With the Greatest of Ease

Bravery exists in many forms: leaning in for a first kiss, moving away from family, confessing a mistake. You don’t have to put your life in danger to be considered brave; you can put your emotions in danger, your dignity, your soul. But no matter the act, it is still a brave act as long as at least a small piece of yourself is being put up for the potential fall.

The poem below is an experiment in multiple types of bravery, from the courage necessary to jump from a platform, to the hesitant act of sending poetry to a friend.

In an e-mail from my friend Saniya: “I got thinking about what could really really make me happy right now…And I realized it was doing the one thing I really love, which is the trapeze. So then I got describing to myself why I love the trapeze so much (this is all in my denial of how much work I have to do)…and so I wrote this. I’m happy cause it only took me 15 minutes or so (I started to write a short story for myself and then I decided I would turn it into a poem for you [a.k.a Alexa…yes!]*).”

[my words]*

Thank you, Saniya. This means a lot.

So, in honor of risk-takers and daredevils, here is an on-the-spot poem about the Late Latin trapezium
written by Saniya G.

Standing up there
Arms outstretched,
Hips back, knees bent.

The bar is heavy.

I look down
And the fear consumes me with a tight grip.
It won’t let go, but I refuse to give in to its power.

I look up, focused on my task.
My nerves are bunched up and concentrated in my core.


I jump.
The nerves explode.

My body is at the mercy of my mind.

I let go,
I pull my knees to my chest.
I flip.

The landing is smooth and bouncy.
The net is strong.
I see nothing but the white top of the tent.

I’m giddy.
I laugh.

An on-the-spot poem about the trapeze (a response to Saniya’s on-the-spot)
written by Alexa L., November 5, 2010 

I am not
letting go
of this bar. 

Emotion, in pieces

I am flawed, this is a given; but when it comes to my emotions I wear my heart on my three-quarter length sleeve. If I’m embarrassed, my face reddens to an even more embarrassing hue; when I’m upset, my eyes dampen, a water cooler on the verge of exploding (water coolers don’t usually do this, but hell, who cares?).

It never used to be this way. I used to be a fortress, a safe deposit box, a wall. You need to stop being so damn obvious. They’ve figured you out. But it isn’t because I’m young; I know plenty of people my age you’d have to punch before you pull a tear. I know when it started. I know it happened when my grandma passed away. But death will do that to you: make you stronger, make you weak. It does all those things; but damn it, I need to be composed. So for the next few weeks, my goal is to become as tough as a gravestone. OK, not really a gravestone (over-dramatic). I just want better control of my facial expressions. A girl’s gotta have some secrets.  

An on-the-spot poem about gravestones and Humpty Dumpty:

They made his gravestone
out of eggshells,
so his soul could walk
in careful steps

to avoid great falls
and walls
and royalty

to rest,
in pieces.

The United Nation of On-The-Spot Enthusiasts Volume IIII

Here is the fourth installment of my on-the-spot poetry project. Amanda was my rock, my tank throughout undergraduate. I hope she knows how much I miss her. I met Jen here in Boston at my graduate school. Jen is not just a friend, but a wonderful editor, photographer, and, if you couldn’t tell, writer. So glad they both shared their words with me. To Amanda and Jen, thank you. 
An on-the-spot poem tribute to biking and literature cliches
written by Jen on October 10, 2010

“and in a sense we’re all winning we’re alive”
from Frank O’Hara’s “Steps” 

I had a room of my own.
Three stories above a city center
With a movie theater marquee,
And nooks of sushi restaurants.

I had Frank O’Hara days
Strolling past the fluorescent
Outlines and boxes of city life:
It was lovely
To smoke too many cigarettes,
To love you so much.

Now I want just
a bike of my own.
With a bell and basket
To toll my presence out
As I pedal back
From under wide fall skies
Conversing with the trees
About the approach of
Winter hibernation,
The promise of spring.

Find Jen at Marginalia

An on-the-spot poem about inspiration
written by Amanda Stanley 

When it hits, you know
Though you may never know why
It’s gooseflesh down your arms
The heart is racing
It makes you antsy
Sometimes it will make you cry
Or smile, maybe laugh
But it can’t be denied
Play, Make, Do.

Find Amanda at Worldwide Investigation: Amanda at Large.

An on-the-spot poem about construction paper chains (like those ones from grade school)
by Alexa L., written October 25, from 10:25 to 10:39 p.m.

An orange construction paper circle
wraps itself around white and blue
staples in its back like silver tattoos,
and a message written, in ink:
Buy yourself something nice.

I will.

I wish myself a happy birthday 
then tear through 11/11
like opening a gift,
to find empty space,
and tomorrow.

The United Nation of On-The-Spot Enthusiasts the Third

joshua tree desert 2009 (c) 2009 Ashley Inguanta

an on-the-spot poem by Ashley Inguanta

Did you know
the state of Florida
is bigger than England?
My heart
it’s also bigger
than my mouth
and your mouth
too, all pink
with the raw world
of newly oiled oysters. My lips
would be slicked rose, too
if I wasn’t in New Mexico
at the time, fishing on dry land
just for the hell of it.  I returned
to Florida with lips as pale and thin
as my eyelids,  both caked with fish-scale
glitter, heavy like my belly
full of dollar white bread
and oranges, picked from trees
near the street.  You, the one whose body
is bigger than my heart, you are Florida
heavy with sunlight
shiny greasy skin
but not tourist skin
you are native
and I am a traveler
my body, bigger than any home.

A note about the author:
Ashley Inguanta grew up in a world of wires and light, and at twenty-four years old, she is still growing. She is currently an MFA student at UCF and a Graduate Teaching Associate for two Introduction to Creative Writing classes. She has also worked as a Creative Writing Instructor at Lakeside Alternative, a mental health facility.

Along with teaching and writing, Ashley is a photojournalist whose work has appeared in REAX music magazine, Moms Like Me, The Seminole Chronicle, Celebration Independent, and more.

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Pindeldyboz and Elephant Journal, and she recently earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train for their Very Short Fiction Award. In November, Ashley’s poem “Dedication” will appear in All Things Girl and her short story “Inside” is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly and will be featured as story of the week.

Besides her bio, I want to say something about Ashley in my own words:
I’ve known Ashley since undergraduate; and though her driving often scares me, her words, her poetry, and her voice (because, damn she can sing, too) are one-of-a-kind, one-in-a-bazillion, and beautiful. She can weave clauses like Boston scarves. She can move mountains with the shift of a verse or the press of an Enter key. It’s in her blood, her bones, her nerve endings. Everything she touches turns to bold. Thanks Ash, for lending me your genius. 

An on-the-spot poem about staying up too late when you have class the next morning:
by Alexa L.  
written from 2:11 a.m. to 2:19 a.m.

Let’s have a conversation

Are you procrastinating?

God no.
Why would you 
how could you

You are. You are procrastinating. 

Oh, please.
I would never
in a million, 

But you’re doing it right now. 

Talking to myself

It’s 2 a.m., I must be lonely or the Poetry of Bowling

So I’m trying to write this epic article for my editor/writer relationship class that reveals nothing important about anything; the pitch sounded so much better than what it’s turning out to be. You see, I’m writing a sort of “scenes from a bowling alley” piece written by going to a 24-hour bowling alley several times throughout the course of the 24-hour bowling period. I started at 12 p.m. when I bought my shoes earlier yesterday (which I suppose is correct considering it’s 2 a.m. on Sunday). Then I went back around 5 (because I was told the place would be inhabited by birthday parties and bowling leagues for most of the afternoon), then again at 9: 30 p.m., and now I’m sitting, waiting, wishing it is 4 a.m. already so I can get back to my observational hell. That’s all it really is. It’s uninteresting and, really, the only thing I figured out is that even with brand new bowling shoes, I still suck at bowling compared to my former high school self (which was still not that great). In the words of my high school psychology teacher (with added chanting from classmates) who dubbed me Bowling Chick for the rest of the semester of 2004, “Roll, roll, roll, roll….”

Gosh darn it, I suppose he’s right.

An on-the-spot poem about bowling
written between 2:05 a.m. and 2:13 a.m. on October 17, 2010

Hello, heavy pin,
you fooled me
into believing I’d thrown a strike
But I saw you, finger protruding from the
wooden lane, darkened by
gutter shadows and your ten-pin brothers
laughing above your head
at me
then at you.
Because, heavy pin,
you fooled me,
but spared me
the second time around.

The United Nation of On-The-Spot Enthusiasts Volume Due

Today’s selection features a poet whom I’ve known since undergraduate. I’m proud to say I was a bridesmaid in Liz’s wedding, her classmate, and her confidant. She lives in New Mexico now and I miss her.

Plus, my first on-the-spot photography entry from the hauntingly talented Melanie Sy. She’s not just a friend, but an avid, I guess you could say, on-the-spot traveler with an eye for beauty. 

An on-the-spot poem about famous women
written by Liz Lauer, on October 5, 2010

Sometimes I feel like Sylvia,
surging blue under the glass.
Sometimes I feel like Edie
in a house growing unkempt and mad.
Sometimes I feel like Jackie,
all glamour and composure outside.
Sometimes I feel like Michelle,
just along for the ride.
Sometimes I feel like Courtney,
and what I say doesn’t make sense.
Sometimes I feel like Lindsay,
still trying, but can’t repent.
Sometimes I feel like Eleanor,
and words can’t bring me down.
Sometimes I feel like myself,
or what little of her I’ve figured out.
Find Liz at Throat Chakra.   

Untitled (c) 2010 Melanie Sy, shot October 2, 2010

An on-spot-poem about friendship

written today. right now. as we speak.
(on 10/10/10 huzzah!)
by Alexa L. 

I locked our friendship
in my closet
inside jokes
on a fancy hanger
a boa wrapped around
a phantom neck
and when you say
I hate you
and when I say
but you shouldn’t let him treat you this way
we laugh
because a Do Not Enter sign
hangs from the closet door
and he knocks, and knocks, and knocks.

I know, I know. I’m weird.

The United Nation of On-The-Spot Enthusiasts Volume Numero Uno

I am beyond excited. People are riding the awesome train and partaking in my dorky, yet surprisingly rad little hobby. I challenged some of my closest friends and favorite strangers to write on-the-spot poetry of their own. I’ll be posting the responses until I have no more to share. Note: If you want to keep sharing, please do! I love me some random poesy (I really hope I just used that word correctly). For 20-Something Blogger readers, send them to my page inbox. For my friends (in other words, those who most likely have my digits), just shoot me an e-mail.  
an on-the-spot poem by Colleen Kelly (sent via text message):
working out
working out.

several on-the-spot haikus by David Golbitz 

A note from Dave: The only kind of poetry I vaguely know how to do (and not very well) is haiku. In keeping with the spirit of on-the-spotness, all of these took me less than five or 10 minutes each to write. Also, thanks for helping me procrastinate today. 🙂

Social media
My fingers are atwitter
I love my smartphone

Morning, noon and night,
I can’t stop thinking of you.
I think I’m in love.

You puncture my skin.
Warm, crimson blood rushes out.
Fucking vampires.

The dead are risen,
A zombie apocalypse.
I need more bullets.

Criminals tremble,
I’m the goddamned Batman.
Feeling lucky, punk?

Sudden darkness now
Burlap sack over my head
Please don’t torture me.

Too much mascara,
She stumbles out of the bar,
Can’t hold her liquor.

When I disembark
Memories are all I have.
My soul lags behind.

I hate to tell you,
’cause you don’t want to hear it.
I’ve fallen for you.

An on-the-spot haiku for Dave:
To Señor Golbitz:
Your haikus are pretty good.
Thank you for the words.

On Accomplishments and Procrastination

If you don’t like your classes, the work seems like a chore, a bore, a what the heck am I doing this for? You feel overworked, maybe miserable. You might cry about it. You might vent to your wall.

I got lucky this semester. I love my classes. I want to marry my classes. I do. I do. I do. OK, not really. But for classes, they are pretty compatible. It’s like I matched dot commed those suckers. For real.

Which is why I’m an inconsistent over-achiever. Sometimes lazy. Often tired. I draw doodles when I should be creating art. Lucky for me, the accomplishments listed below have been the norm of the first couple months of this, the second to last semester of my graduate program. Senior status, I’m this close to out of here.

Accomplishments of the weekend, and week thus far:
Finished my second column for Column Writing
Volunteered at the fort
Bought an exuberant amount of groceries
Laundered things
Attempted finding the meaning of life
Folded things
Pondered what it would be like to be famous
Sent a Web submission to McSweeney’s
Found solace in television
Watched Beauty and the Beast on my computer
Sent e-mails to prospective interview subjects
Researched superheroines (not to be confused with an extreme version of the drug)
Wrote this post

For tonight: The beginnings of a restaurant review. Ethiopian food awaits. 

For tomorrow: Samba lessons.

I’m on a roll.

An on-the-spot poem about procrastination:

I’ll do it later.
I will.

Bronchitis and Trash Cans or Why I Have to Stay Home from School

I kneel on the floor of my college’s health center, hunching over a blue trash can that’s insides smell of cologne, the smell of which I was not expecting. I talk to someone, take fifteen minutes to fill out a form that should have taken me two, and look down: a Dunkin’ Donuts cup and plastic lid, a cologne box, and white things, probably tissues or napkins. This is embarrassing. I fixate on the cologne. Was someone trying to smell good for the doctor? I didn’t get it. It hurts. A throbbing pain, my head exploding.

Doc’s orders: take your medicine, take a taxi instead of the T, rest, stay home, get better. I sleep for a while, tugging on to a blue blanket and adjusting my feet on the footrest that extends from the exam table. I take a taxi then head back to my apartment, dizzy. 
So here I am, attempting to get well soon.

An on-the-spot poem about how much it stinks to have bronchitis:

Breathe in, baby
it’ll be all right
a cough,
a wheeze,
a cough again
a breath
white pills, then red
then one pink
a cough
white pill, then water
soup, then water
a cough, a breath
breathe in, baby
just breathe.

A Picture’s Worth a Word or Two

I’m not going to lie; lately my creative gas tank is running on empty (see what I mean?). I can come up with ideas for other people, but when it comes to my artistic needs I am Romeo sans Juliet, bread without a toaster. So, in true Alexa fashion, I decided to choose a photograph and write an on-the-spot poem. Let’s hope it doesn’t, well, suck. I shot the photo below at a beach on Staten Island.

Gull by Alexa L., written today, at this exact moment

blue like bruises,
watches me.

Perched and patient
I feel the stare,
point my beak downward
then up to the sky,
blue like cotton candy
sticking, then covering
cloud fingers.

Water, jealous,
calms quiet.
Poles jut to
ugly thrones
and I sit,

Note: I started classes this week and I adore them. I’m taking three, which is considered a lot for a graduate semester, but I feel comfortable with my choices, all focused on magazine publishing and writing. Wish me luck!