FEATURE – Taylor Steele

Self-diagnosis (Part 1): October 28, 2016


i am the worst

kind of roommate

i drink your coffee

cook with your extra virgin

olive oil

and i don’t ask first

i leave dishes in the sink

tell myself

if you ask why

i’ll just say

i’m depressed

which is a child’s

tantrum way of saying

i didn’t know better

and i’ll throw in

i’m sorry

for extra measure

to keep the beat

and i know

that ain’t enough

know depressed

don’t pay the bills

sorry don’t marinate

your chicken

don’t keep the mice

from this harvest

and if you got

something to say

i’ll be in my room

crying to Sara Bareilles

and Goodbye, Love

on repeat until i die

or the xanax kicks in

so tell me how

you feel

tell me how to feel

tell me to

feel something

and you’re speaking now

so many words

and i hear you

i’d say something but i can’t…

it’s just…


so depressed over here

Self-diagnosis (Part 5): December 7, 2016


today, the man you love will never love you

he leaves you for the 3rd time in 7 weeks

over the 4 months you spend not being

anything to him worthy of a name


today, there is no shame in the fact

that after he leaves,

you get so drunk at a bar

you go home with a couple

you have spent only 15 minutes dancing with

that is enough time for you to say yes

when they ask you to get in the car

it is the first time you are

having sex with someone in love

it is okay that it is not with you

right now, their love is enough

it is okay that this will not be enough tomorrow

it is okay that you want the woman more

her touch is gentle and she asks you for nothing

she says she will take care of you

and you know she means her tongue and not her heart

but today it is enough

she tells you, you are beautiful

and it is okay to believe her

though you don’t want to be beautiful ever again

when the man puts his dick in your mouth

it is okay that you do not want it

though you thought you would

it is okay that it is too soon

to be with another man

that you want him to remind you

of the man you love

and he doesn’t

he reminds you of all the men you fucked before him

all sweat and dirt and wanting you only for a night

it is okay that sometimes you feel

the man you love only wants you for a night



and it’s just that that night keeps happening

it is okay that after the sex you go home and cry

because it is too soon

because you have to learn that the hard way



today, the man you love is probably laughing somewhere

he is probably happy

he is probably not thinking of you

it is okay

today, you laughed and were happy and did not think of him, too

this will keep happening


today, you imagine what it would be like

to have sex with someone in love

with you,

who asks you for nothing

he knows you can not give him,

who takes all that you can and gives it a name

a diagnosis you can live with

and you think of how the other diagnoses,

the ones that require medication and patience will not scare him

it is okay that the thought of this makes you cry

that you are hurting

though you thought you wouldn’t

because you didn’t think you were even capable of love

because you didn’t think anyone

would want to be with you in the first place

and someone wanted you for four months

though he does not want you now or in the way you need

it is okay to need, Taylor

because you are human, Taylor

and humans need


today, you wake up on the couch for the 5th day in a row

it is okay that you don’t know

how to sleep in your bed yet, it

with all its space and empty and cold

where a body used to be

you wake up in pain and tired


it is okay that you are tired

it is okay to want to forget for a little while

it is okay to close your eyes to all of this

so sleep, love

today, let’s just sleep

Self-diagnosis (Part 6): December 13th, 2016


I’ve begun the business of killing myself slowly.

I’ve only had coffee today, and

it made me feel like I was either going to throw

up or pass out on the train ride to work.

I still feel it twisting my guts into a splintering.

I think to myself, oh what a beginning!

The doctor this morning tells me I’m such a good patient cuz

I take shots so good. Funny.

I’m here cuz I take shots so good.

I cry when she leaves the room.

Because what if I ever loved myself as much as I distrust gravity?

If I loved myself as much as the chemical imbalance is

indifferent to the suffering it causes.

The doctor comes back, says to put my clothes on, that

I am good. to. go.

I am stone faced after that.

I have a jaw built of the memories of every person

I’ve let into my mouth who I knew did not intend to stay.

And all I can swallow now is my pride,

is acid, is the promise to never eat again.

Yeah, that’s part 2 of the killing of myself!

The body consists of, what, only 70% water?

I welcome the challenge,

chase the coffee with Poland Springs,

wonder if I can drown myself this way.

My mother texts me, asks me how I am.

She texts again 2 hours later when I don’t respond.

I say I’m fine

And I am. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.

I’m finally sure of something other than

how well I sleep alone, how I don’t move in my sleep,

how like a corpse in a casket I’ve already been.

My best friend texts me, asks me how I am.

I say I feel like I’m dying, but I don’t tell her

at whose hands or that I’m begging myself for this.

She tells me, it will get better.

And I believe her.


It’s just, I don’t want it to.

Get better.

For what? To be back here again next week? No,

I want to sink into the moon’s deepest crater.

I want to disappear into the fog, evaporate and dampen all of your faces.

This is how I will cry from now on, be the rolling mist

on an abandoned building’s windows.

The doctor said she’ll call if anything comes up positive.

The latest boy in my jaw said he’ll never call again.

My mother says she will call later

to ask if I’ve made it home,

though I don’t know that such a place exists for me.

Positive, Never, Home.

I wonder if the slowest way to kill myself

is to never find a home.

Taylor Steele is a Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based writer and performer. Her work can be found at such esteemed publications as Apogee Journal, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Rogue Agent, and more. Her chapbook “Dirty.Mouth.Kiss” is available on Pizza Pi Press. Taylor has written for The Body is Not an Apology, Drunken Boat Journal, and Philadelphia Printworks. She is an internationally ranked spoken word artist, placing 5th and 6th in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Most importantly, Taylor is a triple-Taurus who believes in the power of art to change, shape, and heal.