Painful Arithmetic

How do I love thee?

Let me count thy ways


12 for  The number of scrapes I have from your regular practice

of carving initials into my endoderm.

 your fingernails scrape my wrist with my blood as your ink

my veins make sinuous trails on the surface of my skin

from the engraved letters K.R. all the way to my cardiovascular organs


is your greatest trait


11. the minutes I spend applying makeup in the broken mirror each morning.

Making up that I am happy.

my eyes shadowing the meaning behind my fat lip

Concealing the disoriented screams

Highlighting the highs and dismissing the lows

aligning the lies you’ve told me with the truth


10 O’clock every night you strip me of my dignity.

 You recklessly peel the layers off my skin

And violently force your devilish ideals into the depths of my mind

Leaving me to redress myself in my own guilt


9.  family members and friends that I am forbidden to see.

They’ve called I bet, but you accidentally, carefully, expertly

 drowned my phone in a sea of regret


8 the number of times I repeat in fetal position

You are all I need.

You’re all I need

You’re all I need.

You’re all I need.

You’re all I need.

You’re all I need.

You’re all I need.

You’re all I need.

A mantra that will temporarily burn my previously carefree memories


-7 minutes in hell.

I pray earnestly for heaven.

 I’m hiding in the closet alone shaking because I know you’re home


 The floorboard squeaks.

I can’t tell the difference between the beat of my heart

and the pounding on the door.


6 is the number of times you’ve apologized for the coldest threats.

“I won’t do it again, baby.”

“I don’t know what got into me, darling”

“I’ll change, sweetie pie”

“I just had a bad day, love bug”


-5 the seconds it takes for your mood to swing

From proud to jealous

Angry to apologetic

Wild to poetic

Who are you, really?


-4 thousand women die each year due to domestic violence


-3 times I’ve tried to leave, but you wouldn’t let me go


-2 ribs you broke.     

Adam gave one rib up, but you want twice as much.

You want all of me.

You want all of me and more.


-1 flat line is all I need for this to end.


0-the power you have over me.

On a crumpled note I wrote with blood, your favorite colored ink and

My favorite Elizabeth Browning poem.

(At least I’m sentimental)

“I shall but love thee better after death.”


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