There is something stopping me. A cork lodged sideways in Sauvignon, I feel like I am eighteen again, prying that pressed bark from dark glass with a fork. Using every object but the real thing to remove the blockage. Like my young hands leveraging the fork, I try to find substitutes.
Yoga in the morning, reading again from the Charlotte Bronte novel I can only digest piece by piece, long sips of coffee, pulling the caffeine behind my eyes, bus rides to unseen corners of the city. All these forks I try, but I am a firm believer in not forcing myself.
I never want to feel writing as that proverbial monkey, and I don’t want the comfort of losing myself in lyric to slip from my grasp. But as with any love, roadblocks in my writing deserve attention. This is the labor of love.
I can talk the circumference of a million circles new and exciting, but I can’t quite calculate the heart.
I am in a new city, yes, but what new stone hasn’t been overturned somewhere else? To take a page from the eternal Bronte, I’ll address you, fair reader, and ask selfishly, what should I do?
Do you want more flowery drawings of nature? Recitations of journies sat on bus seats, rides on new metro systems? Imagined stories I derive from ancient paint? A ranking of the best places to place my high-maintenance coffee order?
Maybe. But right now, my pen cannot ink those words in a new way.
I want to return to these light-hearted topics, to revel in the beauty of the simplest moments I find in each day, but right now, I do not know how. Whether it is a classic case of burnout, a symptom of the sputtering broken heart that started my Summer, or a touch of that delightful writers’ block all us creatives experience, it doesn’t really matter. I need a purge.
I need to cleanse myself of all the little pieces and poems that are choking my bottleneck. So here is the cork, the pieces I am spitting out slowly, the pressed oak I’ve dismissed in previous posts and I am finally coughing from my throat.
The Three-Year-Old Paper Clip I Keep On My Pocket
something so small it becomes a feeling
something your eyes learn to ignore
unnecessary information, unworthy of sight
until it’s gone.
it’s the opposite of an aberration,
whatever this is,
but just as eerie when it leaves.
I can feel myself growing more abstract
each day I spend in my own world.
one day I’ll be modern art,
that red square
selling for millions to millionaires
who purse their lips and whisper to each other,
“do you get it?”
their gold bracelet wrists bend under sculpted jaw,
and they nod because they think there is a point.
but what makes art but the lack of words to describe what we feel.
we fill in these gaps,
hoping some arrangement of letters or colors will unlock meaning
what if my art is just this filler?
will you need magic to understand me?
I’m not hard,
I’m as simple as a toddler paperclip,
bent and flexed around a flap of denim.
the denim is not important; none of this is,
but it’s the piece of silver that makes it worth it.
the glint of metal that makes it mine,
so special in the way it sits, ordinary.
arms in shallow spread,
reaching to hold onto something important.
I miss the morning moments,
when my body grew different each day.
Time spent discovering the curves to my edges,
realizing what my body could do,
where it could stretch,
how it could bend,
learning the limits to my bones and
how they snapped as I broke myself
over a crack in the concrete.
Now I only grow inside.
New synapses accentuate the curves of my brain.
Knowing my body and teaching it to others,
I learn what their bodies say and what they mean
breaking my insides
over the cracks in their promises.
Do I write for the love of watching
my own ink line the page?
Do I love the control of curling each letter,
a tendril of intention?
Is it that I want to see
my words stick to each other,
cursive delicacies I gift myself?
This self-indulgence in letters that breeds
pride in violating their classroom rules.
Am I addicted to the smile that clicks ignore
on red underlines?
All this is more modest
than screaming my name in a crowd,
but hardly humble.
How can I feign humility
on the sanctity of the open page as I
grip it, host myself spilling forth,
and ask you
Here is the Truth
One month of stamina burned through
everything I ever wanted,
but I am still here. And
I am paranoid,
for the first time in ages.
I think about him constantly
& drink about him often
all over again,
after weeks of solace.
What if I just drown myself
in Red Wine and Aperol
rather than sun & steps forward?
I think I hear Rush on the loudspeaker,
but to be honest, I hear my own voice louder.
Asking if I can just let myself drink
until my lips choose another’s
over another glass of wine
& maybe if I were younger, I would.
Or if it wasn’t just me,
a world away & alone,
perhaps I could give in and not sit
solitary & sober.
What glory of stupid youth this would be,
to go to the same Mexican restaurant
across from my Austrian apartment
& order €2.50 drinks all night
until all I know is walking home.
The Same Words I Hear In My Head Each Time I Walk Outside
Listen to the timeless symphonies of leaves on leaves
See how bark liters the same space
where sprouts reach their green heads from hours of shade
Or watch the soft plummet of curled brown arms
as they break from steam
These are the lyrics, the only real ones
Silver circles signal away birds from their garden
Blinding my eyes with each turn of the wind
How slow can we break from ourselves
How many times can we break from blindness and return to it
Forsake our own cycles for this natural reverence
and curl back like fetal flesh into ourselves
The man with the pink cast looks over his lashes through the window
& at first I was offended.
Another male figure taking the liberty
of a perfect view of me,
sat up & prettily in the sun,
eyes tracing pages and lines.
Now, caught in glance myself,
I can’t help but sit straighter.
Easy voyeur, performing myself for him,
smile curling with my pages,
slowing my throat as I sip my coffee,
eyes caught on his in earnest.
Land of the free man & home of big britches.
these stomachs stretching
50 buttons til they pop
some strained more than others
plastic flying one by one
while some hold on by white thread
fortified by the twisted integrity
of a population who defines the word differently
its time for new clothing
whoever said classic doesn’t go out of style
was lying to cover a country with bleach
so all would ignore the big eyesore
the oozing from the same ignorant sores, from the
elbow, where all come together,
resting against its own skin
unable to see how it rubs itself raw
When I Was Afraid of Spiders
my spine crawled at the sight
eight legs pin pricking points along my back
a myriad of eyes sparkling into mine
toes curled at this contact.
Now arachnidan figures hanging loose
from tented ceiling don’t shake me.
Instead, my eyes close and rest easy,
spine riddled rather by the harsh reality
of the rest of this sleeping-bagged world.
Where are we Ourselves?
I am most myself in a crowd
If I fall, here, it is real.
There are eyes to see and mouths to laugh
as mine do,
at every folly. But
there are two beings inside of me.
There is Caroline,
made & maintained
by all those who see her.
She is beautiful & happy
red-faced & laughing.
Then there is me,
and I have no name.
I am just a something,
something that comes from inside.
I stare with Caroline’s face
& debate the center of being.
Am I her brain?
All her intrusive and intrinsic thoughts?
Or am I in the face?
The identifying cue to her name
that feels different each time it burns into our retinas.
Or is that just it? Am I her eyes?
Trapped in these green iris depths,
at the glittering point of our envisioned world.
Red Wine Lips
I want to lick hers, over there
or his, just the same
red & dripping- fresh & warm- flesh & wanting.
Do you think they would mind?
If I drowned in cherry & took the headache like a pill,
blue first, then swallowing the oxidized color
choking on the glass.
Do you think they would care?
If red passed between us, like a secret.
If we looked the same
& the slices were just stomped grapes
sinking into the anemic feeling
sinking into the barrel, aging.
Could you tell the difference between us,
if you only saw us from inside
pressed and trampled fruit.
I’ll blow smoke over us,
if she is me & him & I watch all of us,
there, with flowing hair & drenched trousers.
Can you tell which exhale is warm air,
and which is air burning?
Can you tell who I am?
Like a fallen apple, but those can be green too.
Ripe & ready to be juiced,
I am all the colors in between.
Just Because You Mean What You Say Doesn’t Mean You Are Telling The Truth
Bristle pulls through the gold that hangs
in tangles from my head.
Start from the bottom,
we all know this, it hurts less,
& work your way to the scalp.
Tease the strands into straight lines
like straight foreplay &
with a quick flick from the same stroke over & over
see how the ends omit a faint mist-
a second shower,
this one for dust
as it falls to the floor.
I wish I could live there,
be a single strand floating
in the post-soap soft cloud where all is
washed & not red, scrubbed & not raw.
I want to glow from places other than my hair.
From that empty hall inside,
the space I must gargle and rinse out of me
Spitting out its pieces like the second mist
of spring snow.
when we assaulted my childhood bathroom
my father and I armed ourselves
with hammers and saws and sandpaper
first we stripped paint from the walls
layer after layer
we peeled pink after purple
and took back the yellow I asked for years ago.
I grabbed hammer in the iron-clad grip children seem to possess
& wrecked havoc
broke walls into their naked beauty,
smashed through the second door that made everything too small
all while my father sawed in half
the tub we could never bleach white enough
and from the empty space I pulled
powder and nails before we paused
looked upon a paper cup with plastic straw
preserved by working hands in the hallow walls of the room
long before I was built
climbing over you is nothing
but building a wall backward
taking plaster from planks
pulling on that pink cotton candy
that’s where you are,
you are the fleshy fiberglass
sparkling at me with your supposed soft
that cuts each hand
reaching for your false pink.