Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Lamento della zingara

“Da due mesi o poco piu…” *

Summer’s green deception now unwinds itself with straw,
The daylight tips and tumbles in reverse,
And fireflies are fading where we fantasized we’d glow.
The grass we never set ablaze just cuts
Into my legs the imprint
Of a scene that never was,
The disconnected lines of names we hardly knew,
The lacerating echoes of our unborn shouts into the night,

And now,
While sterile sunlight spills its gold
Upon your back and turns
Its back
On me…
I wander sticky streets alone,
Instead of melting,
White-hot, liquid moon beneath
Your secret,
Silver tongue.



“Io non mi fidavo; era solo sesso. Ma il sesso e un’attitudine, come l’arte in genere. E forse l’ho capito. E sono qui. E scusa… ma se non urlo, muoio. Non so se sai…”
(“I wasn’t committing; it was only sex. But sex is an expression, a state of mind, like art in general. And maybe I’ve got it figured out. And here I am. And forgive me… but if I don’t shout this, it’ll kill me. I don’t know if you know…”)

Still not ready to return to WordPress, guys. I feel bad about being almost completely inactive, but it’s been a stressful sort of time. This isn’t quite the type of post I’d prefer to be dropping by to leave either (so gloomy!), but I’ve spent the last several days steeped in poetry and wracked by an Italian ballad I only somehow just discovered this week. It’s called “Imbranato” by Tiziano Ferro, and it’s been my soundtrack as I try to articulate some things that have been bugging me.




The title of my post is a tribute to the Italian ballad that gave voice to my unrest. It’s also something of a tribute to my own Italian heritage and my lifelong nickname, “zingarella.” The title evokes the dilemma that lies at the heart of this poem — there are pains attendant to being something of a “zingara.” My family began calling me “zingarella” (diminuitive form of “zingara” or “gypsy”) when I was very young. They had sensed, even then, my passion for the exotic. And the person I’ve become has lived up to her name. But gypsy travelers and free spirits move in transitory circles. And so a thousand laments are born of the way these sorts of people live and learn, love and lose.

So here I am with one of the poems I’ve been working on. It’s not “finished,” but the line from “Imbranato” about the passing months made me feel it was timely to post something now. Aside from tonight’s visit to WordPress, I’m not sure when I’ll be “back.” It’s difficult to stay away for so long, but it’s even more difficult to reconcile my love of writing and of the writing community with the less than poetic demands of my Ph.D. progress. Again, friends, I offer you my apologies and my sincerest hopes that we can be in touch again when I may finally make more of a lasting return. Peace and love to all of you.

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July 31, 2010 Posted by | Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Solitude, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Invisible Tattoo

Revealed along the journey of a vernal, crescent moon,
He displays the backwards/forwards evolution
That brought him to the great meridian
Of the bed where we repose.

Like twin suns twisting ’round each other as we blaze
Our trail through the cosmos,
He and I go spinning off the sparks that glow with what we’re made of.
A crimson heat to speak for me, expansive…
My counterpart, a fuzzy, compact ball of fire,
Burning white and blue
And charging East
From here within my arms…
I reignite
For just a fleeting, cosmic moment;

My lover draws the same celestial banner I once twirled like a ribbon
As I spun from star to star.

With a crook of his poet fingers and laughter in his eyes,
He teases out the threads that weave forever
In the space-time fabric that envelops us this night,
And his incandescent flicker whispers on my skin
The tales he carries written on his own.
Shining brighter in his brilliance,
I burst with wonder
At his Red Giant reverie.




When the universe was new,
I too
Got lost like this.





So I beam as I incline my head over my renegade companion,
And here with tongue and fingertips,
I trace my silent prayer upon his back:


May his dreams not burn out red!…










*  Just as a brief explanation, despite the fact that I haven’t been too active on here in about half a year, this poem woke me up at dawn, and I felt compelled to post it here today.  It’s an autobiographical metaphor about, on the most basic level, discovering an unexpected affinity with someone during a casual encounter and remembering forgotten aspects of yourself.

I hope to get back to WordPress within the next few weeks.  Still very busy with my doctoral program, but I’m looking forward to reading what you’ve been up to, and I promise to answer the questions and respond to the comments you’ve left in my LONG absence.  Miss you all, and hope that everyone is well!

Cheers!
Laura

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Memories, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Travel, Uncategorized, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Learning How to Speak

“Le gustaba el español, y aunque lo hablaba poquito, tenía esos ojos bonitos que hablaban muy bien…”

Here she comes.
A subtle gesture and he’s captured her attention.
Have his hands done as she wanted?
Will his tongue leave her impressed?
He needs her to appraise his work and help him
Find the words he wants to say.

Here she is.
A bashful flash of icy blue shoots up to search her face.
Is he mastering this lesson?
Is he learning from her lips?
Shy smile lingers just a fraction of a second
Longer than it should,
Before it dives for cover, flustered,
To the frozen fingers that await her patient lead.

What’s she thinking?
For a minute,
He has her where he wants her,
And he’s never been so anxious,
But he tries
To hide the truth;
He doesn’t realize his stumbling, tongue-tied charm
Puts him a class above the rest.
He gives it his best shot, and she evaluates his efforts.

Good, she’s smiling.
And she forgives what he’s forgotten,
Sees the promise in his errors,
Drops some hints,
Gives him some time to find the answer
— Silence —
Moves along. He manages to steal a sideways glance
Before he’s left to work out what’s unfinished.

There she goes.
And everything is backwards.
Will he get another chance?
Good intentions aren’t enough
If when she’s there,
He just can’t seem to say what’s in his head.
He doesn’t know
That he can melt her mother-tongue into a muted mess.
Instead, he’s stuck there with an English thought:

I blew it.

But he’ll play himself the fool,
Dig up some lingering confusion,
And suggest an
Unarticulated
Question
That he knows will lure her back

Every time he lets her walk away.

Y me daba una sonrisa, ¡y yo me quedaba loquito! Y después en el examen, lo ponía todo al revés.”

My native language is English, but I used to teach Spanish. It was kind of weird, at times, to be on the other side of the desk — I was only 22, but my students were college kids. I have a lot of fun memories from teaching though, and I often miss it. Ironically, I’m comfortable presenting a lesson in front of a group, but, one-on-one, I’m really timid with people I don’t yet know very well. From what I’ve been told, my shyness doesn’t come across when I have an “audience.” But life’s most important interactions usually don’t involve an audience. It’s those moments when all the languages in the world can’t help you, and it doesn’t matter how articulate you are — what matters is finding the courage to say what needs to be said. Hence, my thoughts on “Learning How to Speak.”

In any case, the Spanish lines are from a song called “Carito” by Carlos Vives, about a boy and his language teacher. It’s a fun little song. Hope you enjoy it as much as I always have:

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I see you

That’s it — enough.
I can get a lot more naked than I am right now, so watch me;
Let them raise their brows, but I’m about to go for broke.
No more playing to their pessimistic bets.

So much time just burning,
Sitting quiet, counting other people’s cards.
Well, I apologize.
Didn’t mean to drag this out, but
Who we kidding?
All you do is lose unless you risk enough to win.

So, fuck these poker faces, look me in the eye.
That’s right —
I’m smiling.
And I’m finished asking anybody else
How I should play my cards.
This round,
When it comes back to me,
You’re getting everything that I’ve been holding back;
I think I figured out what’s in your hand.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Poetry | , , , , , | 4 Comments

November

Stagnant light falls sideways,
Expiring in a graveyard of branches stripped
By the fire of dying trees.
Remnants of the life of summer brittle underfoot,
The full moon turns to ice,
And the season’s short-lived blaze burns out precarious
As flames shrink into kindling, drop —
Apologetic embers —
To the earth, whose dreams of ripeness and fruition withered
In the cold and hollow winds that slashed the morning,
Forced their way in through its wounds,
And have replaced the warmth I lost
When autumn stole my sun.

I’ve never liked November.

 

After a long drive today through rural Maryland and Pennsylvania, I couldn’t help but feel that the weight of autumn has finally fallen upon us.  Barely any color left, it’s cold, dry, and dark-too-soon.  When a string of depressed, tiny towns gave way to where I live now, it was already near dusk; a day barely begun was already ending.  As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the month’s arrival.  I sat down to write this very disorganized, hasty poem.

But my apologies to those who have a fondness for November — I don’t dislike the whole month.  I just don’t like the beginning of it.  But by the end of November, the holidays are approaching, and the warmth and color that have drained from the outdoors have reappeared inside homes and shops and hearts, and there is life again!

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Time | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heat

Night air sticky under full-moon haze,
and she’s in heat.
She feels it coming,
writhes and thrashes in her bed —
No need to prowl for meat tonight,
Her victim
          will crawl
                     to her.

Her instincts serve her well;
There’s a stirring just outside
and heavy lids metamorphose into bedroom eyes
when she poises her regal body to investigate.
She opens up enough to see who’s stumbled to her den,
But she’s measured in her movements —
the stumbling are wounded,
and a wounded catch so fresh with fear, is liable to run.

Ahhhh, he’s just a boy
who’s come to her
so blissfully aware that she intends
to tear at his body
       — deep —
to leave him trembling
               — hard —
and watch him gasping
                              — gone.

Well, here’s to an easy hunt.

Teeth bared as faces meet and heads rear back,
Exposing necks as each inhales the other’s scent.
A few seconds of pawing,
Slinking circles one around the other,
Licking, biting
Go for the neck, and you have the kill.

He’s down.

October 17, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Sex, Woman | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alright Now

I don’t reminisce about your breath on my neck,
Your weight upon my breasts,
Or your hands upon my body.
I don’t miss the nights I gripped you overcome with longing,
Or the way you used to kiss me,
Or how I was rendered helpless in your arms.

But sometimes, in the flicker of a memory,
I glimpse the place where I was branded by your longing,
And the embers re-ignite with a burn that I detest —

And my heart pounds, and my eyes drop, and my spirit fades,
And I’m brokenfailedworthless, and it’s all
Right now, and there’s no way out

From underneath

Save for these five turncoat senses
Which, by process of elimination,
Reassure that you were never there at all.





One late-summer afternoon, while I was listening to music in my room, a song I used to sing often during high school started to play. It brought back vivid memories of a person I had known back then, and I decided to try to pour the emotional reaction into a poem. When I began, I was feeling defiant, but my mood shifted quickly with the lines; first to vulnerable, then to panicked, then to foolish.

Should you be curious, the song that was my lament was “Ice” by Sarah McLachlan.

October 17, 2009 Posted by | Memories, Poetry, Woman | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Me acordé

Te encontré
En donde no me lo esperaba,
Hablándome desde los primeros rayos de la alborada,
Susurrando, tu voz disfrazada de la brisa,
Despertándome
Donde antes dormía mi paz vacía,
Y me acordé
De lo mucho que habíamos errado,
Lo que fallamos
Lo que fuimos
Y quienes llegamos a ser.



I found you
Where I didn’t expect it,
Speaking to me from the first rays of dawn,
Whispering, your voice disguised as the breeze itself,
Awakening me
Where I used to sleep my empty peace (*”sleep” as transitive verb) / Where my empty peace had slumbered
And I remembered
How very much we had erred
What we wronged
What we were
And who we are becoming / And who we became / And who we have come here to be.



* I have no idea what this one’s about, though reading it over calls to mind a dream I had when I was little. I typically don’t write in Spanish; I just heard these words, these lines in my head, two months ago, and I felt compelled to write them down. For whatever it’s worth, I decided I would post this, and I’ve translated the original into English. First of all, it wasn’t meant to be read in English, so forgive the awkward expression. Most importantly, however, some of the Spanish lines have multiple, simultaneous meanings. English only permits one at a time, but I’ve included them all. Read it as you wish.

* “Me acordé” = “I Remembered”

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Español, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Foreigner

In poetry, I lived
While with you I lived alone,
Y pensaba que nunca lo comprenderías
Because we didn’t speak the same language.
So I shouted with my pen
Because you just couldn’t understand me;
Lay myself bare,
Knowing full well that you wouldn’t touch me;
And waited behind transparent verses
That I realized would never attract a penetrating glance.
It’s only once I’d finally gone away
That you noticed my parting footprints on the page —
Only once you were far beyond the echo of my voice
That you heard what I was saying.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Writing | , , , , | 7 Comments

This is Treason

 

Sometimes, war is silent.
And he advances in the night to hide his crimes.
His teenage consort — stoic, young, and good
At keeping secrets — is unwilling,
But adrenaline confounds before she can distinguish friend
From foe.
Surprise attacks disarm as he takes
Mountains first, then valley, and insists
Her pounding heart and quickened breath
Bespeak the thrill of conquest.
These are missions that he can’t complete alone.
Against her flesh, an unmistakable contour
Threatens as he orders her to come;
Only cowards walk away, she tells herself,
And tries to prove she’s strong enough
To hold the line unaided.  No one wants to be discovered
So exposed.

But then,
He draws his sword and stares her down.
His weapon at her throat, knees on her chest,
An unexpected standoff,
While screaming eyes beg why? for lips that wouldn’t dare
Pronounce their protest;
If she parted them, she’d gag.
I’m weak, he pleads,
Then binds her arms
And reprimands the prisoner:  you know we have to stop.
He charges south along the fertile warzone of
Her body, slides a hand into the quiver, and she arches
Like a bow about to snap.
Once more, she tries to swing a weak defense —
He grabs her wrist and laughs…
Too dazed to be convinced she ever really fought at all,
She shuts her eyes, demoralized by guilt, and time
Suspends

….for years.

A heavy hand is placed over her mouth to snuff resistance
  —  Shhhh!
Defiant legs are trembling as they strain to hold the distance —
Then muffled cries subside
As she goes numb.
She turns her head.
The war is lost.
And a smile
Surveys the spoils as betrayal burns her face.
He compensates her efforts with a devastating kiss.

We’re accomplices, he whispers.
See what you make me do?
Take our secret to the grave because

She’d kill you, if she knew.



Consider this my contribution for Women’s History Month.  But remember, men are violated every day as well.  The song I chose to accompany this piece, “El duelo” (“The Duel”), is a chilling acoustic duet between Chilean group La Ley (male vocals by Beto Cuevas) and Mexican singer Ely Guerra, about intimate violence, confusion, and pain.  It set the mood for my writing process this time but has actually been a favorite song since high school.

But on to an issue more important than music.  For you, I wish two things — first, that you find this poem completely unrelatable.  Truly, I would love for everyone to be able to read this and think, “I don’t get it.”  But if, instead, you hear yourself saying “Never again,” then I wish, by God, that you may be right.

Absolve yourself.  Peace.



Regrettably, I’m still on a work-induced hiatus from WordPress, but I felt that these were words that needed to be spoken, and spoken now. I look forward to returning in coming weeks and catching up on everyone’s inspiring writing.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Sex, Uncategorized, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Royal Flush

Seconds from the truth
And inches from the prize,
Your eyes
Scan for some indication
That you’re playing this just right.
Well, my guarded pair
Is no match for a cunning hand,
And I’m about to lose my shirt.
Demand
Whatever leaves you satisfied.
I’ll let you hide
Your royal flush.
This rush
Is not a lust for kings or queens or cash.
I only ever aim to raise the stakes,
See what the other player might reveal;
A woman always knows the cards
A man tries to conceal.

Moistened lips and drum of anxious fingers,
Question lingers:
Bluffing?

Nonsense!
Because either way, you win.

You grin,
I fold,
The pot is yours.
All bets are off,
We seal a deal with you on top.

A table’s wasted on a game of cards.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Sex, Woman | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Origins

Rendida a tus huellas
Despertando entre tus cerros
Amamantada de tus susurros
Caminando con tus fantasmas
Maldiciendo a tus muros
Venerando a tus alturas
Respirando tus nubes
Sudando tus temblores
Y llorando tu sangre

nací.

 

No pretendo escribir poemas en castellano, el cual no es mi idioma nativo.  En castellano, falto el ritmo, la rima, y la fluidez suficientes para ser poeta.  Por eso, no piense en estas líneas como poema.  No más fue mi intento de comemorar esta fecha — que tiene gran significado en mi vida — con un par de versos que expresaran el amor y respeto muy profundos que llevo en mi corazón por una tierra distante.  El lugar que ahora sólo visito en mis sueños.  El lugar donde encontré, donde se clavó, y donde permanece mi alma.

Tal vez, quién sabe, allá la dejé vidas atrás….

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Español, Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Obsession, Travel, Wanderlust | , , , , | 6 Comments

Conquista / “In Tongues”

I find you on the edge of dreams.
Your open arms receive me in the night.
So self-assured
You wrap me in a robe of southern stars,
Pull back the veil,
And vocalize a vow to claim me as the queen
Of this paradise you rule outside of time.
You take my hand and lead me down
Through swirling mists and emerald vales
Into a church whose taste of dripping gold
I find in blood and tears
Upon the wounds you make me lick.

And so I labor on my knees here while you watch,
Until I choke out prayers

In tongues.

 

Alright, so this isn’t a pleasant one.  This was originally the intro for a longer poem (not published here).  It’s tough to deconstruct in any concise manner, but the tags offer a decent explanation.  To get really simplistic though, it has to do with violence, churches built on blood, revelations of various kinds, the allure of the exotic, and a deep sense of pain for people other than yourself.  It’s also about finding your own spirituality at the breaking point, where prayers escape your lips in a language other than your own.

Ooooor…..you could disregard everything I just said, get a little creative, and read this through the perspective of different generations, centuries removed from one another.  😉

(la) Conquista = the Conquest
conquista (common noun) = conquest, or the endeavor of conquering
conquista = (in an interpersonal sense) a female you decide to seduce/overtake (or whom you’ve succeeded in seducing/overtaking)

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Poetry, Travel, Uncategorized, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Worship — Sex vs. Spirit

At the confluence of souls,
I shed the vestments that encumber.
This rite is the communion of the universal faith.
Time transcended,
Space suspended,
The laying on of reverent hands
Revives the fading forms
That part their lips,
Drink from the cup,
And genuflect in passionate surrender,
Professing their devotion
For this incarnation’s gift.

Mystics,
Leading lives of passion, panting
Fervent, heated prayers,
Would say such worship is misguided,
For these idols, fallen in rapture,
Are energy,
A vital force,
A pulse,
Poured into veins that throb with lust
To assert command
Over lives they’ll never truly own.

Performing paradise, entwined,
We forsake the here and now
And find that immortality
Is never-ending transfiguration,
And ecstasy,
A temporary means to a timeless end.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Sex | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anima — Sex vs. Spirit

In a fog of fallibility,
Time and space divide,
While sex and spirit somehow form the haze
That happens
To be nothing more
Than life.
But, flawed and finite,
Unenlightened,
Here I stand —
Joyfully divested of my reason,
Relinquished to my humanity —
And I worship at the altar of your bed.

I’ll keep seeking what’s eternal
In a temporary self,
Rejoicing at the forever life-force surge
In your movement through the temple,
Where I fall to my knees in surrender of my spirit
Before the votive
That you light with borrowed breath,
The prayers you beg with lover’s tongue,
And the desperate pilgrimage you endeavor —
Aching, spent, and fallen
With fleeting flesh,
A sacrificial lamb unto your own,
In this transcendental, timeless rite
Of ever-entangling, oft-repeated selves.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Reincarnation, Sex | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Essential Winter Soundtrack

No, this is not a holiday playlist.  It’s a selection of songs meant to help you channel the essence of winter for your own creative endeavors.  The feel, the scent, the sultry darkness of this season are all too familiar to someone who’s grown up in the northeastern U.S..  Winter definitely has a feel; it’s cold, forbidding.  And yet it’s sexy, mysterious, intense.  It reminds you of the force of the elements.  These songs were chosen because they’re evocative of a number of winter moments — some call to mind only one type; others, a combination:

  1. looking out the window on early evenings, down onto the gray street where everyone is bundled up against the cold as they rush to get home
  2. actually being one of those people out there in the frigid air on a winter’s afternoon, shrinking into the self-contained heat of your layers of warm clothing
  3. walking at night down snow-covered paths hung with icicles, as the glistening white powder reflects the glow of streetlights and bestows a temporary life on all the barren trees that line the way
  4. savoring the warmth of someone else’s breath and body, and defying the chill in bed all day

The list follows, in no particular order.  Please add your own suggestions!  You’ll see words like “chilling,” “haunting,” “dark,” and “gray” repeat because winter can be all those things.  I hope this selection can help you wrap yourself in the allure of the season, even if you’ve never experienced this type of winter yourself.  Enjoy!

  1. “Again” — Lenny Kravitz:  Dark, and relentlessly melancholy.
  2. “Deep Inside of You” — Third Eye Blind:  The title evokes a warm place, but there’s a chill in the song that makes it the perfect soundtrack for walking through the city in the cold.
  3. “El duelo” — La Ley ft. Ely Guerra (Unplugged version — trust me!):  One of the hottest songs ever.  Hauntingly passionate.  The darkness makes it perfect for this time of year.  “Sin dolor no te haces feliz.”  Wow.  Like nothing you’ve ever heard before.  (And I’m going to make a confession; I’m in love with Beto Cuevas’s voice.)
  4. “Silence” — Delirium ft. Sarah McLachlan:  Beautiful and mysterious.
  5. “The Flame” — Cheap Trick:  “Touching heat, freezing on my skin…”  A classic.  For some reason, this feels wintery to me.
  6. “I’m With You” — Avril Lavigne:  Good for people-watching and solitary strolls.  “It’s a damn cold night.”
  7. “I Am Made of You” — Ricky Martin:  Again — dark, cold, mysterious.  You can practically hear the emptiness of the setting and feel the fire of two kindred souls coming together on the frays of some barren, wind-swept no-man’s land.
  8. “You’re Beautiful” — James Blunt:  Memorably mellow.  Good for a stroll under a blanket of leaden, winter clouds.  You’re taking your time, while the rest of the world rushes on by.
  9. “My Immortal” — Evanescence:  There’s no need for me to try to explain what makes this song cold and lonely enough for winter.  Just take my word that it belongs on a winter playlist and have a listen.
  10. “You Can Still Be Free” — Savage Garden:  Another haunting selection.  Definitely evocative of some cold, desolate hideout on the margins of life.  This is a song to listen to indoors, as you watch the world move past from a distance.  “Sail through the wind and rain tonight…”
  11. “She Will Be Loved” — Maroon 5:  Sounds like dusk, in the damp air of approaching snow — the calm before the storm.  You’re at home, or you’re getting there.
  12. “Here Without You” — Three Doors Down:  Nightfall in winter.  In bed.  With someone you’ll soon be missing.
  13. “Bittersweet Symphony” — The Verve:  Just like the video.  You’re walking, walking, walking…Nothing stops you.  Now, add the element of snowfall; the flakes are catching on your hair before inevitably melting.  The day is cold.  The sky is so gray it’s almost white.
  14. “Sexo, pudor, y lágrimas” — Aleks Syntek:  Another one for talking a walk outdoors.  The snow is crunching underfoot.  You’re in absolutely no hurry at all.
  15. “Here With Me” — Dido:  Pretty damn awesome.  It’s like an addiction set to music.  There’s a subdued yet formidable passion in this.  When it’s so freezing outside that it feels like the air has punched you in the face, this track meshes pretty well with the ambience.  (Or you could just stay in bed…)  “And I won’t go, and I won’t sleep, and I can’t breathe…”
  16. “Gray Sky Morning” — Vertical Horizon:  That would be every morning, from November through March.  This is good for people-watching from a café, where you warm your hands with the steaming richness of your coffee, and you drink the sights of life from the other side of a frosty window.
  17. “Yellow” — Coldplay:  You’re walking along, tending to your errands, and it’s chilly and drab.  Or you’re sitting at your desk, looking down through the snow at the cars that carefully navigate the slick roads below.  Maybe you see the yellow haze cast by the flashing lights of a salt truck.
  18. “What Would Happen” — Meredith Brooks:  Sexy, dark, chilling, fiercely hungry, and deceptively composed.  This song was released late in the year, which reinforces its winter status.  It’s a nighttime walk in the snow with a partner who embodies the mysterious.  A muffled winter tryst in a dark alley.  The heat just building on the doorstep, your gloved fingers are fumbling with the buttons on each other’s coat, and you’re desperate to get inside…  “Would you run away, would you stay, or would I melt into you?”  Choose your own adventure.
  19. “Underneath Your Clothes” — Shakira:  Nowhere is warmer than this.  You just need to be able to get past Shakira’s gutted-cat vocals, or else it’s not going to be pleasant.  But — if you can put that aside, this song calls to mind gazing out at streetlights and snowflakes, or walking around amidst all the wintery whiteness!
  20. “Angels” — Robbie Williams:  Go for a stroll.  Be pensive.  That’s exactly what this feels like.
  21. “Losing My Religion” — REM:  This calls for a walk too.  But not a leisurely one; a wintery one when you’re frustrated, and your pace is actually quicker than the rest of the world’s.
  22. “Stirb Nicht Vor Mir” — Rammstein:  Chilling, mysterious, haunting — and yet warm and sort of seductive, in an unexpected way.  This sounds like the blizzard that confines you to your apartment, and you’re perfectly happy to be trapped inside.
  23. “December” — Collective Soul:  “December” sounds the way December looks.
  24. “Possession” — Sarah McLachlan:  “Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide.”  Amazing.  This is good for a blisteringly cold night when you’re braving the elements and heading out to an intimate gathering.
  25. “Entre los Andes” — Cristian:  The sound of utter desolation.  It’s cold.  You can hear the bitter wind rustling the dead grass and brittle branches of the frigid landscape.  Even if you can’t understand the dark sex poetry that laces the original lyrics, there’s a slow, erotic thrust that carries you along.  It will haunt you.  Only if you dare.
  26. “Lamento boliviano” — Los Enanitos Verdes:  You throw off the blankets and face the cold air of your bedroom.  You’re alone.  And you’ve woken up mildly angry about something — probably the damn weather.  Screw it.  You boil some water, and the tea burns your throat as you cup the mug with both hands, staring blankly ahead.  “Adentro hay un volcán que pronto va a estallar.”  Probably won’t muster up the motivation to leave the house today.
  27. “The World I Know” — Collective Soul:  It’s close to dusk, and you’re on the streets.  Snow gently flutters to the ground.  Time to go home and be with the people who matter.
  28. “Extreme Ways” — Moby:  Lonely and dark, with a slight, bitter cool.  Another good one for taking a walk through the city and just thinking.  The lyrics are incredible.
  29. “Ice” — Sarah McLachlan:  It sounds just like the title.  Good for being outside in the cold, but somewhere more removed from the urban scene.  Potent and raw, but far from uplifting.
  30. “Insatiable” — Darren Hayes:  Mostly, this song has a fragile vulnerability and a propensity to melt that remind me of ice.  Sounds like nighttime at the close of the year.
  31. “Eres” — Café Tacuba:  Smooth, sensual, and warm.  People-watching from your apartment, walking outside alone at any time of day or night, warming to the scent of coffee, or simply resisting the freeze all day by playing with someone in bed.  This is a very versatile song.
  32. “Say It Right” — Nelly Furtado:  Hollow, haunting, cold.  It’s a gray day, no snow; the crisp air invigorates your lungs, and you want to relish the feeling of being (temporarily) alone in the world.
  33. “Nada es para siempre” — Luis Fonsi:  Decidedly melancholy.  Another good one for walking around outside, staring down at your boots.  Or huddling under the comforter as you sink into the warmth of a partner you know you’re losing.
  34. “Tardes negras” — Tiziano Ferro:  Cold, tormented, beautifully fragile.  It’s good for chilly, overcast mornings.  Or afternoons, as the title suggests!  This sound is the start of the weekend in winter.
  35. “Wonderwall” — Oasis:  Shivering, obstinately lonely, accidentally lost.  Take a walk, clear your mind, feel the wind lash your face, the freezing rain soak your hair, the fiery sting of the sleet numb your skin.  Breathe deeply, and smile — you’re alive.  “And all the roads that lead you there are winding, and all the lights that light the way are blinding…”  The sleet subsides, and a wet snow is just beginning to dust the ground.  Slushy footprints mark the steps behind you, before melting back into the pavement.  Your tracks vanish.  There’s only the brilliant blank canvas of the road ahead.  This moment is immortal.

*Others’ recommendations*
Nick Drake — “Northern Sky”

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Burning Bridges

You light the torch,
And I’ll burn the bridges,
And in a blaze of insanity,
We’ll illuminate all this night running.

Don’t ask me what’s on the other side–
That riverbank is not the destination.
And if I arrive, you’ve failed your mission.
You need to torch the weary planks beneath your feet
From which you watch the river rushing past.
What’s so special about that vantage point anyway?
Sometimes, eyes closed, we see much more.

Go ahead.
I’ve cleared the way.
There’s no one in pursuit,
And I’m jumping.
That initial spark
Of the night-wanderer’s torch
That set the living waves alight
Was an accident,
But its natural hunger
Erupted into a bonfire,
Destroying dead boards over stagnant currents
And devouring the tangled scrub
That kept the life force water channel at bay.

Look
With your third eye
At what’s right before you;
That liquid moonlight is timeless,
And the dancing, night-black waves
Are actually transparent.
The Styx
Is all too happy to yield
The secrets of countless incarnations
If you dare reveal your own.

 

Yes, there is another one on here with the same title.  Sometimes, I start writing, and two poems are born instead of one.  I also thought this was particularly appropriate for the time of year; we’re currently in Scorpio, and it has a very Scorpio feel — death, destruction, re-birth, secrets, night, water, purification, mystery, the invisible, the edge of reason, the ancient…

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | Leave a comment

Queens

This is who we are.
Our secret selves at bay,
Animal instincts tamed,
We walk as wolves sprung from the underbrush
Who bow their regal heads
Under spells never spoken.
The beast within us longs to lunge
To bite
To feast,
But instead, our eyes,
In fleeting glances on the street,
Avert to hide the savage self,
And so a thousand encounters never come to be.

In this festival of near-forgotten freedoms,
The darkness alight with neon life,
My pulse pounds with the memory of what never was.
And every breath I stole before this moment
Returns me to our animal intentions
As we play at human roles.

The words you long to say,
The miles you have challenged,
The locks that I have broken,
And the silent codes that save me
In the doorways,
By the train tracks,
On the corners,
Under streetlights,
Where I find myself reborn–
Dissolve here in the instant
That our bodies
Move apart.

And though we toe the fading line
Between the fairytale of civilization
And the enchanted forest of our own destructive drives,
I know where you come from
And you sense where I’ve been,
And one expectant look reveals that
Neither of us truly lives
In this world that falls away
Behind the shadows.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aqlla

So you sing to me again
That hollow, interminable lament
Which tears me from my sleep
To shackle me with dreams.
You always find new tricks to bring me home —
This stubbornly devoted concubine
Who finds privilege in the humble shadow
Of your fiercely glacial air,
And lingers with surrendered reverence
Around your volatile, smoldering depths.
Yes, I recognize your invocation;
It’s a breath,
A regal salutation,
And a kiss.

But tell me, love —
Do you remember our game?
Do you remember
How I once melted in your embrace?
How completely I surrendered to the searing pain?
How obediently I waited
As the flames of passion threatened to destroy me?
How I believed that I would suffocate
Before you let me go?

Do you remember
How I branded myself,
Playing with fire
To cauterize your wounds?

I will return
With a torch
To clear the shadows of your long, tormented night.

Just, please —
Don’t burn me now.

 

*A mentor told me years ago that she thought I was an aqlla in another life.  Kind of a random thing to say, but I resurrect the idea here.  This title, from Quechua, is a play on numerous levels of meaning.  I’ll break some of them down, should you be curious:

Aqllana/Aqllay = to select/choose — This poem was inspired by an opportunity and the need to make a decison.

Aqlla = (lit.) chosen one

Aqlla = (historically) a bride of the sun.  The aqllacuna (pl.) were taken from their homes, having been singled out (hence “aqlla”) for a life of political and spiritual service to the Inca Empire.  This decision, externally imposed, was based on physical appearance, and one could not refuse to be an aqlla.  Furthermore, as the state appropriated an aqlla’s sexuality, she lived under perpetual surveillance.  Owned by the empire, she could be given as a concubine — or sacrificed — for the greater glory of the state and the higher interests of the people.  Stakes were high; an aqlla was not free, and “transgressions” of the flesh, as well as any sign of disrespect toward the men she was ordered to serve (service), were punishable by death.

In this poem, I refer to fire not only for its simultaneously destructive and purifying effects, but also because tending to a hallowed fire was one of an aqlla’s sacred responsibilities.

A little pre-Columbian trivia for you  😉

October 7, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manifesto

You can’t tame me.
These running legs have served me well.
Unruly curls in disarray,
Bare toes connecting with the earth,
I laugh too loud, play too hard,
And dance for no reason at all.
I’m not much for pretense or formality;
Every day is a flag to be captured,
And while I can strategize with the best of them,
Uncover every secret hideout —
While never letting on that you’ve been found —
I’d rather blaze my trail straight to the heart.

Sure, I stop and smell the flowers,
And I’ll gladly detour for a tumble in the brush,
But I don’t waste time on maps,
And the dangerous curves of this country I inhabit
Are surely beyond your control.

I only realized I was a woman
When they saw me for what I never was before,
And a thousand kisses,
Caresses,
And whispers in the darkest of the dark
Rained over me and washed clean all the
Grass stains of my youth.
But this refining
Only skimmed the satin surface;
I may dress the part now,
And you’d never find a single scar,
But I’d win every neighborhood game!
Because, now, I can run without running
And look without lifting my eyes.

Inside, those flames they fanned
Cannot be doused.
I’m a slow burn,
Alight with a deeper life
Than many women are willing to live,
And you’ll see it set ablaze
Through the window of these laughing eyes
When you grip these defiant hips,
Sink into these wild waves of hair,
And breathe over this now-unbroken skin.

In your hands, I am no tomboy;
This is the secret, feminine force incarnate. 
Nor am I a damsel in distress
Waiting to be rescued by the sword;
I can vanquish villains and
Escape from dungeons by myself,
But I’ll still join you
For this grand, uncharted adventure.

What I am is a child
Inviting you to play in the mud again,
Dance in the rain,
Stop watching the clock!
Dig through the sands of time,
And yell at the top of your lungs
For the sheer joy of living without limits.
I’m also a sage who already knows your answer.

You can’t tame me.
But why would you try?
I’m an animal out of the cage
Whose spirit has been distilled,
Drop by simmering drop,
Into the purest, primal essence of humanity.

 

Now, tell me…
What are you?

 

So, this is 20yearsfromnow!  I forgot that I’d written a self-portrait back in July, but I stumbled upon it again tonight and thought I’d share it here; it seemed fitting to segue into my tomboy manifesto from the childhood memories recently set out in “Woodworking.”  In fact….this, I suppose, is the result of the “adventure” (referenced therein) that I would go on to have years after waking up from that crazy dream.  🙂

September 21, 2008 Posted by | Memories, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Travel, Woman | , , , , | Leave a comment

Woodworking

Hunched over your work,
And low to the ground,
Meticulously, you chip away
At the scepter
That will one day make you king.
You’re carving an unwitnessed masterpiece —
Starting outside at the roughness,
Moving dutifully in.

I stumble startled over you,
Confounded,
When I pull open a familiar door
And find it was a portal
Where a stranger sits in wait.

Patient, pensive, out-of-place,
You hang your head,
Impervious to the siren breeze of summer
That calls to me
And dances on the air
Just yards from where you sit.
Yet still you stop to lift your gaze
In recognition of the child
Pondering your presence.

We need no introduction,
Yet we don’t know any names.
Does either of us know why you are there?

And so we meet in knowing silence at the threshold,
Somewhere in between
Dark and light,
Work and play,
Indoors, outdoors,
Maturity and youth,
Confines and boundlessness,
Artifice and truth.

You smile a greeting through the stillness
Before returning to your curious craft,
And I drink this vision in.
And though I skip away to carry out my childhood,
Turning back to the silent stranger
I have always never known,
I realize some accident of fate
Has crossed the years,
The miles,
The laws,
The lives
That disconnect
Again when I wake up.

But I’ll grow up remembering
That I forgot you between lifetimes,
Always wondering
Which you it was I saw,
And understanding
That I’ll stumble into you again
When I
Come back from my adventures,
And you
Have finally finished freeing
The all-consuming masterwork
That brought you to that stoop.

 

This poem tells the story of a dream I had as a child.  Consequently, it’s somewhat strange and probably makes little sense.  But I’m sure some of you can relate to the experience of waking up from a dream and feeling, “….Something important just happened.”  Or having encountered a stranger or received some bit of information in a dream which you’ve never been able to forget.  Well, that was my experience way back when, and that’s what this is about.

The image of this stranger and his serious, dignified dedication to his carving work, juxtaposed with my carefree childhood spirit, was so powerful to me that I decided to attempt to honor it by writing these lines over a decade later.  So, for what it’s worth, this piece isn’t too refined, but I believe it’s time to put this out there.  Here’s to the woodworker I stumbled over years ago.

“And through a fractal on a breaking wall, I see you my friend, and touch your face again.  Miracles will happen as we dream.”  Seal — “Crazy”

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oral Fixation

Your name caramelizes
Like sugar on my tongue,
And air ignites with the
Sweet fire of cinnamon
As I hear you pray the syllables of my own.
Tongue collecting secret salt,
Mouth parts to steal a bit of milk,
Smile stretches to expose the teasing teeth
That bite into sinewy flesh
As muscles stretch and bone holds firm.
Your careful hand extends
To claim a prize
Of dripping fruit
Inside a cavern of exquisite thrills
While just before me lies
Allure of choicest loin to satiate
The deepest reaches
Of humid hunger.
But vanilla fingers slide past instead
To skim a handful of savory nuts —
Then sigh escapes as
Hazelnut eyes beg,
And untamed waves of honey hair
That cover coconut delights
Spill over chest
And abdomen
And thighs
As cherry lips descend
To savor juice
Of melting meat.

August 16, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Sex | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soul Memory

It’s like a memory
That you have in childhood
And never recall again,
That awareness
Of what once was
That fades into the present
Once the blank canvas of new existence
Starts to fill with visions of a life in progress.

Thus is the calling–
The song that carried me through ages,
Accompanied me over ancient seas,
Followed me to sacred summits,
And lulled me into sleep through a hundred eternal springs,
Until it led me
Obediently stumbling to your door
Where origin masquerades as destination,
Fate takes the guise of intention,
And guest entwines with host.

So I knocked
And waited breathless on the step,
Remembering why I came,
And who we were,
And what lay there within,
Only to begin forgetting
And find myself abandoned to the unknown,
The moment you opened the door.

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time | , , | 3 Comments

One year older, ten years wiser…

Now, there’s a very good chance I have it all wrong.  I’m no sage.  But who’s really brimming with wisdom at 24?  (Hey, I’m technically 23 as I write this.)  Anyway, just for fun, these are some of the lessons that solidified themselves for me in the last twelve months.  Some (or all) of them might sound silly.  A great many of these things, I actually learned from my experiences this year with writing recommendation letters.  Others, I learned from friends, from failure, from unexpected success, from delayed reactions to events that played out years ago, and from those simple moments where all you can do is just smile to yourself and slowly nod…

So, here’s to 24.  I thought I’d share my thoughts here to see how you feel about these ideas.  Or even how I feel about them months and years from now.  My apologies for the lack of articulate expression, but this isn’t meant to be a literary classic — just a way for me to reflect.  By all means, weigh in with your reactions.  I enjoy a good debate, or a philosophical conversation, so, in no particular order, let us begin!  🙂

  1. Don’t make plans; have experiences.
  2. Never pass up an opportunity to help someone else achieve his or her dreams.
  3. Leave no kind word unspoken.  And there’s always at least one kind word.
  4. Our experiences make us grow, but they never make us deserve anything — good or bad.
  5. If something is repeatedly getting in the way of your being genuinely happy, then you probably still didn’t learn your lesson.  This lesson usually tends to be one of two things:  “Stop doing that” or “Walk away.”
  6. Where women are oppressed, men are often suffering a deeper hell than many people bother to consider.
  7. A compliment needs no motive, no reason.  We’re all looking for reassurance, so be liberal with praise where praise is due, and you’ll make someone smile a little brighter.
  8. Soccer serves a VITALLY important emotional need in some areas of the world.
  9. No pain is so great that you can’t put it aside to heal someone who’s hurting even more.
  10. That said, sometimes, it really is best to be selfish.  Do not abuse this, but be able to discern which of your needs are not to be compromised.  Those are the ones you should honor.
  11. Sometimes, a door stays closed so that you’re forced to talk to the gatekeeper.  The gatekeeper can (and often will) lead you to a door which falls open on its own.
  12. No amount of denial achieves anything; it just keeps you from the path your soul is trying to walk.  Denial has never solved a single problem, so if an issue is significant enough that you feel inclined to invest your energy in pushing it out of your mind, then that bull is almost certainly worth taking by the horns (or the cojones — have it as you please).  ¡Olé !
  13. The most personally significant things you’ll ever do will probably have nothing at all to do with your own life goals and will mean much less to you than to the ones they touch.  If you have the chance to perform such an act, dedicate yourself to it in earnest, and consider yourself very blessed.
  14. The day you look in the mirror and sincerely say, “This is good enough,” that’s what everyone else sees too.
  15. A few minutes of your own time may be the rest of somebody else’s life — and this, in ways you can’t even fathom.
  16. If all else fails in life (or you just don’t know what the hell to do with yourself), it might not be a bad idea to consider dedicating a year to the project of riding Greyhounds around the country and making a book of it.  (Hey, if you decide to run with this one, you MUST send me a copy!)  🙂
  17. Whether or not you take the suggestion directly above, please be aware for your future adventures in public transportation that wearing a hat, a sweatshirt, and long pants still doesn’t ensure a pleasant bus ride for anyone with two X chromosomes.
  18. When life leads you to say, “WTF?!,” open an interesting book to a random page (You’ll know which one to pick up.), and you just might find your answer.
  19. In all reality, when it comes down to it, there’s usually no good reason to curb your enthusiasm.  Obviously, there are times when displaying your excitement is not appropriate, but, being objective, these instances are few and far-between.  Life is short, so show it when you’re happy!  And you’ll weed out any sticks in the mud in the process.
  20. If you keep waking up at the same time of night, do something creative in that hour; you might be pleasantly surprised to find that it’s well beyond what you produce during the day.
  21. If you’re convinced you can achieve something, you probably can.  But ask yourself how much effort it’s going to take and whether you’re going to feel like claiming your prize by the time you’ve won.
  22. There is a breath that whispers when we’re not listening.
  23. This same breath also tends to yell when you put your hands over your ears.
  24. Things will always fall into their proper place once you open your hands.

July 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marco Polo

This is the classic game that no one ever wins —
When we go swimming in your pain,
Shooting echoes out of time,
And each is desperately hoping to throw out a lucky hand
To touch what we can’t see.

Over and over,
I call out,
And you sink beneath the waves,
Thrashing to elude my reach,
And I choke on the turbulence that surprises my lungs,
Left to spin circles around myself,
Lunge and grab at air,
Wade through all the sluggishness.
But, lo and behold, by some miracle, I reach you,
And it becomes my turn to submerge.

The ripples close in on me,
And I duck under to escape your cold fingers.
I watch from below as you sail past
Like some blinded Odysseus.
You’re the merchant king of some empty world
Where visions sting,
Movement distorts,
And cries are always muffled.

Filtering through a once-impossible distance
To the aquatic trenches where I buried myself
In hopes of somehow obtaining a victory,
There is a blinding shimmer,
And I remember
That there is sunlight,
That I would rather walk than wade,
Emerge than hide,
Feel warm than cold —
So I steal to the surface
And quietly go.

That’s when you open your eyes
And finally find
Yourself,
And while I drip off what’s left
Of this interminable hide and seek,
I observe as the scorching summer sun
Burns wet footprints off of concrete,
And I wonder
Just who walked away.

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , , , , | Leave a comment