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I learned young
To build a confidence
Maybe even a swagger
In how I carry myself amongst others
A survival mechanism
Created out of necessity

You see
I was raised around dominant men
And I realized early
If I wanted a voice
I had to stand toe to toe
And make them listen

It’s been a part of me for so long
That I don’t even realize it’s on

It’s hard to juggle that
And meet people
It deters and intimidates most
And those it doesn’t are attracted
To the idea of a confident woman
But not the reality of it

I think I scare people when I do drop that guard
I’ve discovered I have no half way
Just on or off with no dimmer switch
And that level of wide open vulnerability
Is uncomfortable to them

I’ve yet to find someone
Who can handle both versions of me
And pretending to be something else
Has never been one of my talents

Endings

The ending wasn’t an end
Just a vanishing
That made me call it
Like a Dr. over a DOA
Made me drop the match and walk away
From all the could have beens
As the bridge burned hot and bright behind me

And I’ll admit
I shed some tears over you
Some out of anger and damaged ego
But some seeped out of the crack you left in my heart
Because the truth is
I liked you
More than I’d liked anyone in a long time
Enough that you ghosting
Took me some time to get over
Some time before slow moments
Didn’t cause your absence to rise up
And haunt me

I’ll never know why or what
Because you didn’t give me that
Even when I did the heavy lifting and asked
You wouldn’t give me an answer
You sat in your silence
And held your reasons tight
While I wondered

And I’m not much of a waiter
But in case you don’t realize
The time I waited for the answer you never gave
Was more than I’ve ever waited
For any answer
From any person

It’s sad really
Because you could have ended it different
But you were a coward
Which caught me by surprise
Makes me question my own judgement
Because how could I have been so wrong

There are still days
When it fires my temper
Makes me hope you bust a rim after I see you driving by
There are still days
It cuts the smile from my face
When I’m not busy enough to avoid the wondering

But I’m a resilient soul
I’ve always been happy by myself
I will be again
As soon as I fix the cracks and dents
Left by your carelessness

I guess you and I
Were one of those things
Not meant to see tomorrow

J.W.

I remember how proud he was
Of his little patch of garden
Red with tomatoes
And his old work boots
Planted with pansies
And I wonder if he watched a last sunset
Before he died
Alone on a bathroom floor with a knife and a needle
And I wonder if there was
Anything else I could have done
But I’ll never know now
And I hope someone else
Remembers him for more than his mistakes
Because that isn’t all he was

#21

His gravestone rested
On a rock pinnacle
Overlooking
The land that had killed him
His ashes scattered to the winds
So he might continue his roaming

She didn’t shed a tear
It would do no good
Death didn’t care
If you walked away bone dry

She was alone again
But for a time he’d reminded her
To enjoy sunrises over mountain tops

She walked away
Softer than she’d been
And stronger because of it.

#19

Behind us all is a trail
Breadcrumbs of a sort
You see
Life in all its brutality
Chips pieces of us away
And even if we could gather them all up
Cradle them in our arms
Those lost pieces of ourselves
We can’t make them fit again
Some pieces
Once sheared away
Will never fit again
Will never call us home
And we can choose
To call ourselves broken
Or changed