8

Tip of the Iceberg, Broken into Bits (Trigger Warning)

*******GUYS, please: Serious trigger warning is serious, as is the mature content filter.  They are there for a reason.  DO NOT go into this read if triggered by: sexual abuse/assault; emotional abuse; suicide threats; self harm.  Do not be alarmed:  I AM NOT with this guy any longer. But I got to thinking about this poem tonight, and how much I wish people could understand that it’s not always as easy as “just leaving” when it comes to abusive or toxic relationships, and I felt the need to share.  This is my story; please take a moment, if you’re willing, to read, to think, to try to understand…and to be kind.

Copyright Elizabeth Mathis, 2015; originally posted on deviantart right HERE.********

he’s I need you, I love you,
zero to engaged in less than a week,
your family’s approval already in hand
when the festivities stop
and he drops to one knee
no chance to think, no chance to back down–
he settled for second best all through high school,
there’s no chance he’s letting you slip by him now

he’s don’t let me go tears
when you’re dropped back at school,
the strokes of his fingers
smeared invisible over your skin,
the mark of his lips a painting only you see,
his ring a branded burden you’re not sure how to share
because when you left for home a month ago
you belonged to someone else

he’s handcuffed and carted away
just down the block from the theater over spring break
and you, already a mess of dependence
cheeks streaked with the weight of your heart,
wonder just what you’re getting into…but let the thought go
smoke on the wind
like the breaths of the cigarettes
you’ve become second-hand addicted to

he’s talks to people you don’t know
about your size, your shape,
the way your curves dip and hollow
because there are things he wants to do
but he’s not sure how
and he needs to know
to make it good;
he’s secrets told to people you don’t trust
because in his search for confidence
the only thing he knows how to focus on
is your body
and the places
only he can see

it’s he asks an online friend of yours
if she’d be the final piece
in a threesome
and you, uncomfortable
and burning red,
cross your fingers
and squint your eyes
and pray that she says no
because you can’t refuse him anything
but she can

he’s all smiles summer break,
hand holds and inappropriate public gropes
you can’t help but giggle over
discomfort be damned, discomfort go to hell,
he pushes shirts above your midriff
and calls you sexy, babygirl, doll…
stomach-flips and heart turnovers, please always stay!
but somewhere between the Wyoming/Colorado border
on your way to visit Dad and fam in autumn Vegas
something subtle shifts, shuffles, slides
into something worse

the first time you doubt the crazy stranglehold love
you leave blood on white carpet
in little sister’s bedroom,
ice and paper towels and panic at midnight
until it comes out

he’s tightening his hold
on the leash you didn’t know you were wearing,
nights spent at home, fits and phones thrown
at the floor
when you speak up, take a stand, change your mind;
friend lists growing smaller,
black abyss opening

you define codependence returning to college,
red-rimmed eyes and hiccupping sobs
when the car pulls away;
the summer is over
and so, you find out mere weeks later,
is the honeymoon

can’t sleep up all nights
calling despite your classes, your work, your lack of dreams
because he needs you–
the manipulation starts quiet, innocent, innocuous
and then it isn’t

“send me sexy pictures, please?”
and you do, countless baths
and phone on silent
because the roommates are just outside the door;
“tell me when to cum, babe”
ragged breathing, gasping words,
and you whisper
because the roommates are all in bed
and they can’t know your shame;
“get on webcam with me”
and you glance at the clock
and count the time you have,
is it long enough?  what if it’s not?

it’s he wants to send your pictures
to men from magazines
because you’re sexy enough to make the spread
except really
he just wants to sell you
because he can’t find or keep a job

and it goes on
and it gets worse
and you
break
down

first time:
“I’m such a jackass, babe.”
“why do you say that?”
“I went over there for friendship, and slept with her instead.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.
I won’t do it again.”

he’s apologies and sorrow
and a thousand missed texts when you forget your phone;
you let it slip, forgive and (try to) forget,
the voice in the back of your head
whispering, whispering, whispering things you ignore

second time:
“I didn’t mean to, I swear.
I just miss you.
Maybe if you send more pictures,
got on webcam with me,
got me off again
I wouldn’t be so tempted.”

he’s flowers and gifts, voicemails and emails,
and you try harder, you do what he says,
you spend nights at home on your computer and phone
and forget there’s another world
outside your relationship, your school, and your job

third time:
“I told you this would happen.”

and he yells at you:
you’re a bitch, you’re a slut,
you’re a whore opening her legs
to every guy in that dumb college town
and then he falls asleep,
ignores your calls until morning
and the world moves on

fourth time:
“if you don’t do
what I’m telling you to,
I’m going out and finding someone who will.
I did it before,
I’ll do it again.”

and he rubs it in every time you make him angry,
how easy it was to slip between her thighs,
how good it felt to forget you for a while…
for the first time since this started, you wonder
if this is the reason he keeps “single” on his facebook,
if this is the reason he avoids going out
when you’re home with him

fifth time:
“you stupid fucking slut,
all you women are the same,
can’t keep your zipper up
and your thighs closed”

he yells at you for talking to your mom,
he yells at you for talking to your ex,
he yells at you for talking to your friends,
he yells at you for talking to your roommates,
he yells at you for going out with your roommates,
he yells at you for having friends,
he yells at you for your roommates having friends,
he yells at you for your roommates inviting people over,
he yells at you for having a life outside of him,

he
yells
at
you
for
being
you

and you’re leaving your phone at home,
silencing it to get two hours of sleep,
ignoring texts and sobbing when nobody else is around
because you aren’t sure when things got so bad,
you aren’t sure what you’re doing wrong,
you aren’t sure what more you can give up to make him happy

connections made over the holidays
turn into paranoia, jealousy, anger;
choking on the end of your thread,
his marionette, you make a stance
and flee his company for just one night
because your mom told you to strike it on your own,
your mom thinks you’re in too deep,
your mom is concerned
he’s taking you over
and drowning you

hours later, his brother finds you laughing:
“he said you’d know where to find him,”
as he slips the wedding band,
a heavy burden you’re being strangled by,
into the palm of your hand
“said you’d know what to do with it”

you find him in the basement
smoke in mouth, eyebrows furrowed,
knife in hand and drawing across his skin,
a portrait of pain
he knows how to wield;
when you lead him to bed,
you make sure he leaves the knife
on the dryer

“if I ever find out we break up
because of that bitch mom of yours
I’ll kill her”
and your heart stops, just a moment,
before you let it go,
a moment of unbridled anger
hurled into hurtful words

“one month,”
he says the end of Christmas–
“if you can go one month
without talking to that bastard ex of yours
I won’t say anything more about it”

so you promise (sort of)
and you stick to it (for a day)
and you decide to sneak around
because damnit, if he can be friends
with all the girls he’s dated,
with all the girls he’s slept with,
with all the girls he knows
or doesn’t know
or wants to know
then why can’t you keep just ONE THING
for yourself?

your birthday
and he’s morose because it’s 21
and your roommates want to take you out,
to get you drunk,
to get you to at the very least have fun
but no, he doesn’t like that,
you can’t drink unless he’s there,
your first drink has to be with him

he’s quiet excitement, a manic happy
you can’t puzzle out over the phone
and someone knock, knock, knocking
at your front door

SHIT, you panic, SHIT
because he’s telling you to answer it
and the ex is coming over
to hang out, to celebrate, to give you five seconds of sane
in the insanity your life has derailed into
and if he finds out, if it’s HE at the door,
how are you going to handle
the blowup?

“go open the door!”
and you aren’t sure what to say
because there’s the ex
but he on the phone hasn’t explained,
hasn’t exclaimed,
hasn’t said
anything
and you stand, stupid, mouth open
eyes wide

“happy birthday, babygirl”
“I… what?”
“I’m giving Bau back to you”
“…I don’t understand?”
“he’s your birthday present”

as if people can be presents,
as if his friendship was up for the giving
just like that,
as if HE has any say
in who you’re friends with
in the first place

no, look deeper:
HE contacted the ex
(numbers he stole out of your phone
without permission,
you find out–numbers for the ex,
and your roommates,
and anyone else he thought you might
like to contact,
numbers he used
to manipulate and abuse
the people who were close to you)

he’s angry again, he’s angry all the time over
you no longer know what about,
and this time, he won’t let you explain;
“maybe I’ll just go throw myself
into traffic”
and the phone clicks
and the phone rings
and rings
and rings
and rings
and
r
i
n
g
s

the night is desperate, hourless,
you a wreck of nerves
and heartache
and the click of his voicemail;
in the morning, the sun dawns
and the world turns on still…
almost a full 24 hours later
you learn he was fine the whole time,
passed out and ignoring you

he’s kicked out of your moms house–
the last straw, the final nail in his coffin of hate–
and you, miles away, book a ticket
to his parents
because now that he needs them,
he’s willing to forgive, he’s willing to forget,
he’s willing to put his faith back in them

it’s your mom and brother ransack the bedroom
he was staying in
to get the stink of his stuff from their sight
and find your shame laid out:
packages stolen from strange mailboxes,
jewelry swiped from your mom’s drawers,
boxers knicked from little brother’s room;
pictures printed off college campus computers
you naked and baring all;
blow up doll shoved into the closet,
rubber mouth an O of deflated desire;
toys and swimsuits and lingerie and little blue pills
he never got around to giving you or using

and it’s almost finals week
and he’s planted his feet,
fingers digging into your neck
despite the miles,
jaw set in determination

you’re plans set to move to Colorado with him
his mom and stepdad excited,
looking into bus tickets, wanting you there;
your family, unstable and buckling,
calling to convince you not to go
because once you get there,
you’re stuck,
no job no friends no help no nothing but him
and that can’t be what you really want

the beginning of the end,
you’ve reached the frayed edges of the rope
you’ve been clinging so desperately to
he yells at you again
for calls to your mother, for advice listened to
that wasn’t from him
and you call his stepdad to try to understand

only one line stands out to you
from the mess of conversation that followed,
his stepdad cool and confident on the line
convinced you’ll do the right thing

“it was wrong of him to tell you
you can’t speak to your mom; she’s family,
it’s something we’re working on
but once you get down here,
you aren’t going to know anyone
it’ll just be you and him
and that’s all you’re really going to need”

five seconds of talk–
a new spin on the life you thought you were working for

you panic–SHIT–
what did you get yourself into
and how the hell
do you get yourself out of it?
because once you get down there,
you’ll never leave
and you realize it now;
no back to school in the autumn,
no going home to see mom,
no anyone you’ve ever known
or anything you’ve ever needed

you’re type 1 diabetic
and you know you haven’t done your best by yourself with it
but what if you get down there
and can’t afford your medications?
your test strips?
your supplies?
what if you get down there
and can’t afford to pay
for your right to keep your life?

it’s a burden of a different sort,
a stroke of epiphany you can’t shake off,
a sudden understanding that you’ve put it all on the line
for a guy who can’t handle treating you well
and what for
but heartache at the end
of a very long road

and you

f
i
n
a
l
l
y

leave

everything

in

silence

3

Magic Poetry: A Bit TOO Stiff for My Taste

Penguin2.3

Magic Poetry: Illustrated Children's Verse for Ages 3-7

This collection of children’s poetry spans over a forty year period. Taking a break from serious writing, I remembered some of the songs and poems I wrote as a young teenager. I thought I’d share them here with you now. They may not be ‘classics’ by no means but I hope your children or grandchildren will find fun in reading them.

The one thing about poetry, I believe, is that it’s everlasting. Words are beautiful and uplifting if they are used in the right way. I hope that by sharing this collection of poetry, it will introduce young minds to a world of endless opportunities. Imagination is like the Universe…endless in its possibilities.

I hope that this work will encourage young minds. I also hope that exploring the mystical realm will ignite creativity to encourage future writers to astound us with their imaginings. It starts with a few simple words.

Children’s/Poetry/Fantasy
46 Pages
Publication Date: August 1st, 2015
Get a copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: cute and fun; full of fantastical creatures; some of the rhyming felt a bit stiff or forced to me; I wish there had been more “moral” poems; love the graphics/illustrations

Huge thank you to Píaras Ó Cionnaoith for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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This is a super adorable, super fun collection of fantastical children’s poems. I really adored and appreciated the illustrations/graphics that separate each poem and give a “glimpse” into the character coming up–they helped to break up the pages and to keep the flow moving, if that makes sense?

I do wish, though, that a bit more story-telling had been put into the poems. Several of them seem to be saying the same thing– how excited about the fantastical creatures the poet is, and that’s great! But I felt as if a lot of the poems introduced a character in very simple ways and then ended without telling a story or leaving me with anything to think about. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a children’s book/a collection of children’s poetry, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be poems with stories or morals! Just look at Shel Silverstein, for instance–his poems are super quirky and sometimes very wild, but they all make a statement of some kind. Dr. Seuss is much the same way.

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I did have fun taking a walk through this author’s world. There were a few poems scattered throughout that seemed to be making a moral statement or passing along a lesson, and these proved to be some of my favorites. Several of the poems, though, didn’t present the creature in question in any new or inventive ways, instead calling upon the more well-known lore, which was disappointing–they felt a bit like pieces of cardboard, to me, plopped onto a page without really being colored in as individualized, unique characters.

While the rhyming was sing-songy and fun, I also felt like a lot of it came off as stiff or forced. Several times, I came across poems that changed up the meter or rhyme scheme so much, I couldn’t figure out what rhythm to read them with–I imagine, if I’d been reading this to a child, it might have sounded a bit awkward or mismatched.

 

differentdrag

Overall, this was a cute read with a ton of adorable illustrations, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as I’d been hoping to going in. While there are a ton of characters and creatures covered, they didn’t really stand up on their own–they felt a bit stiff and unnatural, instead of leaping to life off the pages. I was, in the end, left feeling slightly disappointed, though there were several poems scattered throughout that I might revisit in the future. Still, I recommend this to readers with young children, lovers of fantastical/mythical creatures, and poet enthusiasts of all ages!

2

Blog Tour and Review: Night Ringing

night-ringing-bannernight-ringing  “I revel in the genius of simplicity” Laura Foley writes as she gives us in plain-spoken but deeply lyrical moments, poems that explore a life filled with twists and turns and with many transformations. Through it all is a search for a fulfilling personal and sexual identity, a way to be most fully alive in the world. From multicultural love affairs through marriage with a much older man, through raising a family, through grief, to lesbian love affairs, “Night Ringing” is the portrait of a woman willing to take risks to find her own best way. And she does this with grace and wisdom. As she says: “All my life I’ve been swimming, not drowning.” -Patricia Fargnoli, author of “Winter, Duties of the Spirit, ” and “Then, Something

“I love the words and white space of poetry. I love stories even more. In this collection, Laura Foley evokes stories of crystallized moments, of quiet and overpowering emotion, of bathtubs and lemon chicken. The author grows up on the pages, comes of age, and reconciles past with present. Almost. Try to put the book down between poems to savor each experience. Try, but it won’t be easy. -Joni B. Cole, author of “Toxic Feedback, Helping Writers Survive and Thrive”

Plain-spoken and spare, Laura Foley’s poems in “Night Ringing” trace a life story through a series of brief scenes: separate, intense moments of perception, in which the speaker’s focus is arrested, when a moment opens to reveal a glimpse of the larger whole. Memories of a powerful, enigmatic father, a loving but elusive mother, a much older husband, thread Foley’s stories of childhood, marriage and motherhood, finally yielding to the pressure of her attention, as she constructs a series of escapes from family expectations, and moves toward a new life. In these lucid, intense poems, Foley’s quiet gaze, her concentration, and emotional accuracy of detail, render this collection real as rain. -Cynthia Huntington, author of “Heavenly Bodies”

Foley’s voice rings with quiet authority undercut by calamity, examining a life so extraordinary, she seems to have lived several people’s lives, setting a high bar for poetic craft she meets, in great mystery perfectly expressed in the tiny, quotidian, “spent matches pressed on wet pavement,” to soulful beauty, “as wind lifts/every shining wave”; in wisdom rooted in humor, from the deliciously funny “Flunking Jung,” to self-deprecating wit, misreading “poetic” as “pathetic,” reminding us wisdom is love, grown from self-compassion. -April Ossmann, author of “Anxious Music”

laura

About the Poet:Laura Foley is the author of five poetry collections. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Joy Street won the Bi-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review and in the British Aesthetica Magazine. She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest.

Find Her:
Website | Goodreads

Buy Night Ringing here:
Amazon


Penguin2.3

4Penguins

Quick Reasons: gorgeous, powerful, poignant; the poetry in this collection is emotive, evocative, and thought-inspiring; while the progression isn’t always clear, it’s obvious there’s a story to be found here, interlaced with both the abstract and the realistic; human nature–and personal growth–are very strong focuses throughout

HUGE thanks to Laura Davies Foley and the crew atWorldwind Book Tours for sending me a copy of this poetry collection in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Let me just start by saying…. POETRY, HOW I MISS YOU!

I mean, honestly–this collection? makes me want to go out and scoop up as many poetry books as I can find, to devour, to be inspired by, to fall in love with. Laura Davies Foley has woven a journey–to self-acceptance, to loves and to heartbreaks, to the abstract and the realistic–that I both related to and was captivated by. This collection is FULL of human nature and the assurances that everything you do–even the worst mistakes you think you’ve ever made–make up exactly who you’re supposed to be, and that’s just beautiful to me, as a reader, to come across in poetry.

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The poetry herein is emotive and evocative. Subjects range from the abstract to the wholly realistic–from sea turtles on page one, to experimentation with partners later on. Marriage, children, divorce; happiness, disappointment, anger–all are touched upon and explored, a tapestry of emotions.

Every sense is ALSO brought into play, though sometimes more subtly than you’d expect. Laura Davies Foley chose her words with care in order to take readers along a path of reminiscences, heartaches, and self-discovery. Split into different sections, each portrays a different event in the poet’s life. Sometimes, this connection is easy to spot. Other times, readers will need to piece the seams together as the poems come.

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I really enjoyed basking in the beauty of Laura Davies Foley’s words–and the journey transcribed within these pages. There’s something heart-wrenching and honest about this collection that is bound to be relatable to even the newest readers of poetry. I definitely recommend this read to lovers of the poetic, the juxtaposition of abstract with realism, and seekers of an emotionally evocative journey. I am determined, after reading this exquisite collection, to read much more poetry in the near future!

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13

Top Ten Tuesday (#32)

TTT

HOSTED BY: The Broke and The Bookish
DESCRIPTION:  Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s theme: Ten Books Set Outside the US that We Enjoyed

Find their latest post here!

But I’m not doing that one.  Because I don’t wanna.  No, really, that’s the reason in its entirety.  I don’t wanna, so I’m not gonna, and you can’t make me.

Instead, I give you my:

Top Ten Favorite Quotes (this week)!

because HULLO, there are SO MANY awesome quotes floating around out there, especially of the book variety…which means this list?  Is forever and foralways changing.  These are my picks for this exact moment in time; you should fully expect this list to change within the week.

DeathEEEHADETMYSOBHTLTSTWTOHOMTouchMagonTNC

I guess I have an affinity for the poetic, the beautiful, the “makes you stop dead and THINK.”  At least, those seem to be my favorite quotes in reads–which explains why so many of my quotes are different from those MOST people highlight!

What sort of quote are YOU most drawn to?  Have you read any of the books listed here–and what did you think of them, if so?   Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments, or link me to your own Top Ten Tuesday!

Until next time, happy book-ing!

New Sig

7

Freakboy: This Verse Novel Makes Important Waves

Penguin2.3

Freakboy

Goodreads Rating: 3.96 Stars
431 Pages
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Publishing
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Get a copy here!

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In Freakboy‘s razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: beautifully diverse; I have such a huge soft-spot for verse novels; quick read, but packed with so much to think about; this approaches diversity and gender identity in a sensitive, mature way; also covers things like bullying, abuse, and suicidal ideations; there’s also a huge focus on different types of family

This verse novel, in my opinion, gets SO many things right. Much like Ellen Hopkins, Kristin Elizabeth Clark approaches such a wide variety of themes, emotions, and moods in her writing–offering readers an intimate glimpse both into human nature and ourselves. I have always had a soft spot for verse novels, though I don’t get the chance to pick them up often. I really should work on that–they always leave me feeling broken, emotionally challenged… and so grateful for the experience.

 

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In this novel, we follow three main perspectives– Angel, Vanessa, and Brendan. Each approaches the same situation with unique and vastly different perspectives. Each made me reconsider, rethink, and readjust my perspective. Of course, there are more than just these three characters–and ALL of them are individualized, unique, and equally important. Even the bullies, even those whose opinions oppose what the narrative is striving to impart, brought this picture together…and helped to teach me, to shape me.

 

Kristin Elizabeth Clark took a challenging, difficult subject and attempted to push readers toward a different line of thinking. In my opinion, she achieved this with brilliance and poise. While the read isn’t always easy–there are some very mature subjects broached, including bullying, abuse, and suicidal ideation–there are so many important, powerful morals/messages happening throughout. This read is so, SO important, in my opinion–especially in light of recent tragic events.

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All this is to say… This book? Pick it up. Don’t let the fact that it’s written in verse hold you back–there is a heart-wrenching, powerful story to be found in these pages. No, let me rephrase that–there are at least three, but also so many more, powerful stories in these pages. Trigger warning for sensitive readers: topics include suicidal ideation; abuse (physical and emotional); assault; and bullying. If any of these are triggers for you, please be careful if you decide to pick this book up. This read will teach you something about human nature–and yourself–if you let it; even such short verse can go a long, long way and say so very much.

0

Heartstroke

Filter the impulse,
pulse a hummingbird
flickering paper wings beneath
thin papyrus skin–
a battle of breaths
you can’t hope to win
when hearts crack like drywall
and dry veins cave in
to old habits.

Resist the dreaming,
a scheming resolution
absolving no one–
the deep dark
seeds and breeds jealous,
seething monsters,
an ulcer of want-tos but never-cans
broiling, roiling, coiling like chains
to choke you up and drag you down.

Skip over the moment
you bend, give in–
there’s a life sentence found
in debating fail safes and stalemates,
a stagnant soul mating
the ghosts of burned bridges
like an impasse is over an in instant.

In this moment,
your heart is sparking
and the flames are catching fast.

–Copyright Elizabeth Mathis, February 2016–

6

blackbird poets

this story could be about divorce,
but you are not a ghost, not yet.

you asked me what poets were–
it is the middle of the night
and there is a cheap hotel room
i cannot fathom myself into.

i smoked my first cigarette
the first time i saw you naked,
your lonely colors carved into arcs;
now, my hands are brittle
and your back is an expanse
i will write about
a year from here
where it wears thin
because poetry is for the birds
and i am not made to lead revolutions.

twenty one and imprinted,
i have learned to grovel.

—copyright Elizabeth Mathis, September 2014—
—This is a first line poem originally posted on my deviantart: http://betwixtthepages.deviantart.com/art/blackbird-poets-481211390 —