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shelly Oct 2020
So it was just the three of us; Rider, Bailey, and me
We borrowed my great uncle’s car
Promised to bring it back by uncle’s work the next morning
We weren’t planning on going too far
Just east to the outskirts of the city by the train tracks
Just shy of the fields and the woods
Before we went out, we got fast food and beer
Planning to stay out as long as we could

On the other side of the tracks
Was an orchard ⁠— neat rows of trees
And in them a deafening sound
Like out of your more horrible dreams
As the rows went in deeper
The deeper the darkness seemed
Rider swore that it was coyotes
But coyotes’ howls sound like screams

The sun was just starting to go down in the west
And the howls started to fade
So we turned up the radio and cracked open our beers
To laugh our worries away
The sun bid all of us her final goodbyes
And disappeared behind the earth
We opened up the car doors and stretched our legs
Outside in the evening’s birth

On the other side of the tracks
Was an orchard ⁠— neat rows of trees
And in them a deafening sound
Like out of your more horrible dreams
As the rows went in deeper
The deeper the darkness seemed
Rider swore that it was coyotes
But coyotes’ howls sound like screams

Bailey and I were standing around by the tracks
When Rider turned on the car’s lights at our backs
And out in the trees on all fours like dogs
These humanoid creatures rolled and crawled
Pale and grey, with leathery skin
Naked and sickly and disgustingly thin
We screamed and tripped on the rails and fell
As we ran for the car like a bat out of hell
We could see the creatures coming up on us fast
So Rider slammed his foot on the gas

On the other side of the tracks
Was an orchard ⁠— neat rows of trees
And in them a deafening sound
Like out of your more horrible dreams
As the rows went in deeper
The deeper the darkness seemed
I’m not lying to you, I swear it
Those weren’t coyotes’ screams
There are beasts out in the orchard
If you go where I’ve been
a little horror story
shelly Oct 2020
Pigs can’t look up at the sky
Not while they’re standing
The anatomy of their neck muscles
Doesn't let them look totally upwards
They can strain and they can pull
But their noses will never meet clouds
I am a pig on her way to the slaughter
Straining and pulling
I cannot look upwards
Unless I’m lying down

There was a father
A man much too far away
Someone more than merely a man
Someone I could not hear nor see
Because my eyes are those of a mortal
I am nothing but an animal in a pen
And I simply cannot look up to the heavens to see Him
So I listen to others speak of Him
I read about Him in books written for me
And I hope that He can somehow hear me

There was a father
A man that would beat his piglets
He wrung my legs until I could not stand
And so I could do nothing
But look up at him from the mud, begging
He was the only father I knew
But my eyes were blinded, out of focus
By a sun I was not used to seeing
So I blindly trusted him
What else is a piglet supposed to do?

There was a father
A man that loved the pen openly
Loved his children and his piglets
He would take me from the mud
And hold me belly-up to the sky at night
So I could marvel at the stars
So I could squeal prayers to the moon
He saw my bruises and my scars
He told me I was more than a piglet
He told me I was a boar with tusks

I should have known I couldn't trust a father
I trusted him with the hurt, the longing
The secrets I nursed hidden from others’ eyes
He taught me what it meant to trust
He was my father when I was crying out for one
He made me forget
That I have never needed a father
And I certainly don’t need my father
Asking to hogtie me for photos
Asking if I’d want that from him

I should have known I couldn’t trust a father
The father of my blood chipped my hooves
He made my snout bleed
I was so young and so helpless
I didn’t know that this was not was love is
When he finally left, I went searching
Yearning for something to fill the gap
That had never housed compassion to begin with
But I was never taught to sense danger
You don’t notice red flags when your world is red

I should have known I couldn’t trust a father
The father of my spirit has abandoned me
I spent years giving stone-faced lies to saints
Pretending I was close to Him
Passing fictional poetry for testimony
Hiding my doubt in empty metaphors
Nobody noticed that I was lying on the ground
Staring up at the sky in hopes of seeing
Of catching a glimpse of my father
It’s no surprise that I gave up

I don’t need a father figure
Because I can’t look up to anyone
Not as long as I’m standing
just a poem about being a pig
shelly Oct 2020
I used to look up at the surface
With yearning in my eyes
The light of the sun above
Was shattered to pieces
By the choppy waves overhead
The scattered glow flashed in my eyes
Disorienting me
I could hardly remember what it looked like
But whenever I tried to swim up
To breach my head above the waves
And get a good look
The rigging of the shipwreck beneath me
Wrapped around my ankles
And dragged me back down

This useless, cumbersome ship
That I used to sail into paintings
It was slow and it was ugly
Its black sails were tattered
And perforated with holes
The steering wheel gave me splinters
When I tried to guide its course
But together we crossed these waters
The wind through the holes in its sails
Sounded like war cries to me
The splinters in my palms
Were kindling for the fire under me
This ship made me create

But the longer we sailed
The worse her condition got
Her belly grazed the rocks around lighthouses
Chipping the wood away
Until she sprung her first leak
Then another, then another
And soon she was filling up with water
And sinking
As she sank below the surface, I mourned her
But I was never the captain
I did not want to go down with her
I jumped ship and tried to swim away
But land was miles out of reach
So I was pulled down, too

I gulped a lungful of air before I sank
And I held it for years
The air became stale in my lungs
And I forgot what fresh wind tasted like
Smelled like, felt like
Over the years
The oxygen was cycled through my body
Into my bloodstream, then used, then lost
Until there was nothing left
But the lingering feeling
That I might deserve another breath
I deserved to breathe
I released the carbon dioxide from my lungs
And as I watched the bubbles swim to the surface
I wished to God that I could go with them

And then I saw a boat, not too far away
It had been there for years, watching me
But I had never noticed until then
I waved my arms, trying to hail it
Begging in my mind for it to see
That I was yearning for its help
It sailed closer
I reached my hands out toward it
And hands reached down beneath the water
I hoped they would pull me out
I wished they would drag me up to the surface
But instead of taking my hands
They handed me a knife

I turned it over in my hands
Looking at the marble handle
I ran my fingers along the blade
And pressed my fingertip against its edge
It was sharp
I hadn't seen a tool like this in years
I hadn't seen tools in years
I tried to swim up to the surface
To ask what it was for
But the shipwreck’s rigging wrapped around my ankles
And dragged me back down
And then I knew
I understood

I gripped the knife’s handle in my hand
And sawed at the ropes that bound me
I cut through one, and then another
The labor made me weak
My muscles ached for oxygen
My lungs screamed for air
As I furiously cut at the ropes
Each one several inches thick
As I cut them off
They sunk down to the shipwreck
Bidding me their goodbyes
And a part of me was sad to see them go
They had been my only companions for years
But the sun overhead called out to me
The ship above called out to me
And I cut the last one
And I could finally swim up to the surface

The air tasted like poetry
a poem about healing
shelly Oct 2020
You hold this coin in your hand
The one you asked for
I pulled it out of my pocket
Brushed off the lint
I’m sorry it’s not brand new
Your magic trick would probably look better
With something shiny
But it’s what I have

This coin is old and tarnished
The details lost to time with dirt and grime
That I never had the time
Or tools to scrub away
There are scratches on the surface
The edges are rough and sharp
Try not to cut your palm on the metal

I try to control if it hurts you
But sometimes I can’t
Sometimes you just move your hand
In the wrong way
That’s why I don’t often let people see it
Let alone touch it
But you insisted
And I can’t help but be an open book

So go ahead
Show me your best trick
Make it disappear
just a poem about a coin, nothing to see here
shelly Oct 2020
This world has been cold to me
The wind bites at my skin
Because life had left me stripped bare
I was shivering, begging
For someone to hold me
But when people got too close
I held them an arm’s length away

But you pushed through

Your hands were hot, burning
Your fingers curled around my body
Holding me against your palms
And if I got too cold
You gripped me tighter
I needed the warmth
Or I might have died

You made me need your warmth
Your warmth
“These people,” you said
“They can’t keep you warm”
“They’re as cold as the wind,” you said
“They are using you for your warmth”
When I got too close to them
You gripped me tighter

You said things, did things
That made me question you
Sometimes, you dug your nails into my skin
You gripped me so tightly I couldn’t breathe
“Your neck is cold,” you would say
“Let me warm you”

When I asked you to stop
And god forbid I asked you to say sorry
You would take your warmth away
“Good luck in the cold,” you said
Time and time again
“They can’t keep you warm like I can”

I could not breathe
Your hands were becoming just as cold
As the wind that left me
Shivering in the first place
I could only think of one way to escape
But I was too much of a coward to follow through
So I was sent to a prison
As miserable as the one I was in
But not quite as cold

But **** me for returning
You dug your nails into my skin
Gripped me until my arms bruised
You brought your knuckles to my eye
And then you cried
You sobbed on the floor when I told you
That I didn’t need your warmth anymore

I’m sorry
But I’d rather be cold
a very personal poem
shelly May 2020
My hands are tucked into my sweatshirt pockets
Headphones tether my ears to my phone
As I listen to the album that the girl I yearn for showed me
This is my fifth time listening to it from front to back
Last night, I fell asleep to her favorite song

I look up from staring down at my sneakers
To glance around the mostly-empty train that surrounds me
My eyes land on someone not too far away
She tucks her long auburn hair behind her ear
With manicured fingers, painted my favorite shade of blue
So her deep brown eyes can better read her book
Poetry, she’s a woman of taste

She looks up from her book to look out the window
Catching my gaze on the way
I blush and avert my eyes, but not for long
Her hand fidgets with the dog ear on the corner of her book’s page
I wonder what it might feel like to hold it
To interlace my fingers with hers and give it a soft squeeze
To coax a smile onto her face so I can gaze at it
Her hair escapes its place behind her ear and falls into her face again
Cascading down her cheek to frame her face like a masterpiece
I imagine how soft it must feel

Her eyes land on me again
She gives a small smile, showing the dimples on her cheeks
I can feel my face flush, as red as the shirt she wore
I wish that I could take a photograph of that smile
Her rosy lips part, she speaks, and I realize I can’t hear her
So I take my headphones out of my ears to give her my attention
“What are you listening to?” she asks me again
“How to be a Human Being,” I tell her
She smiles and says she hasn’t heard of it
But she’ll look it up when she gets home
I smile back, my mind unable to piece together words for a response
She looks away
I put my headphones back in
We never speak again

I think of her again
The one I yearn for
wrote this during a poetry workshop!
shelly May 2020
All I have to do is go around the corner
To the other entrance to the parking lot
This should be easy
Driving is easy
I pull up to the road and look both ways
And horror strikes me to my core
The street isn’t empty

My knuckles turn pale as I grip the steering wheel
Like a cross to keep myself from shaking
My foot is on the gas pedal
The direction that this 3,000 pound machine goes
Is under my control
I lose control of my breath

I pull out onto the street

Swerve into the left lane
My mind says
There’s a family next to you
A mother singing along to the radio
A father stressing about his job
A little girl playing video games in the back
Next to her baby brother, still in a car seat
Their lives are fragile
My mind tells me
Slaughter them

I stop at the stop sign and look both ways

Humans are made of paper and glass
They collapse and shatter in a gentle breeze
And with this car I am Prospero
I can call tempests
I can crush their ribcages
Beneath the weight of metal and horsepower
Even if mother and father live
They must live with the empty space
Left behind by their much more tenuous children
I am collapsing under the weight of the power I hold
I am overwhelmed with visions of what I could do
What I might do
What I fear I will do

I turn the corner

I want to reach into my skull
And rip my brain free from its cavity
I do not want it to control me
I have no power over these obsessions
Despite the cocktail of medications I am prescribed
Despite the therapy
The conditioning
I can always pull the steering wheel
These intrusive thoughts will always infect me
They spread from my head to the rest of my body like a disease
I am sick

I pull back into the parking lot
wrote this at a writer's retreat a while ago c:
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