Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Granite

Jess sets the glass on the new granite counter top. Her snake tattoo pokes out from her sleeve. “I don’t know why you took the plunge. Everyone complains it breaks every glass it touches.”

Amy points, “Not that one.”

Jess rolls her eyes. “I put it down nice. You’ll have to put everything down gentle. You’ll always have to think about it.” Jess leans her elbows on the counter.

Amy doesn’t move close, instead she crosses her arms; her pink cardigan bunches at her elbows as she concentrates on the polished counter. “So?”

Jess looks up, “So what?”

Amy opens her arm, palm up in question.

Jess watches Amy, her eyes narrow and she bites her bottom lip close to her steel lip ring.

Amy shakes her head. “You come all the way here to ask why I put something normal in my house. Normal people do this. What about you, huh? What about that?” Amy points her chin toward Jess’s mouth.

“You mean my ring or this—” Jess sticks out her tongue and shows a steel stud in the middle of her pink tongue.

Amy breathes out slow. “Does it matter. Both?” Amy shrugs and mumbles, “One addiction to the next.”

Jess stands up, “I’m a lot things, but I’m not deaf. And it’s none of your damn business.”

Amy rounds on Jess and closes the gap between them. “Exactly. It’s none of your business that I have granite in my kitchen or if every one of my glasses breaks because of it.”

Jess leans away, “Jesus—”

“Is it money you want for blow, juice, whatever? What do you want?” Amy gestures wildly.

Without a word, Jess snakes her arm into her back pocket of her jeans and takes out her phone.

Amy leans one hand on the counter and one on her hip, “What is this?”

“Can you shut up for one second? I’m trying to show you something.” She fiddles with her phone for a couple of moments. “Here.” She hands the phone to Amy. On the screen is a photo.

Amy raises her eyebrow but takes the phone.

Jess points, “You’ll find more if you swipe.”

Amy narrows her eyes as she flips through them. Jess cranes her neck a little closer to Amy and watches her steady inhale and exhale. She waits to see some kind of shock or recognition. Nothing.

Amy looks up from the phone and shrugs. “So?”

Jess’s jaw drops, “That’s all you have to say? Did you even look at them?”

Amy shrugs again.

Jess grabs the phone and flips through the photos. She finds the worse one and points the screen in Amy’s face. “This.”

Amy folds her arms and stares at some space beyond Jess’s shoulder. “It’s not him. You’re crazy.”

Jess’s disbelief turned into a mean smile. “Oh, I’m crazy? I saw it with my two eyes and I’ll have new photos next week, too. He does it every week in the back of his Mercedes in the back of O’Reilly’s parking lot. Every week.”

Amy blinked, “Get out.”

Jess laughs, “Now I see,” She shakes her head. “Shit. You already knew. What are you still doing here?” She gestures around the house, “For this, really?”

Amy stands as still as a reed. “And you’re so perfect.”

Jess shakes her head in surrender, “You know what? I’m out.” She grabs her keys and just as she turns for the door, she picks up the glass on the counter and looks at it. “I have my answers here.” She lets it go and it falls.

Amy inhales and rushes forward to catch it but it shatters and shards scatter everywhere. “Seriously?”

“Right back at ya,” Jess raises her fingers to her lips, “Oops.”

“Fuck you, Jess. You have no right.”

“Yeah, well,” Jess shrugs, playing cool, “At least I know I’m not the only fucked up one. There’s comfort in that.”

“Get out. Leave. Now. Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout.” Like an avalanche, Amy’s scream follows Jess out of the front door and into her beat up Volvo. She revs her engine, shifts into first and speeds away.

Jess twiddles her fingers on the wheel. She’d never let Amy know she was shaky from the whole thing. Never. She leans toward her glove box and flicks it open; sitting in a bed of hair ties, cigarette packs, and pens is a pistol. She slams the door closed and grips the wheel tight.

It’s her turn to be the big sister.

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Resting Places


One is by the bamboo, one by the fallen Douglas fir; the Russian Blue with the white diamond lies under a single iris. Under forest canopies through all their years they roamed; deep below the roots, they now rest their weary paws.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Animal Farm

This is kinder somehow.
A shotgun to the head,
Pow.

Like a third eye and
Them taking their final bow;
An easier good-bye.

With burdened bodies
And broken hind legs,
Death is a simpler way.

Only real cages
Create a cage with in;
Death takes them from this hell.

Peeled like walnut husks,
Their blood skins and stiff fur
Bleached and washed down the drain;

A careless insult of
All that salt and iron
Bathing in copper stench.

The living dead are near
With marred mouths shrieking, but
No one who cares will hear

Their language of fear with
Final cacophonies
Eulogies everywhere.

They smell their kin dying.
They all know their doom
Their families screaming,

And though their awkward tongues
Do not move as our own,
All of them repeating,

“We’re not here for slaughter,
We are here for you.
If you treat us kind,
We would die for you.

But this murder of our heads,
This blasting of our brains,
Our knees buckling
To the butcher’s refrain;

Treat us gently,
Treat us good,

We would go willing
To your table’s brood.

But abuse us and
Take our pastures away
And place us in a cage,

And you will see the day
When our hooves turn to justice
And our tongues learn your ways;

One day, our backs will carry no longer
The hot brands of slaves.”



Meet the Parents

“We can say we met at our kayak club,” Kara says.

Jeff clutches his heart, “Your daughter paddled into my heart.”

“That's cheesy.”

He shrugs, “It's better than saying we met online.”

She snorts, “Yeah, my parents aren’t ready to hear that.”



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Remember (1996)

I remember you
Piano and plastic Viking hat.
I remember you
Banjo and kidney pool.
I remember you
Replica home
And thumbnail shingles.
I remember you
Well-worn rugged chair
And ceramic coffee cup.
 
And I remember you
This and that,
But always forgotten
In the aftermath.
 
I remember you
Oxygen tank
And hospital gown.
 
I remember you
Daddy’s tears
And open casket.

I remember you
The white
And the blackness.
 
I try to imagine you
Funeral pyre,
In a boat asleep,
Fire arrows sweep
The heavens;
Heat and cinder
Wash you away
Into tidal waters.

But instead I remember you,
Eternal,
Beneath dandelions and stone
Buried deep down;
Alone.


Monday, May 11, 2015

The Great Escape

I sit outside at the table; don't touch the check. Instead I wait for her to return from the bathroom. But then, I spy her legs poking out of the window and then her skirt flying up in the wind. “Not again!”
 
 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Writing Inspirations and Links to Awesomeness!

On this fine Friday, I want to give everyone a nice bouquet of inspiration from some great links that I’ve recently uncovered.

Happy Mother’s Day!
~~

First off, I want to give a shout out to Yeah Write. I just discovered their website through another fellow blogger. They have free weekly writing contests in nonfiction, fiction/poetry, and microstories. When you submit your work, the editors choose the best of the writing and if your writing doesn’t make it to the voting stage, then they will send you a letter with advice and suggestions. That’s free writing advice folks!

They also have a Writing Forum and a Writing Help section on their website useful for even the most advanced writer. Go check out their submissions guidelines here. I hope to see your work next to mine this coming Monday!

Next, I want to share with you a poet that I just stumbled across a couple of days ago, Melissa Barret. She won the 6th annual Narrative Magazine Poetry Contest last year, which the magazine will be taking submissions this year starting May 20th.

What I love about her poems is her random references and snippets of information you glean. I also love the many sexual innuendos that she drops in for comic and serious effect. You can check out a couple of her poems here and you can read her interview here.

I recently came across an interview where Maria Popova, manager of Brain Pickings, has a conversation with Alexandra Horowitz about her book On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes. She explains how when people narrow their focus on a task, they block out much of what is going on around them. This gets work accomplished, but we end up also blocking out all of the stimuli that makes life memorable and worthwhile. Their conversation is an eye opener, no pun intended! Horowitz’s findings made me think about what I see and don’t see and how that affects my life and creativity.
You can listen to the interview here.
 
Have you hear of the wonderful spoken word poet, Sarah Kay? I think her best performance was at TED. I imbedded the video, but you can also find the video of her performance here.


 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Night Moments

Like hard candy disappearing
Between tooth and cheek
Melding into indents
And crevices of enamel
I glide into your mouth
Along with your cigarette
Smoke. The cylinder of white paper
And tobacco sucking
Your wet tongue
Dry with heat and cinder.
There are no peace pipes between us.
I want to cry the black night into stars,
Connect tears into our names,
The curves of our faces.
But no one will write us into the sky.
Our names and bodies
Masked and stifled by time.
No one will remember this moment,
Except you and I.
Only my tears and your smoke,
In the air,
Impermanent,
Will signal the future
To come a little closer
And proceed.


Monday, May 4, 2015

A Phoenix at Eagle Creek

"The great basalt columns rising to my right..."
 
It was the night after the hike at Eagle Creek when my sickness started; after I saw the Devil’s Punchbowl. It spun me in that snow melt water. I hiked calf deep in the river and waded up to my thighs to see the waterfall before me with the great basalt columns rising to my right; long strands of moss dripped off of the cliffs in the heat.

Then that night, a terrible suffocation gripped my throat. I awoke tangled in sheets with my heart beating fast. Anxiety and tremors followed me and a sense of doom and loss of control. Overnight, I had become a shadow of my former self. I felt encased in ice—frozen—but not preserved. The world continued to turn, and I continued to decay, but to me time itself had ceased to move forward.

~~
It evolved mid-July with the sleepless humidity; the kind that turns everything into an orange glow and brings heavy dark clouds and the dusty smell before it rains. It started at Eagle Creek, but I cannot blame the heat or the devil, or the cold of the river. It was just where my sickness built momentum; where I started to recognize the beginning of my foundations eroding. It was that night everything came to a head and I lay in bed, eyes wide, unable to calm the fire building within me.

I couldn’t extinguish it even with the tears I cried. It was persistent like the flutter of my heart beat. All along, all of the faintings and symptoms, everything I never noticed before, finally surfaced into a cacophony that kept me awake. I didn’t find out until later that every pain had been pointing toward my throat. The kindling. The cigarette butt that started it all.
~~

Grave’s disease, a form of hyperthyroidism, won’t send you to your grave, but it will send you to the floor, face first.
Flat, limp, and sweaty to the floor.

Most people never faint; many don’t know you can hear everything around you. You try to tell your body to move; to stand up, get up, sit up—anything—but you lay motionless and drained, completely aware of the sounds of your mother screaming “Wake up! Wake up!” But you don’t have the power to brush off the humiliation; you don’t even have the strength to lift your eye lids.
~~
I felt bent and backward; my head spun. My joints ached and popped and paper and pen became a necessity at every moment; to remember to wash the dishes, or that my shift was 4 to 9, or that I needed to wash the dishes. I felt like a broken circle, a crooked wheel. I kept turning, but everything wobbled and dragged. All the while, through the end of summer, through autumn and winter, my fire burned, never satisfied.

~~
In my dreams, I swam through an iodine sea, dark brown, and it snaked all around me like ink in clear water. I remember the white sanitized room with a window looking out to the hospital parking lot. The nurse with thick gloves ceremoniously brought the huge pill to me at an arm’s length away. As far away from herself as she could without dropping it or throwing it at me. This pill contained a new fire, a strange and dangerous one that moved like ink in my blood and through my thyroid. That sweet radioactive iodine. Iodine-123.

~~
My doctor could have diagnosed me with anxiety and depression, prescribed me with Paxil or any other anti-depressant, and had me go on my way; another victim misdiagnosed.

I was lucky.
I was given three little pills a day. Chalky white. Uncoated, bitter. But they were slow, so frustratingly slow. For months, I still felt like I was being burned dry and left as ash to float off with the wind.

~~
I loved when my doctor drew my blood. He would tie the rubber tourniquet tight around my right arm, tap his finger on the vein at the curve of my elbow, and swab it with alcohol. I would look away as he slipped the thick needle into my arm, and then I would look back as his three vials, one at a time, filled with my blood. Each blood test showed setbacks or progress, but most of all it showed the dwindling of my fire, the calming of flames, a reigning back of damage and the promise of unbroken sleep.

~~
I counted days and months and years. Then I began counting down pills: three a day, two a day, then one, a half, a quarter, and then none. I watched and waited. I tested my footing.

I walked through the forest of my body and all that was left was char and blackened branches, scorched leaves, the sharp pungent perfume of wood smoke. All I heard was a buzzing quiet in the aftermath of fire. I was scarred by fire. I had become defined by my sickness; it had become my every day, my new normal.
But one day—while I was lost in thought—I found a bud within me. I reached toward it and new leaves unfolded. As more days passed, a new self began to grow from the wreckage; someone that I began to get acquainted with; someone who was stronger and more capable; someone who had been burned and consumed by fire and then reborn. I was no longer defined by my disease or how I was before I got sick; instead I was new, without lines or boundaries. I was a blank slate with one choice: I could trace the old familiar lines of my former self and color within them, or I could be the survivor that I was, embrace the second life that was given to me, and rise as a phoenix.

I chose to rise.
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Snow and Ice

The semi slid and ratcheted his brakes; he jackknifed and I ended. I don’t remember how, but I found myself floatin' above my once lucky station wagon that wasn’t lucky no more and my body that lay out in the snow, peaceful-like.