You suckle at her teat though you’ve had your fill. You are engorged to the point of aching, but you 

Must have all of her. 

She is weakened under your weight. 

And under the weight of your father before you. 

She must have been beautiful once, you muse. 

You’ve never seen her, though. Not really. 

You’ve always looked past her and imagined

What she could be. 

You’ve done this for as long as she has been and now

You can’t see what she never was. 

Still, you have ruined her. Perhaps she had promise. Once, before your fingers grazed her

Body–already claimed but belonging to her–she was free and she was beauty. Only for a moment. 

From the moment you saw her you knew she must


You wrecked her. Now she bears your children–hungry, tired, huddled together. Their voices are weak–you have taken yours and left them nothing. 

You sneer at them. They should find their own way. But she is their mother. They see her scars–the holes you have made in her–but they love her. 

Her heart is skidding to a halt. You can hear it. She exudes an odor that she didn’t have before. Oily and sweet. 

You will drink yourself to death. You know it. They know it, too. But you keep at her anyway. 

You will go. They will to, too. No one will be left to bear witness to the mess you made. 


Infinity, I guess

Today I stared—it was only for a moment—at prescription oxycodone. In that moment I wondered how many I would have to take in order to drift off to sleep. Not because I want to die—in fact, just the opposite. I am deathly (ha) afraid of death. 

I was twelve when I came to the morbid realization that one day I would breathe and breathe and then breathe no more. I was at the house of a family friend sitting on an aged green couch playing 007 on a Nintendo 64. I’d just been resurrected as Bond for the millionth time and it was as though someone beyond me dropped the notion into my head. It came to me as a sentence spoken in my own mind by someone else: “I am going to die.”

For a month after I was afraid to sleep. My mom, in a moment of desperation, called my biological father for help. He asked, “are you afraid to sleep?” I lied and said no. He responded, “well sleep is a cousin to death. It’s just like going to sleep.” Unsurprisingly this did not help. It wasn’t as though I didn’t know what death was. I’d gone to my first funeral when I was three. In spite of what my husband says I do, in fact, remember age three, and I remember that funeral. By the time I was twelve I’d gone to half a dozen. I went to so many in one summer (three) that I began to equate Alabama with death and decay.

Eventually I moved forward. I did not move past this fear, but carried it with me, in all things. I lived in constant fear for everyone, including myself. I was obsessive about my health and the health of my parents, my siblings, my friends. I was afraid of riding in cars with people. I didn’t tell anyone about this fear, because it seemed like something we likely all share. Who wants to be around that person? Besides—what can anyone actually say to make the fear dissipate?

I had my first panic attack in the middle of my first c-section. My heart rate began to rise and I heard someone in the room call for, of all things, a cardiologist. I began gasping for air, stating that I couldn’t breathe. George and Bailey had already left the room for her bath, etc. so I was on the table alone. The fear was overwhelming and I was alone.

I spent Bailey’s first night on earth in the ICU being monitored. My doctor never came by to check on me. I never found out why my heart rate was so high—and I had not heard of anxiety at the time. Bringing Bailey home is a blur. In fact, the first year is a blur. I remember George’s first Father’s Day spent in the ER. I was convinced I was dying. The doctor on call, after extensive tests, sent me home. He likely told me that I was having a panic attack, but as I said—that year is a blur.

I had a panic attack at church and the women gathered there prayed for me, but from a distance. I was embarrassed and, as always, overwhelmed.

I suppressed a panic attack in the middle of a final exam in British Literature. I was struck by the notion that I would have a heart attack and collapse in that very room.

I did not get over that year. Instead, I learned to drag it like a weight with me. For the duration of my twenties I was in a heightened state of anxiety almost all of the time.

Exercise helped. I could think about my own termination without sweating and collapsing. After the birth of Avery I had relapses, but no panic attacks. I felt cured.

Now we come to this morning. I can’t pretend I haven’t felt this dread for weeks—in fact, I could feel it coming before we left the hospital with Emerson. I felt it when I sat in the ER the day after we came home. I feel it every single morning that I wake up, when my mind says, “you won’t do this always.”

I feel this every time I read a news article or watch television. I feel it in the dark at night. This time no panic accompanies it. There are no palpitations. Instead there is silence.

So as I was walking around with this wonderful baby this morning I saw that oxycodone and I wondered, and not because I want to go anywhere. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to miss a single moment of this. I want to exist forever. Some people call this selfish—I’ve never considered myself a selfless person, so I’m not ashamed of that label. I’m here now typing about it because, maybe one day I’ll look back and think, “I’m glad I got through that.” I’m writing it here where others can see it because I can’t be the only one. We are alone in This, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

Right now I am in the midst of it, the existential dread. It’s weight is oppressive, but there must be a light in here somewhere.


That our tomorrows could be endless. That we could be more than vapor

That each moment did not move us


Towards that which we cannot know. 
The happiness of each moment

Is tinged by its finiteness 

And I miss the present

Fearing the future. 
Could I rest for a moment

And be here in the now

Unconcerned with an endless tomorrow

But basking in the heat of today. 
Even now

In your newness

I see past you

To you without me

And all that I would miss

And for this I am sorry and ashamed. 

It Doesn’t Hear Black Prayers


There exists a god

–Any god–

It doesn’t hear Black prayers.

It locks heaven when darkness draws near

And misses the wails

–hundreds of years worth–

For something different.


“If you cannot make this better

Make me different,”

Or so goes one prayer.



It does not respond.

Instead It turns away

And does not see the shape

A bloated broken black body makes

Rotting in the sun.

It misses the scent of hopelessness

And despair turned in upon itself.

It cannot feel the fingers pulling

Sunday after Sunday

–Dressed in what could be afforded–

Plucking pieces of It from dirt

Holding the remnants to the light.

Like the parents–absent and present–

Who stand as equals accused

It is gone from us.

It denies us and has learned not to flinch

When we cry for It

Babes who have only ever known the


Who will only ever feel The Void

As reality.



There existed

A God

I would tell Him

I hate him

For making me this way

For the skin that had to grow


The back that replaced bone

With steel

The face that had to find beauty

In itself

And for never once

Opening the windows

To let a prayer in.


Waiting rooms.

Dusted with the echoes of those gone before

The lagging whisper of time.

Carpets printed with faded patterns of nothing,

Footprints flecking the floor like blood.

Emergency rooms.

Shrills shrieks of silence, assessing

The common brokenness.

Crisp bedclothes betraying nothing,

Every sound a death knell.


Sticky hot with the exhaustive efforts to

Think/do/be nothing.

Chalk dust and pressed granite replaced by the tapping of keys

Jingling their way to a muffled end.

Family rooms.

They are not for sitting: do not go in there.


Laced with the strain of too little space

Arguments misremembered.

Walls of want crumble and rebuild themselves,

Ghosts of fingers reach through, but clasp nothing.

Motel rooms.

Scented with loneliness and the musk of

Desperation and dying.

Beds hard and stiff and not for sleeping, but for

The nothing that follows the too-brief ecstasy.

Hotel rooms.

Clouded with pretending and breaking smiles

Candle wicks burned down to nothing.

Salted tears arrive with room service,

Charges for the stains that will not out.

Crowded rooms.

Suffocating loneliness, the terror of being seen

And unseen.

Throats parched and closed, voice useless, legs tired

Mouth open—then nothing.

Light at the Intersection of Bitter and Sweet

The morning distorts and fragments

The light

It appears, for a moment, to change

Brief, anointed, unified, delight

So we walk, without looking

Trusting as we were told

Blindly seeing tasting feeling

The sight we were to behold

We do not make it

They never do

On broken bones keep crawling

Towards the unseen

The vision of you

Still hearing the voices, not yet faded

Keep moving

You failed, but we are not yet jaded

Keep moving

We are better men

Keep moving

We will make it–and then

Stretched out vast and endless


Darkness, but we dare not look behind

They promised, we would find ourselves in this

Before we could think, they broke promises in our minds

We do not make it

They never do

On broken bones keep crawling

Towards the unseen

The vision of you

Still hearing the voices, not yet faded

Keep moving

You failed, but we are not yet jaded

Keep moving

We are better men

Keep moving

We will make it–and then

Graying in our brittle bones, the marrow in us


We lay our friends to rest, the stones

Where young hearts once beat

Thumping bitter in our chests

And the time

The time comes faster than we can know

And we are whisked away before our hour

Nothing to show for us when we go,

Empty words without their power

We do not make it

They never do

On broken bones keep crawling

Towards the unseen

The vision of you

Still hearing the voices, not yet faded

Keep moving

We failed, but we are not yet jaded

Keep moving

We are better men

Keep moving

We will make it-

We will make it