Letters to Karen

Two lost girls found each other

Soul sisters from different mothers

Rapunzels in our towers,

counting down the hours

till our knights in shining armor came to save us

So tired of the worlds our parents gave us

 

Single-stoplight towns ain’t much to talk about

We used to pray to Jesus, searching for a way out

We escaped inside a world of stories,

of Once Upon a Time and Hunger Games

We fled our quiet villages in words and pages,

and I believed we were the same

 

We had but one difference,

but it made no difference,

for I was naive,

and I still believed

that lines of red and lines of blue

could never break the bond between me and you

 

You wanted a prince – tall, gallant, and strong,

who rode a prized steed and burst out in song

when he caught sight of you with his sweet hazel eyes –

a man who’d hold you till you died

 

I wanted a queen – fierce, stunning, and bold

with more passion and fire than one heart can hold,

who burned with ambition and never backed down –

a woman with vision who fought for her crown

 

I respected your dreams of a babbling brood,

because we are endowed at birth with the right to choose

You forced a smile and wished me well,

but what you really meant was, “Good luck in hell”

 

For three years, I choked on your sugary insults,

endured your judgment, never asked why

I let your words invade my head, carried them on every breath,

as I followed you further past the line

Though I turned back and never stopped walking,

sometimes I swear I still hear you talking

 

“Hush, hush, button up

Don’t go tempting men into sin

Be a proper lady, march out for the babies

It’s murder to back out once you get in

Society is evil, women want too much

If you’re wearing Daisy Dukes, then you’re asking to get touched

But never trust a woman who covers her head,

for all her people won’t rest till they see us all dead

It’s Adam and Eve, no room in between

What kind of sick man would call himself “queen”?

May daughters stay daughters and sons stay sons

Remember who holds the broomsticks and who holds the guns

A woman’s place is in the home,

unless there’s a virus

No one would’ve caught it

if they’d been more pious

Blame it all on China, for America is great

Land of the free, home of the brave,

as long as they come with their papers in hand

and don’t fight when you lock up their babies in cages

and cast off all ties to their first motherland

and kiss your pale feet for their minimum wages

Can’t you be modest, keep it in the closet?

Protect our young children from your rainbow pride

Your identity is man-made, like your alphabet soup parade

It shouldn’t be called a wedding unless there is a bride”

 

Amazing Grace, I’m no longer blind

I see the untruth of your thoughts in my mind

and now I understand the real meaning of life

Wake up, Neo – the world is a lie

 

I hope God forgives me for running with men,

for trading the homestead for English and math

for being too stubborn and refusing to bend

for carving my own road where there was no path

for miniskirts and bikini tops

for middle fingers at the cops

for the lipstick I’ll leave on boys and girls alike

for calling Trump’s America a new Third Reich

for cursing on Sundays and stockings with holes

for having sweet dreams about Angelina Jolie

for casting no judgment towards women on poles

for choosing a life that’s fulfilling to me

 

I hope God forgives you for shackling yourself,

for silencing every voice who speaks against yours

for shutting out reason and risking world health

for calling strong women “tramps”, “floozies”, and “whores”

for red hats and bigotry

for conversion therapy

for the babies carrying babies of despicable men

for the girls forced into motherhood at barely past ten

for raising your children to hate what is new

for fresh blood spilled on innocent black skin

for the children shot dead inside their schools

No, I’m not the one who’s living in sin

 

We’re no longer children

This is no fairytale

I’m sick of pretending and defending

to wake up and find there is no happy ending

Yet even now I care, although I know hope is lost

A part of me still loves you, no matter the cost

 

I see you in every swan, every fire

I think of you when I watch 5-O

No matter how you’ve hurt me,

it hurts me more to let you go

 

I’m sorry I let you read my favorite books,

only to watch you twist their wisdom

to support your theories on life

I’m sorry I took the time to apologize,

only for you to ignore my plea

and cut me with your coldest knife

 

We were both mermaids, but when the time came

to become “part of their world”,

you chose to drown

Independence is fearsome – I too am afraid

of loving and losing and wandering alone,

but I won’t back down

 

Stop waiting for a savior and rescue yourself

You live with one arm bound, with freedom within reach

I’d say you deserve better, but you’ve dug your own grave,

for you hardly understand all the ideas you preach

 

You were born into privilege,

and you take it for granted

But despite your advantage,

you are still empty-handed

 

You choose ignorance over truth,

for it’s easier to stay blind

But you’ll spend your life stumbling

until you can open your mind

 

Two lost girls lost each other,

torn apart by colors and lovers

by narrow minds towards narrow eyes

and movements protecting the wrong set of lives

 

I pray our paths will lead home to Heaven,

when we’re older and wiser and know true repentance

I pray we both live with love and compassion,

so our Father may greet us with His smile at the entrance

 

But today, I’m afraid I can’t call you my friend,

although I tremble to write this last message I send

You must think I am selfish, and perhaps this is true,

but I wish only knowledge and enlightenment on you

 

Here stands the fork where we take our own roads

I tried so much harder than you’ll ever know

 

I wish you luck, Karen,

but here I draw the line

Until you learn true sisterhood,

you are no sister of mine

—-

This is one of the most personal poems I’ve ever written. For several years, I was very close friends with a Republican girl while I was a Democrat. I always believed our political views would never affect our friendship, but when she started vocally supporting Donald Trump, I realized that I couldn’t stand behind some of her beliefs, and we drifted apart. It became especially uncomfortable when I came out as bisexual and became an active feminist – two things she did not support. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, it still broke my heart to end the friendship. A part of me still loves her because I remember how close we used to be, but I won’t sacrifice my own mental health and sense of justice while I wait for her to change her mind.

This poem is my way of saying “enough is enough”. When I was younger, I used to think I was doing something wrong if it made people uncomfortable. Now I have learned that a society that lives in its comfort zone can never grow past its outdated ways of life, and society needs change to grow. Today, I am proud to be an openly bisexual, progressive woman of color who supports equality for all. I will never stop fighting for what I believe in, and I am no longer afraid of losing friends if I speak out because I know there will always be people who respect me and stand with me. As for the people I’ve lost along the way, I wish them well and I hope they will learn to set aside their prejudice. But at the end of the day, I can’t make them support justice; I can only control my own actions and keep speaking up for what I believe in.

Barefoot in Paris

Dawn breaks, she wakes

Runs to work in bare feet

Torn dress, wears less

To afford enough to eat

Long day, factory

Blistered hands, tired mind

Street is cold, town is old

Alleys smell like cheap wine

And the night never ends

The rest of us don’t understand

And she scans the crowd for friendly faces

But she turns up short in all these places

Why? Why can’t we see

what’s in front of us?

Are we too blind?

Have we closed our eyes

To the reality of life?

Shorn hair, blank stare

Wanders Paris till she’s lost

Moonbeams, broken dreams

Shivers in the winter frost

Thin hands, weak grasp

Crying out through cracked lips

Dark eyes, black skies

Waiting for the apocalypse

Proud

A thousand soldiers, five remained

The rest were buried without names

Scorched red flesh under the blinding sun

And they said we were the lucky ones

Burned salt stains on my cheek

Last night’s wounds still run deep

Dry tongue, blazing skin

Heart barely beating

Fool’s war, no one wins

Breath swiftly fleeting

The moon in the west fights the sun in the east

Strike too hard, scream too loud

What makes a man and what makes a beast?

Why should we be proud?

—-

This poem was inspired by the brutal wars of colonialism and dedicated to all the lives lost from selfishness and greed. The idea actually came to me while I was writing “Moonlight Queen”, but it has a darker theme.

Comrade

Face to face through barbed wire

One move away from gunfire

Atomic heart, ready for explosion

God above, save me from my emotions

 

I came for answers and nothing more

New mission, change of plans

Never told me you’d be worth dying for

Now we’re undercover, hand-to-hand

 

I lose myself in a red revolution

Stealing confessions from your scarlet lips

Lay down your weapons and I’ll lay down mine

Make love, not war, I let my iron curtain slip

Whispering little secrets, sharing what’s classified

Nowhere to run, but we put away the cyanide

 

Your body close in the dark

Hiding from machine gun sparks

You are the only heaven in a world gone mad

and I will lie to my country to lie with my comrade

—-

This poem is inspired by the story of Black Widow, my favorite superhero. It’s written from the perspective of Hawkeye, the American agent who spares the life of the beautiful Russian assassin. In my poem, Hawkeye is a woman.

Exodus from La La Land

I might have stood a hundred feet

if life was kind and love was sweet

I’m not a dreamer

I can handle the truth

I’m a believer

But I can’t believe you

 

You cut my hair and made me blind

You said I was too dangerous

like every girl who won’t fall in line

 

Born to run free and be wild

I fought you like a Spartacus

They didn’t raise me to be mild

 

But love is a game, and life is a war

I was your crown jewel

until you got bored

Your showgirl till you closed the show

because I knew things I shouldn’t have known

and you can’t trust snitches on the throne

 

My sweetest dream became my worst nightmare

My castle became a cell

Who would’ve thought my la-la-land

would become my living hell?

 

You left me alone, marooned on this island

Locked up the windows, drowned my screams into silence

You said I was crazy, but I’m still a diamond

To the beat of a swan song, I tore down the walls

I’m already broken, so I’m not scared to fall

 

The vultures are circling

The requiem has begun

But I’m older and wiser,

and this fight isn’t done

 

You can’t push me aside

I’ve climbed every mountain, now I stand on the peak

You can no longer hide

I’ve hunted the wild for the justice I seek

You’ve run out of stones

Your greatest mistake was to think I was weak

Now you must atone

For you have no power if I choose to speak

 

—-

This poem is dedicated to Ashley Wagner. Thank you for always being brave, determined, and honest no matter what.

Cat and Mouse

Burning eyes and dripping nose
Running by on tippy-toes
Ticking seconds in my head
Till I slip and snap again
Spiking panic, ice-cold dread
Will this nightmare ever end?

My mind is racing, too fast to stand
Red-hot venom blazing in my hands
Wish I could split this deadly brain
till only skin and bone remained
Think too much and learn too little
No time to comprehend
All I know is this emptiness
I lost my only friend
Scratch, sweep, moving feet
I lose myself in the mindless dance
But night is a blink, and morning too soon
Another day, another missed chance

How long will you shackle me in your suffocating grasp?
Will my lungs endure until dawn?
Will I ever learn to run, to breathe, to know the truth
before my time is gone?
Can I erase you,
but say thank you?
Can I kiss my demons farewell?
My greatest love holds my greatest chain
A warm embrace from the fires of hell
One breath, one thought, one moment more
Repeat
Bite tongue, close eyes, no time for war
Retreat

I have resigned from my throne
and let the regent take hold
But soon I will rise from the ash
and reclaim my crown of gold
For now, I play cat and mouse
and wait, and work, and pray
that my tired body and hazy mind
will last for one more day

Gates of Hell

Trigger warning: body image

 

Creeping over the edge

Toes cross the line 

At nightfall, the trolls wake

and set fire to my mind

 

I wear the cloaks of a reaper

to conceal all my sins

I spend my nights fighting,

but the devil always wins

 

When the winter ends, the ghosts remain

to haunt my tender wasteland

and bind my trembling thighs

I run against gravity, but I fall down in shame

when I see how I’ve cheated

to claim this fleeting prize

 

A colony of skeletons dwell in my armoire,

withered to bones and empty grins

How sweet it must be to live without flesh –

blind, numb, and thin

 

Can’t keep the gates closed,

so the demons burst out,

flying from iron cages

with their victorious shouts

 

Try to quell their rebellion

but their ranks only swell

The dragon awakens

and unleashes its hell

 

How I long to slay this dreadful beast

and pierce the soft belly underneath

These hips cannot bear the burden

of their wicked overlord

I can hear their conversations

before they’ve said a word

 

The water spills over

The spring won’t run dry

Fill me with stones, darling

Till my heart slowly dies 

 

—-

This poem is so personal to me. Over the past several years, I’ve experienced bouts of intense anxiety surrounding my weight, the food I eat, and my changing body. I haven’t been diagnosed with anorexia because my symptoms come and go, but sometimes I still struggle with accepting myself, especially when my weight naturally fluctuates. Talking about it on social media has really helped me move forward and fight this negative mentality, and I will keep working every day to get stronger!

Volcano Eyes

In the mighty mountains of the north
dwelled the golden phoenix
Goddess of fire, queen of ash,
her beauty rivaled Venus

Most powerful, most worthy,
but exiled and betrayed
Yet it is the hunter, not the gazelle
who should truly be afraid

For two cold years she lay in wait,
trapped ‘neath the avalanche of an angry god
Her spark grew dim, but she kept faith,
one step at a time, forgetting the odds
She pushed back the demons and reached for the light
until deep inside, her flame came to life

She opened her volcano eyes
and rose from her long slumber
She woke the ocean, shook the trees,
summoned lighting and called for thunder

The forests quaked, the fauna bowed
as power returned to her bones
And no fool dared to block her path
as she reclaimed her rightful throne

——
This poem goes out to the fabulous Gabby Daleman! She’s such a fighter and I hope to see her flying again soon.

Savior

Running, stumbling
Crashing, tumbling
Darkness, I’m coming
Tried so hard to swim in the gaping abyss
but no islands lay within my sight
so I begged the Lord to let me slip
beneath the curtains of eternal night

My savior sat tall upon an ebony steed
‘Twas no prince, but a raven-haired queen
who awakened me from fifteen years’ slumber
and cut down my demons with her silver sword
She shattered my coffin and my soul was reborn
so I might know the power of her sacred words

Her eyes are like magnets
Her soul is a mirror
I lose myself in the rhythm of her voice
till I drift away to where thoughts are clear

My twilight angel, valiant and bold,
cloaked in black and wreathed in gold
She breathed life into these crushed lungs
and gave fresh blood to my veins
In her spirit I found a beauty
far deeper than any pain

My fair lady knight, how I adore you
A thousand lifetimes couldn’t pay my debt
Search my empty hands, but I’ve nothing for you
You paved the ground ‘neath my every step
Although I never wished to see the day
you’d leave my side and sail away,
you were destined to dance in the golden sun
and revel in the world you brought back to me
But your memory lives on in every breath I take
Fly on, my savior, and set both our hearts free

——
This poem is dedicated to Ksenia Stolbova, one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. Her resilience and courage against all odds inspired me to keep fighting when my mental health problems were at their worst. I firmly believe she is the reason why I am still alive today, and I am grateful to her every day.
(For those of you who are interested, I wrote the full story on my other blog here):
https://madforskating.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/how-ksenia-stolbova-saved-my-life/

Empress

Twelve years in Siberia

The winter kills a man

but a man I am not

Trains slice through the storm

To a future full of sun

and a bestselling plot

Higher, higher, don’t look down

A girl has no name

but she can bring home the crown

Men of steel and men of stone

have no power like a woman’s bones

They called me a princess

with ebony hair and skin like snow

a shooting star in the cold night sky

But flowers fade too fast

like pageant girls from time ago

for all things of beauty must one day die

Slipping under,

but I never met death

for I’m a wonder –

I fought till I drew breath

Avalanche, second chance

Dug my way out and took a stand

Broken heart, fresh start

No longer will I play their part

In the rubble of my palace,

clinging to the edge

I smiled at the devil

and plotted my revenge

I walked through the twisted gates

past sentries and their shifty eyes

and set fire to their parchment plans

In blood red ink I rewrote my fate

burned away the council’s lies

and forward I led a cavalry of fans

I crowned myself Empress

Now I drink from the golden cup

If you seek my presence,

you might try looking up

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