Ibex

United States

Christian
as in Presbyterian Church in America
(denomination)
Female
Writer
Novelist
Poet!
Reader
Ambivert or something
Self-proclaimed band nerd
Planet Earth nerd
etc, etc
Joined September 10, 2019

Message from Writer

Sometimes I tell stories. Most of the time I rattle my soul until I break and my heart spills out onto the page.

"I cannot jump the distance. You'll have to toss me!"--Gimli, LOTR

I am a complete and utter nerd. I got the Ring of Power for my birthday.

Published Work

The Bible Challenge_Ibex_Part 1!! (aka, why i believe in God)

I’ll begin with the pleasantries.
First: my biases. I grew up in a Christian home, and I am a member of a PCA church (an evangelical denomination).

Second: my personal history. Despite growing up with Christian parents, my middle school and early high school career were riddled with doubts about God and the Bible. I struggled with the same questions many skeptics ask. Has science disproved the existence of God? Why is there suffering in the world? Did Jesus even exist? I don’t plan on addressing all these questions in this piece due to how lengthy it already is, but if you’d like to hear more, I’d love to write more on some of those issues. Just let me know in the comments.

Third: my intent. My purpose for this piece is two-fold. First, I’ll focus on the existence of God. However, I don’t actually think this is the most important question of this debate. We could spend ages arguing...

bluebird

mother pours her heart and soul into her nest,
flitting back and forth between her wooden box
and the meadow grass, fashioning a pillow
for her offspring until she pricks her fingertips
on the needle and bleeds; the drops fall like
rain upon the wood and stain it dark maroon.
still she embroiders their names in the fabric,
imagines bringing groceries home every night
so her children can eat, wonders if they’ll love
her forever or if they’ll sink into rebellion in
their teenage years. mother thinks about
staring at an empty nesting box when the
winter comes, watching for the return of their
blue feathers and pretty songs after they
fledge, only to be forgotten. the bluebird preens
her feathers and watches the eggs on the
couch, waiting and  w a i t i n g  for them to
finally hatch. but they stay silent. father keeps
an eye on mother, concern in his heart when
he tells her ...

nest

there’s rust on the rim of the faucet, and the soft plink of water dripping from the tap into the porcelain sink wakes me up at night, a vile alarm clock. this house is too old for me, too full of history, and i’m too young for it. my sister is an old ghost haunting the bedroom, tapping her mallets on the xylophone to the timid melody of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’; the notes ring in my eardrums with a silvery buzz. when I hear her music I envision the moon.

this bed of sticks and straw isn’t comfortable anymore, not when the branches keep snapping against my skin. I lean this way and that until my heart burns and settle in for a night of stargazing, but’s it’s time to fledge and I can’t avoid it much longer; the world calls. I throw my hairbrush at the wall and watch the handle snap in two; maybe it’s just teenage...

Names for Nature

Eagle's Roost


my mother says an eagle nests in this tree,
shadowing her chicks beneath her wings, the tree is
an age or two older than i and yet still standing
higher and taller than i, its back not yet crooked
like an old woman bending over the creek
to draw water from its rushing currents,
perhaps this tree reminds me of my mother,
how she walks down the street with her hands
tucked away in her pockets, her breath fogging
in the morning air after she delivers my sister
to the bus stop and back, there's a chill in
the winter sunset as we tilt our heads back
and stare at the sky, watching for eagles
cresting the horizon, wings stretched from shore
to shore, brilliant creatures of majesty,
settling in their roosting trees along the bank,
when spring arrives we'll watch raptors dance
across the heavens with one another, talons
locked as they    f a l l    in...

who am i? (read footnotes)

“Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go,
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?”
--Job 38:35

your poetry is better than mine
your words float across the pages in columns of ink drawn into letters spun into elaborate pillars, you formed language just as your hands carved the earth from the void and hemmed in the oceans so they might not swallow the mountains
what is man when compared with the beauty of the stars, man who fell in eden at the words of the serpent, man whose wages are death
who am i to matter in the eyes of the Most High i who has never done anything worth celebrating i who has fallen as all men have
i marvel first at your works and then at your words, i ask who am i to have received such gifts to have been chosen before the beginning of the world
what kind of king leaves his throne for...

And yet another song

sometimes you wonder how far the pain can go
sometimes you wonder how the world can be so cruel
sometimes you wonder if it’s worth living at all
your heart grows so tired but don’t lose hope
i'll be your strength; you’ll never be alone

i know this world beats you into powder
i know you wander lost in the shadows
i know the dark closes in around you
but i am the light and i've found you

in your darkest night i see you
through fire or flood i'll be with you
i’ll bear you up on eagle’s wings
trust me in the storm; the wind and waves still know my name
lean on me, tired heart, i am with you

sometimes you wonder if i’ve forgotten you
sometimes you wonder if i’ve left left you to the wolves
sometimes you wonder if i’d still dare to love you
you toss and you turn but you still can't sleep ...

nightmares and long-lost slumbers


well-established knowledge fades like a summer sunset,
leaving you with just the edges of memory and the desert
of your own thoughts
stumble over the cactus, thorns tearing your skin
fall to a ground that welcomes you with arms
scraping away your sunburnt shreds of dignity
notice blood dripping from your chest and
heave in another breath
imagine scaly hands reaching through the darkness
clawed fingers wrapping around your throat, constricting
*gulp*
in reality air slips down your trachea unhindered
but in this wilderness fears rise up like mountains
twins peaks sculpted into jagged teeth with rivers like
tongues lolling, night opening its gaping mouth to swallow
glance down at the blood again
lift your crimson-stained fingers to your eyes and shudder
watching your own life roll down your hands
rattlesnakes slither around your ankles like shackles
fangs poised against your heel and dripping venom
earth’s toxicity bubbling up from the ground and seeping
through you toes
wake up in...

Creative Nonfiction Competition 2020

New Year's Resolutions


Resolutions:
  1. Journal daily.
Sometimes you wish you had started this sooner, that you had picked up a notebook at the start of the year and scribbled your memories into it, transcribing moments now lost to the dark wells of time. You still don’t journal, even though you tell yourself daily that you should, to record everything that has happened. One day, your descendants could approach their history books long after you’re gone, talking about the pandemic, and they’ll wonder what it was like to actually live in such times. The books will tell them about the lack of toilet paper perhaps, or the inflation, but they won’t tell of the simple ways people stared out their windows, hoping for a change. And you won’t have left your words behind to explain it to them.
  1. Don’t take anything for granted.
There was the day, of course, when the school board announced you would not be coming back. You had known; everyone...

Feedback please!!!

Hello, all. I'll be submitting a novel to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards this year, which requires me to submit an excerpt. Below are the scenes I've selected to comprise said excerpt. Hopefully, you'll read and be willing enough to leave some feedback. Comments/reviews would be nice. :)

Note: this excerpt is comprised of various scenes from throughout the novel.

Chapter 12 section:
Tanith gives the direction, and her legion of followers swarms us, binding Raff, Lorcan, and I, their fingernails scraping away our skin. Tendrils of black fabric encircling their cloaked heads like misty, darkened halos, they lead us to stand beneath three of the nooses.

Tanith approaches Ransom on tiptoe, creeping across the charred grass one cautious step at a time, appraising the threat before her. As she studies her foe, her servants search him for weapons but come up empty-handed. He carries nothing, not even a simple dagger.

Chuckling softly to herself, she whispers in his...

On Loneliness

sometimes I hold parties
with the stars, dress
in a silver ballgown adorned 
with a hundred diamonds, 
fabric falling to my ankles
and rippling outwards, 
a sea of glimmering crystals
and glass. canis major is 
my companion, orion and cassiopeia 
accompany me in my celestial
waltz, tiptoeing across 
black skies on friday nights
in our solitary ballet.
we are elegance incarnate, immortal 
beings gifted with the sky
as our stage, an expanse 
of glorious emptiness
to be filled with our dancing.
I take constellations
and lace them through
my braided hair until
I am dripping with starlight.
someday I’m sure
there will be a star named for me,
dwelling eternal in the darkness,
and I’ll dance forever in the dreams
of children just like me,
who whisper secrets to the stars because
only the stars will listen.

my best friend stares at the night sky and wonders

sometimes she wonders if the stars ever grow jealous of
their brighter siblings watching one another with slanted
brows and glaring eyes whispering sirius is more
beautiful than polaris sometimes she goes into the night
and screams at the sky pleading with the greater and
lesser lights for answers but what do the stars know?
they sit on their celestial thrones and call themselves
queens and kings of the universe but even the stars hold
no wisdom no secrets to be discovered even the stars
are nothing even the stars in all their beauty must bow

sometimes she wonders why she places her faith in the
stars when they can do nothing to uphold they are far
from deserving of her love but she worships them as
idols tells herself everything will be fine as long as they
shine bright as they always have but even stars can find
themselves drenched in nebulas after the supernova
wreathed in blue and...

results


i.
when they make the announcement
the world comes to a standstill
just for a moment before returning
to its usual state and settling
we step back from the action and
finally breathe again inhaling and
exhaling calling it a calming strategy
none of us are calm none of us

ii.
we reflect on God’s sovereignty
again and again and again and again
out of breath say it’s all for the good
of his elect everything is planned put
in place for good but i don’t see it
our minds are too small to comprehend
the workings of our maker he who
understands and knows the
placement of nitrogen bases in dna
no but i don’t see it i don’t see it
it can’t be right how could this be right?

iii.
breathe inhale exhale until our lungs
relax and our heartbeats slow until
the ceaseless pounding in our ears
dissipates into seafoam we run on
sandy beaches and watch...

tremor

tomorrow your nation will choose its leaders
sometimes the world terrifies you as it locks
its fingers around your throat and squeezes
knocks your breath out of your lungs and begs
from you to scream they say it’s delicious
when you scream sometimes the tremors
rattle your skin and bones this is a valley of
dry bones wake you walk with tongues of
fire hovering above your head try to stamp it
out fear what they’ll do to you if they see how
bright you burn hide your lamp conceal its
light and then look away in your shame
don’t you dare look at him like this hidden and
ashamed hasn’t he freed you from the world?
indeed he has overcome the world you need
not fear lift up your head and face tomorrow
with flames undying don’t be afraid I am
with you always tomorrow your elders will
cast their ballots and watch as the nation makes
its choice...

November Grab Bag

autobiography


i.
watch new life spill itself into your palms
innocence bright as embers burning between
your fingers and in your eyes the flames
rise higher like waves tsunamis you will
overtake the world with your good but soon
all your beauty and life and goodness is
extinguished when you wrap your fingers
around the fruit and call it knowledge
knowledge of good and evil to be like God
you crumble into a valley of dry bones
bound for fire to remind you of what you’ve lost
or perhaps given up without remorse

ii.
watch the bethlehem star rise over the manger
a little town blessed with the birth of the
king of kings and maybe you’ll set yourself
in the fields among the lowly to receive the
voices of angels lifted in praise of the
holy one come to earth to die for his flock
glory to God in the highest and peace on
earthmaybe there’s hope in the...

i'm obsessed with my new book and can't write about anything else *cheers to a new series*


well i began a novel last week (not the one i published for the competition, the other one) and now i can't stop thinking about it. for now, it's called the adoption and will tell the story of several characters, all of whom experience some form or other of adoption. now, this whole book is based on a certain sequence of events that have affected my life in a million ways, and, well i'm in love with the ending i haven't even written yet. so here's an ode to the book to come and two of my major characters. (more poems like this one on the way)

something that came from my love of the adoption sequence i conjured up and the real version i can’t stop crying over
placing his hands on their foreheads, where the pink scars still pierced their skin, he murmured, “you are loved, you are mine, you are orphans no longer”
i have a story...

Novel Writing Competition 2020

Hurricane Season

My papa says the old boat in our garage came with the house, and he also tells me he only plugged all the leaks and repainted it because he figured he would take my brother, Thomas, fishing when he got a little older. But I don’t believe him. The boat and the house were a package deal, sure, but my papa doesn’t like fishing, and I know what the boat is really for.

A few years ago, when we visited family in Tennessee, I heard Papa talking to Uncle Jack about the boat. The boat had been in our garage for years, cast aside and rotting with no use. Papa had always regarded it with disdain, perhaps telling himself that he would fix it up and sell it to someone who would use it, but never gathering the motivation to do so. But now he spoke to Uncle Jack about the boat with such fervor that I almost thought he...

New Novel -- Prologue

The messenger was back. He was back in all his snooty glory, freshly-shined shoes clacking on the marble floor, gnarled staff in his right hand. He pinned his cloak with the King’s sign, the golden eagle. Golden eagles; how Anders hated eagles. He hated them with all his body, mind, and soul, just like he hated the King.

Anders watched as the messenger sauntered across the room, stopping at the base of the throne, glaring upwards. This time, the guards did not try to halt him; they knew how brash and bold he was, with his fiery tongue that uttered nothing but endless threats. Anders braced himself for the onslaught to come.

“Governor Anders—”

Anders rolled his eyes, “King Anders is what you will call me, messenger.”

“That title is reserved for another, Governor. It has not been given to you,” the messenger paused before resuming his tirade. “The King begs of you, Governor, return to him now, while...

Another song (World on Fire)

somedays i dare to look past my window
catch a glimpse of the world in my eyes
i see the smoke from the fire (the fire)
i see the flames rising higher (and higher)
as the dark closes in
this is the end

it’s horror watching castles of sand
dissolve into dust and ash again
i see the smoke from the fire (the fire)
i see the flames rising higher (and higher)
the earth crumbles into the sea
this is the end

the shadows deepen
and the night lasts forever
but this isn’t the end 
i know it might look bad
but i’ll keep holding on
cause i know no matter how this goes
you’re still in control
and you will lead me home

let my castles crumble to the ground
let my walls wash away in the sea
i see the smoke from the fire (the fire)
i see the flames rising higher (and higher)
but i’ll hold onto...

open hands

in my strength i raise my fist to the sky
proclaim my infinite boldness and bravery
but in my weakness my enemy batters
me to the ground who do you think you are
wind knocked out of my chest as i lay
sprawled across the floor wondering what
am i doing here i stare up at the ceiling and
remember all the failures my adversary
whispers in my ear reminding me of all
the times i’ve fallen i cry saltwater tears
and sometimes i wonder whether i’ll ever
see light or be condemned to flame these
snakes wrap themselves around my
ankles i try to ball my hand into a fist and
he stamps me down breaks my fingers
spits at my origins creature of dust
you’re not worthy of the image you bear
in my weakness i crawl onto my knees
and lift my empty palms to the heavens
plead with you to save me and in the
darkness...

The Cave

This short play is based on a story I wrote a couple months ago; I wanted to change things up a bit and write it as a script. I originally pictured this as working for a short film, but it could probably be adapted for stage. I have to admit, though, it loses much of its original power when written as a script. Dialogue seems a lot less impactful. But perhaps this still tells a story worth telling in a new way.


CAST
Narrator--Real-time thoughts of the protagonist as she moves through the scene
Protagonist--Speaks only for dialogue, acts as the main character
Adder--Villain, appears several times to tell protagonist something about herself that encourages (or perhaps forces) her to keep going
Rescuer--Rescues protagonist when she epicly fails

ACT 1
SCENE 1--one scene interspersed with flashbacks
(Enter PROTAGONIST; stands outside cave, looking in. There is fear in her eyes, and she is dreadfully alone. As she stares at the darkness,...

passover

they paint lamb’s blood on doorframes
a sacrifice for the sake of the people
so they might be spared the death of
the firstborn sons egypt wails but israel
sleeps untouched one thousand five
hundred years later israel cries out
all jerusalem rages and this is the night
of the passover when the lamb is
bloodied and sacrificed for the sake
of the people the people both jews and
gentiles tonight they assail the spotless
lamb in a garden and trade him for
the robber call it better that one man
should perish instead of the whole
nation how true and tonight this lamb’s
blood cleanses every tribe and
language and nation tonight the lamb
dies and his chosen people are spared

tombstones

she lies in a coffin of wood and nails
locked within layers of earth and
entangled in daisies and their roots
her ghost wanders the world and
watches the graveyards sighs when
she remembers how her heart once
roamed free now bound by darkening
chains her spirit caves to the breeze
and she floats away on the wind

sometimes mourners file into the
graveyard in their silent procession
laying crimson roses on her grave
singing soft melodies in memory
of what she could have been but
maybe it’s not too late they think
they place their roses in piles at the
base of her tombstone and promise
they’ll return tomorrow and they depart
the graveyard in their solemn lines

he watches the grieving mothers and
fathers and sisters and brothers as they
leave her grave behind in the fog
he approaches the tombstone and
drives his fingers into the dirt speaks
her name into the night calls for her
deep...

Awakening--Part 1

Chapter 1
Adder comes back to her on the day she discovers she doesn’t have enough money to pay her monthly rent. She stands with her back to the shop’s wooden door, bills in hand, biting her nails. Her eyes are bloodshot, her hair is frazzled, and her face is pale. She looks like a ghost against the neat rows of colorful fabrics.

Ticking menacingly, the clock barely reads eight in the morning. The store is quiet this time of day, with fewer customers coming in to buy silks and linens, so she takes the silence to drown herself in her fears. The papers tremble in her fluttering hands.

The little, gold bell above the door rings as someone enters. Half to herself, half to the customer, she recites, “Cotton is half-off this week. Ask if you need help with anything.”

Adder studies her. She’s different from when he last saw her: she’s pulled her hair back, and she wears...

what is nature but a ghost of something that once lived?

once i held an affinity for the trees,
climbed into the highest boughs
to stare at the ground beneath my feet,
laughed at how the world curled away
before my eyes, bending and bowing,
green pines and wildflowers twisting
into wreaths of metallic gold and silver,
the rainbow sprawled across the
grasslands and the forests and the
wind-filled meadows, the sea blowing
itself away in an ancient painting of
green and grey and blizzard white,
how the earth bore her beauty like a
ball gown, crowned herself with a
tiara of spring and summer, daffodils
streaming in her hair, fall and winter
adorned her figure when the sun
whisked her around her orbit, she was
beautiful wasn’t she? beautiful like
nebulas and galaxies and the universe.

she is still beautiful, i suppose,
beautiful with her sandy beaches, her
forests, her oceans, her meadows,
her white-capped peaks and her
violence, even wildfires and hurricanes
hold their own beguiling beauty,
but i...

gardens

the is a forest, deep and dark, twisted and tangled that forces its spindly branches upwards into the clouds, a million stories high and climbing. the sun probes the canopy for a gap but finds none; the ground is heavily clad with ferns and young oaks. it is thick with shadows and lonely confusion. many lose themselves among the trees, where the wolves lurk in the night.

within the forest is a clearing where a garden grows sweet and lush. the flowers bloom with the scent of honeysuckle, serenaded by the wingbeats of bumble-bees and whispers on the wind. it is said there is one path within the woods that leads here, to the only safe place in the world; the wolves prowl on its outskirts, baring flashing fangs but never crossing its borders. they are forbidden from entry.

the path is narrow, though, and no one can stay on it for long before losing it in the dark. a...

all in a name


i’m not named for anything special
my name does not mean strong or gracious or beautiful or whatever yours does
perhaps when you explored name meaning projects in your kindergarten classes you discovered you shared a name with someone of importance whose memory lives on forever, or perhaps you found your name empowering, a title that sang of who you were and who you would become
not me
i am the house of poverty of affliction of figs
i’m named for a tiny village in palestine just beyond jerusalem
you would not even recognize it by the name it is called today
unless you’ve gone to israel and traveled to it on a tour of the holy land
i haven’t
i don’t even know how to pronounce it and i won’t try
i’ll butcher it my tongue tearing its title to pieces shredding its history
it is easy to feel unconnected to my namesake, so far away
it’s across the...

riptide

i had a girl once. pretty, with cinnamon eyes and freckles, hair that flew sleek like gull’s feathers in the wind. we walked hand-in-hand along the seashore and talked about getting married, buying a house on the ocean and swimming in the waves, raising a family here and taking pictures of tiny footprints in the sand.

she always did love the sea. it called to her, whispering of hidden cities and lost treasures, clamshells and silvery fish scales whirling into schools, sparkling like diamonds. she’d pick through the driftwood after summer storms, searching for seaweed and shark eggs.

there was a far-off look in her eyes that day, the day she told me i couldn’t give the world to her even though i’d always promised it. diamonds weren’t enough for her; she wanted pearls and rubies and gemstones only to be found in the deepest, darkest trenches of the world’s oceans. she wanted to swim, to be one of the...

immortality

she’s stopped keeping track of the years, staring up at the stars on cool nights and wondering what lies beyond the milky way, if the universe stretches on forever. she plucks daisies in the meadows and braids dandelions into her hair. she remembers the fountain of youth, how the water trickled down her fingers as she cupped her palms beneath the flow, sipping the draught of honeysuckle and summer peaches. now youth stains her tongue bright with sour sugar. she is immortal, a dream of a long-lost past, floating along the tender hillsides in search of meaning. far beyond, embers rise among the fireflies and settle themselves into the midnight sky.

all the things i dream of--part 7

note: please feel free to read parts 1-6. this is the last poem in a seven part collection. although it can stand alone, it will have more meaning if combined with the others.

no tw's; this one is a nice poem!

we dream of crimson and scarlet, of a bride waiting patiently for her groom. our hearts flutter as we gaze upwards waiting to hear angel choirs and see the face of this one we love so dearly, this one who died for us while we were still sinners. day by day, the end draws ever nearer.


i stare out the window and glare at
the empty sky imagining puffy white
clouds rolling away my eyes glisten
in the light of stars dropping into the
sea who can stand i know who can
stand and now there’s hope even
for a murderer a traitor a sinner
for me me me why would anyone
die for me i am nothing but...

all the things i dream of--part 6

note: please read parts 1-5 before reading part 6, as they are a collection. they will make much more sense if pieced together in the correct order.

tw: blood, death, etc.

today's poem, titled "Lamb", focuses on the pieces i've picked up, how they've ultimately all come together for this purpose, so that i might find myself here. this is where one era ends and another begins, where i become something all together more beautiful.


here is where i find my collision
a choice between life and death
kneeling on the steps before
the king i killed dipped my fingers
in his blood he's alive just like
the rumors told me it's true all true
and every knee must bow even mine
knowledge knowledge knowledge
but no hope no hope no hope
and i cry as death smiles and
twists its slender fingers around
my neck its lips curling upwards
into a sneer tonight there is no hope
no hope...

all the things i dream of--part 5

note: read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 first if you haven't already, since this is a collection of poems.

today's poem, titled "what if", leaves me kneeling, wearing grooves in the wood floor, crying and waiting for hope but knowing there can never be any hope for me. all the while, though, the wind sings of secrets not far beyond my reach, truths sealed away in a locked drawer, and one who has the key.


tonight there are things i don’t forget
an end of an era a change in the wind
whistling through the darkness of twilight
singing and dancing and twirling my hair
lost in a dream of another reality
where all this never came to pass
waking to the reality of death lingering
rotten animals decomposing on my
doorstep and how did they drag their
broken bones onto the doormat anyway
sweep the remnants away and wait
for death i will surely surely surely die
but...

all the things i dream of--part 4

note: please read parts 1, 2, and 3 if you haven't already, before digging into today's poem. as a collection, they will make the most sense if read in the correct order.

tw: mentions death

today's poem, titled "surely", focuses on all the fears that encircle my heart, a whip of thorns drawn across my forearms at the knowledge of this that will surely come for me. surely, life has an end, and who can stand when this moment comes? death waits in the shadows for me, drooling over its victims.


this ground quakes beneath my feet
earth splitting into shattered glass
remaking itself becoming whole again
i look upon a sunday sunrise the sun
lolls dances upon the horizon but
it’s light is dimmer angels say
“he is risen” and i prepare to flee
into caves and cry to the mountains
to fall on me save me who can stand
none none none can stand against
the power of...

all the things i dream of--part 3

note: please read all the things i dream of parts 1 and 2 before you read this one. ultimately, the poems (all part of a collection) will make far more sense if read in the correct order.

tw: mentions of blood, references events in yesterday's poem (part 2) that are exceedingly violent

today's poem, titled "three days", focuses on the shame and the guilt that waits for me, how all paths lead back to these old grudges and crimes i've committed, how i am still no victim. these hands are bloody and stained and now the smell of iron is starting to linger in my nose.


old forgotten sorrows and regrets
pile themselves onto my head
a thousand crimes stacked so high
they reach beyond the clouds
into the emptiness that lies beyond
tonight the stars don’t shine
and neither does the sun
the whole world mourns its king
he’s dead and the scarlet
stain on my hands is intoxicating ...

Writing Streak Challenge - Week 6

Writing Streak Week 6! Challenge completed

Day 1
My prayers are my incense, offered on sleepless nights and hazy mornings and passed through the hands of my Redeemer, who lives, intercedes, and pleads for me. I have no respect for myself: only for my Savior.

Day 2
Thousands of my words settle themselves into well-organized patterns, to tell your story and mine. The hyenas scatter at his footsteps. Without you, all is lost, and I have nothing, as Laodicea did. But with you, I have everything.

Day 3
I dance through seas of misery tonight, but there is one upon whom I lay my hope. There is no tale I would rather tell, no song I would rather sing. This is my King; I am the criminal brought back and redeemed. In another day, I'll meet my Savior, and I will forget all but him.

Day 4
I dream of the end, or perhaps the beginning, when all fades and I find myself in eternity,...

worth

ultimately i find worth in the place where his heart meets mine, where i am not my own anymore but his; he has claimed me, sealed me, redeemed me. this life is empty until he fills it, and he has filled me to the brim.

all the things i dream of--part 2


note: before reading this piece, feel free to take a look at yesterday's poem (all the things i dream of--part 1) for a bit more understanding on where this poem comes from. this is, after all, a part 2, one in a series of seven.

(tw: references blood, death, murder...)

today's poem, titled "murder", focuses on the anger, the hatred, the murder of the one i should have loved but instead despised. this is my villainy, these are my regrets. this is the past i cannot leave behind, the things i cannot forget. i am no victim, i am the criminal.


hatred boils up and over
hatred for the one who said
“you will surely die”
who placed this burden of shame
upon my broken back
how dare he say what i must be
i am perfection
i am greatness
i am worthy worthy worthy
i know i am but the creation
but in my universe i am god
and...

Writing Streak Week 6, Day 4

I dream of the end, or perhaps the beginning, when all fades and I find myself in eternity, when this broken world shatters to reveal forever. This is my hope: that one day I will stand before him who has ransomed me and will never be torn away.

all the things i dream of--part 1

all the things i dream of is a poetry collection i've been working on recently, which i will release to wtw poem by poem. each poem focuses on a distinct era in my life, representing the pieces of a history i have tried to pick up and glue together in a reasonable fashion. today poem, titled "treason" focuses on the beginning of my existence, the first choices i made, the person i became.

i’ve left behind my right mind
to dance upon my throne of sand
to eat the fruit of the tree
juice dribbling lazily down my chin
knowledge of good and evil now
but blind eyes glimmering opaque
a heart of stone that never beats
dead skin flaking into dust
to dust i will return
no hope no hope no hope
chains slinking around my ankles
like metallic serpents
ever seen a snake dress in white?
his disguise creeps into the heart
and slithers its way into the...

Writing Streak Week 6, Day 3

I dance through seas of misery tonight, but there is one upon whom I lay my hope. There is no tale I would rather tell, no song I would rather sing. This is my King; I am the criminal brought back and redeemed. In another day, I'll meet my Savior, and I will forget all but him.

laodicea


would that you were hot or cold
not this twisted bathtub of lukewarm
souls worshipers of zeus
creatures of idolatry
writhing in your own filth and poverty
is this the idol you love so dearly
that you cannot give up even now?
do you abandon your savior for him?
what can his lightning and thunder
do when none can stand against
the power of the coming King
how you have failed
there is nothing faithful and true
in you not in your crooked words
that drip from your honeyed lips
lukewarm lukewarm lukewarm
in your wealth you have become
poor blind pitiful wretched naked
buy gold refined by fire be rich
white garments and salve to see
he stands at the door and knocks
lukewarm lukewarm lukewarm
woe to you laodicea
you are neither hot nor cold
thus the King will spit you out of
his mouth leave you among the rest
you love zeus? see what he can do ...

reverse

“you are priceless”
think again and see the truth:
“you are worth nothing”
some will tell you
you are a diamond
this is a lie
no one cares about you
all your life you will hear that
someone died for you
but remember
no one will ever cherish you
even though others will say
“I love you”

now turn and look the other way

Writing Streak Week 6, Day 2

Thousands of my words settle themselves into well-organized patterns, to tell your story and mine. The hyenas scatter at his footsteps. Without you, all is lost, and I have nothing, as Laodicea did. But with you, I have everything.

So I wrote another song!

I was recently on vacation and focused on editing my most recent novel, but I didn't totally stray from the land of poetry, flash fiction, and... song writing. I'm not very good at song writing, but I've recently been finding a lack of Christian songs that really speak to my heart; most of the songs I listen to are good at explaining God's love, grace, and mercy, but not very good at explaining my own depravity. In my opinion, these two must always come together, to show us why we need God's love. As someone who struggles with pride, I need songs that expose how bad I am as a person, who, apart from the grace of God, can do nothing but sin. Hence, I have recently turned to writing my own songs that express this depravity, at least in ways that I understand. Why the following song doesn't directly expose any of my own struggles, writing it helped me...

Flash Fiction Competition 2020

her hands are bloodied and unclean as the end draws ever nearer

In those days, she danced through the meadows chasing butterflies and searching for rainbows. There was little the world couldn’t offer her, little that couldn’t be found. Now, the rain streaks down her windows, refracting bloody sunlight. The stars don’t seem so welcoming anymore, not when her tears glisten in their silver rays.
They tell her to march to the end with boldness and bravery, head held high, spine straight. But as her reality tips and crumbles, her bones rattle beneath her sweaty skin, and her thighs quake until she collapses into the dirt.

Writing Streak Week 6, Day 1

My prayers are my incense, offered on sleepless nights and hazy mornings and passed through the hands of my Redeemer, who lives, intercedes, and pleads for me. I have no respect for myself: only for my Savior.

Flash Fiction Competition 2020

her hands are bloodied and unclean as the end draws ever nearer

In those days, she danced through the meadows chasing butterflies and searching for rainbows. There was little the world couldn’t offer her, little that couldn’t be found. Now, the rain streaks down her windows, refracting bloody sunlight. The stars don’t seem so welcoming anymore, not when their silver light glistens through her tears.
They tell her to march to the end with boldness and bravery, head held high, chest forward. But as her reality tips and crumbles, her bones rattle beneath her sweaty skin, and her thighs quake until she collapses into the dirt.

crow

our losses leaves shiny trinkets for the crows
gleaming silver melting on the sidewalk
our tears splatter to the floor and erupt into
dizzying droplets solidifying into chains
and pendants like mourning doves
we wear our grief around our necks
opening our empty hands for all to see
this is poverty a heart devoid of emotion
but the crows love to pick through the rubble
of broken relationships and crumbled souls
of the collision between life and death
iridescent feathers shimmer black and blue
beneath a sun dripping light like gold coins
and still the crows ruffle their feathers and
move on to the next house to eye the sorrow
with flashing expressions seeking gain
they clutch humanity’s misery in their beaks
our blood dribbles down from their wings

mourning dove

today she finds the feather on her driveway
dark and grey and translucent blue
floating down from a crystal clear sky
she twists the remnant of life in her hands
and she understands why the doves mourn, why
they release haunting calls from telephone wires
the world coats her fingers with death
and she learns to grieve when her cat
stumbles down the stairs on creaky joints
and her mother says with teary eyes
“i don’t know if he’ll survive tomorrow”
this is when she tastes death
when the stench stains her palms
when she looks in the mirror and sees
only her own bleak reflection staring back
the sky grows dark with thunderclouds
she gazes out the window as the raindrops patter
down from above and streak along the glass
she cups her hands to catch the flow
and drinks sips of the earth’s pain
it tastes like vinegar slipping down her throat

on growing up

today my mother shows me photographs
of my childhood self
brimming with infancy and innocence
so pure and beaming with joy
laughter, i see, lives in children
in their bright eyes and wide smiles
in their voices that coo
“i love you to the moon and back”
and my childhood self knew nothing
of war and hatred and forgotten promises
my childhood self knew only of
perfection and whispers of love
of dabbling in dreams and wishing
upon stars shh don’t tell
of it won’t come true
this is childhood: wondering if fairies exist
and if mermaids swim among the dolphins
i lost my childhood when i entered
womanhood
and learned of all the sorrows of this world
i don’t smile as much now
the joy of blissful innocence has left me
i finger my hair and wonder instead
of how long it will be before 
death claims me or someone i love
and i think only of possibilities of...

braids

she braids her heritage, triplet rivers of blood
france germany scotland, all united within her
german floats off her tongue, but her name is french
and the names of her ancestors are scottish

french and dutch but no german braids

her cousin wallows in the french language
but bonjour never sounds right on her lips
she prefers guten morgen or perhaps hallo

tonight she twists her hair into lace braids
leaves holes for her soul to escape through
she dreams of ridding herself of the past

it’s far far away now untouchable

she takes her failures and laces them through
her hair, over under over under left right left right
drapes feathers into the melted chocolate
the birds leave her gifts, but she steals from them

red pen

ah, red pen
how beautifully you mark my unedited manuscript,
how wonderfully you circle every mistake,
how beautiful it is when i twist my fingers around you,
our unity expressed only by our discourse,
my words and yours colliding,
your perfect voice heard above the nasty screech of mine,
your love scribbled in underlines and cross-throughs,
i read through the lines and see you’ve made hearts,
my heart is set on you too, red pen,
you set all things right,
what is black and white and red all over?
one of my first drafts

Letter Writing Competition 2020

Two Months


7 July, 2020

Dear J,
It's been two months since you dropped that dream on my heart's doorstep and changed my life. When it first happened, I thought perhaps my subconscious had devised it for me, realizing I was in peril and thrusting the dream in front of me in hopes of chasing my conscious self into fear. Maybe my subconscious understood what my conscious did not: that my eternity was at risk.

But I've changed my mind. I think you were at work there, that night, placing the scene in my head as a warning to my wayward soul: Wake up. It was truly different from every other dream I've ever had. Instead of just existing in some fictional place without sense or feeling, here I was vividly aware, and fear weighed heavy on my soul.

As you already know, there were two things I was certain of that night: one, I was dead, and two, I was...

Letter Writing Competition 2020

Two Months


7 July, 2020

Dear J,
It's been two months since you dropped that dream on my heart's doorstep and changed my life. When it first happened, I thought perhaps my subconscious had devised it for me, realizing I was in peril and thrusting the dream in front of me in hopes of chasing my conscious self into fear. Maybe my subconscious understood what my conscious did not: that my eternity was at risk.

But I've changed my mind. I think you were at work there, that night, placing the scene in my head as a warning to my wayward soul: Wake up. It was truly different from every other dream I've ever had. Instead of just existing in some fictional place without sense or feeling, here I was vividly aware, and fear weighed heavy on my soul.

As you already know, there were two things I was certain of that night: one, I was dead, and two, I was...

trustworthy


this heart is a jar of clay / brittle and breaking after so many years / after so many years spent on this earth / i know no human hand can have this heart and not drop it / my heart doesn’t hold much now / fill it too high and it cracks / snaps / spills itself down the cliffs in a waterfall / drowns splinters of relationships in raindrops / why befriend a jar of clay / humanity discovers how shallow these veins really are / and throws me off the cliff / watches me shatter below / and leaves me to pick up the shards / this heart is broken and barely mended / even time doesn’t heal anything after all / i hold myself back now / lock myself away and toss away the key / because not a single human is trustworthy enough to have me / and i'm not trustworthy to have them after...

Writing Streak Week 1, Day 1


6 Fears
  1. A day may come when all these freedoms we so cherish fade from before our eyes, and we are left grasping for the last threads of hope, picking up these shattered shards of the glass we once called liberty.
  2. A day may come when all our friends vanish over the horizon, to the north, south, east, and west, when we are left utterly alone in the swamp, crying out but unheard over the snap of our own broken bones, dead and dying without anyone to comfort us.
  3. A day may come when life hurts, our hearts break, and our tears fall in vain upon the desert ground, when pain swirls around us, when we stumble and fall into this darkened pit we call evil.
  4. A day may come when our guilt overrides us, when we look back upon our lives and only see shame, when we look up at the night sky and wonder why we're here, and if...

fallen

I will remember today, how you stand poised
in your v-neck, black and white dress up at the
front of the sanctuary, before the congregation,
how your heart beats with a flutter like a
dove’s wings but hissed like a rattlesnake,
how your lies drip sleek and softly honeyed
from your silken tongue and satin lips,
coated in dusty sibilance like the serpents
that wind themselves around your shoulders.
the pastor’s voice is solemn when he asks
do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner
and you say i do, but even you know it’s a lie.
but you don’t believe it even though you
speak it boldly, even though you
swallow the lies so easily, like holy water.
later you interrogate me for answers, scream
at me where is God because you doubt.
Thomas, blessed are those who have not seen,
but you say what do you know and turn away.
Sardis, you have the reputation of being...

Letter Writing Competition 2020

Two Months


7 July, 2020

Dear J,
It's been two months since you dropped that dream on my heart's doorstep and changed my life. When it first happened, I thought perhaps my subconscious had devised it for me, realizing I was in peril and throwing the dream in front of me in hopes of chasing my conscious self into fear. I thought that maybe my subconscious understood what my conscious did not: that eternal matters are much more important than they might first appear.

But I've changed my mind. I think you were at work there, that night, placing the scene in my head as a warning to my wayward soul: Wake up. I know you work through dreams, and although I can never be certain, I will attribute this one to you. It was different, truly different, from every other dream I've ever had. Instead of just existing in some fictional place without sense or feeling, here I was vividly...

chills

the haze spreads its translucent fingers over the morning dew
fog rising unashamed from the forest floor and up into the heavens
twisting its ribbon arms around your neck and placing its feathered hands
over your eyes until your vision becomes a waterfall of misery
sweaty air sticks to skin like honey but tastes like vinegar
drips from the roof of your mouth and down your throat until you gag
pea soup breezes so thick that the morning nearly clogs your trachea
these are mornings when the world sends chills down your spine
and the maggots burrow themselves into your bone marrow
and the worms coil themselves through your gut and spit venom
fill yourself to the brim with death and then vomit it out
hope you get the last traces of the world’s fatal poison and empty yourself
but you know you can never be clean your heart is too stone for that
and your chains constrict your wrists...

midnight

tonight the moon sprinkles its blood on my eyes 
and calls me blessed
and I stand dripping with maroon concoction
beneath the dancing stars
and what can I say
perhaps I think the moon is wrong because
I see long shadows lurking
in the darkness of this lasting night
and they stare up at me just as the moon stares down
and is that their cackling I hear in this nonexistent space?
I must choose now between dark and light
between life and death
listen
the fall from here is great
and the climb is even greater
I don’t know perhaps I can make it?
the moon smiles and tells me I have no choice
the options are
climb this rope ladder into the constellations
or fall
I tell the moon she doesn’t rule me
but she disagrees
says “the night owns you”
and perhaps I struggle against her grip but to what avail?
she owns me all the same ...

bitterness on my tongue

I taste this world’s bitter brokenness on my tongue
not tangy like lemons of rancid like sour pineapples
but flavorless like this desert sand devoid of life
powdery   bland   dry   leaves you thirsting
for water you’ll never have and food you’ll never eat
I suppose this is what death tastes like
the crumbling of bones into dust blowing away
on a wind that brings no respite from the everlasting heat
tonight my skeleton crumples beneath the weight
of all these lies laced throughout the marrow
my heart bleeds until empty but still it is heavy with
raw sorrow that drips from my capillaries like
rotten blood and cells shriveled in the blazing sun
this desert shows no mercy to the dying weak
I don’t know how much longer I can go on
tonight my knees sink to the ground as my spine
collapses and I lift my hands to the heavens
in the insufferable heat I cry ...

at midnight my doubts shatter my bones


at night my bones shatter and empty themselves of the marrow
beneath the crushing grip of stagnant chains my lungs heave
searching for air that doesn’t come
iron and copper shackles bind me from head to toe
rust encrusting on my eyelids, maroon like dried blood
I take my bleeding strawberry heart and lift it to the sky
giving it up as a stiffened offering
the liquid of life dripping down from my fingers to the ground
sometimes I wonder if I’ll make it to tomorrow
today writhing snakes build a prison for my enjoyment
twisting themselves around my arms and legs
slithering up my torso and twisting the siren’s call until I give in
in my innocent ears turned guilty they whisper
“welcome home”
I appear to my friends to be dressed in white but I wear black
sometimes I even say I like the feel of chains weighing me down
I live a lie
listen, I ought to...

backpacking (a poem for my dad)

on mornings like these the sun rises slowly,
creeping over the horizon and alighting the world
with golden rays, casting long shadows dancing
across the forest. the woods glisten with dew
and glow with a million sparkling spiderwebs.
the trees are so green on mornings like these,
so tall that the canopy reaches for the clouds
and never stops growing, swaying in the breeze.
song sparrows sing from high perches and flit
from branch to branch, releasing their soulful
melodies. our hips ache and our feet pound
with every lumbering step, but there’s nothing
more beautiful than a field of wildflowers, or
a freshwater spring, or the top of the mountain, a
view of the world from within the cerulean sky.
we walk. we walk until our thighs groan and our
shoulders throb, every footstep sparking like a
new fire pushing us onward until camp. have you
ever seen a sunset over a pasture, rolling hills
and breeze whistling between...

Awakening--Part 4

Chapter 6
He leads her through the dark halls, out of the prison Adder built for her. They come to the exit, the only thing separating her from freedom. The world outside resonates with opportunity and hope. But she stops suddenly in her tracks.

"I can't leave," she says to him. "Adder will come for me. He'll bring me back and make me his slave again, and the chains will be stronger then. I can't escape him."

"Don't be afraid of Adder," he tells her. "He doesn't hold power over you anymore. You don't have to listen to him when he comes to you again."

"Will you help me fight him?" she asks. There is a fear in her voice, a fear that shakes every word and leaves her fighting for breath in her lungs. She does not dream of ever returning to this place, but she knows Adder will drive her to her knees before he lets her go...

voices

who knew
voices could ride the wind like warriors
seated in golden chariots, shaking hands,
releasing arrows into the night, piercing
broken hearts and mending instead of
tearing. voices are the sword of a
generation, a million solemn tales wrapped
up into one evolving story. but listen too
long to the music of the night, and you’ll
turn away, cover your ears and scream.
humanity’s unified voice is discord:
mountain and valley, desert and sea,
predator and prey.
who knew
humanity’s song was torn and tearing still,
flaking to the ground like sunburnt skin.

Refuge

refuge

there is comfort in nights brimming with stars
in searching for sleep but finding only whispers
of promises woven through millennia
in crickets singing lullabies in the silence
in flipping through pages and pages of grace
glance up at the milky way and wonder
why you’ve been chosen to receive
this gift you could never earn and don’t deserve
after all the millions of stars shine more
beautifully than you ever could
here now let the love wash over you in waves
rivers replenishing your soul once drained
think of sacrifice and resurrection
of all your debts paid and of the curtain torn in two
of words that shook the ground “it is finished”
there is no barrier between you and Him
imagine now the one day when you will
ascend from this shattered reality
and have every tear wiped from your eyes
as you look upon His face without fear
rest now in your King’s embrace and wait
even...

appalachian summer

the sun rises over the mountains arrayed in royalty
the king of summer mornings coming down
from lofty skies to view his emerald kingdom
to bless mother earth with his golden hand
dripping lightning into white rapids leaping
over grey boulders slick with algae blooms
from humble beginnings in diamond springs
these rivers swirl through rhododendron groves
deep velvet leaves and cotton candy flowers
running in crystalline smiles through jagged peaks
water cleansing sweat-soaked feet with
gentle touch cooler than ice in winter blizzards
along the bank above the burbling brook
song sparrows sing from swaying perches
ruffled feathers preened until sleek
lifting their heads to the clouds and releasing
deep soulful melodies straight from the heart
alighting green canopy with sweet song
summer lies heavy on the forest
humidity smothers skin like a fleece blanket
damp hair frizzes and curls into melted chocolate coils
the air sticks to forearms like burger grease to fingers
butterflies’ flit about unheeded by...

So I wrote a song...

So, today I wrote a song... for now, I'm not sure what to title it, so I figured I'd share it with all of you lovely folks to see if you have any ideas.

the heat rises up from the road in waves
summer sizzling on the black pavement
there’s potholes and pockmarks
there’s twists and turns
wonders and wanderers
ups and downs
but we’ll keep on running
yeah we’ll keep on running

we’re gonna run the race
till the battle’s won
we’re gonna run the race
till kingdom come
and the sky is turning brilliant
as the darkness turns away
and the stars are shining bright again
they’re dancing overhead
but even the brightest suns are dim
compared to the Light that’s all around
we’re gonna run the race
we’re gonna run the race

here we stumble and fall down to our knees
trouble standing over us hollering
but we will not fear cause
we’ll call your name
and...

the origin of me in knitting terms

preparations
pick your favorite yarn
mohair or cotton or silk or alpaca
spin fibers from atoms pulled from nothing
choose the pattern you planned
before time
and memorized as you sketched the
cobweb lace of my story
let us make her in our own image you say
and you begin

cast on
with two strands
use the cable cast-on method
in preparation for the double helix of dna
46 stitches for 46 chromosomes
no need for you to double check the count
just in case
you know how many stitches there are
it’s exactly how many you planned

row one
row one lays out the necessities of my first cell
the nucleus the ribosomes the mitochondria
knit purl knit purl
rib the first row for the rna
i now take the form of a handcrafted cell

cables
you deliberate over each row
slipping stitches onto the cable needle
the dna cables are two stitches in width
and four rows high...

hypocrisy

here is hypocrisy
the older sister listens to her playlist
about love and dying to save
singing along with
“king of love” and “crushing snakes”
but when the younger sister arrives
and a pointless disagreement sparks
the older ignores
the commandment to love her neighbor
she turns to the snake
and lets her anger boil over
allows her voice to escalate
again and again and again
it’s like denying her Lord
three times
on the night of the crucifixion
a moment later the rooster crows
the alarm sings
reminding her to read her Bible
her heart skips a beat
and she plummets into shame
hasn’t she left this grave behind?
she thought she was strong enough
that she could resist the allure
of the fruit hanging in the tree
she smiles haughtily at it
laughs at it says
“i’d never take the fruit”
but it isn’t long before
the snake whispers in her ear
and instead of crushing him
she...

hypocrisy

here is hypocrisy
the older sister listens to her music
about love and dying to save
singing along with
“king of love” and “crushing snakes”
but when the younger sister arrives
and a pointless disagreement sparks
the older ignores
the commandment to love her neighbor
she turns to the snake
and lets her anger boil over
allows her voice to escalate
again and again and again
it’s like denying her Lord
three times
on the night of the crucifixion
a moment later the rooster crows
the alarm sings
reminding her to read her Bible
her heart skips a beat
and she plummets into shame
hasn’t she left this grave behind?
she thought she was strong enough
that she could resist the allure
of the fruit hanging in the tree
she smiles haughtily at it
laughs at it
but it isn’t long before
the snake whispers in her ear
and instead of crushing him
she bows
she takes a bite
juice...

me as the darkness

i was the one whose eyes
glowed yellow in the dark of night
like a saber-toothed tiger
waiting
tail swishing
to spring upon its prey
i cared not for love or for morality
but dripped with depravity
i stalked my enemies
in the shadows
dead heart fluttering groggily
blood pulsing through stone
claws scraping on the dirt
an owl cried eerily at midnight
i was a skeleton clothed
in the rotting stench of death
corruption
a corpse crawling along the ground
breathing but not alive
and when i stumbled
fell from my high tower
cracked my ribs and my legs
my “friends”
laughed with voices
high and cackling
carried into the darkness on the wind
a creature dependent on itself
cannot survive
if all it’s bones are broken
if it’s heart refuses to beat
if it’s eyes have turned opaque
with blindness
i dug for myself a grave of shame
and laid down to die
here is where you found...

me as the darkness

i was the one whose eyes
glowed yellow in the dark of night
like a saber-toothed tiger
waiting
tail swishing
to spring upon its prey
i cared not for love or for morality
but dripped with depravity
i stalked my enemies
in the shadows
dead heart fluttering groggily
blood pulsing through stone
claws scraping on the dirt
an owl cried eerily at midnight
i was a skeleton robed
in the rotting stench of death
corruption
a corpse crawling along the ground
breathing but not alive
and when i stumbled
fell from my high tower
cracked my ribs and my legs
my “friends”
laughed with voices
high and cackling
carried into the darkness on the wind
a creature dependent on itself
cannot survive
if all it’s bones are broken
if it’s heart refuses to beat
if it’s eyes have turned opaque
with blindness
here is where you found me
laced in deceit and deception
you heard my cries and groans
as...

summer nights

the days bleed into one another now
separated only by the moon’s monthly cycle
of crescent quarter full and new
waxing and waning waxing and waning
silver light glancing down from the daughter of night
rivaling that of the stars
in the afternoons long minutes surf on the drowsy sunlight
of summer twilight and cloud-drunk sunsets
when the sun walks among the gardens
accompanied by his sister rain
he touches each of the flowers
and they rise to greet him
colors spring up as he passes by the horizon
alighting mother earth with gold and bronze
the catbirds sing continuously outside my window
hatching baby birds that chatter in the rose bushes
some mornings
i wake up being unsure what is fantasy
and what is certainty
dreams become reality as the summer heat
seeps into my brittle bones and renews my skin
hair flows in rivers of molten chocolate
across my scalp and down my neck
now is the time...

Dragons

We are dragons hoarding our oceans of gold
beneath red, scaly tails and ivory claws.
Our fangs drip with venom and
spark like thunderstorms.
When the hunters come from the village,
we swallow their bullets,
melt down the lead in our stomachs,
and spit it out again with the fire.
We settle down on the hillsides,
and we shimmer metallic in the night,
like the shooting stars we catch on our tongues.

on weakness

today there is an ad for secret outlast
letting me know that i won’t sweat if
i just use their anti perspirant
“all the world will see is your strength”
they tell me
ah, well, you know how that goes
since when was i strong enough
to stand up to the enemy and tell him
“no”
to just be patient instead of irritable
to put another’s needs before mine
i sweat when he comes
every time
no matter what deodorant i use
and i never never win
“you got this”
they tell me
but i don’t got this
there’s no strength in these brittle bones
just a whole lot of weak weak weakness
you already know this
you know my heart inside and out
you see the winding paths i’ve taken
you walked among us
you were one of us
you know what it is like to face the enemy
in the desert heat
to be so close to the...

Food Writing Competition 2020

Food for the Soul

    It was a Sunday, and the hour hand was inching ever closer to twelve. It had been nearly five hours since breakfast, and I, a food-obsessed first grader, was absolutely starving. The pastor's voice droned on and on as every second seemed to slow to a slug's pace. As my stomach rumbled, I glanced at the clock and realized I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the morning worship service if I didn't get my hands on something, anything, to eat.
    Salvation wasn't far away though, for this was a Communion Sunday. At the front of the sanctuary, silver plates stood gleaming proudly, each filled with either broken saltines or small, plastic cups of grape juice. If I could just have one cracker, my stomach would be satisfied, at least until I could make it home for lunch.
    But my mother would not allow it. When I leaned over and quietly asked if I could have...

quiet

she lies quiet now in the dark of night
whispering her prayers to Him
her voice stumbles
words slipping over her own tongue
she wonders sometimes if
He understands her speechless groans
but she remembers now
her interpreter carries these wordless thoughts
and sifts through them to find the prayer within
in this valley she knows
He will come to her
He has never left her before
He will not leave her now
when she falls now she knows
she must only call His name
and He will pick her up again

Collective Voice

on returning to church this past sunday

we sit stiff with backs straightened
legs folded awkwardly over one another
confined to our own uncomfortable space
six feet away six feet away
isolated
like diamond islands in a raging sea
our hands reach out to comfort
to rest upon another’s shoulders
but the rules swat our fingers back
no, no, they say
there are older individuals here
even though we told them to stay home
don’t touch don’t touch
protect them protect yourself
you can see them from a distance
now isn’t that enough?
today the pastor preaches on hope
hope hope hope hope hope
hope he says is found in Christ
through His resurrection comes our resurrection
brothers and sisters the pastor says
we will surely rise just as He surely rose
hope lies in this promise
so sure and so sweet
the promise of life everlasting
through our Savior called faithful and true
at the end of the sermon we rise
for one final hymn
our...

prosperity gospel (a poem)

A short introduction before the poem:
Last night, I watched the documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone. It focuses on the "American gospel", better known perhaps as the "health and wealth gospel", or the prosperity gospel.
For more information on this topic, you can watch the first forty minutes of the film on YouTube here, which I would recommend if you'd like a more in-depth explanation of the ideas presented in my poem. The poem is written as if from the perspective of the people who preach the prosperity gospel, but it is of course infused with some of my own thoughts on the topic. It contrasts the prosperity gospel with what I personally believe the Gospel actually says, but for all you Christians out there, please read your Bible to decide what is true, as I myself am still learning.

prosperity gospel

let us be the gods
of our own imaginations
crafting reality from desires
speaking dreams into...

healing

let your healing hands sweep over me
like the sun’s gentle rays piercing the night
pastel pink and yellow lumbering lazily
through the new morning sky
restore vision to these blind eyes
let me see again
instead of being relegated to the darkness
raise up these dry bones that rattle when i walk
dispel the stench of death that
lingers so heavy on my slumbering soul
revive my broken heart so it beats anew
and teach me to live again
let us wind up the mountain trails and
rest atop the summit
me and you
me a little bruised
and you mending all the scars
watching the sunrise crest the horizon
a purging fire chasing the night into oblivion

Food Writing Competition 2020

Food for the Soul

    When I was six years old, I finally mustered up all my courage to ask my mother the question that had been haunting me for months, "Mom, why can't I eat the crackers at church?"
    It was a Sunday, and the hour hand was inching ever closer to twelve. It had been nearly five hours since breakfast, and I, a food-obsessed first grader, was absolutely starving. The pastor's voice droned on and on as every second seemed to slow to a slug's pace. As my stomach rumbled, I glanced at the clock and realized I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the morning worship service if I didn't get my hands on something, anything, to eat.
    Salvation wasn't far away though, for this was a Communion Sunday. At the front of the sanctuary, silver plates stood gleaming proudly, each filled with either broken saltines or small, plastic cups of grape juice. In a few...

me as a warrior

tonight as the hour hand nears twelve
and the lightning bugs shine like stars
she lies eyes wide open
hands clasped around the pages of her Bible
whispering prayers that rise like the smoke of incense
to the throne of God above
does she dare say He hears her?
day after day
night after night
these are her weapons
this book and these words she speaks
she will fight this battle to the end
because the war is already won
these are the nights when she cannot sleep
but these are the nights when she knows she is loved
tonight she knows He hears her pleading
tonight she knows He listens
tonight she knows God is not far away
but draws ever nearer to her

drinking deep

let the waves crash over me
foam settling atop my head
salt in my eyes and encrusting on
my eyelids
let the surf swallow me whole
churning above me
let me stare upwards and swim
for the surface only to turn
and go deeper
let me drink from this fountain
of infinite supply
i read once that there are
twenty septillion drops in the ocean
unimaginable mass and yet
so small compared to you
let this love of yours overtake me
like a wave breaking above my head

Food Writing Competition 2020

Food for the Soul

    When I was six years old, I finally mustered up all my courage to ask my mother the question that had been haunting me for months, "Mom, why can't I eat the crackers at church?"
    It was a Sunday, and the hour hand was inching ever closer to twelve. It had been nearly five hours since breakfast, and I, a food-obsessed first grader, was absolutely starving. The pastor's voice droned on and on as every second seemed to slow to a slug's pace. As my stomach rumbled, I glanced at the clock and realized I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the morning worship service if I didn't get my hands on something, anything, to eat.
    Salvation wasn't far away though, for this was a Communion Sunday. At the front of the sanctuary, silver plates stood gleaming proudly, each filled with either broken saltines or small, plastic cups of grape juice. In a few...

on giving myself up

today is the day when i adorn myself / with a red rose pinned to my sweater / so brilliant against the white and black of my dress / today is the day when the communion plates are stacked / so neatly behind me / and i know that i will finally take from them / instead of just passing it along to the usher / today is the day when my peers and i stand before our congregation / and take our vows / a solemn ritual / it’s my first time saying “i do” / i do i do i do i do i do / today is the day when five vows bind me / today is the day when i say i am no longer my own / today is the day when i give myself up

to all the friends who never said goodbye

your memories are scattered around my existence
the tattered corners of a life strewn through my own
i can’t forget all the days we spent together
the blazing hot sun frying the playground until
our hands sizzled at the touch of it
sweat rolling down our backs like we were oceans
and summer was the moon pulling our tides
back and forth back and forth
running inside for lemonade and talking
about all the paintings and the sculptures
we spent long hours making by hand
together
together
together
i thought you said you’d always be there for me
and you still are but in a bad way
i just can’t keep you out of my head
my memories are really just a scrapbook of you

me as the aurora borealis

she is the northern lights in your existence
alighting your sky in pinks and purples and greens
the aurora borealis you call
so beautiful
she is the glistening notes of a symphony of
colors streaking so brightly they hide the stars
the brilliant result of a fiery vortex
a swirl of flares
sent straight from the sun itself
she is your masterpiece in the night sky
a dream come true
a heartbeat drumming in the silence
a light in the darkness of the arctic winter

ursa minor

little bear follows his mother
lumbering through the night
setting his paws in her footprints
watching her stop and
stand at the horizon,
gaze out at the universe
and sigh
remembering that none of it
is hers
soon orion will come by
trampling the milky way
his bow clamped in his hand
he’ll sniff the air and follow
their tracks
but little bear and his mother
must always stay one step ahead
he’ll never quite catch them
but still he wanders after
polaris
forever chasing the gleam of prey
two bears caught up in the sky
major and minor
little bear hears the crunch
of boots behind him
and he quickens his pace

melodies

she is a melody drawn from the froth of the sea
white caps crashing down upon the thirsting shore
below the beat of wings and the constant cries
of seagulls flapping overhead
she is the world written in chords
birdsong and crickets and the music of the night
the slow mournful voice of mother earth
sleepy and sorrowful
caught up in her own dreams whispering to her children
magma and mountains and wanting to be brilliant
like the stars
she is the universe expressed in flutes
and trumpets and drumrolls and baritones
every star is a note
every constellation a measure
every galaxy an instrument in this everchanging melody
and here she is in the middle of it all
stardust wrapped up in a body
somehow part of creation and yet somehow
separate from it

anatomy of a freshman

  1. her feet with chipped toenails painted periwinkle blue / are all her failures / her lost friends and crumpled photographs / her discarded dreams and forgotten loves / she treads on them now / leaves them dusty and dirty and doesn’t care enough to wash them / after walking all these years and dragging them behind her / she’s gotten used to the smell
  2. her legs that she forgets to shave / are her vessels / running the race for her / she trusts them to carry her to the finish line / but some days they buckle and give out from beneath her / and she finds herself on the ground with skinned knees
  3. her intestines are her nemeses / some days they don’t cause trouble / but on others they spring upon her in the middle of the night / stabbing her abdomen with daggers / and no matter how many foods she cuts out of her diet...

Icarus

at midnight, when
no one is watching
except the
pale full moon,
and the street lights
burn bright
beneath her
second story window,
a girl rises from
her bed and builds
a pair of wings from
graded papers,
old photographs, and
discarded memories,
she collects failures
and folds them
into feathers,
takes forgotten dreams
and fashions them
into a wingspan that
stretches
across the bedroom,
she takes flight
and spirals upwards
into the night sky,
lies down among
the stars,
names herself
a constellation,
and searches for
a shred of meaning
beyond this world

Awakening--Part 3

Chapter 4
There is the morning when the hyenas wake her with their cries, only to be silenced, the morning when she knows something is not the same. She cannot see, but she senses another presence. The hyenas erupt in angry growls as someone enters Adder’s lair.

She coughs out a whisper of warning to the newcomer, “Adder… He’ll… He'll kill you… He’s already killed a man today. You need to get out of here.”

And yet he continues towards her. The hyenas scatter at his footsteps, claws scraping erratically on the stone floor. She becomes aware of someone kneeling by her side, removing her chains, placing his hands over her blind eyes. And then, as if he has lifted a blindfold from her face and cast it away, her vision returns.

"I've defeated Adder," he says to her. "You're free from him now. You don’t have to listen to him anymore. It’s time for you to come home, to...

Awakening--Part 2

Chapter 2
She considers herself one of the rats. The dirt lives beneath her fingernails, her hair is greasy and matted, and her eyes are perpetually glazed, runny. They don’t work as well as they used to; she might as well be blind, here in the darkness. Her skin is stretched taut over her rib cage. Around her thin wrists and ankles are heavy chains linked to the wall behind her. She is so close to death. Tomorrow, Adder will send her out again, make her run again only to end up right back where she started.

Adder sits not far off, obscured by the darkness, laughing softly at her. He takes glee in this, seeing her in pain, knowing that her ignorance, her belief that he is still her benefactor, is the only thing that keeps her coming back every day. When she asks him “why” he simply replies that it’s just a trial of her life. He’s going...

So... I had a thought

Recently, I've been working on a new book (Awakening), and I thought that, if there was anyone who was interested, I would share the chapters as I write them. I have included a very short preview to the first chapter, just to see if any of you all would be interested in reading further.

    Adder comes back to her on the day she discovers she doesn’t have enough money to pay her monthly rent. She stands with her back to the shop’s wooden door, bills in hand, biting her nails. Her eyes are bloodshot, her hair is frazzled, and her face is pale. She looks like a ghost against the neat rows of colorful fabrics.
    Ticking menacingly, the clock barely reads eight in the morning. The store is quiet this time of day, with fewer customers coming in to buy silks and linens, so she takes the silence to drown herself in her fears. The papers tremble in...

Rescue

She dances in the shadows of the forest, accompanied by the melodies of rustling leaves and whispering sparrows. She doesn’t dare step into the open fields; she fears the light. Instead, she finds solace in the darkness, a secret haven. Here, she dances free.

The dragon watches her from its cave, smiling grimly. The longer she stays in the dark, the more blind she will become. When she can no longer see and gropes around in the darkness for a shred of hope, the dragon will spring upon her. For her, there can be no escape. It spreads its wings over her little patch of forest, taunting the world, Come, try to rescue her.

It laughs, knowing there are none who can.

And yet, the dragon’s knowledge fails it. There is another who sees her in her pitiful state, knows she dances in the night and fears the morning. He knows the dragon waits for her to fall so it...

ants

to think He knows
each one of their
names,
their moments of
birth and
their moments of
death,
to think He knows
how much fruit
they bring to the
colony, how long
they struggle with
one blade of grass,
their victories
their difficulties
their smiles
their sorrows
and to think
these are just ants

Dance

she used to dance
in the shadows,
hide from the Light,
fear its warmth,
she wished for
darkness
to swallow her
existence, give
her a safe haven
but there is
no safety in the dark.
He came to her then,
sifted through the filth
to find her,
she fled Him,
but He reached for her,
He never let her go,
even when she
tried to hide.
now she dances
for Him, because
He is the
Light in her darkness.

The Unsettling

The clouds gather dark in the April sky,
overshadowing the rooftops and
the fish on the tops of church steeples:
there’s a storm brewing.
The thunderstorm drips with pungent
fury, lightning lilting down from above,
a jagged unsettling tasting of bitter
electricity in the morning. Our hair
stands on end, high above our heads,
as the storm reaches down to stroke
us with its fiery touch and punishing
gaze. The sunlight has vanished; this
time, we don’t look for its return.
The rain pours down in crystalline
sheets, hail falls upon us as daggers,
the rooftops cave in over our heads;
they can’t support this weight.
The cities we’ve built for ourselves
crumble into ruins. Rain drops are
salty with tears, the lightning shatters
hearts and sends us diving into
dimly-lit caverns in search of shelter.
We ask one another: where is the hope?
But gaze across the horizon, and we
see a light breaking through the
darkness; even though...

Sardis

she dwells in Sardis now,
among the sleepers
walking but not knowing,
speaking but not hearing,
the light surrounds her
but she does not see it,
in the midnight
of her sleepy stupor
he comes to her saying
“wake up”
she knows his name but
she does not know him,
ignorance says
“she is alive”
but she is whitewashed,
and death follows her,
nipping at her heels,
she runs
like a scared rabbit
into the darkness and
slumbers there.
careful now, Sardis,
wake up, stay alert,
don’t let your enemies
scale your walls
in the dark of night
when the watchmen sleep.
“wake up”
he says to her
he will come to you,
Sardis, as a thief,
unless you turn.
“wake up”
walk in white, Sardis,
walk in white, don’t
soil your garments,
stay awake and watch,
the time is near.
she is not beyond him,
he still holds the power to
wake her, he tells her,
“wake up” ...

the storm

cry out to the heavens
my tear-stained soul
you are weak
but on your knees
you will find strength
there is one who will listen
to your endless pleading
let faith swallow fear whole
and spit it out upon the shore
the waves are raging
and yet
you need not fear
trust him
who stands upon the water

Longing

i don’t know what to do
with these longings
so deep within my soul
a thirst a hunger
i cannot satisfy
they are like heartbreak
watching the world
crumble
and wondering
how long must i wait
i’m not sure where they
came from
or whether they’re
real at all
all i know is that
i want You here and now
with me
how does one long
for something she’s
never seen
and yet here i am
longing for You

Dialogue

So, as far as I've observed, walking on water usually goes something like this:

me: Yeah, I just don't think this is for me…
YOU: Sure it is.
me: I'm not brave enough.
YOU: You don't have to be.
me: I can't stand.
YOU: So lean on me.
me: I'm sinking.
YOU: Keep your eyes on me.
me: Are you even real?!
YOU: Just trust me.
me: Alright… *takes hand*

And pretty soon we're having our own little dance party on the waves.

You, Me, and Quarantine

this whole thing has been
a weird sort of trust exercise
like we’re standing at
the edge of the cliff
and You’re the one with the
parachute
asking day after day,
“daughter, do you trust me?”
You keep reminding me
You’re in control
You keep daring me
to step off the edge with You
but my fear of the depths
is great
and my faith is so, so small
I shrink away from the edge
but there is no turning back
I can only go forward
there is only me, the edge,
and Your outstretched arms
and so I cling to You
I take the leap of faith
pretty soon I’m standing
on the shore and You’re
already on the waves
calling me out into the storm
because it’s time
to try walking on water

Playwriting Competition 2020

Memory

Cast
MADISON: female, 26 years old
LITTLE BOY: male, 5 or 6 years old
LITTLE GIRL: female, 5 or 6 years old
YOUNG MADISON 1: female, 6 years old, slightly overweight
BULLY: male, 6 years old
2 FRIENDS: male or female, middle school aged
YOUNG MADISON 2: female, 11-13 years old
FALSE FRIEND: female, 11-13 years old
YOUNG MADISON 3: female, 16 years old
BOYFRIEND: male, 17 years old
FLASHBACKS: 13 actors and actresses, should be dressed in flamboyant, bright-colored clothing.

Note: YOUNG MADISON 1, 2, and 3, BULLY, FALSE FRIEND, and BOYFRIEND should be dressed in white, as if they are ghosts.


SCENE 1
It is just another day at the park. The trees are green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. MADISON sits on a park bench, basking in the sunlight, reading a book. LITTLE BOY and LITTLE GIRL play in a sandbox nearby. Their sudden dialogue shatters the peace of the day and silences...

Freefall

I’m standing
at the edge
a million miles
of empty space
before me.
I’m sure You
want me here,
there’s no
turning back.
I’ve trusted You on
solid ground,
and I’ll trust You now.
and so
with a final
“it is well”
I enter freefall,
trusting You to be my
parachute,
trusting You
to bear me up on
eagles wings.

Freefall

I’m standing at the edge
a million miles
of empty space before me.
I’m sure You want me here,
there’s no turning back.
I’ve trusted You on
solid ground,
and I’ll trust You now.
and so with a final
“it is well”
I enter freefall,
trusting You to be my
parachute,
trusting You
to bear me up on
eagles wings.

Footprints

sometimes it feels like
I’m walking all alone
like You’ve gone away and
left me here to roam
this world on my own.
I face trials and temptations,
and when You finally reappear
I ask, “why weren’t You there?”

and You say
“daughter, those footprints
you see in the sand
aren’t yours
they’re mine.”
and then I realize
You were with me all along
carrying me through
the thick and the thin,
holding my hand through
the rain and the wind,
the storm didn’t chase You away,
because You were the one
to silence it with one word.

Footprints

sometimes it feels like
I’m walking all alone
like You’ve gone away and
left me here to roam
this world on my own
and when You finally reappear
I ask, “why weren’t You there?”

and You say
“daughter, those footprints
you see in the sand
aren’t yours
they’re mine.”
and then I realize
You were with me all along
carrying me through
the thick and the thin,
holding my hand through
the rain and the wind,
the storm didn’t chase you away,
because you were the one
to silence it with one word.

The Cemetery

Today I go to the cemetery
to gaze at the crumbling tombstones,
to sit on a marble bench marked
“in memory to”
a name so worn it can
no longer be read.
First there is the chain-link fence,
a metallic barrier between
me
and the sacred souls that
rest in peace,
here,
beneath my feet.
Then there is the path
of red bricks,
stretching from one gate
to the next,
as if reminding me
not to disturb the dead;
they rest in peace.
There are husbands and wives,
daughters and sons.
There is the infant girl
marked 1906-1907,
and there is the little boy,
two years and fours months old.
There is the husband who
outlived his wife by ten years,
and there is the man
who buried his wife and
his one-year-old daughter
and married again.
Here all souls are made equal;
here there are names and years,
nothing more to identify those
who rest now in peace.
I...

Playwriting Competition 2020

Memory

Cast
MADISON: female, 26 years old, looking back on past experiences
LITTLE BOY: male, 5 or 6 years old
LITTLE GIRL: female, 5 or 6 years old
YOUNG MADISON 1: female, 6 years old, slightly overweight
BULLY: male, 6 years old
2 FRIENDS: male or female, middle school aged
YOUNG MADISON 2: female, 11-13 years old
FALSE FRIEND: female, 11-13 years old
YOUNG MADISON 3: female, 16 years old
BOYFRIEND: male, 17 years old
FLASHBACKS: male or female, should be strong enough to perform lifts, preferably good dancers. Should be dressed in flamboyant, bright-colored clothing.

Note: YOUNG MADISON 1, 2, and 3, BULLY, FALSE FRIEND, and BOYFRIEND should be dressed in white, as if they are ghosts.


SCENE 1
It is just another day at the park. The trees are green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. MADISON sits on a park bench, basking in the sunlight, reading a book. LITTLE BOY and LITTLE GIRL play in...

passenger pigeons

text messages don’t suit me.
if we still had passenger pigeons
i would send folded notes on
the backs of winged creatures,
feathers gleaming in golden sunlight as
they'd spiral upwards into a cerulean sky.
i would wait anxiously for a reply,
sit by the window and watch
day and night
for a flurry of feathers,
a letter gripped desperately in my bird’s
silver beak. i would tear open envelopes
marked with handwriting of all designs,
straight and slanted, curled and swirled.
i would recognize these as the rounded
lettering of a friend, and those as the
slanted cursive of a grandmother. i
would send correspondences at dawn
and wait for my pigeon’s return by night.
i would write with ink and a quill pen on
parchment yellowed with age.
i would dream of seeing my loved ones’
faces not covered by homemade masks
in an age when we would no longer limit
our visitations to passing
moments on a...

Playwriting Competition 2020

Memory

Cast
MADISON: female, 26 years old, looking back on past experiences
LITTLE BOY: male, 5 or 6 years old
LITTLE GIRL: female, 5 or 6 years old
YOUNG MADISON 1: female, 6 years old, slightly overweight
BULLY: male, 6 years old
2 FRIENDS: male or female, middle school aged
YOUNG MADISON 2: female, 11-13 years old
FALSE FRIEND: female, 11-13 years old
YOUNG MADISON 3: female, 16 years old
BOYFRIEND: male, 17 years old
FLASHBACKS: male or female, should be strong enough to perform lifts, preferably good dancers. Should be dressed in flamboyant, bright-colored clothing of no particular style.

Note: YOUNG MADISON 1, 2, and 3, BULLY, FALSE FRIEND, and BOYFRIEND should be dressed in white, as if they are ghosts.


SCENE 1
It is just another day at the park. The trees are green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. MADISON sits on a park bench, basking in the sunlight, reading a book. LITTLE BOY and...

beggar

today mother earth comes to our door,
begging for scraps of a future, pennies
to buy herself a gas mask and air conditioning.
“i can’t breathe” she tells us.
“won’t you help me?”
we scoff, tell her that this is no place for her,
tell her to return to her children,
her forests, her mountains, her white sandy beaches

and leave us alone. as we shut the door,
she shakes her head and smiles sadly.
“i would, but there are none left.”
 

Playwriting Competition 2020

Memory

Cast
MADISON: female, 26 years old, looking back on past experiences
LITTLE BOY: male, 5 or 6 years old
LITTLE GIRL: female, 5 or 6 years old
YOUNG MADISON 1: female, 6 years old, slightly overweight
BULLY: male, 6 years old
2 FRIENDS: male or female, middle school aged
YOUNG MADISON 2: female, 11-13 years old
FALSE FRIEND: female, 11-13 years old
YOUNG MADISON 3: female, 16 years old
BOYFRIEND: male, 17 years old
FLASHBACKS: male or female, should be strong enough to perform lifts, preferably good dancers. Should be dressed in flamboyant, bright-colored clothing of no particular style.

Note: YOUNG MADISON 1, 2, and 3, BULLY, FALSE FRIEND, and BOYFRIEND should be dressed in white, as if they are ghosts.


SCENE 1
It is just another day at the park. The trees are green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. MADISON sits on a park bench, basking in the sunlight, reading a book. LITTLE BOY and...

Playwriting Competition 2020

Memory

Cast
MADISON: female, 26 years old, looking back on past experiences
LITTLE BOY: male, 5 or 6 years old
LITTLE GIRL: female, 5 or 6 years old
YOUNG MADISON 1: female, 6 years old, slightly overweight
BULLY: male, 6 years old
2 FRIENDS: male or female, middle school aged
YOUNG MADISON 2: female, 11-13 years old
FALSE FRIEND: female, 11-13 years old
YOUNG MADISON 3: female, 16 years old
BOYFRIEND: male, 17 years old
FLASHBACKS: male or female, should be strong enough to perform lifts, preferably good dancers. Should be dressed in flamboyant, bright-colored clothing of no particular style.


SCENE 1
It is just another day at the park. The trees are green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. MADISON sits on a park bench, basking in the sunlight, reading a book. LITTLE BOY and LITTLE GIRL play in a sandbox nearby. Their sudden dialogue shatters the peace of the day and silences the birds as MADISON...

on eating donuts for breakfast this morning

this morning my mother came home
from market place
and told us that they
were almost all out of
bread and milk and chicken breasts
and we asked her
“why”
and she said there was a shortage
all over the country
of animal products
“the industries are breaking down”
she said
“but i bought donuts”
so we sat
eating our donuts
mine with sprinkles
and my siblings’ with cream
and i thought
“i think i’m lactose intolerant
a milk shortage won’t affect me”
but i was wrong
everything affects me now
i cannot escape this gentle
breaking down
of everything i once thought i knew

beggar

today mother earth comes to our door,
begging for scraps of a future, pennies
to buy herself a gas mask and air conditioning.
“i can’t breathe” she tells us.
“won’t you help me?”
we scoff, tell her that this is no place for her,
tell her to return to her children, her forests,
and leave us alone. as we shut the door,
she shakes her head and smiles sadly.
“i would, but there are none left.”
 

Sunrise: Chapters 7, 8, and 9

Chapter 7
    The village people stared at the sky. They were absolutely flabbergasted, including Makuahine, and she was the only person who knew what was going on.
    They had been staring at the sky for over an hour, and the sun was starting to rise. Hewa would be coming soon, and the entire village knew it.
    “What’s that awful noise I hear? Perhaps the sound of a thousand demons filling the sky?” someone who sounded very tired and annoyed asked. Makuahine soon realized it was the midwife, and her heart filled with anger and disgust. That evil woman had tried to kill her child, and now she was simply waiting for the demons to exterminate the entire family.
Makuahine looked around and realized that the other village people were starting to crowd around around her and Palekana. They all seemed rather solemn as they stared at little Koa, and they gave her and Palekana a grave nod...

Names, Names, Names

Titles

A breakfast joint: Lucy's Bagels and Breakfast
A new smartphone: Capisce
An eyeglasses store: Lenses
A dog pound: Wags and Tags
A highway: Midline
An island resort: Cerulean Wave
A new constellation: The Quadruplets
A pet polar bear: Birch
A nail polish color: Tigress
A new butterfly species: Priest Butterfly

passenger pigeons

text messages don’t suit me.
if we still had passenger pigeons
i would send folded notes on
the backs of winged creatures,
feathers gleaming in golden sunlight as
they'd spiral upwards into a cerulean sky.
i would wait anxiously for a reply,
sit by the window and watch
day and night
for a flurry of feathers,
a letter gripped desperately in my bird’s
silver beak. i would tear open envelopes
marked with handwriting of all designs,
straight and slanted, curled and swirled.
i would recognize these as the rounded
lettering of a friend, and those as the
slanted cursive of a grandmother. i
would send correspondences at dawn
and wait for my pigeon’s return by night.
i would write with ink and a quill pen on
parchment yellowed with age.
i would dream of seeing my loved ones’
faces not covered by homemade masks
in an age when we would no longer limit
our visitations to passing
moments on a...

passenger pigeons

text messages don’t suit me.
if we still had passenger pigeons
i would send folded notes on
the backs of winged creatures,
feathers gleaming in golden sunlight as
they spiral upwards into a cerulean sky.
i would wait anxiously for a reply,
sit by the window and watch
day and night
for a flurry of feathers,
a letter gripped desperately in my bird’s
silver beak. i would tear open envelopes
marked with handwriting of all designs,
straight and slanted, curled and swirled.
i would recognize these as the rounded
lettering of a friend, and those as the
slanted cursive of a grandmother. i
would send correspondences at dawn
and wait for my pigeon’s return by night.
i would write with ink and a quill pen on
parchment yellowed with age.
i would dream of seeing my loved ones’
faces not covered by homemade masks
in an age when we would no longer limit
our visitations to passing
moments on a...

Honeybees

It’s 7AM, and there is a bee hovering at my window, striped black and yellow, fuzzy. If it weren’t for the screen, I would reach out and touch her. But after several minutes of watching her headbutt the window in pursuit of some hidden treasure, I decide she must be blind and totally imperceptive of pheromones. After all, there are flowers right below her on the windowsill, but she doesn’t seem to notice them.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she does see the flowers, lined up in neat rows of pastel yellows, but chooses not to react to them. Maybe she searches for something of more importance to her, something only my bedroom can offer.

Finally, exhausted and despairing, she gives up, hovers at the window for a moment without fluttering her translucent wings, and sinks downward, landing in a crumpled heap among the flowers. When I run outside, I know she is already dead. The sun reflects itself in...

Athena

The schedule goes as follows: alarm at seven, breakfast at eight, virtual jobsite at nine, chores at ten, lunch at twelve, on and on, until finally replacing the human’s sleeping cap at nine in the evening. The schedule is simple enough.

In the ten hours while the human sleeps, she watches him. He tosses and turns in the bed, afflicted by some strange conflict she can never understand. Sometimes, she wonders what it is like to dream. She knows that dreams are an act of the subconscious, occurring only during sleep, but she does not know how it must feel to be falling endlessly through a bottomless pit.

She curls her metal fingers around one another, examining the colored wires that protrude from beneath her joints. They’ve given up on making the Athenas look human; non-humans that look human only add to the confusion as to what is alive and what is inanimate and what is dead. The silver skin...

Writing Streak Week 4, Day 1

The crunch of homemade blondies, baked just yesterday, crisp on the outside but soft on the inside.

origins

i begin not with the
remnants of a dying star
but with the almighty
hand of an undeniable
Creator
who spins light from darkness
and sets the stars
in their celestial courses,
and even
as He divides the land from the sea
and breathes life into every creature,
He knows my name;
He has already set me apart
for Himself, has set a plan in motion
to rescue me from my own sin,
has called me His own,
has set me on a path that will lead me
straight into His arms

things i do not fear

i do not fear the darkness; i fear the pain that
may come if an unseen hand reaches out of
the dark while i sleep, but i do not fear the
darkness, for my Lord is light, and He has
vanquished those who reside in the dark
of night, and so i do not fear them.

i do not fear the depths of the sea; i fear the pain
of drowning, of sinking to a watery grave, of
fighting to stay above the surface but
i do not fear the depths of the sea, for even
they, so vast, so great, cannot separate me
from the love of my Savior.

i do not fear loneliness; i fear the pain of
fresh heartache, but i know even if i never have
another human companion, i can never be
lonely, not now. my Father is always with me,
and He will always love me, no matter
what happens, and nothing can separate...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2020

The Victim

your forests are my second homeland. I spend
long weekends walking along twisting trails,
waking to clear mornings dripping with dew,
finding striped salamanders between boulders.
when it rains it pours
down my sweaty face, an all-natural cleansing.
the rushing rivers feel like forgiveness. I dream
of spending months in your embrace, wandering
among the spindly trees and ridges sculpted into
thin peaks and spires that rise into the clouds.
I’ll walk to the melodic beat of your heart,
a symphony composed within the wilderness,
birdsong and whistling wind and rustling branches.
some days I imagine that your forests are on
fire and burn to ash, a black scar along your
fair face, and I shudder, but soon remember that
the woods are still green and growing, remaining
my secret haven. but I am so selfish. when I return
home I drink from plastic water bottles that
poison your bloodstream and when I turn sixteen
I’ll drive a car that...

things i do not fear

i do not fear the darkness; i fear the pain that
may come if an unseen hand reaches out of
the dark while i sleep, but i do not fear the
darkness, for my Lord is light, and He has
vanquished those who reside in the dark
of night, and so i do not fear them.

i do not fear the depths of the sea; i fear the pain
of drowning, of sinking to a watery grave, of
fighting to stay above the surface but
i do not fear the depths of the sea, for even
they, so vast, so great, cannot separate me
from the love of my Savior.

i do not fear loneliness; i fear the pain of
fresh heartache, but i know even if i never have
another human companion, i can never be
lonely, not now. my Father is always with me,
and He will always love me, no matter
what happens, and nothing can separate...

Writing Streak Week 3, Day 5

Overwhelmed by my precious Savior's love.

The Fig Tree

    The fig tree came from my church’s first plant swap last summer. A fellow member brought a row of cuttings from his own tree, laid them out along the brick patio for the other attendees to see. I loved trees, especially fruit trees, and these fig cuttings intrigued me. I dreamed of a large, potted tree, heavy-laden with fresh fruit. It wasn’t long before I convinced my mother to let me bring one home.
    When Phillip approaches Nathanael, he says that he has found the man of whom all prophets spoke, a man from Nazareth. Nathanael, relaxing in the shade of a fig tree, asks if anything good can come from Nazareth, and Phillip replies that he must come and see for himself. When Nathanael follows Phillip to see this man, the man recognizes him. Although Nathanael is certain he has never met the man of whom Phillip speaks, this man already knows Nathanael, for Jesus saw...

Writing Streak Week 3, Day 4

song sparrows sing beyond my windows

Sunrise: Chapters 4, 5, and 6

HOLA! So for any of you who didn't read chapters 1 through 3, you can find them in my published writing.

Chapter 4
Now one must travel out of the depths of the Underworld and into the highest reaches of the sky. Moments after Makuahine uttered her prayer to the fallen Light Mother, Mahina, the daughter of sunshine, began to strain against her chains. She was in her human form, and very weak. Words of anguish filled her mind. Hate. Suffering. Night. Slave. Darkness.

A cruel laugh echoed across her dark cell. Hewa. Darkness’s head general was there, shrouded by the curtains of blackness. Mahina knew she needed to be able to see the demon, so she summoned all emotion so she might light up the room. She failed. She felt only sorrow. Sorrow so empty that it only filled her soul with deep agony, and she grieved silently for her mother and brother, who were thrown to the ends...

Writing Streak Week 3, Day 3

The sun is coming up soon.

Sunrise: Chapters 1, 2, and 3

This is a novel I finished a few years ago (so beware), and, since I think it's at least somewhat okay (er, you sure about that, self?), I figured I'd share it for any of you in need of some entertainment... The chapters are all very short, so don't worry about it being long or anything. I'll try to publish new sections every so often.

Prologue
She will rise from the island place,
On wings of silver she will race,
To save her people, the Whatunai,
The one born of Earth and Sky.
Thus I curse you, sister of mine,
For in your final span of time,
You, Darkness, will be defeated by,
The one to avenge me, the dragon’s eye!

Chapter 1
The dragon’s eye was once a great gift, before the fall of Light. It was easy to tell when a child was born with the dragon’s eye because one of their eyes was a different color than...

little things i thank God for

once i walked beneath a blooming tree,
branches draped around me like a wedding
veil, blossoming flowers kissing my face
with sleek white petals. the sun dripped
with gold as thunderstorms rolled in
from the west, and God placed a rainbow
between two clouds, alighting my face
with rays of silken color. when the storm
darted beyond the horizon, leaving nothing
but a trace of buzzing electricity, the stars
shimmered in a dark sky, silver diamonds
burning with fiery ferocity, gleaming far
beyond the touch of mortal man. and to think
God created all this with a word, a whisper
into the void, and then, with mercy in his
eyes, came and died for this poor repulsive
sinner. God spun the stars from nothing
and cared enough to breathe life into
mere humanity's lungs, to give us each a
purpose in this vast and beautiful universe.

Writing Streak Week 3, Day 2

An older couple, wearing cloth masks.

Writing Streak Week 3, Day 1

I watch raindrops drip from inside

The Tales Told by China

    There are countless stories locked within your mother’s dark china cupboard. Behind its doors are memories, carefully kept, even after years and generations have passed, swallowed up by time.
    When you open the cupboard to find your mother’s deviled egg plate for the Easter celebration, a myriad of dishes clamor for your attention, each with its own tale to tell. You are overwhelmed by the bright, intricate patterns making every piece a precious jewel, handcrafted through hours of hard work.
    In the back, long forgotten and hidden from view, is the silver platter on which your grandmother served Easter ham, Thanksgiving turkey, and Christmas goose, all those years ago. For a moment, you remember candle-lit rooms filled with laughter, gifts piled under a bright evergreen and adorned with colorful ribbons and bows, and, of course, the goose, crispy and brown, waiting to be drenched in the homemade gravy your grandfather boasted as the best in the whole...

On Loneliness

sometimes I hold parties
with the stars, dress
in a silver ballgown adorned 
with a hundred diamonds, 
fabric falling to my ankles
and rippling outwards, 
a sea of glimmering crystals
and glass. canis major is 
my companion, orion and cassiopeia 
accompany me in my celestial
dance, tiptoeing across 
black skies on friday nights
in our solitary ballet. 
we are elegance incarnate, immortal 
beings gifted with the sky
as our stage, an expanse 
of glorious emptiness
to be filled with our dancing.
I take constellations
and lace them through
my braided hair until
I am dripping with starlight.
someday I’m sure
there will be a star named for me,
and I’ll dance forever in the dreams
of children just like me,
who whisper secrets to the stars because
only the stars will listen.

The Wedding Dress

It was the wedding dress that finally made her cry. The wedding dress, with an off-shoulder neckline, delicate lace frills, and white gemstones. It was remarkable how my mother managed to go through the entire funeral without shedding a tear, only to come home to the wedding dress and collapse to the floor with heart-wrenching sobs. The wedding dress, never worn.

I considered leaving the bedroom to grab a box of tissues, but I stood uncertainly in the doorway, too paralyzed by shock to move.

My mother sniffed, “The driver was drunk.”

The police told us no more than an hour after it happened. We sat in the living room, a circle of statues, piecing the scenario together. A dark road, my sister in her convertible with the top down, hair flying softly as the car meandered through the countryside, the land exhaling in a gentle breeze. And then the peace shattered, a black pickup truck slamming into my sister’s...

Walking Along a Dirt Road in Midsummer

The heat rises from the road in ripples, contorting my vision as if I’ve opened my eyes underwater. Sweat seeps out of my pores, rolling off my nose and getting into my eyes; my eyes ache from staring at the road for so long. Pain stabs at my feet every time I take a step. It’s been so long since I rested, and a little rest for an hour would be nice. Yes, I think I’ll lay down for a while, right here on the side of the road. No one’s driven by in so long anyway.

Thorny bushes provide the only shade on either side. They sure aren’t comfortable, but it’s better than walking, and I’ve walked for so long I can’t see straight anymore. My water is almost gone, but a few drops linger at the bottom of the bottle. I tip my head back and let the water drip into my open mouth. It’s been so long...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2020

The Victim

your forests are my second homeland. I spend
long weekends walking along twisting trails,
waking to clear mornings dripping with dew,
finding striped salamanders between boulders.
when it rains it pours
down my sweaty face, an all-natural cleansing.
the rushing rivers feel like forgiveness. I dream
of spending months in your embrace, wandering
among the spindly trees and ridges sculpted into
thin peaks and spires that rise into the clouds.
I’ll walk to the melodic beat of your heart,
a symphony composed within the wilderness,
birdsong and whistling wind and rustling branches.
some days I imagine that your forests are on
fire and burn to ash, a black scar along your
fair face, and I shudder, but soon remember that
the woods are still green and growing, remaining
my secret haven. but I am so selfish. when I return
home I drink from plastic water bottles that
poison your bloodstream and when I turn sixteen
I’ll drive a car that...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2020

The Victim

your forests are my second homeland. I spend
long weekends walking along twisting trails,
waking to clear mornings dripping with dew,
finding striped salamanders between boulders.
when it rains it pours
down my sweaty face, an all-natural cleansing.
the rushing rivers feel like forgiveness. I dream
of spending months in your embrace, wandering
among the spindly trees and ridges sculpted into
thin peaks and spires that rise into the clouds.
I’ll walk to the melodic beat of your heart,
a symphony composed within the wilderness,
birdsong and whistling wind and rustling branches.
some days I imagine that your forests are on
fire and burn to ash, a black scar along your
fair face, and I shudder, but soon remember that
the woods are still green and growing, remaining
my secret haven. but I am so selfish. when I return
home I drink from plastic water bottles that
poison your bloodstream and when I turn sixteen
I’ll drive a car that...

Social Forecast

Host: A young lady who looks remarkably like me. Her name is Jane, though, so she can’t be me. And she’s prettier too.
Forecaster: A guy who looks like the kind of person I would date, if I had enough of a social life to actually get a date… Oh well. Anyway, his name is Robert Davis.

SCENE 1: The scene is set at a typical news station. HOST is seated with an enormous smile on her face. A soundcheck crew makes sure she’s ready to go, then leaves the stage.

HOST: Good evening, and welcome to Full Body News. I’m Jane Doe, your host. We will now hear from our renowned social forecaster, Robert Davis, on what you can expect socially in the coming days.

(Scene switches to FORECASTER. Behind him is a greenscreen showing a human body diagram, which he gestures to as he explains the forecast. The greenscreen should change with his lines.)

FORECASTER: Thanks, Jane. Due...

Me, the hypocrite

So, it has recently come to my attention that, although I continually ask for reviews on my own writing, I never actually review anyone else's writing. (This is not entirely true: I have reviewed to pieces since I first joined WtW this past fall, but given the number of pieces I have asked for reviews on, this is not nearly enough.) So, haha, needless to say, this is hypocrisy, and I figured that I would do a favor for you all who want reviews... Please, if you have a piece in need of a review, comment below and let me know, because, seriously, I'm getting REALLY bored in quarantine and actually need something to do with my life.

Backcountry Summers

one night my dad and I were hiking in the backcountry
and maybe we were so thirsty that we started seeing things
flitting through the darkness but I swear
we saw an elf dancing in the moonlight and she was
beautiful and we stood on the trail, our headlamp
beams dancing to the beat of her footsteps, her
hair swooshing through the crisp night air like she was
a bird and this was the sky and she had the wind under
her wings and could fly as high or as low
as she wanted and it was dreadfully freaky and we
couldn’t move and just had to stare at her her hair
was so gold and she was beautiful in the moonlight

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2020

The Victim

your forests are my second homeland. I spend
long weekends walking along twisting trails,
waking to clear mornings dripping with dew,
finding striped salamanders between boulders.
when it rains it pours
down my sweaty face, an all-natural cleansing.
the rushing rivers feel like forgiveness. I dream
of spending months in your embrace, wandering
among the spindly trees and ridges sculpted into
thin peaks and spires that rise into the clouds.
I’ll walk to the melodic beat of your heart,
a symphony composed within the wilderness.
some days I imagine that your forests are on
fire and burn to ash, a black scar along your
fair face, and I shudder, but soon remember that
the woods are still green and growing, remaining
my secret haven. I am so selfish. when I return
home I drink from plastic water bottles that
poison your bloodstream and when I turn sixteen
I’ll drive a car that runs on gasoline, pouring CO₂
into your lungs...

Call Me Nomad (a teaser for a recent novel)

    The sun is just starting to rise, alighting the clouds with pastel shades of pink and purple, when my mother takes me by the hand and pulls me into her bedroom. Clasping my hands to her chest, her honey eyes watering, she smiles at me, “You ready?”
    I nod. She turns and unlocks the wooden cabinet behind her, not releasing my hands. The door swings open slowly, revealing my mother’s orange gown, which she wore on this very day not twenty years ago.
    “Here,” she says, taking the dress off its hanger and holding it out to me, “Try it.” I can only stare at myself in the mirror as she helps me into it. The skirt, which fades into a pretty pink, falls to my ankles, and the illusion neckline sparkles with gemstones. Never have I worn something so beautiful, or so valuable.
    As my mother ties the silk sash around my waist, I hear her...

dawn's embrace

from the deepest dark comes the greatest light,
a pink sunrise drowns the frozen world warmth,
transforming sky from black to cotton candy blue,
a symphony of birdsongs, morning’s sweet kiss
to draw apart my lagging eyelids, leave dreams
dancing in distant memory like old friends,
midnight thunderstorms must subside and yield
to our sun’s piercing rays, bending over the horizon
as a mother sweeps down to take her crying
child in her arms. midnight has so long plagued
mother earth’s fair face, now the sun returns to
her, banishes his foe, darkness, to distant lands,
for from midnight must come the morning.

Quarantine Dreams

in my dreams I go swimming alone in a lake of
strawberry jelly, even though I’m no swimmer
the lake is as easy to navigate as any pool of
water, diving to the bottom and coming back up,
emerging coated in hot pink, licking the stickiness
from fingers that don’t wrinkle, hair dripping

with goo, and suddenly the lake isn’t a lake
anymore and I’m spreading strawberry jelly
on a peanut butter sandwich only the sandwich
is for a friend and not me, we sit at the table
talking and laughing “remember when we could
visit each other freely?” and then she’s gone,

and I’m alone again, only to arrive at a McDonalds
a few seconds later, sipping a strawberry milkshake,
and there’s a man shouting “Holy guacamole!”
only his voice is muffled by a homemade cloth
mask and there is now a mask between me and
my milkshake and it splatters on my shirt and I can’t

drink anymore...

Old Faces

don’t walk on ice, my mother says, not even
the thick ice, for the faces of old inhabit the water
beneath the surface, and if you must walk
across a frozen pond don’t look down or they’ll
come up to meet you. they’ll press their hands
to the ice and shatter it like glass, you’ll
sink into the depths, feel their cold kiss on your cheek,
and join them in their frozen reality,
free from time but a prisoner of this world,
and when the time comes you’ll burn with it.

Pizza on Main Street

we go to pizza city for pizza but
at the last minute you decide you
don’t want pizza and order a
calzone instead. we sit in the back,
lounging in a torn-up booth, sipping
our sodas, I with ginger ale and you
with coke. “how do my nails look?”
you ask “are they pretty?” flashing
blue with pink and purple sparkles. I
don’t really like blue but I tell you
“they look great”
just to make you happy. you smile
your beautiful smile and say
“I’m going out with Andrew tonight,
do you think he’ll like them?” I
don’t think Andrew likes blue either but I
tell you he’ll love it because I know
that’s all that matters to you now,
boys and nail polish and mascara.
when we leave pizza city and walk
down main street towards
your house I wonder if things will
ever be like they used to be,
when we were each other’s nail
designers and...

Mother's Kitchen

my sister returns to mother’s house a week
after the dog’s death,
the dog who accompanied us to the bus stop
every morning and then returned home
to wait for us by the door.
the dog, whose body still lies in the kitchen when my sister
arrives from her apartment in Chicago.
“it’s so good to be back in the countryside”
she says. mother nods and asks
“you want anything to eat?”
sister says no. she calls me up later and tells
me that the dog is still in the kitchen
rotting and starting to turn green, “how can anyone
eat in there? the stink
makes me want to vomit.” she tells me
mother is different now.
the house is quieter without papa around,
one can hear the grass growing. mother keeps plants,
so many plants in the windows. sister
convinces me there is a jungle in the house
now, not a ray of sunlight reaches the floor she says. ...

Rural Towns in Springtime

in early March the dragons migrate up from
Mexico and lounge in the gardens, snacking on
rabbits and beetles and snorting fire at the
houses as some funny sort of game. the poachers
follow; we see so many hunters and poachers in
early April that most of the rooms in the hotel
are filled with stacks of guns and dragon scales.
at the end of the season, hunting parties ship
boatloads of scales in eighteen-wheelers,
making an unlawful amount of money from
buyers who are willing to pay top dollar
for dragon skin placemats. by the time the
dragons continue north to Canada, they’ll have
lost several hundred of their company, but
that does nothing to deter them from making
the annual journey from South to North
and back, since there are a few million of
them anyway, and they don’t fear humanity.

once the poachers have loaded up all their
moolah and cargo and finally leave town,
the elves...

The Dissident

I would really appreciate it if someone read and reviewed/commented on this piece. Enjoy!
Your cheek presses against the cell’s stone floor, the damp chill seeping under your skin. Droplets of water plink from the ceiling, ricocheting off your temple. The cell smells of mold and mildew, and the air tastes foul. Somewhere not far away, another prisoner coughs.
You think you hear wolves howl somewhere above you, but you can’t be sure. Maybe it is only the moans of the other prisoners. You’ve been here for weeks, or perhaps it was only days, or hours, or minutes, or seconds.
The blindfold scratches your face. You reach up to adjust it, only to remember your shackles as they pull angrily on your wrists. Your skin, tender and bloody, screams in agony.
The other prisoner coughs again. 
You hear the ominous approach of clicking heels. The cell door, creaking on its hinges, swings open before slamming into the wall with a...

The Dissident

The Dissident
Your cheek presses against the cell’s stone floor, the damp chill seeping under your skin. Droplets of water plink from the ceiling, ricocheting off your temple. The cell smells of mold and mildew, and the air tastes foul. Somewhere not far away, another prisoner coughs.
You think you hear wolves howl somewhere above you, but you can’t be sure. Maybe it is only the moans of the other prisoners. You’ve been here for weeks, or perhaps it was only days, or hours, or minutes, or seconds.
The blindfold scratches your face. You reach up to adjust it, only to remember your shackles as they pull angrily on your wrists. Your skin, tender and bloody, screams in agony.
The other prisoner coughs again. 
You hear the ominous approach of clicking heels. The cell door, creaking on its hinges, swings open before slamming into the wall with a loud clang.
Out of the darkness, a voice, “The one who coughs....

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind. Their song leaves a smile on my face.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
    I slide the...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind. Their song leaves a smile on my face.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
    I slide the...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
    I slide the feather into my jacket pocket. When I head...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
    I slide the feather into my jacket pocket. When I head...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
    I slide the feather into my jacket pocket. When I head...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

Whispers in the Wind

Chapter 1
    There’s a bluebird in the maple tree. It’s a male, with a beautiful, rusty breast and wings the color of sapphires. He is joined by his mate, the female he’s been with since spring. Their two broods aren’t far away; from my red lawn chair, I hear them chirping, their sweet voices carried by the wind.
    I lower my binoculars gently, allowing them to rest against my olive-green jacket while I jot Bluebird, 2 in my miniature, spiral-bound notebook. As I’m writing, an unexpected feather floats down from above, landing on the crinkled pages. I take it in my hands and study it carefully, knowing that, by some strange miracle, this feather is meant for me. It is too perfect, the barbs wonderfully intertwined, the feather smooth to the touch. The beautiful biology of a bird’s spectacular feathers, of flight itself, is no small wonder.
I slide the feather into my jacket pocket. When I head...

Doorways

In the Cradle of the Trees

    We get up, shivering in the cool of the forest, and start to tear down our camp before the sun rises. Often, it is the birds that wake us, their high-pitched, chirruping songs ending the trees' silent slumber; they celebrate the coming of the dawn.
    By the time the sun begins to peek through the shadow of the woods, I am boiling water for breakfast. I always face East while preparing our food, positioned on a high place, watching as morning light illuminates every living creature and each inanimate object. It is only at sunrise, when the light bleeds into the dark, that one can see the true beauty of the forest.
    We eat as much as we can spare for this meal, knowing we will need the calories for the coming day. I dine upon oatmeal and PopTarts, sipping hot chocolate, a pleasant luxury on cold mornings. Dad has grits; I've never eaten...

Human Connections Essay Competition 2019

Drift

    Our last conversation was an email. I remember it clearly--I relaxed in my bed, enjoying my first Tuesday of summer vacation, looking forward to Wednesday's trip to New York City. Seemingly, judging by my expression and generally upbeat attitude, everything was fine.
    When I consider the human race, I see an infinite ocean, on which all of us are floating, drifting on wooden rafts. We, all of us, are tied by ropes, some long, some short, some thick, some thin. We are all connected.
    But nothing was fine. She hadn't been replying to my emails, and her behavior worried me to no end. With each passing moment, pangs of doubt struck my heart like clockwork, like perfectly-timed contractions during labor, the minute hand, moving ever-closer to midnight, sending earthquakes up my spine. There was reason for my worry. For the last several months or so, our friendship had been shaky, almost as if we...

Doorways

In the Cradle of the Trees

    We get up, shivering in the cool of the forest, and start to tear down our camp before the sun rises. Often, it is the birds that wake us, their high-pitched, chirruping songs ending the trees' silent slumber; they celebrate the coming of the dawn.
    By the time the sun begins to peek through the shadow of the woods, I am boiling water for breakfast. I always face East while preparing our food, positioned on a high place, watching as morning light illuminates every living creature and each inanimate object. It is only at sunrise, when the light blends with the dark, that one can see the true beauty of the forest.
    We eat as much as we can spare; we will need the calories for the coming day. I dine upon oatmeal and PopTarts, sipping hot chocolate, a pleasant luxury on cold mornings. Dad has grits; I've never eaten them out here, not...

Human Connections Essay Competition 2019

Drift

    Our last conversation was an email. I remember it clearly--I relaxed in my bed, enjoying my first Tuesday of summer vacation, looking forward to Wednesday's trip to New York City. Seemingly, judging by my expression and generally upbeat attitude, everything was fine.
    When I consider the human race, I see an infinite ocean, on which all of us are floating, drifting on wooden rafts. We, all of us, are tied by ropes, some long, some short, some thick, some thin. We are all connected.
    But nothing was fine. She hadn't been replying to my emails, and her behavior worried me to no end. With each passing moment, pangs of doubt struck my heart like clockwork, like perfectly-timed contractions during labor, the minute hand, moving ever-closer to midnight, sending earthquakes up my spine. There was reason for my worry. For the last several months or so, our friendship had been shaky, almost as if we...

Doorways

In the Cradle of the Trees

    We get up, shivering in the cool of the forest, and start to tear down our camp before the sun rises. Often, it is the birds that wake us, their high-pitched, chirruping songs ending the trees' silent slumber; they celebrate the coming of the dawn.
    By the time the sun begins to peek through the shadow of the woods, I am boiling water for breakfast. I always face East while preparing our food, positioned on a high place, watching as morning light illuminates every living creature and each inanimate object. It is only at sunrise, when the light blends with the dark, that one can see the true beauty of the forest.
    We eat as much as we can spare; we will need the calories for the coming day. I dine upon oatmeal and PopTarts, sipping hot chocolate, a pleasant luxury on cold mornings. Dad has grits; I've never eaten them out here, not...

Doorways

In the Cradle of the Trees

    We get up, shivering in the cool of the forest, and start to tear down our camp before the sun rises. Often, it is the birds that wake us, their high-pitched songs ending the trees' silent slumber; they celebrate the coming of the dawn.
    By the time the sun begins to peek through the shadow of the woods, I am boiling water for breakfast. I always face East while preparing our food, positioned on a high place, watching as morning light illuminates every living creature and each inanimate object. It is only at sunrise, when the light blends with the dark, that one can see the true beauty of the forest.
    We eat as much as we can spare; we will need the calories for the coming day. I dine upon oatmeal and PopTarts, sipping hot chocolate, a pleasant luxury on cold mornings. Dad has grits; I've never eaten them out here, not once....

Human Connections Essay Competition 2019

Drift

    Our last conversation was an email. I remember it clearly--I relaxed in my bed, enjoying my first Tuesday of summer vacation, looking forward to Wednesday's trip to New York City. Seemingly, judging by my expression and generally upbeat attitude, everything was fine.
    When I consider the human race, I see an infinite ocean, on which all of us are floating, drifting on wooden rafts. We, all of us, are tied by ropes, some long, some short, some thick, some thin. We are all connected.
    But nothing was fine. She hadn't been replying to my emails, and her behavior worried me to no end. With each passing moment, pangs of doubt struck my heart like clockwork, like perfectly-timed contractions during labor, the minute hand sending earthquakes up my spine. There was reason for my worry. For the last several months or so, our friendship had been shaky, almost as if we were both teetering on...

Universal Knowledge

Eyes

You can see it in their eyes--the whispers of sorrow, the dreams of hope, the scars of pain, the melodies of love, the language of life.