Archive for writing

Wordless

speechless

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.

The Pillow Case

The pillow is about the length of me curled up,
knees locked on puffs of cotton
like a child climbing the base of a tree,
shimmies and uncomfortable starts;
until a groove is settled into,
and sleep or success comes in an easy wave—
for found is comfort.

-A

Merry-Go-Round

The Older We Get, the Younger We Feel

Sometimes, there’s a dream:
we’re eight or ten or twelve,
hands interlaced like tufts of braid,
all smiles and soft voices and giggles in the dark,
hiding under blankets, building tents from couch pillows
as if they’re castles made of stone.

Some days we’re on a pirate ship,
crossing oceans, pools that undulate with the wind;
or on a carousel that spins, pirouettes.
We dance, mimicking the merry-go-round,
following the waves in a side-by-side sway…
how could you know there’d be a day
when the music or the breeze would quiet;
that reality would hit in tidal-esque form,
the ship tilting,
the carousel jolting into a brake,
and we stand facing each other,
glances interlaced like tufts of braid.

But deep in dreams these promises are made—
to make our dreams come true:
me and you,
our hands, our eyes, in tangles.
The world, our ship.
The wind, our music.

Let’s Rob a Bank

I asked my friends for a prompt, and as always, Dave obliged (thanks, Dave!). I apologize for the lateness of utilizing this inspiration…

Let’s Rob a Bank

You and I
aren’t Bonnie and Clyde:
we’d rather live through the ages
together—your hand in mine,
the other hand holding a bag
so full of cash,
our private stash
to carry us to an island,
an ocean,
filled to the brim with salt and sunshine
and better days ahead,
better breathing
than car and cliff and dead.

Let’s rob the world of happiness,
steal moments like golden bars
from bank vaults, your hand still in mine,
and run away
from everyone and everything,
freedom in the form of bullet
or a ring,
instead of car or cliff.

Let’s rob the world, but first:
let’s rob a bank.

Write Now, I’m Tired

I feel like I owe you something, Internet. So here is something:

The space between how you feel and I feel
is like the forced spaces between paragraphs,
so subtle and small,
but make so much of a difference
that you, a lover of style and design and words, notices immediately
that there is space—
so subtle and small
but so there.

In language, space can identify thoughtfulness or anger or sorrow.
Space can be hurtful, can be necessary
to carry the weight of everything
you can’t say
in words.

I feel that space between how you feel and I feel.
We float like jetsam into the infinite deep
of saying everything
and nothing at all.

You don’t have to tell me you need space:
it’s there, tangible and wide,
accessible by anyone who isn’t seeking
space at all,
rather a universe of not-space, of ever-there, of presence,
of anything but [_________].

Write, OK

Lately, I find it hard to write, to enter a marathon of fingers, my fingertips serving as sneakers on pavement. But to be successful at the art of writing, like in any sport or performance or speech, you must practice. My goal this year is to do NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). I don’t know if the effort will be successful, but I know I’m going to try. The only consideration I need to remember—and this goes for any writer—is you can’t just finish a piece in one sitting. It takes time, and it takes months (if not years) of preparation. I have until November; that’s less than 9 months away. I need to start readying my hands to handle the workload, and my mind to handle the stress. I need to ready myself for writer’s block and sore wrists, for moments when I’m going to feel hopeless and feel like giving up. I can dedicate a month of my life to writing, but it takes a passionate writer to dedicate twelve of them. To anyone who is doing the same, I wish you luck!

And for those of you who like my poetry, an on-the-spot creation just for you:

War of the Words

I can picture syllables, placing them like soldiers on a battlefield,
the letters fastened like guns to their waists;
but in alignment they are ordered to fire…they make the most beautiful sound—
a harmony of loud bursts, of bullets ringing through the air,
words created from synchronous violence.

Some, though; some are lost.
Letters gone silent,
syllables hushed.

The casualties of war,
of linguistic misfires,
of soldiers too syllabic,
of sounds too cacophonous to survive
a battle of words.

Prompted: The Magician

I feel so lucky to have people in my life who support my writing habit. This next on-the-spot piece is inspired by an impromptu prompt doled out in a burger joint by my coworker Kristina. The iPhone note, quickly written, states the following:

You go to a magician and it turns out the magic is real…He makes somebody disappear, and they’re really gone.

The piece…

The Disappeared Woman’s Lament

When they say never talk to strangers, what they mean—or what they should mean—is never talk to magicians. You see, I’m not here. Well, not in your version of here; the kind of here with conversational awkwardness between two beings, or food of any kind (I considerably miss pizza and garlic bread sticks), or some sort of facility a person usually refers to as a restroom. No, this here is a blank-ish sort of place, a white background that when you stare too long, may appear a cream color; and then after longer consideration, possibly taupe. There are rabbits here, white; golden rings; what looks like the bottom half of a very attractively-legged woman. On the other side of the room there is something that appears much like a door, but may be made of the silk lining of the inside of a driver’s cap or top hat. I do not know where this door leads, nor have I been able to reach it (it seems to move away from me as I step toward it). I am in the not-here, the no-where, the ex-istence. I can’t even recall the journey—I want to say it was moderately painful, but a girl in the not-here can’t concern herself with such not-things. I feel that this is supposed to be true.

And when enough of the not-quite-time has passed, in lengths that seem day-like in their tangibility, I continue to scope the rapidly appearing and disappearing objects. I have a thought: Perhaps we are the remnants of failed magic; of tricks gone awry. I feel that this is also supposed to be true. The legs of the half-woman kick in heeled agreement.

But I feel it, both unexpectedly and planned, a hand reaching out from the red silk door, fumbling in the sort-of-white with urgency. I touch it, this hand, and it snatches around my fist, pulling like the furious closing of a portal. And then I am here. Your here. Staring into the stunned faces, jaws agape with astonishment or terror, and I can see the beads of sweat drop from the magician’s face like rivulets from the edges of a waterfall. He looks at me and forces a grin. Too close, I think I hear him say.

“Bow,” he whispers.

Prompted: Flickering Headlights

I love prompts. They 1) make me feel obligated to eventually write using them; and 2) it gives me inspiration in a time when I feel too busy to find it elsewhere. So thank you, Dave. As always.

Flicker

I’m not a fan of dark highways
with their lack of light—
all blackness this, possible doom that:

yet the headlights behind me are not a comfort,
encroaching too quickly
until a second passes and they’re gone
like the light of a thousand lightning bugs crushed into an aptly sized fist,
like a candle snuffed out between two fingertips,
like a flash or spark so quick, you’d think you’d dreamed it.

The darkness is playing games with me
or my mind has gone wild;
succumbing to loneliness on the winding asphalt,
highway to highway with indeterminate end

and so to roads I bend…
until I find my way to light more Christmas tree twinkle
than mid-night madness,
caught between a sense of overwhelming calm
and sadness
of the darkness yet to come.

But a flicker—the lights much brighter now,
so close they kiss the tailights’ red-lit shield,
so close I feel illumination in my throat,
suffocated, instead of blinded, by the light
turning me into shadows.

I drive, faster, faster,
light chasing through the dark like the tail end of a comet
but lights, they stay,
they brighten, they follow,
they do not let go,
the light like memories we shouldn’t know,
that maybe we’d be safe back in comfortable dark.

The story ends when the road ends,
or the gas runs out,
or the sun rises,
whatever comes first.

The story ends with headlights, with memories,
with light too close,
and highways too dark.

The story ends.

Prompted: The Apartment

So I was given a prompt a few days ago…and I should probably prove that sending me prompts doesn’t actually go to waste.

The Moderately Haunted Apartment
FYI this is loosely based on the prompt, realized only after it was written.

Apartment listing states:
2 bedrooms
1 and a half bath
living room with potential for wall library
1 ghost
full kitchen with island
fully furnished, dust webs, residual energy

Let me explain:
Most apartments come with a ghost:
ghosts of love,
of lost relationships;
ghosts of families come and gone,
weeping children, dropped coffee and light curses;
ghosts of sleepless nights;
ghosts both fearful and feared,
the ghosts of nightmares and brighter things.

I am the brighter thing, a dust mote that appears
by window-light.
The apartment is quite lived in

but not haunted,
never haunted;
more spiritual,
living in paranormally correct terms:
all white noise and shimmer,
the respectfully respected dead.

But are you willing
to live with ghosts?
I’ve found that those who cannot live with phantoms,
cannot live—
escaping to other apartments,
escaping ghosts they’ve left behind.

A life so empty of shadows,
that they must live in dark.

Are you willing
to live with ghosts?

Are you willing
to live with me?

Revisiting Love

I don’t know if love was the easiest thing to write about when I was younger, but it was a common theme in a lot of my older poetry. The memory of stolen forehead kisses and the anxiousness of that first handhold with awkward childhood grace. I was always in love. My heart ached for romance, holding fast to the belief that those gastric butterflies were not just real, but necessary for teenage survival.

Here is an all-too-sweet poem from that age about L O V E. And then, of course, the rewrite.

My Love by 14-year-old Alexa

My love is in the darkness
With stars glittering bright.
My love is in the darkness
As I love you through the night.

My love is in the roses,
As red as red can be.
My love is in the roses
Will you find that love for me?

My love is in a poem,
As long as love will last.
My love is in a poem
With my heart still beating fast.

My love is in a song,
As lovely as time will trace.
My love is in a song
Being sung for your embrace.

My love is in the ocean
Where a million miles spread.
My love is in the ocean
On its seashell covered bed.

My love is in a lover’s heart,
Who knows my deepest fears.
My love is in a lover’s heart,
Who sheds with all my tears.

Love Stinks by 27-year-old Alexa

His love is an uncomfortable hug—

the embrace of an aunt your mom swears you met
when you were four or five,
and don’t you remember, sweetie?

The answer is always no.

Or that friend from high school
you tried to reconnect with
said you’d definitely keep in touch with
and then let them fade away into the depths
of the abyss that is pre-college memory
because both of you meant
that by keeping in touch you were really trying to say,
I would like never to experience these feelings of awkwardness again.

But we were talking about him.
That guy.
The one who made the world so easy to understand for so long.
The one you wanted to marry.
The one you can’t even hug.

You see, he has a smell—
a nauseating stench so malodorous
you’d wish you were anosmic.

But my nose is at peak sniff
one whiff
the culmination of odors from our pre-awkward,
my pre-anger
his pre-gret.

I inhaled the other beds, trapped subtly in the oils of his hair
of the lies, sunken into the crevices of acne gone popped and scabbed over
of the loss of love, buried in the neck,
the subtle scent of lavender and drug store deodorant spray.

He smells of bathrooms of houses I’ve never seen,
of moments he felt unclean,
of cigarettes and guilt.

He smells of me.
Even now he smells of me.

And when I walk away from the hug
release my face from the confines of the collar of his shirt
the stink of him still lingers…
stronger still than any new perfume.