this isn’t supposed to be erotic

i don’t know whether heartbreak will ever stop tasting

like ripe white peaches ice cold in summer

soft fruitskin popping, giving under my teeth

meat catching between them and dripping

sticky pulses down my chin and fingers.

i pity anyone who has ever lost me.


5.29.18 rlb



I’m making a pb&j at midnight because I live alone and can do this kind of thing without arousing suspicion. I haven’t eaten a full meal in a week. The world has made me sick.

As always when I’m sick and tired I think of you. How it’s been almost three months since we last spoke. Almost eighteen since we kissed. How when Death came for me my mother turned you away from our doorstep and how I am glad and resentful for it. How you went from being the woman I wanted to marry to a bullet grazing my cheek en route to elsewhere. Late nights like this the scar stings. I do my best to soothe it with hamfisted metaphor and flourishes but I always fall short.

I always fall short.
I never read the letter you left on my nightstand.

But then you went and gave my mother a card for me in the wake of my nearly-dying. A card full of hallmark sentiments about freedom. “You just crawled tooth and nail from your death bed but don’t you remember how I broke up with you? Aren’t you happy I let you go free?” I’m paraphrasing but that is the spirit of it and I wish I’d never read it.

Would you have said the same thing at my funeral? Eulogized not my corpse below you but our relationship? Waxed poetic about the crushing kindness you did me by breaking my heart?

As if I would allow you to speak at my funeral.
I think I understand what happened now. When your feelings fill your lungs like tar you don’t know what to do about the slow pain of drowning. You wheeze about your selflessness and sacrifice and the undying love you bear others and never manage to cough up what’s eating you.

Lucky for me I’m not dead and I only miss you like this when I’m tired and hungry. Maybe that’s what drove you away. I smother the things I love when there is no clear line at the start of no man’s land.

First come the smiles, then the lies- last is gunfire.
Here we are. Alive and full to bursting. Me with cheap metaphor and you with unspoken tar.

Tell me, how does your freedom taste?

rlb 8.18.17

dear john

Dear John,

You are nowhere near sorry enough.

You did not merely hurt me. Give yourself more credit, my doll my dear my darling the former light of my life. You manipulated gaslit abused and put me in a position where I nearly lost my sense of self self-esteem self-worth my life. Had I been less fortunate in the best friends department I would have died the night you told me you could never trust, see, know me again. An impulse of self-hatred that would have been the most tragic waste of a life that no war could compare to because unlike a nation or an oath or honor you do not deserve my life or breath or blood.

Have you finally made up your mind whether you hate or crave making others dependent upon you?

You think this comes down to your simple lack of trust? Try: your simultaneous crippling fear of emotional intimacy and desperate need for external validation from significant others, unstable sense of identity and self, and inability to either perspective-take or self-regulate.

That you dare think you can condescend to me when I am more self-aware, better able to articulate myself, impossibly more well-read, and above any level of competence you could possibly hope to attain with your utter lack of planning ability and foresight — That you think you can condescend to me given those things is hilarious. I shared that with my best friend too and oh did we laugh at you.

The fact that you think I need validation from you, however, is insulting.

The fact that you think I would ever want anything from you is insulting.

You are insulting.

That you have assumed you are in any way deserving of my time and attention, my emotional response to the paltry sum of your existence? Is an affront to the simple fact of nature that I am so far out of your league we aren’t even playing the same game and you should be grateful, not to whatever god you believe in this week but to me, that I once deigned to swap electrons with you in passing the day we met.

You boast and brag and posture because you fear in the depths of your heart that you are unworthy of whatever thing you have decided to worship but I am here to tell you to fear nothing. Nothing at all.

Rest easy and simply know that you are unworthy. It was never in question.

It’d be funny that you come back into my life now that you know I’m making actual money and have insurance and a retirement plan if, y’know, it weren’t also pathetic and transparent.

And one more thing: never compare me to a lion again. You are the lazy, self-pitying coward who relies on the efforts of others to get a meal masquerading as some great and powerful force. Projecting your insecurities onto others is unattractive and an ineffective method of coping.

I assure you I have never written anything more sincere in my life,

rlb 2.8.17

I don’t write poetry.

I am not now, never have been, and never will be a poet.  

This is a fact I repeat with stubborn pride whenever my sister challenges the claim with evidence that somehow, some way my prose has a breath of poetry in it.

I’m not a poet. I have no rhythm, little skill with rhyme, no head for any imagery outside of the literal, the tangible, those things that I can get my hands around and crush to my chest out of a desperate need to slow the inevitable decline into entropy and heat death that every atom in the universe will somewhen face.

I am not a poet.

I am however a list-maker. It’s a consequence of that same need for an illusion of control.

Lately, I’ve been enumerating all those things of yours I kept, those I left for you to remember me by.

Love makes us do stupid things.

  • Five (5) pairs of ankle socks in pink, orange, yellow, teal, and violet
  • One (1) pair of thick winter tights in the shade “nude”
  • Seventeen (17) selfies you sent me on Snapchat that were extreme close ups of your eyes, shoulders, elbows, mouth
  • Twelve (12) pictures of us together
  • Innumerable black hairs from your cat’s love of my drawer full of skirts
  • Your love of high-waisted, floral print panties that I never appreciated until I saw you in them
  • The softness of your hair as it grew back from the buzzcut
  • The curve of your waist into your hips that you couldn’t hide no matter how many layers you wore. I could spot your silhouette from four blocks away in the dark
  • The memory of a thousand kisses
  • My sense of adventure
  • The letters you wrote me
  • My bed, because we slept there, watched too many hours of netflix, ate waffles and pretended the world outside didn’t exist. My bed where I sat when you stood above me, pacing and raving about how you could no longer stand my presence because I did not make enough money to live with or support you.
  • One (1) check, prorated for only 11 days’ rent out of spite

I tell myself that if I never see you again it will be too soon. I’ve destroyed all the pictures and this summer I promise myself I will burn your socks.

I doubt I’ll ever get rid of the one thing I wanted to give to you more desperately than I wanted to flee the inevitable, slow death of the universe, though. Between the refractions of the opal and the overtones of the gold it looks and sounds too beautiful to give up even if every second wearing it I think how lovely it might have looked on your hand. My great-grandmother had the best taste in rings.

rlb 2.13.17