Brute Force

Emily Skaja | Poetry

I tried everything once. It was the brute force method.
For my trouble, I was kicked out of the Republic
with the other liars. I was too powerful; I intimidated Plato.

In Indiana, I walked for 40 days—I stayed polite, I dirged
with appropriate pomp. On the highway, I couldn’t get warm.
I burned sage & gave beautiful breakup speeches

to people who had broken up with me first. Yes, I was wounded.
I found I had strung my life between two bad men.
Helpfully, a billboard on I-65 read HELL IS REAL.

Carly Simon was like, Yeah, he probably thinks these poems are about him.
There was a fear that I would tell the story in a way that might
unnecessarily tell someone about himself.

No one ever promised or implied that love would be
reciprocated: let’s make that clear. I signed a contract
agreeing that I would not hold anyone accountable

for stealing my youth, for sending me into early cronehood.
Signature family recipes were to be withheld in talks.
Meanwhile, I turned 30. I sent a text that said

Please stop colonizing all of our mutual friends with your dick.
Cattle bones lined the trail of the dead. For five years I was fevered.
I couldn’t explain how I had layered the wood on the fire.