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The Time You Realized Death Smelled Like Old Spice — A Poem

TW: Domestic Abuse / Violence


This is a poem that I wrote for a poetry class that I took last semester, and I felt compelled to share it. This poem is supposed to symbolize the hardships and after effects of being in an abusive relationship, as well as staying with someone who is controlling, manipulative, and possessive (hence why I created the “he” to be a dead, evil creature), which is beyond dangerous. I also wanted to represent how some people that are stuck in these relationships feel hopeless, trapped, and many are not even sure how to get out of this vicious cycle. I hope that reading this sheds some light on how draining it is to be in an emotionally (or even physically) abusive relationship. Domestic/interpersonal violence is never something to be taken lightly, and if you see it happening, speak up immediately. Protect those whose voices have been silenced by their partners, because it can save their lives.  


The Time You Realized Death Smells Like Old Spice 


He told you that you wouldn’t feel any different, that this was normal

as he bit off chunks of you, unscrewing you from the inside out 

so he could play around with your brain.

His teeth were sharp,

but his anger was worse. 


Black mold conversations.

Poisonous touches.

Rusty fear. 

You’d gotten so used to the way that he would 

plunge his left hand right into your chest



while you slept

to make sure your heart was still beating for him,

and only him.


Do you remember the way it would make you feel,

when he would rearrange your body to the way he saw fit?

When he would bend your arms behind your back so you couldn’t 

reach for him?

and crush your trachea with his foot 

because he hated when you disagreed?   


Do you remember at the end of it all,

when he screamed red and yanked your hair back

so hard

that you saw stars,

when he reached inside you one last time,

tugging your heart free of its constraints and ripping it in half with his bare hands. 

You watched as he bit into it greedily, 

your blood oozing from his mouth and rotting skin peeling off his face.

It was then that you noticed just how far along he was in death.

Sara is a junior at SUNY Oswego, double majoring in English and Creative Writing, with a minor in Communications. She hopes to one day work for a publishing company, as well as live out her lifelong dream to write books. Her favorite things to do are read (psychological thrillers and fantasy novels are her favorites), write, travel, work out, watch Netflix, and cook!
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