Poetic Scraps

Poems. Some finished, some only sort of.

I am not a Christian

Because gays are to be stoned but rapists are to pay a fine and marry their victims

Because “don’t do thought crimes” made god’s top 10 rules and “women aren't propery” didn’t

Because when I came out my parents said I must have rejected god because somehow being myself and being Christian were opposed Because when I told my family about being abused my mother tried to give me a speech about forgiveness

Because god commanded “do not kill” and ordered the death of anyone who disobeyed

I am not a Christian

Because being born female and not wanting children is appalling Because being born female and not wanting to be married is appalling Because teenage girls hope their future husband won’t want sex all the time and I realized much later that we were just hoping our husbands wouldn’t be rapists

Because a girl’s worth is defined by her virginity Because if you have sex before marriage for any reason you’re a used toothbrush or a flower without petals or a chewed-up piece of gum (yet no one ever tells this to the boys) Because a woman’s worth is defined by her husband and his misdeeds fall on her head Because a good wife submissively lets him beat her bloody in hopes that her patience will convert her husband (before he kills her – but nobody says that part)

Because any theology that leaves room for a god that hurts you because he loves you leaves room for a partner who does the same

I am not a Christian

Because god loves us so much that he gave us free will and created eternal torment if we don’t choose him

I am not a Christian

Because science is persecuting Christians for not allowing creationism without evidence Because the government is persecuting them for not enforcing Christian values and rituals Because the school system is persecuting them for not letting instructors lead Christian prayer Because political correctness is wrong for letting people practice non-Christian religions for letting people be different Because equal rights is wrong for enforcing the humanity of “sinners”

Because anyone in power who disagrees is a persecutor and anyone not in power is sub-human

I am not a Christian

Because you have to put on a Good Christian Face for your Christian friends Because non-Christian friends are “projects” Because the end goal of any friendship with a non-Christian is conversion they teach you how to make friends for the sole purpose of converting them and if you haven’t talked about Jesus you’re a bad friend

Because physical disability is a punishment from god Because mental illness is a sign that you don’t love god enough Because god allowed every bad thing in your life and you’re supposed to thank him for it

Because one of my only memories from childhood is my father with his hands around my throat and he is still one of his church’s most respected elders

I am not a Christian

Because “your heart is deceitful above all things” Because you’re taught not to trust yourself Because you’re taught that you are inherently evil and that anything you want is inherently wrong Because taking care of yourself is the very last priority right behind giving everything you have to others

I am not a Christian

Because forgiveness means you’re the bad one for being angry

Because forgiveness means I’m wrong for being angry at my rapist Because forgiveness means I’m wrong for being angry at my abusers Because forgiveness means I’m wrong for being angry at injustice

Because loving myself means I’m succumbing to evil because I am evil

I am not a Christian

Because Christianity looked me square in the eye and said, We don’t care about you, we just care that you play by our rules.

I wish I could say that I hate you, But I don’t and that’s what hurts the most Because every time I think of you I remember that I loved you, That I believed when you told me “forever” And I told myself I’d love you for all of my life. That’s the blade through my heart at night. That’s what I feel when I lay awake, Every thought like blood in my throat, choking me, Gasping for breath, trying to keep my head above the flood of memories, And I want to drown so it will just stop. If I cut the memories out and let them bleed from my wrists Maybe then I can breathe again Maybe then you will care again And take me in your arms and tell me not to cry, Tell me that you’re there and that I’ll be all right. Every time I think I’m over you it crashes into me again And I’m drowning in our cold, dead love.

I don’t want it anymore And yet it’s here, drowning me in my own tears, Leaving me gasping, desperate for a breath of forgiveness, of moving on.

I can’t. You hurt me. You took advantage of a naïve child. You told me you loved me and took what you wanted. You groped my breasts, you made me suck you and swallow your bitter pleasure. You did things I wasn’t comfortable with, things I didn’t want to do, but I didn’t say no Couldn’t say no Didn’t feel safe to say no Didn’t feel like my no meant anything to you.

Was I anything to you? Anything but a fucktoy, someone to use, someone to abuse, hands to stroke, a mouth to suck, a body to pleasure you and be paid in words of love and texts with smiles and empty promises of forever?

It took me so long to realize what you did to me was wrong. It took me so long to realize saying yes because I felt unsafe saying no was abuse. It took me too long to realize that the absence of no is not the same as yes. For so long I thought it was my fault. Maybe if I’d given more Maybe if I’d been more comfortable Maybe if I’d gone all the way with you, let you take everything from me Maybe you would have stayed then Maybe you would still love me And maybe this love left in me would be love for an abuser but at least it wouldn’t be a poison destroying me from the inside out.

I don’t want you anymore. But you’re just so charming, so smooth, When I see you I just can’t hate you. I try to be cordial I try to be polite I try to act like we’re still friends But I hate you I hate you And I want you out of my life and out of my heart Because I can’t let you go and I don’t want you anymore. Get your claws out of me Let me go I want to be free and I want to move on and I need you to let me go so I can heal. I’ve become promiscuous trying to get over you. I’ve become angry trying to get over you. I’ve been harboring a flame of rage deep in my heart that not even the flood of memories can quench And if I had the opportunity to get away with it I’d murder you in a heartbeat. I want you gone.

You taught me that you would save me, You taught me to rely on you, You taught me that I needed you. I don’t. I don’t need you. I’m surviving on my own and I’m surviving without you. I’m starting to fall in love again and damn it, it’s not with you. But apparently nine months without you isn’t nearly enough To overcome ten months with you And you still won’t let go of my heart.

I loved you And I want to say it’s past tense but it isn’t because there’s still a part of me that’s drowning missing you And there’s still a part of me that wants you back And if you wanted to date me again I’d like to think I’d laugh in your face and tell you to fuck off But I don’t know. I hate myself for being so weak I hate myself for letting you abuse me I hate myself for not recognizing it. You never fucked me but I wish you had because I would have known that as rape. You never hit me but I wish you had because I would have known that was abuse.

But no, you chose the insidious route, You chose to push me just a little farther, just a tiny bit outside my comfort zone, Not so far that I would push back but far enough that I was nowhere near comfortable And when I asked you to stop You’d say yes You’d say sorry And then three days later we’d be back in the same position and I’d feel so dirty But I never said a thing because my opinions didn’t matter And if I was uncomfortable, well, that didn’t matter because you enjoyed it So I never spoke up.

I feel like it’s my fault because I only said no once, But you didn’t respect that and I stopped trusting you And that was the beginning of the end. I stopped pushing back. You kept pushing forward. And soon I was looking at myself in the mirror and crying and feeling so unclean and so impure because of the things you’d done to me and the things you made me do And the guilt was eating at my soul until there was nothing left in me to resist And still I didn’t recognize that was wrong. I thought the problem was with me. I never thought it was you Your selfishness Your cruelty Your disregard for me Did you ever love me? Was I anything more than someone to pleasure you?

But you promised forever, and I wanted that. I wanted to be loved and I fell for your pretty words And so I stayed. And I hate myself for it. I’m furious at myself for letting it happen— Me. A strong woman. A fighter. An intelligent, take-charge woman. A girl who can out-bitch anyone if need be. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed to say I was abused. I’m ashamed to say I stayed. And I’m afraid to tell anyone because I’m just the quiet girl in the corner and you’re the social butterfly and everyone likes you And I’m afraid of being blamed for it when I’m already blaming myself. I wish you would take responsibility I wish you would admit to being wrong.

So don’t you go telling me you don’t think you did anything wrong Because if you didn’t do anything wrong, then I wouldn’t be sitting here with mascaraed tears running down my cheeks and thinking about all the times I cried, all the times I felt unclean, all the times I laid there and prayed to a god I used to know that it would just be over. If you didn’t do anything wrong, I wouldn’t be drowning And I wouldn’t be telling the man I love now that I’m too scared to be in a relationship.

You were my first And you took my innocence And you broke my trust And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust anyone fully again

Because of you I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop And waiting for the kindest man I’ve ever known to turn on me. I’m waiting for him to disregard my no. I’m waiting for him to decide his pleasure is more important than my comfort. I’m waiting for him to use me up and leave me like you did.

I’m tired of this and I hate it I hate you And I hate what you did to me. I want you out of my heart And out of my head And out of my life. I’ll be just fine without you. I’ll be better without you. Get out of my heart, get out of my life. I don’t want you anymore.

Head down, mouth closed, Wipe your eyes and blow your nose. Don’t cry, don’t speak, If you do, it means you’re weak, Too sensitive and too thin-skinned. It doesn’t matter what he did Or who he hurt or insults hurled – Shut up and take it like a girl.

I don't believe in deities, but if there is one, He must have considered me blessed to write us into the stars together, to give me you.

You met me in the darkest days, when hurt and fear and sadness filled my soul slick oil coating everything I was. I made my thoughts into briars around my heart and I fashioned my words into spears to keep you out to drive you away. I thought that if I tore out my heart myself, it would hurt less than letting you in.

But you didn't go.

You took the bullets I hurled at you with compassion, with love, and you gave me only love in return. You gave kindness to my anger, love to my bitterness. You took the hurt I handed you and in your hands it became love, love unconditional, and you didn't go.

And in that love, you gave me what I needed - space. You didn't try to force my broken pieces back together, you gave me space and love to heal myself. Your kindness helped me fashion the swords of my words into ploughshares, your compassion let me take down the thorns around my heart. In the space you gave, I began to pick up my broken pieces and fit them together again, and you gave me love to fill the gaps.

You can see that I've changed since you met me, but I don't think you'll ever understand how much you changed me. You gave me a safe and steady love, a persistent love, an unconditional love that never left me, and it touched places in my heart that had been broken all my life. You didn't try to fix me, but gave me space to fix myself, and by doing that, you saved me from self-destruction. I say the words “I love you,” but you were the one who loved me first, who changed my scars into constellations and brightened the night of my pain with a million shining stars.

I don't even mind being called “her” during sex because my everyday self is so divorced from my sexual self that we're not even the same gender.

-God said that sex is evil

And when in desperation the battered woman went to the church leaders they sprang into action and banded together to protect him saying, “where are your witnesses?” saying, “What did you do to anger him?” saying, “You must submit.” saying, Wear your bruises with pride and rejoice in your agony for the Lord will reward you in the next life, and as for the here and now we will ensure that none but He will help you.

Like a chef when given a knife and the whole body of a creature breaks it down, cuts it to pieces and separates the good – for consumption - from the bad – to discard -

I broke down my body into pieces and separated the good – the attractive, for others - from the bad – to despise, to change or remove at any cost - and I laid myself out for the world, no longer whole, cutlets upon a serving tray, and hoped that I was good enough to be consumed.

you melt in my mouth like buttery toffee when I bite down.

- maybe I am the bad guy

I used to be considered attractive. I could make a profile on a dating site – any dating site - and I would have my pick of men all vying for my attention. I liked that – I felt desired. I could get catcalled while mowing the front lawn or stared at hungrily by the man at the stop light next to me. It made me feel unsafe, but I was fulfilling a woman's purpose. I was desired by men.

When I began eating again, when my ribs no longer showed through my skin, when I lost my thigh gap, when my face grew round because I no longer starved – when I embraced my genderqueerness, when I cut my hair short, shaved half my head, when I stopped wearing winged eyeliner daily - when I dressed for what felt good over what looked good, when I stopped wearing shoes that hurt, when I gave up on bras that dug in, when I threw out the clothes that I feared to move in - I was no longer considered attractive. I made a new profile on a dating site and received not a single message, not even a reply. I have not been catcalled in years.

Now I am fat and unfeminine and invisible, as if the only space allowed for me in the world is the space of “deemed fuckable by men,” and now that my body is not desireable for sex, I have no place and no value. If my worth is determined by how much men want to violate my body, I was valuable then. I am worth nothing now. Perhaps it is good that I no longer have to endure the sudden threat of a stranger shouting his desire to invade me; perhaps it is good that I can carve out my own space in the world; perhaps it is a blessing to lose the quality of “fuckability.” Yet being told my whole life that a woman's value comes solely from how much men desire her, sometimes I find myself wishing for a catcall, a leer, evidence that I have not lost my worth in the eyes of society.

I have lost my worth in the eyes of society. I am not fuckable. I am not gender-conforming. I am not even a woman. I do not (I try not to) take the subserviant role to men. Society ascribes me no worth because I do not fit its role for me. I remind myself I have worth on my own. But sometimes I wish I could hear “you have value” from someone besides myself.