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power pose
in front of the angry men
"we're not scared of you"

but they should be
she spits fire bright
from lips she wears matte dark
she's digging the perfectly manicured claws into the palms of her hand
hands that bring incredible generosity
and incredible pain
depending on how audaciously you approach her

with your alcohol-stenched breath
and a body that takes up space
but contains nothing of substance
aside from liquor of course
an empty, angry vessel of wordy slurs and slurred words

she knows they don't deserve her tears
they should feel grateful to receive even a smirk
an ounce of her attention
in this economy
with the men who untuck their shirts after a long day's work
unaware of what the women have been up to
is priceless

you can't commodify what you can't touch

they are not beds waiting for you
to lay down on
to make your lives easier
while you weigh down upon ours

her silk sheet skin
and the comfort of knowing she will be there at 2pm and 2am

this is her home
this body is an address
it is not your residence
loiterers will be fined
she will be fine

power pose
the power grows
this is your power prose
because mama,
you will be fine
for jass
swaying across the hardwood floors
swoon, swoon, swoon
under the moon, moon, moon

your fingers dance across my spine
like piano keys
your hand tapping against my thigh
like a tambourine

a gospel choir singing
in the background of your laughter
sobriety is easy
when you're drunk in love

and you didn't even know you could dance to this
rationing myself out
after giving you my everything
to place yourself in the hands of someone
knowing they can ruin you
is the ultimate gesture of trust
and when neglected and unwanted
the plunge of death
when your heart finally gets handed back to you
beating irregularly
scared to even flutter again

how could you be so sweet
and leave me so bitter
now it makes sense
because salt looks a lot like sugar
stick this dagger
in this chest
make it hurt
like you do best

i sink it deeper
because i want control
and spend all summer
looking for what you stole
perhaps i should have been gentler, they said
but you don't tell a forest fire how to scorch
what to burn

i was given one clear motive
and you would be given no warning

we are not entitled to what we did not give others
you steal innocence, and i can't buy back time

like a phoenix,
she rises from the ashes of her dollhouse
invaded and destroyed
but painted on the outside
like a perfect little home

we were anything but
and when i was handed a torch of my own,
how dare you meet my eyes with anger
at what you created

you say i'm not what you expected
and certainly not what you wanted

and to you i say,
i want to love you enough
to make the way you look at the world change
the peripheral vision allowing you to see the
panoramic beauty
of a place made better
because you walk in it

you trust me
to touch your skin
and watch you cry
and listen to your truths
and i would hold my stare
if it wasn't so painful to see you like this

what is it like to be like this

i cannot ask you to stop gasping in fear
when you don't recognize me entering a room
i cannot ask you to stop wincing, crying, or thinking
because what happened happened, as you say
but this is not something you can so easily let go

i want only good things to happen to you
and i want to be one of them
i'll never let you go,
even if i can't love you enough to change very much
i'll love you
and sometimes, that is enough
i saw her fiddling with her ring in an effort to dodge my eyes and avoid conversation. our parents discussed their philosophies for life and plans for us.

she tucked a stray curl behind her ear, and only looked up at me
when i was speaking to answer her father's questions.
she laughed at all my jokes,
she watched me drink my orange juice when my eyes were averted.

"that's a lot of pressure," she says in the kitchen when her mother tells her to help prepare lunch. i want to get up to help her. i have no appetite. i just want to hear her voice more than one sentence response at a time.

i'm sitting in the living room, legs crossed, eyebrows raised.
she's fiddling with the same ring on her finger, and i think to myself
as i watch her, that i want to someday,
place a very specific ring
on a very specific fingers of hers
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