Gasoline: a Poem

The sins of my past tasted like cigarette smoke
and drinking my depravities straight from the bottle.

My broken bones always set
and the lacerations rarely left a scar,

but your words burn through layers of skin.

I never contemplated my future
until my skull hit the floor after
the guillotine slammed shut.

(I wonder if hindsight is 20/20
when you have less than stellar vision.)

I’m the greatest self-saboteur you’ll meet,
but even before he doused his kisses in gasoline,
I was busy learning how to tape together scorched pages
of a survival guide.

(If a metaphor was ever to be scrawled on my skin,
it’d be written in indelible ink,
the tattoo needle vibrating like a lullaby hum

None of this fountain pen sketching,
drawing ink from a piston.)

I have seen the skies ablaze with fire
because his love was arson
(a torching incineration)
and I was the love he poured gasoline over.

National No Rhyme Day

If you search hard enough, the United States celebrates some quirky holidays – National Talk like a Pirate Day, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, Let it Go Day, etc. etc. Today, according to a writing group I’m in, is National No Rhyme (No Reason) Day, celebrating all those strange words in the American language that don’t have rhymes.

As an author of free verse poetry, I decided it might be fun to collect a few of these words and see if I could develop a poem out of them.

So, here’s a list of some of the words compiled by the lovely folks at National Day Calendar:

  • Spirit
  • Chimney
  • Woman
  • Ninth
  • Silver
  • Month
  • Purple

In a shield of silver rain bulleting down
(like rain, like the spirit of a woman),
clouds of fog and condensation form on my window.
(My vision obscured – I see only outlines of you,
a phantasmagorical haze.)

It is the ninth month in a row;
time strips your perfectly chiseled memory from me.
As I claw to retrieve that which deceives me,
it becomes slippery (and rips from my grasp).
All this purple prose, yet the words I need to say most
are stripped from my mouth, rendering me dumb.

“Say it plainly,” I hear the ghost of you insist, “or don’t say it at all.”

How do I say these words like raindrops battened down on my chest,
ricocheting off my eyelashes like rainwater?
How do I say these words that have become a part of my essence
as familiar as goodbye, goodbye, goodbye?

“Say it plainly or don’t say it all,” the ghost insists.

Reluctantly, the age-old cliché falls from my tongue
clumsy and reckless,
“I love you. I miss you. I wish you were here.”

(I haven’t seen you in so long.
What if you’ve forgotten my name,
the way my breath falters in a crowded room?

I haven’t seen you in so long.
What if you’ve forgotten
the way my voice trembles when I read a poem?

I haven’t seen you in so long.
I love you.
I miss you.
I wish you were here.)

Spoken Word Poetry/The Corpses of Unsaid Things


“The Corpses of Unsaid Things” is live on my Instagram page. I have been toying with the idea of releasing my reading of poems; instead of merely doing a couple of video montages with an overlay of my reading, I wanted to develop the bravery of facing the camera while reading my poems.

This is my first time doing such a thing, and while I know I was extremely uncomfortable, and it is not an amazing performance, I am proud of taking this as an opportunity to attempt to face the camera (flaws, blemishes, and all) and share my words.

Usually, I cower when someone is reading my writing. It could be fiction, and I would still hide or pace when someone’s reading. I only ever had one reader I sat still for, and that was because I trusted him completely with my heart.

But now, I am so frightened about sharing my poetry as stated in “Fears and Submitting a Poem”, yet I am doing what I can to conquer that fear.

So, if I have any friends who are authors, spoken word poets, poets, public speakers, can you give me some tips? I would love to learn from y’all on how not to be afraid when reading your stuff out loud!

Thanks in advance, but also, thanks for listening!

(Also, please, let me know what you think of the poem “The Corpses of Unsaid Things”.)

When we Were Young: a Poem

anemoia: looking through old photos and feeling a pang of nostalgia for a time you’ve never actually experienced. (The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig.)

Shuffling through old photographs,
a wave of emotion undulates inside,
churning up a long-dredged emotion.

This anemoia conjures up memories
(memories of a time that never was).

You showed me photographs of you
when you were young –
your eyes glimmering bright
(twin stars gazing at me through the Polaroid),
that mischievous grin.

Are you sure our paths didn’t cross
when we were young?

I showed you the photos taken at school dances,
shiny hair, forced smiles (braces exposed),
dresses with corsets (constricting my breathing
like being smothered or controlled)
.

I told you how I wished I had known you then,
butterflies in my hair,
a few wriggling around my stomach.

Maybe we could have climbed that tree together,
and when I fell out of the branches,
you could have grabbed my hand.

I look through the photographs you hand me,
a past I never witnessed except through your stories
and think, “We would have been inseparable.
Why didn’t we meet sooner?”

Girl Making Bubbles Selective Focus Photography

When we were young,
we rode our bikes like maybe we could escape
this town.

When we were young,
we believed in magic tricks and caught fireflies
(and wishes on stars light-years away).

When we were young,
we were brilliant with naiveté.
You could have kissed me in that treehouse,
our mouths tasting like honey lemonade
and jangled-up nerves.

Instead, I grew up, wondering if I’d ever be loved.
I grew up, thinking myself in terms of ugly and stupid,
despicable, a monster.

When we were young,
we were impressionable.
You could have saved me
(and I could have saved you).

Fears & Submitting a Poem

For years, I have been subscribed to and watching videos of spoken word poems from a poetry publisher based out of Minnesota. Their poets never fail to make goosebumps prickle up and down my arms. Not only is it because of the language they employ and the metaphors they utilize, but the way these poets perform their poetry is nothing short of an art form. I interviewed a spoken word poet on my blog for Global Poetry Month (Poetry Spotlight on: Carlene Gist), but now, here is my opportunity to be a spoken word poet. I have read my poetry before, but spoken word poets have a different way of wielding their words. They emote their poetry. My personal favorite line from a poem I wrote is the very line I use as a headline for my social media and my blog:

Pierce a vein and watch calligraphy spill on the page.

These poets do not just spew lines like that haphazardly; no, they actually prick a vein on stage with razor-sharp words and raw emotion floods out. This is what I aspire to do with my poems: craft something raw, something that shears through emotions, and oozes the heart of what I’m feeling.

So, I am combing through my poems, trying to find the perfect one to put to video for this submission.

A couple of years ago, after my muse whispered in my ear that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to, and so, I braved my fears, quieted the demons, and submitted a chapbook to Button Poetry. It wasn’t accepted, but I was proud of myself for putting myself on the chopping block like that.

I think it’s possible to get too comfortable in your comfort zone.

What do I mean by that?

If you get too comfortable, that means you aren’t doing anything that scares you, and I think it’s important to do things that scare you. Those can be the things that make you feel alive. Sometimes, being too comfortable can feel like slowly being smothered by a pillow.

So, sometimes, I like doing things to shake it up a little.

Therefore, I am challenging myself to record a poetry video and submit it to this contest…because change is scary, but not changing at all is even scarier.

Devils: a Poem

My eyes burn dully–
twin lanterns that have been flickering
for decades.
(Every time I swallow, I taste kerosene.)

Looking out,
nothing but darkness on the horizon.
A storm churns clouds in the haunted sky,
& I shudder
from the bitter chill.
(It’s this cold that makes my spine jerk and spasm.)

In the distance,
I no longer smell the burning leaves of autumn-
instead,
I smell smoldering corpses.

Mouth clamped shut,
this taste is the copper of blood.
(I had been biting my tongue so long,
I have forgotten the taste of my own words.)

Ear tilted toward the skies,
thunder roars a warning cry,
and I am yet to heed its warning.

A thousand men lie dying at my feet,
and it is my heart that is the battleground.
(Do they not realize this is a metaphor,
and I would rather taste bile than my own bitter heartbreak?)

I feel like I belong in an Edvard Munch painting or something by Magritte,
but do you see me in a gilded frame hanging in the Museum of Modern Art?
My own heartbreak is taste familiar to me,
and I would rather linger with the devil I do know
than the devil I do not.

The devil resides in a land
where the damned smell burning corpses all day,
and though the odor rouses a certain sense of familiarity,
I would rather run than fight the inevitable.

Former friends and lovers, those I once knew,
are now nothing but ghosts.
(Perhaps they are ghosts because my memory falters,
maybe they exist on another plane of consciousness
and wait
for me to wake out of my fog and think me the ghost.)

A dense fog of sadness spreads its misty fingers over me
in that lonesome field.
(Clutching at my heart, that chill that spoke to me.
My spine jerks and spasms.)

This frostbite burns everything it consumes-
a conflagration of icicles going up in flame,
like stalagmites crafted of ice & fire.
The mere sight of it is enough
to drive a sane person to lunacy.

As I take my first step plunging forward,
I shuffle through the fire and ice
and emerge-
unscathed.

Little bo Peep trembles under a parasol,
tears cascading down her cheeks,
crying out,
“Where have my sheep gone?
Why do my eyes burn so dully?
Where has my happiness gone?”

A bleak day to discover paradise-
the muddy sky will lose all its meaning.
We have lost what we are searching for.

Loneliness is our only path to salvation.
It is in our suffering that we find bliss.
(Amantes sunt amuntes-
lovers are lunatics
as this barren landscape is all we know now.)

These twin lanterns
that were once my eyes
have lost all light.
We must trudge forward
& hope someday,
this suffering shall guide us
(toward our bliss).

Impasto Passions: a Poem

My heart has been wallpapered in love letters,
and its hinge that was once rusty and worn
now gleams like new.
(When we exchanged glances that evening,
you provided me with a heart transplant–
trading in the antiquated
for something fresh
still in its packaging.)

The peppermint scent of you inflates my lungs.
(The inhalation is so much sweeter
for having known you.)

Your breath curls around my ear, warming the core of me.
I taste your passion as my lips lock onto yours
like a zipper catching.
Your whispers blade through me,
sending shivers crumbling down my back.

Romance is a beautiful death
(one in which I don’t mind dying daily).
Your eyes are as turquoise blue as the seas
& I never thought that I would feel at home
in a sailboat.
My quarters have been wallpapered in love letters.
When my stomach quivers,
I don’t know if it’s anticipation or nerves.

I used to fear intimacy-the dark corners
and hushed voices.
The taste of nightfall & midnight always suited me
before you came around.
(It is the glow of constellations that I see spark
from your own starry, starry glances.)

You are like a painting by van Gogh,
and I am not one to roam the Saint Louis Art Museum,
searching for love
(yet I would wander every corridor
if it meant seeing your face at the end of the hall).

-painting “Cafe Terrace at Night”, 1888, Vincent van Gogh-