Saturday #1

Last week, I swore I would get out of my fucking house and meet some people. For god’s sake, I was merging with my couch!

Which led to yesterday. Yesterday was Poetry Workshop day

Poetry Workshop Day

What better way to know if I am actually good at poetry or not? I asked myself, clicking the RSVP link and adding the event to my calendar.

I woke up bright and early that morning, rolled out of bed, showered and dressed. I chose the hyperlink blue top, black tights, and black & gray sorrel pdx wedges. Why I’m so enraptured by these clothes, I don’t know…

I got into my car and set on the audio-book to play, using GPS to navigate me to the nearby city. Remembering I needed to stop at the bank, I found my way winding through the metropolitan area, sprinkled with areas of construction along the main highway. I soon reached my exit and began winding up and down streets lined with shops, laundry mats, ethnic shops, restaurants, drugstores, and lottery booths.

It reminded me a bit of downtown Birmingham, AL, when I’d visited almost 3 years ago now… The same hip vibe, ethnic people, eclectic shops.

They must have a bunch of coffee shops here, I thought to myself.

When I arrived at my destination, I ran into a familiar problem, where to park. After circling the nearby blocks, I found a spot, small and tight, between a BMW and a Jeep. There I went, squeezing in my Honda Civic with a prayer on my lips, and my foot mashed on the brake. Thank god I knew how to parallel park (practice practice practice). After much reversing and care, I incrementally fit my small car into the space without tapping the neighboring cars.

I’m 18 minutes late.

I locked the doors, grabbed my backpack, and struck off down the sidewalk, counting down to the building number -201- then took the stairs to the second floor. I was pointed down a long hallway, to the last door on the left, where the meetup was held.

I opened the door.

And the vibe was warm, the auras were welcoming, and I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

I will come back, I thought, even before I’d sat down.

I was introduced to everyone, and I was Cole, nice to meet you. It felt like a comfortable cloak I’d never removed. I was Cole again.

Actually, I don’t think I’d stopped being Cole. Cole was always there, I realized as I grabbed a seat at the table. I am Cole.

I’m always Cole. No matter what they call me.

We responded to three writing prompts, taking ten minutes to write, then having the option to share what we read. I shared my poems each time.

I’ll share them here, with you…

____________________________________

Prompt: Break a rule – write about something we are told not to write about (i.e. fatherhood and death by cancer).

I stood there, in trepidation and silence,
A sorrow, stale and worn;
I could not seem to grasp the sounds.
They stood in white before me,
A flock of heartless birds to steal my soul away
With a word, a look, a halfhearted turn-of-phrase.

Wringing out, the eeking keen of disbelief tinged the air green,
A sickly soft syrup slushed through my veins;
I cannot even gesture acquiescence or rejection.
Captured, sliced, and mute.

The room I awake in is white
– Fuck the white.
I HATE the white that had woven the lies that sowed
Hope in my heart.
Why was there no black?

Spiraling down, I land on my knees
In the gravel driveway;
Choking, heaving, listing,
Clutching the last memory that
Slowly sifted away into sand.

Dirt trickles from my frozen fingers,
I find no comfort in the cloying scent
Of jasmines and sunflowers adorning
The gaping hole where my heart lies.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do
To destroy the world, to erase the limits of time,
To turn back those harsh and unsympathetic hands.
To return to her loving arms
Riddled with central lines, pumping
Poison into collapsing veins,
Destroying the smile on her lips.
The shattered glass of her eyes
When she asked when daddy would take her home.
Would he come now? She had been
So good, right mommy?

And I stared at the dirt mounded,
Covering my shame and guilt;
Laying down beside her, I finally —
Break.

Daddy is home.

____________________________________

I felt so wrung after reading. The silence in the room made me shy and embarrassed. The complements thereafter were warm. Slightly uncomfortable, I accepted the complements with a smile and thanks in the way I had been taught to do.

Would it kill you to accept a fucking complement, Cole?

The next prompt was tougher, harder for me to write. I started two different sets, thoughts akimbo, until in the last 5 minutes I realized what I was afraid of writing the most.

I didn’t want to write about W.

____________________________________

Prompt: Write about what you are afraid to write about

What he did
Was cruel.
I never understood
How a smile could hide
Such a devious mind.

Destroying more that year
Than I knew to be precious.
The truth is,
The cracks within,
Were my own.

The words were never there,
The emotion obliterated.
The past continues to return,
A demon never exorcised.
He planted the seeds,

And I can’t seem to halt the growth.

____________________________________

A muffled silence. I felt raw, thoughts racing. I realized, in hindsight, that the words sounded like the words one would write about an ex.

There were no words to explain I was writing not about an old flame, but an older, pathetic man who once called himself my boss. Ascribing words of another time into the present, where I finally had words to define and describe that which had been sealed behind my lips for so long.

On the page, I looked down on the words, written with anger, large and angular. Cross-outs throughout the page, blots scribbled out angrily. I could feel that anger now, in the silence. I realized my emotion caused me to read the words too fast, out of pace for absorbing the words by the listener…

I took deep breaths. This was turning into a spot of therapy…

After a 15 minute break, the last prompt was more… thoughtful. Approaching another, less harmful memory, I went back to childhood.

____________________________________

Prompt: Address an Entity in Rebellion

Hello. I wonder if you remember me
Please sit down, sir, you’ve spoken quite enough.
Let the oxygen in,
Let us breath for a damn minute
Before you drown us in pontification.
Opinion and bluster to erase
Every independent thought, as you spoke
With the arrogance of the morning star.

Did you ever stop to think about
The impact of your words?
Or were you so drunk on power
– Inebriated by greed and jealousy –
That you couldn’t spare a single thought for your victims?

The innocent wide brown eyes,
Disregarded by prying words.
Crowbars clattering against the locks.
Did you see me standing there?
Watching your desperation and triumphal
Entry? No, for all that you could see
Were earthly treasures.

Stacks of green paper mark you
A liar, sir, for heaven was not
To be found in the darkened
Maw of the safe.

Machinations, silver tongued
And multilingual, I watched you
Sway the multitude like
Wheat bowing to the wind
Waves of majesty before you
Could you see me standing there?

When the votes were tallied
Thy will, not my will, be done
In church as it may never be done
Above. The steeple mocked
Us all.

In the shadow of the cross
Judas put forth his hand for
Coin.
Did you know, sir, that the
Value of all you covet that day
Was not even worth fifteen cents?

Did you see me standing there
Watching you froth at the lips
The only words chanting from your lips
“Where is the money?”

____________________________________

I dropped my book with a thud of finality. Again, silence.

“This actually happened,” I said, shying from looking anyone in the eye, bouncing my eyeballs at the empty spaces just beyond eye level.

“I’m sorry,” my neighbor said softly.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I was just a kid.”

I don’t know why I said that. I felt stupid for saying that.

The members shared what they wrote as they had done for each prompt. I closed my eyes to listen, grounding in the moment away from my turbulent thoughts to focus on their spoken words in the moment.

Stay in the moment, Cole.

Talent was in that room. I know it. Beauty woven in those words, I felt the peace descend. I was where I was supposed to be.

At the end, as I packed up and headed out the door, a member said, “I liked what you wrote.”

“Thank you.” I smiled into his eyes. “I liked your poems too, you have a beautiful sense of humor.”

We smiled at each other, and I continued out the doorway

Put the Pieces Back Together

I sat in my car. I just wanted… a break.

I felt flimsy, like a stiff breeze would blow me away and I’d cease to exist.

Wiggling out of the parking spot I’d wedged into, I pulled away into traffic, GPS charted for the 2nd Coffee shop I’d found almost 2 months ago that I hadn’t yet visited. I left the city and entered the suburbs, winding down more familiar roads until I arrived at the Maywood Pancake House.

Again, parking was hard to find. I ended up far away, but the sunshine was beautiful on my face, the air fresh and clean, I strutted up the sidewalk with a smile and entered in through the door into a

Bustling

Busy

Restaurant.

Mouth agape, I looked around in amazement. Did they actually serve vegan food here? And this many people came to eat?

“Sorry for the wait, how many?” the hostess asked, pulling me from my blatant staring.

“One,” I replied.

“Would you like to sit in the booth or at the counter?” She asked. I followed her gesture at the booth parked in the far corner. It looked dark and claustrophobic. The counter was open, well lit and inviting.

“The counter please.”

“This way.”

I followed her to the counter facing the coffee machines, the presses, and the sorcery where baristas flitted like busy bees, assembling all kinds of breakfast beverages. The hostess placed a menu and a napkin wrapped fork and knife on the table in front of the last chair at the end of the counter. “Here okay?”

“That’s fine.” I smiled reflexively.

She smiled in return, and left me to awkwardly perch on the chair, wiggling out of my coat and backpack which I stubbornly refused to leave behind in the car. I put the coat over the back of my stool, and perched the backpack under the counter lip to rest on the brass foot railing my legs couldn’t reach. I hooked my heels over the stool rungs and opened the menu.

“Hi, can I get you anything?”

I looked up at the waiter, whose words were spoken in an accent that reminded me of western Europe. Was it Russian? No, maybe Polish? Czech? It was lovely, all the same.

“Mmm,” I scanned the menu, “can I get a glass of soy milk?”

“A glass of soy milk?” I nodded. “Coming right up.”

He grabbed a glass and a straw, poured the milk up to the rim, and set the glass down before me without spilling a drop. I was impressed.

“Thanks!” I said, then sucked it down, surprising myself with my thirst.

I eventually ordered vegan pancakes -duh, right? -with chocolate chips and coconut shavings on top. I wondered if they served chai tea, but didn’t see it on the menu. Oh well…

As I waited for the food, I wrote in my notebook:

Such an onslaught of emotion. Both tired and shell-shocked, I await my vegan pancakes w/chocolate chips and coconut atop.

Emotionally wrung dry… I feel weary with eyelids heavy w/ sleep. Suddenly exhausted. The hot air balloon collapses upon itself and my facade is no more.

Weary, almost fragile. At the counter I alternate between writing and glancing at the cc of the TV spewing news reports. I can’t keep up. I remember why I hate the news.

After 4 pancakes and 2 milk glasses, I feel finally human. Shell intact.

I wonder what to do next. It’s only 2:30ish, perhaps travel to B&N? No… somewhere peaceful and quiet.

Or, maybe, just drive…

I wanted to ask Leo, my waiter, where his accent was from, but the opportunity did not arise.

Stuffed and craving a spot of exercise – shocking, I know – I decided walking was next on the menu. But not outside… inside would be preferable -ah-hah! The mall!

Parking again was illusive. I circled for 15 minutes with fellow cars, wheeling circles like birds of prey in the sky. I finally found a spot at the Target parking lot.

I walked for over an hour before my feet screamed their exhaustion. I turned my car home.

Thus ended my day..

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Hasn’t happened yet

He walks through the door,
He brought the sketch;
Crinkled paper in sweaty palms.
The bell jingles as he enters,
The buzz like a soft whine;
He stares in your eyes-
“Make it good,” he says,
Make it bleed, he thinks.

You shrug, he nods,
He doesn’t even know where to put it;
How could he pack in 12 years of pain
Into one simple ink blot?

He can explain it all,
The elements and what they stand for:
The flames, the ice picks, the daggers,
The blood, the pitchfork,
The black heart, the devil wings,
A final halo…

Salt slick skin on his upper lip,
He didn’t know what to expect
Pain in spades and hinted regrets;
Adding art, subtracting perfection;
He’s a fuck up anyway, gotta own that shit
He is who he is.

And color cancels pigmentation
The final asphyxiation
Turns purple into blue,
And white into black.
Tell him, seraphim,
What light do you have to shine
On this dark, foreboding day?
Useless sour kisses and lemon juice tears.

Blinking his eyes open to a new day,
Ignoring the crumpled paper
Clenched in his fist like an unfinished prayer;
Does it monument his past
Or his future? He stares in the mirror
Of false accusation, or is it a condemnation?
But, then again, it’s all the same
Yesterday is today tomorrow…

Not a Dot but a Semicolon

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
Screaming silently like I’d never choke,
You took away more than my hope;
More like my sanity, till all that remained of me
Were shadows and echoes of what I used to be…

Sticks and stones break my bones,
But your words broke more than my soul;
Poisoning the well of my love, I was watered only by
The absence of yours -surrounded by your betrayals and lies.

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
A demon’s child you wished to destroy
Isolation became my only ploy
For peace, and yet your words rained like fists
To crush what little light remained in the shrouded mists;

The hot kiss of pain chased with throbbing hurt,
Why couldn’t you just leave me for dead? Burial dirt
Is kinder than placing your cruelty into my ribcage
To join old wounds rusted into blades planted by your rage.

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
To a moment when I wept ‘no more, no more’,
And weighted my options to seal the door;
There was no raven to quote evermore
Only rain, trees, and a slip knotted tour.

There was no magical light to show the way,
Just black and a thousand gradients of gray;
Tinged with blood, shame, blame, pain only the inhumane
Could carry. A burden carried by the broken and insane.

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
Suckered in by angels I thought would save me,
No such thing, I learned the hard way that nothing is what it seems;
Now every move that I make
Is tinged with doubt, for god’s sake!
Why can’t I kill you? That insidious voice in my head
Echoing every word that you ever said;
With fear and dread, ‘is it worth it?’ I ask the mirror every day;
And why does my reflection never have anything to say?

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
It’s all a power struggle and I refuse to lose,
Not a game or a puzzle, this isn’t even what I would choose;
Inheriting this strife in a broken world filled with danger,
Buck up, little one, you’ve got to be your own lost savior.
And why should I decide to let anyone in? Solitude is my fortress,
Ice is my armor, blades cannot pierce my iron core -hit and miss
I might be smiling, but that doesn’t mean that I am alive
Shell-shocked refugees can only survive. 

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
A coward dies a thousand times, a victim dies every second
Of every day, not just battling aggressors or self, but the allure beckoned
By death. Messages on dead trees flutter away, words like “I’m sorry”,
“I can’t do this anymore”, “I just want it to stop”, stapled to their quarry;
And the few that survive, never escape
Pain-raked souls glued with duct tape;
Then super glue, then gummed adhesive
That could never keep their lives cohesive.

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
Emerging from the shadow of death,
I still can’t breathe, can’t catch my breath;
ANGER seals my shell-shocked heart,
Enclosing the soft with an armor of darts;
A broadsword of sensitivity, attacking preemptively
Sphere of distance, walled protection, guarded attentively
Sworn to protection, the allegiance became a prison
And I was serving ten to life, chained without vision. 

Breath play…
You took my breath away;
And now I know better, it wasn’t just breath, but life
That you stole from me. Joy, innocence, all harvested by your scythe;
Now I am the one who destroys, tainting all that I touch
With the memories of pain. And the fear lingers, like a crutch
I can’t release. Echoes of torment through hollow memories
The light of day forever shrouded by historic enemies;
I am the harbinger, I bring my pain wrapped around me like cellophane,
Tissue paper wrapped, shredded and ripped, piled around the windowpane.

My Breath ISN’T play…
When You took my breath away,
You killed something precious that I’ll never own
There is nothing you can do to atone
It’s like I was punished instead, I bear the scars
You remain untouched -no one said life was fair, just marred
I’ll never move on, just trying to move
up and rebuild a better self
Every day is a battle, I don’t get my day, just a shelf
Of monuments. And this semicolon is mine to document
A journey of recovery and strength, forgiveness not violence.

I breathe deeply…
Tormenter, you will never have me;
I will have my future of possibility. You may steal my breath, but
You’ll never get the rest of my life. Day by day I leave this rut
Support groups build me up, and I’m so much stronger today
Reborn into a warrior, not a victim, and I shine on, a vibrant sunray.

I continue to breathe deeply…
You’ll never take my life away;

This poem is possible thanks to Morgan Campbell’s afterword in her book “Grayson: A Bully Novel” which resonated to inspired my poem.

“The goal …is to restore hope and confidence in people who are troubled by addiction, depression, self-harm, and suicide… The semicolon symbolizes that the difficulties they face are not the end but a new beginning… By encouraging people to share their marks and stories, Project Semicolon seeks to instill hope and open up a dialogue about mental health.” – Davey Hoen

Project Semicolon’s website  (IE browser recommended).

Singlemindedness

Like black and white, it always seems so clear
You standing there, dictating right and wrong
Truth and lies, without hesitation or fear
Of being incorrect, taking context with prayer and a song
Pointing in accusation, pinning the points that agree
See, see?! they scream, cutting and pasting a messiah
Then later erasing all the good and all that I see
Will be tainted in the light of your paranoia.

 

Elicit my Response

via Daily Prompt: Elicit

I knew you only wanted a reaction.
A farce to play on just such a day
Pushing beyond unnecessary
I watch the brat’s display.

Why do all the children linger past their prime?
Why are you even still alive?
Age is not an indication of maturity
Tantrums at sixty-five.

Have I really never left the old playground?
I am a bit too past the games.
The wisdom of the ages never
Touched your pathetic frame.

You expect the same unrestraint from others
That you often love to demonstrate
Never will I stoop to your level
You fucking reprobate.

You fancy that the world is small enough that
You own -and rule- the fucking roost.
Drunk on your invincibility
Your ego needs the boost?

I don’t care to speculate -interrogate
Or even give a fuck ’bout you
Life is too short and I won’t waste time
You’re a virus -I’m immune.

I know you’ll fall and drown everyone you can
Your reign is coming to an end.
I don’t care to see or ever gloat
Insignificant trend.

You’re not worth my pity, you’re not worth my time
Own your failure and sink alone.
You are nothing and no one to me
I have hung up the phone.

Fear Mongering

To succumb to fear
Is to fall victim to the oldest weapon
That brought every mighty empire to its knees.
Swords brought low
Strength crumbles away
Panic and chaos roam the streets.
Fright and flight on everyone’s lips
We succumb to cowardice.

Snap. Out. Of. It.

Life goes on.
Children are born.
Flowers bloom and die and bloom again.

Your mind would build prisons
Out of castles.
And destruction
From rebirth.
Change comes and goes.
Will you make a change
Or submerge -lost- to your fear?

I Borrowed Your Pain

I borrowed your pain
Quite unconsciously
And I do want to give back these holes
Because I forgot how much it rips my soul

The restless nights
The gulping and swallowed
Screams and reams of pain
That cannot keep these bones sane.

I didn’t protect myself
And I was left unprotected and
Vulnerable to your agony and hope
And now I’m the one trying to cope.

The typical expression
Of rough words and tones
I cannot retrieve, and I lied
To say I wasn’t confused and lost and dying inside.

The physical manifestation
Of this pain would be a relief
I know it, I dreamt it, I am it
And I must continue to deny myself against it.

I miss it, I hate it
I wallowed in an old and familiar
Sensation of loss and disturbance
I don’t even ask, I just accept it’s my comeuppance.

I suppose you’d say
It’s harmful and unhealthy
I don’t know, as much as I hate
It, it’s an addiction I miss and can’t shake.

As real as this is to me
You are not actually real;
I borrow your words and world
To manifest your agony in my soul unfurled.

It’s crazy, it’s insane
It’s addicting, I love
To hate, always miss
To avoid the awful return of this cursed kiss.

Empathy, don’t you know
This doesn’t exist
Your pain isn’t real and that this
Is just a book? -Work of fictitious.

You are a fiction to me
You don’t exist in my world
And yet, I suck it all in; the fey
Dark, an unnatural case of death and decay.

Crave, my ugly
Addiction in my brain,
This sadistic line tortured
To squeeze the faucet of emotion nurtured.

I will extinguish this sensation
And ruminate on your words
Ringing false and plain
After extracting  your pleasure from my pain.

Starving 4 Touch

This world is like prison
A prison for the senses
We can see, but not approach
Hear, but not engage
Taste, but not prepare
Smell, but not track

All 4 senses are given full range
I can view the world around me
Hear the buzz of life, or the whispers
Of noise-canceling headphones

Continue reading Starving 4 Touch