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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

vulnerable as a match

October 19, 2014 1 comment

You told me
seeing each other is not
a good idea – echoing
a confession I had once made
to myself, breaking
my weakest moment
like a bomb made of wolves,
all howl and teeth, pacing
and moon, no relief,
just a fear loping
between my ribs.

Maybe we are not
perfect – maybe
we are a circus
made of madness, a bridge
of wishes taken for granted,
kisses consumed like air
until I don’t know
how to breathe without you –
maybe, maybe that’s love.

So many times, I have burned
you out of my life
by accident; so many times,
you have sent me off
in a flood. Each time,
I think maybe it’s my fault,
did I make this burden myself?
The truth is,
I don’t know how to hate you,
and I don’t know how to stop
missing you, and I think
the wolves are hungry –
what should I feed them?
What’s left to give?

Maybe we aren’t
a good idea – maybe
there’s nothing safe
about a body made of earthquakes,
hands like a hurricane, heart
like a four-alarm fire
but vulnerable as a match –
but this is what I offer,
this is love nakedly surrendering,
and yes
I am small
and easily pulled apart,
but I know your mouth
like a poem, I know all the worlds
in your voice, and I know
your hands like wind chimes
moved by an invisible force.

Good may never be
our adjective, and maybe
ashes are all we’ve become –
but I will not disappear
because of what people
might say – I am right here,
I have not changed the locks,
and my luck
is a wolf willingly standing
on the train tracks, defiance
for a spine, unafraid
to face the wreck – the question
then is:
how gone are you?

Categories: poem, Writing Tags: , ,

this love is a fourth river

October 10, 2014 2 comments

This is what you call
madness: love
so fierce that it forgets
itself, that it forgets why not
and how much hell
it might raise. This is six seeds
from a pomegranate
eaten willingly, this is the soft
beauty of the dark, and risking
the journey and waiting
for the agony of nails.

Three matches
and a wish, then everything
is burning – and hope kept neatly
in a jar, explodes
in the flames –
sometimes, even the good
becomes shrapnel, sometimes
a want is so full of teeth
that it reimagines itself
as a monster, but even
in the mirror, there are no
none here.

This love is a fourth river,
the final crossing
of roads, an intersection
of absolute chaos
and absolute faith –
but love that is not mad
around the edges
is nothing more the infatuated interest,
and I dare to give you flames,
to watch the old things burn,
naked, honest as a clock,
every person
I might’ve ever been
loves every angle of you
(both real and imaginary) –
so, here is everything
we might be,
offered like a bloody fruit
that looks like a fist –
this is how we wage war
together, Hades and Persephone.

Categories: poem, Poetry Tags: , ,

sometimes, we burn

October 9, 2014 2 comments

Our history
sits like a cat on my doorstep,
bringing me clever presents,
leaving and returning
out of instinct, waiting
for me to open the door.
It paces. I pace.
It brings me more hope
like dead birds –
and there’s a moment
where I feel less like a liability.

This is how it always starts,
and I know
every hip-curve of this world, I know
how to break a window
when the doors won’t work,
nobody else
will ever see the mess, anyway,
but it could also be happiness,
these ashes, a new start –
sometimes, we burn
the house down
as an act of disclosure –
this is mine.

I wonder
how many different kinds
of loneliness
lie in between us. How much
empathy is there
in this absence? Our story
should be softer
than the angles of a spine, but I
still want to scream things
until even the wind
sounds like your name –
is there another ending?

Tell me
we aren’t lost again, aren’t
running headlong
into rush hour traffic
wielding excuses
instead of knives, lingering
too long on the edge of can’t
and fear – give me
a forest of solid ground
and passion that is its own promise,
give this a heartbeat
and not just flesh
and bones.

Categories: poem, Poetry, Writing Tags: , ,

To the Arsonist

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

This is not blame –
it’s blame’s second cousin:
guilt. This is the scarlet letter
and the streetcar, and a man
yelling Stella. This is
a universe of rehearsed lines,
but still missing your mark.
It’s late homework
you didn’t do
dropped in a puddle, potholes
whose teeth gnash
at your tires – this is a burden
of circumstance, a hangman’s noose
of he said/she said, words
that refute
the act of disappearing.

This is a pointed finger
and slapped hands, bruises
that will never appear on skin,
and the second-grade valentine
that got lost behind the bookshelf.
This is a torch lit with gas, burning
without apology – you never know
the monster of misdirection
until it has you by the throat,
insisting you pay tribute, say
It’s okay. You know the threat
inherent in the refusal, because
how dare you want to leave,
how dare you refuse
in an act of self-defense –
clearly, your good luck
has been shocked into sleep.

This is the way things are:
a funeral pyre, a pile of rocks,
an asylum – there are witches
in the walls, and there are wolves,
and fire is how we deal with thieves,
so remember the history
you taught yourself,
remember how truth is a flirt
and how lies
taste better when they’re homemade.

Fashion whatever fable
you can believe in –
I bring no weapons,
my hands are empty,
and this world
is a raw narrative
full of rear views
and panicked excuses –
but it must be an extraordinary thing
to wish away
the fire you set yourself.

Categories: poem, Poetry, words, Writing Tags: , ,

summer secrets

June 18, 2014 Leave a comment
 
When you can’t shake feelings of
error and mistake, as if every word
has become an enemy, every silence
a weapon – what then? Do you
arm yourself with exorcism
and prayer? Do you clutch
forgiveness like a rosary,
or do you make apologies for the bleed?
 
When you can’t cast aside feelings of
lost and alone, as if every step
leads in the wrong direction, revealing
another wall, another place
you shouldn’t be – what then?
Tell me: what is the quickest way
to unravel this labyrinth
in my head? Tell me: how do I find
and vanquish the monster
surely at the center of it?
 
Perhaps I am just flying
too close to the sun,
all height and no safety net,
all consequence and no relief.
Forget the bandages –
you cannot fix a heart on fire,
and I fear there is no tourniquet
for all the things I wish.
 
But when I can’t forget the way
freedom and hope feel, as if
these fierce summer secrets
know the winds of my soul – what then?
How do un-love?
How do I un-ask?
How do I undo every promise?
That is not my religion –
tell me: is it yours?

like water

May 15, 2014 2 comments

 

I’m sorry for all the ways I can’t say goodbye.
I’m sorry for the depths my heart travels
when you are near; time and again,
I stand on the train tracks;
time and again, I pretend to dismantle the bomb,
I lie to myself,
and we lie to each other
(I’ve counted these wasted days greedily,
a strained collection of sorrows
that a wiser person might ignore
and a stronger person would cast out –
I hold them as a reminder
of every question I never dared to ask).

I’m sorry for all the times
I couldn’t say I love you; I’m sorry
for all the times I did. I’m sorry
for the stubborn set of my courage,
the way I cannot seem to take no
for an answer – the way I wage
war and love without regret.
I’m sorry that I am braver than you.
I’m sorry that I tried too hard.
I’m sorry that I asked too much
and yet, somehow, too little.
I was never after
what you did not offer, never
less than proud, never less than honest,
never so weak
that I would tell you what I really wanted.

I’m sorry that I always ask
forgiveness, never permission; I’m sorry
for all the secrets I tried to drown
in water too shallow; it was always madness,
it was always, this is my heart –
have it. It was never, I have a claim
to this, give it. Call it a sacrament
or a sacrifice – it does not matter,
either way, my chest is still empty.

I’m sorry for all the wolves
and the broken glass. I’m sorry
for all the times I hid from you,
all the times I refused to cry,
all the worlds I failed to imagine,
because I knew what home felt like,
and how to get there,
and how to stay,
and how to keep it safe.

Somewhere, there is a crow
hell-bent on more than just surviving.
Somewhere, there is a man
who understands that my apologies
are all like water, each word
a rainstorm – each feeling
a flood:

How long can
two hearts drown? How long
can a mermaid pretend
to be something she is not?

 

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

You Start By Gathering

March 7, 2014 3 comments

Have you ever seen the way a bird makes a nest? It grabs little bits and bobs of things, bringing them back to the spot it’s chosen, and fashions a home out of other things. Sometimes, the bird gathers bits of branches, and other times, it hauls back a selection of string. Whatever is gathered is woven together with the utmost care. There are, undoubtedly, some rough edges. The nest isn’t always perfectly round. It’s all found items and creativity, founded on instinct, hard work, and wiggling things to suit a particular space. Each piece serves a purpose. The goal is simple: creation.

To me, that is how a poem is made. You start by gathering. Sometimes, it’s just an idea you want to convey. Sometimes, it’s a feeling. Sometimes, you overhear something that leaves its fingerprints on the moment – or your heart – and you need to explore it. It’s emotional theft, sometimes. You steal feelings/inspiration from everywhere you can, like a Magpie. Moments. Glances. Situations. The underside of someone else’s heartbeat. And you fashion that inspiration into a trail of words, creating something new.

Writing poetry is all about feeling something (see Keating’s speech in Dead Poets Society). It’s also about examining some aspect of life in all its crazy incarnations, twists, and sideways moments. If you read a poem and it resonates – that’s a good poem. It’s like life: a moment that makes you feel something down to the roots of your teeth is a moment that matters. It doesn’t have to be a perfect emotion. Your heart might feel like it’s playing the bongos on your ribs. Your pulse could feel like it’s trying to murder you. But there’s a reaction. You know, without a doubt, that something is happening to you.

Poems, of course, don’t spring up out of thin air. No piece of writing does. There’s a person behind the pen. This will come as a shock, but: every writer writes different. There’s no one size fits all. There’s no correct answer. Writing isn’t math. And thank god, because math is evil. But I digress. With poetry, a lot of times, there are a thousand different ways to create something. Some poets are confessional (Plath – and I’d argue Ted Hughes, in his later work). Others bare themselves in a less personal fashion, which is why it’s important to never confuse a poet with a poem’s voice. That happens a lot in poetry. But if you read Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover, you’d be ill-advised to assume that Browning is into autoerotic asphyxiation, which is a method of interpretation the piece – positing that the speaker accidentally murdered his lover in flagrante. Point being: you cannot always read a poem as a mirror.

At its core, I believe that poetry is passion, distilled in a heap of words. It’s a heartbeat captured in a bottle, shown off to the world. A poem that makes someone remember something, that conjures an old ghost, that turns an idea of its head, or that simply makes someone think – that’s effective. Joan Didion famously wrote, “In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind.” And I couldn’t agree more. It’s important to examine life from every angle, otherwise, we’re not really paying attention, are we?

So, this is all a rather lengthy ramble, leading up to this: I wrote a book of poetry. It’s called I Don’t Love You Pretty. The poems are an examination of love in its less pristine incarnations, where it’s not all shiny or pristine – it’s a mess, but it’s a wonderful mess. The Greek myth of Theseus centers around a labyrinth. Eventually, Theseus finds his way out of maze by following a ball of string. To me, that’s a perfect metaphor for love. Sometimes, it’s the maze in which we find ourselves trapped. Other times, it’s the ball of string – the thing that leads us to safety. Love doesn’t have to be easy or safe – it just has to be worth the mess. So, if you’ve ever been in love – and seen beauty in its mess – check out my book. Who knows – it just might make you feel something.

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