So a couple weeks ago we asked you all to come up with some stories to share -- ones that involved anything real or imagined, showcased some interesting characters and a little conflict.
We got some pretty awesome submissions. It was difficult to make our selections amongst all the wonderful tales you've spun, but we've settled on three winners:
Chopped filigree on the patio, even.
Summer in the city you grew up in and your feet
are gluey on the tiles, and you've canto-spun the lake
into the shape of a corkscrew, and you've drawn
the curtains up three-quarters exact to the pulpy
ceiling: furrowed like a sand dune,
folding with you--
Write that down. Read it twice for tempo.
You list off names of flowers in the hopes that
one sounds worth remembering, chew an ipomoea
and a larkspur in your red salt mouth. The chime
of a juniper, note the song in it. Take it
in your hand and sharpen the tips of its needles.
What do you mean to say? Keep your breath a tiny
bowl inside your chest until it starts to fester.
Remember that you cannot find
the right words to phrase the way the light
drops in crenels on the breakfast table, remember
that your teeth are sore with all the verses.
II. Read more »
Phantom father filling airspace
on the staircase, sickly gilded
in the moonlight while the noise
of the rain takes up both my hands.
I've detailed a chronicle, I tell him,
Read it quickly like you know me.
In his voice a chorus, some untidy storm
brought to life with a fugue that falls
small, and then smaller --
thin stones in the driveway
keeping the chime for weeks.
If I split the moment down the center I do not
know which half to choose, greener grass
in full, unbearable bloom, something crying out
like it intends me to respond.
I've missed the point, then: he's flecked with metals
so I cannot view him squarely. The sun
out barefoot, stark and sated—I stand in the middle
of the field to be granted orbit, or periphery,
yet it's not my pulpit, now. This silver-most
boy (a willow, trill and stream and
weep) is the closest thing to growing, and I repeat
his image back as—prayer? a beam off course?—
Over the intercom, the pilot announces that
he's climbed as high as he plans to.
I'm tired now, is what I think he means
to say, but I'm applauding nonetheless.
Your second New York autumn:
You linger as you're told to, nothing more.
There are poets on the corners
waiting for the night to fall as they
expect it to: a quiet cloaking where the edges
blacken first. Lit-up houses showcase families
like doll sets as they're gathered at the table
over bloodied-inside steaks.
The stone fireplaces flume in the evening.
The mother pulls their hands together for a prayer.
Bloodied-outside, the poets give assorted
pretty meanings to the thought of "home."
It's your displacement as their muse, and
someone lays out mapwork at your feet, asks gently
if you know exactly where you are.
Your second New York autumn:
You've never known such volume.
It will snow tomorrow, a vast refining,
will sweep and swell for the first time
since March. You're sitting by the airport
where the fence is notched
like knives: the mark of boundless sound,
your shoulders swathed in steel
bodies as they shudder back
from 30,000 feet. It is not yours, this sway,
this clout and breadth. Read more »
My father has a gravestone but
does not sleep beneath it.
We burned him into downy ash
and keep a handful on our mantel,
painted-steel bound. Compact as
careworn breath—a labored,
In his body he was brighter. Pulled some
faces fraught with hometown piety,
begged me to cast him in Lake Willoughby
with his scalded ruins gauzy-resting
on the surface.
I was twelve. I wanted to
lay down roses that would
crumble along with him.
Wanted flowers thinning into
hollow space below, their blushes
paling, knowing the weight
of things unfilled.
Subtraction can manifest
in the tiniest of pulls.
It’s his sea-free state with the
coastline turned out, Portland’s Old Port
singing us a ballad about ice-wind
pinching kisses off the harbor. It’s a
solstice for the sun
and then for me,
a Greyhound routes-religion with the
Mecca changing, too.
If you take my derivative
it is a stripping, nonetheless. Numbers
lining themselves up for slaughter.
It’s no wonder then—hands all trembling,
he was mine.
We could listen here. Somehow it
made sense: the adding of a person
I had a theory that my mountains
leveled him, that landlocked he could
find the footing that his ocean
didn’t offer. Arms caught on the skin
of trees he told me, Fractions only happen
when you haven’t figured out a whole.
A division in October splinters quickly,
halves all neat.
Counting when you were not meant to:
I am fleshed in words whose stillness rivals
on an axis, waiting for the small things
to be fiercely exponential.
The technicalities of music
slip past me like
small children running out
the back door, bitter wind sliding
through the front door,
cracks all empty and unbarred,
the heavy things, the careful things
And all the fortes and the
fugues sit next to me, sit beside me
but not within me, not a part
of me that I can candy-floss pull out
and bit-by-bit explain to you,
decipher for you. I do not know
which chord fits best, what the measure
is or how the man with piano-
beat blood presses keys only
three-quarters down, lifts his hands off
rapidly to spin a sound
that I can't tell
But I am caught up in you saying
that a singer stretches out her syllables
like taffy, hands all gripped and words all
gripped and I am taken with you
saying that small,
intricate changes can be felt as
big events, lofty switches and
that hits a note within me
more, as the violinist cradling
her instrument tucked up
to her chin with such a cautious,
coddling care that you wonder
how do all people not breathe music
clean and effortless
Do you know how to hush a crowd of buzzing people? You play a piano so coolly and so fiercely, still, that it grabs at their words and laces them away, into the keys, a terrific quieting and leveling of a room now still, now poised and listening. Waiting to follow as you lead them sharp and major and minor and through it all, a part of it all. You play a piano with hands that know the instrument as lovers know one another's bodies and as the water pulls at its shorelines, sands all crenellated, all torn and jagged and all edges and yet still the core, still so very whole. Hands that know the instrument intimately, passionately, a tempered sort of seduction and manipulation that's been decades in the making.
Do you know how to hold them there? Keep them listening, I mean. Keep them entwined in your music and your rhythm and keep them nodding their heads along with yours, their wrists and chests and necks feeling your pulse, too. After a performance that was haunting in the best way, gripping in the best way, I can tell you that Frank Glazer knows. I can tell you that 97-year-old Frank Glazer has in him a piano beat that's measured and lined itself up along his own beats, his own rhythm, and that now they are one and are placed on a stage only to show people the sort of concord and companionship that happens when you hold together two lovely things for long enough.
(Granted that one of these things is an extraordinarily gifted man with music in his veins, a man so full of commitment it's bursting at the seams, of course.)
My father died when I was twelve. My father died when I was twelve and left behind little things, mostly. Left behind the forest-green painted and paneled mirror that I tug to and from my New York school, a blue and grey knitted afghan, his ashes on our windowsill. He left behind a drawing of our tree-locked house when we first moved from New Hampshire, a gift to soothe my unthrilled four-year-old self, Katy, I hope you like our new home scribbled across the top. He left briefcases that I took and claimed as mine, filled with old papers, school papers, work papers, his high school and college diplomas. He left his driving license, grinning big like a candy-bound kid with his wide-framed glasses all thick and magnifying, his eyes swelled to discs -- I've slipped it in my wallet behind my own. He left behind a coffee mug with his name printed sleek across the side, but I'm afraid to use it. He left a silver arrowhead necklace that feels cold around my neck, his sweater stitched "Vermont," his Christmas stocking with the bells and the ribbons. Read more »
There's the boy who you knew
like you know fighting things, bright and
trying things who had on his
funeral face, sometimes,
sullen and pulled, eyes all mixed up
in the down of his lips, coral red even
There's the house on a hill that you
thought you could keep, a
small forever with its silver siding, its
trees that scraped and brayed
like children's hands, hungry and asking.
And there's your asking, too,
your days sat with whatever's worth
holding, legs folded in pyramid lines while
you waited, I think,
for your own simple start.
There are starts. There's New York and there's
coffee nights, there's Michael
with the record player and there's you saying
no, for once. There's rain like you never
thought it could rain, lacing rivers gathered
in puddles at the edge of the steps
by your dorm, brick and brick and scratching
brick that smelled like
newborn pennies when soaked to its
There's October snow, autumn boots failing
and flailing on ice, blizzard faces,
birthday faces. There's summer dust,
French Canadien dust in your leather-soled
shoes, gripping sun in your eyes
as you shield them, look
away, hide in the trees.
There's spring baptism and yesterday's screaming
all muffled, all muted to a hush
that you take in like a sad song, like
a slow song, like a
frozen February song Read more »
So the other day I went to a workshop with Rusty DeWees. He gave us this awesome and easy writing prompt that's actually a lot of fun and really gets you thinking. This is what I wrote; you should try it out too!
I like wearing a watch because I like knowing what time it is. I like not caring what time it is. I like the way April pollen and December ice get stuck in your throat. I like wearing shoes with tread so I don't face-plant-slip down steep sets of stairs. I like wearing shoes without tread so I can slide down tiled hallways. I like leather chairs. I like walls with so many decorations that you can't see the paint color. I like china lined up neatly on the tops of cupboards.
I like sweaters whose sleeves hang past my wrists. I like tasting post-rain air. I like waking up before noon so I have a whole day ahead of me. I like cold hands. I like knitted mittens. I like zippers and buttons and the sound of a vacuum cleaner sucking them up. I like the sound of a vacuum cleaner in general. Read more »
I am held here
for a while
and I am
for a while I have strict red lines playing tag
around my eyes like
ferris wheel lights circling
and pulling, catching
notice from the passersby
and the nightfree people with
veins drawn on their
skin know about running
and Don't run
Stay here for a while, they say Stay
for a while.
The daylocked people write
too but it's only
patterned careful calculations they have ink
in the faultlines of their palms and
wash it out and
gone and Get out
You'll never get
and they know about
cycles and I know about
red eyes falling burning
shut, hands all tangled with
the curtains closed.
I watch as my sister
treads the tile in the kitchen with
her hair pinned back
out of her face because
I can't see and I can't run or move and it goes
everywhere and she
with hair up and feet down
goes everywhere too.
And she talks as if thirty more years
were stacked on her
shoulders. Tells us in
hour-to-hour detail about
her summer camp
The four-square boys
The food she retrieved from the silver-spotted
kitchen in the back
when others craved extra
The moths on the bathroom
ceilings and Luke with the bandana,
Cheyenne with her snoring.
She says she liked camp
in the middle between a lot
and a little. Says she's glad to be home
because Katy, isn't it beautiful here and I say yes
And she adores beginnings and endings
in almost the same way
Watched the last episode of LOST
before even the first and
does not argue or protest
our shift south, her new world. I watch as my sister
wisdom-bound takes things in stride,
hair out of her face
so she sees clearly
and begins where she needs to.
I have a lot of new things, now. I have a new house. A new room, a new bed. New pillows twice my size. A new desk and chair at which to sit and stir, I guess. A new dog, full black fur, my new suede shoes hanging out her mouth, tongue and tail wagging, flailing. I have a new backyard, one million less trees patterned out my window. A new leaf-beaded bush instead. New gardens flushing purple hues in paintbrush lines around my lawn. A new pool to share with new neighbors who walk in loops with old dogs, old friends. I have a new tiny suburban city and a street that twists and runs down near the water. A new driveway, new housemates, a new mailbox and shower curtain and blinds to hide the sun. I have a new pain that laces hymns and pulses in my chest, in my neck. A tendency to cry and cry and yell at all the new.
My mom is tall and blonde and German-minded. She hung a nice new birdfeeder from our new tree branch out front, glass and red, five feet off the ground. You can see it from the kitchen as you go through our new ugly beige fridge, but she's complaining about its lack of birds.
"They don't like it," she says, dejected. "I haven't seen a single bird there yet." And she putters around and wonders what she's done wrong, what the feeder's faults are and how she can fix them and mend them and she's upset, I know. Read more »
on hampton beach the people walk with legs sultry and
poised, white puka shells in dancing lines
around their necks. they are loud
here, big ocean voices and wave-pattern words that go
up and down in tide rhythm to match the water
or compete with it, rather.
they are all swinging hips and i
am sand still. leaning heat that heavy-presses
tanned shoulders, vein-lined and glistening in
warm red air as side-to-side
they dance, a constant,
when the sun falls we are avid and
alone and asking for our scopes
to shrink --
looming numbers like fence-horizon mountain
peaks never climbed or learned
and when they grow too
big we stop
counting. one million into two or three or
forever is no longer more impressive and
no longer ours.
this summer i'm in love with
small: tiny perfects and right-nows
resting evenings on
my forearm, ice cream-bedtimes and a
lightcompany into my window,
a careful greeting,
a sound hello as i pause and tuck
away and keep my
In tenth grade my friend's father was giving me a ride home, both hands pressed tight to the steering wheel of his SUV. The car pulled over dirt hills and into unnavigable tree pockets and he laughed. Laughed with his nerves and his reverence or whatever else one faces with clean and full and boundless scenery, fields that rubber-stretched their way to sky and seventeen acres of forest that make up my home. Seventeen acres that I have to leave. "I feel like we're about to drive off the edge of the earth," he said.
That's how I know Vermont. The edge of the earth. The best, the most absolute and last thing around. In the year 2035 I think much of what we have today will still be present. I think Vermonters are immensely, alarmingly proud and protective of everything surrounding them. Nothing will be taken or poorly altered without a fight.
I am not from Chittenden County, but a soon-to-be home is currently secured for me near Dorset Street. I also haven't always loved this state; only in the last year has its splendor dawned on me. I believe that the greater Burlington area is the hub, the centerfold, the root for culture and opportunities of this entire state. I believe that it needs to and can still grow. I believe that we can moniter these changes and allow them, nurture them. As for the rest of the Green Mountains, I have this theory that only the kindest and most level-headed people will dare to move into its depths. I think our greenery and landscapes will be preserved. Enhanced, hopefully. Read more »
i. I know what Portland looks like when it rains, and it always does. I know what my mother looks like when she rains.
ii. I wake up to a thunderstorm outside my window and my mother, 340 miles north, calls to say that the rain made her think of me. Aren't you having a nice day? she says, her voice eager and tugging at the telephone cords and threads that are knotted in between our state lines. I know how much you love this weather, she adds. I say yes, I do. I do.
iii. I count things and people in numbers and in words. I know it's not safe but I don't know what is. My mom is a therapist and a human and a mother and she tries to help. Which comes first?
iv. Sometimes I am still eight and elegant and planting strawberries in my backyard, at the curve where lawn meets woods. Erdbeeren, my German teacher told me. I know, I said to him. Rain is different on the coast, in Portland; the ocean makes it wild but here, forever here, the mountains make it silver slick and fast. My Green Mountains. One summer the rain fell for days and days and melted all these berries (not really, I suppose, but caressed and pulled at them in such a way that their bodies morphed and melded into and away from one another).
Our yard was stained and strained mud-red. Sometimes I am still thirteen and picking these earth-berries with my sister, giving baskets-full to my mother. Sometimes she is bright lights and not storms.
v. Vermont is the Washington state of the east, a few voices told me this weekend. So I'm fine here, I think. Choked up in trees and "wicked" and not in the potent sultry west. Seattle has my hand simply because I'm stricken with the notion of constant always siempre rain and rain and skyfallingdown. Read more »
I joined this site because a neighbor that lives at the bottom of the lofty hill our road is named after recommended it to me, because I was fourteen and loved to write and needed people to listen to me.
I never thought it would turn into this. I never thought it'd be four years and four weeks and I'd still be in love with the words I see here and many of the faces behind them. I'm bad at moments. This site is all moments and magnets, all sharp and stunning and a place to put everything that needs its niche. I've been absent from this community lately because I've been too present in other worlds, I think, in other towns with other time-fillers and heavy-hearted people. I've only recently been reminded of how much I miss it here.
I guess the most noteworthy moment is one that I'm having trouble pinpointing, one that happened and started and melted into where I am now. People started commenting on my work. People started to compliment my writing and I got to read theirs, and all of a sudden I felt this terrific connection to handfuls of writers I'd never met or known. It was a new thing for me. I was obsessed. I spent hours a day on here, reading and reading and reading and I wanted so badly to be a part of the magic I was sensing. And I was, in a sense.
A specific moment: a "mentor" commented on one of my pieces and critiqued my (correct) grammar and didn't pay much mind to the piece itself. I'm not sure who it was, exactly, but a little army of people on here whom I admired folded together and defended my work. I logged onto my computer and saw their comments and was startled that I had people behind me. Always. You're never alone here.
everything is okay because if you get an astro lamp and shine it in front of your eyes or perhaps collect a nice boy to hold hands with, i mean if you do both of these things, even if you do them with a tarnished perspective and a sad mind, then everything looks bright and sleek and promising. and it's the same if you take them away. remove them subtly and quickly. i don't know who it was that said if you can't be happy by yourself, alone and stripped down to you you you, then you're not truly happy. i don't know if this means you're unhappy, exactly. i don't even know if it's true. Read more »
whenever i’m graced by a cautious or perhaps (sincerely) concerned throat asking, “are you okay?”, i generally don’t feel inclined to supply much of a response. yes, i’m okay. i’m bothered only, usually, by the smallest and paintbrush-fleeting bits of happenings that sound whiny or petty when i give them breath or real words. or i’m just slight of melancholy and tired and wishing i would get a phone call or a text. i mean, that sort of range of emotion. this entire year was the strangest thing in the world for me. Read more »
It's nice here, yeah? I have three weeks left. The things I cry about now are so different than the things that prompted tears when I was younger. When I was younger or smaller or kinder or more careful or whatever. And I'm not choosing anyone, I'm not choosing anyone over anyone else. You're not seeing it that way. You're not seeing it any way, you're not doing anything but making me reassess a friendship that brought me to where and whom I am today. To exactly that. To exactly and only that. You're hurting me. Read more »
Someone taught me how to express what I need as opposed to what I want; they're often similar. Or feel similar. But that's more recent. High school was rather easy for me, in almost every sense. I had things in very careful and yet still very wild places. Luxurious strings to pull. Hearts to tug. Eyes at which to smile, to trick. Hands to hold. I essentially had people asking to be my friend. I'll evaluate the pretension of that later. The mistakes I made were trivial. And they were beautiful in their triviality, in their quietness. Read more »
to where to what to whom do you
belong and who do you long
to be quietly or
balanced while the sky is
tripping down i think often i
like you more than all the paintings on my wall
and i like you better
than the songs they wrote with
careful notes because maybe could be sometimes
they are all about you
and there are all for
you you you in your frames and
mirrors still i've found that you are
like a string of fragile forged and feathered
smiles that i struggle to put into
words so i imagine you have stolen
also the poetry
also the seasons the pretty and the pressing
summer tell me where tell
me how prodding
in your luscious mind all i
see is sorry yes forget
prisms where the light hits and you do
not try to hold it in your
hands because they are
I feel as though I'm in the mood and position to offer a pretty little slice of advice now: do not use anyone (not anyone) as a means of constructing, of putting up walls or safe-gates or barricades. You can call it a fortress. You can call it a fortress, yes, or a protective encasing in which you smile and sleep, but it is still walls and gates and barriers. It is still a restriction. It is still a partition: you and outside. Maybe, if you're lucky, you and him and then outside. Read more »
At the very least I have learned, from this, that being vulnerable is pretty and good, but being stupid, being unrealistic, is not. I can have all these dreams lacing through me, can lend myself to something or someone else, can set aside my control (because it's often an ugly thing to have) for whomever would like it. In the end, though, I have to find a place to sit. I have to be able to sort through what I've done and what I've said and the lot of it must be able to fit, haphazardly even, into my world. Read more »
i. You either make me feel like the universe is falling in fucking feather-flick bits at my feet or like it is prettily piecing itself together. There's never an in-between. Which is odd, for me at least: the notion of no grey area, the grey area that I look for and yearn for, fight for, essentially. I wake up in the morning with my heart in my stomach and go to sleep at night with my throat catching pollen and tripping emotions. I've learned that I am always much too attached to everyone. I'm not the cryptic one here. Read more »
Listening to a 32-minute audio clip of rain and thunder. As Spring is sitting on my doorstep. Is that odd? -- it rains it rains the mixing and melting maturing and the mending, maybe make a mess to mold your mind? We are a spelling error. And I've checked the letters and double-checked, even, the form and the sequence and the order and still they are wrongwrongwrong. Still something is misplaced or perhaps forgotten. It's possible I muddled up the time, too early too fast, live fast and we're losing and learning, but falling, but dancing. Read more »
(i think) it was in the wind the rain
on black days that
you wrote the sad poetry
(yellow paper running ink a blue-eyed boy)
and (i think) i loved too much &
too little (things and people and hearing my name) to
the faces i need are not
the places i need
nor are they in the places i need
to be in
i'll (maybe) sit in melancholic universe-threads
while you tell me which
new york school to
choose and be (and live)
as if i'm breaking little parts
to get the bigger ones as if
we all deal in and
i just put the broken things (always) in
my dresser or