You Lured Me In. What Changed?

Content warning: This is about an abusive relationship. It’s not particularly explicit, but if you are easily triggered, you may want to skip this one.

I wrote this on July 29, but I waited a while to post it to make sure I was ready.  This seems to apply to a romantic relationship, but it does not. If you want to know more about the story behind this poem, please check out my post Do you know what abuse looks like?


You lured me in
Building on our shared history
Memories and nostalgia made you safe
If only I had known
You offered me protection
An escape from my frustrations
You offered me companionship
I wouldn’t be alone
I never expected it to be easy
But you made it easy at first
What changed?
I thought at first you did
But maybe you were already changed
Maybe the scars you gained in our years apart
Reshaped you
The scars I couldn’t see
Maybe all that really changed
Was your veneer cracking
Your twists and damage showing through

Thank goodness I was never in your power
Never dependent on the things you offered me
I may have seemed so to you at first
But even if I had been
I like to think I would have found a way
To escape

At the first sign of my independence
You became cold
Did you truly believe that I was the cause of your pain?
Did you in some way believe I was yours?
Your doll?
Why was my independence so threatening?
I am not your enemy
You did that to yourself
I tried to play your game
But I am done
I will not be your verbal punching bag
Your feelings are not my fault
And every time you tried to explain
It became clearer
That your rationale for blaming me
Was not rational at all

If you must twist yourself in knots
To feel justified
Have fun
I am walking free

For S

I make friends in weird ways. This was made abundantly clear to me as I prepped this poem for posting. This was written on September 21, 2009 after S, a then-acquaintance, went on a rant, in large part as a result of a mutual friend having a melodramatic pity party. S, for whom this poem was written, has been on the short end of the stick a lot. I didn’t know how much when I wrote this, though the tip-of-the-iceberg problems I heard about during the aforementioned rant were pretty intimidating on their own. Two years after writing this, I found things coming full-circle with another rant, and the perfect time to share this poem with her. S is now my closest friend, and we have shared a lot: international travels, strange edibles, learning, teaching, dressing up, dressing down, pants-free zones, and so much more. With much love…


You say you want to get off your knees
You are tired of begging
A little bit of help, a little bit of Understanding
The world seems to say they cannot be yours
I want to hold the world back for you
But it washes through me to batter at you
As though I am an insubstantial ghost
I want to be your anchor
I want to hold you back
As you look over the edge, prepared to jump
You do not know me well enough for that
I have faith in you
One day you will look over the edge
Not at death
But at a chance to spread your wings
One day you will soar

The Speaking Tool

This was written after attending an open-mike-type event on October 10, 2008. One of the performers did a really nice spoken word piece about women. I think. I don’t remember the topic particularly, but I remember getting caught up in the way rhyme was used in the piece. It inspired this poem, which is not much like my other work, but is only a tiny bit like the spoken piece that inspired it. It does work better aloud though, in my opinion.


It wasn’t what you said that made me cry
I’ve heard it all before a thousand times
Sometimes in rhymes
Beating on my ears
It was the way you made the words dance
And entrance me
New beats that don’t align
Twist the same thing into some new thing
That surprises
Your words
Dragged my words across my tongue
Dragged me along
Who cares where we end up? It’s all about
The way we walk the whole while we’re walking there
Talking there
Talking is our locomotion
Motioning us to take a stand and stand up
Who are we standing for?
Sitting for?
Who monopolized my mind
Into their own personal, extra special, all-the-same box?
Who allowed me to allow myself to forget
That language is a tool?
Take it out of that dusty tool shed
A tool is only a tool when you use it
And you make use of it to make me think
To take me to the brink
Of knowing
But you make me talk my own walk
Those last few steps across the line
You make me make this mine
It may take time
But because of you
The way you do
This word-game tap on my mental shoulder
Because of how you use the rhyme
And reason
And timing
I’ll talk across the line
And I’ll be free

Camus’s Question

This one was a homework assignment: Pick a specific poem format, and write a poem in that format. It had to be something with a specific structure, not a freeform poem. This was not the first time I wrote a sestina for a homework assignment. The first one was about frogs. I don’t know where that one is, but if I find it somewhere in my piles of papers, I’ll definitely post it for you all. I really like the cyclical structure of the sestina. I recently read that it was most often used for a complaint poem back in the day, which makes some sense, since whiners tend to repeat themselves ad nauseam. I haven’t ever used the sestina for whining, but I’ve certainly found that it’s not suitable for every topic. You have to find a topic that naturally has a cyclical feel.

This sestina is based on an internal debate I had after talking to a friend who thought she might commit suicide. Fortunately, she’s still alive and kicking, and more emotionally stable now. This was crafted over a two-week period, and finished on October 6, 2008.


Camus once said the only question
worth asking is Should I give up?
Does this world have depth of meaning,
and is that meaning now enough
to keep me in this world and living,
or should I just let go and die?

I know a girl who wants to die,
to answer that important question.
She says she cannot go on living,
it’s not worth it to keep this up.
The things she has are not enough
to keep this life enriched with meaning.

Before I never questioned meaning.
I haven’t had the urge to die.
The things I have are just enough.
With confidence I answer the question.
I watch the sun go climbing up.
I have no reason for not living.

In fact I find such joy in living,
in everything I find a meaning.
Every day I’m climbing up.
It’s not that I’m afraid to die,
it’s just that, facing this big question,
I don’t see why it’s not enough

She says she cannot find enough
of joy or meaning to keep her living.
She hardly dares to face the question,
‘cause after death there is no meaning.
I think that she’s afraid to die,
but wants the pain to give her up.

She struggles with just giving up
and tells me I don’t know enough
to understand her wish to die.
She cannot understand why living
carries for me the ultimate meaning,
how I rejoice and Camus’s question

Came once asked a question about giving up
I find that life has meaning and that it’s enough
I have reason to go on living until it’s time to die

Artist-hood

This one was written on July 25, 2016. There were a few years there where I didn’t write, at least not for myself, and there is literally nothing in my poetry journal between September of 2010 and this poem. This is my breakthrough, I-can’t-live-like-this-anymore piece. I’m rusty, I can tell, but getting back into it. The more I work on this blog, the more I realize how much writing is a part of what makes me functional, and how depressing it’s been to live without, having grown away from it as I did. Thank you all for being so supportive in my journey of returning to myself.

There are a few more of my old poems coming, and then it will all be new work. Most of the time I try to let things sit for a day or two so that I can polish them, but sometimes I just get too excited. I hope I’m not overwhelming anyone with too many posts. Happy reading!


It’s hard to be a starving artist
They said to me
Are you sure you want to put yourself through that?
They asked, and I let them
I let them change me

Years later, I feel lost, drained, numbed
I hold on
To moments of art like lightning flashes in a fading storm
I don’t want to put myself through
The pain
The anxiety
The frustration
Of Starving-Artist-hood

And yet…
As she said so succinctly
I’m not sure I can keep putting myself through
Non-Artist-hood
Soullessness doesn’t look good on anyone

On Death

I wrote this one in the summer of 2005. It’s even more angsty than Searching for Control. It was prompted by the death of a man I deeply admire. Possibly one of the greatest people to ever have offered advice to students. I am speaking, of course, of Albus Dumbledore, headmaster, advisor and friend to Harry Potter. I cried a lot while reading both his death scene and his funeral scene. And when I ran out of book to read, I ended up writing this poem.


Sweet samples of pomegranate
Float behind my eyes
Scattered drops of ruby juice made solid
Some goddess’s tears preserved
Why did she cry?
Death is such a trivial thing
Every day a thousand creatures’ deaths
Mean nothing
And another thousand
Mean everything
A thousand tiny instants
We cannot even see
Controlling our futures
Even the greatest
Become mere corpses in time
Our cities will fall as stones
Our bodies will fall as bones
And our words will swirl away as dust
Collecting on our souls

Searching for Control

I was on the fence about posting this one, because it’s rather angsty. In the end, I decided it wasn’t badly written, and angstiness was not enough of a reason not to post it. In part, it’s a reference to the cliché saying that a butterfly flapping its wings can start a hurricane on the other side of the world.


I’m searching for that one choice
That will change my life
That island of control
In a sea of destiny
I cannot see it
Perhaps I am meant to drown
In that vast sea
Helpless against the tides
Without ever finding that one pure moment
Wherein I suddenly see the future
Spread below me
Like the plain below the mountain
And know just where to push the scale
Which butterfly to startle
How to open my wings
And change the world

On the bus

One of my earlier poems, probably 2003 or 2004. I was pining over an upperclassman who was really good at theater.


On the bus
I dream of you
Always
That is my time to
Dream of you
I stare out the window
And pretend you’re next to me
I think of when
You looked at me
What were you thinking
Can you tell
That I dream of you
When I’m alone?
Who do you dream of?
Will you ever
Dream of me?

I forget, each time you leave

An untitled poem from 2004-2005, probably 2005. It’s about a friend I had a crush on at the time. Said friend never found that out, and probably never will, since we’re no longer close.


I forget, each time you leave
Just how it feels when you are there
The way I can’t quite remember
How the sun feels
Each time I stand in the rain
But I remember that it feels good
I remember that I always want
To go the extra mile
To do some small thing
That will keep you with me
Just a little longer

Secret Garden

This is a poem I wrote in 2003 or 2004, before I began dating my work. It was untitled, but I think Secret Garden is a good fit.


There is a place I went a couple of times
It was my secret garden
Someone mowed the lawns and planted flowers
But I never saw them
I like to go there
When the sun is overhead
It trickles through the leaves
Splashes on the grass
Makes it glow like living emeralds
I want to go back
But the sun shines differently in the winter
And I can’t make myself leave the things they want me to do
So every once in a while
I turn away for a minute
I close my eyes to see that green
And let the tears fall like a November drizzle, until
Duty once again tugs on my sleeve