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





T. L. Cooper

Copyright © 2015 T. L. Cooper

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

ISBN: 1943736014

ISBN-13: 978-1-943736-01-0


Dedicated to all those who find

strength and courage in vulnerability.


I show you me

Only a tiny glimpse

In hopes you’ll see my truth

When you’re receptive to a glimpse

I reveal a little more of me

Giving you enough

To keep you enticed

I don’t wish to overwhelm you

Nor to tease you

I only want you to see me

As I truly am

And to love me as such

But I fear the vulnerability

That comes with the revelation of me

So I hold back little pieces

I hide my most sensitive vulnerabilities

I allow you a glimpse

Then I pull away

It is instinct

It is self-preservation

It is fear

I tell myself

Tomorrow I will risk showing you all of me

Knowing that tomorrow

I will convince myself you’re not ready yet

When in reality

It is I who isn’t strong enough to risk vulnerability

How long will you take the fragments I offer

Before you grow exasperated

Then the result will be the same

You’ll be gone

And it’ll be because I didn’t have the strength

To tell you the truth of my heart

My silence will leave you blame free

At least if I tell you and you leave

I’ll know it wasn’t because I lacked courage

So I promise myself once again

Tomorrow I will be strong enough to risk


A Slash, A Gash

Your words

Slashed a gash

Too deep for stitches

Into my being

Forcing me to see myself

In a whole new light

As my core bled through

Revealing all I’d long kept hidden

Coercing my vulnerabilities into the light

I floundered to find my bearings

As I listened to your words

Wondered if I even wanted to close the gash

Or if I should just leave it open

Never allow it to scar over

It opened me to so much

A slash, a gash

Compassion learned

So thank you so much for speaking those words

As painful as they were as they penetrated my being


My heart divided in two

Half frozen solid

Half blazing flames

Competing for dominance

Passion melts fear

Terror freezes desire

The frozen side a fortress

Tempering the burning need within

I fight the incompatibility of me

My blazing, freezing heart

Reaches for you

Freezes you out

Burns you up

A flame of passion

Reaches into the ice

To be frozen in place by vulnerability

Dying to live with my whole heart

Instead of toggling

My burning passion

My freezing vulnerability

Fearing my thawed vulnerability

Will burn the whole thing to cinders

Fearing my freezing passion

Will ignite every vulnerability

I hold tight to both halves of my divided heart

Incompatible though they may appear

Warring to conquer

My vulnerability, my passion

My fire, my ice

Love Reaches for Trust

Love reached for trust’s hand

Trust’s hand shook with hesitation

Trust knew if it took love’s hand

A commitment would be made

Vulnerability would be exposed

Not taking love’s hand promised no gain

Trust weighed the risk

Reached slowly toward love’s proffered hand

Scared love would jerk it back at the last minute

But, love, oh, love held steady

Love waited for trust

Once love and trust held hands

Divinity glowed from their union

Reflection in Tears

I am stronger than this

Damn it

I know I am

I will not allow this

I whispered these words

To the empty room

Even as

My shoulders pulled in

My breath became shallow

My heart raced then failed me

My skin became sensitive

My thoughts lost cohesiveness

My emotions melted

I heard her words and hers and hers

My story through the voice of so many others

Remnants that match

Yet each different in its own way

Reactions I know all too well

Ones I’ve contained as best I could

Ones I’ve denied even to myself

Ones I’ve struggled to understand

And that look in all those eyes

The tears flowing

Reflecting me back to me

In the walls I recognize

Around hearts, souls, bodies

We are survivors

Beneath an armor of pain and betrayal

Trapping us within ourselves

Containing us within our pain

Denying us a break from the

Reflection so prevalent in the

Tears we share

Trigger City

Trigger City

Somehow, someway

No matter how high I build the walls

No matter how deep I dig the moat

No matter how many locks I put on the doors

I find myself dropped smack dab

In Trigger City

Bombarded by reminder upon reminder

Words spoken

A smell evokes

A touch to that sensitive spot

A feeling tapped into

Leaving me crying in the middle of

Trigger City

Wishing you’d never known me


I’d never known you

Triggers shot from automatic weapons

Hitting me right in the heart

Shrapnel cutting through my skin

Inundated by triggers

Until I’m curled up in a ball

Until I’m holding my breath

Until I’m sobbing uncontrollably

Eventually I crawl out of

Trigger City

Close the door, add another lock

Build another fortress

Dig a deeper moat

Promise myself there’s no way

I’m returning to

Trigger City

Knowing even as I make the promise

There’s nothing I can do

To avoid my visits to

Trigger City

No matter how hard I try

Trigger City lives deep inside me

Uninhabitable in the best of times

Indestructible in the worst of times

The things beyond my control

That unlock the door

That scale the fortress walls

That swim the moat

All in a matter of seconds

Beyond my control

I just have to accept

I have no power over

Trigger City



An image

A sound

A smell

A touch

A taste

That’s all it takes

The moment floods back

Fear overwhelms me

My body refuses movement


A word

A story

A joke

A phrase

A comment

A breath

That’s all it takes

The pain floods back

Powerlessness overwhelms me

My body shakes uncontrollably


Releasing bullets

Ripping my life apart

Dreams that suffocate

Memories that imprison me

Fears that dissolve me

My body flinches at the slightest touch


Just when I think

I’m strong enough

To not be affected

The world reminds me

Complacency can’t happen

My shield goes back up

My survival depends on it

My ability to thrive depends on it

My body never forgets



Your promise to always find me

Haunted me, haunts me still

I hid behind miles

Ran to the ends of ledges

Jumped off cliffs

Left ashes in place of bridges

Severed lifelines long cherished

Escaped memories created

Flew through clouds of soft landings

Drowned in promises for the future

Suffocated in pillows of possibility

Never believing I was safe

On I ran

Across the continent

Across the seas

Across the skies

Through forests

Through deserts

Through cities

Disappeared into myself

Denied my own existence

Delegated my life to others

All because you planted a seed

I couldn’t escape

A seed of being


Dark Spot

There’s a dark spot

In my soul

It only comes out when

I remember

So I do everything I can

To forget

There’s a dark spot

In my heart

It only reveals itself

When you sneak into my emotions

So I do everything I can

To never feel your presence

There’s a dark spot

In my mind

It only appears

When you capture my thoughts

So I do everything I can

To never think of you

There’s a dark spot

In my life

It only appears when

I stop moving

So I do everything I can

To never cease movement

There’s a dark spot…

You created it…

You own it…

You said I’d never forget you…

You were right

I always remember you

As the dark spot

Tainting my love

Darkening my soul

Invading my thoughts

Capturing my life

No matter how much light I capture

You always find a way back in

Through those crevices of vulnerability

Where you hide when I’m strong

Awaiting a weak moment

To reveal yourself

My light shines too bright

For your dark spot to rule me

So I accept you for what you are

Nothing more than

A dark spot

In an otherwise bright being

The Look

One look in your eyes

You cannot hide

The frozen tundra

Living inside

Freezing you to yourself

Scars adorn your skin

Welts decorate your soul

Burns lace your heart

Little pricks of you oozing out of your pores

The quakes brought on by a touch, however gentle

Breathing crushes your chest

The body remembers every

Blow inflicted

No matter how hard the mind

Tries to forget

Reliving the moment

In flashbacks of great terror

Or small reactions of panic

Either way it’s always there

You never escape

What you experience

You only learn to manage it

To manage yourself

And try to find a moment of growth within

In order to not feel consumed by the injustice

Of pain inflicted

I recognize the look

It’s all too familiar


You took me away

Just as I requested

I wanted to hide

I wanted to find something new

I wanted a place where no one knew me before…

You accommodated my wish

You took me away
Little did I know

Isolation would soon follow

Friends abandoned

Family estranged

As I hid from my fears

As I retreated from life

Under the guise of building

A new life

A new beginning

A new me

The isolation I embraced

As my fortress

As my protection

As my chance

Soon transformed into

My prison

My solitary confinement

My loss of me

One day I woke up



Dead inside

I’d come to hate

My isolation


I gave you everything I could

Yet it was never enough

I always knew I held back

I couldn’t help it

I wanted to give you all of me

But my mind refused to give

What my heart wanted to offer

So I watched as I held my vulnerability

In that safe place behind my open façade

Unable to release it

I prayed you’d never search behind my smile

I never wanted you to see how easily you could hurt me

So I gave you something bright and shiny

To glare above the darkness lurking within

Dressed up in faux glitter

As I prayed to a god I no longer believed in

That you’d see beyond my surface

To the depths hiding within

I struggled to reveal my truth to you

As I watched you drift away

On a sea of regrets we never fulfilled

Taking the possibility of us with you

I stopped fighting the current

Drifted under the surface into the depths of me

Only to discover

My truth was stronger than I ever realized

As I embraced my vulnerability

Bringing the glow of honesty to my surface

Releasing me to the world

And all it cost me




Silence layers between us

As life progresses

We talk about everything

Everything except what matters

We nurture silence because

It keeps us from vulnerability

We have built walls

That allow us to stay together

Without truly connecting

We sit without words

Deceiving ourselves silence is intimacy

A deception we need to not disintegrate

Silence keeps reality from interfering

With life’s daily movements

Giving us reasons to ignore our pain

Ignoring yesterday’s truth

In favor of today’s fiction

As life pushes us toward tomorrow

We try to forget yesterday

Only to find the silence we cultivated

Dying in the soil we devotedly toiled

Deception and truth cannot grow together

Even when, especially when

Fertilized by silence


Go ahead

Slam that door between us

That’s your prerogative

Just remember

I’m done begging

Opening it again will be up to you

Just be prepared if you slam it often enough

I’ll lock it and refuse you entry

You have to know that every time

You strike out at me

You shut me out

You ignore me

I place another lock on the door

You’ll find it becomes

More and more difficult to open

With every slam

I know my worth

I refuse to deny my worth

I embrace my worth

When you treat me less than I deserve

I have no problem leaving that door shut

So be careful

When you decide to take your frustration out on me

Begging is no longer part of my repertoire

Love me or leave me

I’ll survive either way

Hell, I’ll thrive either way

But I will never again beg you to love me


I am stubborn

Often to my own detriment

I refuse to see reality

Even when it slaps me in the face

My stubbornness has cost me plenty

Left me flailing in a field of loss

Clinging to blooms of memory

Wishing for roots that result in new plants

Seeds dropping from memory

To create new possibilities

Wrapped in old regrets

And, yet, when I’ve decided

I don’t back down

I don’t give up

I don’t give in

I’ll find a way to protect what’s left of me

Rather than risk all that could be

I’ll stay and fight even when I’m exhausted

Rather than admit I can’t win

If only I wasn’t so incredibly stubborn

I’ve been told

Changing a mule’s mind is easier than changing mine

And yet

Where has all my stubborn protectiveness gotten me

Protected and going through the motions

Exhausted and trudging on in the pointless

Dreaming every night of relenting to you

Wishing I had the courage to give up my pride

Longing for you to reach out and coax open

The stubborn fortress I’ve build to protect me

The fortress I fight to protect to the point of collapse

The fortress I fight to keep in place to protect me

From my heart’s desires


Thank you

For not letting me disappear

For holding me in place

When I feel myself dissolving

For thinking I’m awesome

When I’m sure I’m awful

For reaching out

When I pull away

For wanting me to be happy

When my life is imploding

For wanting me to smile

When all I want is to cry

For making me laugh

When life isn’t fun

For reminding me

Of my inner strength

For not allowing me to be erased

By those who would rather I not be me

For encouraging me to

Stand up for myself

For pushing me to

Be my best self

Nothing more, nothing less

For reminding me

I don’t have to be perfect

I don’t’ have to fit anyone’s image

I don’t have to give up me

To be loved

I don’t have to dissolve

To find a place in life

I only have to be me


Anyone who tries to

Dissolve me

Doesn’t deserve me


I may want you

I may love you

But I’ll never need you

I’m sorry

In all honesty

Wanting you doesn’t scare me

Loving you unnerves me a bit


Needing you terrifies me

I can want you and leave you

I can love you and set you free

If I need you, you might break my heart

Don’t ask me for more than I can give

And, maybe just maybe

I’ll figure out a way to lower my defenses

And let you come in for a visit

A long visit if you can

Accept me as I am

And let me find my way

Without trying to fix me

And, understand when I say

I want you to

Want me

Love me

Need me

Even though I can’t need you back

At least not right now…


Reach inside my soul

Pull out my secrets

Reach inside my heart

Pull out my desires

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