I usually write term-based pieces for Inspired Mag, but I’ll admit: I was too embarrassed to submit this one for their readership. However, I think this poem exemplifies taking an
All it Takes
All it takes for you to be happy
is to admit,
that failing is just as great
that unhappiness is fleeting,
and all moments
are learning experiences
wrapped in awesome,
wrapped in sad.
And when it gets so bad,
it’ll probably be so good, too.
All it takes is you:
Your outlook, your perception,
your reflection on moments
so minute to the bigger picture,
you find yourself changed in seconds,
the gong of hours past, the equivalent of a lifetime.
But to own the failure, this is key;
it wasn’t him or her,
it wasn’t we— it’s you,
caught between what you thought you knew
and what you’ll never know,
the future undecided,
the anxiousness growing tall like unkempt weeds.
Anxious is as anxious fears,
the culmination revealed in private tears
and moments where escape seems better than confrontation.
But in this situation, to be happy is to take the leap,
no regrets for plans you didn’t keep,
or plans never made.
Just go with the gut,
become the product of enteric intuition,
your final decision the work of you and you alone.
All it takes for you to be happy,
for you to find inner smile,
is to stay awhile,
bask in the glory of a choice well impulsed,
take a breath to live a sentence without clause (i.e., simple),
and admit that success is just as great
As far as the poem below goes, I think it’s about a boy who is far away, or feels far away, but who probably likes the writer, or so she thinks. This is about her desire to be with him, and so she’s projecting her thoughts onto him hoping the situation will change. I was such a romantic teenager. But then again, weren’t we all?
Away from Me by 14-year-old Alexa
Away from me
You always go
If we’re in love
I’ll never know
Away from me
You always seem
To be the one
That’s in my dream
Away from me
You always fly
To watch the clouds
Race in the sky
Away from me
You always run
To sit and see
The setting sun
Away from me
You always stare
Across the room
When I am there
Away from me
You never are
That is my wish
Upon a star
The rewrite below is a little more serious. A little less hopeful.
Away it Went by 27-year-old Alexa
It seemed so simple when we were young,
when punches on the arm
were the grandest
of romantic gestures,
and when spotting each other
meant blushes and the future arrival
of airplane notes
that would dip and dart across the classroom sky.
But you were always out of reach of airplanes,
Your grand gestures were stolen glances
that were too well-timed,
too subtle to feel them upon my back,
to have had the chance to turn wistfully,
cheeks a-blush at the thought of gazes.
You never let me in—
you let me go.
Until years passed and punches turned to heartbreaks,
blushes saved for bedrooms and too much wine,
and the airplane notes, now the occasional electronic blip,
messages fired so quickly, that mistakes were always made.
We complicated what used to be simple.
Fools are made to be broken,
as fools do, fool about so foolishly.
Ah, to be young and foolish,
to bask in the Tom or Jane-foolery of
To be fooled once, twice, then shamed
over and over by the foolishness of love,
to rush in where angels fear to spread
gentle wings, so white,
you’d be foolish if you did not find them heavenly.
To play fool,
or to be played fool—
no difference to the heart;
it seeks to be heard
above a thousand, hundred fools
so loud you can’t hear it say it loves you back.
Foolish is as foolish does.
Selfish is as selfish…is.
To be foolish and to be selfish,
of the same make
since to love
is to have been foolish.
Since to stay if one does not love,
is indicative of
the selfish fool.
Oh, love. A fool’s errand.
The foolish heart speaks encyclopedias
of foolish words, and adjectives for beauty
only learned because the fool has fooled around
with syntax and dictionaries,
fooled away with logic or reason or sense,
to fool with the foolish sentiments of other fool hearts,
foolishly beating too rapidly,
foolishly blushing too red
at the attention of foolery.
But to be nobody’s fool—
this is something not so foolish,
to let the heart make a fool of itself,
to love unselfishly…
unfoolishly loving yourself,
before you can unfoolishly love others.
Fools are made to be broken.
So I thought I was a pretty deep teenager, with an emotional hole so bottomless, even the tears I cried would be poetic. Or I just thought my writing needed to have some sort of meaning. That writing about zombies or arts and crafts would be seen as too lighthearted and lacking substance.
I can’t remember why I wrote the poem below. But I can definitely take a crack at a rewrite that’s less, I don’t know…trying too hard???
Patience is the Key by 15-year-old Alexa
Patience is the key
You never know
Maybe if patience never existed
The world would have fallen pudding snacks
From careless openings of the gushy, savory delight.
The world would have open wounds,
where impatient doctors pull the bandage
and large chunks of hair come with it.
The world would have less wide-eyed intelligent children
With impatient books to be read, ones that can be skimmed,
Not taken lightly for content.
The world would have less music, where impatient ears crave the busy streets
The sounds of car horns and estranged yelling being as a beautiful symphony,
Opposed to the romantic flavor of jazz or the rich vocal silence of the piano.
The world would have death, where anxious surgeons forget to remove a bacteria,
Or forget to replace a heart.
The world would have pollution, where pedestrians lose all hope of ever crossing paths
With a trash can, heaving its need for the sweet incense of decaying paper and moldy apples.
The world would have war, where people forget that they are not the only ones to speak, their eager minds not wishing to hear words of justice, equality, and peace.
The world would be a closed lock, steely grips upon its empty hole.
But patience is the key.
Losing Patience by 27-year-old Alexa
I thought that patience was the key to everything,
but I was wrong;
it dwarfs our potential,
feeds at the upbringing of our fear…
Just to be clear:
Change happens for the impatient,
Actions taken must be active
not passive—aggressively approaching our lives,
the patience only to pace ourselves still relevant,
to appease the inner drive at least enough to compensate for the waiting.
And if you find yourself hesitating,
Think of possibilities, think of fact,
but don’t let the world pass you by.
Because the idiom they say is true,
life flashes in a blink…
Still: Patience is an ally, not a key.
To know patience is to know the need to lose it,
to keep anxiousness tamed,
as if emotion were a lion, bear, or tiger…
Oh, my! The need to keep your soul at rest,
to let your heart decide if action or patience is best—
then the key is not in patience,
but in decision:
A skeleton key.
The universal unlocker.
Finding balance, your lock-pick;
choice, your tools.
Going back through my older writing, I’m still amazed by how the me of over ten years ago loved to rhyme. So below you’ll find an older poem, then an on-the-spot version with an adult’s attempt at rhyme. It’s a testament to how craft changes as you age.
A Friend in Need by 15-year-old Alexa
It may be a cover
To hide just your face
But what you are hiding
You could never trace
It stands in your heart
And rests in your soul
And with its desire
It can burn through a hole
Your digging your mountain
Against all your wills
You make no more wishes
And share no more thrills
You tell us you’re angry
Then don’t tell us why
You say “nothing’s wrong”
But you sit there and cry
We try to say things
That will soothe your weak heart
But our verbal connection
Is miles apart
Just don’t lie to me
And say “go away”
I’m not leaving your side
Because I promised I’d stay
Don’t try to get rid
Of a person who’s there
I’m trying to show you
I actually care
Can’t you just get
that I’m trying my best?
I leave you alone
So it can get off your chest
But if it won’t leave
I’ll be there when you call
When you have everything
Or nothing at all
Friend Needed by 27-year-old Alexa
I know you,
lost between freedom and obligation,
in the notes and strums of life
that hypnotize as much as hinder.
There you wander,
among dreamers of the same band,
your band mates, sheep,
amazed you still have dreams with lack of sleep,
since you spend most nights in a state of ponder.
It’s beyond me how you work in waking static,
your actions more erratic than calculated,
more free-form than trapped in rhythmic verse,
despite the lack of rest or repose so consistent with stable,
but I’ve told you time and time again,
if you are able,
to reach out, in waking or in dreaming,
when life feels more like nightmare sans the screaming,
you’ll find me here,
a lighthouse when your ship is nearing rocky shore.
I beg of you to tell me more,
to let me be the beacon before the sinking…
to know what you must be thinking,
guiding boat without a wheel.
But do you think of how I feel?
To be a beacon with no boat?
To wait patiently, light spinning like the hands of a clock:
I know you,
lost between selfishness and friendship,
hypnotized by Sirens,
into the depths of the sea.
But as long as you have me,
despite it all,
your lack of conversation,
lack of calls,
I’ll still be there.
A band mate.
light spinning in the dark.
I found a poem from 2003 from my old Compaq Presario; actually, I found quite a few. But I’ll share them one by one. First the original poem from 2003, then an on-the-spot rewrite, as a sort of answer to my 15-year-old self.
“Hide and Seek,” by 15-year-old Alexa
Hush your breath
Try not to speak
The world is colder
Hide and seek
The closet door
Don’t say a word
Close your eyes
and don’t be heard
and whisper less
trying to catch
what caused this mess
Afraid to try
and be found again
One more time
and count to ten.
Hide and Seek,” by 27-year-old Alexa
I count to the door:
One, two, three,
and hear a giggle, because someone knows
I’m cheating, peeking past open fingers,
closing my eyes into paper-thin slits
and squinting hard into the darkness,
as they would do,
if they were still the seeker.
But I never would have been here
counting to a wall
if I had only been more careful,
traded giggles for the concealed silence
my grandma called patience
and self reflection.
But hunger had led me astray,
a stomach so full of grumble
I couldn’t help but laugh,
the aftermath inevitable
as my laughter sank warily into the dark
and I was found;
hands enclosed around a cookie,
answering the long unanswered question of child song, Who stole it?
It was me.
My mouth full and my heart heavy,
I allowed myself to be tagged,
prize in hand,
forced to chase after laughter in the dark.
What has surprised me most about getting older is how easily friends come and go. They’ll stick around when it’s needed, but once you have nothing left to offer, or they’ve found another outlet to find them the same benefits your friendship once held, they’re gone—lost to the many things they suddenly have to do; or they just disappear, brief whispers into the timeline of your life. And when they need you again…well, you know. And no, gentle reader, this post isn’t targeted. This has been happening to everyone. It’s just been a discussion I’ve had pretty frequently offline, in that locale we call the real world.
So I’m writing a poem about it.
I’ll be honest: I thought this was for real,
the deal set that we’d be friends
at least longer
than Friends was aired on cable TV.
But take it from me: compared to those faux friends
from high school, then adulthood,
I was always genuine,
despite the occasional slip…
I was the kind of girl to commit—
the constant communicator.
So quick were you to “See ya later,”
that I was almost blindsided
by your inconsideration,
reacting to lack of conversation
that you’d hoped would wither,
like cliché rose petals or an old man’s skin.
And the situation we’re in!
You don’t even know it,
the expectations you build,
knowing deep down you’d blow it,
the birthday candles of our generation,
fires gone like they were never even sparked.
If you could remember,
if just for a moment,
would you have done it differently?
Honestly, I don’t think you would,
because the inherently selfish never could
and never can
unless you need something:
a shoulder, an ear, an expertise—
and I’ll be at the ready to give in,
because I’m using you
I wish my life existed in straight lines
like in reporter’s notebooks,
instead of left up to chance,
an unpredictability in irregular shapes and spirals,
paisley patterns run amok
on a very unseemly set of bell bottoms.
But there’s some comfort in curvature, of uncountable angles;
perhaps, in the idea that there is some semblance of variation
within the greater design,
that the pattern will reveal itself in time,
and that the life, once straight and forthright
will get so wasted it stumbles drunkenly,
finger on tip of nose,
But despite the hangover it’ll feel tomorrow,
it’ll know it came from freedom,
the soul liberated from horizontal or vertical consistency
in quadrant or graph or diagram.
The need to be released from the 180 degree angle
that life becomes alcoholic
in its need for inconsistency and zigzags,
a real drunkard for unusual,
a true lush for radii:
A sober line is never fun.
He had no intention
to leave her
because he had no time
to say anything, to do anything,
to decide who wasn’t worth
the little time he had
to keep the little company
He wasn’t all bad:
sometimes he said he loved her
sometimes they felt so special,
that he’d make time for me,
that they would waste time in thought,
while he slept soundly
in one bed or another;
a life so scheduled and secure,
so formatted and fondled,
that time made him its lover—
a caress of ticks and tocks,
a quiet murmur in the ear of minutes passed.
He could have told the truth,
if he’d had time.
He could have let them each down gently,
but for him, it felt like time instead wasted,
a practice in which he did not participate,
intervening as it does,
would stop the clock:
a tick, one gone
a tick, the next,
a tock, the last,
finding they had the time
forced to make time to see them go.
World, I finally have a workspace again; mind you, its first role is that of a vanity, but I think it is just as important to apply metaphorical make-up to the soul, just as it is important for a girl who loves to play with lipsticks and the like to apply non-metaphorical make-up to her face and neck.
The point is, the appearance of the mind and heart matter. Inside is important. Thoughts hold weight. And my insides have been without foundation or mascara or eyeshadow primer for months. I’ve been bare and boring. Doing the work of my job, but not my other passions. I mean, sure, I write all day. I apply creativity to projects all day. I work my mind out all day. But there lacks a certain style that is only inherent in the writer’s own laptop, in the comfort of the writer’s own thoughts. Where she manages one project of which she deems truly important when it so moves her.
I felt like I was constantly making excuses for why I wasn’t writing. Too busy, too afraid, too tired, too anything. Making promises to my readers that I would write every week or every month at the very least. But to have a vanity or desk of one’s own. It’s a freedom I haven’t felt in years. I’ve been desk-less for too long.
It feels like forever when you’re young,
the kind of forever I wish I had now
that I know what forever means to an adult.
It’s when you lose them you notice. The lack of presence. The inability to reverse forever
so that you may be young and foolish and happy,
so that you may experience love without loss,
family without complication,
relationships without lies.
For me, it was a time when technology represented itself in floppy disks and beepers,
music videos on the television,
classical music playing in my grandpa’s car,
because Tchaikovsky was more appropriate and profound than The Thong Song to the old man
who would never have taken a selfie,
except by accident trying to figure out how this gosh darn phone works.
To be able to reverse the evolution of the chip, the screens,
the flip phones, then memes. To be able to go back to faceless books. Phone calls that were surprises.
Because one day, I will not understand it. The world, that is.
Because technology never represents the aging,
it scares them, taunts them, lays bare their inability to stay updated.
Our human software stuck in version limbo, with not enough space to make the update possible,
and too old of an appearance to stay current.
My grandpa was a typewriter; I, a desktop. The aging daily losing wireless connection to the world.
We wish the people and things that existed, that now confuse those kids
who are the same age now
that you were then,
we wish they never changed.
But progress does not stop;
and aging does not falter.
But yet there is hope:
that we may become so retro,
so hip in our aging
that they willingly bring us back into the world,
because we made a difference,
and can do so again.