14 November 2017

Need More Water

I don't come from
witches. If anything,
I am dehydrated
and need more water,
like a mermaid
or a siren.

My home is driftwood and
weird, abandoned
particle board,
bloated, edgeless.

I am not as glamorous
as other secrets claimed
by the ocean.

My skin is
as rough as
my heart.

I saw myself on land,
and my home transformed.

I heard myself,
and I was hoarse and broken.

Where I am from,
ruts and roots
are pronounced
the same way.

That means
that I am not a witch.
That means
that I am a different imposter,
shaped from the clay,
or not.
Whittled from driftwood,
or not.

Or maybe I am someone else's story,
a dream captured,
looped in a child's mind.

10 November 2017

So Much Left

My advice to you:
Be an angry woman,
not a stern still-life
but a jaw-clencher,
a mom voice,
a "get back here,"
a "put
Don't apologize.
Yes, write letters,
but also make calls.
Spell things out.
Be the type
to drink an old-fashioned,
for you are muddled sugars
with bitters
and damn,
are you tired
with so much left to say,
so much left.

06 November 2017

still ill

no place is safe
not a church
not a temple
not a movie theater
not a school
where you work
where you relax
no place is safe
from angry men
from "men with purpose"
from eggshell egos
no place is safe
each place has potential
for danger, for peace
for welcoming the fragile,
for punishing them
no place is safe
from us

10 September 2017

A Flare

I'm bad at keeping in touch
so many chewed pen caps
so many starts and stops

To be fair, I sent a warning,
a flare sparkling
against the backdrop of my disorder

And I still never left my bed,
refusing you but apologizing
devouring cans of peaches

This message will only reach you
if you put down your gun
and pick up your phone

Cold coffee reaches your lips
before I do, before I catch my breath
I stopped thinking just long enough

I dream in alcohol
scratching little words to you
each letter weightless,

each syllable an awkward situation
I'm sorry
I'm sorry

06 September 2017


I was taught from a young age to be hypercritical of my body, especially my legs. I was always ashamed of the largeness of my features. I was jealous of people who had nice legs, because I did not like mine. Despite the daily hard work they performed, they were not aesthetic. I never showed them off. Spider veins crept up on them when I was a teen. Cellulite followed. I've realized, now that I'm in my thirties, that they are pretty in their own way, and they belong to me. They are big and they are mine. They carry me. They are strong, and I am strong.

30 August 2017

Cranks and Cranes

There is no novelty to illness,
but bystanders either look too closely
or prefer to observe
from miles away,
still intrigued,
twisting their long necks to see
as they get a little closer.

"Hey, I need help,"
becomes a tired,
yet necessary, phrase,
once the scene
comes into focus.
It's a statement
reluctantly uttered,
with little spikes catching
in your throat.

The listener becomes
just as prickly, sometimes.
Other times, just tired.
Not as tired as you are,
having spent
all of your adult life sick.

Sometimes, there's a little
skip in the mix,
when the edgelords
have quieted
and the soft, strong tones
float to the surface,
crisp effervescence:
"I want you to live."

And that's who you try to listen to.
Not the cranks or the cranes.
When your own voice emerges,
unwavering, that's even better,
but for now,
you take what you can get.

14 August 2017


violence begets violence,
they said,
and the others saw
the invitation
and took
their backyard torches
and arrived
like a wave of fire
over the town.
this is for you,
the others said,
and blood
stained their mouths
as they chanted
blood and soil
blood and soil
and mashed
their cold bodies against
time and history,
shoved their lives through
blockades of clergy,
of punks,
of comrades,
waves of fire.
violence begets violence,
they said,
as the warm glow,
crackling and humming,
grew louder

30 July 2017

Rattle, Rattle

Sleep over
over sleep.
I don't believe
in the devil,
but the devil sure
believes in me.

Pill bottle is a rattle,
lulling and lulling,
and I,
with my
childproof hands
wring each fear carefully.

Sleep is only scary
when it ends,
so the bed swallows me
and doesn't spit me out.

I don't believe
in the devil,
but he believes in me.
Hush, hush,
he repeats.
And my breath slows
and my eyes close.
Rattle, rattle.

19 June 2017

Consider Supporting My Fundraiser

Dear readers,
Thank you for reliably visiting my blog over the years. Your readership means a lot to me. As some of you may know, my health hasn't been the greatest, and as a result, I am asking for your help. I am having trouble paying for my medicine and accumulating medical bills, so my sister and I have made a crowdfunding site to try to help. Please consider donating and/or sharing the link: https://www.youcaring.com/shannonmckeehen-854019.
Thank you so much for sticking around!

12 June 2017

The Good Son

These small colors
wrapped in fur,
genetics along a string--
these are the surprises,
each a magic trick.
These events happen
outside the frame
while we are holding hands
or wringing hands
or catching hands.
These events happen,
and it doesn't matter if
they are accidental or on purpose.
We hope the light is cared for.
We hope that someone out there
will nurture each little thing,
but we don't actually know if that happens.
Hope and reality are different people,
not even siblings or cousins,
kissing or otherwise.
We want it to be good enough,
despite fragility,
because the colors are everlasting.
They are the truth.
Little reds and purples,
little blues and greens,
bundled together in hair and promise,
bundled together
in soft curls and violent starts.
When we are at our best,
we are really something.
When we are at our worst,
we have a lot to answer for.
Can we make a reality
that we can live with
and not just die for?
Let's just say
I hope so.

22 March 2017


Never let me down.
Never let me down.

- Depeche Mode

I just wanted the option,
even if I didn't choose it.
I just wanted
to have all of the cards,
even the ones with
the bent corners.
When you get to be thirty,
she said,
you start running
out of options.
Your body grows spiders
instead of babies.
And lo, my womb
is full of tiny creatures
not human, pulsing and ticking,
giving me nothing,
letting me down.
The body is a temple,
she said,
so treat it with respect.
But there is no respect here.
It is does not reciprocate,
regardless of McDonald's meals
or hummus sandwiches.
It lets me down.
It is full of fire,
wicking up the webs left
by tiny creatures, clinging
to the walls of all
I will ever have.

21 March 2017


One day, I will settle the score,
which isn't a threat
nor a promise,
and it isn't directed at anyone but myself.

12 February 2017


Dry lipstick
fills small cracks
with confidence,
I am a fuckup
in a dark room,
eyes fixed on a mirror
and I swear I am pixels.
I swear I am an image.
I touch my lip
and red pours out,
fills a glass.
I am thirsty, so I drink.
I drink to be real.
Please, hold my glass,
hold me, hold me.

30 January 2017

Cold war

when all I want
is for you
to be proud of me
and I wait
for an answer:
the crackers
in your cold soup.

Coffee gone cold

In this age of second helpings
and second comings, I scour
the edges of a simple map
while you grunt disapproval.
I thought I had it in me,
but instead, I help you
straighten your tie
to reality. I know the map better
than you do, but my legs are numb
and my brain is aflame,
so I don't know what to do.
Your lips flap, your mouth
laps up your coffee,
leaving small crumbs to float.
You are as careless as you are proud.
I stare at one of the crumbs,
a little brown thing lost at sea,
disposable like my loved ones.
I don't know
what you mean or what you want,
but go fuck off anyway.

22 January 2017

Dear Richard

what is your favorite meal
so that I may
poison it?

what is your least-favorite race
so that I may invite
as many as I can

to celebrate?

17 January 2017

Predictable Motions

I want to marry
a girl or a boy
and be as normative
and dehydrated as fuck,
carrying multiple infants
on my back, a soldier muscling
through the terrible terrains
of america, all soft, grey trouble.

Because I am depressed
and familiar, a pretend Sexton
with candy cigarettes,
I will require eighteen hours
in bed, smoothing my greasy bangs
close to my brow
in romantic, predictable motions.

I am a flake and a terror, but I know how to float.

I will teach you
how to swim if you teach me
how to dream.

03 January 2017

No purchase necessary

I spread my love across
separate gift cards
and payday loans.

If only the tooth fairy
still visited, I would
take pliers to my own mouth.

There is no salve
at the dollar store,
and there are no pills
at my mother's house,
and yet I still snoop
through drawers,
examine dirty shelves,
pretend to tie shoes
that are already
perfectly tight,
to be strong
when the same
questions sting.

I spread my love across
unmade beds in unwelcome homes.

In a dream, I give
my teeth to you,
and you are whole again.