The first time my brother brings home a razor blade, it is not for his weak and scraggly beard. I only learn this when I walk in on him in the bathtub, singing praises to his blood. He says his prayers and asks for silence, like this is Sunday mass, and after we will walk out and take off our shiny shoes.

The first time my brother brings home a rope, it is not to play cat’s cradle. He ties himself a noose and lassoes his neck. Here he is thirteen, coughing up apologies, trying to keep this in. That day, blue is no longer a beautiful color.

The first time my brother buys a gun, he is hungry for the beginning. He flashes a fake ID and does not let the shopkeep know that he is just sixteen, thinking about biting down on the barrel. Yes, he wants bullets in his brittle bones.

The first time my brother takes his pills, it is not to get better. With doctor’s orders of only two a day, he swallows twelve one hour and fifteen the next, leaves the bottle empty on the floor. I hold back his hair when he tells me he doesn’t want to live anymore, and I do not say that 911 knows our family by name.

The first time my brother brings home a boy, I know this is the one that will not leave him with scars. I walk in on them kissing in the kitchen, hands slow and soft, away from all the knives and glass. My brother does not choke on his apologies anymore, but lets his lover eat them from his mouth.

I lock the door. I think of Spring.

My Brother’s Boy | d.a.s (via backshelfpoet)

A: Say something.

C: I did.

A: When?

C: Just now.

A: That didn’t count. Say something.

C: Nice weather we’re having.

A: *sighs* yea, it is.

C: …

A: …

C: There, does that make you happy?

A: Does what make me happy?

C: I commented on the weather. Does that make you happy?

A: Not really.

C: Well I said something. That’s what you wanted, no?

A: No.

C: Then what do you want?

A: I want you to say something!

C: We’re having a conversation right?

A: Something you mean. Say something you mean.

C: Well. I don’t know…

A: Please.

C: Are you sure?

A: Yes.

C: I don’t think this is going to work out.

A: What?

C: I don’t love you anymore. 


A girl in my Sociology class turns around during a class activity on goals to start a conversation with me. Her opening line is: ‘I want to get married.’ I nod and smile. She does not ask me my goals, just continues telling me the sort of guy she’d like to be with and how many kids she’d like. Thoughtfully, she adds, ‘My mom told me to meet someone and marry them. You don’t wanna date around because you wanna be fresh for the guy and not a….you know what.’

My cousin’s Facebook ‘About Me’ lists things she would like in a man. There is nothing about her or the things she does, only qualities she finds attractive. ‘Looking for someone who can play the guitar and cook a great dinner,’ she wrote. I can hear her bubbly, singsong voice while reading it. She is thirteen years old and has told me that girls ‘oughta only kiss their husbands and that’s it.’ When I ask her what she wants to be when she’s older she says, ‘Married.’

My male friend tells me that he has no problem with what girls do, but that he would not date a girl who’s ‘been around’ because she’d be ‘dirty.’ I wonder if each time someone touches you, a part of you is soiled. If there are piles of dirt in the spaces where others’ fingers once rested. In the shower, I try to scrub the smell of dirt from myself, but come out, still polluted, with red scratch marks all over me.

Being called a ‘you know what’ taught me some things: that I do not want to be touched by somebody who will judge my past. That I am not a tally book, with others’ names burned into me. If you have to label me as something, let it be a human being.

A “You Know What” | Lora Mathis 
A middle finger to slut shaming.  (via lora-mathis)