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Jane Doe May 2021
He said he left it all far behind him,
on an island in the Caribbean where he was born,
in a city on the North Sea where he was a child.
But it crests in white-green surf behind his eyes.
He speaks of it in the space underneath his words.
I wonder if he can hear himself.

He said eight years of beatings at school made him into
the man that he has become. It has toughened him.
He holds his broad back strong and high,
heavy shoulder blades hard like beetle wings.
It’s good for children, he said,
to learn that not everyone is kind.

He said he doesn't think about it. He’s proud of it.
It made him it into the man that he has become.
But he runs his hand back and forth through his hair.
He said that he will **** himself if he loses it.
Back and forth. He said sometimes
he can’t look at himself in the mirror.

He said that at ten, watching cancer **** his father
on the couch in the living room, helping clean
black blood ***** off the bathroom floor -
it made him into the man that he has become.
He said he never speaks of this memory anymore,
then he pulled me in and kissed me deeply.

His expanse of skin swallowed me, his lips pulled my lips,
the bulk of his chest rising over me blocked the light.
But his carapace of flesh was cold under my hands,
his breath was coming rapid, like a trapped rabbit.
My mouth on his neck, I asked - are you alright,

and he said he’s fine.
Jane Doe Nov 2020
I itch my neck, my chest. The skin is raw -
a caustic burn, not flame but chemical.
I feel his gaze press on my breast, his jaw
is tight, he finds this guilt desirable.

I want to scratch a pattern on his back
in runes. A pictogram, occult, obscene.
An animal ensnared, its leg entrapped,
through blood-slicked fur and bone, will gnaw it clean.

He says: “You are no songbird in a cage.
And I’m a man, respectable, with wife
at home. And yet, your racing pulse - you rage
a storm in me, a spirit rose to life”.

This spirit, rose to life when first we met,
won’t die without a sacrifice of sweat.
I attempted to do the sonnet form justice and stick with iambic pentameter as much as possible here.
Jane Doe Sep 2020
In the dark I memorize the blueprint of my crime.
I raise the beams and pace the hallways of my crime.

Retracing steps, the wallpaper in each room is obscene.
In hot breath on the window I betray motive for my crime.

Chest hair and a collared shirt. Enough muscle to hurt me.
If he wanted to. I acquiesce, my thoughts are not a crime.

My abdomen twitches, his lips touch my cheek like a brand.
I have nothing to confess - a kiss as custom is no crime.

In the jurybox, his thin-***** wife, my meek husband
tut their tongues, demand an explanation for my crime.

I am no lamb, I am blood and I am slaughter. I am feasting.
I would pay. The punishment would be worth the crime.

Take me like a forest fire - a destruction and a rebirth.
We’d consume one another, leave no trace of the crime.

My husband turns in sleep on the other side of our bed.
I retrace my steps, over and over the scene of the crime.
Jane Doe Oct 2019
It is blanket
I wrap around myself
when I can't sleep.

2. It is a series of places

3. An alley near the canal (rain)

4. Amsterdam by the station (rain)

5. Your parents' house

6. Your shoes near the door

7. Your mother's cigarettes

8. Your sweater she hung
near the window to dry.

9. Faded plastic placemats

10. The intimacy of knowing you that way.

11. Germany, in the corner by the bar

12.  The streetlights outside (snow)

13. Places where we kissed the first and last time.

14. Love that came stillborn.

15. A series of distances.

16. It is seeing you in the train station

17. It is your smile - all gums and teeth

18. Touching your arm, hugging you
hellos and goodbyes.

19. The backs of our hands touching
during networking drinks
surrounded by professionals and strangers.

20. It is knowing you've seen me
barebreasted and younger.

21. It is remembering that fact
surrounded by professionals and strangers
during networking drinks

22. It is in the passenger seat of your new car

21. Sitting outside the train station
the day you drove it off the lot

22. Taking the long roads
to your village (familiar to you)

23. showing them to me.

24. It is telling you I still love you
after the networking drinks
in the alley by the canal.

25. It is not knowing why I still
love you.

26. It is a stillborn thing
I still pump the heart of.

26. Blue faced, hands shaking
you stuttering.

27. It is goodbye, take care,
see you when I see you.

28. It is agreeing to marry
someone else.

29. I love him too.

30. It is realising love is
not one cup from
which you drink.

31. It is a deep reservoir from which
you can ladle servings, you can float
below the surface
you can drown.

31.  It is a reservoir inside

32. Love can be collected
like rainwater.

33. Channels running deep
deep below the ground.

34. It is crossing metaphors

36. It is finding reasons
and coping mechanisms

37. It is taking an anti-depressant
pill with my anti-conception pill
every night.

38. It is being truly happy and grateful
and then not.

39. It is talking and talking and talking

40. To my mother, to my sisters,
to my partner (the worst part of all.)

41.It is sending an email that says
I hope you're well

42. I hope it's okay I write.

43. Where are you living now?

44. I hope your happy.

45. I'm going to get married.

46. Say hello to your family for me.

47. It is signing off with nothing
but my name.

48. Old love goes loudly
banging around the space between lines.

49. Old love becomes a part of the fabric
of everything. Sewn into your seams

50. Who are you now?
It is who we have become.
Jane Doe Apr 2019
You come in dreams.
Dark neon with a purpleblack sky,
surreal and tropical.
People with the heads of animals
dancing a slow-motion conga in the street.

Crooked dream logic
through which we walk side by side.

The cobblestones and alleys I invented.
We walk past buildings painted pink
painted dark by my purpleblack dream night.

Cuba perhaps, but I’ve never been there.
The sea is full of swimmers and sharks and sideways waves.

You cry and say you are not alright.
I clasp you to me.

In another we paint a teacup with colored birds
under blooms and blooms and magnolias.

Always touching:
rubbing your cheek on mine,
your hand on mine,
your wet kisses -
I wake and feel their dampness still

burning a crater in me.

I wake up sweating with the ghost of your touch.
My mind puts your hands on my body

and I feel them linger still.
Jane Doe Oct 2018
The starlings rising from the fields,
white sky and bare trees that are almost purple
from a distance.

A certain tint in the light,
sad in the way a happy memory
can be sad.

Have I fed your ghost because
it makes me feel deep and depleted,

the way starlings and November
fields make me feel?
A peek at the mystery;
alive in that melancholy.
Are things that are beautiful to me
always sad?

Is that why I built a museum for my
love of you?
Framed my evidence in gold
and set the times we’ve touched
under plexiglass?

A personal history,
a relic to marvel.

In museums you can live in your head.
Love is easy because
symbols mean something.

I press my lips to the print of yours
on the glass you left at my table,
while my husband sits in the other room.

Birds rise from the fields,
my soul feels far away.
Jane Doe Sep 2018
One drink wakes it in me –
the reckless storm that ignites in my belly
and spread to my head,
my chest.


I issue an evacuation order for myself –
a hurricane of stillness gathers on the horizon,
pack a bag and go.

Leave everything you don’t need behind.

Your job –
you’ve always gotten another.

Your home –
you’ve always gotten another.

Your love –
you know you love another.

Everything is undoable,
transit is safety, movement is comfort
stasis is death.
Plastic bags dragged into your throat.
***** water rising in the basement.


Before you’re too old,
before the cement dries,
wipe it off.

Two drinks crumble it in me –
the recklessness becomes hopelessness.
I’m so tired.
I am sandbags;
heavy, full, put up to weather the storm.
I couldn’t go if I tried.

Heaped on a beach and the water is rising.
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