I study the photograph with careful intent

Afraid of what I am seeing, or…

Not seeing

I was so young


Cradled in your arms

And in my mother’s

You and your wife just adopted your first daughter

Mother’s brown eyes are bright

Warm with pride and joy and new life

Your brown eyes are dark

Hollow and cold

Bereft of…


Maybe you just hated having your picture taken

Surely you just hated having your picture taken

Then why did you have your picture taken

This was your moment as a new father

Your first moment

One count

One shutter

One smile

One emotion



But there is nothing

There was nothing

Why was there nothing

I stare at the photograph

My mother was so gentle

She is still so gentle

With her hands and words as with her eyes

But not you

Never you

Did you already know your new life would never be good enough

Did you already know I would never be good enough

You didn’t mean to

I know you didn’t mean to

I have to believe you didn’t mean to

But it still hurt

You were always gone

Emotionally and physically

Unavailable and away

But that may have been better for me

You had a way of instructing me

Teaching me

An indirect way of showing me I could do better

An indirect way of telling me I needed to do better

Be better

Be better than myself

Than me

It was the same every time

It started the same way

With the same prerequisite

“When I was your age…”

Leading into a story of your success

And then another

And another

And another…

Comparing me to yourself


It never got easier for me

Because as always

You came out on top

“I’m proud of you”

Stoic and meaningless


Might as well not have said it

You knew I could never measure up to you

I could never accomplish what you have

I could never do what you have

And I wanted to

I wanted to meet your expectations

I wanted to be a lawyer, too

But not for me

For you

Would that have made you happy

Would that have made me good enough

I will never know

And neither will you


Music: Oceans – Jacob Lee


And yet it lingered
Evading my eviction notice
Refusing to vacate my mind
I willed it away with what little I had left
Tried to immerse it in abundant sorrow
Suffocate it with breathless nights
Carve it with a fractured heart
Squeeze it unresponsive with strained embraces
Trample it with reticent footsteps dancing among eggshells
Freeze it with ice much too cold for a warm heart to give
Mummify it with loathing I held for myself
Because maybe it could be meant for you
When it would not go
I thought
Maybe if I could burn the thoughts that remained
The pictures you carved into my vision
The words you stitched on my tongue
The stench of your cologne trapped in my clothes
The taste of your skin on my mouth
You would finally leave me
So I held a flame to your memory
It touched first your umber eyes
I watched the blaze in their reflection
Until the mirror turned to ash
And spilled to the floor
I guided a spark to your mouth
Drenched your lips in gasoline
Watched them shrivel to black
Curl into endless silence
The snake behind them too cauterized to breathe anymore
The flare caught your fingertips
Each one turning to charcoal
Crumbling in fragments to the ground
The crimson caressed your skin
Stretched to every inch I could not touch
I watched in silence, knowing the crackling of the inferno was taking pieces of me with you
A sacrifice I was willing to make if it meant you would go
The wind carelessly carried you away, billows of black smoke writhing into halos above your head
Now I am not the one spiraling
I looked at my feet, hidden beneath what was left of you
Now I am not the one below
I do not expect you to be gone forever
But should you return
I am the one holding the match

Unfamiliar Stillness

I’m terrified
But I sit with you
You do not force me to
You allow me to choose my own company
And I choose you
Silence cloaks us, but it is not heavy, not hollow
It does not beg to be filled
Your breaths are a quivering quiet, but slow and steady
A rhythm in which I feel at home
Your light eyes do not hold me, though I am so aware the flakes of crystal in them could paralyze me
I do not feel them
When I look at you, only then can I sense their grip
So many times I have longed to get away
This time I want to be kept
I want to be kept safe
I want to be kept warm
I want to be kept hidden
And I want you to keep me
You can keep me
Please keep me
Even from here I can feel your heartbeat
It is fast like mine
Are you afraid, too?
I find comfort in its pace, for I know I am not alone
I can see a heaviness in your thoughts written on your face
I notice your hand tremble as you begin to lift it
I flinch
You freeze
In this moment of stillness I realize the depth of your caring
I move my own, placing it between us
An invitation
Your eyes land upon my hand
You fingers follow, resting there, slow and gentle
There is no pressure, only compassion and kindness
So soft
Now your fingers are laced with mine
I’m terrified
But I stay with you
So many times I have longed to get away
Maybe one day I can tell you
Your touch and losing the pain
Feel the same
I see you smile, so genuine and selfless
Maybe for once my vulnerability is appreciated
And so unfamiliar, I feel the same cross my own lips
I want you to keep me
You can keep me
Please keep me

Can You Hold Me

I hold my breath
I’m waiting for your voice
I’m waiting for the words
I’m waiting for the question
Please don’t ask me
Your pale cheeks are stained with salt
The pillow beside us is sodden
I watch the raindrops fall from your dark eyes
Each one a lie as it crosses your lips
Your sobs become unbearable
But I can’t leave
I can’t go
I have to sit with fear as my company
Just don’t
Please don’t ask me
Not tonight
You told me you loved me
I learn love means weapons
You told me you needed me
I learn being needed means having an empty clip
You told me you were sorry
I learn apologies can’t be my ammunition
You told me we had good times, too
I learn good times are your target practice
I hear a steady breath
You breathe but I can’t
I watch your chest rise
I realize only words
Can turn a moment into a lifetime
Please, no
Not this time
“Can you hold me?”
You know my answer before I part my lips
You’ve twisted it into my mouth, onto my tongue
I don’t want to
Because you hurt me
You hurt me
You hurt…
“Of course.”



I see your shadows in the hallways
I hear your voice echo off the walls
I had hoped I had only dreamt it
I had hoped you’d never been here at all
But I can see you through every window
I can feel you slamming all the doors
I hear your breathing, oh so quiet
But your footsteps are heavy on the floor

Shards of glass lie upon the carpet
Making my silence loud enough to hear
And though I tip toe and try to hide it
I know any sound I make will find your ear
This small house used to glow a safe white
There were no stains when I lived alone
Now I watch the walls drip with bright red
Look what you’ve done; this used to be my home.

I still smell you on my bedsheets
I still feel your hands across my skin
I cannot sleep here, for when my eyes close
Though I can’t see you, I watch it all again
I open my door to the hallway
Dead silence is what keeps me alive
But the door creaks as it betrays me
I hold my breath, “no, no you cannot cry.”

His door opens slowly down the hallway
The only barrier keeping him from me
Are the shards of glass he laid on the carpet
Though they make mine bleed they do not touch his feet
But different this time, as I’m watching
I see his blood smeared across the floor
From his footsteps and I realize
He cannot hurt me, can’t touch me anymore.

I start to wonder why all the sudden
He cannot walk on his glass this time
As he is screaming, I look closer
And then I notice the glass isn’t his anymore…
It’s mine.

Dear Me

Dear me,
Young fourteen,
This is not who you’re always gonna be.
It won’t be easy,
But you’ll see
If you keep walking through the fire you’ll be set free.

Dear me,
Two more years
Have passed and you’re still stuck with all your fears.
But just you keep
On walking through
The insecurities that have always blinded you.

Dear me,
Two years later,
Parts of you will soon begin to break and shatter.
But don’t you dare
Stop right there,
Or you’ll miss out on the love you’re meant to share.

Dear me,
Two decades old,
Be careful to whom you give your heart to hold.
Because he’ll take
What isn’t his
Please just know this isn’t what love really is.

Dear me,
Now twenty two,
You’ll soon receive a gift that’ll always stay with you.
And he is safe
For your heart.
He’ll start putting back together what others tore apart.

Dear me,
One year later,
You’ll have to leave the one thing that ever held you together.
But don’t you let
Your heart be torn,
For in this cold, harsh world he’ll be able to keep it warm.

Dear me,
Twenty four,
Don’t let the bottle in his hands push you around anymore.
It’s time to go,
You’re allowed to leave,
It still hurts even if others cannot see.

Dear me,
Twenty five,
It’s hurt like hell, but keep your head up, you’re still alive.
All this pain
That’s bruising you
May not end right now, but you do make it through.

Dear me,
Twenty seven,
When he calls you her name, know you should be leaving.
You don’t deserve
The way he is.
In your eyes is hope, but there will always be none in his.

Dear me,
Months down the road
Give him a chance, for he won’t keep you on your toes.
He’ll make you laugh
And make you smile
And you will start to heal though it may take a while.

When your heart
Leaves for heaven
It’s ok for you to open up, is ok for you to tell them.
Sometimes the ones
That help you most
Aren’t always people who stay so very close.

Dear me,
I’m twenty eight now,
I’ve made it this far but sometimes don’t know how.
But some days
I still hear
A little, quiet voice in my ear.
“It won’t always
Be this hard
Hope is precious, it’s how you got this far.
So don’t quit now
Don’t give up
You’ll be where you want to be just soon enough.”

And there’s your life
Through one more door,
Just a little patience, just wait a little more.
It’s not over,
It’s not done,
You’re so much stronger than what you thought you could become.



“I’ll take what I want when I want.”

Your statement was in reference to your careless sexual agenda with me, but its raw meaning didn’t remain confined to your hot breath on my skin, your cold hands on my hips, the burning between my thighs with every movement. You said it with a tone that hinted you were joking, but it turned out to be the only truth to ever slither off your venomous tongue. Every word of every phrase from your vile lips was dark, distant, and deceitful, just like you; you were never more than a malicious, unsteady shadow cloaked flawlessly with light.

In the beginning, all that was visible was that love of life, that brilliant charm, that wide grin and witty banter, but over time the cloak fell to shredded pieces scattered on the floor. I didn’t realize I would soon be strewn across the floor too, clinging to the bits of light barely visible anymore. You led me blindly into your shattered world, and shattered me with it, with you. You took anything you wanted, everything I didn’t have to offer. I unveiled my heart quickly, young, blatant naivety placing it in your hands before you earned it. Your response was to yank it from me as though it was an object that already belonged in your possession; you were never gentle with it, just like you were never gentle with me.

You defined love and fear for me, both of which I am still trying to redefine seven years later. What you were willing to give was never love; love does not yell ruthlessly at a terrified girl, nor does it strip her of her identity by placing rough hands where they are not wanted, or control her life as if it were your own. The way you defined fear, however, was simple: stay on your toes upon the eggshells; do not cry for the tears may melt the thin ice; tread quietly as to not anger him, for his tongue is a whip, his fists wrecking balls, and his voice a volcano. My effort didn’t matter, though. Your explosions of anger and the side effects they brought had no instigation, and their sporadic yet guaranteed occurrences left me frozen in fear because you kept fight and flight for yourself. You could fight if you chose to. You could go as you pleased, but not me. I was to bend to your rules, do as you said, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have a tomorrow if I didn’t.

The power was yours, the control was yours, but it was never my choice; you never heard me, never cared to listen, and I could not speak over you. While you were suspicious, I was transparent, but I guess the terror I laid on the table wasn’t good enough… or maybe you enjoyed seeing it there. You shoved me away with your animosity, but kept me chained so you could yank me back into your smothering arms, bereft of solace or comfort; all I found in them was a horrid inability to breathe, or the sound of your fist against the wall too close to me. Each time your lifeless fingertips touched my skin, you tore away yet another piece of me, never belonging to you, and took a lit match to it; I watched as I slowly became less and less, engulfed in flames, in shock and in pain.

Maybe one day I’ll stop hating myself for allowing you to pull me back to you like a fish on a hook. You held vicious secrets in one palm, untrue accusations in the other, and over time they slipped through your fingers to land at my feet, like shards of glass among the eggshells. It didn’t take long for my steps to become painful, my footprints a trail of dark red on the ice, but you demanded I keep walking. I lived in your rain, cringed under your thunder, trembled beside your lightning; you were a ceaseless thunderstorm, one you implanted within me to hold until it destroyed me, until you destroyed me. I lost who I was to you, my identity altered because of you, my future uncertain and daunting. I’m still trying to put myself back together, but missing pieces make it difficult. I hope you didn’t keep them; I hope you tossed them away thoughtlessly. You never deserved any part of me. I don’t know who I am anymore; you took that from me. I never should have been forced to be that strong, but I was not given an option. I was never given a choice.

Someday I hope to no longer find you in everything which should be beautiful. I fight myself every day, but am I really fighting myself, or am I still glued to your shadow? Somehow you still remind me of all I couldn’t be.

Heaven and Hope

I hope the gates of Heaven were open for you when you got there. I hope you were welcomed by understanding angels with gentle hands. I hope you knew you were in a place forever free of harm. I hope you saw bliss in a future of abundant freedom. I hope you knew nothing would be asked of you there. I hope you understood you would never be bound by ropes again. I hope you felt every burden lifted. I hope you found comfort among the clouds. I hope you discovered the green grass stretching beyond the horizon so you may gallop alongside Seabiscuit and Secretariat.

I hope you felt the sun on your back, but were never burnt. I hope you felt the breeze lift your mane and tail, but never shivered. I hope you discovered the kind of joy you couldn’t find here. I hope you found companions so you would never be alone. I hope you found every piece of yourself you may have lost here. I hope you have forgotten what pain feels like. I hope you have forgotten what fear feels like. I hope you have forgotten what frustration feels like. I hope you found peace. I hope you understood your purpose here was fulfilled. I hope you could feel the reflection of the rainbows on your coat. I hope you embraced the rain, kicked up your heels, and flew; I hope you flew with the angels over the endless, vibrant green of the pastures and the crystal blue of the rivers. I hope you landed among flowers of gold and yellow, and pranced among them, allowing your beautiful personality to blossom.

And I hope you knew how much you helped this broken girl, how you changed her life and her heart. You held her self doubt, her pain, and her memories selflessly. You were patient with her mistakes. You were forgiving in a way most people are not. You surrendered your time, your effort, your trust to her. You gave her your heart, your everything, and she gave you hers in return.

I hope you cannot feel my tears, or hear my cries for you, for I promised you I would never cause you pain. I hope you forgive me for not saying goodbye when I had that chance. I will always need your strength, and your warmth, and your comfort. I miss you so much. They called you I’m The Lucky One, when actually I should have held that name; I am so blessed to have had you in my life. Eternity would not have been enough time with you. I hope you will always remember me. I will never forget you. I will look to the obsidian sky and find the brightest star, and there you will be.

And I hope you will wait for me; I will look for you when I walk through the gates.

In loving memory of I’m The Lucky One, “Jeffrey,” who went home in November of 2017. You will always be in my heart. I love and miss you.

*Photo Credit – Jesse Turner

From A Glass House

What can you do when you witness a spark ignite a single piece of pine straw lying among debris littering the matted dirt of a forest trail from inside a glass house?

You can watch as the flame jumps to the surrounding pine straw, remaining on the trail for only a few moments before grasping for the crisp, lifeless leaves surrounding the trees. The vibrant, livid orange climbs them, crawling up their trunks and spiraling toward their branches, turning everything it touches to black, and ash falls like snow to the ground. You can watch the birth of a wildfire explode within a place of peace, of comfort, of unadulterated life. You can watch horrified animals run, frantic, their homes being destroyed without remorse in front of you; you begin to sob because you know what it feels like to have that taken away, and because you understand what that kind of fear feels like.

The next second you blink, and your aching eyes notice another acre is engulfed in flames, the fingertips of its rage seemingly touching what once was the sky, clouds of black billowing from the forest into the air, no longer clean and refreshing. You can smell the scorched Earth, feel the screaming heat, hear the constant crackles from the flames and the thundering crashes from falling trees and limbs. You put your trembling hands against the glass, swollen eyes wide in terror, as you watch such a beautiful place get ruined by hate, and rage, and anguish.

The only thing you want, the only thing you want is to save what’s left, what’s untouched, what’s still new and beautiful and hopeful, but the best you can do is lean wearily against the glass, your inconsistent breath fogging it, and your tears leaving wet stains on your cheeks, on the floor until you are too weak to stand anymore. You can fall to your knees, your heart so incredibly and irreversibly broken you don’t care if they shatter under your weight.

You can recall the buckets of water sitting behind you in a row, much too small to have an effect on this disaster now, and remaining within the glass house holding them hostage; half of the forest is smothered now, tarred and smoking, the rest waiting for what seems like an inevitably malicious ending to its peace.

The glass is too hot to touch now, your tears turning to steam, but in here you are safe from the flames, despite your total disregard for own safety. This fire cannot touch you, but the howling of the forest, the panic of the animals, the scrutinizing pain from watching something you love so much getting destroyed right in front of you… that can touch you, and it does in a way that shreds you to pieces.

You wish the spark had chosen your toes instead of the pine straw, for it would hurt far less. You can pray for rain, for a tsunami, for a monsoon, for a hurricane to end this. That’s what you can do. That’s all you can do.

Weighted Games

A sky of blue, and leaves of green

A breeze that whispers through the trees

Autumn colors and falling leaves

I hear them crumble beneath my feet

A sun as bright as this fall day

Should make the demons go away

But here they linger, and here they’ll stay

To keep me company, so they say

Vibrant golds, and greens, and reds

Distract my eyes but not my head

So still the demons whisper dread

I wish them gone, I wish them dead

The air is cool, the day a splendor

This Friday in the mid November

But a fire burns, I feel the embers

I can’t forget, only remember

I’m not alone on this flawless day

For on my shoulders heavily weigh

The burdens I carry in every way

Wherever I go I hear them say

“You are fragile, you are weak,

Soon you’ll land hard on your knees

For you will never truly see

What we can do to make you bleed.

You know by now that we won’t stop

Until we get what we all want

All of this, it’s all your fault

So we’ll just wait for you to drop.”

So in this sodden grass I’ll sit

Watch my cigarette burn while lit

And watch the tables turn and flip

Set down the burdens, weighted brick

Always I feel so alone

Nowhere really feels like home

Spending time just throwing stones

As nothing here is all my own

Except these demons that I carry

That make me tired, make me weary

And still I fight with each one daily

“Why won’t you go? Why won’t you leave me?”

The answer is always the same

“We love to play our little games.

You just give and we will take.

You’ll eventually give in anyway.”

Ill try to keep my thoughts away

And think about this gorgeous day

Maybe they will stay at bay

At least for a moment, that’s all I pray

And maybe one day I’ll find peace

Where monsters don’t crouch under trees

That sway along the Autumn breeze

On that day they’ll leave me be