West Virginia



You are the man
who buys me a drink at every bar
and smiles his secrets at me
from across a crowded room.

You are the bones of coal miners
buried deep inside a devil’s furnace
of earth and rock, and
the daughters who are left behind,
on their knees, spilling tears
into the ground.

And, despite what you may think,
I don’t care if you are half-lit
and rowdy and your Saturday nights
are a run-on sentence punctuated
with bullet holes and broken mailboxes.

I don’t care if you are too busy
carrying on with your redneck buddies, too busy
shooting out street lights to notice
the new dress I’m wearing or the shine
of tears in my eyes. I am
standing in the doorway screaming don’t leave me
even with your hands wrapped around my throat.

I still tell everyone that you are beautiful
as if I, too, need to hear those words
echo through the valley
of awkward silence
like an explosion from a ruptured gas line.

You are trash bags and beer bottles
piled in the roadside ditches.
You are the smell of sulfur and rotted meat
and gunpowder.

But you are also the soft brush strokes
of aurora borealis against
a coal-black mountaintop sky
and forests full of deer and black bear
and the rough, gentle hands
of honest men.

Never let them tell you
you are not a maverick, West Virginia.

You ARE America.

You are freedom and honey
and rivers
and country roads
leading me home
when I feel empty as a dried-up well
and have forgotten who I am
and why I keep on living
even when my heart is split down its center
like the seam of a mountain
about to be blasted wide open.

I am the canary who will sing for you
even when the world grows dark
and heavy and airless
as a collapsed mine shaft.

And I’ll be goddamned if they ever
shut me up.



This is my very, VERY rough work of the day. There is so much I could add to this…haha!



When my father died,
I did not sleep for 3 days.

At 19, I believed that boys who smelled
like campfires and peppermint or oceans
would make the best lovers.
I wasn’t wrong.

I learned to hunt
because I was hungry.

I killed a kitten once.
It was an accident. I swear.

I fell in love with New Orleans in a single night,
its jazz musicians and beignets and trolleys,
its gas lamps and tombs and voodoo
and shadowed doorways,
its dirty streets and fish stink.
We still talk. It’s awkward.

I’ve had an abortion
and have never regretted it.

Sometimes, I lie
just to see what will happen.

I had sex with a handsome
blond tour guide in Amsterdam. Afterward,
he slipped a yellow tulip
into my bag, his name
and phone number written
across the petals in black ink. I never called.

I never cheated on my husband.
Not once.
But I wanted to.

I sleep so much
because it is easier
than writing poetry.

I write poetry
because it is easier
than making eye contact.

An Inventory of Lost Things

I wanted to post something new and “rough” today. So, here it is:

An Inventory of Lost Things

my car keys
my virginity
a silver lighter, a pack of cigarettes
a pair of lacy black panties
in the backseat of a blue Chevrolet

one husband
a bottle of perfume
a love letter from a dead boyfriend
that still smelled like the echo of his cologne

countless notebooks full
of brilliant poems

my father

my father’s red handkerchief
my mother’s gold ring

my inhibitions
after three glasses of red wine

my glasses
in an airport bathroom
a tube of the most perfect red lipstick

your phone number

a velvet bag of guitar picks
a Joan Jett CD
the will to live

the complete poems of Sylvia Plath
a contact lens on a bus in San Pedro
a lover in Portland
a pack of gum
on a New York City subway train

a chance to say goodbye
a chance to say I love you

eighty pounds of ugly fat
my fear of crowded places
two dogs to bone cancer

and once
a pet turtle

the only photo of you and I
in existence

a fistful of laundry quarters
my favorite childhood toy
those  sweet words you whispered
into my ear when you thought I was sleeping

all my colored socks
my favorite pen
a pair of black cowboy boots

my heart
my goddamn mind

Speaking With Him That Last Time


This isn’t exactly a “new” poem. It’s a few months old, and it was included in the Girls In Love e-book. I’m posting it here, tonight…because this is how I feel right now. Honestly, it’s all I can think about.


Speaking With Him That Last Time

Words like spoiled apples
have given up and
fallen to the ground
in a rotted heap

Stranded in the starless night
of his absence
I am a blind animal
of finding its way home
in the dark

separated from the only sure path
it has ever known
nose pressed to grass
always waiting
for a dawn that does not come

Poem for a Yellow Moth

2013-12-06 17.18.25

Poem for a Yellow Moth

It is there so simply on the hot pavement of the gas station parking lot,
the yellow moth like a smashed paper lantern.

Men hurry by in suits or jeans and baseball caps, clutching coffee.
Women in heels click-clack their oblivious way
through the start of a too-long day, skirts neat and pressed
against their thighs, seeing nothing but doors
in need of walking through.

There is no one to notice as I kneel into the heat,
scoop this little lopsided star into my palm, its torn wing
limp as a flag on a windless day, its legs clutching my finger
like a swimmer who has lost his way, swallowed too much water, and I
ferry it to the grassy median, cupped in my hands
like a prayer for the drowned,
a fat yellow candle
whose flame may at any moment flicker
and go dark.

Safe from the crush of heels and tires,
the moth releases me back into the world, spiny legs
curling under its bright body.

As I make my way back to the car, the world is
a kind of music I have never heard before, a painting
whose colors come unflinchingly alive in the right sort of light–

the men and the women, a desperate percussion of heartbeats,
the hot sun drumming the pavement, the tang of gasoline
in the air, that boy’s deer-brown eyes
assessing the swing of my hips as I walk,
the bridge of his white smile,
the blue, blue sky.




Just after 3am, he pulls his pickup
into the gravel lot of the old lockhouse.
It is a cold night, full of talk of superstition,
black cats and a full moon beginning to sink
full-bellied, down into the river.
A werewolf moon, I say.
His grin is a flash of primal fire in the dark.
Somewhere deep inside me,
something hungry wakens
and shifts, uncurls.
We begin to discuss the impossibility
of silver bullets, how they are too light
to be shot accurately at much of anything.
His fingertips brush my knee
as he reaches across to switch off the radio.
I grab his hand, press it to the slope
of my chest where my heart beats
a wild tattoo against his palm.
Touch me again, I whisper.
Surprised, he was sure he’d need
better ammunition.



his fingers in my hair would be
the sweetest of mercies
but he is not here
not even a silent shadow
in the bedside chair

dressed in hospital blue
I read a pamphlet about cervical cancer
to distract my mind
from the life leaking out of me
oceans of dead black blood

it is not cancer
only circumstance
rearranging the runes
that spell out my future

there are other concerns now
beyond middle names
blue or pink
college funds

this room is too clean too white
the sheets are itchy
everything hurts

the bright lights the small bed
my empty hands

the phone is a cinder block
heavy with questions

there is no man waiting for me
in the waiting room

a stranger paces
asks the nurses if I’ll be okay

some young good Samaritan
who doesn’t know me
who has never even touched me

except to lift and carry me
to a warm car
to drive me to a hospital
cold as an unmarked grave
quiet as the child
who will never be born

personal blog of poet Amber Decker


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