audrey metzger is a central ohio native with an interest in all things queer and artistic. she is a self-proclaimed cat lady, a writer of poems, and a coffee consumer. her goals include thriving (not just surviving) and becoming a teacher.

deserve & desire

did the way my skin folds

at my elbows cause me to sin?

my therapist says promiscuous

like it isn’t even dirty.

he says it without any tinge

of disappointment

without any tinge of

sick fascination.

we are beyond that idea.

of seducing one’s therapist.

i am more than a body count

though that number isn’t necessarily

a closely held secret.

was it my bleach blonde hair?

the dye i slathered onto each strand

myself? bent over the bathroom sink

like prayer. was it maybe the tattoo

on my upper thigh?

the one men saw and immediately

their thoughts were made dirtier.

promiscuous. he says it like he believes

i didn’t deserve what i got.

and i didn’t deserve what i got.

the man who handed me a blunt

and a rocks glass of hennessy.

the man who, upon revealing

the tattoo of a naked woman

said oh so you’re freaky, right?

like i was the girl from fucking

superfreak. the man who,

when i said stop,

kept going.

i am beyond that idea.

that i deserve what i got.

and so when my therapist says


with no strings attached,

i catch my breath.

and for the first time

it doesn’t taste

like cigarillos and cognac.


violets on the teeth, violets on the tongue

no one’s mouth opens

to violets falling off the tongue—

the language of flowers sits

dead in my hands.

we are all quickly changing

without warning

into people we cannot recognize

in the mirror pocked with water spots.

this is growing up, we are told

by people with crushed-grape circles

below their eyes.

i cannot remember my own eyes

as i spit bloodied toothpaste.

i scrub my tongue with the coarse bristles

until there is nothing but pink left.

no trace of violet,

nothing lavender left from veins

or desires.

the woman in the corner store

has the deepest purple bruises

on her wrists, each time i stop

to buy cat food and tinned coffee.

the sea of veins and busted vessels

is comforting, a language i try to speak

but when i open my mouth

there are no violets tumbling

onto the nicked bodega countertop,

only loose change, with its clumsy rattle.



with a mouth full of brambles

I ask

when does it happen?

when does what happen?

the choking

the gift-giving

the thorns in my throat

the aching in my rib cage

like so many manic birds

blindly flying against the bars.

when do the beating wings

stop? sudden and alarming,

the lack of pain, the silence—

almost too much to bear

as blackberry juice dribbles

from my lips, my fingertips stained

with the sweet-bitter purple.

my teeth, no different from seeds.

when the birds in my chest die,

where does that leave me?

swallowing, swallowing fistfuls

of thorny brambles peppered

with the shiny, beady eyes of fruit.

Persephone has her six seeds

from hell. I have

the entire countryside’s underbrush

ready to be devoured.

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