It just doesn’t seem like one at the moment. I don’t know how to talk about how I feel, so I quote from everything I read instead in an attempt to approximate it.
Writing practice. This poem is TL;DR someone take me to the beach. This beach, in particular.
In San Narciso, the locals taught me to tell time with colors.
A white sky in the morning. Brittle yellow grass poking up dead
yet alive from the sand. Iron-grey sea during the stormy season,
when waves rear up as tall as houses. Seaglass—green and amber
brown for the tourists to take home, to tell their families Look
at how the sea recycles, takes Sprite and San Miguel, gives back
treasure without edges. In San Narciso there is no writing. Poems
are things you throw down from the rocks into the roaring
froth of water. Paper crumbles when it’s wet. You’ll lose your pen
in the sand-hills. The place itself teaches you how many things have
no words. What is the word for stars that burn in their places?
What do you call the sound of a guitar on a beach at night?
Who is that woman singing karaoke until the sun comes back
into the white sky—Don’t cry, I’ll bring this home to you?
Though in the end it’s words that bring us home, I want to put
the entire province of Zambales and its storms and its stars
in a bottle and carry it back, to tell you This is the wordless place
I disappear to, one day I’ll take you there. I want to drive up
to your house, and imagine I’ve brought the sea
into your driveway—that even in the city, it finds us.
Nica, do your homework.
Sometimes I wonder if Sir Neil finds me schizophrenic after having to workshop first my love-and-mermaids poetry (which is, for lack of a better/more politically correct term) extremely girly, and then what is essentially snark-vomit on the page. Forgive me, Sir Neil, my true self is not a mermaid and I have failed you, ahuhuhuhu.
Been wanting to do something like this for a while, but still unsure about how, and in what form.
If you were another person,
would you be friends with you?
Every morning I inspect myself
naked in the mirror. I am waiting
for the answer to change to “yes.”
The doctor asks do I have
a habit of cutting
my food into small pieces?
I tell him it is an art, like sculpture,
poetry, making origami cranes.
My mother tells me no,
sweetheart, I am beautiful.
I remember the last time someone
pinched my cheeks—a cousin’s
husband’s sister’s friend’s great-aunt.
She said my baby fat was charming.
I laughed, and put my salad fork
through her hand in my mind.
Do you know that you can fold
a piece of paper only
seven times, and no more? I can cut
a piece of meat down
to the size of a baby’s fingernail.
This is not disappeared enough.
The doctor tells me there is a name
for people like me. I tell the doctor
this must be worth more words
than some Latin on an index card.
Answer the following questions with YES or NO. Are you a perfectionist, a person who always wants to be in control, an overachiever? Do you scrutinize yourself over small faults? Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you think you are not good enough, stupid or worthless? Do you find yourself often comparing yourself to others? Are you taking this test in public, where others can see the computer screen? What do these questions have to do with missing breakfast in the mornings?
What is the language of sickness?
In English, please.
Do they not teach you
to idiot-proof your speech in
medical school? Tell the truth.
If your doctor isn’t lying to you,
what obscures his penmanship?
A girl I know, with shadows under her eyes
deeper than mine, tells me it doesn’t count
if you bring it back up. She says I am afraid.
I say the garbage can will intercede for me.
tells me in her day,
were like flowers.
I’m a girl today.
What are girls like
today? When did they stop
You’re not like that.
How do you know what I’m like?
Writing exercise for CW 220: Poetry Workshop with Dr. J. Neil C. Garcia. Make a catalogue of things following the prompt, “Where I am from.”
I enjoy this sort of thing because I like to let my brain play, and because I seem to think in lists.
I live at the end of the most dangerous highway in the world. Walking across the street to meet someone is a profession of love, as is looking for stars in the city, as is looking for fireflies in the city.
The moths that gather on my balcony to die are not fireflies. In the morning lola will tell me to clean up the wings that fell off their bodies during the night. I don’t know where their bodies go. Lola tells me that a broom made of sticks bites harder than one made of straw.
You may send me flowers if you want to, but something about the water here seems to make them die–turns them brown, or the yellow of sickness.
The only man I’ve ever been able to make smile is my great-grandfather, and that was in his 94th year, when his eyes had already begun to go.
My brother’s red City is too old to roar–instead it mumbles, and I imagine the sea is pulling out of our driveway.
I’m told not to stay out too long after dark. The coins in my pocket may only see me part of the way home.
I keep a cat with no name. She is like a princess walking lightfooted out of the smog and into our house. Her fur smells like grass cut after the rain. She never chases mice. The mice only ever look at her once, and we never see them again.
I am in high school when the road signs change from pink to red, but still too young to understand the difference between “Do not cross” and “Someone has already died here.” Some people will settle for no less than putang ina, sige, tumawid ka.
Some people let drunk men fall asleep in the middle of the road, let the jeeps dance S-shapes around their bodies. I wonder if the pig-trucks are as dexterous. I am not afraid for the pigs.
You may send me flowers if you want to, but I’ll just kill them.
Thinking a lot about my mom today, and how we used to fight about everything, all the time, because teenage angst and middle-aged no-nonsense results-orientedness don’t mix.
I stopped fighting with her so much a couple of years ago, when my dad happened to be in the car with us, listening to us getting mad at two separate people on our phones and remarking that we sounded exactly alike. Since then I’ve been told that while I don’t look like her at all, we resemble each other in a lot of ways–in our mannerisms, in our patterns of speech (“That’s stupid, I don’t understand how you could think that, any person with half a brain would be able to see,” ratatatatatat), in the faces we make especially when we’re amused or annoyed.
Lately I maintain that the most valuable thing my mother ever taught me was her idiosyncratic way of saying “no”–you could almost hear the all-caps, and the leaden, metallic fall of the metaphorical period, “NO.” like a slap in the face, like there was nothing more certain in the whole world.
i.e., my mom is actually quite awesome, and in my old age I’m doing a lot of things to mirror her awesomeness, and we are like sun and moon.
Also partly for Kat, who prompted this in the first place by telling me to write about the fifth from the last text message inbox–which was incidentally “First love never dies hahaha,” sent to my best friend.
This is what you get for playing with the Tab button, Nica. Now you can’t upload stuff in a straightforward manner.
Reach me down my Tycho Brahé, — I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.
Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.
But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.
You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You “have none but me,” you murmur, and I “leave you quite alone”?
Well then, kiss me, — since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, — that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.
I “have never failed in kindness”? No, we lived too high for strife,–
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!
There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, “Patience, Patience,” is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.
I have sown, like Tycho Brahé, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, ’twill disturb me in my sleep
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.
I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,–
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.
I’ll just leave this here, as a sort of fridge-note. Self, you should start writing again soon. Also, you should memorize this.
The sea eats children,
returns them to us broken
in palm-sized pieces—
foam whispering lullaby,
firefly-eyes in the night.
Prompt for Day 11: Write a tanka.
Sea, take my slippers instead.
Be silent. I will not hear your voice
in these pages, squeezed between
the skeletons of letters.
Pain is a flower
stretched across paper,
miming to me We are afraid
of many things. The day’s fire is only the first.
In turn I want to tell you this:
Fragility is measured by how earnestly
something asks to be cracked into pieces,
The truth is that you asked for me,
for the scissors and the closed book—
I keep you to remind myself what my hands
can do, when they tire of being gentle.
If you must call it fear, be not afraid
of this: the leaves will keep their color,
even without breath. I’ve wrung their water
more completely than the sun.
Prompt for Day 10: An un-love poem/a poem of sarcastic dislike.
The line “Pain is a flower” is borrowed from Robert Creeley’s wonderful poem “The Flower.” <3 It’s one of my favorites.
I nurture a special dislike for small, delicate girls, especially those with shrinking-violet dispositions. I’m convinced that if I were a flower I would be the scrubby type that grows in horrible terrain. #specialsnowflake
That the shortest unit of time you will find here is the duration between the stoplight in front of you turning green, and the car behind you honking its horn. That nothing slows down after dark. That there is a bar on every street corner. That you may never find a place that’ll serve you a decent drink in this town. That the lamps want someone to care for them. That they go out at inopportune times because everyone walks too fast to notice how they flicker. That here we have stars close to the ground, in every color you care to name. That I will not lend you a lighter, much less light you up. That I am the sort of woman who will go out walking alone after dark if she chooses. That the fog can take the edges off the shadows, but not off the knife that they hide. That you had best be wary. That the city keeps its secrets. That the city will always spider a little out of the reach of your hands, however resolutely they are searching.
Prompt for Day 9: Write a poem inspired by noir.
HOW DOES ONE NOIR? O.o