Things I Have Called Myself and Things Men Have Called Me (Ages 7-21)

Illustration by Anna Carter-Hernandez


things i have called myself


7 years old and i am

jagged fingernails bitten down

to the flesh, pink and raw.

my mother wraps bandages around my fingers

to protect me from my own mouth.  


10 years old and i am

all sunburns and curls,

bare feet hitting hot pavement,

wet grass, and watercolors.


13 years old and i am

cigarette smoke seeping in

through a cracked window.

i am a page torn out of a book that

my family tries to tape back in its proper place

but the edges don’t quite line up.


16 years old and i am

eyes and i am hands and i am

a cup about to overflow.

i am the television playing too loud

and a gum wrapper someone left behind.


18 years old and i am

a glass half empty and

a hunger in the pit of your stomach.

i am a body of cinnamon sticks and

cherry stained lips,

a ruined envelope with a smudged address

(an illegible black scar hiding a desperate wound)


now i am 21 and i am

tired of searching for words to call myself.

i am digging my hands through piles

of bone turned to dust,

studying a fractured timeline,

looking for something,

anything, solid but it slips

between my fingers.


and so my body is transparent,

my name, indiscernible.

i am all the things they call me,

burdened by definitions

no longer my own.


things men have called me


  1. Babe
  2. Slut
  3. Piece of ass
  4. Emotional
  5. Easy
  6. Cute
  7. Sweetheart
  8. Whore
  9. Bitch
  10. Crazy
  11. Angel
  12. Abrasive
  13. Hormonal
  14. Sexy
  15. Ditsy


And I don’t know how to turn that into poetry.


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