Phoenix

Phoenix

There was a girl who stood
at the top of the world
we all watched her rise
and some of us were happy

She stood there and glittered
clean and untouchable

And then one day the world turned
and she fell from that place
we watched all the glitter shed
off of her like skin

None of us were there when she
hit the bottom of the sky

I thought about her often
and wondered about her death
If it had been white, red, or black

White like a soul escaping
stretched thin by its separateness
and burned away before the sun

Or crimson red like a broken heart
stuck in a pattern of beats
until it surrenders to the silence

Though perhaps it was black
like the souls of men who put flowers
on the graves they’ve created

But maybe it was none of those
and it was only gray

Gray like the ashes of an explosion
that was so beautiful
it killed everything to live

I think those ashes covered her
becoming new glitter
trying to convince her
of her new place in the world

And for a very long time after
we could not see her

Out of habit, we looked for her skyline
and all the lights were gone
we wondered about the aftermath
what would be there
if the ashes ever left the sky

I imagined a ring of fire
around the crater where she lay
and her eyes were closed
below the costs of ash and smoke

But one day they opened
and they were full of so much fire
that all her condemning flames
shuddered and withdrew from true might

She rose from the crater
brushing ashes and glass off her skin
like words that didn’t matter

with every step that she now took
across her new wasteland
a hot wind blew at the edges
of a once blue dress

She reached her hands high above
to a limitless sky
empty of the reels and negatives
while she declared,
“You don’t need to save me.”

And the world grew back

Instead of a mountain where she stood
it was a wide plain
wide and free

To this place she rose
and here she will rebuild
something much more beautiful
than all the shattered lights

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Space of Sky

If I lay very still, close my eyes, and breathe out everything that is crowding my head, one of two things always happens to me.

I always see myself somewhere. Every time. Sometimes I am in a green field. It is probably my favorite place to visit. It’s very beautiful there. And sometimes I see myself in a stretch of sky. Arms and legs outstretched, eyes closed. Floating.

Perhaps it is a form of meditation that causes me to go to these two places, perhaps my imagination. It could be any number of things, really. Maybe you have similar experiences, places that you go when you leave the world for a moment. And, like it is for me, maybe these places show you a bit more about yourself. And maybe they help you move forward when you come back to the world. And maybe they offer you the answers you can never seem to find elsewhere.

Whatever it is or whatever it may mean to you, to me these things that come to me are very special. They help me so much, and perhaps more than I even know.

Space of Sky

I am in a space of breathy blue and cloudy white
floating with arms and legs outstretched
filling the space my soul has already claimed
perhaps this space is the sky
but there is no box of ground and space
only me and the sky

Perhaps I fall very slowly downward
or maybe I rise
my hair ripples around me, my eyes are closed
peace and tranquility live here
it is as if every pore of my body and soul
is open to the space around me

It is the space of my higher self, I think
and such a lovely place
when it holds me in the embrace of stillness
I have no fears, and I have no doubts
every thought and feeling points to the same thing
if there are voices they whisper good things

Here in this place of soft light and sound
I am free from daily things
there exists no bubble inside of my chest
which holds all the things I do not say
no bridge of emotions instead of a diaphragm
helping me breathe forward

In this space of peaceful movement
there is no fierce longing for things unknown
there is no reckless passion
I do not ache for soil I haven’t touched
or yearn for words I haven’t found
I only am

When I come here, to my very own sky
I am empty, and also full
everything in my soul that I try to contain
spills over the edges and fills my sky
so that I am there inside myself
but also in everything around me

In this moment of my soul spilling outwards
and surrounding me
I realize that it is good
and fears are put to rest
it is as if all the bits and pieces can breathe
and my deepest self is clean

I see what I am
what I can become
I view time not in a line
but in a massive expanse of perspective
I feel the promise of eternity in my fingertips
I know where the truth lies

And for the briefest of moments
for the smallest of seconds
I am free
I am brave
I understand what I cannot
I am a soul ignited

Stop the Sun

stop the sun

i asked you to stop the sun
to keep it right there
before it left the dome sky
don’t let it touch the horizon yet
wait for me to cross the world
and stand with you beside the pond
where all the fireflies live
and then the cathedral colors
can fade into the indigo night
but it won’t matter that the
world is ready to dream
because i will be with you
underneath a blanket of stars
and there will be that soft
rightness of settling home
and that will be real

Stardust and Ink

Stardust and Ink

We are trapped behind bars
of paper and ink. Defined by
the black and white. Destined
to form the shapes they call
letters and words. We hide
behind pages and let our
weapons dry in ink. We
count syllables and words.

And in doing so we attempt
to make the everyday count.
We write about things that
aren’t true in order to whisper
about the things we hold inside
us in boxes of pain and scars.
Boxes make the best stories.
So we count those, too. But we
don’t talk about any of this, or
anything really. We just
construct chapters, themes, or
stanzas to surround it with
binding. That’s how we tell the
truth. We present things in a gold-
rimmed goblet empty of the blue
that we turned into ice and when
it shatters we count the pieces.

I lined up bottles of ink
and watched them slowly
drain. Holding in my hand
things mightier than warfare.
The things that foster or
pulverize the peace. Across
the room shelves filled with
pages covered in my new
patterns. I turned my boxes
into pages because they were
taking up space in the corners
where the sunlight doesn’t
reach. Now they are bound
with thread, imagery, and
symbolism rather than lock,
key, and prison door. I’ll let
you read the stories they turned
into. And once the words leave
the page and enter your own
corners they’ll belong to you, too.

Phrases stick out and people pass
by, all with different contents.
And so we pull them apart only to
string them back together to form
the realities that you escape inside
of. Rather like the equations that
we chose this work to hide from.

We go to lands misunderstood
and covered in shadow: a race
of explorers with no guide but
the organ we are more inclined
to follow. We discover things in
these dark corners, things we
attempt to explain with a form
of permanence. But ink only tells
the truth it is shaped into. And
understanding what we find is
half the battle of immortalizing it.
There is no table of elements for
the soul, no way to categorize the
mysteries it never told.

The only equation that we really
understand is the one that created
our kind: write and bleed. Bleed
if you do not write, and bleed if
you do. Bleed in every color that
your jar of pens contains – stain
the pages (line or unlined
according to your preference) with
the ink that runs in your veins.
And when the words stop coming
you count their swoops and swirls.

There are shelves lined with words,
bound with gold or silver or faded
like the edges of a hymnal. Each
the delicate account of one traveler
or another. I’ve often wondered
why we let others read them.
Perhaps to help them – to spare
them from their own discoveries.
But instead of learning they escape.
And when they put it back on the
shelf it’s nothing but another check
on a summer reading list.

I visited a library once and
saw tall plastic shelves, a
spinning column of paperbacks.
You know the kind I mean.
Sitting near the door they were
nothing but an impulse buy.
Soiled virgins, millionaires.
Centuries of art reduced to
cheap ink and thin paper meant
to heat your skin rather than
inflame your soul. How many
read and returned in one day?
And what is the story of the
tree upon which this is printed?
Tell me that one instead.
Let the ink dry on the thick
pages of that rare truth. How
many rays of sun did it soak in?
How many raindrops? How
many leaves did it love and
let go?

I learned long ago that when
we write we choose a life that
requires facing the wounds.
Whether they be our own or
the still open sores of humanity.
As long as you can remember
the feeling of the cold floor
on your cheek from where you
lay broken, you can write.
Some of us turn that cold tile
into books with pink covers
and some of us turn it into
roads with no destination.
But the shelves behind the
spinning plastic columns hold
them all. Maps leading the way
to the truth of everything.

We are drawn back to the
writing desk on sunset days
when the turntable crackles
in a song fit for David to play.
Or sunrise days when tea
whispers over porcelain. On
days when the memories of
the cold floor rise from
whispered conversations. On
gray days when humanity is
weeping from the sky. When
headlines use their ink to
inform, and fields of flowers
can’t find the sun. We sit and
open those jars of ink, and
watch as it bleeds across the
page. Writing is like the love
that you always go back to.
The love that creates the tempest
of chaos as well as the only
real peace. Writing is like
that love. Paradoxical and
necessary.

A fortune cookie once dared to
tell me that happily ever after
does exist. And I chose to believe
it because through the snuffing
candles and endless mazes I can
see a brighter light that sometimes
grows faint but never fully leaves.
Stars shoot across the sky when
I look at an endless night, and they
seem to whisper the same thing.
My heart settles into this truth
and decides to hold on.

I’ve always hoped to know the
truth behind the majesty of a
starry night. But the more I try
the deeper it gets, the further
into the stars I fall. So far that
I get lost there and don’t wish
to return home. And then the
bright star with two tails picks
me up and takes me back to the
soft warmth of a summer night,
and it tells me something good.
And I believe it every time.

The Place Where You Lived

The Place Where You Lived

It was a small place
at the heart of soul
from which all things flowed
A cottage was there
that housed it all
and it was barren and cold

It housed the dark truths
and the lighter ones, too
It kept every secret locked tight
It was dark chaos
behind a painted door
Shutters closed against the light

When you arrived there
with your smiles and knowing
brought your bag and let yourself in
You coaxed out the darkness
and opened the windows
and made it the place where you lived

You swept up the shadows
and changed them to light
unpacked all of your things within
You made it your home
this place at the heart
you made it the place where you lived

And in changing the center
you changed everything else
every piece that made up the whole
No shutter left sealed
no corner left in shadow
you answered the questioned soul

Flowers began blooming
and the sun shone bright
where there had only ever been blue
But all of that changed
the day that you came
when the door opened wide just for you

And though it was beautiful
and fallen into place
it shattered like some things do
Suddenly you were gone
and the cottage was empty
plunging to black past blue

Though it wasn’t all gone
the shelves were still full
but the shutters were closed up tight
And the door stood still
just very slightly ajar
praying for the end of the night

Sometimes a candle burned
to light up the room
just a bit of gold for the repairs
But the flowers didn’t grow
and the sun barely shined
and the sounds were whispered prayers

The memories like cobwebs
crowded all the corners
but the room was empty and cold
They attempted a fire
in a once bright hearth
but it was hard, and they too bold

And so time passed
the sky mostly stormy
the light from the sun so split
And the shelves still full
were covered in time
in the dark in the place where you lived

The Predetermined Poem

I recently had this idea for a poem. Now, it’s a really intriguing idea, and I’ve heard of poets doing similar things. But there are several potential problems/facts that come along with this idea. But first, the idea itself.

By now, you are all aware of how important music is to me. I’m constantly listening to music, writing about music, trying to find the perfect song to fit my mood. I’m really, really into music. One of my favorite things about finding a new favorite song is identifying that ONE LINE in the song that strikes a chord in my soul. That one line in the whole song that says everything I need it to say.

I recently wondered – what would happen if I took all those lines that struck my heart and created one giant heart-striking piece of literature? What if I took all those lines from all these songs I love and made a poem out of them? My first thought was something grandiose about my level of genius.

But, like I said, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. I know A LOT of songs. Like thousands and thousands and thousands of songs. Making this a ridiculously huge project from the get-go.
  2. Is this even legal??? ……I honestly don’t think so.
  3. I won’t get to choose what this poem is about. Essentially, every song is about love. This is going to be a giant love poem filled with heartwrenching lyrics. So there’s that.
  4. How do I choose which songs to use and not use? How do I choose lines that will somehow all work together?

All of these factors and several others not here mentioned make this project and its aspects:

  1. Something I now have to do just to see if I can do it
  2. An unnecessarily extra thing I’ve now decided to do
  3. Largely predetermined due to the nature of songs
  4. A very interesting writing challenge

So I’ve been working on this project and it has been really interesting. I’ve come to the conclusion that this project must be done in chunks, and we’ll see what happens. I’m also not even sure what to do with this project once it’s finished…due to the fact that I’m quite certain it isn’t legal.

One thing that has surprised me about this project is that even though I strictly have to work with just the lyrics – no adding words – there is still quite a bit of room for me to create something that I love. I can still arrange the words into a pattern that means something to me.

I finished the first chunk of this project this evening. Which consists of some of the artists I listen to regularly and the lines of only some of their songs that have always really touched me. I’ve decided to share this chunk of the project with you. Enjoy:

The Predetermined Poem

I said, “Remember this moment”,
in the back of my mind.
Cause you feel like home,
you’re like a dream come true.
Feels like this could be forever right now:
everything will be alright
if you keep me next to you.

When all those shadows almost killed your light,
I saw a shooting star
and thought of you.
And it’s so quiet in the world tonight,
the truth is I never left you.

I’ve been there too a few times.
I thought, “Heaven can’t help me now.”
Just grab my hand
and don’t ever drop it.
Come morning light,
you and I’ll be safe and sound.

You can see it with the lights out:
how the kingdom lights shined
just for me and you.
And pain gets hard,
but now you’re here
and I don’t feel a thing.
I think I might give up everything
just ask me to

I’ll be waiting,
all there’s left to do is run

 

The Leaf

The Leaf

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on the high branches

one day she changed
to vibrant red and gold

she merely thought it was her time
the time she’d waited for

she didn’t know
she was about to die

in hues of majesty
she held onto her branch

overlooked the forest
and understood contentment

she watched her change
and was happy

she didn’t know
she was about to die

a wind came from the south
carrying black clouds

but she didn’t have strength
to hold on

it had been sapped
the colors had weakened her

she knew
she was about to die

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on high branches

one day the red and gold betrayed her
and she fell to the ground

and shattered on the forest floor
nothing to catch her

she hadn’t known
what it felt like to die

and there, upon the ground
the leaf stayed forever

ever slowly falling apart
blending into the brokenness

she watched the long life of others
saw their contentment

she watched as they knew
that they would never die