*Trigger Warning: sexual assault and rape.


My sleep is plagued by nightmares.
Some are so real
I have to get up,
Walk around,
Check all the clocks,
To convince myself
It didn’t happen.

I dream I’m drunk,
Stumbling and unsure,
I’ve lost my car,
Can’t find my cigarettes,
Can’t stand up straight.
I fall into walls,
Crawl across the floor,
Hating myself,
Berating myself,
Can’t remember where I’ve been,
How this happened.
I awake,
Check my phone-
Have I called someone,
Texted someone,
Taken photos-
Where have I been?-
Before I realize
It was only a dream.


A man lurks by my bed,
Watches me as I slumber.
He never speaks.
I know I’m sleeping,
But I’m trapped in my body
Unable to move.
I try to scream
But no sound escapes my lips
I dare myself to move
But I’m frozen.
Sometimes the man moves closer,
Stands right over me.
I can feel him there,
Hooded and dark.
Sometimes he lays down next to me,
I can feel his weight on the bed,
Hear him breathing,
A low growl of his inhales and exhales.
I have the dream over and over
And every time brings him closer.
Last night he touched my hair.
I’m paralyzed
Until I finally awaken,
And drenched in sweat.


My mother visits me,
Sick and off-balance.
She raises herself from her hospital bed,
The one she died in,
Her atrophied muscles suddenly working,
But only just.
She moves slowly towards me
On her tiptoes,
Swaying as she goes.
I tell her to stay in bed,
She’s going to fall again.
She only moans back at me,
Unable to speak,
And tries to stretch out her arms,
Her fingers gnarled and bent.
Her face is gaunt,
Her skin is dry,
Her bedsores open-
Blood trails behind her as she moves toward me
Ever so slowly.
I move to meet her,
But I’m stuck in quicksand,
Watching her
Until she gets to me.
I open my arms to hold her
And she falls into me.
I’m not strong enough, mommah,
I try to tell her,
But we’re falling
And I wake with a start.
Even after death,
Even in dreams,
I cannot save her.


More memories visit me,
Of my ex
Chasing me down the hallway,
Punching holes in the wall
Next to my head.
I hear his friends laughing in the kitchen,
Want desperately to join them,
But he’s screaming at me,
I’ve done something to anger him,
I drink deeply from whatever’s in my glass
To brace myself for what’s to come.
I’m crying
As he pushes my face into the pillow.
How can he enjoy it if I won’t shut up,
He asks me,
And I can’t answer,
I hope it’ll be over soon.
He gets up,
Asks why it always has to be a fight,
It can’t be that bad,
Don’t I love him, he has needs.
I’m curled into a ball
And wake up
Wishing I could forget his face,
Forget all the nights
Spent this way.

So I avoid sleep,
Preferring instead to occupy my mind
Until I’m completely exhausted
And hope against hope
That for just a few hours
I’ll get a reprieve
From fighting the demons
That live behind my eyes.