Rachel Tanner: 3 poems

my forever is a map that only you can read

When it seems there is

nothing left but murky oceans & catastrophe,

there will still be you. Your lighthouse heart.

Your aching. Your magic. When the blood

of the earth drowns cities, I will find you,

pull your hurt into my heart.

When the skin of the planet burns & burns & burns,

I will become a torch. I will show you the way out.

I've been painting my nails with brimstone for years;

it's a good look on me. God promised a fire,

but I promise a different kind of heat.

Take my hand.                      The flames are coming.


That Night After Workshop

You meet me in the parking lot of a local bar, me

sweating in the October air, hardly

believing you’re here. Hardly believing

you’re you.


Write I what know? Well, what I know is I can

dry swallow nearly every pill you dare me to.

What I know is now I’m three drinks deep & barely

getting started. What I know is you kiss me

between dart throws & I am unsteady enough

right now to admit to you that I don’t have

as much experience with this as I claimed I did.




Us. You. Mouths that are sloppy

& sure of themselves. Nights with

no futures. Me with no clothes. I’ve

lied my way into arms before, made hands

think that I know hands. I don’t know much.

Acting isn’t hard. People believe what they want.


The bar is closing & I live down the street.

No roommates. But no. You want to stay here,

make my car into a bed. That’s fine. It’s cooled

off outside & early morning radio is the best.

I can see the tattoo parlor from here that years ago

etched teenage rebellion onto my skin, now your

skin.                            Our skin.

CW: suicidal ideation

Dark Source

This week, I didn't want to die until Wednesday.

My therapist says the goal isn't “remission” but

fewer days I want to die. Fewer spirals. On the day

the first picture of a black hole became public,

I decided an exit bag was easier than a short drop.

I researched water pumps. I researched cars.

I sat outside on the porch and didn't move

for nearly an hour. Got my first sunburn of the year.

Imagined life without life. If things are ending anyway,

why not spare god the burden of one more person?

If we have fucked up this substantially,

what's one more fuck up made by one more fuck up?


On the day the first picture of a black hole became public,

I chose to stick around.

Rachel Tanner is a queer, disabled writer whose work has recently appeared in Videodame, Porridge Magazine, Peach Mag, and elsewhere. She tweets @rickit.

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