How to Survive Heartbreak and other poems by Courtney LeBlanc

Acknowledge the wrecking
ball in your chest, the slow
heaving back
and forth as it crashes
against your heart.
Brush your teeth
but avoid
the mirror. Drape it with black
cloth. Wail
your prayers, drop
to your knees, touch
lips to the ground
to remember
you’re here.
Take fistfuls of dirt,
fill your pockets, fill
your mouth, plant
seeds and add water. Wait
for flowers to bloom.
Tilt your face
to the sun, let the warm
be the only thing that matters.
Throw away
your calendar and your watch.
Stay awake
till the stars come out.
If you can’t see
the stars, drive deep
into the country till they explode
in the sky. Lie on your back.
Feel the cool grass, hear
the crickets, know the empty
place inside you is not
as infinite as the universe.
Fill the void in your chest
with stars
and rocks and blades of grass.


Wearing nothing but snakeskin boots
I left, walked away
from the man I called husband
and the booming voice I called father.
I walked till the blisters formed
and then popped, oozed puss into my boots.
His first wife, Lilith, had come this way
and I needed to find her. She’d been right
about it all – the blame, the bullshit,
the blasphemy. Now that the sticky juice
of knowledge ran freely down my chin
I wanted to hold her hand and discover
all I didn’t yet know.

*The first half of line one of this poem and its title are borrowed from Autobiography of Eve by Ansel Elkins.


I’m not being hyperbolic, he said,
I literally want to smash
someone’s face in. My vision darkened,
the words baseball bat, smash, face
flashing in front of my eyes.

Stop staring at me, he said
and I shifted my gaze,
found a spot on the floor to study –
memorized the texture of the wood,
its high gloss.

He apologized later, he always does.
I was quiet the rest of the evening,
my mind careening to scenarios faster
than I could stop it – should I leave him?
Was this the part of for worse
that everyone suffers through?

I went to bed alone, dreamt of baseball bats
raining down, smashing windows and bodies,
blind in their target. I took shelter
from this storm I’d seen coming,
stood quiet with arms holding myself,
trying to keep safe.

When I wake I check the weather, peer outside
into the clear blue, wonder when the storm
will appear. I pack my bag,
leave my umbrella behind.


Sometimes I delete
voicemails without listening to them.
Sometimes I drink wine
at 10am and pretend it’s noon.
Sometimes I reread the last
email you sent me.
Sometimes I don’t wear sunscreen.
Sometimes I slip your ring onto my finger
and pretend we’re still together.
Sometimes I look at your picture
and forget to cry.
Sometimes there’s a knock on the door
and I think you’ve forgotten your keys.
Sometimes I take the strong drugs
even if my head doesn’t hurt.
Sometimes I pretend
you’re still here.
Sometimes I add orange juice
to my champagne and call it breakfast.
Sometimes I pretend you were never
Sometimes I drive through
a car wash just to have a private
place to cry.
Sometimes I take off my bra
on my commute home.
Sometimes I call my mother
and tell her I’m fine.
Sometimes I blow out candles
and my wish doesn’t include you.
Sometimes I write poems filled with truths
and tell everyone they’re lies.


Your hands are guns,
your lips the bullets, I know this
but I still grasp you, still bring
your metal mouth to mine, still feel
the steel of your fingers
between my thighs pushing
deeper into me. Gun smoke moans
escape from between my teeth,
you smother the sound with your hard
tongue. I take you
into my mouth, roll my tongue along
the barrel till the spent
shells fall from your lips.
This desire dangerous,
this flirtation deadly. Each touch
piercing till we’re both broken
and bleeding, every bullet fired,
the red stain on my chest


I used to think the stars were keeping track:
one for every time I said no,
one for every hole he punched,
one for the police called,
one for the restraining order,
one for very kiss given and stolen,
one for every wrong turn I took,
one for every drink I had that night,
one for my eyes shut tight,
one for my legs pried open,
one for the flowers dying in the murky water,
one for the bruises,
one for the plane ticket,
one for the apology,
one for his name blinking on my phone,
one for the hope,
one for the cemetery,
one for the granite headstone,
one for the headaches,
one for the weekend in Paris,
one for the trip to the emergency room,
one for the bruised cheek,
one for the busted lip,
one for the love letters,
one for the betrayal,
one for the longing,
one for walking away,
one for starting over,
one for the homemade lasagna,
one for the wine,
one for the summer thunderstorms,
one for the vows exchanged,
one for dancing till dawn,
one for the kiss when your girlfriend turned away,
one for the late nights,
one for the lies,
one for the wishes made when the candles
are blown out.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbook All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary,Germ Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at, follow her on twitter:, or find her on facebook:

3 Comments on How to Survive Heartbreak and other poems by Courtney LeBlanc

  1. Wonderful poems!


  2. Very good writing, Courtney. I especially liked “Sometimes.”


  3. New work from a great poet


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