Dead Tree

Truth burns my chest
Shame sews my lips
And my pen won’t rest
Between my finger tips

For my hand just shakes
Everyone is watching me
To see how long it takes
For my words to grow a tree

The words must come out
Or they’ll burn me alive
So why is my mouth in a drought
And my pen unable to contrive


Thursday Changed Everything

I don’t have the time or money to see a therapist, so my next best option is to write what I can’t say out loud. I don’t know what happened on Thursday night exactly. It started out so innocently. He picked me up at nine, and we drove around the countryside watching the sunset. I had been told that our other close friends were going to watch the stars a little after ten in an old ball field, so he and I parked his truck near it in an attempt to scare them when they got there. We had large fireworks we were going to set off, so the plan was going well… until it got dark outside and our conversation started to fade.

He scooted closer to me, so naturally I ignited nervous chatter until I got a text saying that our friends would be an hour late to the ball field. I read him the text message when he leaned in and kissed me halfway through my sentence. I didn’t mind it, even though kissing my best guy friend threw me off guard. He’s a good kisser. But then it started to escalade. He pulled me over onto his lap, and the kissing got heated. He asked if I wanted to go to the backseat, and all I could think of was relieving the nerve in my hip that was starting to pinch from sitting on him. Now I see how naive that was. So we crawled into the backseats and continued making out, when he suddenly ripped his shirt off. Again I didn’t think anything of it, the truck was getting steamy. So I unbuttoned my shirt and kept kissing him (I did have a camisole on under my shirt, for the record).

I was perfectly content just kissing him until he pulled me on top of him and whipped his penis out. I sat back confused, and he pulled my hand onto it. He was getting aggressive and I should’ve said no or pushed him away or something!! But I just did it, and I don’t know why. I mean we were in the middle of nowhere next to the woods at night, and he was my only ride home for at least an hour. Maybe I didn’t think I had a way out, I don’t know. I stopped and just tried kissing only, but he pushed my head down and made me do it until I started gagging. He turned me around, pulled my back to his chest, and started running his hands up my shirt. I’m not gonna lie he knew what he was doing, but I wasn’t ready and he didn’t ask. He shoved his hands down my pants and I knew it had to stop. But all I could say was that I was on my period. And what did he do? He asked if I was sure I was on my period, stuck his hand down my pants again, and kept doing it to the point where it hurt me. I’d gasp from the pain, but I think he thought I was enjoying it. Then he pushed me onto my back and started humping me. It was so uncomfortable, and the pain in my hip was unbearable. I just wanted it to end. Instead, he told me to roll onto my stomach so he could hump me as hard as he could. I just stared into the darkness until it stopped, then he got off of me and opened up the door to let air in. I opened my door too and hopped outside. Luckily it was almost eleven and our friends would be there soon. I pulled my camisole back down, buttoned up my shirt, and fastened the buckle of my belt. I felt like a slut, I felt dirty, but I didn’t feel mad at him. After all, I was too scared to tell him to stop, and too scared to say he was hurting me. So what happened to me was my fault. Even though I didn’t say yes, I definitely didn’t say no. And I hate myself for it. So I won’t call it rape. I wasn’t a victim, I was a silent coward.

We lit the fireworks off when our friends arrived, talked to them for a little while, and left. He apologized on snapchat after he dropped me back off at home, because I seemed upset. So I told him that I could’ve said stop but I didn’t. And that’s the cold, hard truth. I got in the shower and scrubbed my body until my skin was red, but two days and two showers later I still feel like a slut, I still feel dirty, and I can’t tell anyone what happened. I mean, I didn’t technically have traditional sex, so that’s another reason why I won’t call it rape. All my clothes stayed on, he just found his way under them. I won’t see him for a while anyways, he’s going into the army for basic in a week or so. But that’s the story of how I half-lost my virginity and haven’t told anyone, and that’s how Thursday changed everything. The shame is too much to handle.

Fast Cars and Parties

When you break the rules, that either frightens you or feeds your fire— maybe a little of both. Isn’t it better to feel a little scared than feel nothing at all? Unless of course you break the rules until you lose the feeling of fear too.

Danielle Rice/Parker/O’Conner

I don’t know you, but I know you. You were the most poetic and polar anomaly I’d ever seen. I was sure I could see your eyes sparkle when you looked around as you stepped onto the bus, amazed as if you were a newborn beholding the world for the first time. You were beautiful, especially in the modest and pure way. You weren’t dressed provocatively and you wore almost no makeup on your kind face, but it could never be any other way. Like real art, you held beauty and meaning. You were delicately bold.

The bus rumbled along the highway. I looked over, and you were writing as fast as your pen could move in a cheap, pocket-sized notebook— humble. Then you held your chin high with pride as you tore your eyes from the freshly paved words and eagerly whipped your head left to face me. You simply wanted me to pick your new last name from a list of imagined ones you had selected. Parker or O’Conner? I chose O’Conner, and you chose to continue our conversation. Your messy but particular ballerina bun bounced on your head as you eagerly asked more questions, some as simple as spelling. I was conflicted from that moment on. Were you wise or naive? I mean, society tells us that everything needs to fit in a box— a labeled, organized box. We shouldn’t question our last name, we shouldn’t be headed halfway across the country to New York to be a mortuary beautician, and we should always plan the next step. That didn’t stop you. Was I sensing innocence, or maturity most people don’t reach in their lifetime? Were you utterly lost in this great big world, or were you living vivaciously? During the breaks in our conversation you’d fiercely scribble in your notebook again, focused and distracted all at once. Quiet and reserved, yet curious and cordial. Never once did you annoy me, as you were brave to speak and determined to listen. All I wanted to do was figure you out. I wish I had more time, because an hour on the greyhound wasn’t enough.

In a way, I wish I could be you. You were so content with life, but also somehow yearning for more. You only had a simple flip phone to keep you connected, but that was all you needed. You were all-consumed by the unknown yet completely free to make your own destiny. I don’t remember my first impression of any of my close friends, maybe due to the length of our friendship. Regardless, you’ve had a bigger first impression on me in that short hour than anyone else has had. It’s been nearly a year, and I wish I could talk to you again to ask how you’re doing. Did you get that job in New York? Did you find that happiness you already had anyways? Is your new name as glorious sounding as you’d hoped? While you were writing, I was too; about that bus ride to the Indianapolis airport with one of the most complex individuals I’ve ever met.

Some would say I don’t know you. You’re a perfect stranger, but I know you. I know it’s lonely to be always searching and roaming. I know we all want (and arguably need) a fresh start sometimes. I know that it takes courage to loose control of your life, and dedication to keep dreaming amidst the darkness. I know that we all need hope like you. You are no one and everyone all at once, and I know that we all need to learn the balance of mastering contradictions as you have. I know that you’re doing fine, because you’re unbroken— not so much on a temporary basis, but permanently. You’ve made it this far, what can life throw at you that you haven’t overcome? I know you’re strong, so I know that you’re somewhere out there still delicately bold.

Why Did We Break Up?

Because we grew apart,
and we were going to different colleges.
You and I wanted different things in life,
so it wouldn’t have lasted anyways.

Because I wanted kids,
and you hated them.
There was no balance between work and play,
and money grew on trees for you.

Because we had nothing in common,
though we were too similar.
I couldn’t feel anything ,
while you felt everything.

Because I was fine with keeping it fun,
even though you wanted all of me.
You deserved someone who loved you,
and I wasn’t her.

Because I liked rules
until I met you.
We changed each other,
so we were strangers to ourselves.

Because we were going too fast
yet somehow in a stalemate.
So I wasn’t happy anymore,
but I didn’t know how to tell you.

Because I was just a heartbreak
who left you heartbroken.
I’m afraid to let anyone love me.
What if I’m never capable of love?


If I’m lucky I can
forget the chronic,
tonic clonic beating
in my chest,

the relentless unrest
forging my demise.
Your lies the size of air
fill my lungs.

Will I trip up the rungs
to the high road and
land righthand man to shame?
I feel lost.

Every breath has a cost
that I cannot buy.
Maybe my eyes need hung
out to dry.

What if breathing your lies
and drying my tears
volunteers a breakdown
and I break?