This is all too much

I try to imagine how you feel—
if it’s real
or if it’s fleeting…
your heart beating so fast
it might fly from
the caverns of your chest.

It’s exhilaration meets sadness:
you can’t stop going going going.

Freedom meets madness:
you can’t stop knowing knowing knowing
that what’s good for you
doesn’t seem so good for you.

To rest for a while,
to pause,
to break
both literally and figuratively,
simultaneous destruction and reprieve,
without a chance to grieve
a world
without semicolons.

You often find yourself
at the edges of you,
all fringe
no fixture,
always alone, but never lonely.

But you need to stop,
you need to feel the absence
of everything
so you know how to better
fill the void,
to fill the empty that burrows
within em dashes
or ellipses
or blank spaces.

I try to imagine how you feel,
but for everyone it differs…
the diversity of suffering,
but the commonality of tears,
the nightmares, the fears,
the intense feeling
of no feeling at all.

And then there’s numb,
then there’s nothing,
your heart beating so slowly,
it sounds more whisper
than thump

thump thump
thump thump

until you just sort of know,
because the numb passes,
the heart beats louder

thump thump
thump thump

as I imagine it would when you realize
how good it feels to be alive.

Matters

Sorry for the repeat hiatus, loyal readers (of which I think there may be two or three of you?). I’ve been in a constant state of transition since August: I moved, I traveled (California, New York, Dominican Republic, Orlando), I’ve been working on other forms of writing (mostly lyrics), and I’ve been re-focusing on work and thinking about ways to be better at that, since that’s where I spend most of my time during a given week besides sleeping. So for old time’s sake, here’s an on-the-spot poem about what it means to matter.

Matters

I don’t know who lives above me, but at 11:45PM I hear footsteps, consistent and strong,
or banging on a wall,
or dancing…

no

it is the distinct clatter of a hammer, of multiple paintings being hung in rapid succession—
because this is what people choose to do close to midnight in South Florida
in lieu of sleeping
(I envision a painting of hot air balloons above a Paris street from IKEA)

Tonight I bang back, a hard and quick tap tap just to let them know that I am there,
that I exist,
that it’s not just them and their hammer or their hands against hurried-on paint…
that I matter

They cannot see me,
but I am unequivocally present
in the apartment beneath them

and for the first time
I’ve made them aware
that yes, the world can hear them,
that yes, despite potential thoughts that it is not entirely about me
that I am entirely affected,

and the banging fades into lighter, more thoughtful taps
(or so I imagine),
a length of silence
lighter still, and then a steady harmony of cabinets
opening and shutting,
the running of water,
the softer padding of feet across carpet

My air conditioning unit clangs to life,
drowning whatever sound is left
in the passage of cool air and ceiling dust

and I hope that for even a second that it was my taps that made the difference
and not the completion of the activity upstairs that drove them to stop,
that in a world that doesn’t revolve around me,
that I may receive, if for but a moment, an occasional revolution

The air conditioning ceases its motion

I cling anxiously to every creak or moan of flooring,
the sound of a microwave timer and a rush of footsteps across a living room much like mine

because this is what people in South Florida do in lieu of sleeping.

Wordless

I have words in me that multiply,
verbal bacteria in a Petri dish dividing via binary fission,
biological precision meets linguistic overflow.

So where do the words go?
They bubble out on pages,
make conversations uncomfortably emotional,
because my heart is writing faster
than my eyes can re-read.

But it’s honest, and it’s real,
these words I tend to over-feel,
exponentially increasing inside my gut
and roving outward,
escaping because they release
years worth of linguistic anxiety.

In society, we’re taught to keep our words at bay—
the more you say,
the less the recipient will want to reciprocate,
your words standing solitary,
blushing in the dark in their embarrassment.

But I have words,
so let me speak them:

let me overthink and over-love,
let me over-care and overwhelm,
let me me wish that these words were whispered in an ear
rather than through an earpiece.

These words:

they’re multiplying,
dividing,
colliding,
until I’m wordless,
speechless,
left listening to the words multiplying in you,

or to the silence
of words left suspended in air.

Beautiful Dreamer

I found an old book project from 2003. Thought I would share it; and as always, rewrite it in the form of a shorter poem:

“Beautiful Dreamer” by ~15-year-old Alexa

I knew a boy who loved to dream
of the moon, stars, and pounds of ice cream.

But sometimes he dreamed he could soar through the air
and go to the places that no one would dare.

He wanted to fly with the birds in a V,
over the ocean and past the great sea.

But the problem with this is he didn’t have wings.
So he couldn’t do any, any such things.

He decided to try and make wings of his own.
So he worked day and night, worked his hands to the bone.

When he was finally finished he smiled with glee.
“It is time for me to fly,” he said happily.

He decided to show his mother the wings he had made,
but all she did was talk about being afraid

and about what she would do if he were to get hurt,
bruised on the knees and ripping his shirt.

But the little boy would never give in
because his dreams meant that he always would win.

So he sneaked to the roof when the house was asleep
and off he would jump in a large, long leap.

He took off in the air where he planned to stay,
but nothing that night went just his way.

He crashed to the ground with a thundering thump
and he slowly got up with a black and blue bump.

He went to his mother and cried many tears.
She had warned him of what had been part of her fears.

Dreams may come true, but this little boy found out
that dreams are what magic and love is about.

Twelve Years Later…Written today, about Twelve Years Later

I knew a boy who used to dream
of the moon, stars, and pounds of ice cream:

and like the moon, he phased;
like the stars, he shone too bright;
and like the ice cream,
he melted,
a puddle of rocky road in the shape of a heart.

But melting was an art:

He came back from the ground one time, then two…hundred—
fall after fall,
year after year,
roof child to grounded adult,
his ice cream heart wrapped up in bits of cone.

And when left on his own, he guided:
Polaris rising in the evening sky,
wings so big he couldn’t fly,
but he could jump
to heights so great the moon would envy,
shadows dancing in delight.

And there he went into the night:
the image of dreams in cosmic shadow puppets:
a boy transformed into a great bird,
a phoenix,
a gryphon,
casting shadows over his childhood.

Of this, he never stopped dreaming.

The Mosquito

You thought of me for a moment,
a sort of passing, like the small mosquito on a less than succulent leg—
a flit, a flitter, then gone
into the clouds and ever-space of the out there,
more afterthought than present.

But on this moment, unlike others,
you chose to bite,
proboscis at the ready, elongated like a straw:

Perhaps an assemblage of moments formed into over a minute.
Perhaps guilt tugged at the skin so softly it started to itch.
Either way, you reached—
out, to, for what? I do not know,
but into ever-space you went a’reaching…

sending birds tweeting to the sky,
bearing news of great recompense,
yet words as empty as the second half
of the metaphorical glass.

And when more time has come to pass, you remember:
this is why I flit, why I flitter,
a world half empty,
wholly bitter—

and then there is forget.
The high of having tried,
the fear of being slapped away,
the reality of plucked wings…

Moments flash, leg after leg
into the great subconscious—
never to touch my skin again.

All it Takes

All it Takes

All it takes for you to be happy
is to admit,
that failing is just as great
as succeeding,
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,
and pause,
take a breath to live a sentence without clause (i.e., simple),
and admit that success is just as great
as failing.

Something Old, Something New: Patience is the Key

Do you?

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,
the pushy,
the proactive.
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,
react.
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.

Something Old, Something New: A Friend in Need

Lifehack Quotes: “To Help a Friend in Need is Easy…”

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:

Tick.
Tock.

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 sheep.
A band mate.
A beacon—
light spinning in the dark.

FWOB: Friends Without Benefits

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.

Strangers with Memories

The Used

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,
reconsider,
re-exist,
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
change…

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
for friendship.

Straight Lines

I wish my life existed in straight lines
like in reporter’s notebooks,
graph paper,
plaid pants—
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,
ungracefully forward.

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
so desirous,
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.