neverlandi'm giving myself ten minutes to grow up,
and with every minute that passes i am remembering
balloons and party hats and streamers
and the second star to the right,
straight on 'til morning.
every year i write myself a poem for my birthday,
but this year i think i'll write a poem about
peter pan and he'll die in the end and everyone
will be sad. i'll be the saddest though,
because there comes a point in your life
when you realize that you're not peter pan,
or wendy, or even a lost boy.
(how sad, i think, to be lost but not a lost boy.
it doesn't matter though, because neverland isn't
real and now look, i'm another year older, and what
have i even done with my life?)
today i'm twenty-three and peter pan is dead.
my ten minutes have passed and i still haven't
grown up. people around me forget how to talk
to mermaids, and no one claps because no one
believes in fairies, or flying, or themselves.
today every birthday candle looks like a bone
and i still have so many wishes left to make.
the perfect strangershe misses colin the most at night, when, waking from nightmares, her hand reaches out into the darkness for someone who is no longer there.the perfect stranger3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
an unexpected message flares briefly on her screen, long enough for her heart to drop into her stomach in surpriseher ex-boyfriend's little sister's ex-boyfriend? sighing, she types a hello and strains her memory to recall what she knows of this boy from their one brief meeting. his name is aaron. tall. shaggy bed-head hair. sleepy hazel eyes. she lightly touches the keyboard, entertaining the notion that other people might feel as lonely at night as she does.
"tell me a secret," she types to him.
"why should I put my trust in you?" he asks, surprised.
"who better to trust than a stranger?"
so he does.
a five minute secret turns into an hour long story, then a night-long conversation.
the next morning, after telling this boy how colin broke her, she wakes to a message in her inbox:
The world is yours.
Boys are stupid.
NPR three minute story submissionShe closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. That low rumble had been Tom's temperamental engine; she was sure of it. The sound had tattooed itself on the inside of Anna's ears ages ago. Maybe he was sitting in the front seat of his car, trying to work up the courage to knock. Maybe his brows would knit together and his mouth would quirk and he would say, "I missed you, Sunshine," though he had never once called her by that nickname. Maybe she could apologize, and he would kiss the insides of her wrists, the back of her neck, her eyelids.NPR three minute story submission3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Yes, she could hear a car door opening. If she listened hard she thought she could even make out the rustle of his corduroy jacket.
Go outside, said her heart.
Wait, said her brain.
She began to count aloud. "One, two, three, four"
Anna was eight when her baby brother was born. He was little more than a fragile bag of bones and organs, an accident waiting to break her heart. Every night she'd snea
numbit is two o' clock in the morning and i can't sleep. or i sleep too much. one of the two, and the pills make three. they stew and burn the back of my throat; the chemicals dissolve and form words.numb3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
the medical literature didn't say anything about that. or the numbness in my arms and legs. the tingling has crept up my right leg for the past week, weaving itself between my toes and nipping at the back of my knee. maybe it's a side effect, or maybe it's diabetes. or a blood clot. maybe my foot will need to be amputated, and i will have to hobble down the aisle for our wedding.
he coughs beside me, still fast asleep, and i touch one of his eyebrows so softly that maybe i am imagining the wiry hair against my fingertip. will he still love me if i only have one foot? i could ask him. i should shake him into reality and tell him about the burn and the tingling and the wedding photos that i will likely ruin.
"i'm sorry," i say, just to hear the words aloud, but he doesn't wake up.
the one tha
ScarringAt some point in my life I stopped posting pictures that included my left forearm. It wasn't one of those gradual things where eventually I noticed this to be the case and had to search my soul to figure out why.Scarring2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I didn't need to figure it out. I knew. My left forearm is covered in scars, and scars are not acceptable anymore. I've grown up and left behind the things that made me sad -- or at least I've told myself that I have.
It could just be that I learned that sadness lasts forever when it's cut into your skin.
That's the thing about scars, though. If you're sad enough or angry enough or empty enough, you don't care about forever, until one day you're grown up and someone is looking at your wrist with a question in their eyes.
People keep saying that scars are beautiful in their own way, that they tell a story. Maybe that's true for others, but not for me. You can't tell a story from the lines of white tissue on my arm. Or maybe you can, and the story is as follows:
"Once upon a tim
no one warned the little girlssometimes you will fall in love with the handsno one warned the little girls3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
or with the jawline, not with the penis.
watch out for boys whose eyes
are rougher than their voices.
little girls love hard and fast, and it is a lie
to say that words will never hurt you.
kissing in the rain is not romantic.
it's cold and wet, and your nipples
will be like pebbles digging into his skin.
he'll wipe water from your lashes,
and, if he is polite, he'll pretend
not to notice his thumb blackened by mascara.
later as he sleeps you will watch his lips,
unable to feel anything except your hair
curled damply against your skin.
when you were young, sex was strange
and scary and unreasonable.
when you grow older, that doesn't change at all.
please, do not use the flavored condoms.
getting married tastes like a wedding
invitation, heavy cardstock and eggplant ink.
if you cut your tongue and bleed
all over the calligraphy, it's bad luck.
when you speak your vows and look in his eyes,
you will still feel the blood
in your mouth, warm a
12-21-12The Mayans said it first, but12-21-122 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
tea leaves said it second, her palm
said it third, and the boy
down the road, the one with the blue,
blue eyes, said it fourth.
The world was going to end and she
could not be happier.
Her affairs were easy to arrange:
money sealed into envelopes,
the microwave unplugged, and one
last kiss for the blue-eyed boy.
She called her mother,
and her mother did not answer.
(But she did not expect her to.)
That evening she hid beneath
a blanket with her dog and told stories
about the good times and the bad times
(but mostly the bad times, and how
now there would never have to be
bad times ever again).
Then she went to bed, heart lighter
than light, winged with hope,
and woke up crying.
Thank You, Slater.I used to go to the nearby campus coffee shop in the early evenings, armed with a pen, a blank notebook, and writer's block. The sense of loneliness was unspoken but well accounted for.Thank You, Slater.3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I always shared coffee-counterspace with the same boy, who never smiled or talked and who had a penchant for bedhead and argyle sweaters. He liked to lean back on his stool, balancing precariously as he read novels, and I liked to pretend I wasn't watching him watch me. We coexisted in quiet companionship, thrived quietly under fluorescent lighting which sometimes caught his thick-framed glasses.
His novels changed while my notebook remained the same; his dogeared copies of The Sound and the Fury and Animal Farm distracted me as I doodled stars on blank pages, waiting for something that could not be explained.
It was raining. I remember that. His glasses fogged up when he walked in, his tousled black hair dripped water on my elbow.
"Why don't you ever write in your notebook?" he asked, turning to me w
Riding BikesGoing off medication is like riding a bike.Riding Bikes3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The doctor holds tight to my handlebars and lowers my dosage. The training wheels are off, and oh hey, look at me go! It's like flying but not, and I'm doing so well but then there's a horrible accident and I'm somehow upside down at the bottom of the sea with both wheels still spinning.
"Help," I say, and my doctor pats my head, puts a band-aid on my knee, and writes a note on my chart.
I've balanced by myself for months at a time, but I always end up hitting a fucking tree or falling off a cliff or something equally catastrophic because I am a catastrophic person. Except that is an exaggeration. I am an exaggeration.
I like to compare mental illnesses to mundane physical activities. Also you should know that I am sick but trying to get better.
Sometimes I relapse and then write poems about it.
It's not even the kind of sick where people bring you soup in bed and soothe your fevered brow. It's the kind of sick where I'm late to work because
the expirationthey put an expiration date on sadness last wednesday, and now the world is happy again.the expiration2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
the law says we only get six months to mourn tragedies, six months to howl at the moon and claw at our thighs until they look like road maps. six months, and then the pain will die away just like we wanted to.
i didn't think it could really happen, but i've seen it. my neighbor's husband left her two years ago, and they're taking retroactive sadness into account. now that her grief has expired, she can't stop smiling. she told me that she's free to pull the weeds from her garden and wear her red high heels again. she has a date with the UPS man, and i swear she's lost five pounds.
i ran into my friend jennifer in the produce section yesterday, and she hugged me so hard that i felt my back crack. jennifer had a miscarriage seven months ago, but when she mentioned that she's going to start trying for another baby, i was the only one tearing up over the zucchinis.
i've got two more days left 'til mine
heart crossed.heart crossed.4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"who's that kid?" i ask, pointing at the boy whose hair cannot decide if it is red or gold. he holds a basketball in his small hands, bouncing it, once, twice, before putting it through the hoop in a perfect arc.
"james," the counselor responds, and leans closer. "he's a foster kid, you know."
i don't know.
the boy turns at that moment and catches me watching him. unthinkingly i form my thumbs and index fingers into a heart and flash it at him. he nods to his teammates and leaves the court, climbing the bleachers to where i sit.
"did you see my shot?" he asks.
"yes." pause. "i'm kelsey."
"i know," he says, and runs back to his game.
at the end of the camp day i wave to the buses as they leave the parking lot. the final bus clicks and pops to life, and from the last seat i see james cup his hands into a heart and press it against the window at me. i fumble to free my hands and return the gesture, but the bus turns the corner and he is gone.
it doesn't take long for me to vow that if i
waiting.he has been there for so long that the girl sometimes wonders if he is part of the beach, if the seaweed and shells fuse themselves to his ankles at night and grow over his browned legs like ivy. he is always still, so still, eyes focused on something distant in the waves that the girl can't quite see, though she tries. the man has a face like a creased paper bag and she finds herself wishing that she could see inside his head.waiting.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
she watches him all day from the corner of her eye but no one ever joins him in his vigil. he is alone in casting shadows that grow longer and longer as the sun sets. the girl wonders what it is like to be so alone and decides she'd rather be lonely on the beach than spend all her time with people, particularly the people she knows who seem to be full of incessant questions and sharp elbows.
the man is waiting, and so instinctively she waits too.
the girl is the only one to see him cut his palm wide open on a shell. she watches the red droplets fall heavily on
encephalitis.she asks, "is it weird to have one day where you really intensely, for no good reason, think of a dead person?"encephalitis.4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
the intercom was the one to announce that his body had finally given up. i don't remember what i was wearing that day, or how my hair looked, or what noises fell out of my mouth. death has dulled the sharp edges within me. this is what i do know: some people burst into tears and some people sat frozen and pale and some people simply got up and left the room.
"are you okay?" someone asked me, and i found that i was lying on the floor, though i couldn't understand how i'd gotten there. the overhead lights were buzzing and humming, or maybe it was just my heart. confused, i sat up quickly and let the blood rush to my head in one glorious fell swoop.
"are you okay?" they asked again, and i said yes, yes, i am okay. i am alive. i have to be okay. the linoleum is still cold against my cheek and i can still see i am alive i am okay i am okay i am okay.
but sometimes i wish i had t
the kingdom of life and deathtwo weeks ago i threw a stonethe kingdom of life and death1 year ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
at the water and watched it skip three times, thinking
it will never do to grow old and content.
somewhere beneath this river
there is a castle built from stones i've thrown,
and all of the fish are kings and queens.
they've never been asked about their royal decrees.
no one has ever wished them a happy birthday.
they reign over the kingdom of life and death, and even the river
refuses to stop and mourn them when they go.
one week ago i found a moss-covered stump,
and instead of crying, i counted its rings.
if you were to cut me crosswise, i don't know
what you'd find. perhaps severed arteries
pouring out gold and poetry,
ancient cave paintings splashed across my vertebrae,
or the secret to immunity brewing
in the cauldron of my hips.
maybe you wouldn't find anything.
i cannot grow rings, after all,
and i am no queen.
today, to celebrate my birthday,
i will head down to the river with a saw
slung over my shoulder and
chop down a t
thirteen ways of looking at--one crow sorrowthirteen ways of looking at--4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
two crows joy
three crows a wedding
four crows a boy
five crows silver
six crows gold
seven crows a secret
that has never been told.
i suppose my secret is that i never told him that he is a blackbird.
he is all sleep-crooked eyelashes, dark and glossy, and his wingspan
is over seven feet long which seems big enough to pull down the sky.
i could tell him about birds as cliche symbols but his mouth is forceful,
his body is warm and needy and there is no room for literature in bed.
my hands flutter needlessly against his shoulders and i hope
i am a bird of paradise but in truth i am no bird at all.
i guess my secret could also be that i want to marry him
and bind his jagged elbows tight and teach him about earthly things
like poetry and not making me cry. he will fuck up, i know this.
he has before. when it happens again i will sob about useless symbolism
and nursery rhymes and maybe he will remind me "two crows joy."
this is supposed to be where i write about loving
Colours I Never TastedIt is not worth escaping over.Colours I Never Tasted3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
No, sometimes the sun rises lopsided in the horizon and the
clink of glasses against teeth sets irate neurones off in your mind cavity
and fireflies extinguish on car windscreens in rain storms. Sometimes
August drops down into lake reflections and sometimes October never
sends a breeze to whisper into your ears. But they teach you that all of
that is okay, even when you're watching sunflowers writhe towards the
sun with grey blankets over humid-day hair.
There will always be a dawn. Stay awake for it.
You are not truly living until you have breathed.
And by that, I mean, take two feet and place them on the path
or the grass and inhale April. it doesn't matter if it is not April,
imagine the dandelions and the daffodils and the soft bleat of lambs
and that fresh scent rushing past your nose in long car journeys,
the one that tugs your legs onto the map and tells you 'this is home,
all forty thousand kilometres of it'.
The world is your oyster. Be the pear
march 24th, 2008.there is a chinese proverb that says your teeth will fall out if you tell lies.march 24th, 2008.4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
i used to always dream my teeth would crumble from my mouth and lay glittering on the street like coins. i used to dream that the slightest touch jarred them loose, knocked them from my jaw leaving only swells of broken tissue behind. i used to dream of rivulets of blood streaming from the corners of my mouth, of thirty two pieces of myself lying naked on the ground, thirty two tooth fairies that would never come. i used to dream of screaming.
"you know," said my psychology TA, "to dream of losing one's teeth is very common. it typically means that you're concerned about your physical appearance. it's a dream that is prevalent among many young women."
i used to dream my mom would try to kill me. i used to dream she'd push me down flights of stairs or hold a gun to my temple or run a razor lovingly along my throat. i used to dream she'd watch me drown and smile, that she would set my room on fire, would lock
throwing rocks.so i want to grow up and get a job and make happy, make money, make forget. i can't though, i'm too concerned with windchimes. i mean, fuck windchimes, right? i lie awake at night and listen to rigs on the rumble strip and the windchimes, (mostly the trucks), but damn, the tinkling is enough to keep me awake all night. but sometimes not, and then i dream i drown or maybe i marry a serial killer who props up corpses in rocking chairs or sometimes i dream about my ex-boyfriend's little sister because why not. then i wake up and it's taxes and credit cards and grades and people dying and shit.throwing rocks.4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
i don't know what is wrong with me.
i mean i do, though, it's called obsessive compulsive disorder and major depressive disorder and severe anxiety and a bunch of other shit that takes too long to detail, but i'm talking about the pieces insurance won't cover.
also fuck claire danes.
it's just like, when i close the door behind me i push on the doorknob six times plus seven plus seve
the soccer game.the thing is, i needthe soccer game.4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
the deer to mean something.
i go to the soccer game and smile
and nod while something furious
inside of me is screaming.
a deer appears while the sun
is setting and it's like a scene
from a movie: green grass and gold rays
that spread out, tingeing our feet
with one last bit of wednesday.
everyone watches the deer and makes
noises of appreciation and i look
around and i think to myself
"okay, this is it, i am happy."
the deer is watching me and i try
to decide if it's a metaphor.
i want the deer to be death, see,
to represent fucking or blacking
out or apathy or loneliness.
someone does something heroic
with a soccer ball and i watch
my hands clap together over and over.
okay, or maybe the deer is supposed
to be happy. maybe the deer
represents attending social
events and sitting with people.
maybe the deer means that
i'm ready to let go.
the girl beside me looks over
and asks if i've written any poems
lately. (that's all she knows of me,
that i write poems and
Fourth of September.1.Fourth of September.4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am writing a poem about my birthday and candles and alcohol and dead people.
And how I have a really good imagination and every time I walk by that stop sign I see the car slamming into her and spreading her across the asphalt and every time the lights flicker I imagine his brain swelling against the confines of his skull and every time I walk in the front door I am reminded that my baby brother is dead.
I am writing a poem about balloons and dead people.
It is the fourth of September and I am full of longing. I want bare knees and raw elbows, untied shoes, green grass that bites into the tender palms of my hands. I want summer to roll into autumn without numbers. I want to pick wild strawberries. I want birdsong sunsets, lowercase letters.
I want Cooper's pond at night, where there are no atomic bombs or doctor's charts and you can slip beneath its cold surface and live forever.
Tonight I am supposed to celebrate growing old by getting drunk and pretending tha
paper cranes and picket fencesi am folding you one thousand paper cranes because it is all we have left.paper cranes and picket fences5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
legend says that if i fold one thousand paper cranes, i will get a wish. i could wish for a pair of iridescent wings or an ocean in a teacup or just to finally be happy again, but i don't want any of that--with every crane i fold i am imagining you. one crane for the circles under your eyes, one crane for your jutting ribs, one crane for every seizure.
i love you and you're dying and i will run out of paper trying to fold your broken pieces into birds.
you drew me a picture of us in the future.
our houses were next door to each other and a white picket fence separated our property and oh god, it made me curl into a ball and ache for hours. see, in a perfect world, the clouds would always be fluffy and our mailboxes would always be full of hand-drawn pictures and our smiles would be lopsided but permanent.
i hung it on my refrigerator as a reminder that there is still hope, but paper is so fragile and i am afra
stop ruining autumn.listen:stop ruining autumn.6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
fall makes me think of leaving and of apple cider, though i never liked apple cider.
but i liked the idea of it.
two years ago i met a boy as fragile as dead leaves who called me his little spring girl. (i'd always liked autumn the best.) he kissed the two soft dimples on the small of my back and told me helikedme helovedme hewantedme.
and oh, by the way, "everything good must come to an end."
on our one year anniversary we picked out two pumpkins and i drew elephants on them for us to carve. he cut his out so aggressively that it lost its shape.
lopped off tusks and broken trunks became just a large, jagged hole.
he put a lit candle inside, and we watched it flicker, illuminating the raw edges.
"what is it supposed to be?" i asked him, taking his hand.
"my heart," he said definitively.
like an afterthought.
after that i was too afraid to carve my pumpkin at all.
the leaves changed, or maybe he changed, or maybe i was b
fog.have you ever driven throughfog.3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
a fog so thick that you can part it
with your fingers? a fog so dense
that you stick your hand through
the car window and watch it disappear?
these special fogs press
heavy on your eyes and ears,
fill the dips of your collarbone,
quiet the murmurs living
inside your throat.
before i drove through this mountain
and through this fog there were bills
to pay and children to teach, people
i hated and people i loved. there were mental
disorders and electrocardiograms. fears.
now there is only the positioning
of my hands. a steering wheel. a whisper
in my ear that says "drive carefully."
a cliff and a guardrail.
now there is fog.
and maybe, if i wish hard enough,
the fog will keep me.
i am not afraid of dying.
i am just afraid.
The Lover and the LionLover:The Lover and the Lion2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am made of matchsticks and red ribbons and tiny
sparks of Saturday-morning duvet hopes ricocheting
around my brain into a pattern of torn petals from
daisies. Lovers are destroyers of flowers, we know
this. This is why we belong under trees and in wheat
fields, letting buttercups and dandelions grow between
our toes and around our shoulders. We are made to belong.
Whoever said that a lion is made by birth was
not telling anybody the whole truth. If you would
like to know how, when you stand up, when you roar,
does it feel right? Are you brave? Only the brave can be lions.
a sheep dressing itself in fur and mane will only convince its herd
that it is delusional. You can take the lion out of the desert,
but you will never take the desert from the lion.
Anyone who thinks otherwise must know that you cannot tame what is not willing.
I am made to serve my purpose. To hold anyone who is interested
in the palm of my hands and in the chambers of my heart, to chase