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.

The Dinosaur

The dinosaur at the end of her bed was green; her socks, magenta.
She leaned over and clutched it,
her hands gripping onto its skin, fuzz rather than scales,
and making it dance—
all big legs and tiny arms aflutter,
jaws open in a contented gape.

She clutches Rufusaurus Rex when
she needs to feel closer to the center of the earth,
from the crust, to the mantle, to its inner core
feeling for
some semblance of depth,
the way her socks dig into rivers of carpet,
the way her toes curl into rivulets of synthetic fibers,
the way her crescent moons atop her nails dig into dinosauric fluff
all claws and roar and stuffed
from tail to teeth.

Prehistoric comforts
that hide beneath mountains of pillows and clothes
she meant to put away,
but Closet Mountain still stands,
a pile of t-shirts at its peak.

Instead, she builds blanket forts extending from bed to floor,
crawls flashlight in hand through an entrance of fitted sheet
and drags Rufusaurus Rex behind her,
past hills of homework,
deserts of girly and grown-up expectations:
a girl and her dinosaur
little arm in little arm,
her socks, magenta.

And together, they roar into the dark.

Wait

The wait is all-consuming, hours pass and people: chargers in, chargers out. They’re pulling wires from the wall, bobbing heads to alternative rock, whispering to each other about how long they have until they board. They wait, transfixed on the passage of time. The flight delays. They look angry. Their faces soften. They go grab a pretzel or a glass of wine from the appropriate food vendor. A man peeks up from a laptop. A woman glances up from a book every five minutes or so, checking on her purse and backpack. But she just watches them, unable to help the analysis of humanity. To her, the differences in people are so spectacular; each person who waits the makings of a book.

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.

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.