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Jan 2017 · 412
Walking Into Hell
Erika Castaldo Jan 2017
When I first walked into Hell,
I didn’t even realize it had happened.
It was like out of nowhere,
The puppies became hellhounds
And the beautiful lakes became
Pits of lava.

The sun was now too hot and
The clouds were getting darker.
The gray sky seemed endless
And time was meaningless.

Shackles wrapped around my wrists
And ankles,
Holding me prisoner in my own
Despair.

The black smoke that then flew
From my throat was accompanied
By a shrill wail
And I watched with wide eyes
As a gargoyle materialized in front
Of me
And sat atop my lungs.

I tried my best to scream,
But all I could muster were
A few mere whimpers.

It was then that I heard the
Noise surrounding me.
I looked around to see people
Smiling and laughing with the
Devil.

Someone waved me over
And held up a glass of
Red liquid.

I said nothing.

The woman shrugged
And turned back to the
Group.

Did they not see all of it?
The lava, the shackles,
The gargoyle sitting on top
Of me?

I looked into the eyes of
The fearsome creature and
It disappeared before my eyes,
Along with the shackles.

I stood up on shaking feet.
I could still feel the weight
Of him on my lungs
And the restraints around
My wrists
and ankles.
Nov 2016 · 1.1k
Hoplessness
Erika Castaldo Nov 2016
Right in the middle of the busiest area of the Poconos, the group of condos sit in a large circle. The sky is dark, for it has been hidden from all possible sunlight by the many awnings and porches that join the different housing units. On one side of the condos the neon lights from the bar next door shine through the children’s windows, but the more occupied side the parking lot is lined with fast food restaurants- clumped together and riotous with large families that frequent them, juggling their small children and many diaper bags; and noisy cars speeding past with loud engines, pungent, murky exhaust spewing out of the back and police sirens constantly blaring down the street. In the parking lot encircled by the condos the tenant kids run around full of light yet somehow full of darkness at the same time. The older kids come out of the small houses to sit on the sidewalk in the evening, and the cracked sidewalks are covered with the faded chalk drawings left there by the youngsters earlier in the day, and with the sheets of crumbled up paper containing poetry no one would ever read, and with the old needles and discarded blunts of their parents who had left them there over the course of the day.

There is one unit in particular, a unit with a broken door from the many men who had tried to force their way in, a unit with holes in every wall that were put there by flying fists and thrown objects that had missed their true target- the oldest daughter. In front of the many holes in the their smiles are fake and their hugs are forced.
Sep 2016 · 991
Childhood
Erika Castaldo Sep 2016
Childhood is sacred,
No matter how good or
How bad.
For it is a time of blissful ignorance,
Before you learn that your mom's 'medicine' was just a shot of ******
And that your dad's 'friend' was just
His newest ****-buddy
Before you realize that you're broke
Because your mom is too busy drinking
To get a job
And your dad doesn't give a ****
Because he has a new family now.
Before you've been beaten down by the responsibility of caring for
Yourself and your brothers.

And before you know it that foolishness, that divine foolishness, has been ripped away and there is nothing left
But reality.

But years down the line you find yourself
Listening to your favorite song from when
You were five for the nostalgia
And sobbing while flipping through old photo albums
Even though you know that the man who brought the cake on your 3rd birthday was your mom's supplier
And that the woman behind the camera
Would become your first of many stepmothers.

But the look of joy on your face brings you to tears,
For it is a look you haven't seen
In fifteen years.
Something inspired by a discussion in class on Friday and the romantics.
Sep 2016 · 1.2k
The Steps to Success
Erika Castaldo Sep 2016
The Steps to Success:

1. Stand up for what you believe in; unless it goes against what society does, in which case you can kindly shut the hell up.

2. Don't let anyone stifle your creativity. But don't be too creative, you won't get anywhere in life because art doesn't matter after high school.

3. Express yourself. Unless of course your self expression makes others uncomfortable, then you must hide who you are in favor of what's normal.

4. Focus on the good in the world, even though the media is constantly full of mass shootings and suicide bombings.

5. Get a good night’s sleep every night. But only after you've done 6 hours of homework, eaten a full meal (not too much, we wouldn't want you to get fat), attended an extracurricular, and spent time with your family.

6. Mental health is important. But it isn't as important as homework, essays, and standardized tests. School always comes first.

7. Don't disrespect your elders. Even if they have beaten you down mentally and physically your entire life, they're older than you and therefore smarter. Respect them.

8. Be confident in who you are. But don't be too fat, not too thin either. Don't wear a lot of pink, but watch how much black you put on too. It's okay to feel good without makeup, but a bit of eyeliner wouldn't hurt. No, not like that, here's a makeup wipe; you wearing way too much.
Mar 2016 · 697
If I Ever Have a Daughter
Erika Castaldo Mar 2016
If I ever have a daughter,
She won’t go a day without thinking
That she isn’t as strong as others
Because of her ***.

If I ever have a daughter,
She won’t go a day without thinking
That she can’t walk down the
Street without being afraid.

If I ever have a daughter,
She won’t go a day without thinking
That every man she passes is going
To hurt her.

If I ever have a daughter,
She won’t go a day without thinking
That what she wears or what she says
Will put her in danger.

If I ever have a daughter,
She won’t go a day without thinking
That she is inferior or vulnerable or
Worthless.

If I ever have a daughter,
The world will try and break her down
And I don’t know if I can protect her from it.
Feb 2016 · 586
Snow
Erika Castaldo Feb 2016
The snow keeps falling
And it's too dangerous
To drive on the roads.

Everyone else is going
Home early from school
But I have to sit in this
Wretched classroom.

The roads are getting
Slippery and cars are
Getting in accidents but
I'm still stuck at school.

Don't they know that it's
Dangerous out there and
Getting worse each minute
They wait to let me leave?

So I’ll sit at this stupid desk
In this bland room and watch
The snow hit the window,
Dreaming of my bed.
Feb 2016 · 263
Pieces of Hearts
Erika Castaldo Feb 2016
You know that you shouldn't
Give them a piece of you.
You know that nothing but
Pain will come from it.

But you let yourself hope
That this time it will be
Different.
You convince yourself
That they will cherish that
Piece of your heart forever
And that one day, you can
Give yourself to them entirely.

Soon you realize that you
Were wrong for thinking that
They would love you and that
Your heart meant something.

The rejection stings and you
Place your heart back in it’s
Sealed box and tell yourself
That you won't open it for anyone.

But the hope blooms over and
Over again and each time
You open the box and take
A small piece of your heart
Out, only to have it rejected.

Then someone gives you
A piece of their heart and
You treat it the way you
Always wished yours would
Have been.

You decide that you
Can trust them with everything
You are and open that box
Once more.
But you find it empty and covered
In dust.
Feb 2016 · 539
Unfit
Erika Castaldo Feb 2016
I sit there,
The only smell
The wine on my
Mother's breath while
She complains about her life.

She blames me for all of it;
My dad leaving us,
Guys not being interested,
Not making enough money.

I've tried and tried
But she still won't care
About them…
Or me.

I watch my siblings
All day each day.
I take them out of the
House when she gets
Drunk or high.
I don't ask for anything
In return.

I want her to acknowledge
That she messed me up,
She is an unfit mother,
She is selfish and cares
Only about men and drugs.

I want her to acknowledge
That I am the mother,
Not her.
I tuck the kids in at night.
I help them with homework.
I go to school events.
Where is she?
Sometimes I don't even know.

She’ll come home at midnight,
Stumbling her way about the
House with the smell of wine
On her breath.
Feb 2016 · 1.6k
Shards of Glass
Erika Castaldo Feb 2016
I gently place the shards of glass back into
The frame
And ignore the way their jagged edges cut
My hands.
Feb 2016 · 2.0k
Realization
Erika Castaldo Feb 2016
I see that the jealousy was
Unhealthy and
That him being overprotective
Was scary.
Back then I made excuses for
His actions,
But I know now that he was
Completely wrong.
I should have been able to go
Out when I wanted
And not feel guilty for being
Happy without him.
I should have been his equal,
Not his inferior.
I should have been who I wanted
To be,
Not who he told me I had to.
Jan 2016 · 1.1k
Parentification
Erika Castaldo Jan 2016
She stands on a chair
Looking out the window
Above the kitchen sink,
Scrubbing baby bottles,
Sippy cups, and baby
Food jars.

She sees her entire
Second grade class
Playing a game of
Tag without her.

The baby cries from
The bedroom.
She jumps down
And runs to the
Back of the house,
Dragging the chair
With her.

She jumps on the chair
And lifts the baby out
Of the crib.
She reminds herself
To support his head
While she walks to
Their mother’s door.

Her mother is asleep
In the arms of a different
Man than last week,
She smells the all-too
Familiar mixture of
*** and Wine.

The man opens his
Eyes and barks at
Her to get out.

She carries the baby
To the ratty couch
And feeds him
As they sit with the
Two other children,
Listening to her
Peers laughter through the
Window above the sink.
Dec 2015 · 977
The Invisible Noose
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
An invisible noose
Was around my
Neck
When you told
Me you didn’t
Want me.

You couldn’t tell
How hard it
Pulled on my
Throat
When you walked
Away.

I held onto
The rope choking
Me
When I seen
You everyday
And had to
Pretend nothing ever
Existed between
Us.

The stool slipped
From beneath my
Feet
When I watched
You staring at her
Until you got
The courage to
Ask her
Out.

I swung from
The rope
While I seen
You place a
Ring on her
Finger.
Dec 2015 · 3.1k
Untitled
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I watched you
Cover up scars
With bracelets
And cover
Bloodshot eyes
With sunglasses.

I took your
Razors and Alcohol
Trying
In vain
To protect you.

For a while
It worked.
You powered through
Pain and uncertainty
Until it all
Came rushing
Back.

You held on until May,
And for that
I am
Proud.
Dec 2015 · 2.6k
Sink or Swim
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
Why do you keep calling?
I don’t want your pity
I don’t want your help.
I’m just fine,
I can handle this by myself.

So what he left?
I don’t give a ****.
He can do whatever he wants,
Get over it.

Yeah, I’m upset,
But there’s more to me than him.
He isn’t in my life,
And I won’t sink, I’ll swim.
Dec 2015 · 368
Tainted
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
She taints everything,
Your smile, your eyes.
Things that used to fill me with joy,
Now make me think of her.
I want you to be happy,
But this is becoming too much to bear.

Seeing her in your arms every day,
Watching as you push back her
Too-bleached hair and kiss
Her forehead the way you did mine.
Seeing you whisper small words
Of love in her ear, words
I can still hear so clearly in my own.

I miss everything about you.
Feeling your arms around my waist
And your soft lips on my cheek,
Keeping me in your lap for what
Felt like forever.

But forever is nothing but
Something we made up
In our foolish minds,
Clouded with the idea of young love.

When I look at you, I see the
Hundreds of smiles she’s put on
Your face when all I could was a scowl.
I hear the words of love she gives you,
When all I could do was curse.

But she doesn’t know how you felt
The day your mother died.
She’s never sat next to you
While you were in a hospital bed
Covered in tubes and wires after
An accident that only you survived.
She wasn’t the one comforting you
Every night when you woke up screaming.

Your relationship with her is easy,
You can just be together without
The stress that we had.

I don’t regret helping you through that,
I just wish I had thought to help us in the process.
An older poem that I rewrote
Dec 2015 · 803
Fire
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I am fire,
Glowing, Blazing, Growing.
You are water
destroying me, drowning me.
He is wind,
Helping Me Grow, Pushing You Away.

I am fine,
Living, Moving, Learning.
You are nothing,
nothing to me, nothing for me.
He is mine,
Supporting Me, Loving Me.

I am happy,
My Life Full of Love, Success.
You are gone,
never even a thought until now.
He is with me,
By My Side, Holding Me Up.

I am fire,
Glowing, Blazing, Growing.
Dec 2015 · 1.3k
Untitled
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I sat in the back of the classroom,
staring at him flirting with the new girl,
Shameless, Absolutely Shameless.

I understood how she felt,
Utterly infatuated by this boy,
Naïve, Helplessly Naïve.

She didn’t know what he did to me,
The way he took advantage of me in the park,
Oblivious, Incredibly Oblivious.

He stood there smirking, popping his gum,
Waiting to use her for his own pleasure,
Sadistic *******.

I couldn’t help her, I couldn’t even help her,
When I tried to help myself I was laughed at,
Whispers in the hallway, ***** looks, suspension.

Please don’t hurt her the way you did me,
Please.
Dec 2015 · 1.1k
Distractions
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
Did she offend you?
Baring her shoulders, her collarbones, her knees,
How risqué of her.
Dressed for comfort in the 90 degree weather,
She was asking for it, right?

Did you not break her?
Make her scared to wear what she wants or walk alone.
But she deserved that, didn't she?

Are you sorry for hurting her?
After you used her, she tried to **** herself three times,
All because you couldn't control yourself.
Was her body so distracting that you took away
Her whole life?
Dec 2015 · 4.3k
The Piano
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
It started as nothing but a jumble of
white and black.
Just a big thing in the middle of our
living room that my mother would
make beautiful sounds on.

Soon I was on the bench next to her,
my hands on hers
helping her make the music that
used to fill my days and nights
with peace.

I remember when it was her sitting next
to me, watching my hands create
something beautiful.
I’d never seen her with more pride
than she had in that moment.

Before long I sat at the piano
with a beautiful girl,
watching the familiar wonder form
on her face while I played.

I let the music bleed from my fingers
as that same beautiful girl walked into
the house, oblivious to the ring in
my pocket.

I was not playing the piano
on that day full of romance and hope.
Instead, a stranger was,
I was waiting at the altar
for a glimpse of my love coming
down the aisle.


When we got to the house by the lake,
she asked me to play for her.
I had barely finished the song
When we became one for
the first time.

I hadn't touched my piano in months,
Overwhelmed by the perils of marriage;
Bills, work, arguments, more bills.
As miserable as things were,
Our love never faded.
It grew stronger with every
Uncertain moment.

When that uncertainty became stability
And the hard work paid off
She surprised me with my own piano,
Atop it sat a bright pink bow.
Next to it stood my wife,
Her hand resting on her stomach.

I composed a new piece for the
First time in three years with a
Small bundle the same color as
The bow sitting in my arms.
That was the last time I touched the keys.

When I heard about the accident the
Next day, I closed the doors
Leading to the living room and
Sat in the nursery, holding my tiny
Daughter tightly to my chest.

My brother and I moved
The piano into the attic while my
Mother went through her things.

The piano stayed in the attic,
Even when we moved.
The only thing left of it a
Bright pink bow hanging
In my daughter's bedroom.
Tried to write from a male POV.
Dec 2015 · 606
Overwhelmed
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
Mother and father stand over a
bright pink crib,
screaming, cursing, crying
until he leaves,
never to be seen again.

The toddler sits in the corner
curled into a ball and
covering her ears as her mother
towers over her and yells in her face,
blaming the young girl for her problems.

The girl stands in front of the mirror,
red cheeks, timid smile,
conscious of her too-baggy clothes
and messy hair.
She walked to the bus alone.

That shirt that used to reach her knees
fits her properly.
She feels more like one of her peers.
But her hair is still knotted
and she still squints because her
mom never took her to get glasses.

Her mother is shrieking that she ruined her life
for the thousandth time that week.
She walks out the door, but not before bruising
her cheek and
shattering the mirror on the door.


That night, the girl took
an old blade to her wrists and
fell asleep in a pool of blood.
Dec 2015 · 931
The Table
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
In the small kitchen,
A toddler sits near the window,
Laughing at the older woman across
The pile of cards at the table’s center.

The girl is older now,
Pink hair and heavy makeup
Playing a game of rummy with her
Grandmother, who looks at her with only pride.

The older woman’s hair is streaked with gray,
The girl has traded her colored hair
For black and her makeup is simple.
She has moved on to playing Poker.

The table is a mess of wedding magazines and notebooks,
The girl holds one of the magazines in her left
Hand, diamond glistening as her grandmother
Smiles to herself from behind a notebook.

The grandmother wears a lavender dress
As she fixes the girls veil.
The girl is fussing with the bouquets
Of flowers that cover the table.

The old woman sits alone at the
Table in front of a computer,
The girl is chatting excitedly,
Palm trees visible in the background.

They both sit at the table
More serious than ever as the
Girl’s hand rests on her bulging stomach.

She wears a suit while she sits
By the window, a pink car seat
Rests on the table in front of her.

The grandmother is small and shaking
With every hand she puts down.
The girl has cut her hair shorter than ever,
The same color as that of the little girl
Sitting on her lap and toying with cards.

The girl sits alone at the table,
Her eyes red and puffy from crying,
Knuckles white from clutching her cell phone
And a crib rests next to the chair.

The table is covered in flowers and gifts.
It’s surrounded by sobbing people in black.
The girl does not cry as she fixes her daughter’s
Hair by the window.
Dec 2015 · 349
Forever
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
Forever is nothing but
Something we made up
While our minds were clouded
With the idea of first love.

We both knew forever would
Never be.

We both knew that you’d go to her and leave me.

We both knew our love was real,
Just not enough apparently.

I want you to be happy,
But seeing you brush her hair
Back and kiss her forehead
Like you did mine
And whisper sweet words in her ear,
Words that still ring strong in my own
Hurts me more than you know.  

I wish we had worked,
But I don't regret our decision to
Move on.
You wanted to stay in this stupid town,
I wanted to explore.
You wanted to have kids one day,
I had spent most of my life
Raising my siblings and
I didn't want to do that again.
You wanted companionship,
I wanted independence.

I still love you,
And I still hate to see you with her,
But it’s for the better
And we both know that.
Dec 2015 · 479
Reality
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
fictioI watch as the words become images;
People, places, adventures.
They become an entirely new world,
A world separate from reality.

I stare at the pages
And let the screaming fade into the background.
I get lost in the words
And the chaos becomes nothing more than white noise.
I watch as the character’s lives play out
And ignore the grief that plagues my own every day.

I am content in that realm of fiction,
Happy even.
But after a few hours it’s over.
They’ve completed their quests, found their true love,
Discovered some sort of meaning in life.  

And I’m stuck once again in the horror that is reality.  
A place where there aren’t happy endings,
Where you aren’t eager to know what happens next, but fearful.
A place where you’re trapped,
Where you can’t just close the pages and ignore it when it becomes too much.
The only solace in this place is
Knowing that you can open another set of pages and
Escape into that other world
Once more.
Dec 2015 · 1.2k
500 Rummy
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I remember it so clearly,
The dark oak of the table,
The smell of her cigarette smoke.
We would sit every night and play
500 Rummy.

Then she started to get weaker.
I would watch in horror
As my grandmother’s hands shook
With every set she put down.

The oak table turned to the
Bland plastic of the one in the hospital
And her cigarettes were replaced with
An IV and an oxygen tank.

The next night
I sat in the living room,
Glaring at the empty table
And the unopened pack of cards.
They mocked me.

I dressed in black today,
When everyone tossed dirt
I tossed an Ace of Spades
And an old Zippo.
Dec 2015 · 1.3k
One Day, She'll Write a Book
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
One day, she’ll write a book,
A book that will influence thousands
For years to come.

One day, she’ll pour her heart out
For all the world to see
And touch the hearts of
Those who feel alone.

One day, a young girl will open that book
And realize the world isn’t so bad.
She’ll grow up with hope
Despite all the bad she sees.

One day, a young boy will read that book
And experience a brand new world,
One where his mother speaks to him
And his dad doesn’t beat him every night.

One day, she’ll make people happy.
Dec 2015 · 748
Untitled
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I think that love is real,
But it isn't for everybody.
Everyone I’ve loved has left
Or grown to hate me.

He made me believe in him,
Believe that he wasn't like my
Father or my Mother.
He made me believe that I would be loved.

I was so stupid
To think that he wouldn't find
Her more interesting, more beautiful
With her too-bleached hair and
Full lips she draws on each day.

She sings and dances and acts
While I read and write.
She goes to his football games
While I stay home and study.
She goes on vacations with him
While I go to college fairs.

I know I can't compare,
But I thought he cared.
Dec 2015 · 992
Back and Forth
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
I sit and swing
Back and forth, Back and forth
as I hear the screaming of my sister
playing in my head all over again.

I hear the sound of
her bones breaking as his
foot connects with her leg.

Back and forth, Back and forth.

I hear his tone change
from violent to pained
as he apologizes and tells her
he loves her.

Back and forth, Back and forth.

I hear her beg for forgiveness
and promise him that she
will never try and leave him again.

Back and forth, Back and forth.

I push with more force
as I see the images in my mind.

Back and forth, Back and forth.
I see her and my niece
coming to dinner with bruises
they had tried to hide.

Back and forth, back and forth.

I see him glare at her
and put his hand on her shoulder
to pull her back
whenever she tries to speak
to another man.

Back and forth, Back and forth.

I see her in the hospital bed,
countless tubes and wires coming out of her
trying to keep her alive.

Back and forth, Back and forth.

I sit and swing
Back and forth, Back and forth
and stare at the sea of black down the hill.
the only color comes from a bouquet of wet
flowers on the fresh grave.

Back and forth, back and forth.
Dec 2015 · 1.3k
Irrelevant
Erika Castaldo Dec 2015
i am the Ripped Wallpaper.
i am the Dusty Boxes in the attic.
i am the Toys thrown carelessly into the back of the closet.

I am Irrelevant.

i am the Holiday Decorations,
taken out only when needed.
i am the horribly Ugly Dress,
worn only when your mother makes you.
i am the Book that you Hate
but are forced to read for a grade.

i am only Relevant when you Choose.

but ripped wallpaper can be Fixed,
dust can be Swept Off
and toys can be Rediscovered.

— The End —