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July 3, 2013
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    i.


Chloe is nineteen when she dies.

She ends it with a shotgun
the night her brother gets out
on parole.

They say he molested her
they say
he raped nine women
ten eleven twelve women
they say no
it was nine little girls
ten eleven twelve
little girls, kids, the bastard.
They say
he was a bad man
they say
“No wonder she did it.
If he was my blood
I’d’ve done it, too.”

You go to the funeral
because that’s what good people
do,
because your mother asks you
“You want to go to Heaven,
don’t you?”
without looking up from her knitting
and you would laugh in her face,
but she’s your mother
and you love her
so you go.

A man you know stops you –
a friend of John’s  –
John, who is not yours anymore
but Chloe’s
(even now, even in death,
you know he’ll keep her
longer than he kept you)
on your way to the bathroom.

“John really loved her, y’know,” the man says
as if you wouldn’t believe him.
You nod. “Yeah.” Then
as if ashamed,
you cover your face.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” you say, laughing
feebly.

“Did you know her?”

“Yes. No.
I knew John.”

“Oh yeah?” He smiles fondly.
“Hell of a guy.”

“Yes. No.
Not really.”

“Oh,” he says, brow knit. Then, realizing,
recognizing you,
“Oh God–”

“Nah,” you say, or else you’ll cry.
“Nah. It’s alright.”

“He hurt you bad, huh?”

“Yes. N–” You stop.
“Yes, he did.”

“Oh,” he says again. “I’m sorry.”

You sigh, eyes watering. Then,
all at once,
you burst into tears.

“What happened with you two?”

“It doesn’t matter,” you answer,
realizing you won’t get into Heaven
because here you are
crying during a girl’s funeral

not for her,
not for all the heartbreak
her brother caused her
not for her poor boyfriend
that poor man, having to live with this
while she’s dead,
love of his life.

No, you’re not crying for any of it.
You’re crying
for you.

    ii.


Later, at night,
after your mother goes to bed
it dawns on you that
no
you don’t feel bad.

Chloe had dozens of people
crying for her
as did John, as he sat in the corner
in his brother’s suit
ignoring you while he wept
with hands on his shoulders.

You won’t feel bad
for being selfish
for crying for yourself.
You’ve cried enough over John
and you won’t feel bad
because nobody has ever cried
for you
ever.

Not any of them.
Not Chloe (you only met twice.)

Not John–

Your teeth grit when you think this
and you don’t care
when you throw the TV remote
against the wall
so hard that the batteries
fly out.

Not John.

Especially not John.

    iii.


What happened with you two?

You’ve been asking yourself the same question
for months
since January
after John came home
drunk
from a friend’s bachelor party
his pants undone
his pupils blown out
in those unrelenting green eyes
his face smeared with glitter
and guilt.

You yelled and screamed
and he raised a hand out
and struck you
right across the face
for the first time

and you stopped
(you’re pretty sure you were stunned,)
and he gasped
as if realizing what he’d done.

“Oh baby,” he murmured,
pulling you to him
into his arms, ripe with sweat
and alcohol
he pulled you into the arms
that had comforted you
when your father died
that had wrapped around you
the nights after you made love
not really holding you
but holding onto you
like he needed you to be there
like you were all that was left
tying him down.

He pulled into arms
that would never
comfort you
again.

    iv.


John didn’t hit you again
so it was okay
that he ripped your heart in half
right in front of you
over and over
like a colored piece of tissue paper
into confetti
even if he wasn’t celebrating

even if he was never happy
again
(he blamed you for that)
even if he never smiled again
(he blamed you for that, too.)

You don’t think
it would have made a difference
if he’d reached into your chest
and physically tore it out
all those times he was on top of you
and you looked away
to the clock on the nightstand,
counting
(after he stopped caring if you got off
it would only take four minutes
tops)
as he gradually moved away from
sex
and just started
masturbating
using your body.

So your heart stayed.
He never hit you again
but he abused your heart,
kicked and stomped and wrecked it
and a bruised heart
is an easy thing to hide
behind ribs and muscle and skin
behind a girl who believed
for years
her boyfriend would change.

He hurt you
with every little word
with every small glare.
You’ve kept record –
catalouged it all –
not on paper;
if, somehow, you were ever rescued
you didn’t want him to get in trouble.

That’s what fucking gets to you.
That’s what nearly got you laughing
right in the middle of Chloe’s funeral
when a woman passed John,
and said to her friend
“Poor thing.”

Because you covered it up
they’re allowed to believe that.
They don’t say
“He emotionally abused his last girlfriend”
or
“Heard he cheated with Chloe on his last girlfriend.
It’s a tragic story”
or
“What a pig. He treated his last girlfriend like dirt.
Didn’t even bother covering up his affair.”

They say
“Poor thing”
and it’s your fault
all because

you loved someone.

    v.


If stories have to end
this is your final chapter
broken down into two months.

November 9:
Your birthday.
John has been out since last night
“buying a magazine.”

You call him twice.
First time, a girl answers.
“Who is this?” you say.

“Chloe,” she answers. “Wait.
Is this Meredith?”

You say nothing.

“Oh shit. Oh fuck. Uh, listen,
I–”

“Take him,” you say, and she’s quiet.

Before hanging up, you add,
for good measure,
“I hope you suffocate when he blows it in your throat.”

Second time, it goes to voicemail.
“John can’t come to the phone right now,”
he says cheerily
and it’s not the music in his voice
that makes you cry.
No,
the tears don’t start,
until your voice jumps in, laughing
as you say,
“Leave us a message!”

You don’t leave them a message.
You hang up, not really sure anymore
who those people are.
More importantly,
where they went.

November 10:
John slips in next to you
at 4:27 AM.
“Hey babe,” he whispers,
“Happy birthday.”

“That was yesterday,”
you say flatly.

“Oh right.” A pause. He reeks;
alcohol and lavender perfume.
“I uh – I didn’t buy anything, but–”

“Maybe you should have gotten me
a magazine,” you say, with
as much venom as you can.

“What?” he says, confused,
but just for a moment. Then,
nothing.

He’s gone again in the morning.

November 26:
He makes a face
at the mashed potatoes you scoop onto your plate.
“You’re going to eat all of that?”
he asks,
pinching your stomach under the table.

You think it’s a joke,
until you see the malice
in his eyes
and fall silent.

You’re thinking it’s revenge
for what you said to Chloe
(she must’ve told him)
either that
or what you said to him
that night.

It’s not important.
If he wants you to slim down
if he can’t stand the sight of him
you’ll be happy to tell him
that he’s slim
and he still makes you
sick.

December 2:
You say
“I’m going on a diet”
as a test.
He stares at the game on TV
and says
“Good."
Later you cut yourself
for the first time.

December 25:
He buys you nutrition guides
for Christmas.
“As a joke!” he says, not batting an eye
when yours well up
and the wrapping paper in your hands
crumples
like something caving in
or giving up.

“A joke?” you say, seething.

He smiles.
“Well. You’ve gotten kinda tubby.”

“I thought you liked them that way.”

“Huh?”

“Chloe,” you say casually,
pleased when his eyes widen.
“She’s got a little weight on her.
A lot, actually.”

He swallows, realizing he’s slipped
he’s no longer in power.
“You stay the fuck away from her.”

“Funny, John,” you say.
“I have.
But she goes to my mom’s church.
Really,” you add, “if you thought I was
desperate enough to stalk your whore
then you’ve got it backwards.”

He stares at you, pale.

“See, that’s what cowards do.
That’s what people like you do, John.”

You don't realize you've lost it
until you stand and calmly slam him across the head
with the hardbound book.
The cover features a smiling, slim woman
and bright green letters:

GET THINNER, BE HAPPIER!

“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
fuck you,” you chant the rest of the morning,
kicking your legs and smiling
even though you’re sobbing
even as he screams that you're insane
even when he calls the police.

    vi.


But here’s the thing.

John never hit you again
so none of it matters.
It’s unimportant.

When your mother learns,
she crinkles her nose
at your tears,
and says
“Just once?”

Yes.
Just once.

You hung up the phone then
with her voice, angry and impatient,
Meredith? Meredith, are you there?

Nothing will ever erase that slap
John’s open palm
your stinging cheek –
or the one your mother dealt to you
without ever raising a hand.

Just once?
Just once?
Really? Just once? That’s
all?

Is that what she meant?
That it doesn’t matter?
That one slap is nothing,
is normal?
That you deserved more?

What kind of mother says that to her daughter?
(You never asked anyone this.
You get the feeling, if you had,
they would have told you the truth.
You get the feeling you didn’t ask
because they’d tell you the truth
and you already know what it is.)

It’s okay.
You don’t dwell on what she meant
because what she meant
isn’t important.
What she didn’t mean was
“I love you and I support you”
and that’s all that counts.

You still move back in with her
after John leaves
and you can’t pay rent.
She ignores you
when you cry
(she reminds you of John)
and remarks,
looking at a picture of the two of you
that she keeps on her nightstand
that she refuses to take down,
“What a nice boy.
Shame you lost him.”

    vii.


“Losing John”
is remarkably simply.

You used to say “I love you”
when things were bad
(but not worse, not as bad as this)
when there were no words left.

This time, it’s a week after that awful Christmas.
He comes home rumpled, lip gloss on his collar.
So you come up behind him
because you're awfully tired of this
and as he takes off his shoes
you say it.
“I love you.”

Not so he’ll stay
but because you want him
to leave.
Because by then, you know
he’s disgusted by you
without making excuses.

You say “I love you,”
and he leaves.

You're thinking,
maybe he left
because he was scared he loved you back
and he knew what he was doing
was wrong.

At Chloe’s funeral,
he comes to you
after the service
when the limos are leaving
to take Chloe to the graveyard.

He says,
“Meredith”
and you stiffen
and you just stare at him.

He smiles, like you’re old friends,
and you say “I won’t have to worry about
her stink all over you anymore,
now will I?”
And his mouth opens and closes,
like he’s struggling to breathe.

“I never loved you,”
he tells you
and you just laugh
because,
really,
if that’s all he’s got,
you’re wasting your time.

“You honestly think that
you can hurt me now?”
you fume, voice low
and dangerous.

You stand to leave
and, in a panic
he gasps, “She was better than you ever were”
as if that’ll change
a thing.

“I’ll bet,” you say,
dashing the tears under your eyes.
“And you’re worse than three of me put together.”

He draws in a breath to speak
and you slam your hand down
on the pew,
causing a few lingering people
to turn.

He may have never loved you,
but you did
once.

You loved someone
and it’s over
and he’s done enough talking.

He’s said
enough.
I was taking a break from writing my novel earlier and going through some unfinished pieces. Found this (it was only about half a stanza) and wrote in the rest.

I know it's clunky and long and railroaded with too many ideas. It only took an hour to finish, humor me.
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:icona-lovely-anxiety:
A-Lovely-Anxiety Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
i want you to know that someday, i'm having "you loved someone" tattooed on my body.  because i've read this poem so many times and i love it

and to be honest, there are times at night when, out of nowhere, when i am crying, asking myself why, i always whisper it.  and i think about this poem, and somehow it just helps me.

i know this is probably too personal of me but... i wanted you to know how much it has affected me.  thank you.
Reply
:iconcolbalt-rain:
colbalt-rain Featured By Owner May 3, 2014   Writer
It's not too personal. <3
This poem is completely fictional, and to this day, it shocks me that I wrote it in a matter of hours - and how it remains one of my best works to date.

You're welcome. :huggle:
Reply
:iconnaktarra:
Naktarra Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014   Writer
Hi, I'm Naktarra from :icongrammarnazicritiques: and I'm here today to take a look at the second or three pieces I will be looking at for you. The last piece I reviewed, 'Pipe Dreams,' was an intriguing piece well worth it's gracious attention in the writing community.

This poem too was an interesting piece as a sort of fictional prose format within a poem. Since your poem was submitted without any sort of general need of feedback, I will use some generic questions.

1. What was the overall emotional impact?

You've convinced the reader to feel sorry for the life of Meredith and all of her woes in it with an abusive relationship. The reader is shown the ups and downs fairly effectively to her thoughts. 


2. What have you done right?

I like how your writing is very fluent. You carry out a story -for the most part- extremely well in how the reader can be sucked into your main character's word. This is probably my favourite thing personally in poetry. A prose-like story instead of a lengthy metaphor describing what sadness is. 

3. What are some things to improve on?

  • I understand that John is suppose to be a real bastard, but why? There's a lot of focus on what the main character thinks he is, but not explanation why he acts that way.
  • When the main character 'cut herself for the first time,' where did that escalate to? Did she cut herself again? Did she pick herself up and decide never to do that again?
  • I find you're really jumpy in your poetry sometimes. You're throwing yourself back and forth and it really confuses the story. Is the last break in order to the first section of the poem? Did Chloe lie about committing suicide? It was all very random the spots where Chloe's funerals were place.

The thing I'm curious about is how you knew that your poem needed work and you probably had areas where you knew you could change up, but how on the fact you instead left it as it is saying you knew it was clumpy. Wouldn't you prefer to say you know that this is some of your best work rather than say it needs work?

Overall I would say this isn't quite as good as your last piece, however I'm still holding out for the last one of your pieces I critique. 
Reply
:iconraccoltoluna:
RaccoltoLuna Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014
This is really good! It makes me quite mad at John even though (I'm assuming) he's a fictional character. 
Reply
:iconcolbalt-rain:
colbalt-rain Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014   Writer
This entire piece was fictional, and I actually conceived it on a whim. Fell in love with the result. :heart:
I'm flattered that you're mad with him, really. Tells me I wrote him right. 
Reply
:iconemootakutdct:
EmoOtakuTDCT Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I read this poem ages ago before I even made a dA account, and I'm so happy I found it again. I don't normally read literature here, but the first few lines immediately grabbed my attention and I was hooked all the way through. I really like how you started off with something that's not a central part of the main story and then slowly unveiled the details of Meredith and John's relationship. The story is raw, tragic and beautifully told. By the end, I was no longer upset about an early death but lost in thought about a completely different girl's life.

Thank you so much for sharing your work. I'm looking forward to reading more in the future.
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:iconcolbalt-rain:
colbalt-rain Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2013   Writer
And thank you, for reading it. :heart:
Reply
:iconemootakutdct:
EmoOtakuTDCT Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
My pleasure! :)
Reply
:iconkmills95:
kmills95 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This piece is amazing. You tell a story through poetry in a way I've never been able to. And I love the point of view... It's not often you see a piece that's written well, in the second person. 
Reply
:iconcolbalt-rain:
colbalt-rain Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013   Writer
:heart: That means the world. Thank you.
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