when i die, just put ‘boys boys boys boys boys’ on my tombstone
Bowhead whales, who look like giant
skipping stones in the palm of a child,
whose newborns are fifteen feet long.
The tortoise, who has watched four
generations leave and sometimes
return from war. Turritopsis nutricula
or the “immortal jellyfish” who, if
not killed, can actually live forever
without dying. The saguaro cactus
who wait seventy-five years just to
stretch out one arm. Red woods.
Spores. Sea urchins, those sunken
chew toys, who can regenerate lost
spines. Koi fish, who inhabit artificial
pools, tattoos and decorative ponds,
who remain long after their owners.
Who will feed them then? And you.
Will you, too, outlive me or will
I always be the shiny fountain
in which you are reborn?
- Sierra DeMulder
Soft, sleepy things to read/watch/listen to?
Stay busy. Good thoughts. Good
karma. Go running, go shopping, go
out with friends, splurge on a pair
of shoes you’ll only wear once. Feed
your dog, your cat, your pet fish. You
are okay, you are okay, you are okay.
Go to bars and let a boy buy you a
drink. Let him whisper dirty things in
your ear as he wraps
his hand around a disappearing wrist.
But remember: you do not owe anyone.
So many things to do and it is okay,
you are keeping busy. Take showers
that are too hot, showers that burn the
sadness right out of you. Sleep with
the lights on. Tell your friends that
love can be expensive as you decline
their attempts to fix you up. The bar
has been your best friend all these
years. Ignore how your sheets smell
like too much wasted love. You have
things to do. The little sadnesses will
pile up: seeing him, not seeing him,
how you weren’t enough to change
the tide, the wrong boy texting you the
sweetest things. It is okay. Someday,
you will be beautiful again.
If I didn’t think it’d make me appear crazy still,
I’d apologize to you for having been so crazy then.
Reading the poems I had written about “us”
resurrected all that nervous heat, reminded me
of the insistent stutter of my longing,
how I could never just lay it out there for you.
The answer, clearly, would have been
no, thank you. But perhaps that tough line
would have been enough to salvage all
that was good and woolly about us: your laugh,
that golden ring I’d always stretch a story for;
the pair of mittens we’d split in the cold
so we’d each have a hand to gesture with;
how even now, the paths we took are filled
with starry wonder and all that bright limitless air.
I’m sorry I could never see myself
out of the twitching fever of my heartache,
that I traded everything we had for something
that never ended up being. But if I could take
any of it back, it wouldn’t be the glittering hope
I stuck in the amber of your eyes, nor would
it be the sweet eager of our conversations.
No, it would be that last stony path to nothing,
when we both gave up without telling the other.
How silence arrived like a returned valentine
that morning we finally taught our phones not to ring.
The sleeping, the eating, the grocery
shopping, the cleaning, the awake,
the bathing, the sex, the running, the
deep sharp tug in the belly of it, the
hellos, the goodbyes, the edge of the
blade, the kisses, the bitter end, the
better beginning, the constant phone
calls, the endless voice mails, the
letters you wrote when you pretended
to be a writer, the underside of your
arms when you told me to stay, the
way that even the backs of your knees
blushed when we whispered secrets
behind cupped palms. The innocence,
the fresh sting of it, the unknowing
and then the brutal knowing of it all,
the way we fell apart and then found
our way back. The promise, the sin,
the breaking. The leaving. The going.
The always. The never. The yes. The
sweetest thing you ever said. The
craving. The digging. The finding.
Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear
a body littered with ugly things.
doesn’t she wear
the world well?
Hello yourself! First, I want to say thank you so much for reading my poetry and liking it and for asking me this question because I feel that it’s something I need to address.
For the most part, the things that I write about I have not personally experienced. Usually I am writing about a friend’s experience, or a family member’s experience, or there have even been times when I’ve been reading a news article and I say to myself, “Wow, I really want to write a poem about this. I really want this person to have a poem” and off I go to write about it. I think what makes it so relatable is that I try to put myself in that person’s shoes. I try to ask myself, “Okay, Kristina. Someone stole your pencil or threw your heart out of the window again. What do you do? How do you pick yourself back up? Where are the words?” And that’ll usually do it. I can sympathize.
However, I will say that “A Poem For My Abuser” is one of the pieces that I’ve written about myself and for myself, if that makes any sense. I was sexually abused when I was younger. Almost ten years ago, in fact, but things like that don’t really ever fade the way other instances do in a person’s life. If anything, it’s becoming clearer, you know? I’m realizing that it wasn’t my fault, that I was too young to understand what was happening, that he’s a dick, that I’ll never forgive him but that I am able to move on so that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve only just really begun to be comfortable with writing about that experience and as I begin to really explore it, I’m realizing that I have all these different kinds of feelings about the whole thing in general. Of course I’m angry. And hurt. And sad. Oh god, I am so sad. Among other things. And then my most recent poem is actually probably the one that means the most to me because Alyssa, whom the poem is for, went through the same thing that I did and my god she is so brave. I wish you all could meet her.
Abuse is a very real thing to me and I don’t take it lightly. What strikes me as scary is the fact that some of my friends have seen my poems about abuse and they come to me and tell me that they didn’t even realize their boyfriends/girlfriends/what have you were abusing them until after they read some of my things.
I think over the past few months I’ve become a lot braver with the things I’m writing and posting and allowing for all of you to see, which is strange because the amount of followers I have just keeps on growing and it’s scary, it really is, letting such a large group of strangers see what the people whom I love go through, but I won’t ever apologize for writing about them because I know that someone, somewhere, can relate to what I write. I know that I can help, if only temporarily. And that can make all the difference.
You were eight the first time. Didn’t
realize what filthy was until you had a
boy navigate your body raw with his
fingers. It was hot that summer,
humid and sticky and there was
sweat in new, secret places that he
liked to lick off. For him, your body
was the Last Supper. He engorged
himself on your thighs, your barely-
there chest, your shiny new mouth.
He liked to hide in the pale quiet of
where the world begins. When he
let you down from the fence you ran
all the way back to your house and
didn’t realize until later how he’d hung
your body naked like a crucifixion.
Years later, over coffee, you tell me
how you don’t think you could ever
forgive God, that yes has become
your catchphrase, that boys pile up
in your head and you tend to forget
their names to make letting them go
easier. You tell me that you use them
to fill up those abandoned places
inside of you, that you drink to make
it easier, that you’ve licked your fingers
of love over and over again. Mothers
now use your name as a cautionary
tale and anyway, you prefer to be on
your own. You tell me that somewhere
on a shelf in the apartment where you
live, there’s a jar with his heart in it
collecting dust, wasting away: your
prize for being a good girl.
I agree, it’s a hot topic. But only one? Look around, there’s a wide range. Take my own, for instance.
I get up in the morning. My topic feels like hell. I sprinkle it with water, brush parts of it, rub it with towels, powder it, add lubricant. I dump in the fuel and away goes my topic, my topical topic, nearsighted topic, my topic with back problems, my badly-behaved topic, my vulgar topic, my outrageous topic, my aging topic, my topic that is out of the question and anyway still can’t spell, in its oversized coat and worn winter boots, scuttling along the sidewalk as if it were flesh and blood, hunting for what’s out there, an avocado, an alderman, an adjective, hungry as ever.
The basic Female Body comes with the following accessories: garter belt, panti-girdle, crinoline, camisole, bustle, brassiere, stomacher, chemise, virgin zone, spike heels, nose ring, veil, kid gloves, fish-net stockings, fichu, bandeau, Merry Widow, weepers, chokers, barrettes, bangles, beads, lorgnettes, feather boa, basic black, compact, Lycra stretch one-piece with modesty panel, designer peignoir, flannel nightie, lace teddy, bed, head.
The Female Body is made of transparent plastic and lights up when you plug it in. You press a button to illuminate the different systems. The Circulatory System is red, for the heart and arteries, purple for the veins; the Respiratory System is blue; the Lymphatic System is yellow ;the Digestive System is green, with liver and kidneys in aqua. The nerves are done in orange and the brain is pink. The skeleton, as you might expect, is white.
He said, I won’t have one of those things in the house. It gives a young girl a false notion of beauty, not to mention anatomy. If a real woman was built like that she’d fall on her face.
She said, If we don’t let her have one like all the other girls she’ll feel singled out. It’ll become an issue. She’ll long for one and she’ll long to turn into one. Repression breeds sublimation. You know that.
He said, It’s not just the pointy plastic tits, it’s the wardrobe. The wardrobes and the stupid male doll, what’s his name, the one with the underwear glued on.
She said, Better to get it over with when she’s young. He said, All right but don’t let me see it.
She came whizzing down the stairs, thrown like a dart. She was stark naked. Her hair had been chopped off, her head was turned back to front, she was missing some toes and she’d been tattooed all over her body with purple ink, in a scrollwork design. She hit a potted azalea, trembled there for a moment like a botched angel, and fell.
He said, I guess we’re safe.
The Female Body has many uses. It’s been used as a door-knocker, a bottle-opener, as a clock with a ticking belly, as something to hold up lampshades, as a nutcracker, just squeeze the brass legs together and out comes your nut. It bears torches, lifts victorious wreaths, grows copper wings and raises aloft a ring of neon stars; whole buildings rest on its marble heads.
It sells cars, beer, shaving lotion, cigarettes, hard liquor; it sells diet plans and diamonds, and desire in tiny crystal bottles. Is this the face that launched a thousand products? You bet it is, but don’t get any funny big ideas, honey, that smile is a dime a dozen.
It does not merely sell, it is sold. Money flows into this country or that country, files in, practically crawls in, suitful after suitful, lured by all those hairless pre-teen legs. Listen, you want to reduce the national debt, don’t you? Aren’t you patriotic? That’s the spirit. That’s my girl.
She’s a natural resource, a renewable one luckily, because those things wear out so quickly. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Shoddy goods.
One and one equals another one. Pleasure in the female is not a requirement. Pair-bonding is stronger in geese. We’re not talking about love, we’re talking about biology. That’s how we all got here, daughter.
Snails do it differently. They’re hermaphrodites, and work in threes.
Each female body contains a female brain. Handy. Makes things work. Stick pins in it and you get amazing results. Old popular songs. Short circuits. Bad dreams.
Anyway: each of these brains has two halves. They’re joined together by a thick cord; neural pathways flow from one to the other, sparkles of electric information watching to and fro. Like light on waves. Like a conversation. How does a woman know? She listens. She listens in.
The male brain, now, that’s a different matter. Only a thin connection. Space over here, time over there, music and arithmetic in their own sealed compartments. The right brain doesn’t know what the left brain is doing. Good for aiming, though, for hitting the target when you pull the trigger. What’s the target? Who’s the target? Who cares? What matters is hitting it. That’s the male brain for you. Objective.
This is why men are so sad, why they feel so cut off, why they think of themselves as orphans cast adrift, footloose and stringless in the deep void. What void? she asks. What are you talking about? The void of the Univers,e he says, and she says Oh and looks out the window and tries to get a handle on it, but it’s no use, there’s too much going on, too many rustlings in the leaves, too many voices, so she says, Would you like a cheese sandwich, a piece of cake, a cup of tea? And he grinds his teeth because she doesn’t understand, and wanders off, not just alone but Alone, lot in the dark, lost in the skull, searching for the other half, the twin who could complete him.
Then it comes to him: he’s lost the Female Body! Look, it shines in the gloom, far ahead, a vision of wholeness, of ripeness, like a giant melon, like an apple, like a metaphor for breast in a bad sex novel; it shines like a balloon, like a foggy noon, a watery moon, shimmering in its egg of light.
Catch it. Put it in a pumpkin, in a high tower, in a compound, in a chamber, in a house, in a room. Quick, stick a leash on it, a lock, a chain, some pain, settle it down, so it can never get away from you again.