Excerpt for Reflections in Silhouette: Poems by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Reflections in Silhouette


T. L. Cooper

Copyright © 2011 T. L. Cooper

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by The TLC Press.

ISBN: 0984686223

ISBN-13: 978-0984686223


I dedicate this book of poetry to the friends and family who loved me for my true self even when I lost track of who that was.

My love for you is unconditional, heartfelt, and everlasting.

Thank you!


The poems between these covers come from life, and therefore I must acknowledge all the people who’ve played a role in my life because they’ve each contributed to the woman I’ve become. I thank them for providing fuel, ammunition, and weaponry for the words that have helped me discover passion, inspiration, and insight in life as well as my place in the world.

As always, I offer my gratitude and love to Loay Abu-Husein for his support and love! Without his skill, knowledge, and talent, this book cover wouldn’t exist.

Many thanks and love to friends, Kelly Deaton, Lori Felmey, and Bryan Rader for their feedback on both individual poems and the cover. Their time, attention to detail, honesty, and friendship enrich not only my writing but my life! Thanks for reminding me that revealing what makes me feel most vulnerable may help someone else and is therefore the strength of my work.

Authors, Stacey Rourke, Joanne Pence, Pari Noskin Taichert, and LJ Sellers earned my eternal gratitude with thoughtful, honest, thought provoking and helpful comments regarding myriad aspects of the book.

Many thanks to all those who’ve read my poems and offered encouragement over the years!

Never to be forgotten are the friends and family who offer me their undying support and unconditional love as I grow into the best me I can be.

Many thanks to you for reading my work! May you find something in these pages that speaks to you on your journey to become your best self!


Who I am


May differ from the person remembered from


And likely won’t be the person encountered in

Future days

Remnants may remain

Those bits that create change

Those scars that teach lessons

To remind of the journey and the destination

To provide familiarity

Vague impressions may surface

Of times past

Of laughter and tears

Of joy and heartbreak

Of moments shared

Tiny fragments of physical and emotional touch

Creating connection

Melding moments into lifetimes

Pulling apart to find new beginnings

Leaving traces that forever remind

Who I am


May differ from the person remembered from


And likely won’t be the person encountered in

Future days

Laid Bare

I stand before you

Presenting all I am

Nothing more, nothing less

Battle scars and smiles

Bruised heart and laughs

Broken soul and forgiveness

Too harsh with words at times

Too sensitive for my own good

Blind with determination

Afraid to succeed

Dreams of a perfect life

Doubtful of anything too good

Embracing the future

Hiding from the past

Needing too much

Independent to a fault

Loving fully

Pushing love away

Too trusting

Not trusting myself

I stand before you

Risking all I am

You smile at me

Open your heart

Embrace me with your arms

Accept all I am

Nothing more, nothing less

Letting me grow

Holding me tight and setting me free

Loving me in spite of and because of

Reaching out when I pull back

Encouraging my dreams

Keeping me grounded

Holding me together

Letting me fall apart in your arms

Showing me the good in life

Accepting my contradictions

I stand before you

Giving all I am

Grateful to you for all you are

You stand before me

Trusting me to love and accept you

For all you are

I move beside you

You take my hand

We move forward into our life

All that we are

Nothing more, nothing less

But together facing it all

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Seriously Tempted

I am

Seriously tempted

To be

Your heart’s desire

What you want of me

I am

Seriously tempted

To forget

Who I’ve become

Who I struggle to remain

I am

Seriously tempted

To give

My very being away

My soul to you

I am

Seriously tempted

To become

Merely a shell of me

An empty vessel filled by you

I am

Seriously tempted

To extinguish

The light shining in me

The richness of my thoughts and feelings

I am

Seriously tempted

To kill

The dreams that make me who I am

The goals that give me purpose

I am

Seriously tempted

To surrender

My heart, my soul, my mind

My existence

I am

Seriously tempted

But in the end

The who I am won’t allow me

I can only be me

I am

Seriously tempted

But in the end

It would be pretense

It would be torture

I am

Seriously tempted

But in the end

I would hate you

I would despise me

I am

Seriously tempted

But in the end

My anger would take over

My resentment would kill us both

I am

Seriously tempted

But in the end

I can only be me

Even if I disappoint you

I am

Seriously tempted…

The Mask

One day

I put on a mask

To make you love me

Not because you asked

But because I feared

The look in your eyes

Disappointment, I believe it was

So I

Settled the mask into place

Tweaked it

Made it beautiful

Perfected it to make you happy

Created exactly what

Made you smile

Turned the look in your eye to approval

Made you love me

As time passed

I deceived myself

I accepted the mask as

The real me

I forgot who I was under

The mask

When the mask cracked

As they will

I quickly – before anyone could see

Plastered the cracks

Filled in the holes

Blended the paint

Hid the damaged and weakened foundation

Corrected its imperfections

Settled the mask back into place

When the mask slipped

As they will

I quickly – before anyone could see

Pushed it around to make it fit

Smoothed the borders

Adjusted it so you wouldn’t notice

Ignored the ever rotting foundation

Pretended its perfection remained

Settled the mask back into place

Your acceptance

Your approval

Your love


The mask

Intoxicated me

Into believing

The mask was




More beautiful

Than me

And I began

To forget

I wasn’t

The mask

One day

A friend from my past

Reminded me

The person under

The mask was

As acceptable as

As beautiful as

As perfect as

As loveable as

The mask

I resisted

I clung to the mask

The mask had brought me





The mask


To itch

To chafe

To strangle

To smother

To kill

You loved

The mask

So very much

I saw it in your eyes

I felt it in your touch

I heard it in your voice

Could you love me?

How could I disappoint you?

And yet how could I deny me?

I shoved the mask around

Tried to make it comfortable again

Tried to make it reality again

Tried to deny the mask and I weren’t the same

Tried to imagine being without

The mask

Repairs became difficult

The mask crumbles

A little more each day

I fear

What will happen

The day it’s destroyed

When I’m only me

When I’m no longer

The mask

Bit by Bit

Bit by bit

I fade into the background

Willing myself forward

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I disintegrate

Struggling to hold on to the pieces

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I fall into an empty chasm

Straining to stay on top

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I sink into the quicksand of life

Reaching up for a lifeline

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I lose myself

Needing to be found

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I gasp for breath

Dying to live

But you don’t see

Bit by bit

I let go

I stop fighting

But you don’t see…

The Mirror

One day

I stood before

The mirror

I avoided looking in my eyes

The woman looking back at me

Reflected the possibility of the girl I once was

Perhaps even the woman I was before…

Or at least the woman I was destined to be before…

I turned my head

But the woman looking back at me

Refused to let me turn away

She questioned those decisions

The ones that catapulted me on my journey

The ones that pushed aside the woman I dreamed of being

In favor of the acceptable, the loveable, the respectable woman

Defined by someone else


I stood before

The mirror

Naked, bare, vulnerable

And I looked in my eyes

I stared at the woman looking back at me

Challenged her to show me the truth of me

Begged her for another chance to shine

Relinquished my stubborn fears to her wisdom

Tears filled my eyes

I blinked them back

I reminded myself

There are those who have

Always loved me as is – not as they imagined me to be

Never demanded I lose me to keep them

Never suggested I was anything less than…

Never made me feel I couldn’t…

Never stood in my way

I stood before

The mirror


More than a body

More than a face

More than the sum of my parts

More than my flaws

More than my weaknesses

I looked into my eyes


The pain

The joy

The strength

The love

All I’ve given

All I have left to give

All I’ve received

All I’ve learned


Who I was

Who I am

Who I can become – the possibility of me still exists

I looked into

The mirror


Not all I left behind was bad

Not all I left behind was good

Not all I became was bad

Not all I became was good

Not all I see stings with regret

I look into

The mirror

The woman I am – truly am at the heart of me

Looks out from

The mirror

Screams to be free


I wear you

Like protective armor

An excuse to keep people out

A reason to avoid closeness

A reason to deny trust

An excuse to reject love

I hide you

Like a shameful transgression

One I didn’t commit

One that changes people’s view of me

One that creates distance when revealed

One that was thrust upon me

I expose you

Like a bruised secret

To test loyalty

To pretend vulnerability

To make people leave

To hide my truth

I wield you

Like a deadly weapon

To destroy intimacy

To cut out the heart of friendship

To avoid life

To self-destruct

I fight you

Like the invader you are

Because I don’t want you

Because I long to be free of you

Because I want the me before you

Because I wish you’d never happened

I cast you aside

Like a thieving intruder

You don’t go quietly

You steal the core of me repeatedly without shame

You retreat into the recesses of my life tricking me

You pop back through as soon as I relax my guard

I reluctantly integrate you

Like a disobedient child

Into my life

Into my relationships

Into my thoughts

Into my self

I wear you

Like protective armor

Because you happened to me

Because I can’t erase you

Because I’d die if I didn’t

Because you are me


(also appeared in American Poetry Journal and on Associated Content)

Rubbing my back

Caressing my cheek

Holding my hand

Squeezing my shoulder

Rubbing my arm

Pulling me into a hug

Bringing comfort

Smoothing my hair

Brushing my bangs from my eyes

Holding me up


Pushing me down

Restraining me

Slapping my face

Please don’t touch me anymore

No, not there, not like that


Touching me

Holding me down

Forcing me

Covering my mouth


Pushing me away

Those hands


I close my eyes

I see your face

I open my eyes

The sight is gone

I try to sleep

I try not to dream

I try to forget

The memories are there

Always there

I try to cry

But the tears won't come

If they do

Will they ever stop?

I'm scared

Of being alone

I'm scared

Of being with someone, anyone

I fear being vulnerable

Will I ever trust again?

If Only I Hadn’t

If only I hadn’t




If only I hadn’t

Let you in

Said stay and chat a while

Laughed at your jokes

If only I hadn’t

Thought of you as a brother

Treasured the friendship you offered

Trusted you as no other

If only I hadn’t

Let down my guard

Showed you my true self

Basked in your concern

If only I had

Walked away

Seen the signs

Sensed your obsession

If only I had

Loved myself more

Respected my feelings

Trusted my instincts

Maybe you wouldn’t have

If only…


I’m sorry

The words will never be enough

But I long to hear them

You didn’t deserve it

The words won’t take it away

Though I’d like to hear them

I betrayed you

The words can’t erase the pain

Yet hearing them would mean a lot

I know I hurt you

The words can’t change the past

Hearing them might release the future

I didn’t know what I was doing

The words won’t change anything

So why do I want to hear them

I destroyed your ability to trust

The words won’t bring back my faith

Hearing them won’t restore our friendship

Hurting you was wrong

The words won’t fix us

Hearing them would be nice

I don’t deserve your forgiveness

The words won’t bring peace

So why bother

I know now what I threw away

The words will fall on deaf ears

But please say them, please…

Today I Remembered

Today I remembered

My heart felt at ease

There was no longer pain

My soul found peace

Nothing changed

Except I let go of the fear

I embraced courage

Your hold on me loosened

I broke free

What happened can’t be changed

But it no longer defines me

I define myself

The past is simply experience

The present is where I stand

The future represents opportunity

Today I remembered

The person I truly am

The person you tried to harness

The person you tried to alter

The person you pushed to the brink

The person you tried to put in a box with a cute little bow

The person you tried to destroy

The person whose strength was always too much for you

The person who never needed you

The person who was full of hope and ambition

Today I remembered

The good you possessed

And no longer felt guilt in the recognition

You listened

You protected me like a brother

You held me when I cried

You encouraged me to embrace life

You began as my friend

Today I remembered

The hints that something darker lurked below

Your hand imprinting itself on my face with a slap

Forgiving you that because I believed you didn’t mean it

Your presence outside my window at three in the morning

Excusing that as protective instead of controlling

You showing up uninvited on my girls’ night out

Pretending you didn’t know where we were going

Phone calls questioning my whereabouts night and day

Trying to believe it was caring not possessive

Defending you when my friends doubted your intentions

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