She told me to break your hearts
with words.
To have no mercy
with my thoughts.
Her smile was always timid.
I knew immediately
she’d spent years with a man
used to getting his own way.
She was intriguing from the start.
Maybe it was the motherly air
she kept around her.
She told me stories
of 19th century serial killers
and abusive Mexican husbands;
of beautiful daughters
and doe-eyed dogs;
of altering your world
with your own mind, and
getting your say
even while being sweet.

She made me think of
chicken soup and
cool hands on fevered foreheads.
She made me feel
to a mother’s warmth;
worth it.

Is it any surprise
I’m drawn to darkness?
She carried hers differently.
It was a part of her,
not a burden.
It was weight she was
happy to carry.
She fed it
Bukowski and Borges,
Tennessee Williams and
tales of woe.
She let it grow;
tended and kept.
She never expected pity —
only an ear once in awhile.
She recognized her
gifts, but expected
no praise.
It is
what it is.
We are trapped
inside ourselves, she quoted.
She was never afraid of my darkness;
she basked in it.
Did we recognize the look
of a broken soul?
Some damsels just love their own distress.



There’s a subtly 

to this darkness.

Not loud and startling,

but quiet and suffocating.


How have I managed

to Be?

Somewhere along the way

pain became beautiful.

To be broken became elegant.

Tears, an elixir.

As though sorrow became


To bask in, to devour.

To grip in your fingers like clouds,

while it drips through mine

like rain.

Brandi Haugen

It So Happens…

It So Happens

By Brandi Haugen


It so happens I’m tired of love,

of the lies of the infinite, insipid writers of romance;

of the heavy bittersweetness of breakups.

The burning shade of tears,

the drought of words and tightened patience.

It so happens I’m tired of the fall;

the accelerated waltz of the dashing antagonist;

the melodies of crashing sobs;

the ripping of the silver lining;

the wretched sounds of promises.

I’m tired of desire, real or not,

tired of sodden skin, the glisten of a 

single tear, repetitive in a perpetual life.

I want to breathe, but

I want to bolt, until I’m gasping,

begging for air.

I want to disappear between the

pages of poetry:

it’s softer here,

safe among the paper cuts.



By Brandi Haugen


Quick —

before it all turns sour.

Tell me again

how you’ve waited for me.

Tell me again

that I’m everything

you’ve ever dreamed of;

asked for.

Tell me as we lie here,

your strong fingers tracing the bones

of my back,

leaving your words like a tattoo.

Sinking through skin and bone

to scar my once-hollow heart.

Because I’ve waited for you.

Spent countless nights

under endless skies

begging the stars for you.

Just you.

A chance encounter

where fingertips met

and clasped,

fitting together like puzzle pieces.

I was forever changed

and hesitant.

Terrified of your ocean eyes,

your perfect face,

your open heart.

For me?