I almost don’t dare speak of the

all-consuming darkness, the voice that 

utters “Liz killed herself,” at my lowest.

It remarks as if a taunt, past tense 

to show I have no power over it,

trying to force me into submission,

saying death is my only fate.

I fight this voice with arguments

strong enough to make it slither

back into the shadows where it lurks

another day.

I come from a history of suicides. 

My mother’s father was a boy, waiting

for his mother to come home. 

She called him on a telephone 

from California

where she’d been studying art,

and told him that she was coming for


This would be the last time

he heard her voice.

He waited on the front-porch

steps, not daring to miss her arrival,

with his little sister, my great aunt,

Anne. Just the image of a small boy

holding to a promise, 

like a melting popsicle, 

waiting all day long

in front of a house 

full of people who did

not want him–his family, my family.

I think about my son, my ginger boy, 

sitting on my porch steps, 

aglow with freckles and 

knock-knock jokes,

bouncing with the excitement he

shows when he sees me,

waiting for me to pull into

the driveway, his sister

bossing him to quit fidgeting.

Any notion of a 

one-way ticket out

is forcefully rejected from my 


I think about my great-grandfather

who only saw one way out of

the treatments for cancer, and

didn’t want to become a burden on

his wife. 

He will never see how

she carried the burden of him taking

his own life in a chair, where she

told him to wait 

so she could get a drink

of water. 

She described the trickle

of blood down the left-side of his face 

to me when I was six.

I think of my friend, whose mother

killed herself when she was a child,

how it darkened her soul, and made

my friend question her own worth.

She had to relive it with

her stepmother, 

who we’d seen, spoken

to, hugged, been comforted by

and cried on, not

two weeks prior to her final act.

It was a shock to know someone,

and realize 

we really didn’t.

I recant these happenings, not to guilt,

but to consider the repercussions

of a single bullet, 

and how fast it undoes everything.

It isn’t selfishness, it’s a battle,

and not everyone will understand.

These accounts keep me alive because

I have a strong sense of duty,

and I learned to use it for myself, against myself.

I know how to stop me.

How do you stop yourself?


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