05 October 2017

I Love It When My War Criminal Holds Me

I love it when
my war criminal holds me
after my disasters.
He shushes me and forces
my head to his heart.
He uses Dollar Tree paper towels
to mop-up my sadness.
He uses compliments
instead of money
to mend me.
I am still incomplete.
The pills don't fill
all of the holes in me,
and the tampons
only stop
some of the bleeding.
But it will be OK,
he says to my graying face,
a cloud in a dark and angry sky.
He ignores the clouds
around me
to look into my eyes.
"I will continue to say
I will defend you," he says.
"I will continue to say it."

10 September 2017

A Flare

I'm bad at keeping in touch
so many chewed pen caps
so many starts and stops

To be fair, I sent a warning,
a flare sparkling
against the backdrop of my disorder

And I still never left my bed,
refusing you but apologizing
devouring cans of peaches

This message will only reach you
if you put down your gun
and pick up your phone

Cold coffee reaches your lips
before I do, before I catch my breath
I stopped thinking just long enough

I dream in alcohol
scratching little words to you
each letter weightless,

each syllable an awkward situation
I'm sorry
I'm sorry

06 September 2017


I was taught from a young age to be hypercritical of my body, especially my legs. I was always ashamed of the largeness of my features. I was jealous of people who had nice legs, because I did not like mine. Despite the daily hard work they performed, they were not aesthetic. I never showed them off. Spider veins crept up on them when I was a teen. Cellulite followed. I've realized, now that I'm in my thirties, that they are pretty in their own way, and they belong to me. They are big and they are mine. They carry me. They are strong, and I am strong.

30 August 2017

Cranks and Cranes

There is no novelty to illness,
but bystanders either look too closely
or prefer to observe
from miles away,
still intrigued,
twisting their long necks to see
as they get a little closer.

"Hey, I need help,"
becomes a tired,
yet necessary, phrase,
once the scene
comes into focus.
It's a statement
reluctantly uttered,
with little spikes catching
in your throat.

The listener becomes
just as prickly, sometimes.
Other times, just tired.
Not as tired as you are,
having spent
all of your adult life sick.

Sometimes, there's a little
skip in the mix,
when the edgelords
have quieted
and the soft, strong tones
float to the surface,
crisp effervescence:
"I want you to live."

And that's who you try to listen to.
Not the cranks or the cranes.
When your own voice emerges,
unwavering, that's even better,
but for now,
you take what you can get.

14 August 2017


violence begets violence,
they said,
and the others saw
the invitation
and took
their backyard torches
and arrived
like a wave of fire
over the town.
this is for you,
the others said,
and blood
stained their mouths
as they chanted
blood and soil
blood and soil
and mashed
their cold bodies against
time and history,
shoved their lives through
blockades of clergy,
of punks,
of comrades,
waves of fire.
violence begets violence,
they said,
as the warm glow,
crackling and humming,
grew louder

30 July 2017

Rattle, Rattle

Sleep over
over sleep.
I don't believe
in the devil,
but the devil sure
believes in me.

Pill bottle is a rattle,
lulling and lulling,
and I,
with my
childproof hands
wring each fear carefully.

Sleep is only scary
when it ends,
so the bed swallows me
and doesn't spit me out.

I don't believe
in the devil,
but he believes in me.
Hush, hush,
he repeats.
And my breath slows
and my eyes close.
Rattle, rattle.

19 June 2017

Consider Supporting My Fundraiser

Dear readers,
Thank you for reliably visiting my blog over the years. Your readership means a lot to me. As some of you may know, my health hasn't been the greatest, and as a result, I am asking for your help. I am having trouble paying for my medicine and accumulating medical bills, so my sister and I have made a crowdfunding site to try to help. Please consider donating and/or sharing the link: https://www.youcaring.com/shannonmckeehen-854019.
Thank you so much for sticking around!

12 June 2017

The Good Son

These small colors
wrapped in fur,
genetics along a string--
these are the surprises,
each a magic trick.
These events happen
outside the frame
while we are holding hands
or wringing hands
or catching hands.
These events happen,
and it doesn't matter if
they are accidental or on purpose.
We hope the light is cared for.
We hope that someone out there
will nurture each little thing,
but we don't actually know if that happens.
Hope and reality are different people,
not even siblings or cousins,
kissing or otherwise.
We want it to be good enough,
despite fragility,
because the colors are everlasting.
They are the truth.
Little reds and purples,
little blues and greens,
bundled together in hair and promise,
bundled together
in soft curls and violent starts.
When we are at our best,
we are really something.
When we are at our worst,
we have a lot to answer for.
Can we make a reality
that we can live with
and not just die for?
Let's just say
I hope so.

22 March 2017


Never let me down.
Never let me down.

- Depeche Mode

I just wanted the option,
even if I didn't choose it.
I just wanted
to have all of the cards,
even the ones with
the bent corners.
When you get to be thirty,
she said,
you start running
out of options.
Your body grows spiders
instead of babies.
And lo, my womb
is full of tiny creatures
not human, pulsing and ticking,
giving me nothing,
letting me down.
The body is a temple,
she said,
so treat it with respect.
But there is no respect here.
It is does not reciprocate,
regardless of McDonald's meals
or hummus sandwiches.
It lets me down.
It is full of fire,
wicking up the webs left
by tiny creatures, clinging
to the walls of all
I will ever have.

21 March 2017


One day, I will settle the score,
which isn't a threat
nor a promise,
and it isn't directed at anyone but myself.