Tag Archives: poetry

The Pink Notebook

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I remember wanting a fancy poetry notebook and either a) being too lazy to go buy one b) being too poor to go buy one or c) just saying, “F it!” and cracking open the thick, hot pink Five Star which was an extra from my last semester of college.

My first entry says 10/09/10. My last entry says 2/1/17. I never really liked poetry titles–I thought they kind of took away from the poem’s magic. Or maybe I just suck at titles. Either way, every page has a date at the top, nothing more. Well, this is a lie–there are a few random M*A*S*H games scattered throughout, a couple planning pages from my Teach For America days, some grocery lists,  Pros/Cons lists, to-do lists, and a food diary. Sometimes I wouldn’t have anything else to write on, OK? So I can’t say every page is poem, but almost.

I’ve taken this thing everywhere–so many flights, random countries, beaches, poolsides, and bus rides. It’s been through a bizarre six and a half years. I don’t ever share my poetry–only a few people have read from this thing (hand-picked poems, never free-reign flipping), but I figured I’d share a few to celebrate the momentous occasion of finally filling it up. I thought I’d fill it up in a year, tops. I mean, it IS thick, like I said–divided into sections with fancy pocketed page dividers. But I definitely didn’t stick to my poem-a-day plan. Shit, I didn’t even stick to a-poem-a-month plan.

Edit: I was going to share one poem from every year…but that quickly became a Ha! Some years are overflowing with loss/grief/I miss yous/fuck yous and nothing else. You can just go listen to any good break-up album instead. Other pages are only filled with cheesy I love you poems that I just…can’t.

You know what? I’m just going to share one. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, but it made me laugh out loud on this ugly, rainy Saturday. To all of you with awful tattoos that you got when you were 18, but still can’t admit that you were young and dumb, so you make up ridiculous explanations and “meanings”:

9/12/12
your tattoos lick over your chest
washing over both arms
the black contrasting against the bare white
the meanings are too obscure, forced
for me to believe they should be on your body forever
I think you just liked the idea, the look, the art
the way the girl’s hair curled around your collar bone
the way the microphone cord curved into song lyrics
the way the octopus met the elephant on your bicep
Don’t give me that deep, really reaching concept
that you made up
for moments like these
when a girl who needs meaning
asks you about your ink
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Supposed To Be

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chaos

I’m supposed to be working on my novel.

I’m supposed to be sipping this Live Oak Hef, my favorite beer, and working on my novel.

I’m supposed to be enjoying the Texas summer (before it gets too hot)—wind through my hair, sun on my skin, taco truck scents drifting my way—and working on my novel.

I told my friend Ashely that it’s been difficult to write lately because I’ve been so happy. “Give me a heartbreak and I’ll pump out a few novels,” I’d laughed and given her tiny Pomeranian a pat. And it’s true, it really is. I mean, that’s how the first novel came to be.

But the thing is, you make me want to write all the time. And that’s not always a good thing. Usually it is. Usually, you make me want to write sappy poetry after I’ve had a few glasses of Cab. I grab the first writing utensil I find in your grungy garage and jot some cheesy observations into the legal pad that you draw in. I sketch stanzas about your whiskers and kisses and huge hands and you telling me you loved me in that sketchy motel we stayed in. I paint lines with your expressions, sayings, Spanglish, noises your watch makes.

But sometimes. Like now. I’ve felt on the edge of crying for a couple hours—thankful for my Ray Bans and lipstick and beer. I wish I could explain why. I wish I could be honest when you ask me what’s wrong. I think the sad fact is simply that I’m in love, I’m so in love with you and I’m so scared and I don’t want to feel completely destroyed ever again and that’s the only thing I wind up being able to write about.

I get anxiety, I feel this intensely strong desire to put giant walls back up, brush these feelings aside, break this off and avoid any kind of pain. I thought I’d be over this—I thought you’d be the one to be freaking out, tight chest, on edge. How hilarious that it’s me!

I wish I could explain this…better. But that’s what it is—you haven’t done anything wrong, necessarily. I think I’m a little crazy is all. Isn’t everyone? That Kerouac quote about “mad ones,” you know?

I need reassurance by the bucket or else I think you’re going to leave. It’s sad, really, but it makes me feel better that I’m not alone. So many of us have these skeletons, the burned past—the exact same insecurity, fear.

I wish it were my fault and I could fix it. I’m great at fixing things that are my fault. But I didn’t do this…my father did this, my ex-boyfriend did this, my friends and their stories, their nightmares, almost every single man I’ve dated, actually. It’s a long list, it’s a lot of pain, it’s kind of like this campfire experience of ghost tales that travels with you forever, the smoke seeping into your heart.

I hope you won’t be added to the list. That’s all I can really do, I suppose. Drink my beer, try again tomorrow to work on my novel (I’m supposed to be working on my novel).

Poetry Sections are Dangerous

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e.e

So for the longest time, I thought E.E. Cummings was a woman. All that talk of kissing and love and carrying your heart with me and being someone’s anyone…or anyone’s someone. Something like that. I, the wildly romantic college freshman, was like, WHOA, this chica GETS ME. On a punctuation level and a general heart wrenching kinda way. Ya’ know…basically, I TOO liked to write in all lowercase letters about boys being sun’s songs. I thought me and e.e. were soul sisters.

And some ridiculous amount of time later (no, seriously, I think it was years) I found out she was a he. I was so damn disappointed because my immediate thought was: Oh, well obviously, I have to find a new favorite poet.

There’s no way a MAN “gets me”. There’s no way a MAN can be my soul sister.

…right?

But then I realized that all of that is bullshit. I kept him around, my loyalty to his parenthetical ways winning over.

And I realized just the other day, as I was reading a collection of his in Half Price Books, that this shrug and grin of a “Yeah, I accept that I’ll never love another poet more” is prettyyyy similar to real-life-hesitant-already-had-your-heart-broken-but-c’est-la-vie-love.

I even wrote a poem about it. Something kinda cheesy about waiting for you to find me on a dusty bookstore chair. You lost somewhere in my life’s biggest love—but probably in the sections I’ve always left untouched (Art History, Non-Fiction). Too uninterested in browsing through other poets, too forever-drunkenly-fulfilled on Cummings’ words, kinda like how I feel about you. So tipsy on your everything, inclined to keep you for good, for you to be the accidental-favorite, the collection I come back to every time, for every mood, in every Sunday afternoon stroll through shelves…

Anyway.

Cummings is a man, y’all. And GODDAMMIT it hurts/is amazing/sucks/yes! when you’ve found a…highly preferred…poet.

Also, this, circa last year. Le sigh. #hopeless

Damn you, E.E.

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So I just watched The Notebook a few days before Valentine’s Day. That was just downright stupid, amiright?

I’m glad I did though, because I now fully realize…THE NOTEBOOK IS TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING.

Oh wait, this post has already been done a thousand times. No, seriously, it’s been done a TON. Ok one more because this is HILARIOUS. It’s not about how The Notebook ruins lives; it’s about how composition notebooks ruin lives (but it came up in the top ten when I googled “The Notebook ruined my life”). I am laughing out loud.

So I won’t write about The Notebook (or composition notebooks).

I honestly just want to write about love. I can’t freakin’ help it, ok?! I want to write about that sick, disgusting, unshakable love that makes me want to read E.E. Cummings and lay in the grass for hours looking at the sunlight coming in through leaves. THAT love.

I haven’t felt THAT love in a very, very long time. But I think I remember it swallowing me whole. I think I remember realizing what that “head over heels” thing truly meant and I think I remember trying to soak up another body and soul like a sponge. I definitely remember not being able to breathe for a long time after it was gone. I definitely remember ache and searching and want.

And I guess what I’m wondering now is…is it ok, to be waiting for that crazy, tumbling feeling again? Or is that just, sadly, immature?

I’ve met nice guys. I’ve met smart guys. I’ve met funny guys. I’ve met attractive guys. I’ve met ambitious guys. I’ve even met a couple nice, smart, funny, attractive, and ambitious guys. All my secret inner checklist boxes were checked off. But no swallowing me whole. No head over heels. No soaking up body and soul or reading Cummings.

I guess chemistry is something else entirely. And of course I’ve always known that looking good on paper, so to speak, doesn’t mean much in the real eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind. The whole checklist thing is pretty hilarious actually. We all kind of have one, whether we admit it or not. But the people we wind up falling for never seem to have very many of those boxes checked, do they?

Anyway, it’s V-day time. Everything’s pink and cupid-y. And I really am fine with the fact that the extent of my agenda is: House of Cards and pizza with my best friend. I’m actually excited about it (is he really going to become President?!).

The truth is, I really do want to wait until I feel that crazy, tumbling feeling again. I don’t want to settle for just some guy I have chemistry with, just some guy who has a ton of boxes checked.

Who needs those damn boxes, anyway?

“I do, sometimes, all the time, maybe, I don’t know…” says the angel on my shoulder who knows all the tricks to avoiding heartbreak.

“Shut up and read this poem!” says the other bitch.

You Being In Love (excerpt)

solemnly
myselves
ask “life, the question how do i drink dream smile

and how do i prefer this face to another and
why do i weep eat sleep-what does the whole intend”
they wonder. oh and they cry “to be, being, that i am alive
this absurd fraction in its lowest terms
with everything cancelled
but shadows
-what does it all come down to? love? Love
if you like and i like, for the reason that i
hate people and lean out of this window is love, love
and the reason that i laugh and breathe is oh love and the reason
that i do not fall into this street is love.”

Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Tokyo

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I wrote a poem for each of the cities I visited over my amazing spring break trip to Japan and Thailand, hope you enjoy:

Bangkok

grand palace

Sewer scents mix with the street food

ten baht kabobs

twenty baht fruit

We walk over puddles and homeless

in between purse shops and

you want massage?

jumping away from mopeds and tuk tuks

around the taxis and buses and stuffed fish grilling

fanning our persistently sweaty faces

trying to be weavers not trampled

The palace is like a smile in Hell

a diamond in a port-a-potty

What a strange thing—such a

sparkle in the midst of all that stink and dirt

We are a little too wide-eyed

but we made it

She points to our chests

our sticky skin

and gestures

as if to say

cover up you American whores

We oblige, submersing into the gold and glitter

forgetting for awhile

about the mosquitoes and roaches and cons

who wait for us outside the shiny gate

Chiang Mai

Prachuab and I

I grasp at your tough neck,

holding on to your gray, hairy wrinkles for dear life

you just flap your ears against my knees

wiggling your nose and scoffing

calm down stupid

I’ve found a soulmate

as I gaze into your eyes

thinking about the thousands of baht I’d spend

for our engagement photos

You’ve found another tourist who wants to sit on you

and can’t even pronounce your name

Prachuab, won’t you marry me?

I’ll feed you bananas all day

me, the first female mahout

at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center

me, your trunkless fiancée

yes, I know you’re 32 and neither of us is a lesbian

(well I’m not sure about you actually)

we’ll make it work

me and you and your dry skin, big feet, giant poops

Prachuab, won’t you marry me?

Tokyo

meiji ema meiji ema

the little wooden squares

clunking and clinking in the wind

they sounded like the most beautiful chime

together, in song, underneath an ancient tree

what better backdrop could they ask for

but the mighty Meiji?

silent and strong and peaceful beyond words

resting in acres of whispering woods

I could hear the prayers

being asked

being answered

I read the few that were written in English

inspired, but somewhat guilty

(reading someone elses’ innermost desires is overly intimate

especially when you haven’t paid a few hundred yen to write them at all)

the wooden sound makes you believe

for a second at least

in God

or a god or a power

or maybe what I believed in was

writing down my fortune

my most important want, need

and letting life do what it will with it

setting it free to the breath of the world

listening to the sound it makes as it collides with everyone elses’

I will wait to see if I’m answered

and in the meantime,

I’ll keep asking