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.)

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.

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).

Submerged: a Poem

Submerged
(but hope sparkles).
Seawater fills lungs
(but still, we glimmer).
Finding our breath,

we might fail
& our throats cake
with salt–

but still,
we shine.

Choices are our own.
We’re not destined
to sink,

though our gazes travel
to the schools of fish
with fluttering fins & sputtering gills.

Person Holding Firework

We do not relinquish control.
This life is ours.
(We grasp sparklers like rope
to save us.)

We’ll hold those glittering sticks
above water
(illumination like stars).
We can guide the way
like constellations in the north
so the others don’t end up Titanics
or other colossal ship wrecks.

We are not alone,
despite what the devils in us hiss.
There’s a Navy boat submerged,
holding its breath
like a birthday wish,
teeming with sailors.

One day,
that boat will be an empty husk.
(A skeleton with no soul
to animate it,
but today,

hope shimmers
like a firework.)

But still,
we glimmer.

But still,
we sparkle.

Woman Holding Sparkler