The Fragility of a Tornado: a Free Write

Pierce a vein and watch calligraphy spill on the page. India ink replaces deoxygenated blood. My heart starves for the passion the stars contain. My heart is empty except for the galaxies that glimmer inside of aortas and dwell in ventricles.

I have spent lifetimes hiding behind the gauzy veil of metaphors and similes. I still manage to somehow sever through memories, fantasy, and autobiography. When you are handed a time bomb, you don’t have time to pause and rehearse the perfect line.

My thoughts are not always beautiful, but like my penmanship, they showcase the chaos and tumult within. I have been compared to a tornado before, but I always try to clean up the messes I leave behind. I would much rather be a natural disaster than an unyielding and unforgiving ghost.

I have told stories for as long as I can remember. As a toddler, I babbled to my mother about memories of previous lives. I told her about East Hollywood like it was a place I had been when all I had known was the gateway to the west.

I will keep imagining until the disease that stripped my grandmother of her memories and left her vulnerable steals my words and empties them of all meaning like the thief who robs a safe or picks a pocket. I sometimes worry I will grow stale, a piece of bread left out for too many days, or that I will wilt, a flower not watered and left to perish, but until that day comes, I will keep leaving out these dictionary pages rearranged in hopes that they will create a sparkle in someone’s eyes.

Home

When I was young, perhaps eleven or twelve, I read the poem “Silence” by Marianne Moore. It was right around the time that I had started to explore my own poetry and craft my own metaphors. I remember the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” sticking out to me in a beautiful way.

At the time, it was a lovely phrase in the midst of a mixture of words that didn’t make sense to me. Now, on rereading it as an adult, I see how beautiful and eloquent Moore’s entire poem was. It speaks to me on a level that it did not when I was a child.


My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat-
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth-
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech,
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.



Given my childhood, it’s funny what pierces my heart and stabs my soul. It’s not the beauty of the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” (though, to Moore’s credit, that is a wonderful turn of phrase). It’s the last two lines of the poem.

Without getting too autobiographical, my childhood home felt as though it was curated for an interior design magazine. It did not feel like a home. I felt like I was walking into a stranger’s house every time I came home.

Home is such an interesting concept to me. I would love to explore the idea of it more in my writing.

PS: Anyone interested in reading an excerpt of a short story I’m working on?

Dream # 2

I have unanimously decided (with the help of some social media friends) that I will be doing a semi-regular feature on my blog describing my dreams. Since my novel so frequently mentions dreams, I think it’d be fun to share some of the more interesting dreams I’ve had with y’all. Don’t worry: I won’t be sharing the boring ones like where all my teeth fall out and I’m sucking on my gums.

Last Saturday, I dreamt I was homeless and wandering around abandoned construction sites. I traveled with a girl who had violet eyes and a dark violence to her appearance. We broke into a library one night and shattered a projector that shot images of stars at the ceiling.

I scribbled down quotes about life in a small notebook I carried with me: quotes about being alive and being in the moment. One quote I wrote down was, “Behind all the madness is you, your life, and what you want.” (Upon waking, I scribbled that down first; it seemed crucial that I remember this.)

I walked the streets of Eden, asphalt and concrete under my feet, feeling like there was no time left so all we had to do was make the most of it.

Golden-white fairy lights twinkled down from people’s balconies as the girl with the violet eyes and I walked. It was like being barraged with glimmering stars but not so bright. It was a warm glow, and it made us feel safe.

Suddenly, as dreams aren’t known for their smooth transitions, I stood in an intersection with cars coming at me from all directions, but they bounced off one another like bumper cars at an amusement park.

I wandered away from the cars and the loud noises of traffic into a construction site. It was after-hours and poorly-lit, but I begged for something to give me a clue that I was on the right track. As I walked, I remembered Christmases before I was homeless. I remembered my family and Christmas trees and the smell of anise. Home.

I walked along scaffolding and the horizontal beams and joists, but as I walked, the beams broke and I crashed through the floor to another level, then to another, then to another, continuously falling.

When I finally stopped crashing, I was in an assisted-living facility with my grandma. She was as beautiful as she was before the Alzheimer’s got the best of her, but even as beautiful as she looked, she still forgot who I was. We went into a dress-up bin and dressed up as other people. The girl with violet eyes was there, and all three of us pretended to be different people as we dressed up in their clothes: mink stoles, party dresses, three-piece suits with pocket watches on chains.

Opinions Needed!

Because my first novel is about dreams and dream interpretation–and because I’m fascinated by dreams–I was thinking it might be fun to feature some of my dreams and possibly include their interpretations on my website.

I like the idea of having regular content, and while I do enjoy sharing my poetry and short fiction, I think it could be an interesting addition to my blog.

However, I know dream sequences can be boring to some people…that being said, could you please comment below (or like this post) if you would be interested in reading about my dreams?

I don’t think the descriptions would be as long-winded as the previous account, but I can’t swear that.

I already had one interesting dream last week about a girl with violet eyes and living on the streets of Eden.

Let me know what you think!

Killing your Darlings

In the world of writing, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch advised students to “murder their darlings” in a lecture, and as I revise, I find I am reluctant to murder my darlings, but I’m doing my best to be brutal.

Some lines, no matter how beautifully they’re phrased, must simply be abandoned.

I keep a small notebook with phrases I adore from my murdering stage of my writing. I call it my Homeless File. It’s where lines that are homeless lay their heads to rest, a small trashcan fire burning to keep them warm.

Today, as I revised my novel, I came across one:

Ghosts of an unremarkable past haunted her.

Those words are beautiful to me and conjure up images of a mundane life now gone, but alas, the sentence was unnecessary, so it goes into the Homeless File.

The beauty of the Homeless File is that I can discover other beautiful fragmentary thoughts that add to my appreciation of language and maybe some day, can incorporate into a story or poem.

Ribbon my soul/and graft/the missing pieces onto your heart.

These words, alone, might not sound like much, but they all hold a place in my heart because though I might have given up their ghosts in their earlier works, this does not mean they will not find a home elsewhere.

I have lived so many lives/you might as well call me/a matryoshka doll/(Stacked inside of each other/to keep warm & cozy/we can be our own best friends./Whoever needed anybody else?)

I feel every author should have a Homeless File.

What do you think? Do any of my fellow authors keep the darlings that they kill?

I’m starting to wonder if it’s more of a morgue than a Homeless File.