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manlin Mar 9
content warning: blood, violence, panic attack

I sit
in the emptiness
of the family room
by myself.

Cradle my head in my hands,
unable to close my eyes
as they stare through
the gaps between my fingers.

Despite the still environment,
my heart is racing
alongside the thoughts:
run or they’ll **** you, so much blood…

The door opens despite the lock.
So
much
BLOOD!

Mother steps in,
her boyfriend,
my sister too,
grandma and grandpa.

Tears slip between my fingers,
unwilling to be held behind my last sense of self-control.
The lock failed, I'm terrified
seeing the blood-driven amusement across their faces.

“Look!” My sister calls,
and I see the meat cleaver she’s holding slice through mom’s head.
So much blood.
Mom laughs from the floor.

Grandfather holds a gun up to sister’s head, and then
the pieces of her splattered across the walls
laugh in crescendo.
I’m different from them.

They approach me now.
I know I’ll die.
I have no means of fighting back
with these useless, shaky hands.

Hands that inscribe their own pain
into my cheeks,
nails peeling the skin away
as I panic.

I’m going to die,
and I scream like it.
“Stay away from me!”
So much blood.
_
Everything was dark
by the time I returned to.
My braid was ruined,
and darkness still clouded my vision.

Mom is screaming at me,
demanding to know if I had taken anything.
The panic seizes control over me again,
my hands trying to defend me from my own mind,

tugging at my braid,
wet with tears,
sobbing as I realize
I ruined it.

I ruined it,
I will pay with my blood for causing
more shame for mom,
and more trauma for my sister.

Mom finally softens,
something she hasn’t done
for a long time.
“I think you’re having a panic attack.”
manlin Nov 2020
I promise,
I’m a good girl;
I stay away from
narcotics, alcohol, sin.

Traditional stuff you’d find
at parties:
bustling, joyous laughter,
celebrating their momentary acceptance.

Girls my age are supposed to
lose her individuality in the heat of the moment,
find herself as the collective energy of the crowd,
dance, fight, scream.

They fight off the night’s
darkness, silence, coldness,
for the party’s
brightness, sound, warmth.

I remain
alone,
allowing the night’s emptiness
to swallow me whole.

Surrounded by darkness,
I notice its layers—
the infinite depths of reality
threatening to tear us all apart.

Just as anyone else,
I’m not as good as I should be.
Despite the comfort I have in
barely keeping myself afloat,

I want
to feel
something
too.

I drink energy drinks at night.
Not so bad, right?
I thought the same
against my mother’s warning:

"Never drink those!"
Despite being able to recall
coloring within the lines of a coloring book
at a hospital:

seeing my dad be pushed in a wheelchair
out of the operation room.
His spirit was stolen,
and his heart would tick forever as a reminder.

Compared to the other girls, I
lose my individuality in the loneliness of the night,
find myself in the emotionality night wraps me in:
watch, listen, wait.

My heart struggles to keep up as I drink
more, more, more.
I smile, and finally my thoughts run as quickly as my peers—
beat, beat, beat.

I’m tired of being a girl,
of failing to live up to inhuman expectations,
or fitting in with those sweaty bodies.
I wish the glory of femininity didn’t end with girlhood.

Instead of playing with human sensuality,
I play with human mortality
in what I’d like to call
a college student’s version of Russian roulette.
manlin Nov 2020
warning: ****** assault, domestic violence

Before:
Daddy yells at momma.
He’s upset that after she made me,
she’s too tired to be with him.

I step into the kitchen
where my pieces of DNA were fighting.
I had just started going to school,
and I was too young to realize:

kids really are helpless
in situations like these.
He shoves momma’s clothes off
so quickly;

I was paralyzed.
I couldn’t move.
I didn’t know
what was going on.

My momma screams in retaliation,
“You *******! She’s right there!”
I’ll never forget the cruel glint in his eyes.
“She won’t remember.”


Then:
As a thirteen-year-old,
I was braced for war.
Momma told me:

“Remember the pain
I went through?
Your father…
Make him pay!”

You’re right,
momma.
I know what you went through.
I’m sorry I am still part of him.

Empty bottles litter the floor
just like the pictures of bodies
in my history textbook.
I stand from amongst them,

glaring at him
as he snores on the couch.
At the time, I didn’t understand why
dad would pass out so quickly sometimes.

Carefully,
I step over the bottles,
making my way over to the sleeping beast.
I’m scared he’ll wake up.

Ah! Just like in my favorite books,
the villain’s neck is wide open!
I reach my hand out,
clutching my pretend dagger—

I **** him!
With elation, I suddenly feel
the curse that tied me to him
leave.

The steady rise and fall of his stomach
brings my spirits back to reality.
Disgust twists across my face,
and I deliver a punch to his beer belly.

He sputters,
standing on his feet in a rage.
“You—
You’ll never understand what I went through!”

My instinct is to run and hide,
but I instead stand proudly,
puffing out my chest.
“I wish you were never my dad!”

I smile to myself,
giddy in hopes that
momma would stop crying
and be proud of me.

He looks hurt by it.
I’m happy!
He never comforted us!
I throw out a few curse words to try to scare him.

That only makes him angry.
“Get over ‘ere,” he says through gritted teeth.
He grabs me by the waist of my pants.
My momma is worth whatever he does to me!

After:
Preparing to graduate from college
with high honors
and a position at my dream job,
I should be happy.

Yet I can't help but realize
it has been a decade since I’ve spoken to my dad.
Mom is with a new man.
He touches me in ways dad never did.

If I was thirteen,
I’d find the ten year anniversary as a reason to celebrate.
“That much closer to removing his curse!”
I would think.

I’m even more disgusted by my mom
spending all of her time with her boyfriend
than I ever did when
dad brought women over.

If the curse is supposed to be disappearing, then
why do I feel just as empty
as I did
before?
manlin Nov 2020
Little betta fish,
swimming around in its aquarium.
I peer into the
depths. Lose myself.

I listlessly observe her for hours,
watching her beautiful fins flare.
She remains unbothered,
going about her usual business.

As I am locked in my room,
and she is locked in hers,
I consider her as my best friend.
We’ve spent a lot of time together.

I wish I could
touch her or talk to her
and tell her how much I appreciate her presence,
but I don’t think she would understand.

Although we stare at each other for hours
through the glass panes separating our two worlds
of air and water,
I feel lonely.

I’m terrified for the day
when my only friend
lies belly-up on the water surface.
Will the loneliness drown me too?
manlin Oct 2020
content warning: sexism, racism, homophobia, ableist slurs, ****** assault, alt-right political commentary, abuse, prostitution

The okra stalks
now wilted
bend beneath
the winds of America’s plains.

As I’ve occupied myself with
a Yankee college’s schoolwork,
my means of feeding myself diminish
as I don’t have the time or energy to

water,
**** the bad bugs,
retie the plants to their rightful stalks,
and finally clean myself off.

Although my family qualifies for “government handouts”
as my momma calls them,
she sends it back every time.
The price?

Hunger gnawing at my stomach,
basic needs left unmet,
my “liberal” professors failing to grasp
what their own students face.

But women don’t deserve an actual education,
because in America’s Bible Belt
the woman’s future is confined
to a Southern home full of sweat and pregnancies.

I can always tell when my momma
runs a deficit on bills.
I can hear it,
although I try not to—

“Thank you for the tip, honey.”
She drawls,
and I know her bedroom door
is locked.

Before I knew what she was doing
when I was too young to know—
I caught glimpses of the different men
as they’d leave.

I don’t know why,
but I hated them all.
One would smoke cigarettes on the porch,
and later I’d kick around the used butts.

Now that she’s older,
she has resulted to
pimping me and my little sister out
against our will—

whether she intended for it to happen or not.
I’ve come to understand that
at least in America’s South,
virginity doesn’t exist.

A woman’s only purity
lies within having the right skin color;
some STDs can be overlooked
as long as they can still populate the Southern landscapes.

For the first time I had seen my momma
in over two weeks,
I greet her with a happy smile while washing dishes.
Her look of disgust remains unchanged.

“You need to register to vote!”
She says, yet I don’t have my driver’s license.
I remain silent.
I can hear the political commentary over the radio:

“String ‘em up,
shoot ‘em down!
Stop being so autistic,
and abide by the Party doctrine!”

Being in the South,
I know what the Southern gentleman meant
over the radio,
yet I still find its charged language alarming.

String ‘em up: Hang the Yankee professors who help me
Shoot ‘em down: Put down the “rioters” and “looters”
Autism refers to following rules of governance,
and the Party…

When my little sister registered
as a lesbian liberal,
momma never raised that much Hell.
She went off with a man for a few days to cool off.

I remember crying,
kneeling before my nativity set and the cross in my room,
hands clasped in prayer,
begging God to inform me on what to do.

I’ve tried to be a good Southern girl my whole life,
despite not being white,
being born into a single parent household,
and living in poverty.

I tried to be educated as a means of providing for my family.
However, my grandma tells me that’s unnatural.
My momma tells me to stop being stuck in my books
and to get some fresh Southern air.

I am left to ask, pleading for God to tell me
as humanity itself has failed to help me:
How can I be redeemed
from the sin of being born?
manlin Sep 2020
tw: mentionings of ****** assault, allusion to suicide, racism, abuse, sexism

“I’m starving,”
mom says,
the empty void of the refrigerator
reflecting the state of her consciousness.

Little sister
clutches at her stomach,
as if willing her hunger away
would make it disappear.

I’ve made fine food,
yet their tongues
still decry their
miserable states of hunger.

Aren't men supposed to provide
the food,
a house,
and authority?

Aren’t women supposed to provide
the meals,
a home,
and emotionality?

My dad solely remains as DNA,
threatening to make me into
an alcoholic like him
if I don’t behave.

My mom’s boyfriend
rules over us women
with cruel dominion,
making us wish we never had feelings

since we just
feel
so
violated.

His Irish tongue has the scrutiny of
the White Man’s burden
over us colored women,
his cruelty unmatched from the state of war.

When he pulls on my hair,
incessantly demanding my attention,
I remember how
he

ruined my mom’s body
after surgery,
tearing her flesh apart freshly stitched together,
and digs in, blood seeping the bedsheets.

I was just
trying to study.
Trying to further my education
of escaping from this Hell

The Hell he threatens me with
doesn’t seem so scary
when I know
the Price:

being a part of his sick fantasy
of having a harem of mother and daughters
tortured and maimed by his hand,
and our cries only met with his wails.

He already has my mother
sewn into his
game of
escaping Hell.

She acts as his demon sometimes
out of fear,
reprimanding me for
daring to keep my door shut

for daring to
not scream,
keep my thighs together
for him.

My tongue strikes
as my only act of defense
in an effort not against him,
but against a betrayal of self.

I am hungry,
in constant fear and panic,
and am knowledgeable of both how his game functions
and my inability to escape it.

Tell me,
how could Hell
be any worse
than this?

As a *****
made by his hand,
I acknowledge that
my only way to Heaven:

My Escape
lies in sacrifice.
As an ultimate display of familial piety
to my mother and sister.

I take a kitchen knife,
pouring some rice onto a plate,
before stabbing my stomach with the blade,
watching as my flesh falls onto the steaming plate.

Now,
I admit with relief,
I will go to Heaven,
and I will not hear them go hungry!

I declare in pure elation,
feeling my consciousness
previously weighed down by the burdens of a woman
finally flying free from my twisted body.

I watch
from the clouds of Heaven,
having made my sacrifice,
and see

flies collecting
over my body;
the plate is untouched.
My halo wavers atop my head.

“Please,” I whisper.
“Don’t let my sacrifice be
for nothing.”
Sister has yet to leave her room.

I recall
feeling terrified myself
when I was within the confines of mortality.
Mom is—

I see her.
She’s eating.
All this time—
she was lying?

The clouds fall from beneath me,
and my wings are plucked,
causing me to experience a pain
that rivals the first time he tried me.

I come back to life
to witness firsthand
him, with a pig-like glint in his eyes,
gouging on the meal I had prepared.

My stomach
now sliding down his esophagus
reels with hatred.
On the brink of life and death once more,

my vision flickers.
I catch glimpses of
the devil’s horns
through his ***** blond hair.

In my final moments,
I am left to ask:
Did Earth ever really exist
in the first place?
manlin Sep 2020
warning: mentioning of suicide

This apology
is long overdue,
but I’ve been meaning to say
I’m sorry.

I’ll never forget
when you were sitting next to me.
Mom was in the room too
and you were browsing on your phone

with a smile on your face
until
your
world

shatters.
Panic.
You panic,
and I don’t understand.

Mom’s attention is still on the television
as you begin to cry.
“What’s wrong?” I ask,
but my harsh tone seemed more like a demand.

“Evan!”
You scream,
and it finally catches mom’s attention.
“Evan’s in the hospital!”

“*****,” I begin,
feeling powerless
at the sight of
your bright red face.

I can’t stand
seeing you cry.
I am curious to know
why—

“He’ll be fine.”
Mom intervenes,
voice gentle
despite the sharp underlying tone

most single parents have
when addressing
their crying child.
“Do they know what happened?”

“No,” you respond,
and you’re now finding it
difficult
to breathe.

I look to mom for guidance
as I want her to know
that it’ll be okay.
“It can’t be that serious.”

Your phone pings.
I’ll never forget
how the color
drained from your face,

jaw slack in horror.
It takes your body a second
as the shock runs through the nerves in your body,
and you sob into your palms.

“What?!” Mom screams.
We both jump.
You reply,
voice hardly above a whisper,

“H-he tried to…”
Your voice falls lower.
“He tried to—“
Mom’s visage softens.

“Honey,” she says, holding her arms out
for a hug.
“Now, what happened
with your little friend?”

With your lips muffled against her shoulder,
you reply,
“He tried to **** himself.”
Your whole body quivers with sobs.

I remain
seated
in the same place,
ignoring the tears running down my cheeks.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine, *****.”
Mom joins in.
“Yes honey, he’s young.
He’ll come back.”

It takes a while to convince you,
but then you finally come to.
I remember smiling and thinking,
Yeah, he’ll get better later.

__
“You were wrong!”
You scream at me
nearly a week later
one morning.

I jump,
unaware of what happened.
I’m surprised,
seeing you so upset.

“What did I do?!”
I shout, confused
as I hold up my hands
to mask my face from you.

“You. Lied!”
You shout, sobbing into your palms
wearing your childhood nightgown
printed with purple stripes, now faded after so many washes.

“*****?”
I ask,
and I reach my arms
out for a hug.

You slap my wrists away,
glaring at me
through the tears
in your eyes.

Stunned, I pause,
and you respond,
“They took him off life support today!
You lied!"

I tried to apologize then,
and it took a few tries
until you said you accepted them.
However, apologies will never make it the same.
i remember dropping my sister off for his birthday party a few months before. she was really happy.
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