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the boys i’ve loved and the end of the world

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    the boys i've loved and the end of the world 
 
    catarine hancock 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    to all young writers and poets 
 
    it has taken me a long time to develop my writing style. when i first started writing poetry, shortly before i entered high school, my poems were full of clichés and every line oozed unoriginality. it took me several months, nearly a year, before i really began to get a feel for writing prose and poetry. even now, after four years, i am still changing and growing as a writer. 
 
    my message to you is to not give up. if your work seems cliché or boring, keep writing. if nobody seems to like it, keep writing. even when you have writer's block and nothing you write is decent, keep writing. that is how you grow.  
 
    emily dickinson did not stop writing. sara teasdale did not stop writing. robert frost and edgar allen poe did not stop writing. pablo neruda, maya angelou, e.e. cummings, langston hughes; these are our predecessors. and as for the poets who come after us: we are theirs.  
 
    something i have learned through sharing my writing is that oftentimes, your writing will never be good enough in your eyes. you will always find something missing. it is very rare that you will write something that will make you say, "there is nothing i would add to this. it has portrayed everything i have wanted it to." 
 
    but that doesn't mean it isn't good enough in the eyes of somebody else. to somebody else, that poem, that piece of prose, could be exactly what they are feeling. it could resonate with them. it could make them feel. 
 
    and that, above all else, is the most important part of writing. if you write with feeling, and if you can make somebody else smile, or cry, or think, then you have succeeded. 
 
    i hope that i have succeeded, just as i hope you will too.  
 
      
 
  ;     
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    for my followers. 
 
    you have given me more than i could have ever asked for. 
 
    thank you. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    to the first 
 
    i was full of words 
 
    and you were the one 
 
    who cut deep enough 
 
    to unleash them. 
 
      
 
    not a day goes by 
 
    that i don't thank you 
 
    for it. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    i didn’t think this needed an explanation 
 
      
 
    but i’m going to explain it  
 
    anyway 
 
      
 
    i write about love  
 
    because it is 
 
    what i know 
 
    i write about pain 
 
    because it is 
 
    what i’ve felt 
 
    i write about abuse 
 
    because it is 
 
    what i’ve been through 
 
    i write about politics  
 
    because it is 
 
    what i care about 
 
      
 
    i write about  
 
    what i have 
 
    experienced 
 
    i write about  
 
    what makes me 
 
    quake with anger 
 
    heave with sadness 
 
    smile with joy 
 
      
 
    i will never write 
 
    for anybody 
 
    but myself 
 
      
 
    i will never write 
 
    something that 
 
    i don’t mean 
 
      
 
    i know my art 
 
    will not reach everybody 
 
    and i have never 
 
    expected it to 
 
      
 
    but i expect— 
 
    no 
 
    i demand— 
 
    respect as an artist 
 
    because that  
 
    is what 
 
    i deserve 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    eclipse 
 
      
 
    we looked at each other like 
 
    we were the sun and the moon 
 
    locked in a gravitational war, 
 
    bound to cross and bound to  
 
    break apart. 
 
      
 
    to you,  
 
    i was the entire night sky. 
 
    to me,  
 
    you were just another  
 
    forlorn stargazer. 
 
      
 
    but you looked at me like 
 
    i was your whole universe. 
 
    i cried because i was  
 
    full of dead stars and broken debris, 
 
    but you still called me  
 
    beautiful. 
 
      
 
    you were the flaming meteor 
 
    about to send me up in smoke 
 
    but i kissed you anyways. 
 
      
 
    there's a burning crater on my lips  
 
    from your touch and  
 
    i think i may always be in love  
 
    with you. 
 
      
 
    we looked at each other like 
 
    we were the sun and the moon 
 
    and we knew we'd only eclipse for so long. 
 
      
 
    we knew all along that 
 
    soon we would be apart,  
 
    just waiting for gravity to bring us back together 
 
    again. 
 
                                                   -c.h 
 
    you're the only one who doesn't haunt me 
 
      
 
    i think i saw you in my dreams, my dear, 
 
    it brought us back to the time, 
 
    when life was far less complicated, 
 
    and you would say, "you're mine." 
 
     
 
    you were by far the only one i loved, 
 
    but that was way back then, 
 
    for we walked on a long old rope 
 
    that was paper, paper thin. 
 
      
 
    it snapped and sent us falling down, 
 
    i felt you slip away from me, 
 
    but that's okay, for when i landed, 
 
    there was something beautiful to see. 
 
      
 
    i saw the gold around my feet 
 
    and the darkness up above; 
 
    sometimes the key to joy 
 
    is falling out of love. 
 
      
 
    i think i saw you in my dreams, my dear, 
 
    and i learned a thing or two, 
 
    i have a soulmate, he's there somewhere, 
 
    but that soulmate isn't you. 
 
                                                 -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    us pertaining to a rainbow 
 
      
 
    red: when i first met you, all i saw was the red of your shirt and the plumpness of your lips, and the first thing i thought was i want you, i want you, i want you. you asked for my name and i blushed bright red, you looked at me and said oh god, i want you, i want you, i want you, or at least you said it in your head, because i swear i saw it in your eyes. 
 
    orange: your touch burned me like fire and i couldn't get away from your scorching heat no matter how hard i tried and god, did i love it. you tasted sour and sweet at the same time, but nothing tasted as good or sizzled as much as when you first kissed me. 
 
    yellow: euphoria fell short of describing me when you were there and my laughter would bubble over from my lips, and you made me so happy. i would trace my fingers across your jaw because you glowed, oh my, you glowed like a sun and to me, you were the equivalent of a star. 
 
    green: we were blossoming and ever changing, but we walked to each other's heartbeats and i could feel you wrapping around me like a vine, but i didn't even notice they were crushing me until they were roped around my lungs. 
 
    blue: i woke up the next morning with bruises on my face and fingerprints around my throat, but it was all metaphorical because while your hands never touched me that night, your words slapped me as if they had. i spent the day hiding from you in the bathtub, afraid to look in the mirror, for i knew i was decaying. 
 
    indigo: you didn't pick up your phone that night when i tried to call you while you were at work, and you didn't come home until one in the morning, and i shouldn't have over thought it, but it's hard to over think something that's written all over the walls and in this case, written in lipstick on your neck. 
 
    violet: you handed me my suitcase one sunday morning and told me to pack my things, and i thought this was god's punishment to me for not believing, because maybe if i had gone to church that day the inevitable would have been delayed a little bit longer. i asked you twelve more times if you were sure you wanted me to leave, but all you did was stare at me with shadows under your eyes, because maybe, i had been sucking the brightness out of you all this time, too. 
 
    black: i left months ago, and i am still haunted by you at night, even if i close my eyes and pretend that i'm not here anymore. the only place i ever dreamt of being was by your side, and now that that dream is crushed, what is there left to want, and even after all this time, i still want you, i still want you, i still want you. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    rule #1: never cry over a fuckboy (how to get over someone in a month and a half) 
 
    week one: rinse your body of his touch. drown yourself in hot water from the shower, choke on the steam that rises from your red, soaking flesh. scrub yourself raw, until you have shed every last skin cell that could have been touched by his fingertips. 
 
    week two: take his jacket and drench it in gasoline. light fire to it in the middle of the night, let the smoke swirl in your lungs. inhale, exhale, the smell of him is leaving. leave the burnt remains on his doorstep. 
 
    week three: get drunk, turn off your phone, so you won't be able to call him. leave it in the other room. watch sit-coms and soap operas until four in the morning. laugh and cry until you throw up. it won't be because of him. 
 
    week four: hold the necklace he bought you close to your chest. remember. you can remember the good so long as you don't forget the bad. break the clasp with a hammer and place it back in its velvet box. 
 
    week five: buy yourself a new dress. put it on and call the boy who's been chasing you since grade school, ask him if he wants to go out. he'll say yes. take him to dinner and hold his hand, but do not kiss. adjust. adjust slowly, carefully. 
 
    week six: call him. when he picks up, ask him how he's doing. when he says he's doing fine, tell him you're glad. when he asks why, tell him you were just checking and hang up without a goodbye. he will call back that night, and the next, and the next. but he already lost you, and you are okay. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    bias 
 
      
 
    when i am talking 
 
    to a boy and he finds out 
 
    that i write poetry, 
 
    the first thing he asks is, 
 
      
 
    "will you ever write about me?" 
 
      
 
    i tell him honestly, 
 
    "hopefully, i won't." 
 
      
 
    and he asks, 
 
    "why?" 
 
      
 
    it's my answer that 
 
    always catches them. 
 
      
 
    "because,  
 
    if i end up writing about you, 
 
    it means that all the promises 
 
    you made me 
 
    ended up being broken 
 
    and maybe you're somebody 
 
    i shouldn't have spent so much  
 
    time on 
 
    if all you were going to do 
 
    in the end is  
 
    break my heart." 
 
      
 
    if they're smart, 
 
    they call me on it. 
 
    tell me that every  
 
    relationship is worth it 
 
    because you always have  
 
    something to learn. 
 
      
 
    in the end, 
 
    these are the boys 
 
    i write about most. 
 
      
 
    but if they love me, 
 
    they stay quiet.  
 
    because the thought  
 
    of them breaking my heart 
 
    is enough to suck the 
 
    words from their tongues. 
 
      
 
    these are the boys  
 
    i don't write about. 
 
    not because they aren't there, 
 
    but because i cast the  
 
    fatal blow. 
 
      
 
    and even now, 
 
    i have never been good 
 
    at saying sorry. 
 
    -c.h 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    oceans, the future 
 
      
 
    i watch the brown waves 
 
    stumble against the shore. 
 
    the water sloshes against 
 
    my shins, hot and oily. 
 
      
 
    plastic bags wrap around 
 
    my ankles  
 
    like seaweed, 
 
    bottle caps crunch 
 
    under my toes; 
 
    the new seashell. 
 
      
 
    i walk along the 
 
    glass-bedded sand 
 
    and trace my feet 
 
    through soda tabs. 
 
      
 
    a turtle limps by, 
 
    its neck strangled 
 
    by a six pack ring. 
 
      
 
    i am so thrilled 
 
    to see an animal, 
 
    i don't even notice 
 
    it can barely breathe. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    for the girls with the frizzy hair and bitten nails and the boys with bushy eyebrows and marionette limbs: 
 
      
 
    
    	 there will be the kids with perfect skin and white smiles and flawless bodies. do not be scared of them. often the "prettiest" people are the most hurt inside.  
 
    	 find a home away from home for yourself, whether it be the gym floor, the computer lab, or the auditorium stage. you will need one. 
 
    	 let your heart get broken. you have to learn how to breathe with pieces of your heart piercing your lungs. trust somebody you shouldn't, make a bad decision. but always learn from your mistakes. too many wrong moves will kill you. 
 
    	 there will always be somebody out to get you. don't let them. 
 
    	 in every school, there is one teacher that you will connect with more than any other. cherish that bond, because it only comes once, and you only have so much time. 
 
    	 don't wear that dress if it doesn't feel right. don't wear that shirt if you don't actually like it. don't do anything you don't want to do for the sake of staying with the trends. 
 
    	 for the girls: if somebody touches you in a way you don't like, don't be afraid to fight back. you are not weak. you are not an object. make sure they, and you, know that. make sure your fellow girls know their worth, too, and do not contribute to the degradation of it. 
 
    	 for the boys: if you see a girl in trouble, help her. make sure she doesn't go into that bedroom alone with him while she's drunk. stand up for her if she's being harassed. if you see something but can't do anything yourself; tell somebody. call the police. protect girls, and educate your fellow boys on how to treat them. 
 
    	 watch the news. read the paper. engage in discussion. know about politics and what's going on in the world. in times like these, it's no longer alright to not care about things; in fact, it could be harmful. 
 
    	 people will die. people you know, people your peers know. car wrecks, drugs, suicides, gun violence: they will all take people you walk those halls with. so, that being said: if you love somebody, tell them. if you think somebody may need a friend, be that friend. you don't want to be stuck in the aftermath of a tragedy, thinking, "oh, if only i'd said this. if only i'd done this." 
 
    	 there will be days where you look in the mirror and want to remold your body like clay, days where you may not even want to get out of bed. on those days, it's okay to cry, to want to be different. but the next morning, remind yourself; you will be okay, you will be okay, you will be okay. 
 
   
 
    -c.h.  
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    time is everything 
 
    it’s been 61 days since you last told me you loved me. 1,464 hours, or 87,840 minutes, or 5,270,400 seconds. i have never been one to keep time but i used to count the hours we talked to each other on the phone (the record was 5) and how many seconds it took for you to tell me you loved me (sometimes it was .65 seconds, but when you were feeling sad it was 3.8), and how many minutes you spent staring at me in class (one time it was a whole 12 minutes before the teacher called on you). i have been alive for 15 years, or 5,475 days, and you were a part of my life for only 102. 2,448 hours, or 146,880 minutes, or 8,812,800 seconds. i have never been one to keep time but i wanted to keep track of us. now i only keep a record of how long i go without thinking of you (5.4 minutes) and how many hours i spend crying because you’re gone (so far: 73). i have never been one to keep time but i wanted to count how many days (64) i was in love with you and now i have to count how many days i’m going to hurt because you left (forever). 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the boys i've loved and the end of the world #1 
 
    "the world is ending, you know." 
 
    he looks at me through tired eyes as i say it. "is that why you're here?" 
 
    i shrug. "i guess." he takes a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and smiles when i raise my eyebrows. "i didn't know you smoke, now," i say.  
 
    "i don't," he explains as he places one between his lips, "but the world is ending. can't get lung cancer in twelve days." 
 
    i chuckle, watch him take his first drag form his first cigarette. he coughs, and smiles at me. "i loved you, you do know that, right?" 
 
    "yeah, yeah, i know," i reply, and he takes a longer drag this time. "you were important… an important lesson, i think." 
 
    "how so?"  
 
    "we were too young, too stupid. we were incapable of fixing the mess we'd made with our own two hands. only time could do that." 
 
    he nods, smoke filtering from his parted lips. the moon turns his black hair to a silvery blue, and i am almost caught up in how beautiful he could be, sometimes. 
 
    "how many times did you fall in love with her before you realized she would never give you what you wanted?" i ask, and he blinks, surprised by the question. 
 
    "the same goes for you," he counters, "but with me instead." 
 
    there is a comfortable silence. "twice," i say, finally, "what about you?" 
 
    "twice. and it was always after you. it was always what ruined us, again and again." 
 
    i think about this as he finishes his cigarette. "sometimes, i wonder if we could have made it. if we weren't so young," i tell him. 
 
    he nods his head, smiles. "yeah, sometimes i think about that too." 
 
    -c.h. 
 
    tomorrow 
 
    the sink in the kitchen won’t stop dripping. when i sit on the living room couch i can hear it over the hum of the television and i think i’ve told you to fix it four times. every time you smile and tell me you will tomorrow. that’s what you’ve always said. “i’ll mop the floor-- tomorrow. i’ll mow the yard-- tomorrow. i’ll stop you from crying-- tomorrow.” i’m beginning to think that you are just an endless closet of throw-away promises and old shoes that you used to wear when you liked to chase me. once you caught me, you took them off and never put them back on because you knew you’d never need to. they sit in the closet next to a pile of “tomorrow”’s and i don’t let you see me cry anymore. you’ve long since forgotten how to make me stop. 
 
    the sink in the kitchen keeps dripping and it keeps me up at night. i once believed that our house was too small for the size of us but i can feel the cold seeping in from the corners because this house is empty. it has cobwebs inside the cupboards and dust bunnies under the bed; they keep our secrets company. i never told you how afraid i was to lose you-- i tried and you shook your head and said “tomorrow.” tomorrow. tomorrow.  
 
    maybe tomorrow will be better, i tell myself, maybe tomorrow you will clean the gutters, maybe tomorrow you will fix the sink, maybe tomorrow you will love me again; i’ve been told that you begin to develop the habits of the ones you love and i’ve started adding my “tomorrow'"s to the pile in the closet. they’ve covered your old shoes and you’ve forgotten what it was like to love me, and the sink in the kitchen won’t stop dripping but it still works. you still come home every day, you barely talk to me, but you still come home.  
 
    i look at you, and i think about tomorrow. tomorrow. tomorrow. maybe tomorrow you won’t come home. maybe i hope, deep down, that tomorrow, you won’t. maybe eventually, these will be “tomorrow”’s that i won’t add to the pile in the closet. 
 
    there are pictures of us hung above the fireplace, and the mantle is covered with dust. the sink in the kitchen still drips, but i say “i love you” anyway. i hope you’ll love me too, tomorrow.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    children's games 
 
    i am tired of playing 
 
    these childhood games with you 
 
      
 
    you run too fast 
 
    and i can never reach you 
 
    for i am tired of chasing 
 
    someone who will never let 
 
    me catch them 
 
      
 
    you've always been good at hiding 
 
    but you're invisible to me 
 
    and it seems that you don't understand 
 
    the pain of losing someone and not being able 
 
    to find them again 
 
      
 
    you aren't one for following rules 
 
    and i know this because  
 
    no matter how many times i get 
 
    "he loves me"  
 
    when i pluck petals off 
 
    you always find a way for it to be 
 
    "he loves me not" 
 
                                                 -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    this is me confessing that i'm still in love with you 
 
    i hope you think of me.  
 
    i hope you think of the slope of my nose and the arch in my brows.  
 
    i hope you think of the rise and fall of my chest with every breath i took, how i breathed for you.  
 
    it was all for you.  
 
    i hope you think of the wrinkles in the corners of my eyes when i smiled, and i hope you think of how i’ll never smile at you again.  
 
    i hope it hurts.  
 
    i hope the syllables of my name are printed in black ink on your tongue and i hope she sees the mark i left on you, oh no it may not have been good but by god it is permanent.  
 
    i hope her name feels out of place between your teeth because you were so used to saying mine.  
 
    you see, from the very beginning i wanted to engrave myself into you, i wanted to embed my signature with melted gold and red lipstick, i wanted it to look pretty, but we were over so fast i had to scratch it into your chest with my hands. 
 
    i still have your blood encrusted beneath my fingernails, like i still have the shreds of our Polaroid pictures that i never quite grew angry enough to throw away. 
 
    i hope you haven’t let go of me yet. please don’t let go of me. 
 
    i hope you think of me, because all i do, is think of you. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    ode to the lgbt+ community 
 
    i am lgbt+ and proud. 
 
    i am part of a community  
 
    that has struggled its entire 
 
    existence, so people know that 
 
    it exists. but we are still here,  
 
    and we are so strong. 
 
      
 
    i am gay and proud. 
 
    i have fought against other  
 
    men who are insecure in their  
 
    masculinity, who view two men 
 
    holding hands as a threat 
 
    and not something beautiful.  
 
      
 
    i am lesbian and proud. 
 
    i have battled the stereotypes  
 
    and fetishization of who i am 
 
    because i am not a mold  
 
    and i am not something to  
 
    jack off to: i am a human. 
 
      
 
    i am bisexual and proud.  
 
    i continue to scream that 
 
    i am not in a phase  
 
    and i am not whatever sexuality 
 
    fits with whoever i'm dating, 
 
    and i am just as valid as you are. 
 
      
 
    i am transgender and proud. 
 
    i was born in the wrong body 
 
    but that doesn't make me any 
 
    less human, and it terrifies me that 
 
    people would rather kill us than  
 
    let us become who we're meant to be. 
 
      
 
    i am asexual and proud. 
 
    i have pushed back against  
 
    the idea that i am an emotionless  
 
    robot; i have feelings and emotions 
 
    just like you. why does not having  
 
    sexual desire mean i'm incapable of love? 
 
       
 
    i am genderqueer and proud. 
 
    i don't fit into the spectrum  
 
    and sometimes i lean more  
 
    in one direction than the other, 
 
    but i am know who i am, 
 
    even if you don't understand it. 
 
      
 
    i am pansexual and proud. 
 
    i am as valid as bisexuality, 
 
    but ever so different; i fall in love  
 
    with people with no regard for  
 
    their gender, they could be male,  
 
    female, or somewhere in between. 
 
      
 
    i am aromantic and proud. 
 
    i have worked to dismantle  
 
    the belief that i cannot have  
 
    meaningful relationships; 
 
    i may not fall in love as easily, 
 
    but i do love people, just not romantically. 
 
      
 
    i am an ally and proud. 
 
    i have marched alongside them 
 
    since stonewall, since the AIDS epidemic, 
 
    since DOMA, since the pulse shooting, 
 
    and i will march alongside them 
 
    until they no longer need me to. 
 
      
 
    i am lgbt+ and proud. 
 
    i am lgbt+ and valid. 
 
    i am lgbt+ and human.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    recipe for disaster (layer cake)  
 
    LAYER ONE: Place 3 awkward glances, 2 shy half-smiles, and 1 clumsy introduction in a bowl. Stir haphazardly and add 4 cups of nerves and 9 tablespoons of awe. Allow ingredients to settle, then combine 75 minutes of get-to-know-you conversation and 1 1/2 cups of coffee and heat for 30 seconds. Add mixture to other bowl and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle 2 freshly exchanged phone numbers and 1 excited goodbye on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Lay on cake dish. 
 
    LAYER TWO: In another bowl, prepare 9,143 text messages, 226 phone calls, and 33 dates. Place 7 romance movies, 4 chick-flicks, 8 comedies, and 2 tear-jerkers in mixing cup and melt in microwave. Slice 3 Italian, 3 Mexican, and 6 fast food restaurants into strips and coat each in 2 nights spent throwing up because of food poisoning. Combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly. Bake for 25 minutes. Stack on top of layer one. 
 
    LAYER THREE: Dump 2 other girls, 12 fights, and 15 bottles of alcohol and don’t stir. Crack open 2 hearts and pour contents into sink, place the shells in with the mixture. Dice 2 failing attempts at leaving and 1 final success at getting out into cubes and combine with 4 bruises on the right cheek and a set of finger marks around the throat. Heat up 5 cups of tears and combine all ingredients. Stir until chunky. Bake for 25 minutes. Stack on top of layer two. 
 
    ICING: Combine 1,646 “I love you”’s, 20,310 kisses, 2 sets of hands, 5 necklaces, 3 ties, 1 dress shirt, 7 times under the sheets, 2 times in the shower,  and 1 time in a club bathroom. Add in a squirt of heartfelt promises and sincere apologies. Mix and then spread on top of cake. 
 
    Serves: two lonely people. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    this is how they kill us 
 
    you are beautiful they gushed as they tucked in your shirt because they thought it looked better that way, you are beautiful they complimented as they switched out your nail polish color to something they liked, you are beautiful they delivered as they watched the hairdresser take scissors to your hair and chop it off in chunks because they wanted it shorter, you are beautiful they snapped as they cleaned out your closet to give you new clothes because your older clothes weren’t up to style, you are beautiful they groaned as they took away your candy because it was your fifth piece, you are beautiful they cursed as they took away your eyeliner because they didn’t like how you wore it, you are beautiful they accused as they forced you to exercise way longer than you could handle because they thought you weren’t athletic enough, you are beautiful they screamed as they pointed in disgust at your stomach because they thought it was too big, you are beautiful they sobbed as they found you crying in the shower after they said you were worthless earlier that night, you are beautiful they begged as they held your hand in the hospital bed because you’d swallowed too many pills, you were beautiful they whispered as they watched your coffin lower into the ground because you are dead and you are beautiful. 
 
      
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    ten words for the ten boys i've kissed 
 
    1. i've forgotten how your lips taste. i'll never forget you. 
 
    2. i didn't love you, and you deserved more than me. 
 
    3. maybe if you weren't a homophobe, it could've worked out. 
 
    4. people said you were gay, and i cared too much. 
 
    5. you made me laugh more than cry. i cried lots. 
 
    6. thank you for reminding me how to love myself; i'd forgotten. 
 
    7. i thought you were my soulmate. i guess people change. 
 
    8. you were wild. i wasn't. something kept me coming back. 
 
    9. you used to love me. you didn't when we kissed. 
 
    10. i could kiss you for the rest of my life. 
 
                      -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    anchor 
 
      
 
    the weight of us is so heavy.  
 
    we chain ourselves to cement blocks-- 
 
    they are the promises we make. 
 
      
 
    i jumped into the ocean 
 
    for you when i could not swim-- 
 
    but you did not follow. 
 
      
 
    my lungs are flooded 
 
    with all the words i never said to you-- 
 
    i never said i needed you to keep me afloat. 
 
      
 
    and now i am drowning 
 
    because of my own stupidity-- 
 
    my mother always warned me of this. 
 
      
 
    the weight of us is so heavy, 
 
    but only to me-- 
 
    for you, it does not exist. 
 
      
 
    because to you, 
 
    i am nothing-- 
 
    just a girl at the bottom of the ocean. 
 
     -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    he used to love me, i think 
 
    he wasn’t someone i saw coming, but they never are, are they? he was the most beautiful mistake i ever made, if you consider it a mistake. but i never thought it was. merely the wrong place and wrong time. people would roll their eyes and shake their heads, but we never asked for their approval. to us, it was all right. every last moment. he was a compilation of all the beautiful things in the world that had strings attached. he was a summer thunderstorm with the fallen tree that blocks your driveway. he was the stars in the sky that died centuries ago. he was the high and the low, the beautiful fire and it’s scorching burn. i wrote poetry about him for months after he was gone and with every word a wound reopened but the pain reminds me of him so i keep writing. i can’t stop. won’t stop. i used to not be able to write, but now i can’t stop and it hurts so much. he hurts so much, but he is so beautiful. i will never be able to say he is not beautiful, and that is the most sad thing of all. he stopped calling me beautiful a long time ago, the words left his mind, slipped off his tongue in another conversation with someone who means more than me now. the most painful thing about love is that somebody has to stop eventually and it’s never going to be you. it will always be them. they will be empty before you’re even at halfway and you’ll be left with gallons of love and nowhere to put them. the obvious thing to do would be to love yourself, but your eyesight is clouded with agony, so you can’t see what’s two feet in front of you anymore. so instead it drips out, useless, wasted on meaningless kisses in the middle of the night behind your neighbor’s garage, pointless promises and grasping hands under sheets that aren’t clean, metaphorically or literally. i still write about him, even now. it’s been months since he told me he didn’t love me anymore and i still write about him as if he does. i used to not be able to write but now i can’t stop and he is so beautiful, and even now that’s all i see and that is the most sad thing of all. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
    the phone 
 
    at one point, he’d say, “i love you,” into the phone, 
 
    and i would smile. 
 
    now, the line is dead. the phone doesn’t ring. 
 
    now, he says nothing.  
 
      
 
    i say, “please come back,” into the static. 
 
    the phone beeps, and then there is the deadly silence. 
 
    a dark reminder. 
 
      
 
    i cry. 
 
                                  -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
     
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      i think you might have ruined me (and you don't even know it) 
 
      ever since the beginning, i knew i’d do anything for you. i knew i would do anything to see you smile; your smile was so beautiful. i knew i would break my own bones trying to please you, hammer nails into my heart, peel away the cracked pieces and dump them, bloody, into your hands even if you didn’t ask for them (the fact that you’d hold them for a moment was a privilege in and of itself). it was a drunk obsession, i stumbled after you like i was a lost dog hoping that someone, someone would just take me home, i swayed under your gaze even if you never let it rest on me for long. i clung to every part of you, all the parts you never gave me, all the parts i knew i could have loved–the parts i did love even though you never asked me to. you were the source of all my pain and yet i wanted you to end it all. i longed for you to take away the pain, you were the bandaid and the bullet, the gun at the soldier’s head who was fatally shot seconds before. the one thing that kills me is the one thing that saves me; and it’s you, you, you. it’s always been you. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    an excerpt (#1) 
 
    and he looks at her so delicately, with such a twinkle in his eyes, that i cannot help but let out a soft, “oh,” from between my lips.  
 
    “hmm?” he doesn’t take his eyes off of the girl asleep on his lap, her dark hair falling across her shoulders and face, and her hand resting gently on his.  
 
    “you’re in love with her, aren’t you?” 
 
    he smiles, and tears his gaze from her to meet mine. “of course i am, and you aren’t?” there isn’t a trace of sarcasm or lightness in his voice; he is completely serious– ‘and you aren’t’? 
 
    “well, no, but i suppose i can see why you are,” i reply, and he chuckles dryly. 
 
    “you suppose you can see why…” he murmurs, more to himself than anything, and lowers his eyes so that he can once again stare adoringly at the sleeping girl.  
 
    “she is beautiful,” i say, in an effort to redeem myself, “and she’s very kind, and intelligent.” 
 
    “oh, i know,” he cuts me off, “but she’s so much more.” he smiles and twines a strand of her hair around his fingers. “she’s someone that you never know you need, until you meet her. and she’s someone you never know you won’t be able to live without, until you lose her.” 
 
    “does she love you, too?” i have to know, i realize. surely, she loves him back. she must.  
 
    “in her own little way, she does.” he frowns. they have problems when it comes to this; it’s obvious. “but i know she’s loved others, too.” his eyes darken. “loves others, i mean.” 
 
    “she does love him, and i’m sure it hurts you.”  
 
    he knows who i’m talking about when i say ‘him.’ he sighs, and shrugs. “it does, but only a little bit. he won’t have her in the end.” 
 
    it’s an awfully arrogant thing to say, i think; 'he won’t have herin the end’. he’s so sure she’ll be his. “i don’t understand. how can you be so sure?” 
 
     “you never saw us together,” he says simply, as if it were obvious, “not when we were really together. if you did, you would understand.” his eyes cloud as he remembers. “oh, us, together… together, we could take over the world.” 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    things i see as god 
 
      
 
    observation #1: the boy with the black pea coat sits in the back 
 
    of the class and scribbles in his notebook. he doesn't answer 
 
    questions. he always looks down, except when he looks over at 
 
    the girl one row over and two desks up.  
 
      
 
    observation #2: the subject of these glances does not seem to 
 
    know she is just that. she is attentive and focused and does not 
 
    spend any time looking one row over and two desks back 
 
    at the boy with the black pea coat. she would have no reason to. 
 
      
 
    observation #3: there is a couple, and they seem like the spitting 
 
    image of a dream high school love: she wears his jacket and he 
 
    walks her to class holding her hand. his jacket collar is high 
 
    enough that people don't notice the bruises. 
 
      
 
    observation #4: the boy in the black pea coat is in love with the 
 
    girl one row over and two desks up. he stares too much. 
 
      
 
    observation #5: the girl does not know that she is loved like she 
 
    is, at least by him. why should she? he never talks. 
 
      
 
    observation #6: some bruises are too dark to be covered up with 
 
    concealer. people are starting to notice. 
 
      
 
    observation #7: a student keeps a bottle of adderall in her 
 
    backpack. the prescription is hers, but it's not for her. it's 
 
    almost finals, her friends say. they can't study without it. she 
 
    knows it's wrong, but she could use the money. 
 
      
 
    observation #8: the couple enters the room, except they are 
 
    separate. she doesn't have his jacket and he doesn't hold  
 
    her hand. she moves away from him, next to the boy with the 
 
     black pea coat. he checks the bruises every time she sits  
 
     down. after a week, they've faded.  
 
      
 
     observation #9: the boy with the black pea coat won't stop 
 
     staring at the girl one row over, two desks up. one day, she 
 
     turns around and catches his eye. she smiles. there is hope. 
 
      
 
     observation #10: the girl with the backpack sells adderall to 
 
     the boy who beat his girlfriend. he tries to flirt with her, and 
 
     she tells him to fuck off. he hits the wall as he walks away. she 
 
     wonders how the girl didn't see it coming. 
 
      
 
     observation #11: the girl looks back at the boy with the black 
 
     pea coat more often. he has pretty eyes. she can see the blue in 
 
     them from here.  
 
      
 
     observation #12: sometimes she must talk to her ex boyfriend 
 
     and the places he hit her burn. the boy with the black pea coat 
 
     is always there. he says nothing, just watches, and makes eye 
 
     contact with her when he leaves. silence is the loudest thing at 
 
     times.  
 
      
 
     observation #13: the boy with the black pea coat does not love 
 
     the girl one row over and two desks up anymore. which is sad, 
 
     because she was just starting to love him. 
 
      
 
     observation #14: the girl with the backpack uses the money 
 
     from selling adderall to buy christmas presents for her family. 
 
     two days later she is caught with it in her backpack and is 
 
     suspended for three days. no medication on campus, they said. 
 
     she thinks about the toy she got her little brother.  
 
      
 
     observation #15: on christmas day, the girl with the backpack 
 
     helps her little brother open a new lego set. the boy with the 
 
    black pea coat starts looking up more and the girl one row over 
 
    and two desks back stops looking back. she never gets to tell 
 
    him he has pretty eyes. the girl next to him does it for her. there 
 
    is kissing instead of hitting. but what once was lingers. it always 
 
    lingers. 
 
     -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    eulogy of a broken heart 
 
      
 
    everything falls apart 
 
    everything dies 
 
    your hands crumbled to dust  
 
    and fell through my fingertips 
 
    i lost you oh god 
 
    i lost you 
 
      
 
    i thought that 
 
    you would stay 
 
    but you blew away with 
 
    the wind and faded from 
 
    my eyes i wonder 
 
    where you are now 
 
      
 
    you used to  
 
    tell me i was 
 
    something otherworldly and  
 
    i told you the same 
 
    but you went on an adventure 
 
    and never came back 
 
      
 
    they say that  
 
    graveyards are the  
 
    scariest of places but 
 
    for me it is the mirror 
 
    because when i look into it 
 
    you are not by my side anymore 
 
      
 
    and nothing 
 
    is scarier 
 
    than that 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
    metaphorically speaking 
 
      
 
    it's impossible to describe exactly how you made me feel but 
 
    you were like a cold drink on an eighty degree day, you were 
 
    like freshly shaven legs, you were like feeling the beach sand in 
 
    between your toes and the waves lapping against your shins, you 
 
    were refreshing, renewing. i don't know how to describe exactly 
 
    how it felt when you touched me but it was like a hot towel 
 
    pressed against my skin, it was like the slightest of 
 
    electrocutions, it was like feeling the warm sun beat down on 
 
    your back, it was intense, warm. i could never explain exactly 
 
    how it felt when you broke me but it felt like stubbing your foot 
 
    on the corner of the table a dozen times over, it was like having 
 
    a cough and not being able to swallow your breath, it was like 
 
    chopping vegetables and cutting your finger, it was sudden, 
 
    painful. i don't know to describe any of this properly but i guess 
 
    i'm doing the best i can given the fact that when you left you 
 
    took all of me with you.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    succubus 
 
      
 
    i’m still waiting 
 
    for the bite marks 
 
    to heal. 
 
                       -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    schoolgirl's lament 
 
      
 
      
 
    i want to kiss you 
 
    but you like the hard girls 
 
    with rough teeth 
 
    and dry hands  
 
    the wet girls 
 
    with slick tongues  
 
    and untied laces 
 
      
 
    the girls who  
 
    suck the life out of you 
 
    like they shotgun cigarette 
 
    smoke into your naked chest  
 
      
 
    i know your fingers 
 
    make a mess of her body 
 
    i know your eyes gloss 
 
    and your mouth gapes 
 
    as she makes a mess 
 
    out of you 
 
      
 
    she's beautiful  
 
    in a chaotic way 
 
    i will never understand  
 
      
 
    i look at my buttoned blouse 
 
    and toothpaste teeth 
 
    and i know 
 
    i am beautiful to some 
 
    but it's just a shame 
 
    i'm not beautiful  
 
    to you 
 
    -c.h. 
 
    i wrote this the day before you left me (i wonder how i knew) 
 
      
 
      
 
    enough is enough 
 
    is enough 
 
    and i told you 
 
    we couldn't  
 
    but you always said 
 
    we can 
 
      
 
    you've always been 
 
    a believer 
 
    in fate and us 
 
    but now  
 
    we've reached the end  
 
    of everything 
 
      
 
    you told me 
 
    that you 
 
    loved every part of 
 
    my broken  
 
    soul and that night 
 
    i cried 
 
      
 
    enough is enough  
 
    is enough 
 
    we were wrong to  
 
    think otherwise 
 
    because time will always 
 
    run out 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the poem that got me death threats 
 
      
 
      
 
    she let him touch her; 
 
    she's a whore! 
 
    but why is it your business, 
 
    what she does behind closed doors? 
 
      
 
    she showed some skin, 
 
    such a slut! 
 
    it's simply a shoulder, 
 
    that doesn't spark lust. 
 
      
 
    her breasts are covered, 
 
    barely even exposed, 
 
    but you all shame her 
 
    like she's wearing no clothes.  
 
      
 
    slut, whore, and skank, 
 
    all unnecessary titles, 
 
    used so frequently,  
 
    we don't see them as vile. 
 
      
 
    if a girl is unpure and dirty 
 
    because of what she did in bed, 
 
    maybe you should backtrack 
 
    and start looking at his hands instead. 
 
                          -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    in rewind 
 
      
 
    after you left, 
 
    i was told 
 
    to try to replay us 
 
    backwards  
 
    because then it's not  
 
    falling apart, 
 
    it's coming together. 
 
      
 
    i think that  
 
    us in rewind 
 
    is still just as  
 
    painful 
 
    because it begins 
 
    with you rebuilding me, 
 
    and us being happy 
 
    for a while, 
 
    until one day 
 
    you just forget about me. 
 
      
 
    but then again, 
 
    isn't that how it happened, 
 
    anyway? 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the saddest thing 
 
      
 
    in the weeks after, 
 
    i traced my fingers along 
 
    the cracks in the porcelain 
 
    in my heart and i could 
 
    still feel the imprint  
 
    where your hands 
 
    used to rest.  
 
      
 
    there are chips missing, 
 
    exposing the bleeding red 
 
    beneath, and i know 
 
    that those pieces  
 
    rest in your pocket.  
 
      
 
    of course,  
 
    you had to leave  
 
    with some sort of 
 
    piece of me.  
 
      
 
    i'm not angry 
 
    that you took  
 
    a part of my heart. 
 
      
 
    i'm just sad,  
 
    because even though 
 
    you have it,  
 
    it won't make us 
 
    any less of strangers. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    some people will say this is a prostitute (others will be 
 
    reminded of themselves) 
 
      
 
      
 
    the girl on the corner 
 
    of Main Street waits 
 
    for someone to say 
 
    they need her again 
 
      
 
    she has golden hair  
 
    and dull green eyes 
 
    but she is beautiful 
 
    even though she is 
 
    horribly broken 
 
      
 
    she spends her nights  
 
    at bars with her 
 
    brittle hands quaking for 
 
    something more than gray 
 
    cigarette smoke and dirty 
 
    sheets with dirty men 
 
    in them 
 
      
 
    she aches for you 
 
    and hopes you will come  
 
    back soon but alas 
 
    you have been gone  
 
    for so long and 
 
    gone you shall continue 
 
    to be.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    i guess this means i'm moving on 
 
      
 
      
 
    you were here 
 
    and then suddenly 
 
    you were gone 
 
    in the blink of an eye 
 
      
 
    i still miss you 
 
    even though i can no longer  
 
    recall the color of your eyes 
 
    or the texture of your hands 
 
      
 
    all i know is that 
 
    you loved me 
 
    but you never loved me 
 
    enough 
 
      
 
    we were together 
 
    but i've gone 
 
    and forgotten 
 
    the rest. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    galactic  
 
      
 
      
 
    you called me a galaxy. 
 
    you played connect the dots with  
 
    the freckles on my arms 
 
    and called them constellations. 
 
    you told me i had stars in my eyes 
 
    and celestial matter in my veins. 
 
    you said falling for me was like 
 
    falling into a black hole; 
 
    endless, exhilarating. 
 
      
 
    but your words struck me like meteors, 
 
    and your glare burned me like the sun. 
 
    it occurred to me that, like the moon, 
 
    you were only with me at night, 
 
    and i never saw all of who you were. 
 
      
 
    we ended like a supernova, 
 
    in an explosion that was slow and fast 
 
    at the same time. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    boys i've loved and the end of the world #2 
 
    “they say it’s a solar flare, the biggest one they’ve ever seen,” he 
 
    says with a sigh. 
 
    “are you scared?” i ask. 
 
    he runs his hand through his hair. “i don’t think so. it’s  
 
    inevitable, right?” 
 
    “sure. but aren’t you scared of death?” 
 
    “why would i be? sometimes i try to get there early.” there is a 
 
    smile on his face, but the weight of his words is still so heavy 
 
    in the air. 
 
    “you never take anything seriously,” i mumble, more to myself 
 
    than anything, but he hears me. 
 
    “sure i do. i took you seriously.” 
 
    “but you left.” 
 
    “still. you were my favorite thing,” he says, quietly, as if he is 
 
    afraid of what i’ll do when i hear it. 
 
    “then why did you push me away? after all that time, all those 
 
    memories, and you just… told me to leave.” 
 
    “i was made up of a million mistakes already. i didn’t want you 
 
    to become another one.” 
 
    “but i did anyway, didn’t i?” i press. 
 
    “not exactly. because i let you go, you met him, and you were 
 
    happy. and even though it wasn’t with me, it was… it was 
 
    something, you know? something to feel good about.” 
 
    “so in a way, it was always about me, wasn’t it?” 
 
    he looks at me then, and his blue eyes are sad, like they always 
 
    are. 
 
    “until the end,” he says. 
 
    -c.h 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    a poem on how i realized i still love you 
 
      
 
      
 
    there was something about the way  
 
    you told me you loved me that sounded like a song, 
 
    and it's sad that i never got a chance to memorize it, 
 
    for the melody reminded me of my childhood. 
 
      
 
    you were so gentle in the way you treated me  
 
    that it's no wonder you were so gentle in leaving, too. 
 
    i guess you really did mean it  
 
    when you said you'd never try and hurt me. 
 
      
 
    i think i'm going to miss you for a very long time. 
 
    and i know i'll be okay, 
 
    but i just wish i could be okay 
 
    with you. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the truth 
 
      
 
    they say that all love stories end in tragedy. no happy ending lasts forever. in the end, there is only one way out, and you must go it alone. but i thought, for some reason, that you wouldn't leave until you had to. i thought when you said you weren't leaving, you meant it; that you'd keep your promise as long as you could. i thought that you would stay.  
 
      
 
    the saddest part is that i know you, and i know what to expect from you when you're broken. i know that when they ask you about me, you'll tell them i was too opposite of you, that my smile held too many secrets and had tasted too many lips. you'll tell them my heart was like ice but my words were like fire, and they burned your skin. you'll tell them i laughed enough for 1,000 drunken men but that i was always laughing at someone else. you'll tell them i'm cold. hard. you'll tell them i left, and you'll say you were glad.  
 
      
 
    but you won't tell them how you told me you loved me through tears late at night. you won't tell them that i pulled the stitches from my lips so i could bleed my story into your hands. you won't tell them i wrote you letters, essays on my soul.  you won't tell them that you kissed me like i was water and you hadn't drunk in days. you won't tell them i never wanted to leave, you won't say that you were the one who told me it was over. you won't tell them how my heart was ice, but it melted for you. 
 
      
 
    when they ask me about you, i will tell them that we said we were in love, and i will tell them you lied. 
 
      
 
    they don't need to know anything else. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    ivory  
 
    i wonder if they notice 
 
      
 
    how i touch piano keys 
 
    like they can breathe 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    a princess poem 
 
      
 
    cinderella, cinderella, 
 
    she lived her life in shame. 
 
    it wasn't until a man saved her 
 
    that she finally tasted fame. 
 
    "rapunzel, rapunzel, 
 
    just let down your hair!" 
 
    Prince Charming is upset, 
 
    he actually needs her help, how unfair! 
 
    belle, belle, 
 
    would have been content with her books, 
 
    but she had to be kidnapped 
 
    to change a man's looks. 
 
    aurora, aurora, 
 
    what kind of curse is this? 
 
    that the only cure is the touch 
 
    of an unknown man's lips? 
 
    snow white, snow white, 
 
    what a housewife you are. 
 
    you're much more than cleaning, 
 
    this role is so subpar. 
 
    princesses, princesses, 
 
    what a repetitive story. 
 
    all about needing a man 
 
    to achieve glory. 
 
    women, women, 
 
    you're not alone. 
 
    no longer do you need a king; 
 
    you can be a queen on your own. 
 
            -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    i swear one day i'll be able to smile by myself again 
 
    it's hard; not seeing him anymore. i try to remember everything i can, but it's never enough. i can feel the smallest of details, the little things, fading away. i'm reaching, grasping at silver strands of memories as they float away. i want them to come back; i never want to forget him, but he is so far away and he cannot kiss me from where he is. he can't kiss anybody from where he is. the last time i saw him, he looked tired but he smiled anyways; he touched his fingers to my mouth and told me to try my hardest to smile, too. i smiled only because he told me to, only because he made me happy enough for it to not feel stitched on with needles. he was stargazing and fingertips brushing in movies and a time bomb. he was ice cream and a fuse that was lit from the very first day. we were always counting down, there was a clock inside of us and we were just counting down the days. even when it reached zero we never believed that time had actually run out. when i got the phone call, i hung up as soon as i heard the doctor tell me, "i'm sorry," and i grabbed the photos of us on my bedroom wall and held them tight to my chest. pictures don't do him justice, but they are all i have except my tired mind. my mind is always running to find him; i am always trying to find him out there, somewhere. is he happy now? i pray that he is, i pray to a god i don't believe in that if he does one thing for me, it is that he is happy, now. on the worst of days i remember how it felt to kiss him and how he told me to smile. he told me it was okay and even though it never was and never will be, i smile because he told me to.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    an excerpt (#2) 
 
      
 
    “did he break your heart?” 
 
    “no, i don’t think so,” she answers, but she sounds uncertain. the 
 
    question has made her reconsider. after a moment, she says, “he 
 
    hurt me. there’s no use in denying that.”  
 
    he looks at her. “how badly?” 
 
    she shrugs, looks down at her shoes. “enough to make me cry. 
 
    enough… just enough. he hurt me enough.” 
 
    he blinks, and rolls a lighter between his fingers. he’s not a 
 
    smoker, but she is, and he thought he would give it to her, 
 
    maybe. just to try and get through to her. “did you love him?” 
 
    she laughs at this, and tucks her knees into her chest, “nah, not  
 
    even close.” she sighs, “i could have though, i think.” her eyes 
 
    darken, “if he’d given me the chance to.” 
 
    he’s unsure of how to respond, so he hands her the lighter. “it’s 
 
    for you,” he mumbles, and she smiles for a fleeting second, takes 
 
    it from his grasp, and then hands it back. 
 
    “no thanks,” she says, and then explains, “i’m trying to quit. i 
 
    wanna go somewhere, live a long time. can’t do that if i smoke, 
 
    ya know?” 
 
    “yeah, i know, i just thought–”  
 
    she squeezes his hand, “i know what you thought, and it’s sweet. 
 
    you’re sweet.” he smiles, and for a moment, she smiles back at 
 
    him. then it slides off her face, and he waits for her to speak. 
 
    “it just, it just sucks getting fucked over, ya know?” she runs a 
 
    hand through her hair, “like, he was so important. it wasn’t that i 
 
    wanted to date him or any of that, but he was just important. he 
 
    used to say that i was important too, and that’s what hurts the 
 
    most, i think. the fact that he just randomly decided that i wasn’t 
 
    anymore.”  
 
    he opens his mouth, but she keeps going.  
 
    “so i guess, in a way, he might have broken my heart. not 
 
    enough for me to feel it for a long time, but just enough to 
 
    remind me that he meant something to me and he fucking 
 
    walked away.” 
 
    “he hurt you enough,” he echoes her previous words. 
 
    “yeah, yeah,” she wipes a tear away with the palm of her hand, 
 
    “he hurt me enough.” 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    losing you 
 
      
 
    time is everything and we are running out of it--tick tick tick--my eyes twitch and my hands tremble but shaking doesn't bring you back--won't bring you back--shaking only rattles our bones and cracks our fingers--crack crack crack--and i cry for you--please please please stay stay stay with me--but you can't--you can't--we can't anymore--time is everything and we are running out of it--tick tick--slipping through our fingers like sand and blowing away with the wind--gone gone gone--you are gone gone gone and i reach in the dark for you but i can't see your eyes any more where are you--you promised--lies lies lies--time is everything and we are running out of it--tick  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    an abstract look on my high school years 
 
    FRESHMAN: bitten nails. scratchy scalp. boys are nothing. i still miss him. six months. boys have to be nothing. forgotten homework. told the teacher i don't understand. refused tutoring. can't seem to write anymore. i saw him today. he kissed me. i believed his apology. second chances. second chances. he lied again. i'm still hurting. now i can write. boys are nothing. boys are nothing. 
 
    SOPHOMORE. new boy. new love. want to say new me. still the same. he's too much. i don't deserve him. he leaves. tells everyone he hates me. boys are too much. music. invest in the music. he smiles at me. he's somebody i deserve. shaky fingers. swollen lips. i kiss him too much. i get bored. i leave. boys are nothing. 
 
    JUNIOR: call him on the phone. i say i miss him. he says it back. he curls his fingers into her. he's a liar. filthy liar. i give up everything to love him. he only wants me to boost his ego. says i look real pretty all fucked up that. i still think about his tongue. still blame myself for everything. i know i didn't deserve that pain. but i accept anyway. told him i tried to give him what he wanted. in the end he's the one left crying. i don't understand it even now. boys are nothing. 
 
    SENIOR: he kisses me. i smile. think of his teeth. time is a bomb. don't know what will happen. love him too much to stop. he treats me better than i deserve. i take it. take him. i can't imagine him in love with someone else. i am his. some people call this poison. i call it the antidote. i told myself boys are nothing. but they aren't. they aren't nothing. they aren't everything. they just are. he holds my hand. i fold into him. boys are. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    a misconstrued metaphor 
 
      
 
      
 
    people say that the way you know 
 
    how loved a book is  
 
    is by how worn the pages are. 
 
    how creased the spine is. 
 
    how wrinkled the corners are 
 
    from bending them. 
 
      
 
    i want to think that  
 
    you took this idea 
 
    to heart when it came 
 
    to how you treated me. 
 
    maybe you thought 
 
    the more broken and bent 
 
    i was the more loved i would look. 
 
      
 
    but i am not a book. 
 
    you cannot pick me up 
 
    just to put me down again. 
 
    i am not something to be skimmed. 
 
    read all of me, or don't read any at all.  
 
      
 
    i'm not demanding  
 
    you take forever 
 
    to finish me. 
 
    i won't even mind 
 
    if you don't enjoy me. 
 
      
 
    i'm just asking that  
 
    you treat me with care, 
 
    and walk away having learned 
 
    something new. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
    here's the reason why i left you  
 
    we are a fire; 
 
    we are flaming 
 
    with red-hot passion 
 
    and we burn  
 
    and burn  
 
    and burn  
 
      
 
    we are a fire; 
 
    it only took a spark 
 
    for us to light a wildfire  
 
    and we burn 
 
    and burn 
 
    and burn 
 
      
 
    we are a fire; 
 
    we need oxygen to live 
 
    but we are too close to breathe 
 
    and we burn 
 
    and burn  
 
    and burn 
 
    out.   
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    a twelve-word story 
 
    "so, what do you think about me?" 
 
    "well," he said, "i don't." 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    on the refugee crisis 
 
    (follow the punctuation) 
 
    silence their cries.  
 
    we can not 
 
      
 
    let the world know 
 
    about their struggles, we must 
 
    keep quiet. 
 
    we can not 
 
    expose ourselves. 
 
    it is the just thing, to 
 
    do, and we are strong. 
 
    we know it is a frightening thing to 
 
    always live in fear. 
 
    but we are tired of how they  
 
      
 
    complain. 
 
    we have no reason to 
 
    give them what they need. 
 
    we have to  
 
    tape over their mouths. 
 
    we can’t  
 
    speak the truth. 
 
    they  
 
    are not innocent. 
 
    we must know we 
 
      
 
    have loud voices. 
 
    they do not. 
 
    they should believe  
 
    there is no reason that 
 
    they are important. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
    (read from bottom to top) 
 
      
 
    honest texts to my ex i'm too scared to send 
 
    you can't keep resurfacing like a rotted fish in the ocean on a hot day. it makes me sick, every time. 
 
      
 
    i don't care if you dreamt about me. please don't let me know that i still haunt you at night. it'll make me think there's still something here. 
 
      
 
    sometimes i'm afraid i might still be in love with you. out of everything, that's what i'm most scared of. 
 
      
 
    i want you to know that i miss the way you made me laugh. can we have that again someday? 
 
      
 
    you still make me cry, you fuck  
 
      
 
    you always tell me you're still not okay but what about me? what makes you think i'm okay? i had my heart broken too remember? 
 
      
 
    nothing felt as easy at the beginning as you did. but nothing was as impossible in the end as you were. 
 
      
 
    i'm sorry. i've always been sorry. 
 
      
 
    i don't think i'm ever going to love somebody like i loved you, but i'm okay with that. i don't want to feel this type of pain ever again. 
 
      
 
    one day, you're going to look back on me and smile. you'll have to.  
 
      
 
    we can't dwell on this forever. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    write about something other than love 
 
      
 
    that is what they tell me 
 
    they say  
 
    to write about something 
 
    more challenging than love 
 
      
 
    like coming to terms 
 
    with your abusive relationship  
 
      
 
    isn't challenging 
 
      
 
    like learning to stop  
 
    loving someone who  
 
    once gave you everything  
 
      
 
    isn't a battle  
 
      
 
    like figuring out 
 
    how to use art as  
 
    a catharsis instead of  
 
    not sleeping 
 
    not eating 
 
    not breathing  
 
      
 
    isn't a hard thing to do 
 
      
 
    so this is me saying  
 
    i will write about whatever 
 
    makes me scream 
 
    makes me cry 
 
    makes me laugh  
 
    makes me smile  
 
      
 
    and if that's  
 
    love 
 
    or a lack thereof  
 
    then so be it  
 
      
 
    i didn't bleed 
 
    just so you could say 
 
    my blood isn't  
 
    red enough  
 
    for you 
 
      
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    you are not the one bleeding here 
 
      
 
    you call it free speech 
 
    and you hit the gas pedal-- 
 
    drive until you can't, 
 
    and it's not the people 
 
    that stop you. 
 
      
 
    i look down at the bodies 
 
    and i wonder if you'll ever recognize 
 
    the blood on your hands as being anything  
 
    but your own.  
 
      
 
    (especially when it's not.) 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    this is why we can't stay away from each other   
 
      
 
    you said hello 
 
    and you meant it-- 
 
    i could hear it in your voice  
 
      
 
    that you wanted to know me 
 
    to see me 
 
    to feel me 
 
      
 
    you said goodbye 
 
    and you were lying-- 
 
    i could hear it in your voice 
 
      
 
    that you didn't want to leave me 
 
    to forget me 
 
    to free me 
 
      
 
    i want to say 
 
    i meant the goodbye  
 
    as much as i did the hello 
 
      
 
    but i know i didn't  
 
    i know 
 
    i can't  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    maybe a love story will catch your attention  
 
      
 
    i fell in love with a muslim boy once.  
 
    he kissed flower petals into my shoulder blades 
 
    and traced arabic with his tongue onto my stomach. 
 
      
 
    his love was one of the most beautiful things i had  
 
    ever experienced. 
 
      
 
    he told me one night how scared he was. 
 
    how he was afraid to walk down the street sometimes. 
 
    how, even though he didn't wear a hijab, his sister did, 
 
    and after an attack, he always tried to convince her  
 
    to take it off. 
 
      
 
    sometimes, he would cry. 
 
    heavy, broken sobs into my chest. 
 
    he told me once that he hated who he was, 
 
    and i told him that is what they wanted him to do. 
 
      
 
    i know he hides his quran when his non-muslim friends 
 
    come over.  
 
    i know he feels like he has to justify everything he does. 
 
    i know there are times where he feels as though he is trapped. 
 
      
 
    we fell apart months ago. 
 
    he couldn't love both himself 
 
    and me. 
 
    and as much as i wanted to, 
 
    i could not teach him what pride is 
 
    when for so long, the world 
 
    has told him he is undeserving of it. 
 
            -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
    i can't tell if we're still in love (i hope we are) 
 
      
 
    and there are times 
 
    when i am sad 
 
    that i think of you, 
 
    and i become sadder, 
 
    just in a happier kind of way. 
 
      
 
    i remember when i kissed you 
 
    and you told me you froze 
 
    because you thought i never would, 
 
    and i still smile knowing  
 
    that i'd planned to all along. 
 
      
 
    you told me you loved me 
 
    and i still feel the shiver 
 
    running down my spine. 
 
    you were so beautiful to me. 
 
    you've never stopped in my eyes. 
 
      
 
    and there are times  
 
    when i am sad 
 
    that i think of you, 
 
    and how i said i love you too 
 
    because darling, i did 
 
      
 
    and darling, i still do. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    as a woman 
 
    i wrote once in a poem 
 
    that woman are hostages 
 
    of expectation. 
 
      
 
    it has been almost three years 
 
    since those words left 
 
    my mind and bled onto paper 
 
      
 
    and i have yet to find  
 
    them false. 
 
      
 
    society is full of contradictions 
 
    and it is built this way so we 
 
    are always stuck on the ground. 
 
    we do one thing we think they want 
 
    but then they tell us they want another, 
 
    and it goes in a cycle. we can never 
 
    climb over the ledge. 
 
      
 
    they tell us to wear makeup, 
 
    so we dab foundation onto 
 
    our skin and brush on silky 
 
    highlighters and mascara, 
 
    only for them to tell us  
 
    it's too much-- they like it 
 
    natural. 
 
      
 
    so we wipe off the makeup, 
 
    walk out onto the streets 
 
    with a face that has undereye bags, 
 
    splotches of acne, uneven skin, 
 
    and then they tell us that  
 
    we look sloppy-- we should try 
 
    harder. 
 
      
 
    we are taught through the media 
 
    that women are sexual creatures.  
 
    everywhere we go, we see the pictures 
 
    and hear the songs.  
 
      
 
    if we refuse to be sexual, we are ridiculed. 
 
    if we harness it for ourselves, we are crucified. 
 
    if we don't put out, we are hated. 
 
    if we do and are proud, we are hated even more. 
 
      
 
    men want to see us naked and submissive, 
 
    naked and insecure 
 
    naked and silent, 
 
    not naked and dominant, 
 
    naked and confident, 
 
    naked and loud. 
 
      
 
    when a woman posts 
 
    a halfnaked photo  
 
    because she wants to, 
 
    she will be ridiculed by the same  
 
    men who watch lesbian porn 
 
    in between harassing women  
 
    online for taking control of  
 
    the sexuality they demanded  
 
    we have. 
 
      
 
    they tell us to love ourselves 
 
    but then they bash us for it  
 
    if we aren't what they want, 
 
    if loving ourselves means going against  
 
    everything they've told us. 
 
      
 
    so women find themselves trapped-- 
 
    trapped because every move 
 
    is a wrong one. 
 
    "wear makeup, 
 
    but not because you want to." 
 
      
 
    "be sexual, 
 
    but don't be proud of it." 
 
      
 
    "love yourself, 
 
    but not too much. 
 
      
 
    you may get away from us then." 
 
              -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    i didn't know you'd regret me that much 
 
    your eyes are full of anger, 
 
    your sneer is full of hate. 
 
      
 
    you never seemed to understand 
 
    you have to watch the steps you take. 
 
      
 
    your methods of forgetting 
 
    are far less than futile 
 
      
 
    you know you can't erase 
 
    how you felt when you saw me smile. 
 
      
 
    so call me what you please, 
 
    say i was a mistake 
 
      
 
    but you can't always reverse 
 
    what you thought was fate. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    tidal 
 
    she is the moon and i am the beach; 
 
    she is strong and i am weak. 
 
    you are the ocean, stuck between, 
 
    and she keeps pulling you away from me. 
 
      
 
    she is always there, tugging you back, 
 
    but she shows herself at night, when the sky is black. 
 
    her skin is pale, her eyes are bright, 
 
    it's the reason i ask: why even put up a fight? 
 
      
 
    you come to me in the morning,  
 
    and hold me tight at noon, 
 
    but when the evening comes you leave again,  
 
    just like you always do. 
 
      
 
    she is the moon and i am the beach, 
 
    she is strong and i am weak. 
 
    though she always gives you back to me, 
 
    it just hurts more each time you leave. 
 
      
 
    you are the beautiful ocean,  
 
    trapped in this game of tug o' war, 
 
    but soon i'll be eroded,  
 
    and have nothing left to give you (or her) anymore. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    what ruined us (or maybe you just didn't care) 
 
    i loved you  
 
    vibrantly. entirely. 
 
    constantly. 
 
    like there was nothing  
 
    else in the world 
 
    worth loving. 
 
    like you were the end.  
 
      
 
    i loved you  
 
    angrily. maddeningly. 
 
    yearningly. 
 
    like the distance  
 
    was the only problem. 
 
    like it was the only reason 
 
    you weren't always there. 
 
      
 
    i loved you  
 
    sadly. delicately. 
 
    wishfully. 
 
    like you were breaking me 
 
    but i still wouldn't blame you. 
 
    like your promises were real 
 
    and you actually believed in them. 
 
      
 
    you loved me  
 
    casually. easily.  
 
    partially. 
 
    like i didn't mean as much 
 
    as you said i did. 
 
    like you didn't love me 
 
    at all. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
    the boys i've loved and the end of the world #3 
 
    “do you think it’ll be quick or slow?” i ask him. we are sitting 
 
    on a bench, separate sides, but it is comfortable. 
 
    “i’m not sure. do you think it’ll hurt?” he responds, looking at 
 
    me with eyes that have never been anything but kind. 
 
    “i’m sorry if i ever hurt you,” i blurt out, because i feel like i 
 
    need to say it. 
 
    “you didn’t break my heart,” he says honestly, “we fell apart in 
 
    a way that didn’t let you.” 
 
    “i wouldn’t have even if i’d had the chance.” there is a pause, 
 
    and the trees cast shadows over us. “you taught me how to love 
 
    myself, i hope you know that.” 
 
    he smiles. “i didn’t teach you anything. you learned how to on 
 
    your own.” 
 
    “it was because of you, though.” i pause, then ask, “do you tell 
 
    her that you love her every chance you get?” 
 
    “of course.” he fumbles with his hands. “there’s only so many 
 
    chances left to say it, anyways.” 
 
    we sit together, and i tuck my knees into my chest and rest my 
 
    chin on them. he watches the sky, frowning, and i want to say 
 
    that he is too good to be wiped out by a solar flare, but i don’t. 
 
    instead i say, “i’m so fucking scared.” 
 
    he reaches over and rests his hand on my shoulder. “me too.” 
 
    “i learned from you that love doesn’t always have to end nasty. 
 
    sometimes, it just stops.” 
 
    he nods, agreeing, and squeezes my shoulder once. 
 
    “maybe that’ll be how the world ends,” he suggests, “it won’t 
 
    end terribly. it’ll just stop.” 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    so this is how it feels to have someone give up on you 
 
      
 
    i remember when you first  
 
    told me you loved me, 
 
    and you held my hands in yours and  
 
    whispered it again and again  
 
    in my ear until i was in tears, 
 
    and my heart was flying out of my chest. 
 
      
 
    there is so much time and space 
 
    between us now and i do not know 
 
    how to make it go away. 
 
    i do not like the distance in the slightest 
 
    but i can not figure out how  
 
    to make it disappear. i don’t think 
 
    you ever wanted to leave, really. 
 
    but you have always been impatient. 
 
      
 
    i spend my time counting out  
 
    the minutes and seconds and days 
 
    and hours that have passed since 
 
    you’ve gone. 
 
    i know you are with her; 
 
    it hurts me so, but i cannot forget it, 
 
    no matter how hard i try.  
 
    it’s funny how the most painful memories  
 
    are the ones that stay. 
 
      
 
    she is not a poet like i am. 
 
    she cannot make you sound beautiful  
 
    the way i do, she cannot write you 
 
    love poems that can be framed 
 
    and put on the wall. 
 
    i hope she doesn’t love you as well as i did, 
 
    as well as i do, so maybe you will realize, me. 
 
    after all this time. 
 
      
 
    one time, you told me you wanted  
 
    to marry me. i think you still do,  
 
    deep down. i hope she hears it when  
 
    you say my name. “i don’t love her, anymore,” 
 
    you tell her, but all she hears is,  
 
    “i do, i do.” 
 
                                              -c.h. 
 
  
 
  


 
 
   
    cherry blossom kisses 
 
    age seven: when you can finally understand what the preacher is saying, you start telling your parents to read you part of the bible every night. it was almost as though the stories they told were bedtime stories, fiction, but your parents read them with such conviction and your preacher cried out to God with such trust and devotion that you decide there's no way so many people live their lives through a fairytale. you find church boring, so your parents sign you up for Sunday school and you spend it playing with cars and talking about fairness with a mahogany-haired boy your age.  
 
      
 
    age eight: your friend is in your third grade class and you sit on the swings at recess. he tells you he doesn't understand any of the bible. you confess that you don't understand it either, but all of the adults do, so one day the two of you will understand its meaning too. he says his older brother has been hanging out with a boy a lot recently. "just like us," you point out, but he shakes his head. "no," he whispers, "like they go in his bedroom and shut the door. there's no sounds or anything. i don't even think they play video games." 
 
      
 
    age nine: one day he shows up crying at Sunday school. "they found him... kissing the other boy," he sobs and your mouth gapes, horrified. he presses himself into you and you hug him like a good friend would. "dad hit him and mommy cried." you ask your parents if you can take him home for the afternoon. you planned on taking his mind off of it, but you end up sitting in your bedroom with the door shut, not even playing video games. 
 
      
 
    age ten: he spends most of his time at your house. whenever he can escape his parents he appears at your door. his brother hasn't been around for a year or so. sometimes he'll cry into your shoulder and your heart hurts for him. 
 
      
 
    age eleven: you have your first Valentine: a girl your age, with hair as golden as the sun and eyes as green as the leaves in summer. she hands you the heart-shaped card after school, her cheeks red from both the chilly air and nerves. you say yes, but no heat rises to your cheeks. you smile and she reaches out and holds your hand. your fingertips are numb by the time you let go as she steps onto her bus, but you assume it's because the cold. 
 
      
 
    age twelve: you have your first kiss, with your first Valentine. it's at his birthday party. she pulls you away from him as he blows out the candles and tugs you behind a tree. "i like you a lot," she murmure shyly. she goes up on her tiptoes and presses her lips against yours. "fireworks, he kept saying it felt like fireworks," he'd said about his brother. her lips held no spark. 
 
      
 
    age thirteen: you don't talk to that girl anymore, the girl who kissed you at his birthday party last year. she moved last winter, but for some reason it didn't bother you. you stay glued to his side, or rather he stays glued to yours, but either way you like the way things are. you join the church choir for the hell of it, but as you sing about God's love you find your voice falling flat. 
 
      
 
    age fourteen: you enter high school, nervous but reassured with him next to you. you smile broadly when you're with him; he's your best friend, the only friend you'd ever need. on the five year anniversary of the night his parents caught his brother, he shows up at your door and cries because his brother still hasn't called and his parents don't care anymore. "'monster,' they call him, 'abomination.' but he isn't that. he's just a human," he whispers, and you wonder when he got so mature. 
 
      
 
    age fifteen: you go to your first big party and one of the older kids talks you into drinking. you end up drunk and stumble through the crowd, trying to find him. when you do, he's sitting on the curb with his head in his hands. you mumble something incomprehensible and sit next to him. "do you think you'll remember anything about tonight, tomorrow?" he asks, and you shake your head, laughing. "so you won't remember this." he kisses you under the street lamp. sparks. you remembered nothing but that the next morning. 
 
      
 
    age sixteen: you never ask him about that party. and he never brings it up, until one night his brother shows up at his house with the same boy he'd been caught with holding his hand. they have gotten married, and are about to finish college. they've applied to adopt a baby. they are happy, successful. his parents take one look at their intertwined fingers and slam the door in their faces. soon after, he shows up at your door, and you pull him into your room. "i'm afraid," he admits through tears, "i'm afraid i'm going to end up just like my brother; shunned and hated by my family." you tell him no, grab his shoulders and tell him that isn't possible. "yes it is," he whispers, "last year, at the party..." "i know," you say, and he blinks before he kisses you again.  
 
      
 
    age seventeen: you secretly hold hands in church, underneath your suit jackets. his hand sends electricity up your arm and through your body, and you stare down the preacher as he shouts about sin and love and hell. after the service, he takes you to the cemetery out back and kisses you furiously behind a tree. "i love you," he says, "i need you." you kiss him hard in response, but then you feel a hand that isn't his clamp down on your shoulder. you jolt away from him and find your father glaring at you, furious and hateful. he glances at your intertwined fingers and yanks you away from him. "i will not have a faggot in my family," he snarls, "why am i not surprised you're one too?" your father sneers at him, "you already have one ungodly creature in your family." you're being pulled away from him, your father's grip is tight on your wrist, you say, "i love you," and your father slaps you. he drags you home and hits you again and again while your mother cries and begs for him to stop, but he keeps hitting you... 
 
      
 
    age eighteen: it's been one year since your father beat you to death in your kitchen. he still visits you every week, lays a new bouquet on your grave. always cherry blossoms; from the tree he last kissed you under. your mother stops by sometimes, more out of obligation and public reputation than grief. your father can't visit you from a jail cell, nor would he want to. sometimes when he comes to your grave, he brings the bible you'd had when you were a kid, and stares at its faded cover. one day, he rips the pages to shreds, each one of them, tears streaking his cheeks. "we just fell in love," he cries, "we just did what God told us to do." 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    i will always find you too beautiful to bear 
 
    i have spent hours  
 
    flipping through poetry books 
 
    trying to find something 
 
    that portrays just how 
 
    lovely he is to me, 
 
    but i haven't found  
 
    a single stanza that 
 
    explains it well enough. 
 
      
 
    i do not think he has eyes  
 
    as blue as the ocean  
 
    or hair as golden as the sun; 
 
    cliché metaphors don't  
 
    do him justice. 
 
      
 
    he is not a sentence that's been 
 
    written a million times by 
 
    a million different people 
 
    who have never met him-- 
 
      
 
    why should it be used to describe him 
 
    when they don't know who they're describing? 
 
      
 
    when you step outside 
 
    on the first day of spring, 
 
    everything is green, 
 
    the sky is blue, 
 
    and you can smell 
 
    the beauty in the air-- 
 
      
 
    that is him, 
 
    fresh and bright and beautiful. 
 
    i want to tell him this, 
 
    tell him just how beautiful 
 
    he is to me,  
 
    but i can't. 
 
      
 
    you see,  
 
    he is so beautiful, 
 
    but he isn't mine. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    writer’s block  
 
    and i wish i could write 
 
    about you, 
 
    because i want to tell  
 
    the world  
 
    how beautiful you are 
 
    to me. 
 
      
 
    but i can't, 
 
    and as you press 
 
    your lips into my  
 
    collarbone, 
 
    i think, 
 
      
 
    maybe this is a good thing. 
 
    maybe this is just  
 
    for us.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    eyes 
 
    you know how they say the eyes are the windows to the soul? that's how it is when i meet your gaze from across the room. when i find you, and blue meets brown and everything freezes. and for a moment, just a single moment, the world shifts around us.  
 
    everything we were flashes past. for an instant, i can feel how it felt to be loved by you again; a feeling i thought i didn't know anymore.  
 
    but then, i am transported back to the present, and i am stuck now with what we have become: a shattered, empty shell of what once was the strongest love i'd ever known. and it saddens me, not because i still love you, but because i know that if we had worked a little harder, i still would. i know that if i had spoken up sooner instead of burying it all inside of me, i would still be completely tied up in you.  
 
    i let you get away with things i normally would have never stood for. i let you kiss other girls because distance was hard and we needed that release. i let you stop talking to me for days because i knew you had a busy schedule. i made excuse, after excuse, after excuse for you, because i didn't want to see the truth. eventually, i had to raise my head and meet its burning gaze. and by then, it was too late.  
 
    when we lock eyes from across the room, i can hear everything you want to say. i can see the pain and the anger and the sadness and i know you can see it in my eyes too.  
 
    eyes are the windows to the soul. my soul says, "i'm sorry we never got a real chance." your soul whispers back, "i'm sorry i made you think i didn't want one." 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    in short 
 
    the way you dipped 
 
    your fingers into me 
 
    left me widemouthed  
 
    and empty. 
 
      
 
    you took everything. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    an excerpt (#3) 
 
    "tell me, why do we romanticize pain?" he asks, staring not at her, but up at the clouds. 
 
    "i think we do it to understand it better," she answers, and he frowns. 
 
     "how does that work? there's nothing beautiful about pain. beautiful things can come out of pain, sure, but pain in and of itself is not beautiful." 
 
    "maybe... maybe, we do it because it's the only way we can stand to think about it. we, as humans, we want to reject the ugly things in life. take 'ugly' with a grain of salt, though, because in the past, those we have rejected for being 'ugly' weren't ugly at all. but our brains are limited, and easily corrupted by preconceived ideas. so maybe, because we can't get rid of pain, we try and make it more glamorous, so we won't just shut it away. because part of coping with pain in a healthy way is being open about it." 
 
    he laughs, and looks at her. "you're very smart, you know that?" 
 
    she feels herself blushing. "i guess." 
 
    he touches her hand, briefly. "it doesn't make it right, does it?" he inquires, "it's not good to make pain seem beautiful. it makes people think being in pain is good, that it makes you beautiful. so really, by trying to understand it better, we really aren't understanding it at all." 
 
    "well, nobody wants to be sad, but everyone wants to be beautiful, whatever their definition of 'beautiful' may be. so if you're sad, romanticizing it may be the only way to feel beautiful." 
 
    "but it's toxic. it hurts you. if you become so convinced that your pain is beautiful, that it's art, then you never want to be happy." 
 
    "i wouldn't say that," she squints her eyes, pursing her lips, "everyone wants to be happy. but i think... i think people just settle, after awhile. they get tired. so they rest assured knowing that people on social media find their sadness attractive and romantic, so they still feel beautiful, in a sense." 
 
    "is that what you think?" 
 
    "yeah, it is," she says, "maybe i'm wrong, though. i don't know. i've just never really understood why people think kissing scars is going to make them go away. or that saying suicide is beautiful is going to make it stop." 
 
    "because everyone wants to be beautiful, right?" he touches her hand, again. 
 
    "yeah," she chuckles, sadly, "right." 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the parallels between loving someone and drug addiction 
 
    he remembered 
 
    the first time they kissed. 
 
    shaking hands. 
 
    her mouth. 
 
    sweet. new. 
 
    the brush of her tongue  
 
    against his lips. 
 
    experimentation. 
 
    he remembered  
 
    the first time he saw her naked. 
 
    sweaty skin. 
 
    her arching back. 
 
    beautiful. encompassing. 
 
    the taste of her 
 
    in his mouth for days. 
 
    addiction. 
 
    he remembered  
 
    the first time he told her he loved her. 
 
    tears on their cheeks. 
 
    her smile. 
 
    warm. pure. 
 
    the weight of her heart 
 
    in his hands. 
 
    dependency. 
 
    he remembered 
 
    the first time they fought. 
 
    trembling furniture. 
 
    her, crying. 
 
    horrible. sickening. 
 
    the pain of how she 
 
    didn't sleep next to him anymore. 
 
    withdrawal. 
 
    he remembered  
 
    the time she left. 
 
    opening drawers. 
 
    her suitcase, filled. 
 
    lifeless. cold. 
 
    the pit in his chest 
 
    where his heart used to be. 
 
    rehabilitation. 
 
    he remembered 
 
    the first time he was okay again. 
 
    sleeping. 
 
    not crying daily. 
 
    fine. okay. 
 
    hurting still but being 
 
    able to ignore it. 
 
    recovery. 
 
    he remembered  
 
    when they, were them. 
 
    damp sheets. 
 
    weak promises. 
 
    good. strengthening. 
 
    the absence of feeling 
 
    in his chest now. 
 
    recovered. 
 
                    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    gravedigger 
 
    here lies all the sentences cut short by my indecisiveness 
 
    all the periods stapled on after words that weren’t meant 
 
    to be the finish 
 
      
 
    i run my hands through frostbitten soil  
 
    and scrape my palms on headstones 
 
    where the bloodiest poems of mine are buried– 
 
    funny how each one is engraved with your name 
 
      
 
    and i will not apologize for writing about you 
 
    just like you will never apologize for making me 
 
    not because you aren’t sorry 
 
    but because you don’t realize that it’s your fault 
 
      
 
    i didn’t ask to be a poet 
 
    although it is my fault that i’ve let it ruin my life 
 
    i wish i could stifle the urge to bleed onto pages 
 
    i wish i didn’t have to bury every sweet song  
 
    you had ever whispered in my ear 
 
      
 
    is this a love poem or an apology letter? 
 
    i can’t tell the difference between them anymore– 
 
    mostly because i love you, but i’m sorry for it. 
 
                -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    we are the new americana 
 
    we spend our days hiding liquor bottles under our car seats and cigarette packs in our nightstands and our grandparents scowl and tell us we are dooming the country but they always conveniently forget that their generation used dogs and firehoses to stop a protest that harmed nothing but their privilege and they shot a man on a hotel balcony just because he saw the unfairness in the web of society because it was always stickier where his people were stepping. we swallow pills to numb the pain more than we should and our parents scowl and tell us we are going to be destructive and selfish but they always seem to leave out the many times that their generation watched the gay boys get punched and knocked over in school and they never lifted a finger to help them because they thought that being heartlessly normal was better than helping someone who was different. we stay up until 3 am willingly and complain that we don't get enough sleep and we scowl at ourselves because we are going to be a horrible next generation but it's only because our ears take too many beatings from our hypocritical predecessors and our words are silenced by people who think that because they are grown they know exactly what is best for everyone even though history clearly shows they didn't. we may believe that we are going to be a horrible next generation but maybe that will be the reason we succeed, because even though we are destroying ourselves at least we aren't destroying other people. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    stardust 
 
    i spend my nights tracing constellations on your skin, my finger finds the north star 
 
    but you don't say my name the same way anymore; the syllables seem to fumble around 
 
    on your tongue. i know people leave; that is what they are supposed to do after all, 
 
    and nobody knows the reason why we like to promise light years when we only plan to stay 
 
    seconds, you promised me a century, i made you my sun to try and convince you to give me  
 
    a little more time, but stars burn out and i think you don't kiss me the same anymore, your lips 
 
    feel all wrong, tight on my skin and cold. but maybe i'm wrong, maybe i overthink but my finger  
 
    finds the north star on your shoulder blade and i can't stop losing sleep over the thought that even the sun will die, i stare at constellations made of stars that are dead just like you and-- 
 
    (i know why.) 
 
    (because i am.)                                  
 
    -c.h.                                          
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    why i cried when you first told me you loved me 
 
      
 
    i am afraid. i am afraid of drowning in the depths of your blue irises but i am also afraid that if i do not take the plunge i will feel you slip away from me like sand between my fingers. i am afraid to let you light a fire in my heart but i am even more afraid that if you do not i will slowly melt from the inside out for it has been too long since someone with warm hands has touched me. i am afraid to love you but i am also afraid to lose you and to do one will prevent the other from happening at least for some time. i am afraid of being struck by the electricity in your fingertips i am afraid of being blown away by the power behind your words i am afraid of dying because of you. i am afraid of everything and nothing all at the same time because you make me quake with uncertainty and terror but you make my blood rush and my heart pound in the most delightful of ways because with you i think i am okay and i do not know if you feel the same. i am afraid i am afraid i am afraid because it is you who holds my heart in their palms and it is you who sometimes trips over their own feet and it is not me who decides when i am to be broken. i am afraid because you have the power to give me everything and take it all away at the same time.  
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
  
 
  


 
 
   
    to my love 
 
    you are unlike anything 
 
    i have ever known before 
 
    and as a poet 
 
    i am always looking 
 
    for new things 
 
    to write about 
 
      
 
    i can only hope 
 
    i will be writing about you 
 
    for a very long time 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    library of lovers 
 
    in my mind  
 
    sits a library. 
 
      
 
    the books in it  
 
    hold very special  
 
    tales; romances, 
 
    my romances. 
 
      
 
    sometimes i find 
 
    myself sitting in the library 
 
    when i'm tired or lonely, 
 
    brushing my fingers over 
 
    dusty books that have long 
 
    been closed.  
 
    sometimes, i even reach up 
 
    and pull one from the shelf, 
 
    open it and escape to what 
 
    once was. 
 
      
 
    there are small books that 
 
    take all of an hour to read; 
 
    they ended shortly, abruptly, even, 
 
    and they either left me wishing 
 
    it were longer, 
 
    or glad that it ended when it did. 
 
    there are large books, 
 
    the ones that take days or weeks 
 
    to get through. 
 
    these are the books i grew  
 
    attached to, and i was sad 
 
    when they came to an end.  
 
    at least, unlike the shorter ones, 
 
    they had time to develop, 
 
    and they didn't leave me  
 
    thirsty for more. 
 
    then there are the series, 
 
    the stories that were too long 
 
    and too intricate to be held within 
 
    one book. 
 
    these are the ones that i found myself 
 
    unable to put down, even when 
 
    they were finished.  
 
    the ones that i had been reading  
 
    for so long i didn't know what to do 
 
    once they were done. 
 
      
 
    there are many books  
 
    i have yet to read in this library. 
 
      
 
    there are some books i may  
 
    never open, depending on 
 
    where life takes me, 
 
    and some books 
 
    i never finished reading, 
 
    and put back on the shelf  
 
    before they ended. 
 
     i have my favorites, 
 
    the ones i like to 
 
    skim through every  
 
    once in a while.  
 
      
 
    and then i have the 
 
    book i am reading now.  
 
      
 
    i have read many books 
 
    that have had sad endings, 
 
    or angry endings, 
 
    and ones that have hardly 
 
    had an ending at all. 
 
    i hope that for once, 
 
    this book ends happily, 
 
    and when it is finished, 
 
    i never have to read another 
 
    book again. 
 
    -c.h. 
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
      
 
    the healing process 
 
    th