Κύρια the mermaid’s voice returns in this one
You may be interested in Powered by Rec2Me
Most frequently terms
II. the shipwreck “ but the stars— they see everything & are loyal to no one. when she whispered her wishes into them, the voices from her nightmares came crashing down. problem is, some people are living, breathing I C E B E R G S just waiting for the perfect moment to pull you under. - titanic. swallowing the memories is like biting down on a mouthful of sea glass— the iron filling up my her throat is the only way she knows she’s still alive. - try as i may, i keep spitting you up. the first time you take me home & introduce me to your parents, your father takes one look at me & says, “that girl looks like she’s much too smart for her own good.” - why wasn’t i smart enough to stay away from you? a smile. irresistible lashes. a dark room. legs tangled. peace. - this is how i’d like to remember you. he told me he was fond of broken girls like me & i didn’t so much as blink an eye. later, i thought to myself, if only they had taught me how to recognize the warning flares instead of wasting their time teaching me how to mistake them for flattery. with his pocketknife, he sheared off my her hair while she slept curled as a quiet comma into his side, only for him to glue it all back to the ends so he could show her everything he could do to her & still manage to get away with it. - maleficent. he held her hand. he grabbed her breast. he turned of; f the light. he walked her to his bed. he laid her down. he tore her shirt. he told her he loved her. he shoved his tongue inside. he said he wanted to marry her. he placed his hand between. he kissed across her collarbone. he sobbed onto her cheeks. - he split my her tail in two. no matter how hard i scrub scrub scrub, you’re still everywhere i don’t want you to be. did she, in her last waking moments, forgive him, or was she secretly sending her curses to the gods who did not let the roof collapse on the notches of her beloved’s traitorous spine, even if it proved fatal for them both? - desdemona. (homage to the play Othello by William Shakespeare) she’s come to the conclusion that they like her because she’s sad & even more so because she’s quiet. it’s a lethal combination that makes it impossible for her to tell them: - stop. / no. / don’t. i acquired a gift for living outside of myself whenever i needed to swim away from you. - mermaid escapist III. how he managed to choke me with both of his wrists roped together behind his back. - “i know you wanted it.” how she managed to choke me with both of her wrists vined together behind her back. - “but you didn’t say no, right?” the day i handed you my ever-glowing heart, i did not hand you anything else. - on being called a tease. you still watch me while i’m driving & i still pretend i don’t notice you watching. you still hold my hand & i still hold yours right back. you still tell me that you love me & i still tell you that i love you, too. we still kiss when we think no one else is watching, secretly hoping that they are. we even still go for hot coffee when it’s a hundred & two degrees outside. we pretend until our teeth disintegrate & our gums bleed from the effort it takes to smile it all away. - trying to keep my eyes on the road. what if he just does it to another girl? - this is why i can’t go. some days, i still want to believe we can traipse into the forest & come across an enchanted pocket watch that will take us back in time to erase it all & start from scratch. - this isn’t that kind of fairy tale. cages are still cages even when they’re designed to look just like castles. - illusionist. at this point, staying with you is nothing more than muscle memory. an apology has never known the walls of your mouth. - how can you just walk away? we put on a hell of a show, but the curtains— they cannot hide the history of you. - this cannot go on. & one day, you were nowhere to be found anymore. i swear, i ran to the edge of every cliff just to prove it to myself. it was as if the wind simply did away with you like it does with plastic shopping bags & remainders of autumn, sweeping you up like it didn’t just take away every last ounce of proof of what you did to me. - i wondered if you were a changeling, except someone forgot to replace you. some stories don’t have happy endings. some stories don’t have endings at all. ours didn’t. ours couldn’t. ours won’t. it was easier to pretend you died. it was easier to kill the sleeping prince. - i wrote my own ending in blood. give me lavender. give me valerian. give me warmed milk. give me the sound of every raindrop to ever slide down the side of the earth. yes, i will still have trouble falling asleep. because of you, i’ve never been able to see a bed as a place of rest—only unrest. even when my bones & my eyelids beg for sweet mercy, the second my head hits my pillow, something in the back of my mind will always be trying to remind me of those moments when i learned that sex & violence are not the same thing. - unsleeping beauty. you do not have a bed anymore; you only have a casket. - why do i find no relief in this? the heaviness of your hips never goes - phantom. he sort of looks like you, but i know he can’t be you— not unless dead men have learned to walk. he just has that long stride about him— that mischievous wide-eyed look about him— that laugh— my god, that apocalyptic laugh about him— & the family of cicadas nesting in my lungs cannot listen to logic or reason because when it comes to you, i’ve only ever had the chance to t. teach them h fight or g l i - f you stopped leaving bruises around my neck so i started leaving them everywhere else. - bookends & knuckles. every touch that comes in sequel to y o u r s feels like a grenade. - tick, tick, . . . boom! i want to believe that most people mean no harm to others. that not everyone is capable of the same things you were. that someone can touch me & do it out of tenderness. - sometimes we have to feed ourselves lies just to live. will i have to spend the afterlife finding ways to hide from you? on the weekends, my mother used to drive my sister & me down to the beach, though she so rarely liked to get in & swim. instead, she would take each of our hands & lead us just a few shallow steps into the water—only up to our ankles. she would say to us, “stand still & wait for the next wave to roll in, then close your eyes. when it drifts back out, it will feel like it’s taking you along with it. don’t worry, though. i won’t let anything happen to you, my babies. it’s perfectly okay to let go.” sometimes, i want to be able to let go like that again, except for the part where i open my eyes & i’m disappointed to find that i haven’t been carried far, far, far away from here. - a mermaid escapist IV. mostly, i just want to know what it’s like to feel something between elation & despair, besides nothing at all. none of my favorite songs sound quite the same in your wake. where there was once a glorious orchestra, there’s nothing except doom & screeching violins. - kill the conductor. when you left this earth, you left behind someone who will always feel like they’re a body for the taking, first; a person, second. i used to want you to be wracked with guilt, but these days, i’d settle for you feeling even an ounce of it. - on the other side II. what’s the difference? - victim or survivor. & where do i stand? - victim or survivor II. i thought, then, of all the forgotten stories of those victim-survivors whose hips were bashed against the wall by the cruel ones until their skin rolled up&up&up like canvas & the woman who did not stop until their stories splattered across the skies, even while she struggled like hell to keep her own skin pinned down. once, i came to her in a dream & begged her to do the same for me as she did for them, only for her to take me by the shoulders & turn me the other way, saying, “you never needed my help. go on, throw yourself to the comets.” - thank you, artemisia. thank you. (homage to the novel Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough) “when our villains win, do not fret. just rewrite the story.” - mother knows best II. special acknowledgments I. cyrus parker – you seriously deserve some kind of prize for listening to me rant & rave about this book all these past months, my poet-spouse. most of all, i just want to thank you for letting me spill water & for always being there to help me dry it up. ~O) II. christine day – this was, without question, the most difficult collection i’ve had to write to date. it went through more drastic changes than all of them combined & kept me up all night for weeks at a time. on the bright side, it was never as difficult as it could have been, all because you were always there for me to turn to. III. my contributors – when i first set out to include poems from other poets i deeply admired, i had no idea how it would go. honestly, this whole thing could have been a disaster. instead, we sang to each other through the uncertain dark, our feet searching for common ground, & it became an accidental masterpiece. thank you for lending me the gorgeous words. IV. my family – to my dad, my stepmom, & my sisters. thank you for coming to every book launch. for reading every word. for desperately asking to read an early copy of each book, even before they’re halfway finished. (i’m looking at you, courtney!) V. my beta readers – trista mateer, caitlyn siehl, danika stone, mira kennedy, olivia paez, & alex andrina. from the bottom of my heart: thank you for always pushing me to be the best i can be. thank you for transforming my words. this has been, in no exaggeration, the greatest group effort of a lifetime. VI. the people who always make me smile & give me their never-ending support – gretchen gomez, nikita gill, sophia elaine hanson, iain s. thomas, ky robinson, courtney peppernell, lang leav, shauna sinyard, summer webb, courtney summers, & nicole brinkley. & you, whoever i’m inevitably forgetting. VII. my publishing team at andrews mcmeel – to patty rice, kirsty melville, & holly stayton. there are no words to describe how grateful i am for you & the work that brings my words to life. VIII. my readers – here’s to our fourth book. <3 a small space for you to begin your story: growing up a word-devourer & avid fairy tale lover, it was only natural that amanda lovelace began writing books of her own, & so she did. when she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found waiting for pumpkin spice coffee to come back into season & binge-watching gilmore girls. (before you ask: team jess all the way.) the lifelong poetess & storyteller currently lives in new jersey with her spouse, their bunnycat, & a combined book collection so large it will soon need its own home. she has her B.A. in english literature with a minor in sociology. her first collection, the princess saves herself in this one, won the goodreads choice award for best poetry of 2016 and is a USA TODAY & Publishers Weekly bestseller. [image: ] @ladybookmad [image: ] @ladybookmad [image: ] @amandalovelace [image: ]amandalovelace.com the mermaid’s voice returns in this one copyright © 2019 by Amanda Lovelace. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of reprints in the context of reviews. Andrews McMeel Publishing a division of Andrews McMeel Universal 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106 www.andrewsmcmeel.com ISBN: 978-1-5248-5231-3 Library of Congress Control Number: 2018957490 Editor: Patty Rice Designer: Amanda Lovelace Art Director: Julie Barnes Production Editor: David Shaw Production Manager: Cliff Koehler Digital Production: Kristen Minter ATTENTION: SCHOOLS AND BUSINESSES Andrews McMeel books are available at quantity discounts with bulk purchase for educational, business, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail the Andrews McMeel Publishing Special Sales Department: firstname.lastname@example.org. check out these other great titles from andrews mcmeel publishing! [image: ] [image: ] [image: ] [image: ] III. the song “ & so she did what any rational woman would do— ever so calmly, she reached out & she tore the stars apart. i watched you watching me wane. now, you have no fucking choice other than to watch me - become full. becoming your own savior sometimes means knowing when you need to ask for help. - therapy session no. 1. i refuse to believe you took something irreplaceable from me in that moment. - i still have every part of myself. I. when they say “no.” II. when they can’t say “no.” - they’re both assault. you don’t get to say it’s my fault for staying. it’s his fault for making me afraid to stay or go. the first person who touched me was not my first. - i’m deciding my firsts from now on. & i want to take you to the bay where i was raised & watch the sky fade from blue to orange to pink & show you where i swam as a child & i want to rest my head on your shoulder when i ask you if we’ll see each other in the life after this one because i know none of this would happen in this life since you were the lesson that made me realize redemption is not a thing that washes up on shore. no— not in this life, no. - not in any life, lovely. the only way i can foresee surviving you is by finding that place between forgiving & forgetting, if it even exists. - this is how i choose to douse my fire. this is me pressing my finger to the sand, delicately drawing your name there, & then stepping back so i can watch you as you’re finally carried away. - goodbye. i don’t write what i write to hurt you. - i write what i write to heal me. an update for the girl i used to be: we live in a tiny apartment near the sea now. it has a desk for us to write on. it has heat to warm us. it has food for us to eat. it has a friendly ghost. it has a caring spouse & a playful kitten who brightens all our days. we have everything we need & everything we never thought we could have. fighting your way here was well worth it. don’t give it all up yet. the first night in our new place, i spilled a glass of water on the kitchen floor. the second night in our new place, i spilled a glass of water on the living room rug. jokingly, i said to him, “i guess our home is blessed with good luck now.” what i meant to say is, “i’m so sorry i can’t touch anything without immediately finding a way to tarnish it before it tarnishes me.” what i should have said is, “i’m sorry, i’m sorry.” - “i’m but a work in progress.” he immediately lowers his umbrella when i say i’ve never been kissed in the rain, & by some kind of miracle, his kiss does not feel like a grenade. - the good kind of drowning. scene: you, grabbing for my wrist, locking eyes with me over your shoulder while we run for the last train headed home with hundreds of faceless people rushing up behind us so they won’t have to stand. - i don’t mind standing if i’m standing next to you. he exists. therefore, i know for a fact that humanity is not dissolving before my eyes. when i was too frightened to take the plunge, you were the one who told me it was time to take a chance, that i was spending too many years reading about the grand adventures of fictional people & never trying to live them myself. nowadays, we may be strangers who only nod “hello” to each other across crowded rooms, but i’ll never forget what you did for me in that moment. thank you for seeing the potential in me, because now i finally see all the possibilities that were lying dormant in me, too. - for my childhood friend. in one world, romeo doesn’t drink the poison. juliet doesn’t pierce herself. instead, they decide to drink wine until they fall asleep messily in each other’s arms. the next morning, they wake up hungover, nursing killer headaches as they take on the world as well as their families. everything turns out just fine. - i believe in endless worlds. in the next world, romeo & juliet end up together again. they have a grand wedding surrounded by their family & friends, who all have a hand on the hilt of their sword, but everything is okay because at least no one dies. on their wedding night, juliet is terrified to tell romeo that she wants to kiss him but she doesn’t want to sleep next to him. in the same world, romeo doesn’t hesitate a single second before he tells her that it’s okay, he understands. he will stay with her no matter what she wants or doesn’t want. - he will stay by her side even if she never wants to sleep next to him. in another world, romeo & juliet make it out alive, except they don’t end up together in the end. hold on, though, because it’s not a tragic ending. they eventually part ways, forever remaining the best of friends, travelling through eras we haven’t yet seen until romeo can hold hands with a boy & juliet can hold hands with a girl without fear hanging over their heads. - i believe in endless worlds III. i am magic all the days i am a woman & i am magic all the days i am not. - demigirl / demigoddess. i tucked my story into the folds of silence in order to put other people at ease. - no more. i painted my trauma in shades of crown gold & marigold pink to make it pretty enough to be enjoyed by others. - no more II. for the first time in months, i wake up feeling okay. i don’t waste my morning setting alarm after alarm & turning back over, blinds & eyelids shut to the promise of the new day, to the quickly approaching afternoon. i roll out, stretching my laced fingers toward the ceiling, the smallest of grins beginning to grow on my face. maybe i can be happy, i think. or maybe i can’t, i think. i quickly shake the thought from my head, humming a wordless tune i picked up from an old music box in the attic. sometimes it’s necessary to shut down the little voice that tells me this is but a rare, short-lived moment before i become someone entirely unrecognizable from the person i woke up as. in all reality, there’s a very good chance tonight won’t be okay. but right now, things are good. - that’s all i need for now. i’ve always fancied myself a mermaid of sorts. i must confess that i haven’t swam since long before i started punishing my body for all the things that were never its fault. this whole time, i’ve been covering up these arms that embrace & these legs that carry because i was always petrified of the damage the lightning storm scars would cause. i imagined birds flocking to safety. i imagined deer sprinting back into the shelter of the wood. i imagined children rushing for their parents’ bedrooms. yes, it’s true. lightning can & does kill. once, it crept through the window & took the baby girl i share generations of blood with. i’ve also learned that lightning kills the thing that stops trees from bursting through the soil & giving life back to me. - every day is an act of survival. on one of my palms, my lifeline stops short. on the other palm, my lifeline dips precariously into my marked-up wrist. i’m not sure which one of them is telling the truth, & part of me never wants to know. the only thing i can do is learn to live with the idea that i will never be cured. i will always be in the process of healing. - making the most of it. i thought my world was coming to a crashing end, & maybe it did, in some manner of speaking. in the process, photographs fell off the wall, & i still find pieces of glass stuck in the sunken wooden stairs. small cracks formed in some parts of my foundation. in every room, if you place a glass marble in the middle of the floor, it will roll along where the floorboards tilt unevenly. some doors stick & some doors open all by themselves when you walk by them. the house still stands, though. it still stands. - a home without character isn’t a home. i fill my plate up & then i empty it again. these days, it’s all for me. - i am my reason for recovery. today, i love the way i look in my sundress & it’s not because someone else convinced me to. - i am my reason for recovery II. breathe. charge my crystals. collect seashells. write a little each day. take more bubble baths. say “hello” to the fairies. drink more spearmint tea. re-read my favorite fairy tales. let no one invalidate me. give myself time. - i vow to. a victim or a survivor? a victim or a survivor? a victim or a survivor? - i have settled on both. the further along i come, the more i’m beginning to realize that maybe— just maybe— there is such a thing as fate. as destiny. if after everything i’m still breathing, then there must be a reason even if i haven’t seen it yet. most stories don’t have a clear, defined message. they aren’t supposed to. we must take the good with the bad with the grey & decide what we want to do with it all. - i’m still alive & therefore so is hope. the night may fall, but i will always remain. - i’m my own sunset. the dawn may break, but i will always reign. - i’m my own sunrise. for our assignment, we had to take ourselves out on a date. i went to a flower shop named in the garden & bought myself a bouquet of wilting daisies everyone else turned down & i attached a love note from myself to read later. i went up the street to water witch coffee & picked up two danishes only i would be eating, & before dinner, no less. i made a pot of coffee big enough for four & i stood outside, mug perched in hand, staring into the thin, winter-bare forest in my backyard. for what, i must admit i’m not entirely certain. i’m no longer searching for reasons or explanations for the past. i’m only searching for breadcrumbs leading to more breadcrumbs that will, with any luck, eventually lead me down the path i’ve been looking for this whole time. - homeward. “be stronger than the villains. be every storybook heroine come to life.” - mother knows best III. Contents also by amanda lovelace dedication trigger warning contents foreword by Lang Leav introduction I. the sky II. the shipwreck III. the song IV. the surviving the rest of this storybelongs toyou. contributors special acknowledgments about the author social media copyright other titles from AMP Landmarks Cover contributors in order of appearance lang leav author of the foreword twitter: @langleav instagram: @langleav website: langleav.com caitlyn siehl author of “blade” twitter: @caitlynsiehl instagram: @caitlynsiehl facebook: @caitlynsiehl1 clementine von radics author of “notes on the term survivor” twitter: @clementinevr instagram: @clementinevonradics website: www.clementinevonradicspoet.com trista mateer author of “untitled” twitter: @tristamateer instagram: @tristamateer website: tristamateerpoetry.com gretchen gomez author of “wading” twitter: @chicnerdreads instagram: @chicnerdreads wordpress: chicnerdreads.wordpress.com noor shirazie author of “earth / water” twitter: @shirazien instagram: @shirazien facebook: @n00rshirazie tumblr: @noorshirazie jenna clare author of “trust me” twitter: @jennaclarek instagram: @jennaclarek website: jennaclarek.com ky robinson author of “the grit of healing” twitter: @iamkyrobinson instagram: @iamkyrobinson website: kyrobinson.net yena sharma purmasir author of “in place of mercy” twitter: @yenapurmasir instagram: @yenasharmapurmasir tumblr: @fly-underground morgan nikola-wren author of “one breath at a time” twitter: @wrenandink instagram: @morgannikolawren website: morgannikolawren.com mckayla robbin author of “untitled II” twitter: @bymckayla instagram: @bymckayla website: mckaylarobbin.com sophia elaine hanson author of “i am yours” twitter: @authorsehanson instagram: @sophiaelainehanson tumblr: @sophiaelainehanson website: sophiaelainehanson.com orion carloto author of “a promising ballad” twitter: @orionnichole instagram: @orionvanessa youtube: @orionvanessa website: orioncarloto.com nikita gill author of “because i am one of them” twitter: @nktgill instagram: @nikita_gill IV. the surviving “ a chorus of mermaids cried out to her then, ‘DON’T BE AFRAID TO SING. BELT IT OUT. YOUR VOICE COULD SINK SPACESHIPS.’ when you’ve walked on daggers your entire life, you don’t even know how to trust the softness of sand between your toes. - but you need to try anyway. I say I want your fingers in my mouth I say I want your fingers in my hair I say I want the violent slide of your tongue like a blade across my throat You say haven’t you done this before? Hasn’t he touched you like this before? Girl, don’t you know it’s not supposed to hurt? I press my mouth to the wound Until it disappears I say I know I know Do you? Do you? - blade. by caitlyn siehl you have been known to get cut by your own hand & others’. you have been known to pry the scabs open, bleed them out. you have been known to rub them in with dirt & grime. yesterday, they were angry scarlet gashes. today, they are quietly fading hairlines. tomorrow, tomorrow— - you’ll just have to wait around & see. I need you to know I loved him enough to lie to everyone who knew me about how bad it got. I need you to know there is still a bullet lodged between my ribs in the shape of his holy mouth. I need you to know the night the neighbors saw what they did, when I took back my voice finally found the strength to call him a monster, I woke up the next morning and I did not feel brave. I woke up feeling like the love of my life is a monster which is the opposite of triumph. Which is the whole world Dropped. Clattering across the hardwood floor. We talk about survival like it’s a thing that makes you stronger. Like it is a lesson learned. As if it does not steal your truth fashion it into a killing machine. As if a thing that does not kill you makes you more than a person who is not killed. But I remember I remember everything. I was a bird before this. Now, a graveyard of the unburied. My healing is ugly. My edges cracked and uninspiring. But still, they are my edges. Still, I am healing. Isn’t that itself a song? A chorus of rage and gentle worthy of a dance. Say Survivor. Say it with its whole unbearable weight. and say it again. and say amen. Say amen. - notes on the term survivor. by clementine von radics like you were nothing more than an overgrown wildflower field, this foul world took a hatchet to you. painted your petals in shades of grey when they were always supposed to be in blaring neon. collected your sunflowers & tulips in bouquets with the roots hanging down, dripping away with the thing that once held them together at the root. shoved them in your face & had the nerve to act as though they were a gift to bestow, not a thing for you to mourn. be comforted by the knowledge that the wind already blew your seeds away to be planted as far as the eye can see. - there always exists more than one opportunity for you to grow. trauma didn’t change you all at once it carved slowly every day like rivers do it was patient while it hollowed you out so it’s a sculptor or it’s a knife you take your pain and you other it you give it a new name and a new face you say this might have helped shape me but it is not a part of me you say i meant to break open to make room for stars - untitled. by trista mateer little alice may have done a freefall through all of time & space, but that doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge after her. sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to let the past remain in the past. darling, shhh—it was never as pretty as you like to pretend it was. it’s time you give your present a fair chance. after all, it’s never once given up on you. - don’t touch the stones. healing is a journey. sometimes the type you jump into the ocean and swim across for. maybe your journey to healing doesn’t have to be like a fire where you burn yourself at the stake and drag your feet through hot coals, skinning yourself bare for everyone to see. let the waves of self-reflection take you in. wade in your honesty, your strength, your b r a v e r y . we survived our abuse, now swim. - wading. by gretchen gomez someone mistreats you again & you reply the same way you always do (“oh, it’s alright. i’m used to it by now.”) before looking down at your shoes. it’s there that i will write an invisible reminder to you: don’t ever take anyone’s bullshit. if they treat you as anything less than royalty, then show them exactly what a mermaid-witch-queen like yourself can accomplish. - slay those dragons II. i. i still search the sky for clues that could lead me back to you, but i promise that the days of concentrated star-gazing are long gone. in their place lie mornings where i look to my feet and the earth beneath them, how they sink into the soil. the comfort of my roots helps me believe that healing is not just around the corner, it is happening with every breath to depart my blessed body. ii. my low days are frequent and stubborn, but eventually, my eyes will stop burning. they will transform from red to gleaming, hungry for the very things you could never offer. that is when i will remember who i am and what i have outgrown. your confines were destined to suffocate me at one point or another. all i have to do is discover the courage to punch through its low ceilings and narrow corridors. iii. when our blazing empire fell, i held a funeral for the ash. believe me, you did not disappear unnoticed. battles were fought howling your name. with every sword unsheathed, i expected to hear your voice persuading me to return. but i let a moment pass. (on the worst days, i had to let several moments pass.) when silence settles in, peace follows. when i am aware of peace, i remind myself to stay focused. i must transcend you. iv. i am coming to terms with the way your grasp pulls me in and returns me to a path upon which we once walked together. i am also learning to accept that, while you will always sprint for the ocean, i will forever remain an earth sign. - earth / water. by noor shirazie the beloved will always fall. they’re the world’s darling, glittery things until someone strolls up to them & tells them they no longer are. - alas, your scraped knees will always mend. you are so much more than the rippling fallacies your reflection whispers to you. those demons that lurk beneath the surface do not know you even though they pretend to. and someday, though it feels impossible, you will see yourself as i do. when time has finally finished healing your scars, your siren call will scream “I AM GOOD ENOUGH!” and even your bewitching smile will shine through. but until that day, the day you are okay, just keep singing yourself to sleep, and eventually your monsters will stop haunting you. - trust me. by jenna clare you are sad now. you are not sad forever. there are no paved roads to healing. you must build one brick by brick. there will be backtracks before breakthroughs but— you must collapse into yourself before rebuilding. you must unearth every wound before learning the power of salt. you will build that yellow brick road— in your own time and on your own terms. - the grit of healing. by ky robinson nearly an entire year goes by where you’re puddle jumping & thinking, well, i suppose it could be much worse than this, & then suddenly it’s hurricane season from june through november. some years, it’s all downpour. some years, it’s all drizzle. others, there’s not even a single drop. there’s no telling what’s in store for you, or when you’ll feel like you must pack up your crown & stick it underneath your bed, waiting patiently for the day when you believe you’re worthy of adorning it. - rare as those days can be, they do always come. the last time you were asked for forgiveness, you had the same dream every night. no, not a dream, a nightmare, a warning, a sound in your chest, your mouth opening to a word, no I know. I can’t listen to the Beach Boys without thinking of all the girls they sang to, & her bubblegum-pink lipstick print on someone else’s mirror, or face. maybe the difference between remembering & hurting is just me. when you deleted & blocked & changed your Instagram account to private, it was because your empty hands had nothing left to give, could only push back, could only wave goodbye, could only stop, I know. I’ve drawn the curtains. I’ve screened calls. I’ve felt mean & brave, when it didn’t matter. when your heart breaks, every piece is indistinguishable & the same. does your pain have a voice? does it need a space? one last thing I can give: here; may you cut your hair & grow it out. may no one watch. - in place of mercy. by yena sharma purmasir do you think medusa didn’t have to cut loose a serpent or two? shedding those who do nothing but spew malice your way is crucial, even if they end up being the ones you never thought you could live a single moment without. as much as this twists a knife in your gut, you must give yourself permission to do this. how else are you going to make space at your table for the ones who have proven they’re actually worthy of sharing your meals with? how else will you learn that you’re deserving of being served first, before anyone else? but you will grow stronger, grow wiser, grow the courage to look down and see yourself in pieces at your own feet. dare to send your fingers dancing through the shards before you pick them up and call them poetry, call them a new song, call them screaming in your car with the windows up and after you have emptied your throat of all the pain that finally pulled itself from your tongue, you will feel your lungs fill themselves with the kind of healing that you summoned all the way from wherever miracles are made. then you’ll breathe it back out feel it spilling into your story. you will pour words into your wounds like salt water, like the sound of saying what has happened can fill the gashes left, courtesy of cruelty. and it will, well enough. and in time, you will find that while you cannot scrub the scars from your skin you can rearrange them into something like maps soft, and webbed, and patiently waiting for you to trace them through all your mad, wild mending. - one breath at a time. by morgan nikola-wren she said, chase the bad memories through that cold, unfriendly wild. she said, chase the bad memories through the ruins of the fallen. she said, chase the bad memories until they explode & s c a t t er to dust. she said, they’ll be like the stars we still see but were burnt out before we were born. - it will get easier / it will hurt less / give it time. sometimes you heal up & sometimes you stick out at strange angles forever….. like an elaborate self- portrait drawn by a six year old & so what? you are learning what it means to be the only one of yourself & here you are in all of your glory in all of your razzmatazz dramatic lopsided glory yes: you are here; it is morning ; you are wearing heart- shaped sunglasses & how grand it is! how glamorous & grand ~ to zig & zag & walk towards home, your body parting the air as though parting a beaded curtain - untitled II. by mckayla robbin renegade /'re-ni-ga-d/ noun 1: someone who loves themselves despite the falsehoods the world spills into them. - & if you can’t love yourself yet, you still deserve love from others. this is for the ones with starfall hearts and blown glass eyes this is for the ones with broken hands and unbroken ties this is for the ones with wild hair and ghosts in their lungs this is for the ones with unsung mothers and wars on their tongues this is for the ones with bruised peach skin and fear-flayed nails this is for the ones with hummingbird hearts and thighs that tell tales of nights they found love and nights to forget of days passed in silence, words not to regret - i am yours. by sophia elaine hanson if you want to put on your very best dancing shoes, then do it. if you want to zip yourself into your golden apple ballgown, then do it. if you want to paint your face while you dream of all the cupid-shaped smudges you’ll leave on mirrors for passersby to collect on their lips, then do it. you can do it all & still save yourself & the world for good measure. there’s nothing stopping you from being both gentle & valiant, just & magnificent, or any combination you should ever long for. the reason they tell us we cannot have it all is because they fear we will become even more dangerous than we are, & we are already such forces to be reckoned with. - open up the wardrobe & step inside. (homage to C.S. Lewis’s book series The Chronicles of Narnia) She carried her hurt around in a tiny glass jar, lid tight enough that it would take two hands to twist off. She convinced herself, that much like Pandora’s Box, opening it would only cause more harm than good. It’s easier to tell others that your monsters sleep under your bed instead of tucked away in a cold slumber right next to you. With creatures of the night begging to play, her mind that was once an enchanted garden was becoming a tainted dystopia. It was only when the voices rang louder that she began to hear the soft symphonies of hope whisper among the madness. and so she found comfort in the melodies that the universe began singing to her. Slamming her glass jar to the ground (what was once a forbidden secret) stillness began surrounding her being, and opening the rim of her mouth, she began to sing along. - a promising ballad. by orion carloto you worry so much about the comfort of others that you cannot remember a time when you did something just for yourself. - you are worth spoiling. When I was a child, I thought astronauts and astronomers and anyone who explored the universe were space mermaids, diving into the unknown ocean of the universe, our planet the comfortable shore. This is why lately, I have stopped asking the cosmos for the cure. To bleed the sad planets out from inside my skin and replace them with the ashes of happier stars. It took me nearly three decades to learn how to embrace the constellations of my own tragedies and dive, courageous, into the galaxy of who I am, emerging as the better, stronger version I deserve myself to be. When I was a child, I used to believe anyone who explored the stars was a mermaid. Now that I am grown, I know that they are. - because i am one of them. by nikita gill you did all you could do. now you must learn what it means for you to live. - tweet from august 8th, 2017. take my words, but expand upon them. argue with them. change them. twist them. - make them yours. i’ve never been a mirror nor a lake for you to peer into & see yourself or your past & future paths reflected back to you. my story has never been your story. your story has never been my story. their story has never been anyone else’s story. the wonderment of all this can be found in the bits & pieces we’re able to gather from each other to form the entire window. - stained glass. they will say: you’re not talented enough. you don’t have an original cell in your body. you don’t measure up to the ones who came before you. your feelings are shallow. you’re whiny. you’re a hack. you’re a whiny hack. none of that could have possibly happened to you. . . . but if it did, then you embellished it. & it’s probably your fault anyhow. - & you will keep writing anyway. soon they will have chopped down all the trees & with them all the b e a u t i f u l w o r d s , s o - write the story II. nobody has the right to lure your voice out of you— not even if they’re a sea witch looking to make a bargain. - rip this page out & keep it with you. no matter how you choose to tell your truths —a whisper melody s c r e a m— you are still toppling mountain ranges. - you possess avalanches. “be victorious in everything you do. disturb the gods, if that’s what it takes. & maybe especially then.” - mother knows best IV. the rest of this story belongs to you. dearest reader, this is the final poetry collection in my “women are some kind of magic” series. it all started with a princess who collapsed into a pile of ashes & somehow learned to make a queendom from them. that princess-turned-queen was, of course, me. in that first collection, i attempted to summarize the entirety of my life in a little over two hundred pages. everyone i loved. everyone i lost. every struggle. every unsteady step to survival. it seems like an impossible feat & that’s because it was. there is & has always been so much more to my story. it continued, then, with a group of fire witches. the princess had survived & she wanted revenge for everything she’d been put through, especially the sexual violence she had endured & had to watch all around her. messy was the witch. angry was the witch. politically charged was the witch. i allowed her to be all of those things. i allowed myself to feel without restriction, without worrying how unladylike everyone would find me. but that witch—that witch-queen—still wasn’t ready to share the story she had been keeping behind lock & key for so long. in a way, that witch & her coven bridged the gap between the princess & the mermaid who had long ago decided to fly far, far away from her problems so she didn’t have to deal with them on the page . . . or at all. finally, that mermaid who had been a witch who had been a queen was ready to tell her story. this tale has been a mix of fantasy & truth for that very reason. i knew the only way i could let the mermaid speak was if she could do it discreetly & safely. i owe that bravery to the #metoo movement, first started by tarana burke. i may never be ready to say the name of the ones who hurt me, but being able to tell the story still lifted the weight from my shoulders. boulders have since been replaced by sea foam. if there’s one thing i hope you take away from this collection, it’s that there are so many ways for a victim/survivor to come forward & speak about their experiences with sexual violence. the method i chose doesn’t have to be your method, just as your method doesn’t have to be my method. it’s about what’s right for the victim/survivor as an individual. this book, here, was simply the path that was best for me. in the end, all paths are valid &, with any luck, lead to happiness & healing. may the chorus of mermaids follow you wherever you go. may they offer reassurance whenever you’re in need. remember you are one of us. forever. from the glittering sea to the starry skies. laced with love, amanda [image: ] coming: the story you needed to write on a bookshelf waiting to save someone else. I. the sky “ after the unimaginable happened, the mermaid left the dried up sea of her planet & rode a shooting star straight into the sky. door sealed. television off. curtains closed. hammering heart. creaking bed. tear-filled silence. years shattered. - a little girl played hide & seek in the wrong place. how he managed to choke me with both of his wrists ribboned together behind his back. - “do not say a word.” there was nothing i could have done. there was no one i could have told. - a pebble i cannot get down. what felt like hours of begging & screaming & crying & shouting “don’t you love me?” was wiped clean with a single word from your mouth. by some miracle, you convinced my mother that it was okay if i took my bike out into the rain & rode to my heart’s content— because if anyone could be trusted to turn back from danger, it was me, - wasn’t it? it should be safe for little girls to ride their little yellow bikes around the block without someone ending up in handcuffs. - wanted. “call me dad,” he would tell me. i wanted so badly to tell him “no” because i already had one & he could never hope to measure up. - you weren’t family by blood or the family i chose. when i cannot cope i erase it instead. - not a printing error. star light, star bright, first star i see tonight; i wish i may, i wish i might flee my skin for but a night. - bibliophile. “i wish i could be her friend,” the girl whispers down into the tear-stained pages, lovingly caressing the gold-dipped edges. “no—i’d rather be her.” - ariel. “i wish i could be her friend,” the fictional girl echoes back. she reaches up, her hand falling back down to her side when she realizes her mistake. “no—i’d rather be her.” - ariel II. & that’s how the girl learned how to love but only ever from a great distance. sometimes she cannot tell the difference between the days she’s walked this earth as herself & the days she’s walked through paragraphs as someone else. - no one noticed & she liked it that way. do you ever find yourself nostalgic for the life you never got to have? - (because i do.) do you ever find yourself nostalgic for the person you never got to be? - (because i do II.) whenever you need a healthy dose of serenity, crawl through the frosted windowpane of her mind. blades of grass grow in shades of paradise. opals droop from branches instead of leaves. rivers flow with undiluted rosebud water. milk&honey falls from the clouds instead of rain. even the absolutely unthinkable happens here: children learn peacefully, unafraid of angry hands around guns. - hooks encrusted in sand. though i tend to believe poppies probably speak in secret, i’m under no illusion that you will ever read this poem or any other. (you lie still beneath the headstone i placed my lipstick palm on.) still, i cannot rest until i write these words down for you: i’m nobody. i’m nobody, too. - called back. (homage to the poem “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson) when i tell you i’m still waiting for my hogwarts letter, what i mean to say is i never meant to be here for so long. - forever wandering lost & wandless. “maybe i’m not the book you dog-ear & keep with you always,” the girl murmured, pulling her sleeves over her hands. “maybe i’m the book you forget to bookmark & leave on the train.” - shrinking violets like us. can’t a prince a princess a n y o n e just come along & gaze upon me with such adoration it’s as if i’m the gem of the deep, not the rubble of pompeii? - when will it be my turn? in search of someone who made her feel like she belonged in this world, she went on countless journeys expeditions voyages. - it was always the girl through the looking glass. she didn’t kiss frogs. she kissed great white sharks. i find that losing yourself in love letters & white lies & time differences & dropped signals is always easier than venturing out into the unpredictable - wild. the prince of her dreams was sipping on an old-fashioned while she popped lotus blossoms into her mouth. neither of them felt their vices were quite doing the trick, so they left them behind & ran away. it didn’t matter where they ended up, so long as it was away. so long as it was together. happenstance /'ha-pǝn-stans/ noun 1: he & i. 2: me, falling down those treetop eyes. - who was i before you? “i ought to let you know— i find my prince every year,” - i said. “then this year— this year will be all mine,” - he replied, unfazed. the very minute he realized he could wrap his fingers around my wrists with space left & fill in the dips between my hipbones with handfuls of stones & seashells, he made for damn sure my plate was always overflowing. - filed under: things i hate that i owe to you. you weren’t the first one to tell me they would kiss my scars so pretty, but you were certainly the first i believed. - now i know you can’t fix someone else. everything started to make sense once i learned that you don’t need to be caught underneath an ill-tempered wave in order to drown. i’m talking about how it feels when your fingers are twisted up in my long, blackwater hair, pulling just enough to hurt. pulling just enough for me to not want you to stop. - dry drowning. i don’t mean to frighten you, but i would seriously consider drinking the atlantic whole if only you asked me to. - what wouldn’t i do for you? i wish you had been my first love. i would have even settled for second love. - third is the worst best. shiny gold flecks coat the tips of my fingers the first time i place them onto your skin. bringing them to my lips, i cannot help but to think that it tastes like something not of this world. carelessly, i misplace the age-old fairy lore which warns humans like me never to eat or drink anything that seems too good to be real, lest you lose yourself too completely. - my midas. you’re the kind of intriguing that inspired thousand-page epics. - how many centuries have you lived? finding a way to fit into your sun-kissed arms was almost excruciatingly easy. - you were always my favorite wreck. each morning before school, my mother did not feed me breakfast. she fed me wisdom. first, she brushed my hair with a fork. soon after, braids fell to my waist as she kissed the top of my head, whispering against it, “now. don’t you dare lean out your window & let it all fall down. you never know who will show up & climbclimbclimb on up. heed my advice: even villains will go all dizzy & heart-eyed for you. do not ever become fooled by such trickery.” - mother knows best. [image: 1.png] [image: ] [image: ] the princess saves herself in this one (#1) the witch doesn’t burn in this one (#2) the mermaid’s voice returns in this one (#3) slay those dragons: a journal for writing your own story *** the things that h(a)unt duology: to make monsters out of girls (#1) *** [dis]connected: poems & stories of connection and otherwise for the little bookmad girl. thank you for deciding to live long enough to see yourself write a book. then another. then another. then another. [image: ] trigger warning this book contains sensitive material relating to: child abuse, gun violence, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, alcohol, trauma, death, violence, fire, & possibly more. remember to practice self-care before, during, & after reading. contents I. the sky II. the shipwreck III. the song IV. the surviving When I think of The Little Mermaid, there are two narratives that come to mind: the dark and twisted fairy tale penned by Hans Christian Andersen and the nostalgic Disney rendition from my childhood. In this gorgeous collection of poetry, amanda lovelace has brought these two alternate worlds seamlessly together. The mermaid gets her voice back, and she does so with a vengeance. As a writer, the words you put down on paper are synonymous with your voice. There was a time in my life when I stopped writing. For years, I ignored my words. I’d lost my voice. I’d lost myself. But the world works in mysterious ways. It yearns to remind you of your place and purpose. At first, this reminder will appear as a gentle tap on your shoulder. But if you don’t pay attention, it will come in the most brutal fashion. And that is what happened to me. My life stopped. My world came crashing down. And when there was nothing left, my words came back to me. My voice came back. And with that voice, I rebuilt my life, from the ground up. Now, years later, I am proud to join amanda and a collective of fresh voices, some of whom you will meet in this book. We come from all over the world, refusing to settle for the narrative that has been written for us time and time again. We are writing our own alternate endings. This is our time. This is our revolution. Pick up a pen and join us. xo Lang warning I: this is not a mermaid’s tail tale. there is no sea-maiden. there is no sea-sky. there are no sea-stars. there is no sea-song. what there is, however, is the story of how they tried to quiet her & how her screams dismantled the moon. warning II: only mending ahead. swan song I i’m dousing my fire. i’m dropping my sword. i’m melting my crown. i’m destroying my castle & then i’m hurling it straight into that perilous sea. all this time, i thought myself a motherfucking queen, & only now am i realizing that it was all make-believe. swan song II i have a terrible habit of writing myself braver than i’ll ever be, & i’m not sure which of us i’m trying to convince— you, or me. you are the chapter i didn’t know if i should tell for the fear that i would someway, somehow write you back into the current chapter of my story. in one of our many worlds existed a girl who couldn’t handle how very sad & confusing life could be, so she approached one of her many overstuffed bookshelves, got up on her tippy-toes, & pleaded to the dozens of warped & well-loved spines, “i want nothing more in this world than to be one of you.” miraculously, the books listened. they more than listened. from that day on, they took her in & raised her as one of their own. each night while she was supposed to be sleeping, the girl’s new family scribbled her into fairy tales about princesses & witches & even her favorite fantastical creature: mermaids. in a distant land . . .