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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

Straight from the Tortured Poets Department

To be Known

There’s one thing they don’t tell you when you’re very small,

They don’t say that ‘to be known’ is the greatest gift of all. 

You thought it was the friendly face who asked to share your toys

Then you watched them flee as soon as you lost your poise.

Well, “Composure’s good”! And so is locking the safe

But did you know that there are some who will see the shadows in your face?

And love you anyway?

The moment comes to reveal the crestfallen template behind your eyes

There are those who never think to run at your lost disguise.

For your life, to a wrought persona and severed heart you were prone, 

Always scared of what might be said once stripped to the bare bone.

Left to the unhospitable world, but now you find yourself home,

Breath of air,

And you found love that only grew from letting yourself be known.

While You Looked Down

Your mind sticks to the pavement. 

Transfixed by the effervescent glow of the cemented stones. 

What was their worth before they were placed,

So harshly, so final, in their resting home. 

Look up!

There’s a world above it all.

Smooth, edges of every corner of life. 

It comes, it goes. 

It ebbs, it flows.

Watch where you are walking, or you’ll fall into the hole. 

The people around you, what transcends their very soul?

Do they miss their mom, on a hot, brutal Tuesday?

A no-crust sandwich and a cool breeze. 

Then, hey, look up!

You stumble into the cold shoulder of a stranger.

“Watch where you’re walking! Don’t you people look up anymore?”

A mumbled sorry, eyes glued to the floor. 

There’s the worry, 

What will you miss?

Outside your mind, there’s less to control.

Better to just imagine you’re there, on that grassy knoll. 

I should look up, of that I’m quite sure.

But I’m still not sure why they chose that stone.

And it’s just trapped there, all alone.

Look up!


A gem of a human, a diamond for a soul

With roots planted in your loyalty,

And flower petals cascading on those you touch.

It must be so hard, when you lose you lustrousness, 

When they forget to water you. 

God knows, you would give it all just to be met in return with a smile.

Sharp teeth, hands squelching your heart.

Dirt coats your knees, with hands washed in your blood.

The clouds use you for cover.

You spit out the water you’re choking on,

But you’re already too far beneath the surface.

Your light does little, then, but to guide the fish to the reef.

They may say thank you, but it wouldn’t be enough.

You float in your liminality and the world passes you by.

The rope is right there, to the shore.

But you don’t dare tug it.

Not if it meant you’d be saved.

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