The Second Love

I want to be okay, I’m not

even asking for good.

That was the goal for this

next chapter. I wrote it down

but being is painful. I know

some days it will be, others

less. I’ve accepted this much – and yet

there are some things I cannot

yet accept.

I wish for a simpler brain,

a medically simpler body –

things I probably cannot have 

& maybe don’t deserve. I wish

for a simpler way of seeing,

maybe an entirely new way of being –

I’d forgive faster, be less pathetic,

I’d understand, be grateful,

I wouldn’t need so much,

have such loneliness,

such a hunger to be seen,

to be cared for,

to be chosen,

to be understood.

I’d be good

at building a life in whatever city

he brings us to. Instead

I see the therapists,

make the appointments,

show up & try to paint

a picture for them –

how do I fix this clusterfuck?

I’m afraid.

Please, someone, tell me:

What is the point of me?

How should I spend this one

wild & precious life Mary

Oliver tells me I have?

My mother’s voice in my head

from a decade ago, “You ingrate,

you spoiled bitch.” I would be

more appealing to him

if I weren’t so dependent,

if my schedule wasn’t so empty,

if I could soften my words with

the feminine “Well, I kinda think that maybe…”

I kinda think that maybe

if I had dreams

I’d deserve more respect.

He’s afraid of quietly festering resentment,

a raw spot from his first love, me too,

but we can’t talk & we can’t

seem to change direction.

I have to be the one to change.

He says it without saying it exactly.

They think I’m lucky because I am married

to a future doctor. How much loneliness is stability

worth? The problem is that I love him.

The solution is that l love him.

Will I have to & can I play second love forever?

I want him to have sex with all of me,

not just my clit, my stupid hole.

I want to be fucked hard,

I want to be celibate.

I haven’t had an orgasm in so long

because of the medications.

I want a fucking orgasm.

I want a fucking orgasm.

I want a fucking orgasm.

But I also want to be sane.

I need the medications to stay

at least somewhat sane.

I want those chemicals released

that make sex feel like bonding

instead of a scripted performance,

the same show every time.

It’s very loud inside my head,

the big dog is barking his fool head off

outside, noise hurts. I can no longer

listen to music. My body is stiff, aches

& my mind is foggy, my head wrapped in cotton

from a new medication taken last night.

The medication was meant to do something

but I can’t remember what –

make me saner, make me behave,

lessen my suffering, put me to sleep?

Dear Dick,

I refuse to behave.

  • Chris Kraus

Would things be better if I just pretended?

If I just behaved? Could I

just pretend? Should I just

behave? Would that I could

just behave, play pretend.

I know.

I know.

I know.

“Do yoga. Go volunteer.”

The point is I am trapped

and I am going to write myself out of trapped.

I imagined marriage a lot.

I never imagined it would be so lonely.

How do we put each other first with opposing needs?

How do I know I can trust you?

I call myself an ungrateful cunt.

I know I am often a selfish cunt.

Be grateful you aren’t living in your car again.

Be grateful you have food, air conditioning,

art supplies you can’t make yourself do anything

with anymore. Be grateful someone loves you at all,

that you’ve somehow tricked them into it –

even if you don’t feel chosen,

even if you feel alone & scared.

My mother’s voice on the telephone a week ago,

“You’d better hang onto him because no one else

is going to love you, to put up with your shit.”

I send a selfish text,

a plea for him to come home

from the hospital,

to come home to me,

to choose me.

Then, the shame.

He says he chooses me constantly

when he’s not at work. He says

his entire life is work & Kait.

He says he’s tired of putting out constant fires.

I am the constant fires.

He tells me my emotions dominate

our lives & that is why I have the power.

I don’t feel that I have much power.

If I knew how to cast a spell, I would –

but what would I try to summon?

I know I am his second love –

three great loves, my palm-reading

Irish Catholic gypsy grandmother

predicted this before we were even married.

She spent an hour and a half looking

at his hands. Why didn’t I take this more seriously?

Because that’s a crazy person thing to do.

I’m trying so hard to be good but I’m scared,

I slip up – I am not good.

His loves, chronologically:




The only things planned for today

is therapy & packages being delivered.

If only I had the energy to stay busier.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to therapy.

I’m afraid to leave the house and still

exhausted from the new medication.

He, the future doctor, says

it’s a neurochemical imbalance

that’s making me feel this way. I know

that is part of it, but there is also more.

I know enough to know

mental illness is almost always

genetics meets environment –


(Originally written November 2018, photograph by me)

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