Michelle Tinklepaugh

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boys who call themselves men

gentle with your garden
you check on it several times a day
as if it were a newborn baby
or more accurately
that girl from work
you text at night

you avoid me

 and when I use my voice
to express my hurt
you step on the gas pedal
and threaten to drive us both
to our death

tired of tiptoeing
around boys
who call themselves men

I loathe myself
for being a cliché
“don’t upset your father”
“just leave him be until he calms down”

I heard it from my mother
I said it to my daughter
I said it to myself
I am invisible

but your rage is seen
you are squirrel
hoarding your nuts

my pain is your nourishment
yourself worth an intricately tied sailor's knot
that can only be undone by my tears

I am a trash can for your sperm
it was better for you then masturbating into a sock
a sock I would have had to wash

I wash myself instead
pretend I do not see my dignity
go down the drain

I am a rag doll
all my good parts
torn at the seam

incompetent with needle and thread
you find a new model
someone more naïve
someone who can’t say no

she will paint her face for you
coo at how you blessed her pussy
with just one stroke of your sword

you won’t be happy though
even with pills
and empty headed silent girls

you will never be a man


Michelle Tinklepaugh's poetry has appeared in Typehouse Literary Magazine, Bop Dead City, Allegro Poetry and others. Michelle lives in South Burlington, Vermont with her daughter Annabelle