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

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.)