Let the Monsters Die

I think we’re allowed to let the monsters die
and yeah, I know, it stung when you pried your limbs
from between its teeth – there are
bruises on your joints that still ache years later

might never stop
and you’ll carry that pain
wearing it like a name tag,
like a reason.

you climbed out of the beast on your own
it might remember your taste but it can’t
bite down and
feel your skin against its tongue anymore

it is too old to chase after you
its teeth are rotting, sliding between chapped
lips onto the ground – unruly headstones – still peppered with
memories of you,

and you lived.


Country road home

Courteney and I were direct opposites. She was bursting with spirit for things that didn’t even register in my mind – like country music and sports and God. If we hadn’t spent hours at the restaurant together, I doubt we would’ve made it as friends.

The first day she stepped into the restaurant, I was intimidated. Courteney was thin, tan, and beautiful and, for our first few shifts, I felt less than good enough around her. And then one day, just by chance, we had our free meal at the same time and started talking. She was kind and smart and awkward to the point of hilarity, and from then on, I loved her. I’d call her C-Dazzle and C-Dizzle and anything stupid to make her laugh at me.

When I became her boss, I always had to tell her to stop talking – or to talk and walk, talk and sweep, to do something ‘productive’. And she never gave me shit for it. She’d smile and take the broom, barely faltering in her story-telling. Courteney also listened to every single god-awful story about my ex-boyfriend. She’d never yell at me or tell me I was stupid for sticking around for a man who continuously hurt me. Instead, she begged me to do something good for myself.When I finally cut him out of my life, Courteney hugged me and let me cry until I was empty. Then she told me how proud she was and that good things would be coming.

She was right.

The story about Courteney that I hold most dear is one that many people, even our coworkers, don’t know. In June, I had to leave my beloved restaurant because my manager refused to protect me from an aggressive, mentally unstable man who threatened to assault me. That same manager then told me and my entire staff that I was such a slut, I had no right to be afraid of any man. I’ll never forget when I broke the story to her. She was so angry that she was silent for a second.. but then Courteney said the most amazing thing.

“I’ll quit with you. The way she’s treating you is so wrong, I can’t believe this is even happening.”

And my heart almost burst in that moment because finally, someone saw and understood just how wrong the situation was. Someone believed me and loved me and knew I didn’t deserve to be mistreated. But I couldn’t ask her to go. This time, I embraced Courteney and asked her to stay. To watch out for everybody, since I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. And she cried with me, just a little, just for a moment.

The last time I saw Courteney, I had popped in the restaurant to turn in my things. She raced from behind the counter like a baby giraffe and landed in front of me, absolutely beaming. She gave me an update on the boy she had been pursuing – I told her I finally got to date my crush, the same one she watched me pine over for ages. And she squealed and hugged me and made me promise to come back.

I fucked up, Courteney. I’m so sorry. Once Fort Collins was in my rearview mirror, I felt so relieved that I forgot to hold on to the people who made that town tolerable. I didn’t mean to let go. I thought I’d have time to get back to you, to go out and drink shots and watch you dance like an absolute weirdo.

I miss you. I’m going to spend the rest of my life missing you, threading you into the stories I tell and the poetry I write so that you can live on in me. I love you, Courteney. Thank you for your loyalty, your heart, and your spirit.

A Brief Summary of Everywhere We’ve Been

Mani —

hey, honey.

When I found out that you had gone, I was so heartbroken that I made grief my permanent address. I changed the pronunciation of my name, shifting and stirring the letters just to hear your whisper underneath. My palms outward, I perched on the stoop of my sadness, a mailbox full of good intentions, and all I could do is watch the clouds for you.

Every sunrise is slightly bitter without you – like black coffee, but without the warmth. It still stings my throat when I breathe in too deeply.

This time last year I didn’t know. I had no idea. You sent me a poem the night before and I meant to read it. I promise I did read it. But I didn’t answer fast enough.

I cut six inches off my hair when I found out you had died. It was the only logical move at the time, the cleanest way to advertise my new address: heartbreaking, earth-ending sadness, the type that swallows entire families during hurricane season.

You said we were going to get better, and I believed you. But then you left me here and now I’m not sure better will ever come the way we intended – which is to say, there will never be a better that is good enough because we won’t get to share it.

Sometimes I mix your words with mine. I can’t remember which one of us said we could feel the other’s heart in those quiet moments. You told me I’d like the storms down in Durango, how the thunder ricochets off the stone-faced mountains – but I have grown too familiar with the emptiness of my chest, the way your name roars in its hollows.

Mah-nee. Mani. My little star child.

I’m going to commit you to my skin, fresh ink, your words a promise that I will never break. I will carry you into every success, every heartbreak, every fresh day. In that way, my love, you will breathe again.

Forever yours,




I think of you
as my fingers peel
back thick skin

the fruit, so cold,
numbs my touch
the air is electric
alive with possibility

as my teeth tear
into you
and juice flows over
my peony tongue

I can’t tell
if I feel guilty
or refreshed.



(I am too sick and too sad to share anything new this week. October is fast becoming unbearable. Everything reminds me of Mani and my heart feels selfish. I miss her, and him, and feeling complete.) 


To Mani, with Love.

I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to be the person Mani thought I could be.

Her memory pushes me toward goodness, toward boldness, toward love and light alike. When I read her words, I can almost feel her arms around me – quiet, soft, the slightest shift in the universe that allows us to be together for a breath. Since her passing, a day has not moved forward without a moment for her and her alone. Usually I find those times when I’m outside. I trace her name in cloud formations. I hear her laugh in the rain.

Mani told me once that I would’ve liked the storms in Durango, the way the thunder ricocheted against the mountains. She invited me down and I intended to visit in the spring.

Her absence grants a new weight to the presence of my friends. I marvel more often at their existence – I am louder in my love than ever before. Her memory guides my self-love, too. The night before I left my abusive ex, I dreamt about her for the first time and her memory gave me the courage to go. My walk to work on the day I quit was filled with her voice, her words, her heart. I imagined what she would say about my manager’s cruelty. I knew she would never want me to suffer and, for that reason, I was strong enough to resign my position.

As I write this post, I am rereading the letter she gave me when I left high school and I am in awe. It almost feels like bragging to share her words, but I feel the intense desire to show how her love made me see myself differently – as if we could do anything, as if I could be anyone because of how she loved me.

“Dear Krista,

Hello! I just wanted to write you a little letter, mostly because I think you deserve it and I don’t know if you hear these things enough. I think you are one of the most beautiful people I know, not only on the outside (which you are) but inside. You are so good to everyone. You make me so envious – no that’s not the right word. You make me want to strive to be a better person. You just show me that there can be such beauty and kindness in the world, and every time I’m feeling like all there is badness and ugliness, I see you and I just know that there’s got to be something better out there. I know life isn’t perfect for you, and if I could take all the bad in your life and live it for you, I would. If I could carry all your burdens for you, I would. Because of every person I’ve met in my whole life deserves it it’s you. You deserve everything good life has to offer. And I wanted to tell you these things because your going to go to college soon, and I wanted you to sincerely know that you’ve changed my life. You’ve given me a goal to strive for, a person to want to be, and shown me that there is such beauty in the world. I didn’t want you to go without hearing these things because they are true, and I’m too much of a weenie to say them in person. I’m only sorry that I can’t give you more than this lousy note. I’ll always remember you, Krista Lee, and the profound significance you’ve had on my life.

Mani Nitara E.

PS – I know you’re not graduating for like two more months but my hope is that knowing these things will help you through those two months. It might not. And maybe you’ll read this and go “Gee that Mani is weird” but I thought you ought to know that someone thinks highly of you. I love you deeply, Krista. You’ll change the whole world someday just like you changed me.

PPS – That wasn’t supposed to sound so cheesy, but whatever.”

Mani, this wasn’t a lousy note. I am still becoming, but I promise I will carry you with me wherever I go. I’ll continue to seek you out in constellations, in clouds, in dreams. Soon enough, I’ll have your words etched into my skin with ink and we will never be apart again.

I love you, kiddo.


I always will.