Needle noses hold the rouged swell of my lip,
peel away from my teeth and latex fingers press
against the temples of my jaw.
Agape, you can see my secret:
a dandelion head with perfect white spores clean
against the pink swell of my tongue.
I hope you are happy now. You have catalogued
the shadows in my brain,
pinned them like butterflies to display boards.
Their iridescent wings fade as the dust gathers in your office,
but you don't have to ask questions
It is your misconception that dead things do not change.
Depressive Bisexual Female. 3.84 Average. 17 years old.
I am not a mystery anymore, I am facts and numbers.
You love static precision which by my definition
is an oxymoron, but you
my Precious Accountant, you
love a good fantasy especially when it's yours.
Take an x-ray, sweetheart,
look at my lungs. You will place two fingers
diagonally across your mouth and your brows will furrow
shock and concern,
but my god, look at my lungs and see how
forsakenly beautiful they are.
They are filled with dandelions, honey,
they are dead and full of darkness, my love,
but you stopped seeing
the potential for life
that those tiny seeds have when you pinned me
to your corkboard and pronounced me
This moment is perfect, living as it does
with unfettered bones
but splintered skin.
The grasses are metallic: hissing, rippling
in the singing storm overhead.
The bark of the thin-wanded trees
gapes open and life froths forth,
white and tender. Here
are my hands
I offer them to you and your silver-whip blades.
Paint them clean in the rain,
darkness has been staining my knuckles
and it won't come off.
My vertebrae filled with lead, slowly, Read more »
This is infinite
cupping canyon breaks
that deepen like
Above it is
an azure iris
holding the world.
I have not forgotten-
even still tasting
of pilled oblivion.
I live a postcard reality.
"Wish you were here"
The Aspen Leaves
Below it is
veins that stretch
and blue with breath.
Capillary beds sway-
seaweed on oil-slick
The water is like nothing ever seen
They froze my fingertips,
burned away their tiny
I bite the pads,
at quiet nerves and such
It is a crystalline
melting on carbon Read more »
In your gas-light gown:
wearing midnight instead
I think your fingertips are fireflies
because they only glow
in the dark.
instead self-contained tsunami.
One daren’t place candles
upon the beach
because you quench&drown
Char and burst
in crowbar dreams.
You cannot touch me-
but the cracks in my skin
gape less at you than others.
Empty in infinite’s
armchairs, so quiet after.
This box of painted white
holds impossible visions
My entry for the Working Forests Essay Contest. Prompt: "As the next generation of forest stewards, we would like you to tell us, in 600 words or less, why working forests in Vermont are important and how they contribute to the quality of life of all Vermonters."
Vermont’s forests are part of our state identity.The woods play a vital role in recreation, tourism, and Vermont culture, and it is important that they are cared for in a way that balances human use with the health of working forests. Responsible forestry will help maintain this balance and preserve both the unique working and cultural landscape of Vermont.
Overgrowth of forests is a serious ecological problem that can have disastrous consequences. When trees crowd together and dead, dry wood accumulates, the forests become a fire hazard. As global warming changes the climate of the state, forest fires will become a greater danger. It is important to clear out forests to decrease this risk. Additionally, when overcrowding threatens woodland, disease can spread quickly: killing trees and destroying ecosystems. When the forests are unhealthy, animals, humans, and plants can suffer as well. For this reason, maintenance and care of wooded areas must include clearing of trees to prevent overcrowding. Read more »
Their ease of time is diminished here.
they may languish and eddy in corners
like drifting leaves.
Yet now they are plucked
by red pens
deeply into uncanny valley:
and one is a ruby-drop heart
in a sea of silent staring eyes.
They rise with open palms,
pale like single feathers
floating in sidewalk-street puddles.
(Their eyes are blankened deer
in the headlights of their imagined future.)
With uncertain lips,
they taste the foreign spices
of another’s words-
unarmed before armies
but for this woven,
Their fibers stretch
and the final notes of their soliloquy
hang awkward and delicate
upon a fog of relief.
they slip back into the comfortable
content to hide unsteady limbs beneath
plastic table tops
as another soldier rises from the ranks.
Anxious heat cools in their irises
as they disinterestedly listen
to the painful forgetting of lines and shuffling of feet.
The ice cracks in their eyes only
when the bell rings.
Light. This is light.
Earth. It is food.
It is blood.
Feels clean. Feels like waking up.
That is a sky and it has a color.
Light is from colored sky.
Feels like life.
Branches are axons
with new life.
I am made whole
I am reaching
Like waking up
from what once was gone.
Graffiti is a foreign language to me. I was raised by the whispers of pine trees and the guttural dust of drought; I never learned to speak with the quick vivacity of city streets. My mother remembers New York though, and I think she has always treasured the idea of me being bilingual, of a cultured, cosmopolitan daughter with snapping patent heels. I think she wanted to take me to D.C. in the way that one would take a prospective French student to Paris, to gaze at the Eiffel Tower and be inspired to bloom new accents from one’s tongue.
I found the swells of the railroad tracks to D.C. enchanting, as though a boat rocked me through the long-evaporated ocean of the Green Mountains. The ferns eddied around the tracks with verdant persistence, but concrete rail stations soon replaced tree trunks and riverbeds; we had entered a foreign, galvanized world. This is the point when most passengers stop looking out the windows. Yet my face was still hungrily pressed up against the pane, murmuring something or other about spray paint being profound. Read more »
Piloting the black glass seas,
you search for housecats on the shores-
their eyes overexposed like salt lightning.
Cutting into the fog with gleaming hull;
you are white skinned on the wheel,
scars purple in the cold
but this is your ship and she knows you
and your earnest touch.
She has held patiently her doors for you
while you hurled from the bow,
she has borne the tempests
and all the tears.
You sail home from mending bridges,
holding your heart, salvaged from the floor,
dusty and bruised, you will take care of it
even when no one else will.
The sea is calm
and you sleep with the swells.
This is your ship, she knows you as no one else does
and you can drift with her
You are beautiful in a river way:
you are quiet and rippling as I watch you,
you are thin and strong like the trickle of a brook
that pushes at my ankles.
There is a sheen to you,
a gentle gold
that pulls sunlight from the black
of your hair
and warmth from your wrists.
You are beautiful because your mind is-
full of bookshelves and nooks and crannies
that I want to curl myself into.
I fit in the armchair of your thoughts
and I am drifting off to sleep in your arms.
You are restful and playful-
chasing my child-self through playgrounds
as you hold my hand proudly and we walk
as two women resting our toes against the current
You are a hearth-fire in the winter of my mind
burning steadily and kindly through the darkness.
I woke with a spine heavy between my shoulder blades,
vertebrae like the stem of a rose -
thorns and all.
The crows-nest of my bed looked out
on the storm laced sunrise,
and quilts fell away from my wrists
to hang sleepily to the floor.
I woke and pulled myself behind white curtains
to bare feet and hips.
My feet chorused along the mat, a few broken notes
but moving, open palms.
Your half-hearted fingerprints leaked from my sternum
and out through the windows like small birds.
I released quiet bitterness with my hands (no longer in fists)
against white-clad ribs
and my teacher ushered it into the earth to bloom beauty
from hard-shelled seeds.
Loneliness burst from my back as I fell,
painting the sky blue
as a classmate held open my shoulders.
My petals whitened as we knelt to bow,
and I thanked my partners (for teaching, for healing, for being.)
I woke with open buds and bleach-scented hands
to breathe in CO2 ,
to smile independent happiness,
to feel whole.
The sky tells the soil to quiet,
to shudder into open pores
The ferns are gasping, falling
into the fitted puzzles the wind makes
of their leaves.
Desperate messengers of the trees
send yellow scrolls-
the grass listens, worries.
A plan for battle rises from their whispered swells.
The drums rattle death
from clouds that hang heavy
They have marched from homelands in the light
but are men now who carry weariness
like woolen coats on their shoulders.
Their battlecry rumbles deep and far away.
The earth, She says
they are coming.
They are coming.
They are here.
The bombs break hydrogen shells
upon the rooftops, a child cries.
Mother, when will it stop?
When will the light return?
The bullets answer
that they will stop
when the soil has been drenched,
the trees have died with broken necks,
and the river has flooded its banks.
The sky is bright with fire.
It seems to shatter, but no pieces of darkness
The clouds are breathless.
They have found the earth
and their guns and hearts
Bruised lips resolute, the earth stands
with angry, grieving eyes to watch the storm
Beneath my heels there opens a place in the earth
where I move in darkness, floating
suspended by the very sadness that fills my lungs to drown.
I stand above it, trying not to look back,
feeling the clouds press my shoulders.
I don’t want to fall in.
It’s cold there and the light
is far away.
Yet Loneliness whispers in my ears at night,
she tells me that there is no hope-
that my mother is too busy for me,
that my brother hates me as he hates himself,
that my desperation makes their love
My depression saturated the concrete walls last winter
and I can feel it trying to pull me back in
with greedy grey hands.
Please, my friends, please help me keep smiling.
I want to keep the light in my eyes.
Underwater irises, they rise
& gasp in the shallows,
with lungs painted over.
wet to the mist,
because your strings are falling away.
Tied to lampposts
broken shoes where someone fell once.
discover lips against wings
Happiness is determined-
grainy broken television dreams
by the quality-
your lips are soot
of your thoughts.
You are rising in the darkness
eyes electric wired to reddened nerves.
Then like a bulb,
and sink into sleep.
sleep comes only with destruction.
It took his mother a long time to stop calling him Daniel. He had persuaded, coaxed, and grown petulant in his desperate attempts to get her to understand. He didn’t want to be called Daniel because it was not his chosen name; he did not accept an appellation of such blasé intonations. He knew five other Daniels, and they were a cheerful, boring lot who dutifully played baseball or lacrosse in the spring and football in the fall. He wasn’t like them. Daniels were thick-skulled and uncultured; he was too sensitive, even artistic, for a name like Daniel. Daniels didn’t collect Polaroids or posters of the Beetles. Daniels didn’t drink coffee in quiet little cafes where people composed blog posts on their Macbooks. He cajoled and corrected his mother for six months, until finally, she started calling him Dmitri. Read more »
She was really beautiful once. When she smiled, even the night sky seemed to light up. I remember standing behind her, listening to her hum to herself as she worked at a long counter full of strange instruments. She would hear my quiet footsteps and grin, then swoop around and pick me up. She smelled like flowers, but not the kind that grow here. She would pepper my face with kisses, and I’d squirm and giggle. We’d tear through the house, bunching rugs and skidding around corners. Slung over her shoulder, she’d plop me on her bed , wrap me up in blankets, and hold me. She told the most wonderful stories. There was one… it was about a fox boy who tried to catch starlight. I’d fall asleep, and she would carry me to the window, still bundled up, and stand with me there in her arms. Dad took a picture once. The moon was out, and she stood there with me, her hair unbound to her waist. She was wearing a dark purple dress. Dad and I would always stop at that picture when we looked through the archives together. “Isn’t your Mum lovely?” he would say. “Yeah,” I’d reply, “prettier’n starlight.” Read more »
What hope do you put in love?
in pavement-dank shadows, the hidden boxes
the children play with chalked fingers-
they are birds
biting at the toes of passerby.
oak eyed and bitter palmed-
they are dandelion housewives
who scratch at the fringes of dead factories.
gathering in supernova thumbprints
the walls bloom
with their saccharine heartbeats.
and they are soft and wilted,
apricot eyelids painting
the vaulted ceilings of their minds.
They are endless.
Red-pocket afternoons when
car tread ignites the twenty dollar bills
folded into my denim shorts.
Your blankets are limp on the floor
under our bare feet,
and the waterfront is full of ducks
and fat people.
Your arm is a smooth curve
around my waist,
but we don't love each other
the way everyone thinks we do.
The air feels
caught between the city's
a little bit stale
Dinner is a hole in my pocket,
and I'm still staring at the sunflowers
on my plate
like they're old photographs
with blurred faces.
Your necklaces have long ago broken
and I've since made my own.
I think the knots are stronger that way.
It is surface tension that lifts my bones from sinking,
your gentle fingertips pressing up against my spine
quietly, unobtrusively holding.
I am sunset delicate
but the wind has carried me here and has not broken me.
On its currents I have traveled very far and seen much.
I have floated over the treetops and seen mountains
that cut ripples into the clouds. Children have been born
and wars fought as I drifted above,
but my red wings have drained of their chlorophyll
and I am weary now, fallen to earth to rest
and begin again.
You caught me, stretching cobalt blankets beneath
my vibrant crumbling edges,
and here I lie sleeping against you in your still beauty.
Maybe someday I will drift to shore.
But I think I would rather
let myself sink into you to nestle at the sandy bottom.
Contentedness lives there,
and I can hear your heartbeat in the water.
Over the rocks poured foam and cats-eye water
and I sat quietly-
new veins angry on my wet skin.
I took mortar in my mind and bricked up the wounds,
lay walls so that the glass flood does not shatter
in the rest of my mind.
No parent should have to bury their child.
The embroidered iron gates have been broken down
with quiet words spoken on stone rooftops.
Guilt was the battering ram clawing at the doors of my grief.
They have broken into that tiny chapel in my mind and released the waters there.
A stone building painted pure white with windows
that blaze with internal light, reaching for the sky.
There was a vase on a thin, rose-legged table. It is in pieces now
and its contents flow and multiply and creep up the walls.
The flood will come again when the barriers break. And they will break.
Death would be bliss, living is my torture.
I am sitting outside the chapel with my hands against the door,
screaming for the dead girl whose tomb lies within.
But I cannot bring myself to open the doors. I cannot bring myself to drown.
My duty is to the living.
Just someone please, come stand beside me before the white door.
I cannot do this alone.
I had a container,” she said-
the woman with marbled cellulite
on the back of her legs,
“this isn’t sand,
The shadows here melt
into the clear spikes of the seagrass
as the sun sets.
It is a painting where translucent ocean
is pockmarked with the brushstrokes of waves
and the lighthouse is perfect
and far away.
I find the woman’s obesity intriguing
(and repulsive) like a bizarre plant that grows
in ways that I do not understand.
(I shudder at my own judgmental thoughts.)
She wished to collect the beach,
in a jar like a drink to relish another day.
But I know
that it is not in the shells
in which one may store this place-
only in the stones.
They do not drain of beauty when deprived
of salt sunlight
the way shells do.
I wonder if she knows that.
Wrongness. It was apparent in the way that the light of the city outside did not filter through the roman shades the way they did on every other night. That was irregular. This darkness in the room, this sheer, impenetrable black, meant something. Len was very quiet while he waited. He let the very tip of his tongue reach out between his teeth and touch his lip. Its soft swell reminded him of stones and milk, though their respective textures of silkiness were very different compared to skin. Very different…
Ah. Len saw now that his desk chair had been occupied during this time. It had taken him a moment to see the figure there. His computer was still on; he could hear its warm purr. He wondered why it was still on if the light from outside had been stopped. It was odd. Even odder than it should have been. Len waited. He knew instinctively that it was not his place to speak first. No. It was his job to reply.
As predicted, the creature spoke. Its face remained motionless, muscle structures quiet and bloodless. Yet words came from it, rumbling like the ground might during an avalanche, and Len listened.
You know that I have been here before. Read more »
I reached out to the fireflies with thin fingers
and they lit the amethyst fields like keyholes
into a brighter world.
The woods simmered quietly
but you walked beside me like mist
like the dream I had
where you sat before me in a grey cloak
with my booted feet resting on your lap.
We drank from deep wineglasses and
the maroon against your lips was mesmerizing.
I reached out to the fireflies,
with hungry fingertips.
I wish they really were tiny tears
in the fabric between your world and mine.
I would fill jars with their sparks and build a doorway
to step through to come home.
From a one-word prompt at the Conference.We were told to use only concrete, objective imagery and words. (aka, not vague and subjective like “love” or “hate”)
There is a line from the edge of his red-rimmed nostril that digs into his face to his diamond-cut lip. He is a hurricane behind violet eyes, screaming with bound fists. He is laughing, laughing as he looks at the train-wreck of a woman lying in the shattered remnants of the cherry kitchen cabinets.
She does not speak to him, but her mouth hangs open in a minute “o” and the splinters in her palms wedge their way past her pores. And all she can see is his eyes– they are cracking like ice over the edge of a waterfall.
Personification exercise from the Conference.
My face has been picked at by the slow greed of time– it has been many ages since the rust of bricks was sewn together to create me. I think that I must be very old now because a great many people have lived within my hollows; they live in my heart, and I have always found each one to be so viscerally beautiful. I think that I alone have loved the brokenness of humanity’s refuse: they congregate and I hold them. I feel as if I am their mother, having seen their mistakes and still accepting them unconditionally. When the man in 304 told the young woman with crow-hair that no, he is not her father, I cried with that lovely crow girl. The rough boards of my ribs rose up underneath the white thinness of her body and said “you are loved; do not forget how to breathe.”
The woman in 276 had grown old amongst her books that I had held patiently for her; I watched her elegant, water-stained face grow quiet. I wondered in the morning if repairmen would come for her to replace the windows of her eyes, but instead, they carried her away. I will miss how she sang to her cats and the steam against the ceilings when she bathed. I watched her body age, and I still thought her beautiful though she examined her wrinkles with disdain. As she left, I told her, “you are loved, and you have made me your home.” Read more »
I need to bring the stars back to earth,
I need to find the supernovas in someone's eyes.
I need to learn how to inhale stardust,
the kind that lives in treehouses at midnight.
My fingers burn, he thought,
they ache, because I miss so. badly.
the fire of fusion.
I miss the gravity of being nothing,
of being flames
Because, he thought,
identity is bullshit
individualism means nothing
when you are burning
in the most perfectly terrible
blindness you have ever seen.
You are not you
because you are the Universe.
You are this explosion of light,
this star, that for one. brief. moment
is everything you have ever lived for
and everything you have ever loved.
And this boy had loved a city,
he had fallen for the way spiked black
buildings cast shadows into the sunset,
he had fallen for its heartbeat
under the cobblestones.
It was a scar on his skin,
a map, one that he ran tender fingers over
because to him
it was more beautiful than any human
ever could be.
And he needed to bring the stars to earth
because they were the only other thing
that he loved, the only thing that made him feel alive:
this tragic, pathetic, glorious boy
with dreams too big for the reality of his hands.
What I need, he thought, what I need is to learn
how to burn here.
Inhale the rainforest
exhale a sandstorm.
I must have a color deficiency,
a malfunctioning organ that sucks the vivacity
from the landscape.
Maybe I should drink paint and fill myself with color:
lilac fingertips and vermillion bones.
Maybe then I would feel quenched.
I have drunk a lake and slept for a week and eaten a feast
to put forth nothing but infection and scraped knees
and shadows beneath my desperate eyes.
The acupuncturist dabbed scent on my sternum,
told me to breathe it in with my skin.
I thought of my pores gasping for air
like fish on a beach
and how breathing is overrated anyway.
She held my pulse in her hands and listened
to how faint it was, how fragile I really am
beneath strong hips and tough words.
She prescribed me forced relaxation and bitter pills.
I am not a Free and Easy Wanderer, I’m sorry.
I’m choking on the paint bleeding from my lips,
I am a gory canvas with a smile that I save
for the people who worry about me.
I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.
I drink water to keep the blue in my eyes from pooling away;
I drink paint to feel like I’m still alive.
Ice has no soul. It devours earth like some insatiable monster, grasping on to anything cold enough to harbor its crackling iridescence. It has no humanity, no compassion, and no heat. Do not appeal to its implacable surface to save you. Ice has no investment in your heartbeat.
He was drunk. Glass broke as the truck door slammed, and Ina thought about the mosaic of brown splinters against snow, how the uneven edges must collect the pale dust as they dropped. She wondered if the glass was warm enough from his hands to melt the snowflakes. The doorknob rattled. It was unlocked, but he struggled with it, cursing the obstinacy of the simple mechanism. A corner of Ina’s mouth crooked up, smiling at the irony that she had fallen in love with this man for the beauty of his mind. Leaning against the counter, she felt its marble edge against her lower back and palms, relishing the cool pressure against the curves of her body. The doorknob dented the wall as it slammed back, its puzzle finally unraveled. In the shadow of the doorframe, her husband’s silhouette emerged. His shoulders were broad, tapering down smoothly to the muscular fullness of his arms. His eyes were red under the grey rims of his glasses, his beautiful indigo irises unfocused and violent like the hurricanes on TV. “Hi, Eban,” Ina said tentatively, “Was your day okay?” Read more »
You can't help but see a sunset in her hair. There are silken ribbons of amber and clementine spun together, and where the fine circlets of red curl against her neck, there is the slightest tinge of horizon-light. She is seated at a table, occupied with the mandalas of crumbs on its surface. Turquoise light twines around her fingers like thin cats, and she drinks from a pale cup as though it holds the elixir of life. Steam rises from the peach surface of her lips. She is a sleepy dragon, you think, smoking quietly- dangerous, but her scales rise and fall in calm ripples.
She watches the passerby, slit-pupiled eyes drifting over the overcast streets with an assassin's affection for bared throats. You smile quietly, drinking from your own cup, watching her morning bloodlust begin to roil lazily. She is beautiful in her latent ferocity, and you want her. You wonder at her pale skin and ponder its vulnerability beneath your charged fingertips, but her sharp teeth and dagger-eyes say that she is not to be taken lightly. But you are patient and sip again from the rose scented liquid in your cup, inhaling the pink tinged steam. You watch her.
Her dress is grey like thunderclouds, split to the waist and embroidered with sea-foam green. She wears leggings studded with hidden blades, good quality, no doubt. Their edges barely leave external imprints. Her boots are sturdy but soft: the leather worn into supple tenderness with thin soles. You know that she is nearly silent when she runs, and that her posture is good but imperfect. Her feet press slightly on the outward edge, turning the leather light. She wears a pouch, compact enough to sprint with, large enough to hold food and water. Granted, in cities like this, that pouch might hold an entire fully-equipped camp site. You never knew with this corner of the Universe; it kept you guessing. Read more »
Their hands are cold because their hearth is gone.
They tremble in borrowed blankets,
ash-eyed and pale-skinned
as they pull photographs from the wet charcoal,
from the ruins of their home.
We open our doors to them, and numbly
they hand us boxes
to fill the plywood vault of our shed.
Because this is their treasure:
halloween costumes and baseball games
new puppies and tooth-fairy grins.
It is nothing short of a miracle to hold
their children’s faces in our hands,
laid out to dry on old newspaper.
No one knows how the fire started,
quietly gulping timbers while they drove home
They returned to a blackened churn where their house
Someone must have found the thin corpse of the cat,
trapped, undoubtedly, in the blaze. I hope it was not
those mischievous brown eyes my brother admired once.
I hope it was not that poor girl who found it.
I’m so sorry.
Here, we will salvage your memories Read more »