The Permanence of Pen, Volume II

The poems below are a little longer and a little more…well, I’ll be honest, I used to write poetry as if I were smart or something, as if I knew everything there is to know about life and death (so please excuse my past penchant for the dramatic).

And, plus, in addition, to add, furthermore…I think I was just trying to use big words and big ideas at that age. How outlandish of me. How extraordinarily peculiar.  

by Alexa L., written in high school

I’ve become a writing heretic
Sentences are too periodic for my taste
I do not conform to paragraphs
And all my poems are those I write in haste.

My essays are not following a pattern
My conclusions end with nothing to conclude
I do not conform to stylistic technique
And my language is not eloquent, but rude.

I’ve become a reading heretic
Novels are too lengthy for my speed
I do not conform to excess pages
One or two is all I truly need.

Boredom rests upon my very eyelids
It’s tedious to read another word
I do not conform to vapid titles
In reality, a book is just absurd.

I’ve become a speaking heretic
A thought can really cause me such dismay
I do not conform to words I’ve always spoken
And most people have run out of things to say.

My vocabulary’s shorter than a tree stump
And my head is filled with thoughts that shake the tree
I do not conform to lies or to fake values
For speaking can become the loss of thee.

The Reason
by Alexa L., also written in high school

I’ve always held a grudge against the universe
But I’ve never held a reason why
I guess, because of violence, lies, and sorrow
Or that people, in their destination, die

When I found I had been predestined for nothing
That my life, no matter what, would be cut down
I realized life is just unending circles
Where the ones who try to fly, will all fall down

We all survive in hopes of making futures
For generations we all know will pass away
The only reason why we are still living
Is to make a path for those who need a way

So life, in all its splendor, is quite useless
Our existence is for others to exist
But the world is full of love, and of emotion
Where death is what we often can’t resist

The Permanence of Pen, Volume I

In high school, I wrote a small amount of poetry in a journal. My process, the idea of revision, is more noticeable. My mistakes are still visible in black or blue pen (I don’t know why I didn’t write in pencil). I thought I’d be nostalgic and share some (and eventually most) of these pages. The poetry is rough and ragged. It clings to my former obsession—now, it is simply an adoration—with rhyme. This is my pre-lyric poetry. This is a younger version of me, when my grandparents were still alive and the world was a much less scary place (and yes, it is scary—terrifying, even). These first three I’m sharing are selections from my shorter poems. I hope you like them.

School and Conformity
by Alexa L., written in ninth, tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade

School is just conformity defined
By classrooms of students
Walls soaked in white
Endless lunch lines
The same clock that eyes devour
The same tick. Tock. Tick.
A final click.
And they all run.

by Alexa L., written when a date involved walking through the mall holding hands (and that was it)

While hearts beat, mine pounds
When hearts hush, mine sounds
While hearts breathe, mine sighs
When hearts break, mine dies

by Alexa L., written in a time when I still wore GAP sweaters in 90-degree heat (I was hiding from the world) 

Pictures put me in a frame of mind
That always develops badly
My front will look like my behind
And my smile turns down gladly.

My Life As An Adult Robot

Lately, I run on automatic. I am shampoo directions: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I am a parrot. OK, I got it. Please, can I have a cracker now? It’s twelve. I am my graphic arts ruler, transparent. Can you see through me? Can you measure my breath in picas and points? I intern. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Galley letters. Copying. Entering information. Repeat. My body walks, speaks, says “hey, what’s up?” I listen in class. 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. I turn my head, raise my hand, say something not witty. I’m trying too hard. I’m distracted. I almost cry behind my glasses. I give up. I’m quiet and don’t talk to anyone. This is a first.  Repeat. I work. 10 a.m. to whenever. Study. Read Eggers or Burroughs or someone from the list. Repeat. Home. Sometime around 10:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. TV. Shower. Computer. Book. Toothbrush. Bed. Repeat.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Lately, I run on automatic.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. I love you.

Death and Pom-poms…or A Very Serious Poem About Cheerleading

Another poem from my past. Go. Poetry. Go, go, go poetry. 
Death and Pom-poms
by Alexa L., written November 3, 2008
She hate, hate, hated me 
more than chirping blondes that crooned 
over six- packs and pom-poms, 
doctors with stained teeth 
and needles they used 
like heroine, rubber bands tied 
around clipboards and death wishes. 
More than bombs that exploded with words 
like “we need to talk” 
or “I’m sorry for your loss.”  
Who’s sorry, she whispers 
into paper napkins she scrunches and bunches, 
blows into the wind with a flick of breath, 
then groans and says she hates me 
for falling from the pyramid, 
reaching its peak then tumbling forward, 
without a seatbelt, 
through the window, 
white pom-poms turned dirty red on the street.

A Poetic Love

I liked the idea of on-the-spot poems, since they moved me to write similarly to how I write my song lyrics. It starts with a line or an initial image (in this case the verb, then the heart, a fragile thing) and in the three poems below, I take that line or image and use it to feed the rest of it all. This is just a small window into how my mind works: with a hint of darker things, a dash of optimism, and a tendency to make things rhyme.  

Three brief, on-the-spot, sort-of-OK poems about love: 
He chewed her heart, a fragile thing,
and spit it on the floor
then ripped his own out of his chest
because he wanted more.
She bashed his heart, a fragile thing
and kicked it with her shoe
and said the words he couldn’t hear:
“My darling, we are through.”
and maybe
He cracked her heart, a fragile thing,
and fixed it up with glue
then added macaroni
and in glitter, “I love you.”

And on a completely unrelated note, I am thoroughly enjoying the following two CDs: Eminem’s Recovery and Scissor Sisters’ Night Work.

Poem-spiration or How to Make Something Out of Something

I mentioned inspirational lunches in a previous post. This is the result of a particular lunch with Amanda, where she gave me the first line of the poem below. Because of the summer, we haven’t been meeting as much, but I wanted to wait until we exchanged the poems before I posted mine. So here it is. Enjoy. 

First Line Poem by Alexa L.
written April 25, 2010 

When the winter comes, these things happen…
My coat hangs off my shoulders, then the floor.
My hair is bobby-pinned tight to my head.
A hat then shields my eyes from seeing more.

My legs feel heavier, snow-covered and tired.
My feet make size-8 imprints in the snow
The wind whips at my face, then at my fingers
Because the scarf I have can’t stand the blow

Gloves hug my hands and hide my sweaty palms
a consequence of hot against the cold
I shake the snow from off my boots and shiver
and realize the walk home is getting old.

I wake up every morning to the sunlight
aware of what the temperature will be
but still I hesitantly touch the window
and pray for warmer weather, just for me.

Be Kind, Revise…or the Importance of an Imaginary Knife

You rewrite your poem, perhaps because you are forced to; or maybe you feel it just doesn’t sound right. But there is always something that can be changed, a “the” that can be removed for the sake of punch. So the poetry below was the product of both a class assignment and a forced rewrite. A Sleepwalk required specific elements, such as a utilization of the five senses and a line in a language not your own. Deep-Sea Denial is, of course, the chopped version, cut and sliced with the hopes I’d bared a little bit of me by shedding the unnecessary skin of wordiness, of too much. I hope you enjoy both of them.    
A Sleepwalk, written January 25, 2007
by Alexa L.
The blue glow, it guided me forward— 
a lighthouse glow that let me wake 
beyond the waves of carpet, 
and my feet were sinking. 
My feet were afraid 
of the carved notches in the floorboards— 
diamonds that would never shine— 
the rough sandpaper couch beneath my fingertips, 
and the absence of sheets rustling in my grandma’s bed. 
I heard the clock tick and thought of the blue light 
and how the Atlantic seemed so small now. 
But my feet were brave, 
not freaked out by the shadows beneath 
because if you curl your toes, you fall in. 
The cool water of forget is like drowning. 
The smell of grandma’s baked apples and cinnamon falls down, 
Grandma’s heart as my head lay on her chest beats— 
The smell of detergent, my nose sinks in to a newly washed cotton shirt— 
into the depths of cream-colored fabric. 
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers. 
But the phone rings and my grandma moves along the corridor— 
My left hand grasps the wall, nails scratching at paint 
that looks gray, but I know it’s white 
as it scratches back. 
And I know I will be scarred by it 
and Sweetheart didn’t want to hurt. 
She wanted flotsam dreams— 
jetsam-soaked ambition. 
I am filled with driftwood from broken ships 
Les bateaux se sont cassés. 
The phone cries out “save the captain.” 
But I am sinking— 
Now on to the revision:
Deep-Sea Denial, written April 18, 2007 
by Alexa L. 
I was not dreaming. 
I was not 
sinking into the waves of carpet 
of my grandmother’s house, 
into the old, graying threads 
that tied my feet 
like seaweed. 
The ocean 
seemed so small now 
against the scent of baked apples, 
the touch of sandpaper couches, and when my feet, 
like hesitant fishermen, 
hooked into the carved floorboards, 
reeling themselves into 
I was not forgetting. 
I was not 
swimming in a sea of flotsam 
and jetsam memories 
of a house 
where I learned to appreciate 
where beauty rested 
in a bed with blue sheets and 
a flower-printed comforter. 
I was not 
I was not 
I was not.

Kiss This Goodbye…or Too Many Titles, Too Little Relevance

Lord! I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing.”
Jonathan Swift 
After over a month of blog post titles based on the name I chose for my blog, I believe it is time for a much-needed change.  No more kissing.
In journalism your headline must be concise, so in your news reporting course you’d practice writing 20-word headlines until you got the hang of cutting down for clarity. In poetry class, you had to learn form before you could learn how to break out of it. For me, the idea of keeping themed headers was not just to be consistent with Punctuate with a Kiss, but to create a starting point for future posts. So the following is a list of blog titles I never used, but came up with in the hopes I’d use them later (which technically, I’m doing right now). And the funniest part is this: I came up with most of these as soon as I created this blog and I used almost none of them.
  • Kiss the Hand that Feeds You
  • True Love’s Kiss*
  • Kiss Me, You Fool*
  • Kissed the Girls and Made them cry*
  • Kiss kiss bang bang*
  • Kiss the Girl
  • A Kiss Before You Go
  • Kiss me
  • Little Kisses
  • The Big Kiss
  • The Long Kiss
  • Kisses to Kisses, Dust to Dust
  • A kiss before dying  
  • Kiss from a rose*
  • Kiss til the cows come home 
  • Farewell kiss 
  • A kiss is just a kiss 
  • Eskimo Kisses
  • Butterfly kisses*
  • Blow a Kiss
  • Kiss off
  • Making Out
  • A Peck on the Cheek
  • Kiss under the stars 
  • Kissology 101
  • Missed me, missed me, now you got to kiss me
  • Kiss my Ass
  • Kiss and Make Up*
  • Kiss and Run
  • Cold Kisses
  • Chocolate Kisses
  • XOXO
*My favorites. 
Note: My friend Dave helped me write some of these.
Note: Mine are still better.
Now on to the main event.

Fairy Kisses and Nonsense…or My Attempt at Writing for Children, Part III

The third and final part of what I’ve written so far. I’ll be updating this particular tale less frequently, but I do intend on writing more of the story as soon as I find the inspiration. 
Once Upon a Raindrop, Part III
     Had I fallen asleep? The room quieted for a moment and I listened for the clack of my aunt’s heels on the hardwood. 
     “It’ll be all right.” The voice, gruff but friendly, continued. “I’m here for you.” 
     Toby loomed over me, but he was smiling, his fish-hook mouth curved upward. I hugged his leg and bathed in his fur, momentarily comforted. 
     “Maggie?” He whispered this, and then patted my head with his oversized paw. “Your mother gave me to you for a reason. She said when you could understand them, it was time to go. I need to help you go.” 
     Confused, I looked into his button eyes and saw myself crying. I missed my mother, I could fit in a mouse hole, and my aunt was coming home any minute. 
     “Just close your eyes, Maggie. Close your eyes and sing your song and go there. Go to your better place.” 
     I did as told; then opened my eyes once more. I looked up at Toby. 
     “It didn’t work.” 
     “Of course it didn’t. You need to believe a better place exists before you can get to it.” 
     Clack. Clack. Clack. 
     Toby picked me up and I stood in a field of fur. “Hurry,” he pleaded. “She’s coming!” 
     I closed my eyes again so that my lids felt like they were burning into my cheeks. I pictured a place with green, green fields of grass, golden sunlight, and houses shaped from flowers. Clack. A dark forest surrounded the bright place. Clack. An evil queen. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. 
      The noise stopped; the sounds of my aunt’s high heels faded into the sounds of chirping birds and running water. 
     I kept my eyes closed for what seemed like hours. I could almost feel Aunt Rue stick her heel in my foot and dig, laughing as she did it; but there were no heels, and the smell of my aunt—like sour milk and bonbons—was replaced by the scent of flowers and fresh-cut grass. It was when I opened my eyes I noticed my outfit, unlike my dream, remained unchanged; my wings, nonexistent. I had only moments ago been fairy-like. Now I donned only jean shorts and a blue T-shirt, running shoes, and a ponytail. I cried then, not because I could not fly, but because my better place did not mean a better me. 
     I grew tired of sitting. I rose up and turned, enchanted by the workings of my imagination. I had landed on a small grassy patch, surrounded. Forest was on all sides of me, with arrows pointing in the cardinal directions at the patch’s center. There was writing on each wooden arrow, with a symbol of some sort etched in the point—to the north, a flower; to the south, a faded crown; to the west, a mountain; to the east, a fish. The continued sound of running water relaxed me as I made my choice. I headed south in search of royalty. 
     The forest’s canopy started to fold into itself the farther I walked into the forest. Darkness—like attic darkness— began to shroud me and the trees, too; a breeze whispered through my hair, “Little girl.”

Fairy Kisses and Nonsense…or My Attempt at Writing for Children, Part II

So here is the second part of what I’ve written thus far. Enjoy.

Once Upon a Raindrop, Part II

     “Owwwie!” I grabbed at nothing; then brought my hand back to my eye. The dumb little fairy pulled out an eyelash and it hurt. How did she keep getting back in my room, anyway? I kept closing the window. I even pulled the shades to keep her from watching me tonight. 
     But when I looked up she disappeared; little flecks of glitter lay haphazardly on the blanket. 
     Long after she left, I dreamed I was tiny and looking up at the fairy with the glitter suit. I wore a dress, a deep blue-purple the shade of blueberries, and my wings were penny copper. My chocolate mane was tossed into a bun with a small tiara twinkling in the sunlight or moonlight—I couldn’t remember which—but I recall being happy. 
     The glitter fairy frowned and curtseyed. “Your highness,” she said, “Rosalina, at your call.” Was her name really Rosalina? It seemed so real. I nodded my head in acknowledgement and looked out over my kingdom.
     Sunlight peeked through the window, but I could barely see it over my mass of sheets, blanket, and my giant stuffed bear, Toby. Giant? He was humongous! I felt small; my little heart raced and I panicked, flying back and forth. Wait—flying? I had reddish-brown wings. I stared down at my bed where I should have been sleeping. I felt dizzy and flustered. It was then that I remembered my fear of heights and I fell to the bed, faint with wonderment and fear. 
     I sat there for hours wondering what to do when my aunt came home. My aunt wore her hair clasped tight to her head; she had hair the color of cigarette ash and black eyebrows that she dyed to make her look younger. She was prim and hateful; her sister, my mother, used to tell me before bed of how my aunt would dress her up like a doll, and hit her if she didn’t do as asked. When my parents died, my aunt was all I had left. 
     So when I found myself tiny, I stiffened; scared of Aunt Rue. 
     Brushing the soft hair of Toby’s coat, I let my mind wander. My mother once told me if I just close my eyes, sing the first melody I hear in my head, and imagine myself in a better place, I would go there. I could free myself of sadness and fear. It was in this place I transported myself when my mother and father passed. It was in this place even Aunt Rue couldn’t find me. 
     My better place bloomed with magic: fairies possessed amiable qualities unlike Rosalina’s; flowers danced in the rain; many creatures could fly, disappear, transform. I ruled this place, much like my dream, but in real life I was not queen. To Aunt Rue, I represented all the world’s defects. Because I looked just like my mother, she punished me. I was her China doll; she tore my dresses, pulled at my hair, and rubbed her greasy fingers across my porcelain skin. I could not say a word. 
     For a long time, Rosalina made the problems worsen. When she pinched me and I yelped in surprise, Aunt Rue would hear me and come down the stairs. My aunt’s voice was quiet, but dark. When she spoke, the ground shifted; graves appeared and I swear I could see blackness grabbing at me with claws as swift as shadows. Aunt Misery. Aunt Hate. Aunt Evil.