Monday, April 28

I listen to movie soundtracks while I put together the soundtrack to my own life.
I beg myself to skip a meal so boys will kiss me harder, touch me longer.
But that's foolish and awful so I eat blueberries until my tongue is numb from sugar and my fingers are stained like lilacs.
I spy on my neighbors in their pretty things, sitting in hammocks and reading Nabokov.
The sun seems too scared of my searing white flesh to touch it for long but the longer I lay in the grass, the more the sun sneaks up on me. I like the lines the sun leaves on me, arrows pointing to all of my hidden skin.
When the weather has tricked us into an early summer, I write the grey days away pouring my own warmth into words.

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leaking glass

Wednesday, April 23

I dreamt of you last night. You filled my darkening soul with the moonlight I remembered you bringing each midnight when the book fell out of my hands and your shirt became knotted in my palms. Your fist beat against my door and there you stood, shirtless like when you'd brush your teeth in the bathroom in the morning. The words pouring out of your mouth weren't words but melodies, curling ghostly fingers into my hair like a breeze curling around headstones. We pushed back onto my red fainting couch like we'd pushed against each other time and time again with bodies hanging off of each other.

Hands turned manic and hungry in the dream as we shoved on through each room in the house, your hand slipping down my skirt and hazy clouds troubling my eyes until they are leaking glass on your bare chest. How did we get here? How did we reach this world where only in a dream can I feel a goodbye leaving your lips and lodging in my ribs? I loved you more than that. You loved us more than that.

Seeing you in your new life woke your ghost up for me once more, let him wander through my door and letting him stain my bedsheets. That immediate and intense recognition at the bar hit me like the bourbon always settles in my kneecaps and makes me faint. If her cough syrup hair can soothe you more than my mocha strands, I am truly happy for you. Her soft eyes and curved chin, I can see they will fit perfectly in your palm.

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story startings- Maggie

Tuesday, April 22

So I've been writing this short story when I've had a free moment or two to spare with school winding down. Here is the beginning. Let me know what you think, lovelies.

She liked to feel the curt little hairs bud in the center of her armpit. As she sat at the table picking through the bowl of peach halves she was systematically cutting in half, she’d absentmindedly move her finger inside of her sweatshirt and feel the tiny bristles like slightly overgrown grass creeping out where she had so meticulously shaved two days ago. The dress she’d had to wear to the party still lay across her couch like a woman caught in a fainting spell, its purple ruffles barely touching the floor.
            Purple had been her mother’s favorite color. Even her casket had been purple when they’d buried her in July. Maggie wore the one black dress she’d owned at the time with the purple heels her mother had bought her for her High School graduation four years before. The shoes rubbed until the skin stretched across her pinky toes was rubbed into blisters full of water, finally popping as Maggie stepped forward to deliver her eulogy. Her toes were swimming while her eyes remained dry. Maggie had forgotten to shave her armpits that day. Later, in the back of the hearse with the hearse driver panting on top of her, his fingers gripped at her armpits and he stopped kissing her neck.
            “You one of those nature loving girls who doesn’t shave her pits?”
            “I didn’t have time. Nobody woke me up.”
            “A 22 year old girl can’t wake herself up?”
            “My mom used to call me every Wednesday morning. I haven’t woken up on Wednesdays for three weeks.” He looked at her face, trying to get her eyes to lock with his. Maggie stared at his crooked bow tie. “Her brain exploded. She was dizzy one morning and her brain exploded. So now I don’t wake up on Wednesdays.”

            “I’ll keep you up til Thursday, babe. You just lay back and let it happen.” Maggie closed her eyes and willed her brain to explode. It didn’t. When his watch beeped at midnight she pushed him off of her and wandered to her car, her underwear dragging along the bottom of her left heel. When she got home that night the raw pink skin on the sides of her pinky toes had glued themselves to the inside of her shoes. Ripping them off made her scream and blood slowly cry from the wounds. This was the first night she felt lonely.

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Sunday, April 20

At the end of your dock,
at the end of your world,
what keeps you from jumping off?
What emerald lights your way home
on those velvet evenings when
you fall asleep on your own?

That will.
That fight.

The breaking waves inside your heart
that beat you on against the current
of your incorruptible dream.
That golden afternoon in her arms,
her blossoming beneath you, your world
bubbling into the modern as she breathes.

That girl.
That night.

She was everything and nothing at once.
She was money and fame and gold.
She was heart and soul, booze and jazz.
The honey of her golden curls bounced
as you bounced for her too,
her sunburned words cloaked in satin.

That love.
That light.

The shot rang like her voice but stuck
in your chest like hot, bleeding nostalgia.
The greatest of men fall
hardest of all.
Your ripple still pulses through the pool
of red, white, and blue.

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a calling of sorts

Friday, April 18

This was the second year that my dear friend and mentor Mr. Larsen, my once Honors English teacher and now friend, has asked me to come teach his Honors English classes about The Great Gatsby. And just like last year, this was my favorite day. This year even more than last year. These Honors students are truly spectacular. They were actively listening to me, they participated and talked with me (even in first period at 8 in the morning, something I can't even say I do in school), and they fought what I said and we came up with new ideas together.

Teachers, back me up on this. There is nothing at all in this world more encouraging and meaningful than when you see a light spark in a student's eyes based on something you've said. Seeing a moment when you say something that can have the power to fundamentally change someone is so incredible. Or seeing someone begin a lecture half listening and ending in rapt attention with a hand in the air, begging to share their ideas with respectful people who will listen to them.

This happened a few times to me today and my heart has never felt more full. I felt comfortable speaking to these kids, but of course there will always be a level of nerve in sharing something that is so vital to you, like this book is for me. And come on, it's High School. For some reason my desire to impress high schoolers has grown exponentially since I was actually in school. I wanted to look pretty so these kids would respect and listen to me. I wanted to seem cool and approachable. I wanted to be heard by the quiet kids who might not ordinarily speak.

I think I was. After each lecture, a good majority of the students came up and thanked me for coming to talk to them. One girl told me that I completely changed her opinion of the book, that she can't wait to read it again. Another told me that I was so funny and that I should come teach at the school. One said I had pretty hair and great style. "You're just so legit! You're so cool! I just looked at my watch and saw that the lecture was ending and got so sad that I couldn't stay and listen to you. Thank you so much for coming."

Teachers, after a day like this, do you go home crying? Because I did. These kids touched me so deeply in my soul and reminded me why reading and English and discussion of ideas is so important. It forges these amazing connections. I love sitting in my English classes and being able to talk freely with my instructors, knowing my ideas are being respected and heard. But being on the other side of that, knowing these kids are soaking up everything I say and sharing in my obsession and letting it morph into their own, is so so cool. Life changing really.

After the teaching was done, Mr. Larsen and I evaluated the day. I expressed my joy at how the day went and assured him I'd be back next year. I also said I hoped I never came off as pretentious or "holier than thou." What he said sort of amazed me. He said he could tell I was self-conscious about coming off as pretentious and that I would never need to worry about feeling that way. He said I had a natural gift for teaching and relating and being. I seemed honest and approachable and open. An expert, but an expert eager to learn and grow with my students.

And then I walked to my car and cried for the entire ride home. I think I've found a calling. I want to reach the world through words on a page and words hand delivered to open ears.

Thank you so much to these students for hearing me today and pushing me. Thank you to Mr. Larsen for being the single most lovely man I know, a true Nick Carraway and a stand up man. Thank you to every single teacher who has respected me and helped me grow. Thank you thank you thank you.

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Wednesday, April 16

The day I stopped hating my hips,
the day I welcomed these rosebuds
that had bloomed at my sides
was the day I heard the flowers dying.
She said they were flowers from
the day their love was spoken,
flowers that had fluctuated on
our windowsill for months,
volleying between life and death,
unable to water themselves
while she leaves, licking her lips
and showering in his name.

That morning they wilted,
parched and empty like my insides,
wounded, alone, beautiful and damaged.
Their hollow stems shake and flee
from the garbage disposal like I
shook from his vinegar words.

I speak to them in dew drops
and they beam against the window,
the symbol of another's love,
cradled by my hands.
The hands I wrap around my back,
just to remember what it feels
like to forget myself.
To remember what those undiscovered
curves and valleys have been
to my Magellans, I the only
native still standing in the
middle of the poppy fields
sweeping away the ashes
with gentle, open palms.

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a prayer of inspiration

Tuesday, April 15

The wind is not nearly bracing enough tonight.
It's calming and balmy and chilly
while I sit here demanding hurricanes
and hail, the wind on fire coming to 
carry me away, to burn and to purge
with sandpaper skin sailing through my window.
I've tossed and turned in every reachable sea,
made my own oceans and drowned myself in them all
before the baptism could begin. 
It was a baptismal breath,
a barely palpable gasp into new being that
kept me clawing at the barricades
pushing me beneath the waves, into
catacombs crawling with spirits and spiders,
macabre reminders of dark days gone by.
The wind was silent then, is silent now.
It was lush and never lonely. 
It caressed and coddled
when I needed it to throw me down,
make me its rag doll.
Tonight, with the moon dancing in the breeze,
the jigsaw pieces meandering into place,
I'm craving destruction, the human spirit
quivering to feel confusion and pain. 
Feeling lost to feel found.
Cutting flesh to wrap it up.
Blowing towns to shreds to rebuild them.

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Sunday, April 13

I could write a post telling you minute by minute the happenings of my literature conference a few weekends ago. I could tell you about the great friends I made, I could tell you about my plans to go back next year, I could tell you how exhausted I was after sleeping for maybe four hours all weekend. But that would be way too much for one post. It's probably too much for two posts.

But what I can tell you is the most important thing I learned that weekend. That this is attainable. Being a writer is attainable. I am on the right track, I can do this, I am supported and talented and eager and hungry.

We had three amazing speakers this weekend and the overwhelming theme of all of the talks was that it can be done. There are different ways to get it done, and writing is the hardest thing you could choose to do, but it can be done. The thing to look out for though, is ways the world will try and fight you on getting your work done.

Bret Anthony Johnston spoke with us and talked a lot about indulgences. People tend to see writing as a career as an indulgence. Well, really, any artistically driven career is usually seen as an indulgence. People think that you are so lucky to be able to work at your dreams and think it's so easy to just sit and write or paint or act. It's not. At all. Artistically driven careers are some of the most taxing career choices. Yes, I am doing what I love and that is wonderful and I'm incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love. But it's also so damn hard because it's something I love. I can't shut my work off at 5 pm. If I get hit with an idea at 6, I write that idea at 6. If I get hit with a poem at 3 in the morning, guess who stays up and writes. Because that's how I'll provide for myself. If I let those ideas escape, I'm flushing my career away.

Indulgences are what artists give up for their careers. Ron Carlson, another one of our amazing speakers, urged us to remember how important it is to be alone when you write. You have to shut yourself away and keep your ass in that chair while the ideas pool onto your screen. Don't stand up for that phone call, don't check social media, tell your friends you can't make it to the bar tonight. You have got to write alone. You have to give up indulgences so you can write or paint or act or work on a show. Most of my friends are in theater, which means they don't get to go out on Saturdays or Fridays because they are providing a place for others to go. If I have to finish a chapter or I get hit with inspiration, I have to forgo my dinner plans so I can write a scene for my character's dinner.

It is not an indulgence to follow your dreams. It is a necessity. Writing is breathing for me. If I didn't write, I wouldn't breathe. If that means I can't go to brunch every week or I can't stay up with all the books I have to read because I'm too busy writing my own, that is the price I pay. Bret said that the world makes it really easy not to be a writer or an artist. The world will throw better, more secure jobs your way. It will throw money at you. It will throw you miles of needless distractions that keep you away from your art. It's the writer's job to tune it all out, keep your ass in that chair, and bleed life into blank pages.

This is barely scratching the surface of that weekend and I have so much more to tell you. But I thought this was an important place to start. I wanted to start by saying that I believe in all of you artists out there. I believe in your poems and your watercolors. I believe in your acting and your stories and your lighting designs. Fight for your art. Never give in. Never give in to the indulgences around you. This is attainable. We will all get there.

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Tuesday, April 8

It's harder to sleep at night knowing
I'll miss the stars and record players
Spinning in their galaxies,
These orbits outside my window.
Miles above the radiation-
Light years away from memories of
hands and tears nestling into my fingertips.
My shoulders closing in like book covers,
letting my heart be burrowed in my
word soaked ribs.
I curb loneliness with pages.
His spine is gone and yet five spines
have settled in my bed,
peaking at me under pillowcases,
laughing below my calve
and lounging beside me in my sheets.
The stars have the black matter to
nestle inside of but I have
my serpentine spines.
The night wears on and yet sleep
remains a shadow dancing on my wall.
Pages flutter with the breeze sneaking
in through the open window and
rattling the cages the characters share,
begging for stories to be told.
Go to sleep, I whisper, trying to
evaporate into the stars as they
beat against my brain and seconds
hoist their hands on toward daylight.
Another morning coming much too soon.
But I'd rather be tired and inspired,
heart on fire, fingertips wired to the keys,
than retired from the desire to create
and let these people breathe.

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Monday, April 7

The onset of summer leaves me vibrating and nostalgic like folk music,
the sunset like melting ice cream and honeydew scents
curling in the newly forming blossoms on the trees.

I feel young and small and tired, fallen from the nest too soon.
I feel strong and awake and ready, getting drunk on warming air.
The paradox of 22, too young to not call mother, too old to miss her much.

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April come she will

Tuesday, April 1

We're getting into the meat of the year now, yeah? Right now I'm hitting the final stretch of the semester, the time when I ask myself if I really need to go to class or if I can afford to sleep in for an extra hour. Guess which has been winning.

April is a pretty month for poetry. Rain and rebirth. I'm excited to taste it all.

My April will feature:

  • The return of GAME OF THRONES
  • The literature conference I was accepted to is this weekend. Mildly nervous for reading my two pieces. More nervous about finding the right buildings and parking. My irrational fears of being lost or late or looking like an idiot cannot be topped. 
  • I'll be returning to my high school to teach Gatsby to some Juniors like I did last year. Cannot. Wait. Hopefully this year I won't have to yell at a kid and tell him he's gonna peak in High School. (oops) 
  • More sunny days means more outside study time which is infinitely better than studying inside. That should help my focus, right? One can hope. 
Not too much happening in April, beside my semester ending and 8000 essays I have to write. But then summer. 

I love the prologue of April. What are you excited about this month? What's got you feeling alive and breathing? 

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