Read Between the Lines

By Veronika Pister, TIWP student

It used to be enough for me to bleed

onto the page,

messy red fingerprints splotched across

a poorly worded cry for help.

This is what poetry was to me,

late Sunday nights with too much time

on my hands,

writing the clichés out for the first time

and memorizing the way they felt

simmering on my tongue,

saying “I’m in pain,” in words

diluted enough that the hurt didn’t

seem so pointless.

It’s not enough anymore to stain a

page with burgundy,

not enough to cry into notebooks.

Salt and blood do not make polished pieces

to take home as tokens

of emotional turmoil.

Sadness alone is not shocking enough

to demand its own page.

This is what poetry is to me,

and endless abyss of possibilities

that I can no longer manipulate into

self expression,

one more thing that I used to be

good at.

Building up the courage to write

down my truth for two days

only to read it back and find it

to be a string of clichés.

So my page is full of tear tracks

and I’ll press my open wounds against

the college rule.

And after all, that I still won’t have

one line to show for it.

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