Trigger Warning – Doni Shepard

For Karina Stow


She asks me whether to preface her words with a trigger warning.

Trigger warning–Childhood. Trailers. KOA Campgrounds. Coffee cakes. Couches. Walnut Creek. Black Canyon. Dewey. You are every road. You are every trailer. I can’t see another goddamn trailer. Bunk beds. Bedrooms. Boyfriends. Men who touch me. Men who look at me. Men who touch me and tell me they need to touch me. Press their unwanted skin into mine. I am susceptible to splinter. Upstairs. Downstairs. Home. Home. Home. Every home. I am afraid to sit alone in my own home. I am afraid of stairs. The length of a hallway. I run because I fear you can feel me in the dark. Crush my pin prick bones into grit between your calloused fingers.
This is not home.

Lips as weapons.
Lips as safety.

I know no safety.
There is no safety.

Lips say no.
Lips say nothing at all.
Lips stripped of function.
I want lips like venom,
like fire, like salvo.
Lips like cataclysm.
Lips as precision.

I will make my words crossfire. Drive-by. My words my marksman. I want to convince myself I am surviving. My words are       b u l l e t s.

Eyes. Tongues. Threats. Hot breath in my ears. Panting. Panting. Strong hands causing fear for faint of heart.

You hold me down.
You hold me down.
You hold me down.

I need someone
to hold me down.
Lay your bones on
my bones and promise

not to break them.
I am always the thing
I want least to be.

My friend asks me if her words are triggers. I nod and kindly place my lips around the barrel of her gun.