,
because at least that’s something you could save them from.
I thought that you—
in all your zealous, eager, all-consuming, arrogant self-hatred,
would see me and notice
my back breaking under the load of all your unfulfilled desires,
and I thought that you,
would notice and save us both from drowning.
But the fluid of your pathetic self-pity
filled both our lungs regardless.
And I learned the hardest lesson of them all:
that you can only ever save one person,
and that person
better be yourself."
L.A, “Pull Out”
Loving someone who does not love themselves is damn near impossible.
so I have a reason to hate you
and can spit your name against the sidewalk
like a slur.
fuck me like it’s the last time
and don’t give me your number when you leave.
fuck me and don’t ask me
to stay the night—
because I will, and you’ll regret it.
and don’t dare tell me that I’m pretty,
and don’t smile that I’m sexy
and don’t you ever touch my face
like its a flower you were too scared to pick.
and make sure I know that you’ll never love me."
I need to find some part of myself that has not been touched by your hands.
And I need you to no longer find any part of me beautiful
and I need you to tell me
that I am the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen.
And I need you to stop inhabiting the place in the cavity of my heart out of habit.
And I need to stop thinking about you, aroused by other women.
And I need to stop getting sick to my stomach with remembrance that I was one of them.
And I need to stop wanting to erase the past moments where you lingered inside of me.
And instead of thinking about your naked body like an altar I’d been forced to pray to,
I need to not care.
And I need you to know that you accepted the love from me that you thought you deserved,
and that this is why I hated you,
and that it was not my fault.
I worried today
that you wouldn’t like the scars on my knobby knees
or the sunburn on my back.
Or the way that I bit my lip when you leaned in for a hug,
how it fell on your chest like a jagged kiss.
But then I remembered the sunburn on your chest last night, that I so desperately
wanted to reach out and touch.
When I did, you smiled like a waterfall pouring over the both of us and let my hands
wander where they wanted.
Your sunburn didn’t matter then, because the way I bit your lip,
must have stung so much more,
and the way you gripped my side,
quickened our hearts to the pace of a hummingbird’s wings.
I remembered the scar on your back in the shape of a knife,
and how it made me smile because it meant that
there was nothing I could do to hurt you.
When you lifted your shirt to show it proudly,
I realized that my own scars
would never bother you as much as they bother me.
Oh god breakups suck because you’re sitting alone in your bed at night
in the dark
(of course in the dark, always in the dark, no one sits alone
with the lights on)
anyway you’re there in the dark and it hits you like a ten ton
Doc Marten Doomsday Boot just dropped from the sky and landed on your heart:
the only person you want to talk about this with—
no I’m sorry the only person you CAN talk about this convoluted mass of emotions you feel squirming beneath your skin with—
is the one person you “shouldn’t” be talking to.
And all the breakup books and best friend advice said
“cut them cut them right out of your life.”
And so you try and every day you feel weaker like an insect flying with one wing
because you may have ripped the Cancer out
but the Cancer was there for so long and god knows what happens to us when we get too attached to poisonous things,
so you sit there, alone, in the dark,
flapping your one broken wing and
you read the words you wrote on your hand in class in dark black ink:
“only time will tell.”
You repeat it in your head like a mantra until you fall asleep, upright, alone, on your bed, in the dark,
and you wake in the morning,
knowing that time will tell,
but time also destroys, blurs, distorts, forgets—
so you’re sitting alone, on your bed, and even though morning’s brilliant rays poke through the slats of the broken venetian blinds and hit your eyes,
you still feel like you’re trying to pull Time back to you through the darkness of its annals and the recesses of its memory.
And you don’t need me tell you
that this is a losing battle
with a giant greater than Death.
of subway cars
and sideways glances,
because I’m supposed to."