2 poems| J.L. Harlow

Drifting Away
Numb, and I cannot use this hidden shade of blue,
Evening and the noise is everything but music,

Mother is screaming, and I do not live for the bible,
Mother is screaming, because I do not live for the bible,

She says that love wants to kill me, and slaughter me,
She says that it wants to stain its palms with my misery,
She says that it wants to mark and stain its sin all over me,

I am not hiding, this mask is drifting away.

Sister is screaming, You’ll never marry,
Sister is wrapping a chain around my throat,

She says that I must remain in a box, a trap,
She says to die inside her, and call her Mommy,
She says everything else wants to stain its sin all over me,

I am not hiding, this mask is drifting away.

They say one day I can sit on the golden throne,
Right next to God and be His, and His only,
Because no one down here ever gets lonely,

Forget all the faded pages and booming voices,
No one needs free-will or equal rights or choices,

I hear those words and I whither, I become a sun-dried prune,
Folding into myself, I eat freedom by the pound like a glutton.

They say that I am too young to love,
I am too young to know, I am too young to breathe, to walk,

They speak to me like a child, they tell me to spit it out,
This freedom I have stuffed into my salivating mouth,
They force feed me bible pages upon bible pages,

Now I am sick, I want to purge it, I purge it out in the form of ink,
Confess how they make me retch such words from my body.

And now I crave distance,
And now I must stretch the strings of my heart
Until they pull apart like frayed ends of a life,

This is my life, does it look like a ribbon torn to shreds?
Are my hands, my insides, looping around one another?

Are the colors I wear the shade of the blood love stained me in?
Do I wear a poisoned grin on my face?

Is it showing? Is it all polished and perfected,
Is it all put out on display?

Because I am not hiding, I am drifting away.

I Am Not Sorry
My skin is brown, it is unordinary,
and with all of these conservatives around I’m
sure each and every one of them can sniff out
the libertarian in me, but I’m not sorry.

My hips are round and uneven, they are
wide and they curve like a hilltop, my
thighs wiggle, they have a personality, they
are not still or stiff,

they like to move and dance, they like to speak for themselves,
they smile, and when they smile they have dimples,

they say dimples are some kind of deformity,
but my thighs do not care,
and they are not sorry.

My skin is not just one, even tone,
it is a little darker here, a little lighter there,
it is a landscape with both day and night at the same time,
it is a painting and the artist used two paintbrushes.

Half my body is the night sky,
the other half is sometimes the evening sunset,
my skin is a palette of uniqueness,
but I’m not sorry.

The whole bible-belt screamed at me when they
saw all of me, all of my voices,
now their scriptures and sermons cannot be heard,
they say it’s my fault, my fault that I made them scream,

their muffled screeches are shot at me, they pry my body for
apologies, but I look them square in the eye, and I say:
but I’m not sorry, why should I be anyway?


J.L. Harlow is a 20 y/o who resides in the Midwest. She has had other poems published both in print and through online literary magazines such as White Ash, Fat City Review, Surrounded Magazine, Riveter Review and others. In her spare time she enjoys creating art work, drinking coffee, reading and learning about cultures of all kinds and searching the world for inspiration. J.L. Harlow is currently working on a novel, she hopes to inspire and be inspired throughout her future work. She is on Facebook and Tumblr.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.