Unwavering: A Poem

From the prompt “unwavering”.

Like a bullet in its chamber,
her quiet nature could be misconstrued
(perhaps thought empty or aloof).

She’s a lightning bolt yet to streak.

When she clears her throat,
all eyes fall on her
(an audience when she is used to none).

She does not hesitate this time,
though fear clogs her chest
and makes it feel
as though her heart escaped its cage.

Her words come out clear.
Her voice – unwavering.

Pretty Woman Singing with Eyes Closed

This time,
she will speak out
for all the victims,
for all the survivors,
for all the beautiful
corpses
that died too soon
with coins on their eyes
to pay Charon.

Her fingers dance and skip
across her numb, denim legs.
She feels as though she wants to scream
(for all the times she kept silent
are piling up like a traffic accident
everyone can’t help but
stop and stare at)
.

Her truth – and the truth
of all the women before her –
need not be suffocated any longer
(because for so many centuries,
we fought,
dirt underneath our fingernails
from digging our own graves)
.

Finally, a voice emerges
from somewhere deep
(the voice of her ancestors,
the voice of the dead and the victims,
the ones whose shame crept through
their bloodlines like an insidious poison drip
through sewer veins)
.

Her chest is an iceberg –
as cold as a glacier.
Her eyes are embers
reigniting with every word.
Her voice – unwavering,
belligerent,
and not silencing or sleeping
until all the sinners are taught
to atone for their sins.

A Poem from Those Left Behind

A flame was never meant to extinguish this abruptly.
Starved of oxygen, your origami letters became ash in a mouth that bled (for too many years).

I would say goodbye, but the word is a branding iron razed against a smoldering tongue.

Forgiveness never came easily for the dead.
Graveyards are full of grudges and barely concealed debts.

When I told you that I loved you, I disguised the words (behind shattered glass bottles and origami letters confettied like New Year’s).

I remember your eyes cold like marbles, frozen like winter ponds.

(I made a half-joke and thought myself funny, but your lips never curled up in a smile.)

This is autobiography, but all you ever asked for was a poem or a story (but not this – not an obituary or elegy).

I could never say goodbye. I ran from endings & ripped the last page out of every book I ever read.

Sometimes, I wrote stories that ended in the middle of a

3:21 AM: A Poem

We make do with the banality of our days
as our spirits are ripped asunder
when we witness the shifting of planets
or feel the tactile yearning of a spirit
rivers away.

She wonders these sleepless nights
if he ever lies awake too,
listening to highway sounds
or
the lonely cries of cicadas.

(The nocturnal hour is one of isolation.
Teaches the clumsy to side-step porch lights
and waltz with shadows.)

Could we be alone
(together)?

In the midnight twilight,
I stumbled into an ocean,
its breath briny,
when warned to stay near the shore.

I carried a woman on my back
as I crossed through a sea of crimson blood
like some would carry a cross, a burden, a weight.

After all these years of relentless doggy-paddling,
never being able to catch my breath,
I have discovered what is on the opposite shore.

“I stumbled into an ocean, its breath briny…”

A tribe of aliens and moon-dwellers
with gold streaks of lightning (and lunar silver)
in their eyes
& scars (with no memories of how they got them).

Crush me under the weight of love.
If it gets too heavy, all the better.
I would permit you to puncture my skin
with sterile needles (and etch in a constellation
if that’s what we wanted)
.

You graze your fingertips
against my black-dipped star,
gazing at me in wonder.
“You own a piece of me forever,”
you murmur,
“I can no more forget you
than I can forget a black star
that decorates all my pages.”

It’s twenty past three in the morning,
and she lies in that space
between awake and asleep,
listening to highway sounds
and
the lonely cries of cicadas.