cleo Jun 2013

i opened myself up to you
tore down my walls
and exposed
my naked soul

in return
you took advantage
of my vulnerability
and violated
my naked body

cleo Feb 19

I don't count aloud anymore;
I can't stand to hear your name.
(Such a common word..)
Every time I hear it (say it/read it/write it), I go numb.
Go quiet.
The word bounces around my skull like a pinball machine and I'm stuck here trying not to crack.

I used to pick up pennies; called them 'lucky'.
I even remember picking up a few on our way to your place.
Now I don't give them a second glance.
I leave them where they are.
I don't need the reminder.
I know their worth.
I just don't know my own, not anymore.

I remember exactly what I wore that day.
I haven't worn those shoes since.
I loved them.
They were these expensive purple velvet platforms.
I had had to beg my mother to buy them for me.
"You better wear them", she warned.
The day I went home with you was the first time I'd ever worn those shoes.
It was also the last.
Sorry, mom.

cleo May 17

october 15, 2012

it's been 1674 days since we last embraced
239 weeks and I still can’t sleep.
55 months and the pain is still as sharp as ever.
All this time and yet
I will never be able to erase the memories
of what you did to me that day.

I remember it all so clearly.
Walking home with you.
Sitting on the couch
Conversation starts
You invite me to lie down
Conversation halts

Your hands on my thighs,
your lips on my neck.
You, unable to resist me.
We started off slow, but I knew
I'd surrendered all control
Me, unable to restrict you.

Me, sitting down, frozen in place,
too afraid to dial those 3 magic numbers.
You, walking about half exposed
eager for what might come next.

I remember the number 4.
4 minutes in
that's how long it took you
to figure it out I really did mean 'no'

"What's wrong with you? why don't you want it anymore?"
"It's wrong. We should stop. I can't do this. I don't want to do this."
"It's not wrong; we're friends not some strangers.
Besides, you asked for this."

I believed you.

i am not yours to pursue,
nobody's to claim, to obsess over
you do not have the right to ignore my declination
nor to see my rejection as a challenge;
i am not a game or a puzzle
if you think my "no" is a jigsaw piece fitted in the wrong place
there for you to move and arrange
again and again
until you finally hear "yes"
then you are too much a child for my liking
too much about the conquest and not enough about the person.
my "no" will not be manipulated into a "yes",
you cannot play me into your hands

i am not a gamer, i am an artist
i will sketch thicker lines, make my "no" bolder
i will add more tone, make it sterner
add more shade, allow my anger to cast shadows over your reputation
and it will not be hard to outline your true colours:
you've already revealed so many.
i don't need to paint you as a villain; you have done that much yourself
you too are an artist, in your own right...
you've smudged your lines so much, you've crossed boundaries.
your so-called love is not delicate pink―it is blood red and sticky.
your so-called affections leech the grey from my palette
and leave me seeing you in black and white.
oh, there's not much white, not much innocence
you are an all-consuming black; your desire to swallow me whole is abyssal

i will not be the reference of your portraits,
you cannot draw me in
your kind of passion disgusts me; you are not a true artist.
there'll be no soft brushes between us,
only sharp edges of craft knives
as i carve into your determination and soften that hardened clay
into something i can mould and shape,
something i can twist away from me.
six years is a long time for something to be set in stone
but i have a sledgehammer will and i refuse to feel backed into the corners
of your lustful foundations.
i do not wish to be a masterpiece in your eyes any longer.
i never asked you to admire me.
i will not be hung on your wall.

Boys go through this shit, too. I did. Twice.

Brother, you told me once you were scared
to have a daughter.

You knew this when you baby-sat
a baby girl with your wife,

and you, a former American Army infantryman

melted and was brought down in a way

that the guns you faced in Afghanistan never could.

She’ll be my princess, I remember you saying.

A little girl all dressed in pink,
whatever she’ll ask for, you'll give it.

You were relieved when the first child

you and your wife had was

a baby boy, but to be honest,

you melt all the same,
even 9 months later.

But I’ve always wanted to ask,
“Why are you afraid to have a daughter?”

You know the stories how our mother gave birth for the first time

and how she labored in the car
when she drove herself to the hospital.

And how your pregnant wife came home on her lunches from work

and would cry on the floor because her back hurt so bad,

But she still sat up and went back to work--

the same way our older sister cried on her first day back

from maternity leave and parted with her baby boy for the first time,

the same way Mom went back to work when you and Dad deployed.

What you know of women is that we’re strong,

that we dry our tears and continue on with the world.

Really what we do is keep the world spinning
with the force of how much we love.

So anything, you give your daughter
will be returned in multitudes.

You were taught the same way to love that I was--

instinctively and unconditionally and unrelentingly.

And maybe you’re afraid that your daughter

won’t be able to walk home alone at night

or that no one will listen to her,

And you know this is a poem from your younger sister.

So savor that I’m saying you’re not wrong,
because I don't know when that will happen again.

Your daughter may have to work harder to be heard

and to keep herself safe than any son you have.

But know no matter, how strong she is or how hard she works

that shit still happens

and it won’t be her fault.

and you know because you have two sisters

and you’ve heard our stories.

Statistics say that 1 in 3 women experience sexual or physical violence.

We have one President, who bragged on a Hollywood Access bus

about grabbing women by the pussy  

because they let him

and because no one stopped him.

Brother, be scared of the men who would hurt your daughter,

but brother, don’t be scared to have a daughter,

Because she will love you the same way
your wife, your mother,

and your sisters have loved,

that our bodies may break and tear in the doing
but we will choose to do it all over again.

Annie Coleman Feb 19

So many words and tears have been wasted on you
You, the man, that probably has forgotten my face by now
So many hours of self pity and hatred have I felt because of you
You, the man, who shaped me into who I am right now

And not too long ago, I was driving in the car, and my lover he suggested,
(Excuse me if these words appear harsh),
We need more intimacy in public
Let's fool around, we're young.
I would say we could fuck in a dressing room but...
I know what happened to you in there

I nodded along and then I stopped myself, and I said,
Darling, why not?

That is the moment I realized
I am stronger than my past.
That is the time that I recognized
I had been holding on too long.
It's time to let go
Of what you did to me
And what you took from me
Because I am stronger than that.
I am stronger than you.

Olive Waverly Jan 31

It was the year of undiscovered bodies and vanilla cupcakes
We dined on both behind the wall in the alleys
He had rough hands and translucent fingers
He molded himself on to me as if we were trying to finish a complicated puzzle
The first time he called me beautiful I was 15
The second time he was 24
he saw me as a young girl but yet still treated me as if I was a woman
the first time he unzipped me I feel onto the floor in a pile of mini skirts and insecurities
The purest his hands had ever caressed.
My skin felt like ice under the warmth and heat of his fingers
I was not in love with him, but I had love for him
he was the gentle nudge over the cliff of sexuality
the night of my 16th birthday was the last time he unzipped me
this time I didn't fall
2 weeks after that my mother had found the love notes he scribbled for me that I hide under my bed.
It would be 4 weeks until I saw him again
his hands were still rough but his fingers had lost their translucence
what once was ten tiny galaxies emitting from his earth palms
were now black holes
I looked in the eye's of the man who taught me how to do grown up things whilst still wearing my little girl uniform
He took my freshness and turned it into mold
He took my youth and turned it into vivid memories
and for that
I thank him.

Paige Chevalier Dec 2016

Your fingers burned me
So when they asked me for proof
I lifted up my dress.
They dusted my thighs for
Like they would a burglary.
They told me to explain again
What had happened.
I told them  how you
Pried me open like
The doors of a
Closed convenience store
Gutted me like an
Abandoned house
Left me for dead like
A deer after the
They said there was
They could do
I told them how you
Emptied me like
An alcoholic at the bar
After years of sobriety
Stained me like
The glass windows
In your church
Broke me like
The mirrors you
Can't bare to look into
I can't look in the mirror
They asked me for proof
So I lifted up my dress
They dusted my thighs
For fingerprints
I swear were there
I see them
The third degree burns
Covering my legs
My neck
My chest
I told them how
You made me into a
Museum of art
I don't want to be a part
You made me into a
Museum of mosaics
And tragedies
And other broken things
I told them how
You made me into
Railroad tracks
That I lie on and
Wait for a train
That never comes
I told them about
the burns you kissed
into my skin
the blisters that
throb and
like the heartbeat
I used to have
They asked me for proof
So I lifted up my dress
For fingerprints I swear
Were there
They dusted my thighs
Like the crime scene
They were
Like the crime scene
They are
They asked me if
I had any other proof
I told them about the
About how any hands
On me feel like your
About how you
Stripped me
Both physically
And mentally
About how I begged
You to stop
About how you didn’t stop
They said there was
They could do
They said they were
I said
Me too

Amanda Sep 2016

I am barely one millimeter tall
dragging my body limp across
the sidewalk and I try my best not to make eye contact any contact
with those glaring flashlights rising from the dead off their hard-helmeted heads
I'm still trying to keep mine twisted at one-hundred-eighty degrees
but stuck in the bulls-eye of a man-made hurricane    I wouldn't mind hearing a snapping neck any neck.

One of the hell-bent helmets removes itself to reveal a heavy-set sweating neck
the girl on a skateboard and I recoil synonymously at the sight of too many men too tall
it's seventy-five out but it's beginning to feel negative twenty degrees
I walk as quickly as my frost-gnawed legs allow me to move across
this soup line but they're feeding the wrong kind of hungry who wait for their dirty coins to flip heads
to see who goes first to play tackle-the-red-flags with little girls and the rules don't prohibit contact.

I can't imagine these helmets in human form not even when they ask for my number to keep in contact
I think of the time I was sent home for possessing tempting shoulders and a somehow sultry neck
all I see are claw machines and me, a come-here-doll, resisting the balance being ripped from my head
I forget about pacing myself on the ledge of this concrete just so I can stand tall
I hear the voice of an ex-friend who moved across
town tell me that you "just have to be smart", but you don't learn morals from earning degrees.

I'm thinking about the degree
of which it would mean if I were to reverse the prey predator roles and dare to make contact
blood sharing the same bed with safety sparks a flame across
my brain, I don't want to imagine trembling while holding this pocket knife over the apples of their necks
but I am a no choice girl because every time my mother calls she warns me that I'm not tall
enough to even chop the branches from their heads.

The fifth one in line yells something at me about giving head
silently I measure the trajectory of getting the hell out of this corner the exact angle the degree
what lie is there to tell that is tall
enough that they won't be able to see the panic beneath my contacts
I swat away the possibility of nearby lips staining bruises onto my neck
I keep the idea of my big-knuckled boyfriend like pepper-spray in my back pocket waiting at the street across.  

Hey bitch, you seem a little cross
you shouldn't dress the way women dress to turn heads
one day you might make a man break his neck.
It finally began nearing seventy-five degrees
again as I fumbled through my contacts
dialed the first boy I knew, doubling as the tallest.  

I'm on the acceptance stage of mourning the fact that I'll never be tall enough to come across as mean when I come in contact
with non-human beings willing to burn holes in the back of girls heads at four-hundred degrees, who put their rapist trophies on the back-burner as long as it means getting some neck.

y Jun 2016

I don't think about him or the fear he ignited in me but when I see his face
Why do I have to keep seeing your face?
Every feeling comes back
Self blame
I feel so small
Your eyes and mouth were enough to push me into a dark abyss
I have the need to cover my skin
Like if it's my responsibility to make sure my body doesn't provoke you
I have the need to hide who I truly am
Like it's my responsibility to make sure my personality doesn't provoke you
I know it's not my fault but can you blame me?

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