Jezebel.

You underestimate me.

Pretty faces with smiles slapped onto the sad eyes don’t seem so threatening, do they?

You belittle me.

Muffin crumbs strewn all over the place don’t make you think that I hide a pair of brass knuckles in the pocket of my skirt.

You call me Jezebel.

When I’m putting my red lipstick on in the backseat of the car. When I’m out past midnight wearing a miniskirt and heels that slap against the wet pavement under the warm streetlights.

You mock me?

Don’t.

Because the crimson on my lips screams a warning, it’s a sign – it’s my warpaint – and my heels are sharpened to death like knives.

My mind is ancient;
my soul is from a different time.

I dream of war, of gore, of storms that taste like metal.

When my eyes slip far away and you write a poem about the distances they travel, I’m not lost. I’m weighing my burden, hacking my shackles, guessing what you say about me when you’re laughing with your friends in the back and I’m not there, wondering if I can return home tonight without my hands dripping red.

You don’t think I’m strong because you’ve never seen me kill.

You don’t think I’m a fighter because you believe in the fairytale, and in yourself, but never in me.

You don’t think of me as a warrior because you haven’t seen what my dreams are made of.

But don’t for a second think me weak.

My nails would glitter just as prettily when they are choking the life out of you, my lips would be stained just as red. Those muffin crumbs scattered all across my laptop would taste just as sweet with your blood spattered upon them.

You haven’t seen me fall.

You haven’t seen me defeated, not yet.

And you won’t see me when I come to set ablaze all that you treasure.

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the rebels and the wolves.

Only rebels stand the test of time.

But what is rebellion to you?

Whiskey on your breath at 4 pm or knocking at your ex’s door at 3 in the morning?
Painting your nails black as if in mourning or simply getting out of bed?

The Sinner’s rebellion is prayer.

Every night, he drops to his knees under the moonless skies to pray for Satan’s soul. The clouds shroud the moon in the heavens above as if to veil it from his phantom chants and screams.

The Lover rebels when she licks off the love served to her on silver knives.
And if the edges get tainted crimson, that just makes the pain taste sweeter.

The Messiah saved you once, a long time ago.

He taught you how to crush berries between your fingers and pretend the juice dripping down your palms was blood, so that you would unleash the fury you held within in the wilderness outside and not on yourself.

On days when your hands smell like wild raspberries, you look in the hallways for the pair of hazel eyes you followed out into the woods so long ago. But after all your years of picking your pieces up after breaking down on the bathroom floor at 3 am, you can tell where the tears dried on his face the night before.

He is the kind that saves everyone else but falls apart himself.

And the Pariah?

Rebellion is the religion in her veins.

She got a taste for blood when they dragged her through the gates of Hell. At night, twinkling city lights from afar bathe her scars in an iridescent glow as she dances in her bedroom with the ghosts of her past. Sometimes, she turns the light off and draws new, crimson scars on her skin – cutting through her armour just so she can taste the blood on her tongue again.

Every once in a while late at night, when the stars align in the moonless skies above and the wolves howl and cry beyond the dark, the rebels look up into the empty sky and try to remember – all the pieces that don’t fit anymore, the matches they had to strike, the scars that glisten like quicksilver in the starlit night.
The hearts they cut out and left behind and the parts of themselves they had to kill to survive.

But here we are, all under the same sky. We all have blood on our hands and fire at our feet.

Rebellion is survival.

Rebellion is the scars we learn to wear, every day.

Rebellion is the ashes that remain.

Your daughter won’t eat dinner tonight.

Your little girl is gone.

She wears silver necklaces that dance in the moonlight and choke upon her throat just as coldly.

She leaves the house with crimson painted on her lips and returns at 4 in the morning, with pools of dried blood between her bruised knuckles.

She’s gone.

And she won’t eat dinner tonight –
because there are embers in her soul, burning low and deep, and when she loses her mind at midnight she tends to burn herself down with them.

Your mother is lost.

When you come home at 4 am, smelling of smoke and blood, she has fallen asleep on the couch – waiting for you. She never lets you see her cry. Never. You wonder sometimes if that’s why you do the same as well.

She speaks of fire.

The fire in her blood, the flame you saw ignite in her eyes when you sat on the kitchen counter and talked about life, about dreams that taste like ashes now.

A fire that might raze this house to the ground someday.

A blistering hellfire that can’t be put out.

Your father ran away.

The world fed him honeyed lies, it spoke tales woven of sunlight and everything golden. But daggers of ice float in his veins, frozen so cold; you might get burnt at the touch of his fingertips.

He held his breath and tried to brave it all.

The chains he was born in. The shackles that he earned.
A wife who breathed fire.
A daughter born of inferno and glaciers.

A house of haunted little corners and silent dinners.

He’s still here, sitting in his chair by the window, reading the paper. You can see him with your eyes closed. But if you tried to search for him, to call out his name into the echoes of his empty room, he wouldn’t look up.

If you looked for him, you wouldn’t find him.

So here’s to all our lives.

Here’s to the crimson scars and bloodshot eyes.

To the art of rushing to the bathroom with tears spilling down your face so that no one sees you break down.

To the gift of pain we have all given and received.

To questioning the sanity of it all.

To the skies that have fallen.

And to us, who still stand.

Who is the messiest of them all?

I told my friends once; at 3 am, in a dorm room lit up with Christmas lights, that I wondered sometimes I might be bipolar.

I stay in a drunken, flushed daze for days on end and then descend ever-so-swiftly into grey pits of white noise that eat away at my edges, making them rot.

They looked at me for a second.
A moment of vulnerability, of apprehension.

Then – in the spirit of slumber parties, I suppose – some girl in the corner said something snarky and they all burst out laughing.

So much for solidarity.

I sat stiffly all day once.
Spine starched straight like a pole, nails clawing into the flesh of my arms; gasping because I kept forgetting to breathe.

I was at the airport that day, waiting till I could strip myself clean of the miles and curl under the covers on my bed. Or my couch. Or the floor.

I went over to a café to buy some coffee – because 8 am and I don’t get along very well – but when the barista held out my change and my latté, I spilt both – over my dress and down the floor.

She just stood there, looking at me. Didn’t even try to hide the judgement that had already been passed.

“I have my days!”, I wanted to scream at her. To make her understand that sometimes it was hard to breathe; that sometimes the voices in my head rioted for days.

That anxiety can be a real bitch.

The days, weeks, months, years that passed by in my rearview while I took stabs in the dark trying to find my way – they vanished so quickly, like fog in the winter sun.

The chronic inkiness engulfed me, filling my lungs until they burst.
And when I finally emerged again, my bones were heavy with weariness, heavy from the dark.
I felt a thousand years older.

I bled my heart out, learned how to play with sharp objects, use them as tools; as weapons against my demons.
I drew crimson scars all over my body to keep them away.

Some people don’t care.
Some do. Some say they do, but they don’t. Not really.
Some make it even harder.

The Devil is real.

The monsters under your bed are real.

But they are yours alone to face. Everyone dreads the shadows, but the battle can only be fought if you’re not worn out from the monsters of daylight; the ones you sit next to in class, the ones you go to the movies with.

Don’t be so caught up with your own demons that you end up being one in someone else’s story.

and she cried tears of blue.

Numb, aching hearts.

Dried, rusted drops of blood on the edges of sharp little things hidden away in your many drawers.

Darkened rooms lit up wistfully by the passing of cars at 2 am.

Lips cracking into a chapped patchwork of blood when you finally open your mouth; because you refuse to talk or eat or drink or be – for days on end.

Long sleeves and sporadic haircuts in a hopeless attempt to battle the gloomy winter chill, because the sun never left the sky of the city you grew up in.

Listening to obscure grunge bands for an entire summer, so every time you hear the melancholy tune again you’re taken back to that time you went to the beach in the back of your friend’s truck – stale beer on your breath and salt in your soul.

Fake smiles slapped onto sad faces.
Crimson-veined eyes defying the many layers of mascara.

The feeling that empty blue horizons bring, the feeling that makes you turn off all the lights and stare into the empty space; the seemingly endless pit in your stomach that makes you wake up and break down at 4 am in the cold.

When you force yourself to tears because you don’t feel anything, at all, anymore.

The colour of loneliness.

Of emptiness.

Of voids that refuse to be filled.

An entire generation raised to drink and smoke and fuck and bleed in so many shades of blue.

to the stupid little girls,

Stupid girl,
broken child.

Tell them how you cried when the cracks in your soul spread deeper,
when the broken dreams lay like so many shards of glass on the floor, cutting your feet bloody as you tried to stumble past them.

Tell them how you didn’t learn from your frustration,
your shattered expectations;
from the fury you unleashed upon yourself.

The little girl who ate her lunch in the bathroom in middle school grows up to be the girl who seems lost in the middle of her colleagues as they crack a joke; eyes so far away, heart so distant from all the laughter.

“When is daddy coming home?”

The 7 year old who used to bounce around the house with gleeful delight when he pulled up in the garage grew up to wonder if her father will ever call her as she was going off to college.

Fall and rise.

Sink and drown and rise.

She’ll rise every time, no matter what, because she might be stupid but she has never been weak.

Her eyes might be bloodshot but they still dream.

Broken she may be from all her falls, but she’ll rise again – like Rome, from her own ashes,
because the stupid little girls are the strongest of them all.

To You (no, not you)

Citylights twinkled all the way down that road outside the coffee bar we were stuck in that night.

That night.

I was running out of the powder room with mascara streaming down my face,
when you said, “Hey, wanna get some coffee?”
and I said, “No, I just wanna get a cab.”

The next thing I know it’s raining the way it does in our city in September,
we’re stuck at that coffee place down the street everyone goes to when they’re drunk, and you’re reminiscing about our high school days as my ex blows up my phone with apologies that reek of vodka.

Anything to eat ?, the waitress asked you.

Coffee and fries, I replied.

Well, if you’re reading this, I’m usually, like, a lot, more polite.

But I was a little drunk, a little high on the weekend.

A little dazed from talking about all our favourite middle school brawls and confessing to all the crushes we had through those years.
My list had three names on it. Yours had five; and the last one was mine.

I’d have blushed but I just hid behind my cup instead, glimpsing at the way your eyes smiled when you were flustered.

Rain and coffee.
Fries and butterflies.
Late nights slurring into daybreak amnesia.
Early morning flights, last goodbyes.

The rain had stopped pouring at around 4, the sun was rising on the freshly wet airport pavement;

“So, I’ll see you around?”

“You will. Someday.”

The smile reached those tired eyes again.