Whisper and the Roar

I knew my lesson
when your touch left the scar
again and again on
my suppurating skin
and you remain unscathed
and free

I knew my lesson
when crying under the
covers and
keeping those lips pursed
made no difference to your
ignorant smirk and
your bouts of glee

I knew my lesson
when I tried to please you
and kept crushing my own
losing the tourniquet to
set myself-free

I knew my lesson
when I had to choose between
the dream
and the rancid choices
you gallantly offered me

I knew my lesson
when in the relationship
I ended my self
trying to ignite the love in “we”

Inspired by Kindra M. Austin’s ‘I Knew My Worth‘, Aurora Phoenix’s ‘I Knew My Place’ and Kristiana Reed’s ‘I Knew My Mistakes.’ , Christine Ray’s ‘I Knew My Name’, and Eric Syrdal’s ‘I knew my heart’

Photo by Max-Jakob Beer on 

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Whisper and the Roar


I knew my heart
when boys were boys
and making her cry meant you liked her

I knew my heart
when concrete met flesh
misjudged that bump and bicycles learned to fly
are tears really necessary? … walk it off

I knew my heart
when “one of the guys” was
pushing rumors down grapevines
thorns and all
and awkward silences when entering crowded rooms
“protect the brotherhood code”

I knew my heart
when men don’t say
I love you
to other men

I knew my heart
when shirts vs skins
ribs and lanky arms and bird legs
and non-stop dogs barking with no respite; no solace

I knew my heart
when lights were out
and shapes are monstrous
calls go unanswered, nothing in the dark that isn’t in the light
“grow up”

I knew my heart
Could decode the lies
my compass never pointed south
when I became my…

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Whisper and the Roar

I knew my name
when grown men
called me ‘honey’
fondled my braids
and pulled my
10-year old body
stiff with resistance
onto their hard laps

I knew my name
when the male high school teacher
called me “sweetie”
and told me not to worry about
the 70 on my exam
because girls don’t need
an A in chemistry
to be a good wife and mother

I knew my name
when the teenage boys
called me ‘ice queen’
‘cock tease’
when I didn’t want their
sloppy tongues down my throat
their rough hands
on my budding breasts

I knew my name
when men followed me
down the street
called me ‘bitch’
‘fucking dyke’
when I wouldn’t smile
or say thank you
to their declarations
of lewd things
they would do to me
once we were alone

I knew my name
when my children
called me ‘mommy’
389 times a day

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Whisper and the Roar

I knew my mistakes

I knew my mistakes when they were emblazoned

across my chest, a red poker hot dress

you bought for me when I forgot your tea

or to arrange the flowers perfectly.

I knew my mistakes when both hello

and goodbye were pursed lips,

a cold shoulder in the sheets,

a clarion call of silence.

I knew my mistakes when you shared them

with our friends, your mother and mine,

a verbatim list of why you didn’t have the time

to raise me an angel following in your wake.

I knew my mistakes when pity

felt more like love than kissing you

goodnight, lying in wait for you to finish

me – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I knew my mistakes when I said I was leaving

and opened the door for you,

letting the useless escape from my bones

to join you with your suitcase down the road.

(Photo: Vivian Maier)

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Whisper and the Roar

I knew my place when I was cooking


scrambling to please

the indomitable hostess

fierce in a frazzled up-do

sizzling while he sat at ease.

I knew my place when I was chewing

my cheeks

cognizant of my inconsequence

biting back that biting retort

while they chewed conceited cud

confident of their pompous placement.

I knew my place when I was toiling


forbidden from the boardroom

as I covered incompetence

silver coffee serviette

service with a smile.

I knew my place when I was massaging

his ego

and his member, crafting a pleasure cruise

dutiful and doting

at the expense of my own satisfaction.

I know my place when I am standing


solid on my own two feet

above the clamoring fray

going my own way.

This piece was inspired by I Knew My Worth by the inimitable Kindra M. Austin.

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Dirt in my mouth—

I’m still spitting grit.

I used to play in the driveway with my Big Foot

monster truck

while Mom and Dad argued in the kitchen;

their voices obliterated the window screen and

shattered my veins.

My bottom lip was always bleeding from

punctures pressed by top teeth, bunny sharp.

My skin was always sweating because my heart was

always howling.

I talked to people no one could see but me, and I was

frightened because they were real to no one else.

Sometimes they visit when I’m half-awake, ageless

faces reminding me that I’ll never be

anything but small for as long as I breathe.

Sometimes they visit when I’m half-asleep, and

I wonder what my mother’s ashes taste like.


© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Glamour)

Blood Into Ink


Blood into Ink and Whisper and the Roar are looking for survivors to share their stories, hope and light in an interview.

At Blood into Ink and Whisper and the Roar, our curators, collective members and contributors have all opened their hearts and souls to share their stories of survival. Now, we would like to hear from you, our readers, and what makes you a survivor.

I cannot be the only one who watches people walk past and wonder what shaped them, wonder why they get out of bed in the morning and what I could learn from them. When I first joined Blood into Ink and Whisper and the Roar I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to call myself a survivor. In comparison to other members, I had hardly been to hell and back. Yet, I have been shown that ‘survivor’ isn’t a trophy you fight for in…

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Blood Into Ink


I knew my worth when I was hot as fuck and

boys all lined up to

pet my cleft at the blind side of the playground—

dirty fingers

mercifully uneducated in the intricacies of

female anatomy

I knew my worth when I was hot as fuck in

middle school, despite my flat chest and

highly guarded cleft—

face of Helen and an ass that wouldn’t quit,

by the gods, I knew my worth

I knew my worth when I was hot as fuck and

high school boys poorly educated in the delicacies of

female anatomy

petted my cleft with excavating fingers—

I sang hymns for my molested hymen

I knew my worth when I gave birth

two weeks before graduation, and I was in love;

my sweet babe, my savior—

she taught me the truth of my worth

(image: InStyle)

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