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You're my love story
Open the book, start reading
Ya!  It's about us.
© All Rights Reserved Dustin Matthews
 Dec 2014 Janet Li
i still hold my breath when i hear you late at night

you're locked behind closed doors and you think no one can hear you, but i hear you
howling like a wolf in search for something in the night,
roaring with anger like a lion

i'd like to say that I'm not afraid of you anymore but I can't help but feel like a small child in the dark when you curse

maybe this is why I try so hard to please people like you
I'll swing a right hook at a woman before I'll do so much as raise my voice at a man and what the **** does that say about me?

take a shot if you were conditioned to keep men tame
pop a pill if you were raised to stay silent when your daddy yells
light one up if the lines have blurred between love and fear

i haven't been sober in years
Comment if you'd like.
I'm smelling ash that isn't there
And tasting beer I haven't drank,
I have you to thank.

I miss these dull temptations
Even all they've done is hurt me.
Leaving me was easy, how hard could it be?

These days I laugh,
I laugh with pain,
I can't even try to say your name.
Well, here's something. It isn't much, I guess. Charles Bukowski's "Cows in Art Class" stuck with me and here's something I cooked up from it.
 Jun 2014 Janet Li
Allison May
running, howling
furry, fast, loud
barking, growling
 Jun 2014 Janet Li
Emma Liang
I bounce a volleyball as I walk to my dorm
just to hear that delightful sound, that satisfying, clean thud off the cement.

look up, see you in that grey hoodie that gives me bad dreams
and curse under my breath, eyes darting like a cornered fox,
            there is nowhere to hide.
we almost exchange eye contact, I almost taste blood in my mouth
            I hate how familiar you are.
you look down, cough;
I murmur a dusty hello-goodbye into the ground, hold my volleyball tighter
against my chest –
and hurry on, court sneakers straining on the pavement, trying too hard to forget your cracked smiles.


I remember how we used to pass for hours
no sound but the volleyball slapping against our forearms,
brushing off our fingertips,
echoing through that Choate gymnasium, that cold spring;

My head had barely reached the middle of the net,
but you were tall and brave and handsome, my Prince Charming, and
I was a freshman girl with her heart on her sleeve, who
hugged a warm volleyball to her heart and smiled,

thinking herself lucky.


Spring thawed your heart, eventually,
and you let me hold your hand;
you had long fingers, cold to the touch.
you taught me how to set, complimented my hands,
trained me to cradle the ball with my thumbs like it was made of glass,
your hands around mine.

I was braver than you were,
because everything felt fresh and exciting to me, like the
smell of crushed pine needles in the air;
you kissed me (I kissed you?) on that night
and I leaned forward, curious and eager, and wrapped my arms
around your neck.


The days melted into one another,
and we became
like chalk drawings blurring after rain,
like floor burns from sliding to save a falling ball –
but missing it, all the effort gone to waste;
the burns will still burn and still scar, for nothing.

May to June, June to July,
I hugged you and laughed, but my eyes
were cold; you said I love you
And I tried to say it back, but I couldn’t without
sticking a used to before the love –
            the honey words stuck in my throat.

Our kisses were routine, stale
like the crackers I left out the night before;
I tapped my foot and
tossed the volleyball quickly behind my back with nimble fingers
and counted the seconds before it was acceptable to pull back;
I had homework and volleyball practice and quizzes to study for, you know – I tried to smile but
it felt so wrong, I stopped –
you asked what was wrong, I shook my head, there are no answers for some questions.


It’s been four years since we’ve spoken,
shared secret moments under solemn oak trees, behind library bookshelves
that promised to keep us away from prying eyes,
smiled into each other’s lips,
blinked stories into each other’s eyes.
It’s been four years since people have teased you for not
hitting the ball when we passed – you gentleman, you –

I will not say I miss you, because I refuse to lie for your sake;
but sometimes as I set a ball perfectly to a hitter
I think of you for a split second, wonder where you are and if you remember as much
as I do, which is, honestly
not very much.


she writes letters to him and then burns them all, the smell of smoke fills the room.
It’s as if she is stealing the fury of the sun, which is cooling down, melting into lava at the horizon –
it will be another cold winter, there is already frost in the grass, the air smells chilly.

Dear you,

I broke up with you as nicely as I could –
there was no reason I fell out of love, the same way
there is no reason people fall in love.

you have no right ******* me out on the internet the way you did.
Every time I hit a volleyball I imagine your face on my palm, and I hit harder.
I will never forgive you for the things you wrote,
and I don’t know if I ever loved you at all,
because you are despicable.

the girl of your dreams.


it’s the beginning of the end of July, everything is so hot.
the pavement is baking, the volleyballs are flat,
her arms feel weak and limp like overcooked noodles.

it’s hard to think straight. She can hardly remember
her own name before remembering that she has a boyfriend.
He calls, he says I love you and she tries to choke out that well-rehearsed lie –
what was it again? something like I love you too?

But it’s too hot, and she
can’t do it anymore –

she swallows hard and grips her volleyball tighter,
her hands sweating against the weathered sphere that has been through so much with her
as she prepares to say goodbye.
 May 2014 Janet Li
Maya Angelou
I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.
 May 2014 Janet Li
Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may **** me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
 May 2014 Janet Li
Maya Angelou
They have spent their
content of simpering,
holding their lips this
and that way, winding
the lines between
their brows. Old folks
allow their bellies to jiggle like slow
The hollers
rise up and spill
over any way they want.
When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and the worst
of remembering.
Saliva glistens in
the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble
on brittle necks, but
their laps
are filled with memories.
When old folks laugh, they consider the promise
of dear painless death, and generously
forgive life for happening
to them.
 Oct 2013 Janet Li
Emma Liang
you said you only felt alive that time you almost fell off the Eiffel Tower.
some days I wished you did just so the suspended image in my head would fit –
eyes wide, lips parted, fingers splayed, every part of you split open head to toe,
spilling secrets into grey Paris wind,
settling like ***** snow on rooftops where I
play guitar and sing and pretend
that somewhere we are fingerpainting naked
and learning how to surf on beaches in Santa Dominica,
climbing trees and ripping jeans and loving
 Jan 2013 Janet Li
Emelia Ruth
There's a little bird
living inside her.
It's rich red
like blood,
or a rose.
And has blue tipped wings
Like veins,
or the berries in a blueberry muffin.
She keeps it in a cage
under her heavy jacket
and feeds it
little sweets
and bits of food.
The bird lives
a dull life.
It doesn't do much
inside of its cage,
it just swings
on the squeaky bar
hung from the top
of its chamber.
It doesn't sing a song,
or even
lift it's wings.
It just swings
back and forth
to a
there is a handsome boy
who talks to the young
beautiful girl.
And every time
he comes close to her
the red bird in the cage
starts to jump around
on the walls of the cell
and chirp to the girl
Let me out.
She is shy though,
small and timid
when the boy comes close.
But the way he flips his
chestnut colored hair,
makes the bird flap its wings.
The way he walks
down the hall towards
the girl
makes the bird
scratch at the bottom
trying to find a way out.
The way his blue eyes shine
as they gaze at her
when he stands by her side,
makes the bird sing
through the cage's walls,
up the girl's collar,
out of her lips,
as a beautiful song
that she whispers
*"I love you."
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