I have an aunt in California
who came to visit us in Michigan
the last time I saw her
she taught me to play solitaire
on the computer
and then with cards
and we sat in that house that hadn’t yet been burned down
and she took me seriously
she was happy to get to know me
and I her
I think I was around 10
I still play solitaire
and I remember learning that it was considered a cowboy’s game
one for people who are alone for long periods of time
but who choose that
who like that
and it fits

Lightspeed (draft)

Loving you was like a car crash in the snow
darkness and light pouring upon us the way that it looks through a windshield
and you expected things of me I never could know

things you never told me

you spoke to me of who you’d loved before –
you told me that those girls were wrong, bad, unknowing, poor
examples of who you could be

but what you made them out to be said more about you
as we reached that lightspeed accident
that Star Wars approximation of what you wanted me to think of girls
in my position (they loved you as I loved you)
it said much more abut you
than them

it showed me, piece by piece
you are not willing to address anything that you find new, disconcerting, discomforting

you told me if I’d been different,
I wouldn’t have been hurt.

maybe that’s true

but I knew you
enough for you to hurt
enough for me to hurt
enough for you to drive me to
things I would not have considered

if you’d only been kind.

I recall you ignoring me
I know that I seized a bottle from you and poured it out

and you grabbed it back to strike me across the face with it

enough to leave a bruise
enough to cut across the cheekbones
bridge of the nose
enough to cause me pain
that I shouldn’t have had to go through

when you

disappeared for nights at a time
made me find you
50 miles away
broken down a highway

with a friend of yours who told me I deserved better,

you were the one

who told me that you were
and I wanted to do everything for you
and I did

[all I could]

and you threw away my things
ripped my plants to shreds

when you were the one who was supposed to be


You were no different to me
than any of them,
no different to me
than any of the men who injured me

for the entirety

and you may feel above
you may feel better
you may feel clean

I hope you’re doing better.

but it doesn’t change the choices
you made

when you hurt me.

first fear

when my voice doesn’t work and it catches and I laugh
it isn’t because I think it’s funny.

when strange men walk beside me
on the roadside,
on the out side
and they carefully steer to keep me against the wall
and then they say oh it’s because you’re a girl

(you’re small)
(you’re pretty)
(I’ll want you until you refuse and then I’ll insult you)
(I’ll get you)

you know how.

I feel controlled


to walk with them until they go away.
Their chivalry, as it may be,
(as they frame it to be)
it’s lost in the event of a car hitting them

they would not stop it

and then both would hit me.

You’ll never be able
to protect me.

I learned to try to stay in everyone’s good graces
without meaning to
and I learned through experience
I learned what not to do

so if you think I am laughing
on purpose

that is not true.


I struggle with finding food palatable.
I wake up hungry and leave my house
drink water enough during the day
that the hunger, though it may not go away
becomes a dull, constant ache.

By the time I feel hungry,
I want a bite,
I want a silence,
I want no one there to witness

the sound my jaw makes to bite down
the sounds my teeth make to chew
the cleaning up when something falls

and I became unwilling to eat

and  I try to tell you but it doesn’t make sense

and I stay up too late and I get up too early
conveniently missing meals
in this rush

but I worry


We bought rings carved from stone when we were younger
wore them until they each shattered

and we didn’t drop them
but we didn’t replace them
and it felt very final

that they were broken and gone

(I kept the pieces)

and we went back to daily life
and my mother gave me one today that fits
and I commented that the last one I had, I loved it

but it broke

and the woman at the counter commented
that unless they’re dropped or splintered
the stone tries to stay until it has nothing left to offer
that if it does break,
it’s because it’s been worn

or struck by an evil

and maybe both

she told me if after wearing this one, if it broke
that I need to go home and wrap myself in cotton down

I’m wearing it now

did we wear the old ones out?


I learned how to write from the things that I read
and I described endless heroines who were
and I somehow acted like them but I’m not sure if it was myself

there was a time when I stopped reading
stopped writing earnestly
I would write in bursts that had only to do with description
briefly made, but thick and fumbled when trying to understand
and I wondered why I could not understand

how I could make myself into the thing I thought I was

but when I look at the catalog

I find traces of such promise
in these misbegotten words,

fueled by nothing at all that I could attach meaning to

it was then that I could take a topic and be objective
but when I tried applying any feeling,
any evocation

it fell so short

and I flipped the style and tried only to evoke
and tried to still somehow objectively write
about things I invented,


I told myself

were those things about me

there’ve been more services this year
than years past

and I know now how to go to those
for friends whose family I never meant
to tell them that their son or daughter
was a good friend and person
that I am glad I met them
and to hear about them
from when I hadn’t met them yet

and it feels shaky in the way
that they don’t know me

but still trust that my being there is valid
and they are kind to me and to the group of people
who have all tried to unite here
to remember and to honor

I almost don’t feel like I have the right
to say their names
to lay claim to them.

I keep the words softly in my mouth
like tea that’s warm and cooling
and it can’t be swallowed or spoken
and I try to give their names the meaning
that they deserve

and have deserved

and we try to remember and we talk in the parking lot
and we go home

there was a time
not largely discussed
when a partner pushed his girl
into a room
on the second floor
and barred the door

and there were windows but it didn’t seem necessary
to jump
it made more sense to drink the water from the bathroom
eat the food she brought from work

but it turned into eating the food she brought from work
two days ago

three days ago

there wasn’t a phone

his dogs cried at the door

and she crawled into the bathtub with the circular curtain,
filled it with water hot enough
to make the cold ceramic steam
and she took the showerhead attached with a hose to the wall
into her mouth
to cry and to try
to fill her stomach
with warm water

to try and wait

past the point of hunger