I went out to our garden today and took stock of
the dead flowers: our roses, our petunias, our chrysanthemums.
The only survivor:
the small patch of forget-me-nots.
The honeybees turned around when they saw you
breaking whiskey bottles against the garden fence.
I remember the blood running from your hands
when you began to scoop together the pieces; you’re always
Trying to save what you have
I scoop together the weeds and the various flower
Behind the shed, I make a pyre of meager apologies
And browned leaves.
The match head illuminates the ceremony
And all I can do is open my pointer finger and thumb;
I am not afraid to burn away what has died.
You had taken a crowbar to the protective fence
and our freedom;
Massacring the wall, forcing separation into inclusivity.
I watched as the wood split under the force of iron.
You had created a portal into our longings;
At the center
the old swimming pool
of our youth.
We ripped off the clothes that hid our humanness,
And you dropped to your knees and removed my socks.
Arms poised above our heads, we dove;
the pupils dilated
when met with the pool lights.
Hold your breath. Hold your breath. Hold your breath.
The water will always hold your neck in a viper’s grip.
His body bent like the book bindings that took up shelves in the library,
Now haunted by small-town mentalities and a neglect that lingers,
and watched the deer that sought out survival through running
Their tendons strained through short-haired fur and their ears
Perked upward, caves with pointed tips nestled on a rolling hill of skull.
He rubbed the tendons in his hand, willing them to awaken
Just as he rubbed the hand of his mother—willing her to wake.
The deer and the mother are the same, for they both shall
die; the boy lifts his gun and aims it against the protesting dawn.
If he can live without his mother,
Then so can the fawn.
I look around the barren landscape, the site of nuclear testing
and life-ending hallucinations; where are you buried in the sand?
I kneel upon the ground, my hands sinking into the grainy stew;
blisters form and burst on my palms and knuckles.
I know your spirit is out here and it calls to me
in ways only the desert can communicate:
cracked ground, serpent tongues, and isolation.
I need you and I will conduct the séance to
hear you above the heat.
My hands thrust into the sky and I call
your name, chanting as monks do.
The lightening forms in the battered sky,
appearing through the bruised clouds.
Your hand moves
beneath the sand and I watch as you
leave your grave behind.
Since it is, finally, 2019, I wanted to make a post highlighting some of the books I read this past year! With life always going by so fast, I feel that I miss the opportunity of looking back at what I have read and how it has influenced me as an individual. If you are interested, please leave me some of your favorite books that you read this past year!
- In Pieces by Sally Field
- Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
- The Cider House Rules by John Irving
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
- What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski
- Selected Poems: 1965-1975 by Margaret Atwood
My favorite book from this list is Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. If you ever are looking for a memoir that will keep you enthralled from start to finish, it is this book. Poehler made me cry from laughing and from her unwavering honesty of what it is like to be a performer within the improvisational comedy scene.
“Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
Citation: Poehler, Amy. Yes Please. Toronto, Ontario: Harper-Collins Canada, 2014.
I picked up this book when I was in a state of going through the motions; I was uninspired and unbothered by the things happening in my life. Reading her memories of performing with UCB, of being unashamedly pregnant in a male-dominated sphere of comedy, and of meeting Seth Myers (her biggest groupie) during Saturday Night Live made me smile from ear-to-ear and inspired me to always be present in what is happening right now. She also reminded me of the First Commandment in improv: yes, and. This book made me remember to “yes, and” all of the opportunities and events that happen to me. This book is a wild ride from start to finish and I highly recommend it.
As soon as I look up from my cloudy dishwater
thoughts and see you, I feel the magnetism encircle
You follow me, just as the ocean follows the moon.
Crashing waves, crashing growing-pains and I am
You are the angry saltwater that
mesmerizes me and if I could
I would cause you to
evaporate into my skin.
I suppose that I already do this—licking the salt from
your skin, trying so hard to deny
that you are the waves that crash against my
I am part of what makes your waters
So treacherous—the instability of my waning and waxing
cycles—causing your rip tides to rip away the sand-skin of
the far-away shore.
We both cannot live if one of us
leaves. I glowed and you
glistened—we were both
victims of the light.
The following poems are from my first poetry collection Swallowing Jawbreakers: You and I Speak Through Broken Teeth.
As far as providing a time frame, these poems were written from 2016-2017
I remember the spaghetti-sauce stain
that marred the only white shirt
you owned when we celebrated
our two-year anniversary at Macaroni Grill.
You were so exasperated about quantum physics,
trying to explain to me the vast sea
of atoms and formulas while flailing
your fork around.
I still can see the exact moment
when the angel hair fell off
the fork’s teeth, making the suicidal choice
to fall onto the front of your white button-up,
leaving behind a marriage of red on white,
a kiss of sin on what was once pure.
I remember lying in your bed
with horrible menstrual cramps.
So horrible it felt like my intestines
were being wrung like a dishrag
at the hands of scorned women who waited
for their late husbands. I hope
the red stains I left on your mattress are still there.
I picture you throwing back your checkered comforter,
your eyes being met by the faded, rusted stains--
that take up the center of the bed--
and cursing me under your breath
for leaving behind a trace of myself.
A Baptism Beside the Brook
I threw My shoes into the trees,
The branches snapping in on themselves
As they tried to catch My high-heeled cages,
Coaxing Me to abandon more of Myself.
I descended down the moss carpeted earth,
My nails, like eagle’s talons, bearing down on My palms
Cascading blood from My fingertips,
Leaving My cataclysmic cartography behind.
I came to the stream of My childhood;
Much like the time that kept passing us
It was unchanged and ever-flowing,
And next to it, lay a patch of dandelions.
I fell upon My knees, My bones pleading:
To sink amongst them and
To trespass on all the life within them,
As they wrapped their stems around Me.
They pulled Me down, baptized Me as their own,
Made Me their Dandelion Demigoddess,
Sang their praises with their yellow faces,
And sustained Me as My personal suns.
Hand shaking while
Angling the blackened hook
Against your optic nerve
Nerve: a thing that determines
Who will survive the choke-hold
Between blistered hands and
Mascara wand pushed
Inside the outer corner of
Your exposed right eye
You pop out the spherical cages;
Freed pupils, do you still
Long to be
Talk to Me
My words melted on my tongue--pouring from my open lips,
Into your ear that was kissing the top of my cheek.
The sheets were strewn on the floor, intermixed with our clothes.
You jumped from the bed and swam through the cloth sea,
Trying to find your aquamarine socks with the black dots,
Only coming up for air to gaze at me, still strewn across the pillows.
Your hair was the color of coarse sand,
Grains of brown stirred inside the blond.
Freckles occupying any free space of your skin--
As pale as the notecards I tried to focus on last night,
Before you took them from my hands and asked
If I could study you instead of compositional linguistics.
I rose your cardstock arms up
As I lifted your faded t-shirt from your body.
I noticed the faded red lines upon your wrists:
Roses in a field of cotton.
Taking a hit, still not feeling it.
Streaks of industrial lights lacerating my retinas—
Making me grope onto the wires, like a newborn kitten whose
Blinded eyes are swollen shut from the mass destruction of their birth.
I feel the steel cables of the cage sink their teeth into the flesh of my palms.
The man, his skin replaced by streaks of black and white stripes, slaps my face
And screams at me to get up and face the ongoing fight.
My opponent is waiting for me and her sweat is a rushing river that
Flows down the bank of her forehead, a warning to the pulling undercurrents.
The bones of her clenched fist connect, finding the weaknesses
In my pumice body parts, filling the pores with violence.
A reverberating percussion of punctured lungs and chipped canines.
I am as blank as polished ice rinks,
Reflecting back the lights that blind me.
Children in October would roam and hold out their hands,
Looking up at each homeowner with pleading eyes.
Waiting for the jubilant jolt of sugar spiked highs,
Cackling like jackals when they received what they wanted.
Looking up at each homeowner with pleading eyes,
The beggar would hold out a pair of dirty, mangled hands,
Cackling like a jackal when he received what he wanted,
Limply trotting back to his alleyway tomb after dusk.
The beggar would hold out a pair of dirty, mangled hands,
Curved into callused claws that yearned to strike out at life’s unfairness.
Limply trotting back to his alleyway tomb after dusk,
Waiting for the drudgery of time to take away life’s toils.
Curved into callused claws that yearn to strike out at life’s unfairness,
Babies scream as they tear through the wombs of their mothers,
Waiting for the drudgery of time to take away life’s toils,
Holding out their hands for the scraps life will throw at them.