I will not apologize for being too much for you. I saw that girl in the dress that fell midway from thigh to knee. You called her a slut and when I looked down at my own hemline i wondered what you truly thought of me. Do you remember the rosy lipstick that you asked me not to wear because i was “pretty without it?”. So did you think I was ugly with it? For a month you needed a haircut but I never said anything because if you like it long you like it long, but then you said “all I ask is don’t wear your hair up, I like it more down”, as if your opinion was supposed to matter so much to me. So I’m not sorry for wearing tight dresses or for not holding my tongue. I’m not sorry for keeping the lipstick, or for making more money than you, or for losing my temper when you rolled your eyes at my convictions. I was a river and you were a dam; you should have known I would crash through you. I was the noise you wanted to silence and the pistol you wanted to lock and no, I will never apologize.
The next time you feel you have to defend something about yourself, ask yourself, why am I feeling I must defend this? … Do not feel you must say anything. Be who you are. Do not try to be perfect all the time.
There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it.

The first man to name me “goddess”
was twenty-one and drunk on rum.
Breath heavy with lust and booze, he told me
that most nights he carved poems into the walls trying to write me alive in the room with him,
so when the light hit the scrapes just right,
he could catch his breath for a minute.
I was just fifteen, all ivory thighs and wild eyes,
but still he held my spine between his teeth and spun words off his tongue like thread—
they wrapped around me in a throat-crushing tangle,
but when my limbs began to struggle,
I convinced myself it was some sort of embrace.
One night he called me saying,
“Babygirl, you gotta open your window and stare out at that moon. Isn’t it beautiful, baby? Look at the sky holding up that massive thing all on its own. Damn, you’re just like that, you know?
You’re my sky.”
My frail bones were cracking under the weight of the rock he sickly called devotion—
instead of shattering, I let him become a solar eclipse
and never looked back at him again.

The second boy came to me on his knees at seventeen:
a past lover replaced with steel skin and iron irises.
I’ve never heard a voice as cold as his was, begging for my touch and dripping false sincerity off the edges of his lips.
He cried, “I didn’t know I needed you until you were gone. I didn’t want to hurt you. I’m just fucked up in the head.
Maybe you can soothe the ache in my soul if you kiss it just right with those words of yours.
You’ve always known just what to say.”
Each whisper echoed with a heavy blow that rung in my ears
and bruised my bones so deeply that I still feel them in the marrow.
As he spoke, I could feel those phantom-fingers that once fit so well between my thighs
beginning to curl around my ankles,
so I stepped on them.

The third man held nineteen years in his fists and
told me I wrote like words were poison,
as if I needed to pull them out of my gut as quickly as I could scratch them down, just so I wouldn’t choke.
Now I was sixteen and slinking around in ink-black stockings,
lips red and bloody from tearing the hearts of men out of their sleeves with my teeth.
He claimed I was wild like nothing he’d seen before.
“You’re wise for your age,” he declared. “You remind me of a Burroughs novel; I just can’t seem to understand you.”
I tried to unwrap my heart and serve it to him,
all raw and brutal,
but he returned it untouched, replying, “Stay quiet, now, darling, I don’t want to hear it just now. It’ll spoil it all, you see.”
To him I was a character, a fetishized fantasy,
and he’d cover his ears if I ever tried to speak
outside of a poem.

See, men only seem to stumble upon me in the dark,
as they grasp and fumble for something to swallow to convince their starving hearts
that they’re worth beating.
They hear my words as a siren call and drink me down in heavy doses.
Then, they crush me between their fingers and grind the dust into the ground with their heels so they can keep trudging along,
toting their tragedy behind them.
In their swollen eyes, I am only a poetic panacea.
But god, in the time that it’s taken for my rubble to reform into this shape they call a body,
I have grown thunderstorms in my skin and collected tornadoes under my tongue.
Yes, I’ve been told many times by those who try to solve me
that I exist only so that I may be destroyed
for the sake of others,
but instead, I have become a forest fire,
and I will burn myself alive to tear down
the thicket in my path until
I’m standing in the wake of my
destruction as merely
human.

Fall in love with someone who wants you, who waits for you. Who understands you even in the madness; someone who helps you, and guides you, someone who is your support, your hope. Fall in love with someone who talks with you after a fight. Fall in love with someone who misses you and wants to be with you. Do not fall in love only with a body or with a face; or with the idea of being in love.

We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.

This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.

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