Samantha Madway is working on a collection of interlinked poems and flash fiction. She loves her dogs, Freddie, Charlie, Parker, Greta, and Davey, more than anything else in the universe. Her writing has appeared in SLAB, Sky Island Journal, unstamatic, After the Pause, and elsewhere. She’s technophobic but attempts to be brave by having an Instagram @sometimesnight. If the profile were a plant, it would’ve died long ago.
Instruction Manual for Not-Nice Girls
call an invitation.
Don’t drink at dinner.
Don’t walk alone after dark,
not even if summer is ending or it’s
been forever since the sun actually set
instead of sneaking behind sweat and smog.
Don’t smile because silent lightning isn’t
streaking the sky, the swelter broken
by mercy, not the thunderstorm
they promised was coming
tomorrow every day
since the middle
but don’t be aloof.
Don’t engage, avoid, accept,
initiate, decline, ignore, or attract.
Don’t have any gaps in your memory.
Don’t think about first grade art projects,
forcing secrets out of leaves and pennies and
the sheet of paper under a piece used to pass notes.
Don’t think about indentations on your skin,
etchings of the textures you were up
against, impressions shaped like
a stranger in places that
crayons can’t reach.
Don’t act crazy.
or struggle to speak.
Don’t be a crime scene.
Don’t need your wrists and
neck and knees dusted for prints.
Don’t need police reports, cotton swabs.
Don’t lose yourself in ceiling tiles while they
examine you on a table that’s as cold as a morgue.
Don’t be photos of body parts with rulers for frames.
Don’t count your bruises, scratches, bloodstains.
Don’t ask for water or say I can’t remember.
Don’t get angry when they act like you’re
the one who’s accused of something.
Don’t ask why when they say
don’t get your hopes up.
Don’t tell them you
have no use