Charlotte Covey

things my boyfriends taught me

i. you are nothing
more than a mouth, made
to swallow. to breathe
through your nose, gagging.

ii. you were made to plead.
every gesture has a price, every loving
word is bought (you have a body
for a reason).

iii. you are worth hurting. the other girls,
they don’t get held
in place. don’t get haunting whispers, same as
shouts, dangled in their ears (he took her
to the beach, put you in choke-
hold). you, darling, were made for

iv. how to hide blood,
drips drying on his
favorite razor. how to clean
sheets with him still
sleeping, how to carry every
cursed word in your wrist.

v. how to love is to be
violent. to smack back,
to throttle. to wipe your salt
and yell, ‘til maybe he covers
his ears— then you are
satisfied, just for a minute.

vi. how to take up space. how to curl
your fists. how to grow
red, how to struggle
mottled knuckles. how to scream
for the neighbors when he gets
too close. how to feel breath
coat your lungs when he leaves.


Charlotte Covey is from St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Currently, she is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She has poetry published or forthcoming in journals such as the minnesota review, Salamander Review, The Normal School, The MacGuffin, and Emerson Review. In 2015, she was nominated for an AWP Intro Journal Award. She is co-editor-in-chief of Milk Journal.