"Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth.
What’s disturbing then is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth. Poverty, injustice, suffering - they are all hells on earth, and as Christians we oppose them with all our energies. Jesus told us to.”
-Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis p.148
[[this is super late. i keep adding to it as the days go on, but midterms, birthday festivities, and trips to NOLA put these little free-verse poems on the backburner]]
2.27-3.16 (reflections on place and growing up)
to the places i might have once gone,
there is history in the places that were never written down -
there are songs to sing and soundless places
the glass starts to funnel wind,
whistle loud and hard in that corner you broke
back home, front yard where nothing was ever sinking in,
at least not like it is now
there’s the feeling beneath your ribs
like that time you counted grains of sand
they fell too fast for you to number them
that feeling of something so present
of something so fleeting
you listen to the wind whistle sharp in your chest
you listen to your tired lungs
maybe we weren’t cut out for this
southeast church dusty pews
bible belt crown of thorns
maybe we weren’t meant
to close the wounds in the hands
of mother earth
the shadows from beneath the bed
where the lamp sits, knocked over,
they crawl onto our faces when we fall asleep
you were vagueness
i can imagine you sitting on a subway in new york
strangers staring at you as you think of warmer places
you still think of warmer places
and i wonder who else stares at you
The femur and tibia are the longest bones in the body,
they hold us up,
they reach into the heavens,
roots drawing water from our blood.
is there a difference between what we wanted to do
and what we actually did
i remember so vividly pressing my palms into your belly
i remember so clearly your fingers underneath my ribs
as a child, i used to fall asleep in prayer,
i would ramble around in my own head,
often forgetting i was talking to god,
i would dream to him and live the next day before i thought “amen” -
i wonder if he fell asleep listening too.
the day i was born,
i weighed a quarter of what some healthy babies do,
a less-than-palm-sized ball of flesh
breathing by machine for weeks.
i still forget to breathe when i sleep.
i still forget what i’ve seen.
your breath smells sweet and your teeth taste like pine
like i’m not the only one dreaming of anywhere but here.
an explosion, gas leak, in harlem,
dead friends and family,
pages strewn in the street from books never read.
in every corner of every living room up north
there used to sit a place for firewood,
but in the days of gas heating
and electric space heaters,
i wonder how they make use of that emptiness,
if they leave it as memorial
or fill it with magazine shelves.
the first day i drank a beer in front of my mother
was very much like the first day i kissed a girl in front of her father.
probably significant to the audience,
but i forget so easily.
the first pack of cigarettes i bought was for a bearded friend,
and as we talked about grace and faith,
he chain-smoked, breathing grey into the air,
his voice clear,
mine shaky and labored.
a semi-truck split in half on the highway,
a soundless accident creeping slowly
as the cab bends against the middle wall.
we cross ourselves and turn the music back up.
a tiny groove and a needle
are all that are needed for a full symphony living room show.
if you trace my veins,
i would sing in all the rooms of the house.
the day that i die,
i hope i no longer have drywall on my knuckles,
no more dusty air in my lungs.
those born to rooms with no windows
leak empathy from their spines.
i can lock these doors all year.
for those who treat me as if i am the black root still feeding -
i am not the emptiness that numbs your fingertips.
do not treat me as if i am some dark shadow,
i only drink the sunlight from flowing fountains.
dry wells cave in,
only to blame the dying for their thirst.
[[For those wondering, this is why my poetry output has dwindled in the past weeks. I’m proud of this piece as one of my first longer prose works in two years and as my first endeavor into writing through a gender other than my own. If anyone is interested in the rest of it, this sample being the first two pages of a 12 page work, let me know]]
She drove very slowly. The black pavement of familiar roads intimidated her as she made her way closer to the house she grew up in, a tight grip on the steering wheel reminding her to pay attention to the dark curves. Nearly all accidents occur just a few miles from home. Isn’t that what they say? She doubted the validity of such statistics, thought that 90% of all probabilities had to be made up, but she didn’t want to test it. On the radio, the low hum of a repetitive pop song played, white noise at this point, but as she made the left onto her parents’ long gravel driveway, she found herself combing the static for something better to listen to, trying to find an excuse to sit in the car a moment longer. She finally settled on the local college station where a live session was being aired, a fuzzy message coming through to her tired ears and reminding her of easier days of day-drinking and endless supplies of coffee and ink stains on her wrists.
She had only caught the end of the song, a flat tenor singing quietly over a strumming guitar, “You smiled it off, floating high above the questions, like you knew something they didn’t know.” The car idled quietly as she stared at the tiny house, the porch light on, and she tap-tap-tapped her fingers against the dash as the last measures of the song faded out. Her mother knew she was there. She listened as the interviewer rambled through a few announcements before returning to the performer, who was doing a small living room tour of the south-east as he wrote material for a new album. The heavy-voiced singer mentioned his old band, the name of which she recognized from somewhere, and a song called “Options.” A riffy acoustic melody followed. She turned the keys to the ignition before the words began, knowing that if she let herself, she would spend all night deconstructing strangers’ lyrics instead of going inside. Breathing slowly in the now-silent dark, she stared at the porch.
Her father had died the winter before, and she was finding it harder and harder to talk to her mother. Days and then weeks would go by, and before she knew it, it was far too late to check in on the old woman, far too late to apologize and fix anything. Once every few months, the two spoke briefly on the phone, mostly out of old habit, but they had long since given up hope on any semblance of a real relationship. When Mr. Lowe died, the family and its name were buried along with him. Almost twenty years younger than her late-husband, Joyce was still approaching her later years, the gray in her hair a smoky shade that stood out strongly against the blue-hairs in the choir. The Baptist hymns, of course, never changed, even as the members rotated through cancer and liver disease. Outside in her car, the woman made sure to take her cigarettes out of her coat pocket, leaving it with her phone in the center console.
“Mom?” She finally managed to make it up the rotting steps and into the living room, letting the screen door slam loudly behind her by mistake.
“Margaret, is that you?” Her mother’s voice came from down the hall. Maggie sighed at her mother’s formality and looked around at a space that hadn’t been rearranged since she was a little girl. She could see into the tiny bathroom by the stairs, cringing at the same hideous wallpaper that had come with the house when they had moved there in the early 80’s. She turned the corner, passing by the dark that had been her room, and peered into her mother’s suite, the blue of the television screen illuminating the tidy space where a dozen cheap picture frames dotted the walls. So many tiny eyes looked back at Maggie. The television had been on the first time she’d come home after college, and in the decade and a half since, she couldn’t remember it ever being off, just occasionally muted during the day. Even at the crowded memorial service for her father, her mother had insisted on keeping the television fixed on the weather channel, concerned the floodgates of Heaven might open for the occasion and the gray April showers be transformed into a Revelation deluge.
2.9 – 2.26
cold sings lullabies,
ice and frozen keys and strings,
blankets over me.
burnt incense, the Lord
is not pleased with ritual
but breathes in sorrows.
cold front, forest fires,
a battle between sleeping
and the dream awake.
burnt bodies in dark
corners of maps - we’re the ones
today, an omen,
a preview of what’s to come -
love is quiet,
barely heard above the din,
the world dies, whispers,
God breathing her in and out,
reborn, still dying.
love is louder
at least when it is alone,
it makes the walls shake.
for those soon leaving,
cling to our skulls and brain stems,
a dozen poets
shouting in a room of ghosts,
strangers and shadows
to whom it concerns,
these people are not people,
they are gods you mock.
gasping into dark,
there are gods holding nighttime,
awaiting bright skins.
shouting into dark,
your soul is only chasing
splinters, trade for sighs.
a trip not worthy
of repeating, smoke and booze
and words scattered, lost.
blooming, you blossom,
a trip so worthy again,
the high spread out, gone.
einstein should have known
should have suspended space-time -
bodies melt always.
God must have known too,
that dissolving bleeds and spills
and fills and empties.
I would break my ribs
to move mountains from your path,
loose holy floodgates.
As some of you may have noticed, while I’ve been spotty with my daily poems through January and the first week or so of February, the past week has been very dry as far as poems go. Georgia has had weird weather, meaning snow days, blanket forts, and shenanigans that have prevented me from writing as much as I’d like - however, I firmly believe that as important as writing is, people and friends and decompressing when you’re able to is infinitely more important. That way, the writing will be even better afterwards.
That being said, I am going to present my daily pieces in a new way. Rather than a daily post, I will instead do weekly or possibly bi-weekly posts. The ultimate number will be the same (7 a week), but this will keep the pressure off when I have papers, work, and other stressors and/or have weeks like this week when my time would be better spent having fun with friends. This will also keep the bulk of poems down for organizations sake.
Anyway, happy almost Valentine’s Day for anyone who is into that. M’lady and I aren’t, but if you are, have fun in crowded restaurants and with delicious but overpriced chocolate.
Wake from thirteen hours,
believe the night never died,
but sun opens eyes.
I paint circles thin
and invisible on walls,
never ending but small.
the sleepless holy,
insomnia breeds close calls
with the infinite.
The infant mystic -
without sense of self, connect
the world and God.
serial person -
we connect at birth and skin -
everyone - is one
is this frostier?
a letter between sisters,
a poet for advice.