The sky tonight is cloudy, which is just as well, because the moon is mostly full and it would only obstruct the view of the stars.
I remember when I dated the engineer, the young man who was too smart for his own good. The first time he came to my house, he brought me a towel, because he heard that I was living the life of a minimalist consumer (a student) and he thought I might need a towel. We took a walk through the forest that day, and I think he was more impressed than I was that we both liked to walk through the forest. There was a skeleton in the woods—dog or deer, I do not know, for it looked too large to be either one. The engineer was disturbed by my curiosity, so I resisted the urge to investigate. I led him to our destination, a place I discovered shortly before, where the water cascaded along the rocks, where I could lie on my back and pretend I was alone and just listen to the water rush and swirl around me, lie with eyes closed, picture the light dancing off the rapid, rippling surface. When my eyes were open, I could see the blue sky, vivid and electric, framed by the tops of trees reaching, with no effort, into my vision, as though they wanted to reach down and rock me gently to sleep. I wanted to lie there for hours, but the engineer pulled me away far too soon. I led him back a different way, this time veering south at the skeleton, so we skirted the forest’s edge, although the engineer did not know it. He thought we were deep in the woods, and plunging deeper, far from my little cabin where his car was parked, his means of escape. I pointed us towards the cornfield. The stalks were short at that time of year, but next to them was a vast grassy field with steadily sloping hills that I loved to run across, and I know the engineer enjoyed running after me. He caught me, pulled me down into the grass, and he laid me there and kissed me. I opened my mouth to him, and his bold hand told me that he wanted to do more, but we were in view of another home and I had no wish to go inside during such perfect weather. After dark, we lay on the grass and watched the stars, the pinpoints of light actually starbursts to me without my glasses. The moon was shrouded in darkness, so the sky was full of those splendorous bursts of light, like orbs—like Van Gogh’s yellow orbs.
I contemplated how short my life was.
The engineer contemplated how short the night was.
And tonight’s sky, with the moonlight painting the migrant clouds purple and grey to contrast the blackness above, hiding the nothingness I’ve contemplated for a lifetime—no mystery, just clouds—with the cold gripping me, not the warmth of that night by the cornfield—
Tonight’s sky is more beautiful to me than the sky I shared with the engineer.
Moon’s an umbrella caught rolling in night’s samba, the best of me still too self conscious to dance with an asking shadow. The hull tips and cascades a galaxy into the forward compartments, the x-ray will show most of its denser momentum was never seen at all. I leapt when I thought we had drowned, the floor done spinning about the day’s array, and passed around the couch for another sip of sleep.
An ekphrasis poem is a piece inspired by a work of art, like my poem “Lily Pads,” which was one of the three winners of the Aroma of Art poetry competition; it was based on the painting “Lily Pads” by Kitty Bryant, a truly beautiful work of art. You may see me post some inspiring works of art. Ekphrasis poetry is good exercise; I recommend any poet give it a shot!
If- If I could- If I had- Oh God, if- If I could reach you If I could drag you down To the hard ground And rip at you And claw at you Nails scrubbing skin Hands twisting sinew Rend you Pull you apart If I could lay you down Among the other dead Open your ribcage up Fish through the gore Find the…
I read this and was blown away. This is Serious Swaim—that concept might have been unnerving, until I saw what he was posting. This is based on the Oslo shootings last July, but even before I knew what he was talking about, I realized I was catching my breath. The dude’s sentimental and he’s incredibly talented. The imagery in his piece is phenomenal; it really conveys that emotion others struggle to articulate. Well done, Swaim.
I look at the trees—they’re black clouds against the dim gray sky. No stars tonight, no breeze; even with the roaring engine nearby I could be the only person on Earth. There is a light from the forest; it illuminates every spider’s web that I didn’t see before. I lean closer; the intricate weave is suddenly a beauty to my eye. I sit and stare until dew settles on the delicate silk; I watch it become a galaxy, billions of twinkling celestial bodies all netted in a single entity, a universe, vulnerable to the slightest breeze, yet capable of harnessing life and destroying it all in the name of its creator. I’ve never been so close to the stars. I tend to long for things that are too far from my reach.
As one of the three winners of the Aroma of Art poetry competition in Hickory, NC, I was chosen to read my poem “Lily Pads” to the Grand Finale crowd. Yesterday was my first time reading before an audience. I really appreciated having so many people approach me afterwards and tell me how much they enjoyed my reading. My theater history helped me take the microphone with confidence, but I must admit that my hands were a little shaky afterwards. Hopefully there will be more readings in the future! The poem was based on a painting by a local artist who donated her work to the charity auction. Aroma of Art is a great program and the Grand Finale went wonderfully!
[special thanks to the entire fucking internet for this image. Also Lucasfilm and Jim Henson Co. And Brian Froud, because art.]
That’s me right there. See? Lost in the maze. See, Sarah feels like she’s actually getting somewhere. She marks the ground so she knows not to backtrack. She accepts help from a few ugly people, the likes of whom I’ve encountered numerous times. But I won’t get into that, because then I’ll have to start naming names and who wants that kind of backlash? Although…could be interesting.
Anyway, to avoid the fallout from the insult it would bring if I started naming names (this is the writing world I’m talking about), here are a few more ways the writing world is just like Labyrinth.
Everyone’s poorly dressed.
Everyone enters expecting a result, which is absolutely no guarantee. The goblins are a sect of readers and pedants who exist purely to try and tear you down. When they ask “What’s your major?” and you say, “Creative Writing,” they say, “Oh. How are you planning to make money?” All logical and shit. But then they read your work and they say, “Ah! Okay, I see.” Suddenly they realize you’re awesome as shit and they’re no longer goblins. But the goblins are still there. What are they, then, you ask? They’re pieces of you. They’re the little voice in the back of your head that says “You’re wasting your time” and shoots live creatures at you like cannonballs. Okay so the analogy’s gotten away from me. Or maybe not. Bear with me here.
When your conscience (goblins) gets out of hand, you have to rely on friends to bring you back to your senses, or “call the rocks,” as it were. When you start to feel you’ve lost your touch, you show your friend something that sucks and she says, “This might be my favorite piece from you.” Of course, then you start to question the quality of your previous work, since this piece sucks so badly.
Speaking of friends. Sarah has a yappy dog, an ugly dwarf, and a hairy beast to help her along. In the case of a writer, these people probably aren’t as ugly and stupid as she thinks they are. The writer’s just too self-absorbed to see what they really look like. See, these uggos are just trying to get to the center of the labyrinth, just like the writer is. It’s the writer’s delusion that everyone is trying to help her. The world doesn’t work that way.
Jareth wears tight pants. He tantalizes Sarah, making all sorts of promises and then deliberately making her task impossible. Also he wears tight pants. He represents the publishing industry. Of course, agents and editors aren’t really trying to hurt you. They have their own shit to worry about. It just seems from writer’s perspective (the new writer, I suppose. I’m really reaching here. Bear with me.) that the publishing industry is a sort of enigmatic character whose motivations are questionable and who challenges the writer at every turn. As to whether or not editors wear tight pants, I can’t answer that.
The only other analogy I can make is that everyone is clearly on some sort of hallucinogenic drug, or has such a wild imagination that they think they can all be as successful as that one lady who copied the lady who paid tribute to the lady who wrote about vampires in New Orleans.
[This isn’t a topic I tend to linger on. I just felt remarkably numb towards death the other day, and this is one of the few instances where numbness actually compelled me to write a poem. I originally intended it to be a three-parter, with three separate incidents.]