free form

Marginalized

The margins spill over with
intricate loops of doodle-cipher,
every flower and leaf a silent scream,
every cross-hatch-darkened corner
hiding secrets
of the soul.

It’s a garden

–no

a jungle

into which
the girl tried to escape
every day.

And now
she has.

With a breath of a wish
and a brush of a curse
she fell flattened and inked
into a world of her own making.

If they flip through the pages,
if they look in the right places,
they’ll find her

climbing the vines to a floating island
a blue sketched demon-dog
snapping
at
her
heels,

a graphite bazooka
slung over her shoulder.

The next day, and pages later,
they might see her
riding a living
feather
into a forest
of
perfect
spheres.

They might, but they don’t.
They never look at her world.
They never did.

She told them where she was going;
in between neat rows of
facts and numbers,
she told them.

In black and grey and blue
she told them
In rarer reds and greens
and in bright highlighter s
creams
of yellow,
she told them.
Her nightmares and dreams,
she told them.

She told and told
and
told them of
her two-dimensional haven,
but no one knew her language
and no one saw her screams.

No one read the margins.

They look for her
in the facts
but they’ll never find her
there.

She’s lost to them

forever

in the wild,

willful

margins

A Time-Sensitive Question

Racing, racing, perfectly still

Comes the lifeline, tightly gripped

Stretched from creation to the never-end of all I am

One and every moment filled

Like all of space –time slipped

Into a single here and now through the burst dam

Of a seeing mind.

What is a moment found?

What is a moment seized?

What is the value of a thing plentifully singular?

What is the worth of the right thing at the right time?

And who’s to tell a drifter in the racing stillness what the whole picture looks like?

What to do with  a puzzle piece

When you are a puzzle piece

And you don’t know where box is,

Where the box is with the picture.

I look at everything now at everything here

At all the whens and wheres in a single breath

And how do I take my next breath, then,

When its only a piece of a breath

Already breathed

Being breathed

Yet to be breathed

How do I make a to-do list

In the face of the great woven continuum

How do I carve out time

Carve my initials onto time

Carve my actions into the vast and sweeping everything

How do I make a bucket list

When buckets are only one arrangements of a set molecules racing through the stillness of time

and space, that were once other things and will be other things yet, and are all the things they will ever

be a part of at once,

And when in some sense my death is as done and over with as my birth?

*****

For more, see my poetry page.

The Lie of the Light

A hush falls like a waking dream

Like sunbeams on a cataclysm

And eyes half-lidded

Flick like a tail

Drink pleasure in a lazy rhythm

Find motes of dust

And little wisdom.

Time passes like four squares of drifting light

Dispelling ills and

angry wills and

days that churn like lumber mills

In a yawning, sighing patch of light

That says it’s sure

And lying lies

That all your ghosts are sleeping tight

And all your demons dozing

So why not join them?

Catastrophe will stay its hand

And life will grant a waiver

All’s well that isn’t minded

As a yawning tongue mines flavors

From dancing, dreaming, magic motes

That play like fey piano notes

In four soft squares of lulling light

That pass like time across the floor

‘Til night.

The Preserved Image of Pain

Screaming screaming screaming

They say you should write from the depths of your emotion. I can’t do that. Or I can, but it’s nothing but

Screaming

Crying

Melancholy quiet

If you like that, more power to you

And good for me, I guess

But when I’m in the depths of my emotion, all my skill goes out the window, and when I sit down to type, it’s only

Screaming screaming screaming

I can’t speak of insanity without one foot in the sane

I can’t speak of agony without some part of my spirit anchoring me in calm

I can’t speak of anything

Without screaming screaming screaming

When I’m like this

When I’m lost

When I’m hurting all the way through

It’s just one slice of uninspired pain after another

And that’s just the thing, isn’t it?

Nobody really cares how you hurt

If you can’t make them feel it

And when I’m worst hurt

I lose the words for it

When I’m worst hurting

I lose all my power

Memory of pain is a beautiful material

When this moment is faded and past

Pressed into my mind like a flower folded in a book

When it’s still pretty and fragrant but

Flat and dry, the preserved image of pain, the footprint of loneliness past

Then I can ply my best magic

And wrap it in skill

And soak it in words

Boiled down, and distilled

My pain will taste sweet as a lover’s ache on the tongue

As a wish

Of a kiss

But raw and unfinished, it’s only a

Scream, scream, scream

Pain sipped in empathy, or racking the imagination

Is perfect cloth for my cutting

I spy out a story in the agony-not-mine

And stitch it together with words sharp and fine

And the finished pain is beautiful to see

And devastating to don

A writer’s work done

But when I’m hurting

I can only wait it out

And write it out

And scream, and scream, and scream

Now I’ve wept on my touchpad, and it refuses to act until

My tears are wiped away

See? Tears are a paralytic. I’m not the only thing

That’s useless until pain is pressed into the book of memory

Pulled out when faded

And made into a perfume

Balanced to perfection

Wafting the ache upon the air

With acute undertones like a needle to the gut

Just enough and not too much

Oooh

Smell the crumbling of a heart

With dry overtones and a sprig of tongue-in-cheek

The melodrama chemically removed

Like caffeination

The ink-caster’s done it again

See? I’m writing myself out of the pit

I’m writing the smirk back onto my lips

And my words grow cleverer and better-cooked by the line

Not like those rare fillets of heart up top

Not like those raw-writ screams

No; now the wound’s seared over

The fit of agony already going dry

In my gut,

An aching gem ready to be cut

In my mind,

My wheel of skill will grind it

On my lips,

A smile in full

Sadistic

Ready to revel

In the pain of my past self

The self at the top of the page

To bask in her agonies

And finally

To write

Excerpt: A Driftwood Captain

An excerpt from my current work-in-progress, working title A Thousand Things I’ll Never Know. My main character, Amanda Tillamoor, has just agreed to what is arguably a deal with the devil.

*****

That afternoon, still riding up and down on the swells of my emotional roller-coaster, I invite myself over to Collin and Sammi’s place. The boys are away, but Sam takes one look at my wavering face and asks if we should go to the backyard and break out the throwing knives.

I gratefully accept. I got her started on throwing knives, and wound up giving her my set, because my house comes with no backyard at all, (so lame,) and I made too many neighbors nervous, practicing on the tiny patch of front lawn.

Here, they’ve got a nice stump set up, already deeply scored by hours’ worth of blade bites. We go back and forth in near-silence for a while, smiling and nodding at the thunk of a blade sunk home, grimacing at the clatter of the odd miss and bounce-off.

Wanna talk about it?” she asks after we’ve hit a rhythm.

Do I ever,” I sigh, crouching to retrieve my throws. “But I’m afraid I can’t. I signed that right away ages ago. It’s all confidential.”

Ah.” She clicks her tongue. “Work, then?”

I nod, that being the simplest thing, the nearest thing that can be admitted.

Want to inventive-vent?” Sammi asks.

What’s that, then?” I pass off the knives.

You know, make shit up to complain about while we both know you’re totally complaining about something else. People do it all the time with boring things like the weather and their spouses when actually it’s mommy issues and the fear of rejection, but Collin and I made a rule. When you’re hyperbolically complaining about things that aren’t actually what’s upsetting you, at least be interesting about it.”

That’s a genius rule. Yeah, yeah, I’ll do that.”

Cool.” She flings the largest knife into the stump. “What’s the matter, then?”

I consider for a moment, looking for good emotional scapegoats. “You know what I loathe from the core of my being? This notion that rhyming poetry is automatically less deep and relevant than free form. Free form can be trite and pathetic! Consistent meter can be deep and ‘real’! Mouths off my meter, yo!”

Sammi grunts sympathetically, then sinks a medium blade. “Seriously.”

Sure, there’s trite roses-are-red stuff that’s only good for parodies and jokes. But free form is full of angsty hacks who think they’re being deep just because they’re all like—

Blackness. Claiming me from the past.

The pain swirls about my feet

Poisoned fog

Without proper punctuation

I hit the spacebar a random amount of times

“—so I can say—

the road splits beneath me, a chasm opens

I leap, reach, and hit the earth

Only to see that all earth is the chasm

My soul is the chasm

Wow

That had such impact

Because there were lots of spaces and no full stops until right now.”

Sammi laughs, and her final throw is a clattering hilt-hit. But I’m just hitting my stride. Is it parody? Sure. But there’s something to this stream-of-consciousness vitriol, and while I stubbornly refuse to call it art, I can certainly call it the spilling out of my soul.

This calm mask is lecherous as the calm sea is treacherous, waveless over a raging undercurrent, ready to suck the strongest swimmers and pin them to its volcanic floor. My soul thrashes and wrenches away as I turn to foam, into foam. I’m a stick of driftwood calling myself a captain when the tides rule my every twist; I’m so sick. My nightmares fill the sky like clouds, and the sky bends close with a thunderous mocking and stabbing spines of light that refuse to be the death of me. Prison bars once escaped twine around my wrists, dragging me into the understorm.

I sink like the stone I wish I could be, but I’m soft, soft as the sliming sea vines that bind me, drowned and undying, ever drowning and never dying, to the abyss. The pressing leviathan looms, a mile his reach, a whale his dinner, a whirlpool his pillow, and the undead his plaything. A driftwood captain cannot scream, but even crushed, I see a pearl—an ocean pearl, the palest pearl, white as the fearful page with the opal sheen of forgotten dreams, a pearl of such priceless perfection and size, and the world may be the leviathan’s oyster, but I sold ship and self and salvation to gain a pearl that outweighs its fee in blood.”

I take the offered knives in the silence, and fling them with rapid passion and varying success into the stump.

Damn. That bad?” Sam asks quietly as I collect them again.

It’s just senseless angst-verse,” I say grimly, sitting down and stabbing her lawn.

“Not feeling at all helpless and lost, of course?”

No, no,” I say in a lonely tone never meant to fool anyone.

Flashes of Fiction: Ashes

A spark, it started

A flickering spick of light that blossomed into a full-tilt passion.

A rage

A wrath

A fury

And she loved it.

The rage was right and righteous

In that moment

So momentous

And she loved it.

It burned so bright

That it grew and grew and she grew to love it more than love

She made herself a tinderbox

And matchstick forest for the fire.

No need, in time, for righteousness

No need for any reason

She found her wrath so beautiful

She fed its flame

Her heart

And soul

And life,

To watch it eat.