Immolation; I Could Care Less; Mourning; I’ve Tried So Hard To Forget; A Response to Your Message (A Little Too Late)


I was born in a burning house.

They swaddled me in smoke,
fed me with flames and
baptized me in the backdraft.

Hardened to the heat,
I had thought 
the whole world was wildfire.
I Could Care Less

It's so hard
learning to expect
nothing from
your parents

when you are
born expecting
them to be
your everything

but they can't
even really see
you behind all
their damage--

the silent aching,
invisible longing,
and unrequited
affection stamping

your neurons,
wiring you to
seek out more
damaged people

until you think
that this is
how love to
supposed to feel

so then you
learn to need
less and to
become smaller

you learn to
hide your

until you
can convince
yourself that
you couldn't

care less

For Christmas morning youthful daughter prayed,
That only peace and love was ever found.
With household lost in sordid masquerade
Fore Christmas morning, youthful daughter prayed
Goodwill her unkind fam’ly might display.
Yet for her prayers, ne’er goodness came around. 
For Christmas, mourning--youthful daughter preyed--
That only peace and love she never found.
I’ve Tried So Hard To Forget
How, when brushing my teeth,
my father’s screams
jostle me into awareness.
Skulking down the stairs, 
the shattering of glass
glitters on the floor
against a torn backdrop.
Reaching down, I cut my hand.
The floor and glass are sleek
from the vermillion river.
Shards peek out of my palm
scattering a shimmering light against the wall.
And I bleed over my family photos.
A Response to Your Message (A Little Too Late) 

“We aren’t experts at knowing 
how best to help you,” like that

was supposed to be your 
role. I never needed you to 

give me answers, to find
fixes. They were there,

inside me, waiting 
to be brought into

the light, guided to 
enlightenment. I 

needed you to see 
me, as I was; as I am. 

needed you to 
listen, especially

to the silence
screaming to 

be understood. But 
your ears were too full 

with the sound of your own 
voice. Your eyes too blinded 

by a projection of your childhood. Still 
they convinced you, that you were hearing

and seeing me. Repeating that 
old family history. I am so sorry 

that they failed to love you
the way we all deserved to be. 

But it’s far too late for you two
to keep playing games with me.

Photo credit: MK Loeffler Photography

Caiti  Quatmann studied and taught writing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She is currently a co-teacher and librarian at a Montessori-inspired and self-directed Microschool. Her interest also includes board games, photography, and volleyball. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and their two young children, who she often finds in both her writing and her bed.