Self-Portrait as Tiona
Eight strokes in,
somehow you’re panting & spent,
slumped in the corner of the bed
as though you’ve done something here.
Ask You didn’t finish?
Smile. I think of how men
want daily trophies
because they performed.
I count each throb
until you shrivel into yourself.
Eight strokes. Ten next time.
You’ve bested yourself
back to eight.
You sweat, it’s incredible
how much you sweat from such little labor.
Sometimes I lay still. You don’t notice.
I say Maybe one day you’ll fuck me
as well as you pontificate about the world.
You say Be fair to me.
Call me cruel for rewriting history,
for saying you don’t understand no or boundaries.
There’s a dark joy in me that laughs at your meager gifts.
I am cruel, but I didn’t rewrite a thing, babe.
You’re not a monster, just a man.
Truly, you hate my guts because
you could never reach them.
Times I wanted to rewrite my history, it was because of a desire to erase the violence done to my body. It was almost always a deep want—to remove all traces of who I have been, to ferry the carapace that is myself back into the darkness where nothing existed. Times I wanted to rewrite my history, I yearned to be obliterated into a million fragments that it would have been impossible to put me back together again.
Has someone ever ransacked your body as if burglars searching for something valuable. And have I ever told you that it doesn’t have to be that way ever again.
I have been called cruel for wanting to love myself more. Selfish, too, and a whole plethora of names. At first it filled me with dread—but then I told myself isn’t it time that I not diminish myself for anyone. Isn’t it time to embrace my muchness.
Perhaps the wounds that would take a long time to heal are the ones inflicted by those that, when unmasked, reveal the faces of those you loved. Or thought you loved. Or have loved. And perhaps the wounds make the map of who you are now.
Isn’t my body a growing list of catastrophes—and isn’t that part of loving. Maybe it’s not about rewriting but reclaiming. Maybe it’s finally seeing that which has filled the husk. Here is my portrait—if you see my pleasure and my power burning hot and bright, it is because I have given myself to myself.
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Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.
on this day
Read A Little Poetry is a passion project of poet T. De Los Reyes. It has been around since 2005. A thriving collection of great poems, this place holds poets to the light alongside experiences of being human.
Thank you for being here—for thinking about words, what they mean, and the weight they hold. This little corner of the world has always been a safe space for all to lean towards vulnerability, to hold on to poems as if anchors, as if wings.
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““Why are you always whistling?” she asks. / “Because I’m happy.” / And it’s true, / Though it stuns me to say it aloud”
“I can love anyone, anyone, / even myself.”
“I want to be unabashed, audacious, to gobble / space, to blush deeper each day in the sun, knowing / I’ll end up in an eager mouth.”
“Water drips down / my back. He grasps the rope / of my hair and climbs.”
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From my notebook
Dive into our exploration of famous poems about rain, from Joy Harjo's celebration of life to Louise Glück's meditation on love.