Atlas Loved

I’ve been working on the below poem for a few days now. I know it’ll never be finished, not really. Feelings change, I’ll change. But for now, this represents how I feel about romance. That no matter what happens, a minute sense of innocence and hope is still there, shrugging as Atlas does—the weight of love like the weight of the world.

written by Alexa L. 

It starts with a break:


and when you realize you’re
sort of
OK enough,
you put yourself back together with the life equivalent
of super glue

(except you get a little on your fingers,
which probably won’t come off for days).

And then you’re single.

But when you talk about it,
you’ll have to elaborate.
because when you say you’re single,
you could be saying you’re lonely,

That you’re happy.

That you have some guy on the side,
but you’re single
just for the night.

That you’ve never dated.
That you date too much.

Or that you’re broken,
the boy yelling “Opa!” as he smashes your heart to the floor
(but at least there’s dancing).

Being that single girl, though,
the girl with the plate-heart;
being that girl is hardest.

Not because you’re broken
(the glue dries quickly, remember the fingers)
but you’ve forgotten how to be you
without him.

You’ve forgotten how to go solo,
Han Solo,
a solo cup.

This is just you, babe.
You talk, maybe he’ll listen.
But remember everything is new from here,
your comfort zone, decimated.

I want to blame this condition
on being post-breakup,
because forgetting how to date is both embarrassing
and totally not your fault.

You try,
oh my god, do you try,
to understand the process.

But the problem with forgetting how to date,
and having “experience” is this:
you compare this guy to the bad one
and then blame the new guy for not
being as good as the old guy was
when he made you happy.

Awkward glances,
awkward phone call,
awkward questions
gleaning interest from
“Yea, well, that’s cool.
It could be like,
a date or something.”

Maybe it should feel like when you’re 16,
when you meet at the movies
and hold hands in the theater
and you make out

but probably not

because you’re afraid
you kiss like
really badly.

Maybe it should feel like you’re floating,
fishing for something to fill the little void
the tiny, tiny space
filled with planetary systems and Milky Ways
of I miss yous and please don’t gos.

Maybe it should feel like nothing.

Maybe I’ll try my hand at online dating
(OK Stupid, Plenty of Sea)
and write something about how
my amazingness will amaze you,
how hitting single status
isn’t hitting rock bottom.

Or maybe it is.

The worst though, is the starting over.
And the fact that though the plate is smashed,
it doesn’t mean the pieces aren’t still there
pulsing with love,
now singular.


I spend a lot of my time thinking about words: their origins and definitions, their usage and confused sense of identity. Words tend to have split personalities. They have subtext and connotation, tenacity or flexibility. They have the ability to change, grow, alter. Sometimes they are born of a generation, sometimes they die, sans funeral, put to rest in old pop culture books or student papers or song hooks. They cut, mend. They tower, babbling and bubbling over with alacrity. The point is, they mean something, and what that something is, we don’t always know.

Plus, sometimes there exist better words for what you want to say. Fierce words. Words with a little stamina. A little, you know, meat. And when you find that perfect word, well, simply, it rocks.

In honor of my love of this diversity in language, I’ve written an on-the-spot poem that began with a delve into the meaning of “OK.” I hope you like it. It’s another one you should try reading out loud, with feeling. 

My Definition of OK, A Poem
written by Alexa L. 

When I say I’m OK,
I think you know what I mean:

that I’m not necessarily OK
in the sense that I feel well enough,
but that I’m oll korrect,
just peachy,
damn, I’m decent.

But wait,
stop for, like, 63 seconds.

It isn’t just all correct
but all right
all good
all there,

like my mind
because I’m still not that old,

like my heart,
because it still
pump pump pumps
like Seabiscuit
(and because it feels cliché to say a racehorse).

I’m definitely in a place where I can say,
“here I am;
I’m sane;
I’m fine.”

good looking,
hot stuff,
fox-like and dangerous
damn, I’m sexy.

I’m here and there
I’m all over
and omnipresent
like symbols, all Jung
my legs, still young

so I walk,
pace myself to the music of the world—
this earth,
this dirt
and step step step

because I’m here,
I’m fine,
and I’m OK, damn it.
I’m OK.

Text, An Inappropriate Poem

I usually write term-based pieces for Inspired Mag, but I’ll admit: I was too embarrassed to submit this one for their readership.


I think this poem exemplifies taking an idea and running with it—despite the obvious overtones and ridiculous use of the title word. It’s also cool to read aloud. Or at least it makes me giggle high-schoolishly, my cheeks a-blush. Don’t judge me on this one. I sometimes think like a boy (I did used to dress like one).

BAM! Stereotypes.

a somewhat inappropriate poem written by Alexa L.

Let’s talk about text, baby.

about the subtext,
pretext, and re-text
involved in a contextual relationship:


bad text
rough text
text so good, you can’t text it


text in the morning,
the afternoon,
at night
textual delight.

textual feeling
textual healing
textually appealing
body text

naughty text
texting constantly
to get the textual reaction
then the (hopefully) eventual textual satisfaction
of being textually active.

Let’s talk about the textuality involved
in texting too much, too quickly:

texts proposing love
texts proposing texts

text on boat or text in box
Dr. Seuss style, text with fox (insert winking emoticon here)

private text
text she wasn’t supposed to know about

repeated text


text you failed to send
text break
text mend

text you think is simple,
but is definitely complicated

text meant to deceive
text she never received

text you wish you never texted


text you forget you texted
until she sees it
(let’s just say…it is textually inappropriate). 

Let’s talk about text, baby.

My Write to Speak

I’ve presented several songs both with and without a video accompaniment. I’ve decided to try it out with poetry. I hope you enjoy it.

If lying lies within omission, then I admit that I have lied.

Untitled, by Alexa L.
written July 27, 2011

I do not tell you everything.
I let you read between lines,
among them.

I let you take from a poem
perhaps a feeling of sadness
or regret
or  I have totally been there.

I try.

A little.

Sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I tell you what happened,
without really telling you.

Because when I say I miss him, I do.

But sometimes I don’t.

I say these things,
like notes stuck inside a time capsule,
a hundred or so years of solitude
barely understood
by the little girls with the twirly ribbons
and the shoes that light up
when they stamp stamp stamp
stamp their feet
to newly uncoordinated beats,
pulling at the contents like the heads of
Barbie dolls.

They read the love notes
and old poetry they’ve pulled
from beneath the broken swing,
drop confetti on torn photos of you and me
and smile,
giggling because they haven’t been there

not yet

they’re still too innocent.

They can mend their hearts with Popsicle sticks
and Elmer’s glue.

They can take the photo of me and you and make it
really, really pretty
until you can no longer see the cracks
they’ve covered in red and orange glitter
and gummy bears
and stickers
and marker that smells like grape.

They are biting their chocolate chip cookies,
spilling crumbs onto your cheeks,
wishing they could have met you
because you look like their Ken doll.

And when they turn old enough,
to know,
they won’t remember the photos, the notes, or the poetry.

They will not tell him everything.

They will start to write and never stop.

My Life as Carmen Sandiego, Volume Tres: Italy, the French Riviera, and Spain

The Destinations:
Dublin, Holyhead, North Wales, Stratford, London, Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Burgundy, Lucerne, Florence, Pisa, French Riviera, Nice, Barcelona

I’m running out of creative juice, so for this post I’m going to keep it short, sweet, and let the pictures and video express my joy in the last three countries. Or not? When I write, I write. When I block, I hit a wall, leaning towers because I slam with such vigor. Let me try to avoid walls and buildings here. Let me grab a parachute and bypass it all. Let me fly, flutter, fall into an ocean like rain, or a pebble from a seagull’s mouth. Let me swim, struggle, gain pain underfoot.

On our way to Florence, now over halfway done with a 25-day Euro-trek, we stop in Pisa to visit the leaning tower that made it famous, to see its associated duomo (meaning cathedral), then to listen to the acoustics in the Baptistery of St. John. My sunburn now fading, but still a shade of definitely-not-white, I fall asleep on the bus to Florence (because I sleep everywhere) and wake to traffic, then the smell of old water and urine. From our hotel we can walk to Florence, so we do, and find ourselves surrounded by sculpture, religion, genitalia. But before we get to the latter, I feel myself about to cry again—this duomo is so beautiful in pink and green marble that I go quiet.

The Gates of Paradise.

Adam and Eve depicted in bronze.
More silence.

We are then guided around the city, shown the pig market and the love locks (similar to Paris), the squares and nude statues, until our end: a leather shop where we receive a very brief demonstration of leather box-making, care, coloration, and identification of real-deal animal hide.

I buy some things in the pig market. I go see the statue of David in the gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti, his beautiful marble tush exposed (faint). I drink. I dance. At one point I even cry…a lot (I am truly an emotional girl if you couldn’t tell)*. I ask about my grandmother’s last name. I find out it is a type of tree, the last name itself uncommon. I eat gnocchi (pronounced knee-oh-key) and pizza and gelato.

Street art in Florence; not sure who the one on the right is of (smile looks SO familiar)**

On the way to Nice we stop in Cinque Terre, one of those gorgeous places you’re supposed to “see before you die.” And yes, it was gorgeous. I jump in the teal, teal blue ocean. I fall in love with the unreal beauty of it, the Disney hotel-esqueness of it all. I want to go back. I want to stick my toes in the water while I swing them off a dock, to eat pesto pizza on the street, to climb miniature alley-ways and reach the top only to look across at more water, buildings in pinks and yellows and blues that match the ocean. The ocean, these buildings, they are lovers.

A photographic sample of Cinque Terre

If a city could be a lover, Nice was mine; he wrapped his arms around me, warm and safe and whispering bon jour, baby as I walked through markets, munched on blackberries while I window-shopped, ate crepes both savory and sweet. He gave me flowers made of gelato. He ran his hands through my hair in the form of wind; he pushed waves to a shore made of smooth stones. It is in Nice I bought the hat I had been searching for. It is in Nice that I parasailed, my arms clamping to my harness like oysters.

Berries at the market in Nice

Rachel and me pretending to be clouds

In Barcelona, I fall apart. A momentary break in sanity, I give up on making friends with representations of what I’d left behind. My initial feelings of these people melt, they appear as Gaudi’s buildings do, twisted like waves. I cannot deal with this, I say. So I stay with the people who make me smile. I enjoy the rest of my trip. I see La Sagrada Familia. I walk through a park with buildings made of stone. I eat tapas near the Plaza del Sol. I drink horchata. I speak Spanish.

La Sagrada Familia

Then I go home. To Boston, to post-grad life, to a future.
To something.
To anything.
To growing up.

* I’ve actually had a lot of things happen in a short span.
**In case you believed I was serious: I was not.

My Life as Carmen Sandiego, Volume Deux: Holland, France, and Switzerland

The Destinations:
Dublin, Holyhead, North Wales, Stratford, London, Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Burgundy, Lucerne, Florence, Pisa, French Riviera, Nice, Barcelona

Written on the back of an edition of TimeOut London, on my way to Holland:

“The sky stays so still, as if the world—for but a moment—has hit pause while my life plays on in my bus seat.”

I don’t remember the bus ride to Amsterdam, possibly the result of bus-dozing (but who really knows?); so I arrived in the city with a swiftness only matched by the quickness applied to grabbing my bag to get a good seat on the bus (what I’d later affectionately call a battle).

In Amsterdam, we (my tour group) stayed in a hostel; our first and only hostel on the trip. I, still sick, decided to nap, waking to my pants sticking to my legs like hair gel, and my shirt sticking to my bra as if permanently attached. Dare I say it was hot? I dare, and so my room slept in near-skivvies. But despite the heat, I truly liked Amsterdam. I spent one of the nights in a restaurant, eating croquettes while I wrote postcards, drinking wine and basking in the glory of being alone. Other days I went shopping, ate pastries, lay in a field with the view below.

And yes, I went to the red light district. I recall being terrified, both at the slimness of the alleyways and the nonchalance of the lingerie-clad girls, either pointing their fingers with a crooked come hither or chatting on their cell phones, all behind glass windows, the street aglow in red and darker shades.

On the way to Paris we stopped in Belgium. We visited the Atomium, a giant science-related monument built for the 1958 World’s Fair, and then the part of Brussels home to the Manneken Pis, a small fountain sculpture of a boy peeing (we were lucky enough to see him clothed). I ate the real deal Belgian waffle (cue jealousy via photo) and ruined chocolate for the rest of my life by eating Belgian truffles. 

Belgian Waffles, really

I want to be as brief as I can about my stay in Paris (we were there 4 nights so we did a ton).

Paris terrified me with its hateful taxi men, but once the first night was over—the escargot, infidelity, and bad attitudes digested—Paris made up for its rudeness and swept me off my feet, most literally, as I ascended the height of the Eiffel Tower to its summit and later watched it sparkle, walked the sculpture-laden halls of the Musée d’Orsay, found myself, wide-eyed, under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to view the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile in the distance, and ate cheese and bread along the Seine. Notre Dame. Confessions of love in the form of locks. Ladies dancing, breasts exposed (we went to a cabaret close to The Moulin Rouge). A cruise under the Parisian sky. And of course, Versailles, with its size and beauty and gardens I had thought could only be in movies about young girls and talking rabbits and grinning cats and top-hatted fellows who drink much too much tea. I loved Paris, though I couldn’t say it then. I really, really did.

Love Locks above the Seine

On the way to Switzerland, I wrote this on a piece of paper; more specifically, my list of addresses and approved banks:

“I wanted to travel the world with you—your blue eyes lit like bits of sky, your German unpracticed, stumbling over itself while we ask for Kinder eggs.”

Though we were in Lucerne for only a day, and while most of the group went to Mount Pilatus, the five of us who stayed behind went paddle-boating, some jumping into the cool of the water (I wasn’t prepared for such a feat, or for the soon-to-be sunburn). I would have loved to swim among the swans. Instead, my enjoyment lay in the fruits I tasted from a local market, sitting with Mallory and throwing some of the smaller berries into the water to watch the ducks snatch at them. I bought knives (because this seems necessary in Switzerland). I watched students sketch. I collected spoons. My only complaint: the cost of pretty much everything.

An on-the-spot poem about the Eiffel Tower:

You touch the sky
better than I ever could.

So please,
if you have a chance
to say hello,
or to reach close enough
to pluck at clouds,
tell them I miss them.

Tell them,
I touched the sky, too.

Tell them,
I reached
for maybe a second
and felt their smiles
like sunshine
on my cheeks.

Tell them,
I felt less nervous then,
less scared.

Tell them,
I love them.

My Life as Carmen Sandiego, Volume One: Ireland, Wales, and England

The Destinations:
Dublin, Holyhead, North Wales, Stratford, London, Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Burgundy, Lucerne, Florence, Pisa, French Riviera, Nice, Barcelona

I already told you I want to keep this simple and summarized. None of the exquisite detail about the innards of the two-story Air France plane; then the transfer to a much smaller mode of air transportation, comforted only by a cheese sandwich and a lady’s elbow digging into my ribs with abandon. I don’t need to tell you about room selection, or staring wide-eyed into the eyes of strangers who would probably never know how truly hilarious I am, really. The cat’s pajamas. The bee’s knees. They would live their lives in the form of Facebook friends and phone numbers, with only the impression received from a traveling girl from Boston who is way too emotional because she hurts, damn it. She needs a break from philandering and phonies. She needs to find something somewhere, maybe in the sounds of fiddles or in the rainbow of fruit sitting fresh under market tents. She needs to get away. But this she doesn’t get to do. Everything is a reminder of home. Worry has hidden in her bag like contraband.

It is when she returns that she realizes how her trip to Europe has affected her. She has both changed and stayed amazingly similar: the problems she has sought to avoid return in bulk, but she stays calmer, she seems to smile more. She is energetic, aware of her journey as she clicks through photos. She really did have a great time. Look at her smile in that one. Look how blue that water is. Look at her float into the air, graceless but content. Look at her go.

And to think, it all started in Dublin.

In Ireland, she tries to fit in. She makes jokes too early. She gauges facial expressions in nose twitches and rolled eyes. She sits on a bus at one point, listens to the Irish accent and imitates it to herself, then to others. She cries to herself in St. Patrick’s Cathedral because she is in awe of the stained glass, the beauty of it. She stares at pages of the Book of Kells. She analyzes the typography (because she does that) and gazes in wonder at the colors, illuminations so bright despite their age. Later, she drinks too much Bulmer’s cider. She feels tipsy, but she is still sober enough to guide the drunken home. Once again she is Mama Bear. She is frustrated because she cannot seem to change.

She finds a place; they find a place: The Old Storehouse. She goes here most days in Dublin. She listens to music, sings along to songs Irish and English and American (see video below). She is happiest here and then later on Grafton Street, walking alone in search of pants she’d eventually bring back to the states, pants gray and to her, quite perfect. She pub crawls. She walks through a garden. She eats bangers and mash more than once.

She will miss Dublin; she knows this.

In Wales, she climbs castle towers, holding on to rope railings until her palms burn. She ponders safety codes and the lawsuit epidemic in the U.S. In the evening she walks through a little town of Llangollen, her closest friend on the trip beside her (but she doesn’t know this yet). They walk through a graveyard, watching scouts rubbing gravestones. She returns to the hotel, finding herself, once again, too sober. She tries to eat a fisherman’s pie. She wonders later what a pie made out of fisherman should taste like. She laughs to herself about this and packs her bag. 

On a Castle in Wales

OK, OK. The third person is killing me, too. For what I wrote earlier, it seemed necessary. But I feel your pain. Let me give you my sum-up of England with just a little less panache, also because you’ve already heard a wee bit about it already.

Our first glimpse of England: Warwick Castle. We walked the grounds, Rachel and I (this is the girl/woman/lovely lady? mentioned earlier), our cameras snapping knights in shining armor (cue faint here), a semi-secret battle video room, birds of prey, a bunch of trees. While splendid, the castle also felt like a medieval theme park, you know, with a dungeon instead of a roller coaster.

We went to Stratford to see the house of my fave bard, Shakespeare. My best memory was the croissant with the asparagus and cheese.  

In London, we danced and drank, and for the millionth time on this trip I tried to figure out whom to hang out with. While trying to ride solo worked for Han, in Europe you can’t really go out lasers a-blazing.

After that night, and probably because of the lack of sleep and constant go go go go go of the itinerary, I got sick. My throat felt like it was being punctured with toothpicks, so I stayed in most nights and drank tea (which was indeed readily available).

I don’t remember the exact order of events, but when I felt well enough to go out, I did. A small group and I went to Harrods for afternoon tea, visited Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. One of the nights we saw a musical, Blood Brothers, which revealed the English sense of humour (or lack thereof? Really, the whole thing was depressing.). On one of the free days I ventured off to meet a blogger friend, and he showed me Camden, one of the coolest marketplaces I’ve ever been to where I bought a handmade journal and a Banksy T-shirt. He also took me to Buckingham Palace.

I really loved London once I realized that sickness was skewing my judgment. I wished for an extra day. More vitamins. A better immune system. Riches. But it was time to move on. We had like, OMG, six more countries to visit.

Market Sign in Camden

Euro Probably Experiencing Jet Lag or How to Not Keep a Journal While in Europe

The Destinations:
Dublin, Holyhead, North Wales, Stratford, London, Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Burgundy, Lucerne, Florence, Pisa, French Riviera, Nice, Barcelona

Days Gone: 25

Sanity Lost: 37%

Internal Time Difference, per Jet Lag: 6 Hours

I tried to keep a travel journal, I really did. Maybe I gave up. Maybe words just couldn’t describe the cerulean blue of the water in Nice or the stench—yes, the stench—of Florence when I walked out from our hotel to smells well outside the realm of food, perfume, or history. So much happened, good and bad and awkward and hilarious. Lies and lying out. Bullshit and baguettes. (You get the idea.) But overall, sans the result of putting 31 girls together for near-25 days, my trip to Europe was indeed, in its way, indescribable. Or, that’s what I tell myself when I make up excuses for why I didn’t write in my journal. I will, in the next post or soon after, mention the few lines I scribbled on bits of paper and in the first few pages of the notebook I brought with me. I warn you, though: they are just ramblings. I didn’t keep track of my trip the way I had planned.

For now, I will try to sum up my trip without boring you. I will do this by gesticulating wildly (because gesticulating sounds dirty, and so this catches your attention) and then writing a poem. Because, ladies and gents and the French, this is what I do.

Let’s start with Ireland, Wales, and England.
Then Holland, France, Switzerland.
Then Italy, back to France, then Spain.

Three posts sounds good.
Like a clover.
Or the amount of fingers left down when you’re flipping off a person in London.


An on-the-spot poem about the exciting future posts:

If you write it,
they will come.
I’m not sure.

Euro Got To Be Kidding Me

I’m going to leave my detailed description of Europe for the end of my trip; but I want my friends, family members, followers, and anyone else who reads this little posted life to know that it’s been less than a week and I absolutely love it here.

Regretfully, today I’m not feeling too hot. Figures that the person who drinks so little cider would still get so sick. Tonight, I take it easy. I write. I read. I ponder. I postcard. This will be my evening in London, sipping at hot tea for the third time today, resting on a tiny bed among three others, and staring at the little battery icon on my phone charger praying for that little lightning bolt to disappear, signalling (we are using British spelling here) a battery life fulfilled.

I’m going back to my room to rest, but for now I will include a poem for your reading—and my writing—pleasure.

An on-the-spot poem dedicated to my first three countries visited:

Dublin, how you shamrock
my socks
from their designated locations,
three leaves like little hearts,
pounding in green, white, and orange,
to every footstep along
Grafton Street.

I fall asleep as I float away from you
to a quieter place, all red dragons
and closed shops,
passing places with names I cannot pronounce,
visiting castles with stairs that rise toward Heaven
or a perfect photo spot,
my camera small and clinking
against two pounds and fifty pence,

which I later spend in London:
money toward late night Internet chats
toward a night of musical death,
twins and blood and superstition,
and my throat, sore and sad,
lies in want of sleep.

Without You Here

This post, unlike others, is more of a declaration of both certain and uncertain events. Tomorrow, by now, I will have arrived in Europe for the first time and unloaded my way-too-heavy suitcase from the baggage carousel in Dublin. From there: Holyhead, North Wales, Stratford, London, Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Burgundy, Lucerne, Florence, Pisa, French Riviera, Nice, then finally, Barcelona. I’m only passing through some during transfers, but I couldn’t have asked for a better adventure. Wish me luck and leave me love. I’ll be trying to post little updates while I’m gone, but for 25 days I will be out of the country, and hopefully enjoying myself too much to visit an Internet cafe. I’ll leave you with a little poem dedicated to the people who’ve made this trip possible. Grandma and Grandpa, I miss you.

An on-the-spot poem for Elayne and Warren.
Wherever you are, I hope you know how thankful I am for all you’ve made possible.

Before my feet hit ground
they used to dangle;
little toes like bells
and I,
so regal on my seat,
would clap my heels together
because there was no place like home
without you in it.

I realized this,
when my feet were no longer mid-air,
toes somersaulting from the trapeze
of a high stool’s crossbar.

They felt heavy,
falling from the bar of the stool
like an angel,
from the gravity or from the thought
of never feeling at home in a life
without you in it.