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Photographer: Amelia Fletcher (http://designspiration.net/image/1600174134540/)

Photographer: Amelia Fletcher (http://designspiration.net/image/1600174134540/)

I’ve been busy

digging around

for a part of me

I buried before

you

out in the backyard

behind the

only tree

like a duffel bag of

latex gloves and

bloodstained clothing

crucial

 

you found me

on a monday

poured over a

treasure map of

old photographs

marking a figurative ‘x’

on every familiar

face you asked

what I was looking

for I said the

breath in my

own lungs

 

you took me by

the elbow like

authority like

old love

you stood me

up raised a

finger to my

lips marked

an ‘x’ there I

closed my eyes

mouthed the words

where did you find it?

 

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sightlines

you watch me fading

sweetly from the

cliff side of our bed like

I always do when the rain

knocks gently on our door

and washes my bones so that I

can fold as small as every

love note you leave on my pillow,

praying words will be enough

to lift me from my grave,

water my hollow insides,

maybe glance outside and catch

my sunken face in the window

 

but I am spending ages trying

to remember how your mouth

feels as I am struggling

to open mine long enough to

wet my tongue and remind you

that even from here I have the best

view of just how lovely you are

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Seven

 

I am still in our bed

I am still counting

your footsteps that faded hours ago

and where you placed

your fingers on me

is still burning like it’s

known death too soon.

 

Ages ago we were

somewhere in moonlight

decoding one another

and your spine was the most beautiful braille

so I’d close my eyes

inhale your literature

and sing out all your best stories.

 

I was never aware

that I was becoming illiterate

instead I woke

to the same old sunlight

and suddenly the tides of your breath

were leaving me

empty as the words that had stopped forming.

 

There is no you

on my lips anymore

just some old story

that has hardened on my tongue

and I am desperate to forget

it was seven

 

seven footsteps that carried you away from me.

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Yeah Write #184

Hey guys! I was lucky enough to win Crowd Favorite this week over at Yeah Write for my poem, “I held on for dear life“! Please click here to read what the editors had to say about my piece, and to read some other fantastic pieces of fiction! The challenges are always fun and a great way to get your creative juices flowing – I suggest everyone consider entering! A new challenge runs each week!

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I held on for dear life

 

I was taking out the trash

bills past due and desperate credit card applications

an unopened jar of strawberry jam

my sanity

when the walls of our house stopped breathing

and I asked myself

when did our elephants leave?

 

you were in the kitchen

like you’d always been

two elbows flanking a bowl of cold oatmeal

reading the comics

a collection of coffee rings on the politics

and you looked up at me

like ten years hadn’t just crawled by us

 

I sat across from you

like an interrogation

folded my aging hands in my lap

searched for clever words in an

unwrinkled napkin

waited for you to lift your spoon

in some heavy proclamation

 

but you went on reading

stretched one hand out

like a bridge across our table

and I choked

and I held on for dear life

I’d long ago given up my ability to question

if you’d ever even choose to resurrect me

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Hold Your Tongue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always known myself to be a patchwork of spindly arms and legs, a little thicker in the center, a little fuller in the cheeks. My appearance see-sawed from plump to almost sickly throughout high school, scrutinized nonetheless; kids are, were, so uninhibited, so cruel, always heaping together like frightened mice then breaking apart, only then with a few less pieces of themselves. Undaunted bumper cars they are, always coming back together again. Adolescence is frightening that way; either we befriend those who whisper about us in the locker room or we spend lunch with the only other kid who decided to trade loyalty for self-respecting loneliness. No one realizes at the time that he is the only genius in the room – he’s already glimpsed the future, where high school is just another burning bridge.

After mucking through four years of rolling emotions and even a bit of education, I was working my first job behind the cash register of a small store with bad lighting; the green rug was always covered in lint and everything cost a dollar. Each time I walked through the door the slightly stinging scent of powdered dish detergent met my nostrils and it was like plunging straight down to the gates of Hell, only instead of the Devil himself I was always met by half-deflated Mylar balloons and an old gumball machine.

One hot afternoon I was glued to my usual spot, twisting the ribbon attached to a nearby balloon, when a woman with a short haircut and an unlit cigarette hanging from her lips approached the counter. She mumbled something I couldn’t make out, but her voice was deep and grainy. I don’t remember her buying anything, I only remember thinking she was on drugs, and the hazy way she laughed after asking if I was pregnant. After that, I can only assume she stumbled out of the store while I hid my face and tried to swallow the bowling ball that was forming in my throat.

Before that, my broken body image had always floated cautiously at the forefront of my young brain – the usual watering hole for self-consciousness in most girls (and boys) – but after that day I realized it must have been lurking in the shadows, begging for that perfect lapse in my own awareness where it could make its move and upgrade to the penthouse that is my here and now. That shattered reflection is now an invisible yet so perfectly noticeable extension of me, like a missing limb; I’ve learned to function again, but the damage is permanent.

I talk to myself sometimes, forever the struggling mentor. More, similar experiences piled up after that one – each putting another notch in my psyche’s bedpost. At times I shrink so far into my dark wallowing that I need hands that aren’t my own to lift me out, and then the cycle can begin again.

If there’s two things I’ve learned, it’s that every human experience, no matter how miniscule, is shrouded in possibility; and that words aren’t just noise we send out into the world – instead they are the foundation upon which we see ourselves, how we see others.

So please, hold your tongue. Because somewhere, just now, a young girl’s world has gone dark.

* * *

Click the image below to check out this week’s writing challenge over at Yeah Write!

challenge154

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Yeah Write Editors’ Pick

 

YAY!

The awesome people over at the Yeah Write Speakeasy have awarded me Editors’ Pick this week for my poem, The Marriage Bed! Click on that first link to find your way to the first, second and third prize winners, all amazingly talented writers. The Speakeasy challenge was fun and motivating – I encourage everyone to participate!

Here’s what they had to say about my piece:

“This week’s coveted editor’s pick goes to Tipsy Lit guest Nicole from Words and Other Things. What a treat to have such excellent poetry at the speakeasy this week! Poetry is a challenge that Nicole rose to with seemingly effortless ease and verbal dexterity. What sets her poem apart is the gentle cadence and smooth blending of conversational tone and complex expression. In very few words, this poem wields robust emotional power, connecting spiritual imagery to very human experience. Nicole, congratulations, and thank you for participating!”

What an awesome way to start the weekend. Thanks again, Yeah Write!

 

 

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The Marriage Bed

dontblamethesinner

 

Don’t blame the sinner.

The pleas all catch in

her throat like

words, ashes

on the tips of their tongues,

all disappeared in

cupped mouths now,

in curious noise,

in sheets like

tangled ribbon.

 

She is

broken glass,

a vorticose tunnel

of sweet rhythms

and soft hands,

a queen of pawns.

Sinning is easy when

there is no focus

in her eyes.

 

Don’t hold the sinner when she

wears that black veil

like some golden crown,

like sanctity above

warm shoulders,

worn lips,

’cause while sweat still crawls down

spines

she is turning down the lights

in the marriage bed.

********

This is my response to this week’s Speakeasy over at Yeah Write. The prompt requires writers to include “Don’t blame the sinner” as the first line of a fiction or poetry piece of 750 words or less; writers must also make some sort of reference to the above painting. Hope you enjoyed my contribution!

speakeasy

 

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