I usually write term-based pieces for Inspired Mag, but I’ll admit: I was too embarrassed to submit this one for their readership. However, I think this poem exemplifies taking an
I found a poem from 2003 from my old Compaq Presario; actually, I found quite a few. But I’ll share them one by one. First the original poem from 2003, then an on-the-spot rewrite, as a sort of answer to my 15-year-old self.
“Hide and Seek,” by 15-year-old Alexa
Hush your breath
Try not to speak
The world is colder
Hide and seek
The closet door
Don’t say a word
Close your eyes
and don’t be heard
and whisper less
trying to catch
what caused this mess
Afraid to try
and be found again
One more time
and count to ten.
Hide and Seek,” by 27-year-old Alexa
I count to the door:
One, two, three,
and hear a giggle, because someone knows
I’m cheating, peeking past open fingers,
closing my eyes into paper-thin slits
and squinting hard into the darkness,
as they would do,
if they were still the seeker.
But I never would have been here
counting to a wall
if I had only been more careful,
traded giggles for the concealed silence
my grandma called patience
and self reflection.
But hunger had led me astray,
a stomach so full of grumble
I couldn’t help but laugh,
the aftermath inevitable
as my laughter sank warily into the dark
and I was found;
hands enclosed around a cookie,
answering the long unanswered question of child song, Who stole it?
It was me.
My mouth full and my heart heavy,
I allowed myself to be tagged,
prize in hand,
forced to chase after laughter in the dark.
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.
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,
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
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
I wish my life existed in straight lines
like in reporter’s notebooks,
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,
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
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.
He had no intention
to leave her
because he had no time
to say anything, to do anything,
to decide who wasn’t worth
the little time he had
to keep the little company
He wasn’t all bad:
sometimes he said he loved her
sometimes they felt so special,
that he’d make time for me,
that they would waste time in thought,
while he slept soundly
in one bed or another;
a life so scheduled and secure,
so formatted and fondled,
that time made him its lover—
a caress of ticks and tocks,
a quiet murmur in the ear of minutes passed.
He could have told the truth,
if he’d had time.
He could have let them each down gently,
but for him, it felt like time instead wasted,
a practice in which he did not participate,
intervening as it does,
would stop the clock:
a tick, one gone
a tick, the next,
a tock, the last,
finding they had the time
forced to make time to see them go.
World, I finally have a workspace again; mind you, its first role is that of a vanity, but I think it is just as important to apply metaphorical make-up to the soul, just as it is important for a girl who loves to play with lipsticks and the like to apply non-metaphorical make-up to her face and neck.
The point is, the appearance of the mind and heart matter. Inside is important. Thoughts hold weight. And my insides have been without foundation or mascara or eyeshadow primer for months. I’ve been bare and boring. Doing the work of my job, but not my other passions. I mean, sure, I write all day. I apply creativity to projects all day. I work my mind out all day. But there lacks a certain style that is only inherent in the writer’s own laptop, in the comfort of the writer’s own thoughts. Where she manages one project of which she deems truly important when it so moves her.
I felt like I was constantly making excuses for why I wasn’t writing. Too busy, too afraid, too tired, too anything. Making promises to my readers that I would write every week or every month at the very least. But to have a vanity or desk of one’s own. It’s a freedom I haven’t felt in years. I’ve been desk-less for too long.
It feels like forever when you’re young,
the kind of forever I wish I had now
that I know what forever means to an adult.
It’s when you lose them you notice. The lack of presence. The inability to reverse forever
so that you may be young and foolish and happy,
so that you may experience love without loss,
family without complication,
relationships without lies.
For me, it was a time when technology represented itself in floppy disks and beepers,
music videos on the television,
classical music playing in my grandpa’s car,
because Tchaikovsky was more appropriate and profound than The Thong Song to the old man
who would never have taken a selfie,
except by accident trying to figure out how this gosh darn phone works.
To be able to reverse the evolution of the chip, the screens,
the flip phones, then memes. To be able to go back to faceless books. Phone calls that were surprises.
Because one day, I will not understand it. The world, that is.
Because technology never represents the aging,
it scares them, taunts them, lays bare their inability to stay updated.
Our human software stuck in version limbo, with not enough space to make the update possible,
and too old of an appearance to stay current.
My grandpa was a typewriter; I, a desktop. The aging daily losing wireless connection to the world.
We wish the people and things that existed, that now confuse those kids
who are the same age now
that you were then,
we wish they never changed.
But progress does not stop;
and aging does not falter.
But yet there is hope:
that we may become so retro,
so hip in our aging
that they willingly bring us back into the world,
because we made a difference,
and can do so again.
A special thank you to Dave. Always appreciate the push to write.
Curls was written at lunchtime, the only time I’m not as busy as I usually am…sorry for the wait.
Lately, I’m confused
like curls when they flutter back to wavy
lost in twists,
lacking bounce and cling
they once held against the strongest
because, let’s be real—
the curls could never survive confusion
that you could consider me hair-straight
and constant anxious.
Sometimes, I wrap the curl confusions ’round my finger,
circling them into pretend curls too tight
for realistic integrity.
the curls fall back into their original position,
wisps of hair unclung,
until they drop heavy and tangle.
full of knots too difficult
to brush away.
It’s been too long, for the millionth time, since my last post. And the thing I hate more than anything, is that my friends, former bosses, etc., etc., keep asking me if I still write. I’m a writer, yo, is that even a valid question? Yes. Because it’s better to finger point at laziness than to call yourself a writer when you don’t write.
It’s not logic or science or exaggeration; it’s the gosh darn truth.
I can admit, I have gotten back into reading pretty frequently. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and now The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I’m a readin’ machine when I’m not at my desk.
And about that little detail. My current job status: still employed. Current happiness level with type of work: Ultra High. Current Creative Level: +1. And what do I do for a living? Create names. Like a boss. For companies. All types of companies. For products. Corporate IDs. Clinical trials. Things. More things.
So a poem, for my tiny, itsy bitsy audience that reads my web of work:
It hurt a little less each day
once I figured out
no matter what I did,
no matter how hard I pushed
it would not change
with lack of love.
Maybe she didn’t know
the pieces of feels and fonds
all jumbled with white pills
and liquorish drinks
she thought more appealing
than dinner dates
with peeps who missed her.
more personal than peeps,
more familial in their cut
like unclear diamonds from an old ring,
they wanted someone
to pick at the past,
a little kid
shoveling and separating sand with a giant plastic fork,
piling shell and salt and people dust into castles
that looked much more obelisk
The digging, after too long, sored the muscles,
ached the fingers,
until the digger felt no need for castles
or dinner dates.
They stopped missing her.
They stopped hurting.
they just stopped.
A pause. A memory.
Then hurt again.
Glimmers of hope
as fine as sand.
Some things haven’t changed. I haven’t posted since March, for starters. So here I go, already weeks then months, but the need to write down something is immense and necessary. I can’t contain syllables, letters, uttered grunts and sighs and inner need to yell and bang some table. It’s all downhill from here, I swear it. The uphill climb of stress and events has brought me to the peak, the apex, the precipice, and I can feel it, deep within the crevices of the joints between my bones, the need to write, write, to keep writing or unenthusiastically implode. The need to express, impress, digress, until I’m -ess’d out and relieved — like a star that’s just about to supernova, all excess and hyperbole and exaggeration that needs to be released in a cloud of light and shiny things.
How to deal with everything? Write about it. The keys listen to you like square-shaped ears, no judgment here but in the little clicks that break the silence. They tell you to go on, urging you like the pop of packing bubbles: the need to pop, then pop again, more instinct than necessity.
When it all feels like too much? Write again. There are poems for this. Lyrics for that. I don’t know how many times you can hear a song that feels custom made for your situation. You’ve been cheated on? There’s a song for that. You’ve left your heart on the doorstep of another lover? There’s a song that specific, I swear it.
And in these last few sentences I can already start to feel better. Dealing becomes a little easier.
ABOVE was written yesterday. And today…well…today I feel light.
How to Deal with Everything
Take risks, take risks,
that’s all it is:
If you love someone, tell them.
If you hate your job, quit.
If you want to be a pirate, raise your sword, your flag, and ARRRGH,
you get one shot to say how you feel
infinite days to deal
and a heart so strong, it’ll take ten swords
to do it in,
and when you feel down,
there are people there
to lift you,
not like clouds,
but cranes, metallic and loud and…
all you need to know is that they’re there:
morning, after work, the occasional lunchtime call,
and to be fair, you’re there for them, too
despite the days it’s all about you,
because drama, dear,
a Facebook stalker, when Pokes were a thing,
not murderous, but creepy as all hell.
But you know what you do well?
Those infinite days are smalling (new word, just deal with it),
your vents becoming summaries,
your feelings on your sleeve and not your Wall.
And you, my dear, you’re writing again. Feeling love between your fingers, like a violinist plucking strings. Because I love you. I love my job. I want to be a pirate:
my pencil, a sword
my feelings, the flag.
I have a type A personality. Take it or leave it, hate it for all I care, but it’s mine, and I love it, for each and every over-thought quirk, for every bit of its passion and hatred for selfish perfection, but a justified perfection, because type A-ness, this is its curse: To feel justification in decision so deeply it is made fact. To be uncompromising, relentless, and intense. To be the too much incarnate; to be hated and to hate, to be loved, and to love, but A-typically. Enter the cracks. The cracks in the glass, sand-fine and small, these cracks eat away at us, nibble and gnash till they’re either 1) Replaced or 2) Fixed with super glue (though we sure as hell know that‘ll never be the same again. Just look at it). And to be OK with these thoughts. To embrace them and dress them up real nice to disguise ourselves as put together and responsible. But the crack. We see it. We think about it. We fixate. And it may have never broken without our attention (and we realize this, but we just can’t help ourselves), but it’s because of us we crack…nay, demolish the glass with a hammer filled with every little nag, every little finger wag, every little everything. And we’re left with ourselves, the result of just too much. Type A without the WE. Until we find someone who can love us more than we love fixation.
Look, I’m not going to go into some long diatribe about how tech has altered the literal face of human interaction (I mean, I’m on the Internet to write this post, so who am I to talk?)…but I figured I’d write a little somethin’ somethin’ about my perception of the way things have become. I’m a member of the transitional generation: I remember electric typewriters and beepers, VHS players and Facebook when it was only open to college students at a select few colleges. I remember little notes in my lunch, and post cards sent from Vermont or the postal museum in DC. I remember cursive written poorly on a lined paper, reading stories alongside my grandmother at night while she turned a literal page. I remember the darkness of the room, with the only glow the small green light from our new computer. And funny to think, I’m only 26 through all this. So much has changed so fast, I’m worried I might be losing that happy darkness for the sacrifice of something so much more…meaningless. Active wastes of time. Addictions. Habits. Selfies. It’s hard to believe a sense of modesty was more present in our lives only ten or so years ago. Now we ask the world to judge us. Now we ask the world to see how happy or sad we are. Leggo’ my Ego. It’s become so big it might burst. Like, like, like. Like, like.
So here’s a poem, you know, to further the cause.
I knew you once when I was small,
a little girl of six or so
watching grandma in the kitchen make baked apples,
the smell of cinnamon so easy on a little nose.
I knew you once when I was bigger,
school a scary place then, but full of opportunities,
boys scared to call the house because my grandpa might answer,
his voice gruff with protectiveness.
I knew you, in the messages and wait times of dial up Internet,
listening to the music of connectivity
and the hope of four-hour conversations about nothing and everything,
a teenager who thought she knew the world.
I knew you when I told him no, I’m not ready for this,
and pushed his hand away like I’d swat a spider, even now.
You stood by me always, and I felt proud and shy and confident
that I was going to be someone worth something.
But like most friends, we started to grow apart.
With the social, came the need to be accepted;
with the need to be accepted came the photos of nearly everything,
the updates of nearly everywhere I went.
My Privacy, another friend, decided he couldn’t stay,
unable to adjust to change in necessity to keep private life,
And Modesty, you tried. You called me every chance you got, until one night,
I texted you,
fingers full of need to tell, tell, tell,
and you couldn’t stay.
You told me I’d changed.
You told me it wasn’t the same.
And years later, when I found how much liking had superseded love,
I called you,
begged for you to come back…
we chatted like old friends do,
as if it had only been minutes instead of days,
and laughed at the ways the world was mocking Privacy,
pretending to be friends with him,
the way friends do when they need something.
To feel like they hadn’t lost themselves