We sat in the backseat of my friend Sam’s car, Vanessa and I, outside the apartment of a girl whose face I could recognize and name I could tell you, that being the extent of my acquaintance with her. All of us were waiting, all of us being my friends Jason and Sam in the front seat, Forrest between the left-rear door and Vanessa in the middle. There was another car, and inside there was only one person whose name I could tell you, again, the extent of my acquaintance with them. The two cars were side by side, waiting for the girl, both cars with windows down so that arms could stretch between enclosures. The other car handed over a notebook filled with drawings and doodles by an artistically competent person, probably someone in the other car I didn’t know, of a friend of ours, a name I recognized with a face attached, even a personality and humorous anecdotes. The doodles were cartoons, exaggerated sketches of this particular friend killing himself and being sexually used in various ways, all of it so intricately focused with intent by the haikus and mock journal entries that sprung from the same melodramatic, over-emotive teen stereotype. He was like this, I was told, but I looked at Vanessa and we rolled eyes in a classically diminutive way, hoping it wouldn’t register with them how much we wanted to move, get going. We were impatient with hunger and the journal seemed harsh, a going away present as the mutual friend left to study in the UK. They told us he laughed, which must’ve been why he left it behind.
“Do they have food at the Amana Colonies?” I heard Vanessa’s stomach rumble so I put my hand to it, hoping to catch it again.
Sam looked back, at first perplexed by the question, “Heh, yeah, you can get food there.”
My notion of the Amana Colonies was different than Sam’s, his notion having the advantage of being based on empirical evidence. There were certain words that, living in the Midwest, elicited a Pavlovian, impulsive fear in me of any destination they were used to describe. “Historic” was one, “Handcrafted” another, both were used to describe, in some capacity, the Amana Colonies of Iowa. Middle-aged women fighting over who would pay for lunch and a piece of tan glassware, that’s what I saw. My friends invited us along, headed to the breweries and wineries that made the town distinctive, a potentially collegiate destination. I couldn’t drink, underage, and so was Vanessa, the only ones of the group.
The girl came out, apparently, and got in the other car, but I don’t remember her doing so or us finding the highway. Vanessa and I were listening to our bellies roar indistinguishably and letting our heads loll o
(This is a short exercise I did for a workshop. The prompt was to write a story that took place over 10-15 years in two pages using only three-word sentences. Definitely worth a try). I told stories. They started small. Built with Legos. Sometimes with nothing. Sometimes I’d sit. Looking out windows. I’d start talking. Four years old. An only child. I’d start talking. Not to anyone. I’d talk whenever. Talk to whoever. Anyone who listened. And I listened. When people talked. They told me. Four years old. I’d talk whenever. My head moved. The film projected. People told me. And I listened. What they said. It helped me. Leaving was possible. Stories were possible. Because of them. Because of others. Because of listening. My brain talked. Whenever it could. The film projected. I saw people. I wished constantly. I wanted expression. Language found me. I learned quickly. I told stories. Built with Legos. But Legos disappeared. An empty room. My favorite toy. Everything happened there. My friends loved. I loved them. They were siblings. But the walls. The walls lasted. Blank, empty walls. The film projected. My brain talked. Picture and sound. Far away things. Places colorful, distant. I told stories. By myself, happy. Happy to leave. Loving my home. Loving my parents. Still loving rooms. An empty room. Nothing was there. Nothing but me. I was everything. Everything I’d heard. First grade, writing. Teachers named it. Called them “stories”. An “active imagination”. My leaving, named. Imagination, beautiful word. A sudden realization. Others knew them. Others felt them. Others heard stories. Had their own. I fell quickly. I loved people. I talked whenever. 7 years old. Anyone who listened. I slowly grew. I held fast. Loved and sang. Happy wherever, glad. Glad to listen. Glad people talked. Satisfied, being there. 11 years old. In sixth grade. Writing I hated. An obligation, chore. Meant for schoolwork. Fancy a girl. Heart gets broken. Sixth grade heartbreak. The sharpest kind. Ignored the walls. Forgot the rooms. Remembered the girls. Always remembered girls. Remembered my friends. 13 years old. Got a phone. Remembered my inbox. Remembered my grades. Legos long gone. &nb
I have taken a whitened chicken bone, from which the unfortunate animal was used as dinner a few nights ago. The farmer seemed more than happy to give up one for the cause of the King. From this bone I have begun to carve a small Celtic charm, my brother's wife taught me the meanings of several and I have chosen the luck charm. It is said that the more you wear it, the more luck you will have. Duncan taught me everything he taught Daniel, including how to carve. It was only about three quarters of an inch wide on all sides, and the details were difficult with my wide blade, but it was turning out well. When I had finished the outline and cut the shape out of the rest of the bone, I took a lump of coarse dirt from the roadside and began polishing the edges to round it out.
I sat in the entrance way to my tent after a long day's march, and the rain had begun to pour down. There was not much else to do in the camp besides drilling, so I had plenty of time to make the charm. When the polishing was finished, I reached into my bag and pulled out my sash. Pulling three loose threads from the cut edge, I tied them together at one end and then braided them down to the other end. I took the charm and looped the braid through the top hole in the design, and then tied it around my neck and dropped it down the front of my shirt. I felt it through the cloth and put my hand over it. "Thank you Duncan, goodbye."
I heave a sigh and wipe the moisture from my eye. Tomorrow, we are told, will be the last day of marching, we will be in Portsmouth by mid afternoon and from there on to the ships. I have never been on a ship before, only small fishing boats, and I wonder what its like. Matty walks by on his way to supper, I jump up and join him, and I will ask him.
"Have you ever been on a ship, Matty?"
"Me? No, never."
"I wonder what it's like." said I
"Chris has been on one before." Matty smiled as we ducked out of the rain into the mess tent. "He sailed from Ireland to join up."
Hmm, that's right. I will ask him then. We get in line and two steaming plates are put in front of us, as well as two tankards full of water. No ale for the drummers, humph. We turn from the line and search for Michael and Chris. They are spotted across the tent, but Nicholas and his gang are sitting between us and them. I look at Matty and head off to take the long way around; we've had mostly no trouble with him, but they are growing bolder; and even though we are equals, he is older and stronger. So we avoid him and his English pals.
"I swear, if I was the cook in this place, Ah'd have made us all a nice big pot o' porridge, never mind this shite!" I swore when taking my seat.
"Oh, so yer a chef now, as well as a sword master?" laughed Chris.
"Aye, Ah'll kill you wi' mae sword in one hand and cut you up and put yer pieces in my stew with my dirk in the other!" I joked back. Matty's eyes widened at this and ducked his head down. "What's the matter, Matty?"
He looked nervous, but spoke anyway. "Is it true
The road isn't what I was missing. Close. not quite. Something that moves, sure, but not quite a motorcycle. Music does so much to my brain. Perpetually confused. Perpetually lacking in courage. music solves both. Courage. The great ones had the courage to move the way they wanted. Presented the fundamental threads their own way. universal audience. Found the rhythms that reached them and hurled them in every direction. Ultimate courage, facing everyone's response. Intensely personal. Trust. They trusted something. Ultimate courage, ultimate faith: That not only does one person's voice matter but that MINE matters, and that I'm accountable for its dispersal. Horrifying concept. Irrational. But only irrational because of personal effacement and sense of personal weakness, not genuine lack of worth. In which case, self-effacement is irrational. Self-hatred, irrational. Self-destruction, irrational. Self-deprecation, irrational. If worth is unknown, but depends on participation multiplied by an individual's self-concept, then to willingly nullify either variable with zero is an irrational act, and ultimately ineffecient.Participation X Self-concept = Personal well-being, feeling of self-worth and satisfaction(P) X (S) = Value (personal)Participation without self-affection is worthless. Self-concept with validation is groundless. No value without either. Either can be nullified by zero. MUST attempt. MUST believe yourself worthy of the attempt. Must fail.
I’d been tormented for years by a horrible demon. It devoured my soul and filled me with lies of worthlessness and self-hate. I believed everyone had a chance in life but me. At Sunrise I was born, by noon, I’d been given away, and before the sun set, I’d be forgotten. I’ve been told I must have known what was coming because I refused to be born, I came days after I was due and even when they forced the labor, I refused to turn head first or allow them to turn me. Therefore, I was snatched from the wound through the belly and presented to the world against the will of the woman I’d been living in and my own. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the woman, but she seemed to let me go easily, I never even sampled her bosom for milk; she had no nurturing to give which was something that would haunt me for many years to come. We are born with blessings and curses and though we often get the two confused, life volunteers to teach us the difference. _________________________________________________________________ _________________ This is a story, a story about a girl who learned to separate her blessings from curses and learned to love herself when she thought there was nothing left to love, journey with her.
tendered flesh where your
found my skin—
[jaw lines, joints, appendages twixt]
indistinct regret as my
turnt my chin.
reminiscent of your essence,
everpresent in all my recollections
seeps between discretion.
you linger like a dream
lining my subconscious,
you stick to my clothes—
[jeans dirtied, hair tousled]
you re-emerge in inhalation and contemplation;
disrupt the surface with ease.
the smudges left,
the rubber burnt,
the charcoal scent stains
in a chest pit;
fueled with every
the skin-to-skin sensation
and each beat accelerated—
a feather-lined stomach
wont to sway in anticipation
stays its state
as if it were expected.
and to lie beside
is more than welcoming,
to sit with a firelit
until the morning; tempting.
loyal like a dog,
loyal to a fault,
and you, you're a magnetism;
tether-taut, heartstrings complected in a
coupling of locution, though obscured,
a saccharine guarantee
and I, I'm a zephyr;
wafting on your subtle exhalation
twined with words writ of softened breath,
of auditory emotion undulated
that stirs a flutter long inanimate.
just a lid, slow-motion shut
screams of contentment, of don't-stop-the-texture,
of fingertip elicitation
and I'm-your-translator skin
and we, we're twixt like vines;
our lips, exploratory, saltate forth & fro
ebbing as a tide, nudging in & out like curiosity.
a snag of brevity made a series,
once interlocked & mortise-made
renders the senses electric
& our lungs, our nerves,
our neck-hairs & fingertips
Some minimalist poems that I have been writing lately. I'm trying to better at concision.
Reflecting on the fragile ability of technology to bring the world closer together and also to make it more isolated.