You Scream At Us And Then Wear Earplugs Every Night

the disappointment that gathers at the bottom of my heart when I look at you

is a lot more serious, I can tell you,

than what you felt when I asked if I could borrow paintbrushes

to help with the feminist club float

I wonder how you look in the mirror at the darkness growing in the corners of your eyes

and find another way to blame us for what you do

your apologies used to mean something to me but now I know

they’re earplugs to block out this screaming pain

and I hope one day you read this poem and you know

that every time I see you, it feels like my skin shrinks a little

and a thick black paste fills the gap between and

no words from your hollow fucking mouth can erase the things you’ve said to me

I want to throw up when I hear you talk

sooner than you think, I will walk out of here and thank your God I don’t have to live in the same house as you anymore

and someday I will find someone who loves me the way you never even tried to

and she will be a feminist

and we will buy our own paintbrushes and make art from the darkness that

people like you trapped inside of us

and you will never tell her one fucking thing about me

you fucking asshole

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Today, a pastor I know shared an article concerning the sexual immorality of homosexual practice. It’s funny, the way the author wrote of homosexuality. Defining it in one word as if it were that simple, that clean-cut, that easy for them to comprehend. I know so many Christians, and the ones against homosexuality always excuse their bigotry by comparing same-sex love to other sins. As if that could make us feel better. “Gay people are no more sinful than people who cheat on their spouse,” I’ve heard them say. “Or people who have sex before marriage.” God, they make it sound so dirty. So very wrong.

Do they think all a gay man does is wipe cum off his hands? Do they think a lesbian communicates by the flick of her tongue?

They say it’s their duty to warn people away from homosexuality. As if they’re fighting for us. Fighting for us in their own war against us. Advocating for our freedom from sin before a God who chained us up to begin with.

Who are they to talk themselves up that way? They speak of a war against Christians from a society of impurity, adultery, homosexuality. As if they were not the ones insisting that we burn in hell if we do not refrain from the sinful desires of the flesh.

I hate that they talk about me that way. I pretend it doesn’t affect me, but it does. I have seen love unspeakably beautiful. I have seen love they won’t let themselves see.

From the same lips that condemn the practice of homosexuality, I have been warned away from boys. “All boys want is sex,” Christian women tell me. They discuss boys as if they’re driven by their genitalia. What if I were to believe them? If I did that, I would stay away from boys for the rest of my life. And still they tell me same-sex love is unnatural, unfulfilling. Ahnna told me she wanted me to be afraid of teenage boys. And now she’s surprised because of “what I share on Facebook.” Damn, what did you expect? I didn’t need you to warn me away from boys, honestly. I figured out for myself that girls are premium.

The Christians I know have also assumed I don’t care anymore. Don’t care about God, don’t care about Christianity — I’m letting myself be brainwashed by the public school system and the media with no regard to eternity. Do they think I have no conscience? No memory? No emotion whatsoever? “I still care,” I tell them. “I care more than you can imagine.” I want to tell them they haven’t faced Judgment Day in their nightmares.

What I seen in the eyes of another girl is something they aren’t picking up on. I’ve grown up surrounded by picket-fence straight Christian families marked by stagnant predictability. And what I learned is that I will always be miserable. Loving a woman will drown me in guilt and dread. I’m 16 and I can barely even watch people die in TV shows without sitting paralyzed in fear. God’s wrath awaits me on the other side. But my doubt cannot be satisfied by living a Christian life. I cannot accept a God who sends my best friends to hell. I cannot worship him in heaven while they suffer in hell. And I can never disgrace myself by shutting my identity up like an underwear drawer.

Predestination

in her pupils I see

myself grappling with demons

 

(SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP)

 

God sent them tumbling over heaven’s gates

told me only humans have free will

but only He can gain control

 

He sent her tumbling over the same gates

because I have too much

of that God-given will

 

you’re good enough to dodge every idea of God

find your way down to my doubts

make your home inside my fear of death and hell

 

because of you God sent me tumbling over heaven’s gates

sent every fallen angel with me

said His path is narrow

said He wouldn’t let me go

 

(SHUT UP SHUT UP)

 

Jacob wrestled with Jesus

and found his way to Him

 

I wrestled with an image

of us intertwined before the altar

and I found my way away

 

(SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP)

(SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP)

 

God locked those pearly gates around my heart

and you burned them all down.

Get Out

You asked us last night, “Why do my kids only obey me when I’m blowing up?”

You don’t have to ask that. You already know the answer. We’re scared; at least I am. I’m scared because I can never tell when you’re going to do this. I can never tell when you’re going to lose control of your voice, let it ride up and down on swear words, and you won’t even try to stop it from happening once it’s started. You won’t even try. You certainly aren’t trying right now.

I’m scared because I know what makes you feel this way but there is nothing I can do to stop you. When I open my mouth, it’s useless, you won’t listen and you won’t care because you’re not trying to find an answer. You’ve even said that. “I need to rant,” you said last night while we tried to calm you down — well, while Coleman and Mom tried to calm you down. I wasn’t trying. I knew it wouldn’t help.

I’m scared because we have everything to lose and you have nothing. Not even us.

You’re living in this tiny plastic bubble, like a room that’s too small and just keeps shrinking, and you try to get smaller but you can’t, and every time you have a fit and throw your body around it’s because you’re trying to break the bubble but you’ll only end up more frustrated. You know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s what you feel all the time. It’s what you’ve always felt. None of us are real. Me, Mom, Coleman, we’re not individuals, we’re yours, and we’re not real because neither are you.

God, just thinking about that makes me feel sick. I know why you get mad. I know. All your emotions stay inside and turn to anger and then you release them on us in this fucking rampage, completely illogical and completely impenetrable.

You could help it, though. You could if you tried, you fucking asshole.

I can’t pity you when you’re screaming empty insults at me that are really directed towards yourself. I can’t pity you when you smash my computer screen during finals week of my freshman year, when I’m just a baby, and I’m starting to gingerly explore painful parts of myself while you’re stuck in a plastic bubble of your own skin. And before that, years ago, you threw the home phone on the ground and smashed it. Dad, every time you smash things it’s like you really want to smash me. Beat me until I’m nearly dead, until every time you smile all I can see is a different laugh stamped on your face, the one you used on Mom and I while we were crying because we were so afraid of you. All you want to do is dump me on the back porch and leave me there, the way you took everything out of my room last year and dumped it on the back porch because you read my texts and thought I was having sex with Sicah.

After school today, I asked if I could borrow a couple of your paint brushes to help paint the float for the Feminist Club. “You’re in the Feminist Club?” you asked, quietly. You were disgusted.

Dad, why am I in the Feminist Club? What do you want me to say to that? Listen, it’s because of you. Because two years ago while I was crying, sweeping for you in the backyard, you were taunting me. You told me, “When you get engaged, I’ll be sure to tell your fiance to stay away because you’re fucking lazy and you won’t do anything for him.”

Dad, fuck you for telling me that. I swore I wouldn’t marry a man because he would only end up like you.

When I get engaged to a woman, will you tell her that? That I’m fucking lazy and I’ll never do anything for her? If you do, it won’t matter, because she will love me in all the ways you can’t.

Girls

closes her lips and closes her eyes
shields her thoughts from a tear in the skies

every love she knows
disintegrated
by the imprint on her lips

and she is a fly
stuck fast in honey
brushing against her, near her He hovers
but even His words
are lost in the sheets
between her and a gentler lover

Blasphemy

I do not think I have ever belonged to someone so completely and unmistakably. You–you dissect my body, dig through me as though you are reaching into my life and renewing the fire of the ashes of my cremation. I am gripping your shoulders because I want to meld my skin to yours, and your hands burn something between my thighs… your black handprint, searing your mark of hell into an innocent place, and you should not be here, you are a demon and you are dragging me into the pit. No… not now — now my concept of God is shoved to the foot of the bed to make room for our pleasure, in the pages of a book I used to love. In my tremor beneath you, I watch that book — it is only a book, right now, only some long-forgotten concept, and good riddance. The blasphemy inside me doesn’t matter here. Your skin matters here, your body that I wish would travel through my own and into my spine and then into my intangibility — oh, but you are also tangible, and that is also good. Our rhythm matters here.