we’ve done it:
survived that awkward first date–
coffee in a crowded cafe, to be sure
that you weren’t a crazed psycho.
things went well enough in that
this-could-be-lovely kind of way
no room for a guarantee,
just an abundance of what-if and maybe, perhaps
and so we met again for something
slightly more real–
creatures and cocktails and science,
a chance to exercise conversation and wit,
to search for spark and possibility.
we’ve weathered strained smiles
and shared those first secrets
hardly blackmail material
but truths that move just beyond
polite small talk
ones that scratch beneath the epidermis and
graze flesh, sensitive and living and warm.
and now we stand on the brink
of something tenuous and cautious, fragile
as a dewdrop on spun silk,
ripe with disaster and glory alike,
a portal to a new beginning
or, perhaps, yet another ending.
— —a breath— —
if you take my hand
will i ever want to let you go?
or will i be impossibly tethered,
wings clipped, bound and chained
to a future interminable?
could we be a pair?
or will this flame sputter out
too weak to withstand the breeze?
one false move
one tiny mistake
could cost us everything:
a sacrifice of mornings not yet lived
the death of kisses never exchanged
the loss of a million dreams and wishes
uttered into the empty night
present yet not, hovering
just beyond reach.
if love is a leap
then i have never
been inspired to jump
until this moment, with this ache
in my heart
growing ever deeper.
to leave you now would be
betrayal and cowardice both
so i stand with you
listen to the echo of your heart beat
and wait for the knowledge that this is
strong enough to endure.
I wait each day for the
the moment when words will
trip and twist,
collide, collapse, congeal
transform from Mundane–
“I need change for a twenty”–
“If I could change like this twenty,
shed my skin from a single bill,
wrinkled, crinkled, rumpled and worn,
into the many, the fresh, the new!,
then this life would be worth
I search the ever-present noise
that fills the day-to-day,
scrying through the screams and the shouts
like the old fortune teller and her glass,
reading between the lines
of shrilly ringing phones,
blindly groping through Chaos so profound
it is like walking through molasses floors
an avalanche of puzzle pieces and lego bits
a sonic wasteland that destroys all thought
a minefield with no escape.
Exhaustion dogs my steps
sometimes suffocates with a hand inescapable
and if it doesn’t succeed, the litany of should-do-and-failed
will finish the job.
And still I search for words
listen with ears deafened to the glorious music
that comes from a phrase well-turned
a passage that is unflinching in its truth.
I long for the sweet kiss of a single sentence
try to wring them from my soul like blood from a stone.
There is nothing
Nothing is never the Absence of Something
but the Beginning of Everything
Pregnant with Possibility
Rich with Could-Be
Inexhaustible with Chance.
So I wait
grasp at words with greedy hands
cram them into my mouth
swallow without chewing
and pray for a moment
of pure inspiration.
Another Round of A Round of Words in 80 Days is upon us, and I am delighted to participate. For those who have never heard of this wonderful writing community, ROW80 is the writing challenge “that knows you have a life,” and allows we over-worked, over-scheduled creative folk to build our own goals.
After a rough and tumble year (or two… or three?), I’m all about treating myself with flexibility and care. I gave myself permission to take the weekend off from NaPoWriMo, because I’ve learned that placing pressure on myself is counter-intuitive. When I tell myself that I’m a failure, or that I’m lazy, or that I’m useless because I couldn’t wrest a few minutes out of my life to write, I ruin any chances I have to be creative for days, and sometimes weeks, to come. So Round 2 of ROW80 is all about being kind to myself (like fearless leader Kait Nolan writes in this awesome post), about allowing myself to make mistakes and to stumble without self-flagellation, and about actually remembering how to enjoy the act of writing, both academic and creative.
Before I get to my Round 2 goals, have a bit of a poem. I’m trying out a “lune,” a modified haiku form written with 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second, and 3 in the third. And based on the subject matter, I’ll bet you can all guess what I was dealing with today…
brain throbs incessantly
senses stunted, tongue silenced, thought completely eliminated
migraine strikes again
And with that, here are my goals for Round 2:
I’m still trying to keep things simple, as you can probably tell, but with the way things are going at the moment, simple is most definitely best.
I’m looking forward to rocking the ROW with the rest of y’all! Anyone else participating in NaPoWriMo this year? Any big goals slated for this Round? Can’t wait to see how everyone is doing!
For today’s poem, I used one of Kelli Russell Agodon’s NaPoWriMo prompts:
Open the closest book to you to page 46. Count down 7 lines. That is the first line or the title of your poem.
The closest book to me was a copy of Emily Post’s ETIQUETTE; the line in question contained the wonderful fragment that I’ve used for the title, and as one of the lines in the poem itself. It opened up an interesting way to explore the question of male privilege, and how that privilege harms not only women, but men themselves.
boys don’t cry
sweet, with sugar
and spice smiles,
boys become men
no place with them.
and these are the lies that we are fed
the falsehoods that
justify a world where
women cannot lead
and men cannot feel
two different species
but even under these conditions man can reveal
sinew and bone
muscle and tissue
a heart that
trembles with the enormity of
and desire that
is more than
because we are stronger
when we can be whole
when we can
the myths that
and we are more powerful
when the old dualities
are dashed to dust
for then only
Happy National Poetry Writing Month! For all 30 days of April, Flights of Fancy is going to be filled to the brim with poetry, and I cannot wait to get stared. I adore prose, could write short stories and novels forever, but there’s something deeply visceral about stripping back language to its bare bones, slashing away till there’s nothing left but feeling and emotion. As poet Mina Loy once said,
“Poetry is prose bewitched
a music made of visual thoughts
the sound of an idea.”
That being said, for this first day of #NaPoWriMo, I’m toying with bridging poetry and prose, using poetry as a tool for fleshing out character and backstory. Today I draw inspiration from Tempest Dumont, the heroine of my steampunk tale, TELL ME NO LIES. While Tempest spends most of TELL ME NO LIES recovering from heartbreak and trying to track down a crazed killer, “Tales Twice-Told” explores a bit of her past, chiefly her chance meeting with a rakish, dashing, and an all-too-dangerous airship pirate.
He told her once
that Home was prison
and she believed him
because Love had never grown
between the four walls where she had been born.
“Home is the Coward’s last refuge,”
“a fortress to hide from Nature and Neighbor.”
He’d found his Freedom in the skies
He answered only to the Elements
and thrived on their Chaos.
He called to her,
a Man freed from Fear,
and promised a life that could be her own:
“Clouds will line your Parlor;
stars will be
in your Garden,
themselves will be yours.”
He gave to her
wings of Bronze
strong, stealthy and true
and the need for escape.
She left the World of
in his winged Chariot.
For the first time in her short life
she found Happiness
that was neither lie nor pretense
but was as real as the
fed to its Furnace,
the massive Gears that tilted and
in its Engine,
the scalding Steam that poured
from its Pipes.
But Dreams are not all they seem:
The Heavens can be cold
and Freedom from the world
may be a Prison in disguise.
The most dashing
can be revealed as Villain
may not always be True.
Hey there folks! I missed Sunday’s check-in because I was in the midst of a research trip (SUCH an awesome experience! More about it below), so I figured I’d post something today. Gotta keep working to stay accountable, right?
I know there’s only one more check-in left for this round, but right now I feel like I’m just gaining steam. Last week was a really good one in terms of stoking the creative fires and taking baby steps to integrate self-care into my life. I did a lot of thinking about TELL ME NO LIES, my steampunk murder mystery project, and realized that it’s not nearly as incomplete as I’ve been telling myself, and everyone else, for the last year. My mom and I did two days worth of Zumba classes, which means I’m starting to feel a little more fit and active. And I had the BEST RESEARCH TRIP EVER to the Sisters of the Holy Family’s archives.
The SHF motherhouse is located in Fremont, not too far from Mission San Jose, founded by Spanish missionaries in 1797. While the Sisters originally lived in San Francisco, they moved to Fremont in the late 1950s, and built their motherhouse on the property of Palmdale Estates, a historic property that dates back to the time of the California Gold Rush. The place is absolutely exquisite, and I got the chance to take a walk Sunday afternoon to clear my head before going back into the archives.
I’ll be doing a couple more overnight stays this summer, and I’m really looking forward to it. In a lot of ways, I feel like this research trip (my first archival jaunt in almost a year) is exactly what I needed to get me back on track with my dissertation. Between the stresses of work and life and change and such, I’ve fallen into a real malaise when it comes to writing. It’s the usual–not feeling good enough, doubting every word, depending way too much on the delete key. But this past week I was also reminded of the glories of the zero draft, and how true passion for a topic can produce something that has crazy potential, despite inconsistencies and mistakes and huge gaping plot holes.
So I’m thinking of my dissertation as a zero draft, and reminding myself that there’s no pressure (right now, at least) to make it perfect. And hopefully that’ll help me lock my inner editor away, and liberate the creator in me, and I’ll actually get something done.
Here’s the week’s progress, in a little more detail:
My main goal for this week: to try a new system where I complete 1 item on my to-do list in the mornings, and 1-2 on my list in the evenings. The trick is to not overwhelm myself with the fact that OMG I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING I AM SO BEHIND, which usually results in me reading celebrity gossip columns for hours and hating myself. Self-hate = bad; self-love = good, therefore I am going to aim for fewer gossip columns, and more gettin’ it done.
Whew! That was a lot. How’s the week progressing for everyone? East coasters, has spring reached you yet? I’m dreading the drought that is currently spreading through California, but… ugh, I’m kinda loving the summer-ish weather, especially when it gives me sunsets like this:
Don’t forget to wave a friendly hello and cheer on the rest of the ROWers. We’re just about to the end of Round 1!
Over on Poets on the Page, the wonderfully creative Morgan Dragonwillow posted a prompt that caught my fancy. The theme is “Wild Self,” and includes a passage from one of my favorite books, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
The poem I’m sharing today is an old one, written in 2012 after I first read WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES and was learning to listen with my wild Self. Given how the chaos in my life has overwhelmed and choked off my creative output, the central message continues to resonate.
I. a wild woman beats at my door (connect, she says) i ignore the call too busy too rational too damned busy to listen theory beckons there's a thesis to write nothing left over for her. (come to me, she cries) i refuse too much grading too many emails too much reading to give in academia devours and when it doesn't friends need healing happy hour therapy sessions nothing left over for her. II. a wild woman wails at my door (do you know what you have become?) i bury myself in objectivity waste away shrivel up bones dry as dust all the water in the world can't save me nothing left over for her, nothing left for anyone. (listen to me! hear me!) i am hollow no defenses no barriers no strength to resist the empty dark is all i know a sightless soul my only companion. III. a wild woman breaks down my door (i have never been polite) i cannot turn away she surrounds me overpowers me illuminates every shadow with light no longer the socially awkward academic a lividly beautiful goddess is all that remains (look at what you really are!) for once i see the reflection is true: winds and water at my command, elemental fury creation and order birthed from inhuman acts of chaos pen wielded as scepter and sword, rod and staff. (remember this, she whispers) i listen. i follow. i write.
This is a blog hop! Click the link below to view the other participants in this month’s poetry challenge.
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Happy Sunday, friends! As you can see, I’m all about the power of the Force this weekend. My friends and I are going to see the Star Wars exhibit at the San Jose Tech Museum in a couple of weeks, so I’m fixing a few holes in my nerd cred and finally watching the original 3 films. Not sure why it took so long for me to get around to doing this, but I’m glad it’s finally happening!
This week I had the chance to hit up the California Academy of Sciences‘ weekly 21+up event, “Nightlife,” for the first time in a couple of months. Nightlife is the only event in the San Francisco Bay Area with music, creatures, cocktails, and science–definitely my idea of the perfect night out. As always, the creatures were out in full force, with butterflies flitting about the rainforest…
…tropical fish floating about in their tank…
…a brightly colored lizard, who left his perch to peer a bit more closely at me…
…a sleepy frog…
…and some very industrious leafcutter ants.
I’m feeling a bit like those ants right now: running to and fro, sometimes in the wrong direction, with a giant leaf that’s several times larger than my body weight on my shoulder. I’d like to think that I’m getting things done (honestly, just checking in feels like a huge accomplishment, so I am going to congratulate myself and tell myself that it is), but some days the things I finish hardly seem proportional to the things left languishing on my to-do list.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? I just purchased a handy weekly planner in the hopes that having something tangible will make it easier to schedule the few free hours that I have each day. It’ll arrive eventually; in the meantime, I’m trying to check in with myself every couple of days, if not daily.
So that’s me this week! Be sure to wave a friendly hello to all the other ROWers participating this week.
As a fun aside, and in keeping with the Star Wars theme, I leave you with the greatest comedy sketch of all time: Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star Canteen” sketch from his stand-up show, Circle (2000). Some brilliant person with way too much time on their hands rendered the entire thing in Lego, and it is glorious. Warnings for strong language (multiple f-bombs, etc.). Oh, and don’t eat or drink anything while watching.