Vanessa Willoughby



It’s 4 a.m. and I’ve flatlined in my mousetrap bed

Wondering how my father learned to calcify

Black fire into unbreakable indifference

Meant to soothe him invisible, Superman indivisible

Shield him from troops of coy mistress vampires

And toothless ghouls that

He’s lugged like a bulging bowling bag, the

Strap stitched with quick sutures into his shoulder.


My father tries to be gracefully proud

But reformed christians know that whole-bellied pride

Can sever your senses to a cauterized clean

And infect the root of hard toiled morals

Until the soil is like pus, the crops useless

As fallen robins with their necks snapped.


We were all unhappy at the end

Dazed strangers stuck on a train screaming through

The same dark tunnel looped like a scratchy home movie

The sound snipped out

The mouths slit from ear to ear

The eyes never laughing.




Vanessa Willoughby is a graduate of Emerson College and The New School. Her work has been featured on The Toast, The Hairpin, Thought Catalog, Literally, Darling, and The Huffington Post. Her writing can be found at