Dear John Cusack

Thank you for age sixteen when I, bashed apart by loneliness,
curled up in your dark hair and white skin and the spaces
between your crooked teeth.

We expected more of you, us dollar-store girls, dictionary hoarders,
cat-eye marble, library lovers, trapper-keeper, SWAK, pleated skirt,
tattooed snake, rebel lolitas without a cause.

It’s one thing to tell me, “You’re not ready for it,” on the night I threw
my body out of a limelight cab on the highway of tenderness
and instead of fucking me, you sucked the city streets from my
skinned knees and told me, “You’re so young,”
—it’s another thing to ask forgiveness.

We know now sixteen is a battlefield and these are proving grounds.
Fifty-yard lines, cream-colored Volvo backseats, concrete basement
floors, shitty dorm rooms, public displays of poetry
where we ask your opinion, still seeking your approval.

Holly Lyn Walrath‘s poetry and fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, The Fem, Literary Orphans, and Liminality among others. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Rhysling Award. She wrangles writers as a freelance editor and volunteers with Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. Find her online @hollylynwalrath or