Helen Peterson

two poems

To All the Boys we’ve Loved Before

Don’t look so smug.
True, it was your face tacked
to the watermelon.
Your eyes we saw
as we sighted down the BB gun.
But this isn’t just about you.

It’s for the popular boys who snubbed us, or called us losers.
Unpopular ones we snubbed who called us sluts.
That jerk who got his buddy to call and claim, “your boyfriend is dead.”
The senior turned rapist.
Those who said they’d always be there, (but never called).
For soldiers who died on us.
Reluctant fathers of unwanted children;
ex-fiancés with overbearing mothers.

Your eyes might be blue, but we saw
green, hazel, and brown.
Black hair turned blonde, changed red.
Your skin darkened before it paled.

20 years of hollow lies,
bad boys in good clothing
Were behind
the knife thrust
wooden spoon whack
sting of the bullwhip
peeling back the skin, exposing soft pink flesh.

Assault With Batteries

Having dug them from the underbelly
of the latest plastic wonder
you throw them across the room
copper topped missiles making contact
with your mother’s face
tearing her gaunt smile to shreds
shattering framed glass.

Breathe in. Sharp. Think.

Breathe out. Slow. Move.

Make your way into the kitchen
for the dustpan and broom
grinding glass beneath you heels,
kick the D cells under the couch.

Drive down to Walmart
as if fresh Duracells
could bring the homemade back.

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