Prison by Dianna Press

I, the jailer
the body — what do you think?

I turn 16 and it stops working the way it’s supposed to
I am 16 and making myself ritually miserable,
encased in too much helpless flesh,
with limbs that don’t do what I tell them
16 and sometimes, I cry so hard that
my whole body clenches tight like a fist —
silent like one, too

Being 16 and girl is bad enough
but 16 and woman with broken system,
one that can’t make what it needs
and punishes itself for it —
sending me spiraling each month,
emotions all natural disaster —
is a different beast entirely

(an insurmountable one,
a crushing weight)

I am 16 and every other night, I tear myself apart
and don’t bother to reassemble the scattered parts
Inexplicably, I wake up whole the next morning,
still in my body and sick with anguish over it

I’m not 16 anymore, and I always thought
that would mean I’d feel better,
but the anguish lingers,
and every so often,
scoops me hollow: pumpkin for the carving

I am 22 and giving more than I get
thinking too much about those
who don’t spare me a second glance.
22 and fatter than ever,
fighting back against this helpless flesh
to build something that can protect
and doing a piss-poor job of it

22 and thinking myself a forgotten lump
soggy wad of blank paper
knowing I used to be vibrant and alive
but unable to remember how

I played piano for a decade, quit,
and now I can’t play a single chord
and maybe that’s a metaphor
for how I can’t remember how to be a person
or maybe it’s just who I am entirely

All I know how to do is give things up
and cower in the face of risk
write out bullshit
push my heart down into my stomach,
which always has room,
and bury it all, fucking bury it,
plaster on that face that says
“nothing special, move along”

I don’t know when I started feeling like life
was something that happens to me
instead of something to grab
and knead with two hands

all I know is I’m 22 and full of shit,
wavering on a precipice
knowing I’ll have to be pushed off eventually,
so I might as well jump,
but being held back by the lump in my throat

so I cut off my hair
and pay an artist to give me a beautiful wound instead
the pain makes my eyes roll back,
and my body feels like my own again,
and it’s euphoric,
and I like it far more than I ought to

everything I write that is honest ends in fear and this is no exception

<img class="wp-block-coblocks-author__avatar-img" src="; alt="<strong>Dianna Press
Dianna Press

Diana is a soft, squishy mess with an overflowing heart and no clue where to put all the excess — so she plants it in the notes app of the cheap, broken phone she purchased on eBay, hoping it grows into something half-beautiful.

It usually doesn’t, so she has to trim the excess, snipping away here and there ’til it’s pruned and somewhat presentable. Then she scraps it and starts again. She believes in the advice “kill your darlings” but struggles to follow it, especially when it comes to adjectives and people.

She’s been writing poetry sporadically since childhood and hopes to publish a collection some day. Currently grappling with an overwhelming addiction to music and poetry, Diana is fond of cheese, art, banter, fictional characters, small children, and fluffy animals. She’s also a giant crybaby gremlin whose Achilles’ heel is her inability to initiate and cope with endings.

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