The night I opened my veins

the doctor who stitched me up

asked me if I did it for attention

-Andrea Gibson


I will grow old growing mad in the moonlight.

I will wipe the charcoal from the skies in the early morning

having sat out on the back patio smoking cigarettes all night and drinking

three bottles of wine after everyone went home to their warm beds.

I will smear the slate clean and rub oil pastels with my bare palms

into the empty morning air leaving my hands a runny shade of pink and orange.


I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret.

Like the three bottles of wine I promised you I wouldnt drink because

the internet called me a heavy drinker and told me that I was

at risk of developing something worse and bigger.

Those are my little secrets.

I swallowed them along with the wine and an ambien that never kicked in

and some klonopin to take the edge off.

I buried them in the backyard next to my brothers dead hedgehog.

I set them aflame with my gas station lighter.

I ripped them into small pieces and scattered them where no one can see them


Two bottles down and the moon bathes me in the very memories Im trying to forget.

Emergency room lights bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of winter.

Bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of summer because it never sees the sun.

Coarse bed sheets soaked in blood and the scent of burning flesh when they cauterized the artery.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.


In the early morning before my alarm I smoke a cigarette then another

than a whole pack trying to forget and trying to ride away the craving for another drink.

The smoke surrounds me like early morning fog clouding my vision.

Whoever said you cant drink wine before 7 am is my mortal nemesis.

Whoever thinks that I do it all for attention

the cigarettes and the wine and the bright red lines

is a fucking idiot.

They clearly dont know what it means to be alive.

They dont know the remedies to getting by.

They dont know the blinding shine of the moonlight.


Im more alive in this moonlight than you will ever be. Dont you see my glistening?

Dont you see my scars gleam? Dont you hear my heart ,so small, so weak, beat?

When the sun comes I will wipe the slate clean.

Ill wash the dry blood from my hands and throw away my jeans soaked through with red.

In the light of the sun ill begin to forget.

The moonlight is maddening. Bring sunlight, bring clarity.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret




When I was a little girl my teacher taught me that 2+2= 4

and that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels (and sometimes y)

and my mom taught me a firm handshake (you dont want to shake like an American)

and my dad taught me diagnostic criteria in the DSM

and my sisters taught me the top pop hits of 2003.

And my teacher taught me cursive handwriting

and my mom taught me to say please and thank you

and my dad taught me about the stars

and my sisters taught me that youre not really a grown up

just because you turned 21.


Some things I learned, I cannot trace the origin of.

Who taught me to feel ashamed when I left my barbies naked and headless

opting instead to climb trees and wind through creeks in the mud?

Who taught me to feel bad when

I played dirty on the soccer field,

when I discovered the slide tackle at eight years old?

Who taught me that all that life means is to be pretty? More than being smart or funny or nice or kind or caring?

Who taught me that as a woman, I had to be, not only pretty, but nice and kind and caring?

Why didnt anyone give a fuck about a girls big ideas and creativity?

Why was it always keep your mouth shut and your legs shut even tighter?

Why, as I got older, did seventeen magazine preach never to wear all black,

to always spruce your outfit up with a red shoe, a pop of color?


Who the fuck taught me, taught all of us, that we are not okay to love?

Whose insidious voice got inside our ears and whispered, you are unloveable,

untouchable, unworthy?

Who the fuck taught us that the proper way to hate yourself is through your body?

Get a bad grade on a test? Blame youre thick legs.

Say something mean? Blame your arms fat like tree limbs.

Get into a fight with your best friend? That wouldnt have happened had your stomach been flatter.

Your boyfriend broke up with you? It was your ass, I tell you, your fat fucking, cellulite ridden

ass was the problem.


Who taught us to skip meals to make ourselves lovely?

Why does every girl I know have a story about an eating disorder that she may

or may not have had growing up?

And now that we are all grown up, why cant we eat without apologizing?

Why cant we go a day with weighing ourselves and wondering?

Why does that voice in our heads never let up?

You fat piece of shit you are nothing.


So heres to the all the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are nothing but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are anything but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who drink every night to quiet the voice inside.

And heres to the girls who slice their skin just trying to get by.

And heres to the girls on juice fasts, and low carb diets, and diet pills.

And heres to the girls who are tired of the world weighing down on them.


Let me be the voice inside your head.

I dont care if you are beautiful or smart or kind or nice or caring or thin or fat or mean or bossy.

I dont care if you like to pay dirty and I dont care whether you keep your legs closed tight.

You are everything ive ever wanted to be, just the way you are.


I wish I could take my own advice but the least I can do is impart it to you.

Fuck that voice in your head.

Fuck it hard like that guy that you met at a party and fucked on ecstasy then never called

back the next morning.

Fuck it and dont ever call it back.

Dont ever invite it back in.




you told me that you liked my poetry so

I got drunk and wrote a thousand poems about

the faces you make when youre trying to make a point

and the sound of the train rolling by at night

and I wrote a devotional ode to cheese fries

and a villanelle about the sunrise

and I wrote about last night at the bar

and the night before

and watching movies in my parents basement

and living alone in my old apartment

and I wrote a sonnet about the time that her and I

hooked up in the back seat of my car

and how I realized girl on girl was better than I had ever expected

and I wrote about the trees and the mountains

even though there are no mountains

and I wrote about the sea and the shore but not the beach

because I hate the beach

and I wrote a pantoum just for you

about how much I hate the feeling of dry sand

and the sound of chalkboards

and I wrote about the other things that make my skin crawl

and I wrote an epic poem about our love which isnt love at all

and I wrote about dead bodies floating in the river

and snow accumulating on my dashboard

and dead leaves crunching under my feet in the winter

and I read you a few of my poems about

spring making its way and

the rain on my fingertips on a warm day and

the ways I want you to hold me

and you told me that you didnt like my poetry so

I got drunk and deleted them all

all ten thousand of them

one by one




every poem i read seems to have a line about


but i cannot picture them in my head because

i dont know much about flowers and

i wouldnt know a chrysanthemum if it

bought me a drink and sang me love poetry

in german cant you hear it sing


I know only dandelions

der Löwenzahn

sie blühen draußen

in the back yard

little yellow heads that pop up


when the spring comes

and fade to soft greys

i make a wish and blow them away

but my wishes never come true

and i know roses

die Rose

blooming on my arm in shades of

red and black and grey

Man muss Tattoos nicht gießen

they thrive on the water in my body

the body is made up of so much water

we are like sacks of seas

das Meer fließt

and i know hibiscus

der Eibisch

floating in wine that my sister let me sip

when i was sixteen and we were

close like we were before

before everything changed

when were were like real Schwestern

es schmeckt suß wie Schokolade

and i know that lavender

der Lavendel

is calming so they put it in soaps and teas

and in the south of france my mom bought

so much lavender soap to take home

and scrub our hands clean with

and theres still some in the powder room

which is just a fancy Badezimmer

that only the guests get to pee in

and i know tulips

die Tulpe

my moms favorite flower

wir pflanzen sie im Frühlig

in the front yard

i saw them everywhere in amsterdam

at the flower market

did you know that the netherlands

suffered something akin to the great depression

hundreds of years ago

when the price of a tulip bulb kept rising

until someone realized they were just flowers

and ive seen a sunflower

die Sonnenblume

towering over me in a garden as i

walked the streets of my moms home town

back in germany

so gross

so schôn

it struck awe in me like a chrysanthemum never could

and i couldnt help but wonder to myself

who no one writes poems about

the price of a tulip bulb or

lavender soaps from the south of France or

hibiscus wine secrets shared between sisters or

tattoos of garden variety roses or

making a wish on a dandelion

I couldnt help but wonder to myself

why no one writes poems about sunflowers

standing tall in the garden and striking awe in all of us




I tied a kite string around the sun to try and capture its wave lengths.

I didnt crave the heat so much as I wanted to catch a tan.

My skin is paler than the moonlight by the middle of winter.

I can trace every vein from wrist to finger.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.


When I get my blood drawn at the doctors office

I lay out my arm and place my finger on the spot

This is the vein you want.

This is the vein that is full of life and bounty.

They always cringe at me as if I know too much.


And I do know too much.

When I meet someone new in a sleeveless top all I can see

is their pretty veins.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.

You have beautiful veins and lovely bones,

I told my friend that as I ran my fingertips up and down and his arm and

traced his collar bone.

Thats the creepiest thing youve ever said.


I used to thread my veins together with medical needles.

Id knit them into long scarves and try a different spot every time to

prevent the formation of track marks.

They littered my friendsskin like cigarette butts on the ground at the park.

I kept them away but my inner arms would be bruised for days from

poking around.


And I once got an abscess the size of a golf ball from dirty needles or sharing needles.

Or maybe from sharing dirty needles.

In the emergency room they refused to drain it

my little ball of puss and blood.

They gave me an antibiotic and no other instructions other than to


Stop living your dirty lifestyle, much worse things will happen,

you rotten junkie, you.


I still have a scar from when they finally did drain it.

Its the only scar I dont plan to cover up with tattoos.

Because I need to remember, when my veins look so enticing,

when your veins look so enticing,

that it wasnt all good.

I need something to remind me when

the blue green angels are singing, begging me to puncture.


Because the body has memories.

And the body cant remember pain the way it remembers the good.

I need the sun to bronze me and cover every last inch of the blue green

so that I can stop staring and wishing and remembering.

So that I can stop tracing the lines and remembering the good times.

Instead I want to trace the line of the little scar on my arm

and remember when it hurt.

Because if you forget the pain

history is sure to repeat itself.

Anna Shapiro is an English major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating, she hopes to get her MFA in creative writing. Anna lives at home with her family, frog-in-a-jar, and plastic cat skeleton. When not writing poetry, she can be found implementing her feminist agenda and drinking craft beer on draft.