Author: Vanessa Willoughby

Vanessa Willoughby is a graduate of Emerson College and The New School. Her writing can be found on Tumblr.


Hell is war
Stretched out across a single road. Waiting
Like a woman itching to be a young widow.
Your head planted on a spike
Marks our beginning and my end.
I try to distract you from my knocking, stockinged knees
With a rotting mouth, palatable witchery, while you love me
Like a new statue.
Pray for my benevolence.
Pray for my obliviousness. I left
Them behind in the bedroom, trinkets like patience on the small of your back.
A small dynasty pulling you into the shadow of its orbit.
The dark blue face of convulsing anger
Hooking a gaping mouth.

I sing gloaming songs like America the Beautiful
While you break the skin.
We draw blood and you call it foreplay. Nothing is
More luxurious than your precious silence miles
After we abandon another city.
I fell into static paralysis and whittled away
Until I was only a chemical reaction.

Now and til the hour of our deaths.


i am your disaster pornography
flash floods
of blood

glory and gore.

a firewalker

flowing limber on command.

every sliver of killing silence

forms the stones of calculated courtship.

you found enlightenment chasing
modern romance for broken coquettes lapping

up the coded semantics of court jesters.

i can swallow your name smooth

like a hymn or a curse or clean river water.

but it makes me smaller,

a baby-skull-soft snail shell cowering
under a Nazi’s black boot.

i can pull out my guts

drape them across glass like dead butterflies and

dance across singing switchblades

to turn you on.

you want a hard woman 
fashioned from strips

of Burkowski’s faceless mistresses.
the cruelest thing you ever did

was to say that a kiss is just a kiss.

i’ve met your kind before.

i’m waiting for you to crawl on your snake belly

and call me unhinged or hysterical or crazy.

i know your heart of darkness, Kurtz

the villainy of your expeditions

the price of your attention.

my body is sugar and honey and heroin
for men that confuse sex with
the terrorism of grooming chattel.
you only say that i’m better than your other girls

when i leave your bed
and you can turn your back on the world.

if i survive
i will bury you

down to the earth’s crust

and leave the grave unmarked.

Lovers Always Have Two Faces

it’s a different world
when you undress
peeling pretty, watching your mouth collapse
like a bridge shimmering in lightning
whiskey lips to whiskey skin.
what i want is your slow death
but i’ve opted for a soft-focus suicide.
sometimes i forget the lipstick
and sleek, smooth legs
and all the bejeweled trappings that
make you think i’m at my best.

the universe wants to punish me
for touching Eden’s scars.

we think that we are stars
with enough fire and mortar and power
to be immortalized in cast iron preservation cases
pearls painted on your body
like drops of whole milk
tears visible through summer smoke.
i saved the chalk outlines
for each time you betrayed me.

lust wrapped
in the fog of Sunday’s bed peace
and the tough-love teachings of a blue
that stayed in my lungs
like blood crusted on the tips
of white high heels.
a kiss turned
late-night killing spree
i am always turning inside out
giving in to your ghost.
business laid down in the back of your car
handsome devil with razor-eyes.
we smash together
and break apart
hoping to find meaning in the land of bones and dust.