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Amanda Newby Aug 2017
You and I are like a mom and dad.

We have taken kids under our wings-
Keeping them happy,
And full,
And medicated.

They keep me accountable.
But they also enable me
To always seek pleasure,
So I can pay the happiness forward.

It keeps me fat.
My ******* soft
And swollen,
And my hormones are racing..

You and I are playing house
Because everyone wants a beautiful family..

But we are parents that never married.
We're not just together for the kids,
But we're not in love either.

It feels like we're stuck in courtship.

My heart still races around you,
And I stare at your lips all the time.
You pay for our 3 am dates sometimes
And you always look happy to see me.

We're two nervous kids
Only accepting affection in small doses.
You used to flinch whenever I would get close to you.
You let me lean on your shoulder a few weeks ago...

The worst part about having a baby daddy that won't let you kiss them
Is that I know it's not from lack of affection
Or maybe even attraction.

It's how fragile this is
For you.
You know that if you kiss me,
You'll learn to hate my lips.

Maybe it's because you could see yourself kissing me for a long time,
And you don't want to see yourself get old.

Probably wishful thinking.

In my selfish imaginations,
We consummate our marriage.
You cover my neck with lovebites,
And I give you pink scratches on your back...

I wish you would hate me.
Then I could kiss your pillowy lips,
And you could just squeeze my *** for hours,
And maybe someone would get an ****** out of it.

I think I'm a desperate housewife,
Waiting for you to really fall in love with me.

I don't know if you ever will.

I know that I really want you to.

Until then, I'll tend to our little nest.
I'll kiss our ******* children goodnight.
I'll make you lunch in a Burger King bag.
I'll let you give in to me, hopefully...
Amanda Newby Mar 2017
16 summers spent at home.
My dark bedrooms tempting me with comfort,
And betraying me with loneliness.
The weeks leading up to school became slow crawls
Through cabin fever.

My favorite word was no.

No to festivals.
No to summer camp and sleepovers.
No to birthday parties and bonfires and beach days.

No is dangerous. The more I said it, the easier it was. No was sad, but misery loved my company. No gave me a pair of jade-colored glasses.

Yes started to look like a barbed-wire fence
One foot off the ground.
If I could only jump over it,
I'd reach the greenery of the other side...

But what if I tripped?

So, when my friend asked if I wanted to go to a bonfire on the last day of school,
I got nervous.
My stomach knotted up
Like the headphones in my bedroom.
My safe, dark bedroom...

I said yes.

Then I said yes to late-night adventures.
Yes to journalism camp 3 hours away.
Yes to grad parties,
And movie nights,
And dates.

Yes is powerful.
Yes was meeting people from California.
Yes was laughing in Walmart on a Tuesday.
Yes was a bouncy house,
And dying my hair rainbow at 2 A.M.,
And holding hands with friends
When walking across the street.

Yes was the 17th summer.
The best summer of my life.

The summer that made me believe in yes.

Yes gave me new experiences,
Closer friendships,
Good times.

If I know nothing else,
I know I was happy.

Saying yes is not easy
When all you know
Is no.

But no is a slow,

I chose life.
And it was the best choice
I've ever made.

Learning to say yes
Was learning about my city,
My friends,
And myself.

I love all of these things dearly.

I believe in saying yes.

Yes to festivals.
Yes to summer camp and sleepovers.
Yes to birthdays and bonfires and beach days.

Yes to my city,
And my friends,
And myself.

Yes to life.
Amanda Newby Feb 2017
You liked her because her cheeks were pink,
And her lips were red,
And her skin was white.
Her face was like a Valentine,
And you were ready to give her your heart.

You liked her because of the black hair,
And smokey eyes,
And dark magic.
She was a witch
And you memorized her palms,
Hoping yours would be a spell
She didn't know yet.

You liked her, even when it stung.
She was like looking at the light in the dentist's chair.
She fried your retinas.
Your fluorine-filled mouth gagging you with cherry
While she got high on laughing gas.

You loved her, with the pink light bathing her
And your red lipstick thick on her lips
And her calloused hands squeezing your heart purple.

You love her hard enough to **** Cupid.

Cupid is pink, turning white.
The blood empties
Like cherry syrup.
The sky is dark.
Her lips are purple.
Your love is a crime scene.

Happy Valentine's Day.
Amanda Newby Feb 2017
I've known that I have to write this
For a while now.
That hasn't made it any easier.
A part of me has wished that his heart would beat my pen to it.

It's time.

While my father is still alive

The doctors say he doesn't have much time left.
I have never heard their voices,
Never saw their faces.

My father's face
Is the only one
I am not afraid to forget.

I try to will it away.
Find myself scanning for it in the mirror,
Try to paint myself someone else's daughter.

I worry about a nightmare recurring.
About seeing him, imagined in flesh.

I have not been in the same state as my father since I was 13.

People tell me that I will wish I had seen him
Before it was too late.

What they don't know is that I do see my father.

I see my father
On Thanksgiving
My older brother's anger bouncing off the walls.
I couldn't stop smiling, and giggling,
Until I teared up.
It was not funny,
But my body didn't know how else
To fight the fear.

I see my father
In hands.
Nails painted by my sister,
Peeling tissue from my face.
I wait
For an apology
In my father's voice.
"I mean, I love you, but..."
My sister swallows it,
I forgive her.

I see my father
In my little brother's signature.
Junior. Jaded.
His voice is getting deeper,
Eerily familiar.
I know it's not fair,
But I try to drown it out.
I focus on the fluff
Of his hair,
I wish his teachers could see
Our mother working against the yellow slips
They give him.

I see my father
In my mama's smile.
Every breath
Is a rebellion
Against him.
How can anyone expect me
To balance love for both of them?
I would be so at odds
With the opposite genes in me.

I see my father
In girls I fall in love with.
The crying sounds the same.
I am not my mama yet,
I still sleep with the memory of them,
Not big enough to fill this bed.
They are not bad enough to forget.

My father
Is not different enough to forgive.
Some days, I worry I am the same as him.

I think it is impossible
To rearrange your fingerprints,
To orphan yourself
From a man who raised you.
Who put you down.

Before he put you into the ground...

It is not easy to hate him.
I'm afraid it will not be even harder when he is.
When he is dead.

He texts me sometimes.
He's always praying that I have a good day.
He wakes up in a hospital beds.
He asks to hear my voice.
He is looking for forgiveness
From a god
Who has my family's face.

He's looking for a life after this.

I know that there will be life
After my father dies.

I just don't know
What parts of me to change
Or what parts of me to celebrate

While my father is still alive.
Amanda Newby Dec 2016
You sure like to
Take things slow.
Lead-mouthed kisses,
Long meals,
Leisurely dates.
You're taking my sweet time
Getting here.

I'll forgive you when you do.

I don't know if you'll understand
What's going into all my waiting.
All the solitary nights-
My undented mattress.
My cold hands
Hanging at my sides.
My eyes-- seeking.

The promise of you on my shoulders.

I am pinning parts of you
Onto any girl around
Worth pining over.
Or any girl around
Long enough
For me to
Get a glimpse of you through.

A coveting kaleidoscope.

I worry about time.
About giving the good
Bits of myself
To other girls-
Mistaking them for you.
What if I do,
And don't get them back?

What if I meet you empty-handed?

I know,
I'm a silly 17
And you are
25. Or 43. Or 80.
But hey,
I like older ladies.

Please love me, 17 year-old sweet-talker.

Pick yourself up,
Out of your bed-
Wear warm gloves.
Kiss cute girls
(Or guys.)
Wander around.

*I'll be waiting for you.
Amanda Newby Dec 2016
Maybe I'm not sick enough
Of sad, beautiful girls.

They wear misery so well.
Like pouty lips,
And blushy cheeks.
Swollen eyes,
And little mouth noises-
A siren's call.

I'm a ******* ******* at heart.

It's pretty sick
Of her
To humor me like this.
To let me be the joke.

Doesn't she know
That I would sabotage myself
Just to hear her laugh?
Just to feel wanted?
Just to feel worthy?

Just to make my skin feel bearable?

Doesn't she know
She's the movie screen
I project my affections

Sniveling silver.

Doesn't she know
She's my one chance
At feeling normal?

At feeling anything at all?

Doesn't she know
I'm tired?

I don't want to wait anymore.

I'm pretty sick
Of myself.
I need her laughter
To drown out the silence.

I'm so uneasy alone.

Their wet eyes are interchangeable.
A series of lips,
Cooling cheeks.
Blue mouths-
And their captivating sounds.
I laugh.

I'm pretty foolish.
She's pretty sick.
Amanda Newby Dec 2016
Dear Self,

For you it is November 9th, 2016. Despite all odds, Donald Trump is president. Mike Pence, governor of your home state of Indiana, is his VP.

You are 17 right now. You were born into a world run by George W. Bush. You spent your whole childhood hearing your parents yelling at the tv, angry at the Texas governor in the White House.

You grew up in Obamanation. You saw months of “YES WE CAN” and “CHANGE” stickers going up, and a magnet your family still has get put onto your refrigerator. You heard your mother’s sigh of relief when Barack Obama was announced the 44th president. That was half your lifetime ago.

You spent the last year following the campaigns. You were not surprised by Hillary Clinton running again. You “felt the Bern” of the somewhat radical Independent candidate previously unknown to you, Bernie Sanders. You laughed off the wild reality tv star Donald Trump’s campaign.

Months went by. Bernie and Hillary were fighting hard leading up to the primaries. Republicans slowly started to drop out. Big names like Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Chris Christie left the race. Bernie didn’t do good enough in the primaries, which was upsetting to most of your friends, your older brother, and your mom, who all voted for him. Ted Cruz fell off, defeated, in May.

It was down to Hillary and Trump.

You followed the comments made at their rallies. On their social media. You heard a lecture about the election from Josh Gillin of Politifact at Indiana University over the summer. You won an award for an opinion piece you wrote on Trump. As the election day grew closer, you watched every presidential debate. You analyzed them in class.

Last night, you stayed up until 4 A.M. to see the results of this election. You sat through excruciatingly slow interviews, political analysis, and different predictions. You couldn’t turn away from the blue and red maps, the aggressively American backgrounds, the anxious masses.

The tired tv hosts were right, it was a nail-biter.

As Trump gave his victory speech, you wept.

You wept for the months you spent wishing this wouldn’t happen. You wept for the 1920’s suffragettes, for the descendents of MLK and Cesar Chavez, for the Orlando victims. You wept for me. The people I joined. The people who will join me.

I am dead.

You learned in your final moments that homophobes look like normal people. They are not all rednecks with beer guts wearing ten-gallon hats. They are more elusive than that. They can be dressed smart. They can have friendly voices. Familiar names and faces.

A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend killed you. Someone you live near. You might have passed them in a car. In the mall. In the school hallways. It was someone that people you knew,  knew. You probably could’ve gotten their Twitter handle if you had heard their name before.

You were killed in a city that VP Pence had once stood in.

People tried to learn about your killer. Were they someone you knew? Someone who just went crazy? Someone who couldn’t handle who you held hands with?

You were too young, the local news anchors said. Your school administration said. Your mom said.

Mike Pence didn’t say anything at all.

Your friends didn’t say much. They cried. They withdrew. They wore baggier clothes. They bought switchblades. They washed “*****” and “ladyboy” off of your tombstone. They wondered about joining you, voluntarily and not.

The school newspaper’s headline: DEAD AT 17.

No one thought it would happen to you, except you. You stayed up late at night, imagining your funeral. The first thing you did in the morning was practice for your wake. Every time you left your house, you were a dead man walking.

No one  believed this more than you did.

The news anchors said it was just one of a string of murders. People said it was an isolated incident. Your friends said it was a hate crime. Your mom said it was the worst thing that  ever  happened to her.

There was no question that you were gone, even when they found you- chest jumping. There was only one thing to wonder: who was next?

Not an if, but a when.

I hope the when is  never.

All my love- to you and everyone else,

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