I’d Be Woman and I’d Be Free

I walked outside on cemented sidewalks, cracked and directive. I walked down streets lined tightly with buildings, metal fences, and defensive closures. I came to the park and led my feet through the grass where there were walkways to otherwise take. 

I listened to the same sound of my feet coming to the ground again and again. I thought if I let go, I might fall. If I let go of the things in my mind, they might all come tumbling down and be soaked up into the earth. And then I might be free. 

I thought if I let go, it’s disintegrate and sink right into the earth, and I’d be comfortable there. But when I cling to those thoughts, I have my identity. I have my wounded heart. And if I let go, I don’t know who I’d be. The earth is more than willing to take those thoughts. It pleads. I walk and the trees around me whisper for me to give them attention, and to release. 

I, undignified, hold the hurt. When the earth comes to me, as she does more and more frequently, she soothes me and tells me that she knows I have suffered. She sends me poetry through words so vivid that I write them into existence. She sends me written messages and funny little coincidences. She sends me numbers and overwhelming impressions that it’s all going to be okay. 

But I resist and I keep all of those thoughts within me, and they make me sick. They make my body weak and my mind foggy. They set me into trance and prevent me from using the creativity inside of me. When the earth comes, she magnifies the parts of me that I want to let out. 

I’m the woman who wants to run through the woods in the daytime and dark. I’m the woman who wants to breathe wild literature into existence. I’m the woman who wants to speak the absolute, moving, changeable truths I feel moving in my rib cage. I’m the woman who wants to build, with my hands and with my heart. I’m the woman who wants to breathe flames and pour coins and move water. I’m the woman who wants to breathe into the mind of my other. 

I walked outside on cemented sidewalks, and they told me where to walk, where to stop, where to refrain from stepping foot. They told me, “this is the way everyone else will walk too.” I walked down streets tightly lined with owned spaces, feeling the restriction of fences and walls integrating into my own body. There, in the park, I kept my thoughts and didn’t let them go. Without them, I’d be woman and I’d be free.


I Published a Book

The Unwelcome Portal is a young adult fantasy/horror novel. We follow the main character, Ada, who lives with her emotionally absent mother, her distant father, and her two brothers in France. As she’s walking to school one day, she has an encounter with the neighbor girl, who has an odd way of interacting and appears to be living in a dark house. This interaction brings her into a world of things unseen by grownups. Well, all grownups except for her mysterious old neighbor Claude and a deceased schoolmate’s father. Ada is confronted with startling realizations about the events going on around her, seeing the reality that her mother cannot understand, that her dreams are nightmares, and that the other people she’s surrounded by may be far more sinister than she had imagined. The Unwelcome Portal is a creepy tale of childhood exploration through the unknown things that we tend to leave behind in adulthood.

If you’d like, you can purchase my ebook, The Unwelcome Portal, on Amazon.


A Bit of Poetry

Here is about half of the poetry I wrote last year during an especially difficult time.

Falls

Trust that risings look like falls
And grief like anger
Trust that there’s a whole world outside of this
And that your beautiful mind can create anything
And that your incredible heart will keep pumping blood and hurt and earthquaking love throughout
And in all of this,
You’ll twirl like a dizzy ballerina grasping at a wall
But you’ll never fall

 

Ruthless

Fearlessly, ruthlessly
Tear apart you life
Until it’s hanging on by threads
Because that’s when you’ll see what hangs on
And that’s when your identity will show you everything you’re going towards and everything you’re moving away from

Fearlessly, ruthlessly
Purge what forms pockets of hatred in your heart
Fly, swim, and sprint towards the things that make you alive

 

Change

You know the name of change
She lives in all things
And at all times
She comes and turns things
Kaleidoscopic

 

Broken

The wind breaks boughs
Waterlogged, dead, dying
The bugs broken were not strong enough to hold
Against the movements of the winds
Bow to change
Relent the weak parts to the gusts
These are boughs meant to be broken

 

Toil

I fear only to have lived a small life
Cocooned in daily toil that lines my pockets with dollars I would gladly return
For an hour outside in the fresh air and salty sea
For an hour writing poetry at the moon
For an hour writhing my hands over the surface of clay
For an hour in meditation of the sky and land
For an hour fighting even the shadows inside me

I fear only to have lived a small life
Found at my cubicle desk wedged between other warm bodies with gutted souls
Found hunched, countering my natural good posture

I fear only a small life
One that is noisy with distraction, sick coughs, computer monitors, unrooted and shaking place

 

Quickly

I see change
In all things
In all days
The winds of last night
Brought whispers
Saying things I already know
I see change
It’s coming quickly

 

Warrior

Flavorless notes ting in my head
To have another word written
Would be more favorable instead
The ocean flumes its watery feathers
And I try to remember, dig deep within
To pull out the person I could have been

She’s mighty and stands with perfect posture
And she hides behind the amygdala and frontal lobe
She sees me lobotomizing, overanalyzing
She sees me and waits for the weak parts of me to soften
She looks and waits for the water to subside
And like the surfer I used to be
She’ll come again smoothly down the front of the wave as if she’s never misstepped and never hidden away when she saw me grow weak and tired

Colorless notes for just a moment
She’s growing strong as I relent to her
The warrior who pulled me through it all
She never fully leaves me because she knows her place

Flavorful and colorful
She rebuilds the home we share in my body
And I embody her and she embodies me
I am my strength and I am every weakness
Here she comes, she’s sick of seeing me like this
She’s tired of sitting back and watching me break from the love and sink back into pretend fate

Flavorful and colorful
She waits, she waits
Here she comes

 

Rag Dolls

We sewed ourselves tattered homes from cloth of our pasts
The stitching was strong and made to last
Rag dolls, hard and fast

And then we took knives to our stitches to unravel the threads seamlessly
And see if opening our wounds would finally make us free
Rag dolls, you and me

 

Running

I am staying put
Through all the discomfort
Through the aching of my heart
And the unknown

I am staying put
Through the valleys and mountain tops
Because I’m done walking
My well worn path

I’m finished running
I’m finished running away
And not seeing things through
I’m staying put


Inherent/Inherited Tensions

[To be read in the mode of loosely-crafted spoken word.]

tensions, photo by Andrew Ruiz, from Unsplash

As an individual life begins, so is a likely pattern of existence laid out to predict the events to come.

Unrealized but realistically expected principles of chaos forge their way through the barriers of ordinary happenstances.

These become irrevocably melded into the skin and fabric of temporal dealings, where skin and fabric are parsed categorically with moral denotation. 

Patterns of existence serve to induce guilt in any and all deviations of the established parameters of living.

Thereby not accounting for the unaccountable and not accounting for that which is not carefully crafted in total calculation.

All alternatives fail in this affluent arrangement, and align with alienation.

Imagine a society without patterns of behavior; little would be achieved (?).

Although those we remember most are the ones who broke with the crystalline structures.

We tell stories of original individuals, congratulate the masses, and differential between individual and society, heavy-handedly inviting everyone to break the mold while simultaneously telling them to stand in their place.

Our challenge is to find a compromise between originality and not.

We tease and craft our lives with inherent tensions.

Rather than imagine a dystopia wherein everyone is the same, imagine one in which all individuals struggle beyond reprimanded measures to be unique.

Yet, insulting phrases are “you’re just like everyone else” and “you’re so different.”

And herein lies our tension, that of being as relative to oneself (preposterous) or being relative to the perceptions we have of their perceptions of us (tormenting).

But the conclusion lays clear, we’re not at this point from a default, required mode.

This is not inherent, it’s inheriting.


Bop and Mouse

Bop carried around three books at all times, usually not the same three books. They were exchanged regularly, unless one particularly stuck, then it was with him for a couple of weeks along with the other two.

When he was twelve, he’d come across the words “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” in a library book. He ran his fingers on the seam of the book because he’d seen it done in a movie. He loved the texture of the leather, and pulled the book entirely off the shelf to caress the front of it too. Bop peeked at the librarian in his peripheral vision in case she saw him; he didn’t want to be doing something bad.

The script on the page was minuscule; he thought of a tiny mouse lifting a huge magnifying glass to the book to read it. The magnifying glass was so heavy that it plopped down again and again. Bop thought that the mouse might damage the page, so he entered and asked him to please stop. Bop explained to the mouse that he should not drop heavy materials on the page, for they were magic. He said that pages should never be dog-eared and that thumbs should not be wetted to help turn a page.

Bop was alone a lot; the other kids didn’t much like him, and he liked it that way. He was mostly okay with it because he read a few books in which the main character is alone a lot too and liked to be alone. When his mother told him scary stories that could not be true, when she told him about heaven and hell, and told him he would go to hell, he would go to his little pile of books. There would be his neat stack, his friends, and he would touch their covers, front and back, and then he would touch their seams. He liked the old seams, the ones that were browning at the corners, and he traced ninety degree triangles with his fingers until his fingertips became overstimulated and felt tingly.

Once, he went into a bookstore, and he heard pop music playing on the speaker system, and he became upset. He squatted in the literature aisle and composed himself, they are disrespecting the books by playing this type of music. He felt his heart sinking, and thought of the words on a piece of parchment “my heart is sinking”, and imagined that one of Jane Austen’s heroines was writing it to a correspondent. The heroine’s desk was tiny save for a pile on the left corner of miscellaneous papers. Bop liked to imagine the messy papers because he would like for there to be something he could not read on the heroine’s desk. That made her real. If she was not real, he would have every detail of everything she wrote and received in writing.

The tiny mouse came in again and began shuffling through the left-hand pile. Good thing the heroine had just stepped out of the room as she’d been called to dinner and after dinner tea. Bop came in again to speak with the mouse. He eagerly pleaded that the mouse remain composed and halt messing up the pile; after all, it was not his pile, and by that fact, it was not his to disturb. Bop asked him to come back to the bookstore and to turn off the music, if he could.

All of the sudden, Bop and the mouse were in the literature aisle of the bookstore, and Bop told the mouse that the music was not respectful of the beautiful books that had yet to go home and be loved. The mouse stood on its hind legs with its hand draping down in front of him and Bop thought of Flowers for Algernon, got sad, and wiped three tears away, exactly three, before he breathed two deep sighs. The mouse was off. In eight minutes, the music was off and one of the customers whispered “lame” and Bop smiled brilliantly.

Music started again and Bop nearly began crying at the onslaught of sound, before he realized that it was classical music. The music of books. He imagined the books and the authors thanking him, but passed the bestsellers table and saw that some of the books did not like the classical music. He thought he understood what was wrong; but he thought it okay because classical music was very neutral and could tone an environment rather than overwhelm it.

“I understand, mouse” said Bop when the mouse got back and found him at the table of new novels about grown up things he didn’t want to read about. “Mouse, I understand.” He reiterated, as he ought to do in a dramatic sequence. “Books are for everyone. There’s a book for everyone, no matter how little, no matter how big. There’s a book for the illiterate made of pictures and voices, the homeless, the wealthy, the poor. Even a mouse like you can see and touch a book.”

A bookstore clerk came about the bestsellers table and saw a little boy talking to a little mouse. She did not scream and did not alert her supervisor. Instead, she thought she would write a children’s book about the encounter. The clerk asked the boy’s name, who startled slightly from being spoken to, and he replied “Bop.”

She walked back up to the counter, saying to herself, I now tend to the burden of writing the children’s book, Bop and Mouse. 

Once the woman was out of sight, Bop turned to the mouse. “I carry three books with me at all times” he said. “I carry them because I want to feel the physicality of them, the weight, the slight pleasurable burden of holding them and carrying them in my backpack.”

Bop would wait many years before having the confidence to write his own book. He would eventually do it, in the dimly lit room with borrowed street light, with noisy neighbors partying in the nights and through the mornings, amidst the sadness of feeling his life had been all too peculiar to be an author, through the daunt of word counts, deep through the crevices of human morality and interpreted reality, and companioned by a cat he called Mouse.


The Old Man’s Microwave Stand

The Old Man was a retired man, having worked at the Hazyville Post Office for the primary portion of his career. He had worked as a newspaper boy just prior to beginning at the HPO. His wife had stayed at home her entire life, from the moment they had gotten married, to take care of their four children, two girls and two boys. They were devoutly religious in the sense that they went to their place of worship once a week to get absolved of the remainer of the week’s misdoings and poor conduct.They did not read books save for about a paragraph of their worship book once per week. Sometimes the Old Woman, the Old Man’s wife, listened to the horrors of the news on the radio.

They expected of their children the following:

  • You must have a best friend from ages 5 through 18.
  • You must see the popular movies of your childhood.
  • You must have children before the age of 24, once married.
  • For the girls, you must have a scrapbook of your dream wedding, and it must happen before age 30.
  • For the boys, you must be rude to girls that they not corrupt you.

When all of the children were out of the house, the Old Man and the Old Woman only spoke to the child that had followed all of their criteria, one of the girls, named Jennifer. She’d had a best friend, Marie, through her childhood, she’d seen all of the popular movies, she’d had children before 24, she’d had a scrapbook of her dream wedding and it did occur before she was 30, but before having children. Then, Jennifer came to live with her parents once more.

“Mum, dad, I spent so long planning my wedding that I took no care in choosing a mate. I learned his middle name and his favorite color during the wedding engagement party” Jennifer said.

“Divorce is not an option, but you may live with us for childcare in the meantime. However, your children will need to follow the same requirements that you had during childhood” said the Old Woman.

“Oh yes, mum, those were great rules and worked good to make me normal. My siblings are not gud for not following the rules.”

The neighbor across the street overheard their conversation. She’d had an issue with these people for years, and whenever she would hear them speak, she’d yell over:

“you sound like your brain’s been microwaved!” and then shut her window again.

The Old Man and the Old Woman would call her a nut and say there was something wrong with her. They knew their way of living was far superior. After all, it had produced one child who’d followed all of the rules, every one of them! The Old Man got to thinking, my success is so grand that I should share it with the world! 

So the following morning after Jennifer’s return, the Old Man dug through the cords in his garage, which the women were not allowed in, for they would surely get electrocuted. He came out of the garage with a very very long cord and plugged it in one of the outlets in the kitchen. Then he dragged the cord all the way outside to the street corner. He left the cord dangling outside while he came back in to retrieve the microwave. Next, he brought out his poker table; he used it otherwise only during his poker night with the boys, where they would drink whiskey and talk about the war, though none of them were veterans (and to be honest, nobody quite knew which war). He set the microwave on the poker table underneath the street post with the street names for the intersection Pine and Hollis.

He went back inside a final time for a fold-out chair, for blank paper that he’d pilfered from the printer, and for an ink pen that had only been used once. It’d been used when a town intellectual had come over for a cup of coffee on invite of the Old Man, who he’d met at a park. The Old Man had filled in a crossword puzzle rather incorrectly while the intellectual man had overwhelmed him with his large vocabulary which consisted of words that sounded like “mexicon” (lexicon), at which point the Old Man had interjected “great laborers! great food!”

The Old Man sat at the street corner and wrote away. He had not written in many years so his handwriting was barely legible, but he would accompany the pamphlet with a hearty speech about The Right Way to Live, which coincidently was also the title of his pamphlets. On the first flap, he put the title of the pamphlet “The Right Way to Live”, on the second left-most flap, he wrote the rules mentioned above, on the middle inside flap, he provided the consequences for not following the rules: “dumbness”, “povurty”, and “going to hell”. On the final flap, he wrote, “If you have difficolty with following rules, I can microwave your brain with the microwave on this table here. It’s already plugged in and ready for your brain.”

A young woman from a neighboring house was walking back from her job at the local bakery and stopped at the Old Man’s Microwave Stand after he’d greeted her with a “hey young lady, come learn a thing or two about your behaviur.”

He handed the young woman his pamphlet and gave her a moment before he would begin his lecture, thinking this would enable the information to soak in like the coffee in a tiramisu cake. Once he figured she’d had enough time to bask in the wisdom, he began speaking “alright little girl, this is…”

But the young woman burst out laughing and smiled radiantly, saying “you clever, clever man!”

He had eight more interactions like this with people of various ages, and he waltzed back into his house at the end of the day with a big grin on his face. The Old Woman was smiling as well, and told him the good news “you’ve been invited to speak at a local club, tonight!”

The Old Man put on the clothing he wore to his weekly visit to his place of worship, and headed out the door, microwave in hand. He went to the address specified, which was the house right across the street. He didn’t even mind that it was her home. There were “her-dervs” as the Old Man referred to them and he liked that the women formed a group of they own. He looked for the young men being nasty to the women, but saw none of it. In fact, he grew suspicious when the young women began acting rather in a man-ish manner, by being boisterous with their knowledge and not meek in their tones. And he noticed that some men were reciting “sensutive” poetry meant for women’s eyes.

“Everyone! Welcome to the Society’s weekly meeting!” It was the first young woman who’d come to the Old Man’s Microwave Stand. The Old Man held the microwave in both hands with much pride.

“Our first speaker is the Old Man who lives across the street. For years now, as Ms. Tulip has mentioned to me” she nodded to the owner of the house, the one who’d yelled ‘you sound like your brain’s been microwaved’, “the Old Man and the Old Woman have been playing the greatest satire she’s known in her whole life. She would like to commend them, especially the Old Man, for dedicating so much of his time to this strange and intellectually harrowing practice. She believes that the purpose of their intricate and unpoised exercise is to draw attention to some of the lingering practices of the Old Times, when men and women were foolish and when” she laughed again, and the audience could see the roof of her mouth “they were considered on two different planes of existence even. The Society would like to further commend the Old Man for using such profound a prop as the Microwave, which has not only been an obsolete object for over thirty years, but represents the ignorance that we all shared in that time of our human history.”

The Old Man smiled and continued to smile. Perhaps his mexicon was not developed enough for him to understand the woman’s words, perhaps he had tuned her out for being a woman speaker, perhaps all the more, he was one of the world’s more progressive and dedicated performance artists. That night, the Old Man handed out a dozen pamphlets after his talk and when he got home with his microwave, he felt he had done something good for the world.