Confessions, I & II – Jen Rouse


Because I have to tell you,
I don’t know what to tell you–
maybe that I have loved some things,
but I was raised on fear
and by an egomaniacal asshole
so most bets are off
or at the very least
lined up in shot
glasses like jewels
across the bar
or bread crumbs in the forest.
But there are houses
we should just never
remember how to get back to
and there are roads
we should travel far less.
Not at night.   Not alone.
Maybe what I am saying
is that if you want to come with me,
you’ll have to do more than
follow.  You’ll have to be smarter
than the average bear.  You
might just have to sit
for hours while
I comb my fucking hair and pretend
you don’t mind the wait.


Because isn’t that what we do to each other,
when the chords diminish
and the sun crumbles like charcoal
in your throat?
She was just screaming and
screaming about her crown
as the house burned down around her.
She’d been out there so long,
waiting for lost children.
Fields of poppies flicker
in old film frames.
I don’t know why you stand here any longer.
She was never all bad, was she?
–the way she took your hand sometimes
and pulled you away?
And you pulled away
like her skin was on fire
like her fire was your skin
like your skin was her skin
like sinking and
this fire.
this fire
this fire

Written by Jen Rouse.

Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Midwestern Gothic, Wicked Alice, Yes Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Crab Fat Magazine, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at and on Twitter @jrouse.

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Featured image © Chloe Dodds


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