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

Dream Series

I have been writing about my dreams here recently, and this morning, I jotted one down to share when something my best friend told me struck me: “No one wants to hear about other people’s dreams. They’re boring and nonlinear and make no sense.”

On rereading the dream I had written this morning, I saw his point: my dreams are boring. Aside from the ones I have that feel more like visions, my dreams are generally only interesting to me.

That being said, I will be discontinuing my dream series.

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?

Publishing News

Hey, y’all!

Because I’m a giant silly-head, I’m not sure how many of you saw my very exciting news, but I just received a publishing contract with a small charity press.

I am in the process of organizing some of my poems into a chapbook as our initial release.

So, if you’re a fan of my poetry, keep checking this blog because I’ll make an announcement when and where it’s available.

(If you already saw this announcement, please feel free to ignore it. I’m just so thrilled I couldn’t help but mention it again, in case you missed it.)

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 a 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-

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.