Just Writing

The Green Field

The Green Field

If I close my eyes
and open my mind
I always see a green field

The sun is shining
and the air is crisp
a white dress reaches my heels

Sometimes there are leaves
the color of Fall
piling around my feet

Piano music plays
I always walk on
and for what am I searching?

I don’t come often
to the rolling field
it hides behind slabs of life

Every so often
it comes to the front
so vivid before my eyes

Sometimes it changes
this green rolling field
at times I walk down a path

Sometimes there’s a fence
it guides me forward
I never, ever look back

I don’t ever know
what is waiting here
in this place inside my mind

I’ve never made it
too far down the path
looking, but never to find

Some few days ago
when I closed my eyes
I saw something very new

I sat on the ground
on top of a quilt
the sky was vividly blue

I wasn’t alone
there was no white dress
different than other times

Still my same green field
but so very new
what I saw, such a new sight

Too precious to write
the things that I saw
a life I hope awaits me

I will keep it close
and pray to live it
changes in the field of green

Just Writing

Sparks

sparks

the land was barren
covered in blankets of snow
frozen desolate

temperatures rose
very slowly and secret
the land still frozen

sparks

the thaw was sudden
the grass brilliantly green
underneath the ice

sunshine brilliant
made fire from desolation
it was ignited

sparks

sparks flew and grew bright
created glowing orange flames
sparks popping brightly

the fire was life force
giving breath to the once dead
the sparks rescued it

sparks

unexpected rain
a flood enveloped the land
everything was drowned

hopelessness and ice
inevitably return
the sparks are vanished

sparks

somehow they’re glowing
the sparks survived the deluge
they are still glowing

sometimes they fizzle
breathe upon the sparks, give life
reignite the fire

sparks

Just Writing

Stone Stories

I.

When I saw Piccadilly
the light was August gold
dancers moved to music
surrounded by crowds with stories
in courtyards of stone

I stood on the bridge
just one among many
I leaned against the stones
and asked the city,
“Please tell me your stories.”

A boat on the Thames
carried me to Westminster
back again to the Tower
under bridges of stone
that whispered stories passing by

I visited the abbey
saying prayers in a circle
checkered floors held stories
monarchs who live and die
oaths, stones, sacred chapels

I read sonnets on trains
stories in patterned lines
beside people who lived normally
stones lined tube walls
painted with the underground names

Raspberry pastries in museums
tea rooms, stores, and David
stone streets guided me
towards Oxford street and stories
it was lightly raining

Beside the river, writing poems
a man and typewriter
a desk on the stones
I will never know
the stories written about him

London showed me things
whispering stories I couldn’t understand
I walked over stones
trying to touch the things
I could only feel

At Buckingham palace stone statues
and others looking on
a sunset and discussing stories
the clock tower glowed
I had to whisper farewells

When I left London
a piece stayed behind me
in the grey stones
stories disappearing from my view
I haven’t found them

II.

there was a pile of stone
which formed an old cathedral
it was surrounded by green graves
sat beside a tall tower
stories were hanging in the air

the druids were there once
and monks in the stone tower
a stream was running nearby
a forest with moss covered trees
I wondered about their stories

half of the sky was storming
sunshine blazed in the other
everything was green, even in death
graves of stone were crumbling
the stories on them had faded

it is surrounded in mystery
this glen with its ancient stones
the stories long since gone
an old spirit still lives there
it alone remembers what happened

the tower stretched high toward heaven
the cathedral serenely beside it
gaelic stories swam before my eyes
I could not read them
the stones wouldn’t tell me anything

I sat beside the stream
and closed my eyes to listen
my back against the stones
there was depth all around me
but the stories wouldn’t speak

I brushed the stones with fingertips
in the cathedral’s open air
wondering about the stories they held
I looked towards the alter
standing where others had once stood

druids placed stones in grass
we hoped to release their magic
but the stories stayed trapped
inside the circle surrounded by green
the glen forever a mystery

III.

stone walls led us to Haworth
where a family wrote stories and lived
surrounded by moors with purple heather
the village spilled over a wild land
a road led to the apothecary

a small book store beckoned us inside
and showed me an old Burns
it sat beside a copy of Cymbeline
we could not leave them behind
we carried the stories over stone streets

a cemetery sits beside the house
the stones are all covered in moss
they tell stories of sadder times
when the village was shrouded in death
somehow held together by the literature

a path leads from place to place
atop the hill beside the moors
we followed the stones that led forward
understanding the stories they had written
we wished we could understand the process

a village made of old stones
Haworth lives in a sea of green
a sadness does live there still
it stays behind to remember the stories
there are so many to remember

the beauty that lives there is palpable
it serves as a powerful reminder
joy and sorrow go hand in hand
the stones seemed to whisper this
when I asked them about their stories

in a moment beside the house
I sat in the shadow of stones
there was rain in the air
and too many stories to be absorbed
I kept wishing I’d remember everything

as I walked through that beautiful village
it seemed to me a dream
and looking back now I can see
that world of stones and green
the beauty belongs solely to the stories

Just Writing

Running Backwards

Running Backwards

you’re a person who’s running
running so fast
from the demons you left behind you
from a past you told me
a little bit about
a few of your darker truths

you live with the fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
I knew differently
because I saw your soul
but you were running backwards

you run from the past
and the things that you did
but you never get past attackers
no matter where you run
or who you meet
you are still just running backwards

it’s a cycle, you see,
this thing that you do
where you love then run far away
you sabotage what’s right
and you think too much
you’re alone at the end of the day

you asked me to jump
so jump I did
I took your hand and we fell
further and faster
so in love I was dizzy
but I hit the bottom by myself

there were moments of sun
too bright to bear
when all was clear as the sky
now I can’t stop thinking
of every single kiss
no matter how hard I try

I was happy then
happier than ever
in a world of dreams come true
we danced in the light
of love and future
you told me you felt it, too

for a moment I saw
the man you could be
if you would only let it happen
but you ran far away
like you said you never would
plunging it all into blackness

there were moments when
I was very, very scared
but it was the only thing that mattered
so I had faith in us
we’d do it together
I didn’t know you were running backwards

you live with this fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
and the saddest part
is that you still are
until you stop running backwards

if you ever come back
and I pray that you do,
for this they tell me I’m insane,
I wish it would be
sometime soon
before it’s much too late

it wouldn’t be easy
to fix it all
this heartbreak is oceans deep
but I truly believe
that love conquers all
these are the dreams not letting me sleep

but no matter what
and whatever does come
remember the things that matter
you were too cruel
and much too distant
I watched you running backwards

there is a man inside you
with a heart of pure gold
I love you even though I’ve tried
embrace that gold
I’m begging you to
please leave all of that behind

you asked me to jump
so jump I did
I took your hand and we fell
but you looked back
I watched you do it
and now we’re both by ourselves

you live with this fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
at this point, my love,
you can only save yourself
you’ve got to stop running backwards

Just Writing

Heartbeat

A broken heart is a funny thing.

At first it doesn’t feel real. The world goes a little blurry and on the surface you’re doing and saying things, but underneath you wonder if it really happened.

Then the emptiness comes. And the reality sets in. And there is no reason to check your phone anymore but you keep doing it. And there is no reason to wait for a call that won’t come, but you still wait. And worse than wondering why is wondering how.

That is when it becomes the most real thing in the world.

And suddenly the feeling of it not being real is replaced by a hole inside of you that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Until you fall inside of it. And you feel lost between trying to climb back out and trying to fill it up. Which do you do first? How do you do either?

Eventually pretending you’re okay is doable. You can laugh about things. Be okay for just a moment. Maybe even forget when you can finally fall asleep.

But the emptiness doesn’t leave.

It does evolve though. And rather than walking around with a gaping hole it feels like a fire. It is lit inside the place where they lived, and burns slowly from the inside out every time you remember. But it never reaches the outside. It just continues to burn.

Remembering is the cruelest part. You have to decide which parts to remember, and which parts to forget. But you never really forget. Do you? And you fight the urge to remember, and you fight the urge to forget. And you’re caught somewhere in the middle.

Why does your heart keep beating?

There are silver linings, I suppose. Lessons that needed learning. You learn how to sympathize. You learn to understand. You learn that the worst pain in the world isn’t physical. You learn who is there for you. And sleep on a lot of couches just so you don’t have to be alone.

Life takes on new shapes. Decisions have to be made now that your future is different. You try and be grateful for all the goodness, and there are brief moments of sunshine. They make the waves a tiny bit better.

Because there are a lot of waves.

Waves of grief. They hit you when you least expect it. Waves of questions you wished you had asked. Waves of longing that widen the hole and stoke the fire. Waves of wondering. Waves of wishing. Waves of pure confusion. An entire ocean inside of you.

There is no more waiting. There is no reason to. None. And yet it is the only thing you know how to do anymore. So you’ll wait. At least for a little while. A piece of your soul will wait forever.

Sometimes there is too much to feel.

So you have to choose. Do you curl up and feel it all? This choice is the one that ends in more tears than you knew you could produce. They soak your pillow. And the shirts of your friends. The coats of your brothers. The blonde hair of your nieces and nephews that pile on top of you.

Or do you push it away? Forget about it all? Pretend it never happened? That only works for a minute. It catches up to you eventually when you suddenly hear a song, a word, a phrase, a movie, see a restaurant. When the memories are everywhere, they are inescapable. It will all catch up to you. And you’ll end up with the first choice anyway. In the tears. But not on your own couch, or your own hallway. Far away from the memories until walking through them doesn’t hurt anymore.

Why does your heart keep beating?

They all tell you to write it out. “It’s what you do.” They say. “It will help you feel better.” But you’ve forgotten how to write. How do you write without feeling it all? Maybe cry first, and then you can write numbly. Put it into a sort of poem. Then it becomes a project.

There are some moments of peace. When a little voice tells you there is a plan. And you hold on to this idea. That there is a plan. And for a moment you feel better, because having a plan is better than navigating the pain. So you wake up in the morning, on a different couch or maybe in your bed. You learn about colonial America. You go back to work. You spend money on frivolous things. You spend too much time with your friends. And you do the best you can.

And you try not to think about the fact that no matter what, at the end of the day, they are still gone.

You try and move forward. Moving on isn’t in the cards right now, because you don’t think about tomorrow. But you can move forward. Hour by hour. Remembering the things you love. Even though you’ve discovered that there are some things even Frank Sinatra can’t fix.

You send out your love. Because even though you wish it wasn’t, it is still there. And you pray they can feel it. You don’t want to become bitter. You remind yourself that love is beautiful. That it can conquer all. But in order to do so, you have to let it. Being in love is a frightening thing. You have to give yourself wholly to it, or it will fall apart. You have to stop thinking so much, or it will disappear. You have to have faith, or the fear will creep in.

These are the things you tell yourself. Hour by hour.

And somehow your heart keeps beating.

Just Writing

The Enlightenment of Pierre Ventoux

Recently, every person in my university who is in the English Department was invited to submit work into a writing competition. Now, for reasons that allude me I generally don’t participate in things like this. (I really need to get over my fear of sharing my writing if I’m ever going to be an author.)

Another reason I have a hard time submitting work to these things is because I’m, in general, just a novelist. I don’t write much of anything else, and usually all the other things are what you submit to things like this. However, this time I conquered all of that and I actually wrote a short story.

Let me tell you, short stories are basically my biggest fear because they are so, so incredibly difficult to write. Give me a few months and 50,000 words or so and I’ll crank out a novel for you. No problem. But a short story???? Sure. Let’s cram everything we need to say into a few pages and try and make it change the world. That’ll be fun.

That is why I’m actually quite proud of myself and more than a little intrigued about how all of this will play out. Quite honestly, this short story could be complete garbage for all I know, except for the fact that I actually wrote one. That’s exciting in and of itself. And since I never, ever, ever share my writing on this blog (Don’t even get me started on that little bit of insanity. How ridiculous is it that I can’t even share my writing on my own blog?! Besides the occasional poem. I do feel okay sharing those.), I’ve decided to share my short story with you today.

Feel free to comment if you wish, tell me what you think! But mostly just thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy it!


The Enlightenment of Pierre Ventoux

Every morning at a quarter to nine, Pierre Ventoux rode his red bicycle up the lane to the bookshop. It wasn’t a new bicycle, but kept in good repair and therefore still a very shiny red, with only one scratch near the front tire.

As soon as he reached the bookshop, known simply by a sign that read Books in faded gold letters, he settled his bike against the red brick of the building and walked inside.

The shop was never exactly neat and never exactly cluttered. Stacks of books sometimes teetered precariously on the end of old pine tables, some with bright colors and new faces and others with faded pages and cracked bindings. Each of them, however, were equally loved by the proprietor of the establishment. He was known only as Paul, and most singularly recognized for his failure to believe in any one thing. His greatest passion was the pursuit of knowledge without the finality of finding answers.

Pierre generally found Paul lost somewhere near the back, ever reorganizing his philosophy section while others lived with less avid attention. Paul was always thinking of new ways to arrange the section, by author, by topic, by the chronological flow of philosophy. His ideas never ceased to end, but one would expect this from a man who refused to believe anything with conviction.

Some days Pierre would sit in the corner of the bookshop in a faded chair so stuffed he was often afraid it would burst. He’d rest his feet on the old braided rug in front of him and consume whatever prose Paul had waiting for him. Pierre often left the bookstore even more contemplative than when he’d entered, and usually with more books to add to the piles he was accumulating. There were days when he was never entirely sure exactly why he went to the bookshop, but it had now become an irrevocable habit.

On one particular morning, a Thursday, Pierre entered the shop a bit more cast down than usual. Storm clouds were gathering beyond the gray rooftops of the town, threatening to choke out the sun that was for the moment shining brilliantly.

“Looks like rain’ll be coming soon.” Paul observed, startling Pierre from his sullen thoughts only to shove him right back inside them.

“Yes.” He answered a bit tersely, following the old man back into the shelves. Pierre had never been able to figure out how old Paul was, for on top of what looked like years of living sat cheery green eyes and a jet black beard.

“No need to get moody now, young man.” Paul reasoned, shuffling through some old books in a corner. “You can’t control the weather. I’ve been trying to figure out that secret for years.”

“Not that you’d act on it if you did.” Pierre hadn’t meant it to come out so reproachfully, but was surprised when Paul simply laughed and nodded at the accuracy of the statement. Pierre sometimes wondered if the man ever became exhausted at the continual pursuit of truth without any destination. Weren’t they all attempting to get somewhere?

“What are you looking for today?” Paul surprised him by asking, usually he had a pile of books waiting for Pierre.

“Something to cheer me up.”

“Then I suggest you stick to the front of the store, with the fiction. Truth and cheer are two entirely different things.” Pierre bit back a sharp comment on the edge of his tongue, not entirely understanding why Paul’s belief system suddenly irritated him. But surely the man had to believe in something.

The shop was quiet for several moments while Pierre perused the shelves, every once in a while hearing the sliding and thudding of Paul’s reorganizational efforts. Pierre saw many different titles jump before his eyes, but none of them seemed anything he needed that day. It was almost as though a thought was forming inside his mind, an ember of desire, and any moment it would burst into flame. How long it had been there Pierre didn’t know, but the sensation was uncomfortable.

“Aren’t you ever tired by the continual journey, Paul?” He finally asked, turning to meet the man’s eyes across his armful of Plato. “Isn’t there anything that you know for certain?”

Paul approached him then, weaving through the shelves of his world, and without saying anything reached behind Pierre to take a small book from the shelf behind him. It was small, about the size of a volume of poetry, with a cover completely faded to gray. The old man smiled a little looking at it, as though it was a friend he’d not seen in a long while, and placed the book carefully in Pierre’s hands.

“The secret is to understand, without a shadow of a doubt, what it is you are actually looking for.” His voice held a smile. “Perhaps that is what you need to know first.”

Pierre stepped out of the shop moments later, just as the bells of St. Edward’s Cathedral rang the hour. One could always see the tower of the cathedral anywhere in town, but as he looked at it that day it seemed taller than he’d ever seen it.

“Nine o’ clock. Right on the nose.” Pierre turned abruptly to see Giselle, the owner of the shop next to Paul’s. It was so close to the bookstore that the two buildings seemed mashed together.

“How are you today, Giselle?” His voice sounded shaky and unsure, and it made her laugh and shake her brown curls.

“You’ve been with Paul only moments and look what he’s done to you.” She said it cheerily, and all but pulled Pierre inside with her. “Come in and have some tea.”

Giselle’s shop was a mix of tea and all things knitted. In the front of the store the walls were lined with racks of intensely colored scarves, hats, gloves, and even blankets. Beyond the brightness of that stood a clean bar with four stools adorned with brilliantly colored cushions. At this bar Giselle only served tea, though occasionally coffee, and a variety of baked goods.

“Put philosophy and the pursuit of undeniable truth to the side for just a moment, Pierre.” Giselle said, setting a cup and saucer decorated with purple swirls in front of him. “There is very little that tea cannot fix.”

Pierre was silent for a moment as he sipped the tea, still holding the small gray book in his hand. He often felt a huge shift in life when he went from the bookstore to Giselle’s little shop. Paul thought of life on grand, deep, and unfathomable terms, and to Giselle life was simple and happy.

“Paul believes that truth and cheer are two entirely different things.” Pierre said, finishing his tea only to have her refill it. “What do you think?”

“I think you worry too much.” Her voice was strong and without hesitation. “Since you arrived here, all you’ve done is visit that little bookstore and sometimes come here for tea. I see this sort of desire in you for something more, but yet I don’t think you even know what that is. And truthfully, Pierre, life is much simpler than you’re making it out to be.” Giselle poured herself tea into an indigo colored cup and reached for the sugar. “I think the answers are closer than you realize.”

It had been a very long time since Pierre had traveled further up the road than Giselle’s shop. He stepped outside and continued walking, leaving the mashed buildings on their corner while he wound his way through the streets. He did not walk with purpose or direction, and yet was unsurprised when he found himself just outside the cathedral grounds.

St. Edward’s rose before him tall and grand, the building falling outwards from the tower that stood in the center. It was surrounded by a lawn of brilliant green grass, so brilliant it almost hurt his eyes, with a black rail fence marking the edge. The gates were always flung wide open, beckoning in the troubled soul. But Pierre had never walked past them. He had only ever stood at the gate, looking in. It was strange to think of when he remembered that this building was the reason he was even in this place to begin with.

He remembered vividly the day he’d seen the tower from the road, and had almost been magnetically pulled into town. He had come and stood just like this, right outside the gate, and stared at the building. Magnificent it surely was, and beautiful, but more than that, it was peaceful. That day as well as this day, Pierre had only to stand at the gates of the grounds to feel a peace so overwhelming it nearly knocked him over. And yet he’d never been able to understand this feeling, and had come to almost fear it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d allowed himself to get this close.

Once again he looked down at the faded gray book in his hands, turning it over to see both sides of the ragged cover. It didn’t even have a title anymore. Pierre tucked it inside his jacket and looked back up towards the cathedral. And then he took one step forward, and another, and yet another, until he found himself walking quietly through large doors and into a building that was both beautiful and frightening.

The very first thing he saw was the ceiling, highly arched above him and painted with circles depicting different saints. The knave seemed very long, stretching out before him towards the altar. For a moment, he nearly turned around and left. It was so large, and yet so full of something that he almost couldn’t endure it. But that was when the music began.

He could see nobody nearby, in fact at first he’d imagined he could hear his own breath echoing throughout the vastness, but yet organ music began filling every empty corner. And suddenly he couldn’t take all of it in quickly enough. Not the beautiful side chapels or places to light candles, or the monuments and statues.

He stood in awe at the sight of a courtyard which housed two magnificent trees one couldn’t see from the outside of the building. And yet they stretched their limbs and grew inside their perfect square of bright grass. They knew something he didn’t know, and Pierre acknowledged that with a serene sort of ache. It seemed hours before he could pry himself away from such a sight and enter back inside the main cathedral.

Above the altar rose three pointed arches, and beyond them three stained glass windows with hues so vividly blue it was nearly unbearable. He sat quietly in the very front row of chairs, hardly worthy to kneel before such a place. Though the organ music had now stopped, the essence of it seemed to still be breathing throughout the room. He could almost see it.

Several times he took the little gray book out of his jacket, turning it over and over in his hands, but never opening it. The book had certainly been well loved throughout the years, though was surprisingly intact. He finally tucked the book back inside his jacket one last time, looking beyond the altar to the sunlight pouring through the stained glass. He couldn’t make out the scene being portrayed in the glass, but the shadows it cast were stunning.

Pierre sat in this way for long moments, utterly absorbed in his thoughts and yet unable to think much of anything. He sensed, rather, that he was soaking everything in as he’d never been able to before. And he felt something, just where that ember had been this morning, so akin to joy he knew it must be that. He was so unfamiliar with such a feeling. It had always seemed too real to be safe.

After some time, Pierre finally stood, breaking his gaze with the altar and stained glass as he walked in a straight line back to the doors of the cathedral. His steps, though not hurried, made sure sounds against the stone floor. As he left the building he worried for just a moment that perhaps all of this might leave him once he’d passed the sanctuary of the gates, but it didn’t happen. He stopped for just a moment and stood where he had before, staring at the building before him and wondering how he could’ve never gone inside until now.

The streets greeted him some moments later, but they didn’t hurry him along. He had a view of the cathedral for a long while, each time he glanced back. Briefly he felt the shape of the book in his jacket and thought that he’d have to return it to Paul the next morning. Pierre turned to his right and began walking home then, just as he heard the cathedral bells ring twelve times.

 

I'm Just Saying

The Process Of Life

As you may or may not have noticed, poetry has been a really big thing for me lately. I find poetry really interesting, because I think that in many ways it explains everything we breathingsattempt to explain with novels or essays or speeches. Poetry expresses the deepest things in the simplest way, and I really love that about it.

But I go through phases with poetry.

As with the last week or so, sometimes I can sit down and write a poem in about 20 minutes that comes directly from my soul. Everything I’ve been thinking or feeling just comes pouring out of me and all of the sudden I’ve got a poem. Other times I sit down, wanting to write a poem, and stare at a blank screen or piece of paper for what feels like hours and nothing is ever accomplished.

I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again, I am first and foremost a novelist, which is why my poetry isn’t often featured. However, I enjoy writing poetry so much for the above mentioned reasons. I find it fascinating how you can communicate so much in so few words.

I think that is probably why I love writing in general.

For me, it is such a process of discovery. I learn so much about myself, about life, and hopesabout others when I let things go and sit down and create other stories. It has always been wonderful to me how much I can learn from studying the lives of others, from trying to make sense of the little things.

For some reason, I sense a bit of change ahead for me. The paradox I constantly live with in my life is that routine absolutely drives me crazy, and yet change has always been hard. Don’t ask me how that works, because I honestly have no idea. I have this thing I do where I find something and then I hold onto it for dear life, hoping it won’t slip away. But I’ve realized recently that this probably isn’t the best way to go about life. I have realized that what is meant to stay will stay, and if I let go of something and it is meant to be it will come back.

In short, I think I need to work on trusting the process of life. Yesterday I got to speak with my brother, who lives quite a ways away from our family, and it was so great. I don’t get to see him often, or talk to him for that matter, and it was so good to be able to talk with him. When we were younger he and I were absolutely inseparable. Because of things that happened as we got older, just life I suppose, I feel as though it has been years since I’ve really seen him. Since I’ve really talked to him.

processAnd as hard as that time as been, it has been worth it. Talking to him yesterday was like drinking a glass of water on a hot day. I felt comforted about a lot of things, and hopeful about life. At the end of our conversation he said to me, “I believe that things happen the way they are supposed to, and everything happens for a reason.”

I believe that, too.

So for me, it is more of being patient and letting life do what it is going to do. To work hard, have fun, laugh a lot, love a lot, and have faith. Trust.