Zinnia123

United States

I'm 17, interested in linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, theology, and history.

she/ her | Bi | Agnostic | Useless Intellectual | WA |

I don't necessarily agree with my own assertions.

Message from Writer

Listening to: Bell and Sebastian, Kings of Convenience, Jose Gonzales, Simon and Garfunkel, The Gentle Good

Reading: Albert Camus, Italo Calino, Lawernce Durell, Annie Dillard, Garcia Lorca, Hafiz, Ocean Vuong , Patrick Rothfuss

Watching: Derry Girls, Madam Secretary, The Durells in Corfu, Shitt's Creek

If you would like a review, just ask!

I am always looking for good new books to read. Suggestions are welcome!

I have been re-publishing pieces quite a lot recently and I was wondering if anyone finds that annoying? Because I can stop.

Please, please, feel free to start up a conversation or debate in the comment section of any of my pieces. There is nothing I like more than intellectual discussion.

Published Work

Forget-Me-Nots

The cold is beloved.

Tense with joy and muscle cramps, I wait on the frosty grass for your smile. I think it’s worth writing love letters, because one day we will burn them. You are nothing like a star. We’ll need all the heat we can get. 

I want to worship you. Quixotically, embalming our notion of tomorrow with frankincense, gold and myrrh.  Tell me that you are beautiful. It’s all I need to hear. Repeat yourself, re-trace your lines until you are a Michelangelo-made goddess. 

The sunlight, slanted, precious, tells me we are waiting for something. Are we waiting to become whole, waiting for our nascent devotion to stop wriggling? I used to pick forget-me-nots. I collected little blue blossoms, weaving flower language into my hair. I wish my lips were still soil-stained. I wish I knew which words smelled alive.

Winter Light

My winter light is as sharp as a young lover’s fingernails. We are born from a terrible brightness, fresh and shaking, sun-swallowed and full of pastel breath.

Dear one, courageous face of God, tell me your little secrets, polish your fingernails until they shine.

Underneath the Textured Night

Fingers digging into corduroy, scratching fabric. Counting is not enough, I follow my sheep once I fall asleep. All my infinitives are split. 

To really go to the moon. 
To know the moon is real. 

The sun rises each morning to the forced rhythm of a fifties doo-wop song. 

I am afraid inside every daffodil is a star.
I am afraid life is not but a dream.
I am afraid to wake up. 
I am afraid.

The Blue Hour

It’s the blue hour. I’m listening to choral music. Balanced and rising, it feels perfectly natural to believe in beauty. I pull my covers over my head, desperate to find that obvious wonder inside my own breath.

The cave smells like sweat, lingering dreams, and fighting-warmth. Because it’s Saturday, I know I can lie here until everything precious fades away and my heart is as light as the sky. 

Pink and Red

Your lips are pink. I can’t tell if it’s lipstick or love. 
I am frowning, halted, playing hopscotch with my breath, 

                                          but you are swathed in that pink dress, 
                                          as guileless as the summer I tried to paint as stifling.  

To falter is to wait to be sophisticated, 
           
                                           to wait until a pink heart turns red.  
 

Here Comes the Sun

Mina Shi sold seafood from all over the galaxy. The price depended on the distance an item had traveled and its availability. Mina specialized in the exotic, but she sold everything from the small purple barnacles found on every shore of Ee-ha, to rare earthen Tuna. She rose early each evening to unload her wares, carefully positioning her more flashy specimens so their scales or shells reflected the bright white light of Ee-ha’s extraordinary moon.  

As she waited for the market to fill up, the silent heat of twilight would dissipate and the desert flowers would unfurl, soaking up the moonlight. The evening was slow, but as the ground cooled, her customers would arrive in droves, crowding the market with their bright clothes and rhythmic, breathy voices.  

After deciding to start her import business on the newly booming planet of Ee-ha, Mina had done extensive market research to figure out what would sell best. She had settled on seafood because...

The Origen of Lament

I destroy the sanctity of ritual like a Christian apologist. 

No matter how hard I try to be beautiful 
I end up equating the romantic with the infinite
and decomposed roses lose all their potency. 

Why must I ask Sophia to justify Herself, 
when She, in Her dancing perfection, embodies wisdom?

Rebellion

Common sense wavers in the moonlight. 

The derelict structure of human heartbeats,
denotes only the space between our sighs. 

Our tower of precious moments teetering,  
we revolt against the stars. 

There is a round pond in the woods near my house. In the summer it's full of ducks; In the winter, emptiness. During the dark hours it's filled by neither ducks nor emptiness. When shivering with midnight audacity I peer into the faceless water, I am looking for nothing more than Avalon. 

Paper Burns Nicely

It’s evening, a woman in her mid thirties (Rachel) sits in a closed cafe, sighing over a coffee table piled with unpaid bills. On the wall next to the table is an electronic fireplace. 

ELIZABETH 
(Off stage)  Open up, Damn it! I am in desperate need of something bitter!

Rachel creeps to the door. Outside, standing in the rain, is a college-aged girl dressed in nothing but a silk slip.

ELIZABETH
Are you the proprietor of this fine establishment?

Rachel nods slowly. 

ELIZABETH 
Then let me in for God’s sake! (Rachel opens the door. Elizabeth stumbles inside) Coffee. Coffee, please! (Rachel pours her a mug) Fuck! That’s hot. (takes another sip) God, I love coffee. It’s fucking terrible! 

There is a brief pause while Elizabeth drinks her coffee. 

ELIZABETH
(Grinning) The world, it’s ending, you know. It’s all ending. 

RACHEL
(Deadpan) The world’s ending?

ELIZABETH
(Raising her mug) Yes. Drink up.

RACHEL
Why… Why is the world ending?

ELIZABETH
The...

Liturgy of Cut Forsythia

We dissect our tangerine-skin to it’s etymological etching, 
peeling until we are beautiful and expansive,
like a flowering tree that doesn’t know how to keep itself warm, 
fingernails releasing essential oils from corpse-memory.  

Under spring’s uncompromising light each leaf is exhaustingly complex. 
So cut your forsythia, save your gold for cloudy days. 
Remember God made us ugly and abstract so we could domesticate fire. 

Two Dimensional Oscillations

I haven’t been breathing well lately. No fresh air. My oscillations are stationary. I celebrate by brain’s success trapped in an aching body. My Washington bedroom has become a portal to New York.

The rich pastels of early Winter are locked behind glass.
My breaths are locked behind glass.
My jubilation is Two Dimensional.

In chemistry class, instead of studying the universe's fundamental building blocks, I think about the entropy pulling my gut into my stomach, pulling my stomach into my heart, and my heart into my brain. The imaginary walls are breaking, but the real ones are solid. 

I lose myself to an infinity without density. Dimensional analysis fails to yield Three Dimensional forms.

My work wasn’t published in the New York Times, only my name. 

Recording the Emptiness

Fred

Fred watched the moon rise over the harbor from his dusty cliffside perch. He had Madrona Bark in his hair and a dispassionate scowl on his face. The eerie light reflected off the shiny plastic yachts, as they swayed, pulled by the tide. The harbor was empty. The tacky, Muted-Americana of restaurant umbrellas and 80’s Cape-Cod Mini-Mansions, was brutally revealed with an insubstantial honesty. 

Fred hurled an empty Budweiser into the ocean below. He waited for the splash, but the aluminum was lost in hazy darkness. He reached into his bag for another beer, chugging the salty liquid like it was sea water. This time, after he’d sucked it dry, he crushed the can in his fist. The metal became metal under his iron grip.  

The stars materialized and he thought about his mother’s bleach-burned hair and wet-wild eyes. He remembered her voice. It was husky from all those cigarettes and songs sung into the harsh breeze. He thought...

Transcendentalist Sidewalk Chalk

I have a flower petal fetish. I like things broken, spilling out desperate perfume. I’ve taken to doing transcendentalist sidewalk art, trying to mend my perversion. But I can only decorate what has already been destroyed. 

  •  
I grew up in a pseudo-liberal hippy commune, full of old people who stopped smoking pot when the seventies came to a close. Now they rely on drum circles and potlucks and community gardens to ease their addiction to utopia. 
  •  
Some lovely spring days, I think we humans fragment reality with our uncomfortable rhythm. But when write, I realize the universe would be rhythm-less without our presumptuous categorization of moments. When I close my eyes, I don’t dream of Upstate New York, I see London: angular city blocks, hidden allies, aching feet, and dirty white facades.  

Nobody's Empire

I’m a poet. I write my body and soul with the desperation of a prostitute. I dissect my pain and passion. But when I sit down to describe my illness... I am on the edge of nobody’s empire. My words fail me. It’s like staring into the void. ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is a complex, multi-system chronic disease that feels like having a persistent flu and leaves you utterly exhausted, both mentally and physically.

I found Belle and Sebastian last spring, right as my symptoms started to worsen. Bedridden with nothing to do except listen to music, I fell in love with Belle and Sebastian's lyrics. Their songs were delicate, gritty explorations of life’s glorious triviality. In a poetic tribute to the band, depressed by the pandemic and my failing body, I wrote: “My dearest Belle and Sebastian you break yourselves into pieces so casually/ such casual living is beyond me.” 

It wasn’t until later that I learned...

January Grab Bag

Forever

Our precious sorrow was as soft as silk and as hard as stone.

You cried, face in my lap, filling me with ecstasy.  
I trembled under a frog-song disquiet,
too thin for the heavy twilight fragrance. 
Dying sunlight filtered through our stain-glass souls
as I watched you rock yourself to sleep. 

I am a small, ugly, croaking thing with a little grace
that burns inside me like my grandmothers' milk. 
We waste our lives hoping dusk will last, 
hoping we'll dance desperate and naked, 
caught between the sun and the moon forever. 

 

Stomach Ache

My friends Bible-Bash with Nietzsche
Jesus is the cigarette butt of their nihilistic jokes.  

I am not a Christian, mais je suis chrétienne.
I venerate Beeswax Candles and Hildegard and Fragrant Oil.  

I find the hungry-void counterproductive, 
so I take communion and feed the God growing in my belly. 

Starry Night

My viscera is inflamed; 
the demiurge in my belly is drinking red wine.
There are too many precious things trembling 
between cupped hands, innocent and full of wild longing.  

Fireflies fill the sky, 
turning Van Gogh's backyard into a galaxy. 
Our intimate universe throbs with gentle fire.  

 

The Sea Inside a Conch Shell

Evergreen bodies smell like car freshener, like condominiums decorated with seashells and radio-pop. Death is flattened into linoleum flooring. Pacing over the fake wood, our sacred right to decomposition is vacuumed away.  

On Sundays, after a breakfast of frozen waffles, the mega-churches are packed with ecstatic worshipers, praying for an afterlife full of golden syrup.

Can we capture life? Tame it with billboard advertisements proselytizing Triple-Cheese-Pizza and Vegan-Meats? Filter out the pain with syrupy promises. I dare you to find a empty parking lot and spray paint your desires on the cement. I dare you to grow your body until it no longer fits inside your well tended lot, until the traffic squeezes a desperate song from your lungs. 

Bread and Light

Tea Time

I drink tea with the devotion of a zealot and an addict. It falls fast and straight, pooling in my belly. 

Ritual: 

  • Hot. 
  • Hungry. 
  • Herbs. 
  • Honey dripping from my chin.   

I distill the sacred from dirt, 
from fragrant leaves and cold morning air,   
from finger smudged paper and little lustful sighs. 

When the sun is a broken gold, I wilt and wake and wish. 

In my kitchen, filthy hands on my flowery tablecloth, I sip.

Highway Intersection

I arrange the chapters of my novel like dominoes. 
I enjoy building complicated highway intersections  
and razing megaliths and discarding the daisies
you left on my front step the wet summer evening 
before we kissed and before I smashed the guitar
with which you strummed our relentless love story.

Starry Night

My viscera is inflamed. 
The demiurge in my belly is drinking red wine. 

There were fireflies last night. 
They turned Van Gogh's backyard into a galaxy. 

The world throbbed with too many precious things. 

It’s hard to breath when fire becomes gentle.
When it trembles in your cupped hands, innocent and full of wild longing. 

Why I Write

My Magic

I grew up in the worlds of Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Prydain. I knew the mythologies of these imaginary universes better than those of my own reality. I thought I could fight injustice with a sword, commune with plants and animals, and perform powerful incantations. I waited patiently for an adventure to sweep me up. I never happened upon an interdimensional wardrobe, but because I looked for magic, I found it all around me. Sometimes, as I roamed through the woods, or lay in bed listening to the rain pound down, I was sharply aware of some underlying rhythm. I was aware of a tenuous mystery I could feel, but never explain. As I got older, the distance between me and the fantasy worlds of my childhood grew until these vague moments were the only kind of magic I managed to hold onto. I still want to believe in magic. I think that is in part why I write....

Her Constellations

The light was soft, painfully soft. The exquisite gold of the sunrise muffled our passion. I reached for her hand, but she pulled away, regarding her own reflection in the lake with clinical poise. I understood then, in the smallness of that single wordless movement, how I chafed her. My human smile, my human lips, my desperation; she ached for the clean emotions of love and hate. Our relationship was filthy and confusing. 

We sat on the edge of a round lake, surrounded by tall pines and implicit shapes veiled by the thick summer air. I grasped helplessly at hidden flowers.

I fell back onto the wet grass, the light had solidified, revealing the dull clarity of morning. “I find you beautiful, you know. Like a collection of unquantifiable stars I have tried to flatten into a constellation.” 

She turned to me, her perfect body hard.  She gestured to the rising sun. “I don’t understand your rhythm, let alone your...

Guernica

In a room with colorless walls, we beat carpets and dead horses until we’re covered in dusty blood. We sing at the top of our throats. Our golden screeching fractures the gilded ceiling mirrors. 

The fascists and communists dance; bleating literary references, while minorities are massacred, while peasants starve, while bombs fall in Guernica.       

Commensurate

Absorbed in dialog, our words stumble into each other like blind lovers,  
our brilliant clumsy tongues hopelessly courting the infinite.   

The space between our desires is proportional to the space between our philosophies, 
and you gesticulate a burning sun.   

We are curled up by the fire, snacking on filberts and fresh apples.
Our ennui and gentle passion is augmented by the rain.

Longing to unhinge my desperate jaw, I ask you if you would like to hear my poetry.  

I read the rain, the filberts, and the fresh apples, hoping that you don’t understand my dialect.
 

Pure Destruction

All the colors are contained in that distant, bleary culmination for which we wait. After I die, I will plant a garden on the moon and watch as my flowers float away. 

Sometime I feel like I use too much air, but I know I haven't taken enough breaths. The clouds still swath the sky and my belly is empty. Everything will be revealed with excruciating clarity when I finally manage to destroy myself by drinking the stars. 

Morality

God told me that, like the laws of the universe, morality is entropic. 

Oh! But It's a glorious thing to fade and fray, a banner left too long in the sun. 

May we exhaust ourselves,
May we refuse to decompose,
May we deny our bodies surrender!

Dissidence

The harmonics of amassed dissidence thrum, caught on the lips of a pragmatic dreamer. 

It is enough to shatter the moon. 

Little trembling stories, little songs, little streams, little seas, I hold them in my throat. 

And I waver,
pierced by monotone pleasure: 
pitched starlight and cricket song.
I surrender my asymmetric shoes to the music, 
pendulum motion grinding me down to my underwear.

a pushing, a pounding, a pulling,
a pushing, a pounding, a pulling,
a pushing, a pounding  a pulling, 

a bum on cold cement moment of revelation. 
    

The Zealot King (Prologue and first chapter. Peer Review incorporated!)


Prologue 
“Tedam! What should I do when I find a snail in my flowers?”  I asked, holding up the small creature for his inspection.

“Place him as far from the eggplants as possible.” Tedam laughed. He was weeding the vegetables.  “Over there, by those dandelions.” He pointed to a patch of thick green grass growing by the cliffside. I leapt out of the sunflowers. “Be careful! The snail may look tough with his heavy armor and penchant for invading flower gardens, but he’s delicate.” 

“He’s pretty.” I stroked the snail’s intricately patterned shell with a dirty fingernail. 

“Look close enough and you will find that everything is beautiful.” 

“Even my fingernails?” 

“Even your fingernails.” 

“Even my toes?” I looked down, wiggling my feet in the mud. 

He smiled. “Even your toes, especially your toes. Your toes taste the dirt and it’s from the dirt that things grow.”   

I wandered over to the cliff edge, dropping the snail on the...

Today is not yet History

On Christmas Eve we stayed up late talking about Eastern European politics because the Berlin wall fell thirty years ago. 

Today Georgia turned blue. But revolutions don’t become history until our books simplify them into the methodically dismemberment of out-dated brick walls: pickaxes, tie dye, singing in the streets. 

“Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind…” 

Today, the Senate was ransacked. Today, the American flag, the American capital, was defiled by white supremacists. Today, Nancy Pelosi’s office was vandalized. Today, officials found two bombs stashed in cardboard boxes. Today, a woman was shot by rioters. Today, five people were killed by guns in the land of the free. 

“Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind…” 
 
Today, the democrats won. Today, the first black senator from Georgia was elected. Today, the people lifted America up with their ballots. Today, the brick wall got a little thinner, our pickaxes a little lighter, our singing a...

Stomach Ache

My friends Bible-Bash with Das Kapital
Jesus is the cigarette butt of their nihilistic jokes.  

I am not a Christian, mais je suis Chrétienne.
I venerate Beeswax Candles and Hildegard and Fragrant Oil.  

I find the hungry-void counterproductive, 
so I take communion and feed the God growing in my belly. 

Desertification

Grapevines drooping in the hot sun. 
We make wine of our moments, of grace-past, 
of solemn banter and wild, wilted eyes.   

Justine, Justice, we break ourselves on dispassionate perfection, 
fingernails and soft flesh and bordered breath.   

Our chests collapse. 

The Zealot King (Prologue and First Chapter)

Prologue 

“Tedam! What should I do when I find a snail in my flowers?”  I asked, holding up the small creature for his inspection.

“Place him as far from the eggplants as possible.” Tedam laughed. He was weeding the vegetables.  “Over there, by those dandelions.” He pointed to a patch of thick green grass growing by the cliff side. I leapt out of the sunflowers. “Be careful! The snail may look tough with his heavy armor and penchant for invading flower gardens, but he’s delicate.” 

“He’s pretty.” I stroked the snail’s intricately patterned shell with a dirty fingernail. 

“Look close enough and you will find that everything is beautiful.” 

“Even my fingernails?” 

“Even your fingernails.” 

“Even my toes?” I looked down, wiggling my feet in the mud. 

He smiled. “Even your toes, especially your toes. Your toes taste the dirt and it’s from the dirt that things grow.”   

I wandered over to the cliff edge, placing the little snail underneath...

Complacency

I tended a small garden outside my old cottage for many years. I grew peas and poppies and rosemary. It was a nice garden. Sipping a cup of tea, my hands close to my mouth, I can  smell a faint echo of the dirt that once coated my fingernails. 

I drove by the cottage the other day. The thatched roof was still charmingly frumpy, but the garden was dry and tangled. It has become a wilderness, and gardens are not supposed to be wild. I miss getting dirty; I miss caring for something beautiful. I keep my Honda so terribly clean. The plastic inside shines. There is not a crumb in sight. And I suppose it goes without saying, but there are no flowers.  

I pulled into the driveway. It was instinctual. The gentle rumble of gravel was too familiar to be ordinary. I felt the sharp tug of the past as I steadied myself. I am old; even gentle...

Writer's Block

I turn squares into circles 
because life can not be summarized by rational geometry.

I hammer clean angles, 
till their points are blunt enough
to cut silence. 

Poetry is wide and woolen. 
and stupid. 

But its elemental pieces are curved, 
Take that Javascript!

The Boy

It was a sunny day when I happened upon a pretty boy playing his flute by the river. I listened to his music, watching the delicate shape of his smile as it fluctuated between concentration and ecstasy. His music was primitive, but his passion was beautifully innocent. 

I appeared before him, the shining image of a woman, and kissed his lips. He smiled a solid smile. It was a little less delicate but just as sweet. 

I want him to hold me, because that is what boys are supposed to do. 

Maybe his arms would be nice. Solid. 

I am supposed to want the boy who plays his flute by the river. I am supposed to want more than his arms and his sweet smile. But my shining womanhood is just too bright. He is warm, but lacks Marilyn Monroe's luster.  

I want to laugh with him, to dance with him. I want us to talk our way around each other in...

“All Alive”

Building with Pebbles

When I was little, two or three, I would sit on the porch, wedging pebbles into the cracks between planks. When the stones didn’t fit, I bruised the wood. To fill every little gap was the very first goal I remember setting. I think the emptiness bothered me. 

I would examine each dusty pebble before finding it a place. I would rub it between my oily fingers. I would hold it to my mouth. It smelled like determination. 

Children have a certain gluttony. When we are young we require things to make sense. And we are content defying logic to avoid uncertainty. 

I never mended my porch of imperfection. But I can still feel the ache, the tangible thrill of an impossible project, of methodical faith.

Sunflower Seeds (off of R.j.Elsewhere's prompt, warning: explicit imagery)

To write is to consume the sun. To stretch our fragile bodies until we hear the glass shatter. To exploit our belly-buttons for the puncture wounds they are.  

I cry like a baby. 

Sun, 
I desire you.  

Mediterranean headaches, 
hands pressed against my eyes. 
You turn blue into a turgid God, 
Sea sick on insubstantial light 
I undulate, puking words into the turquoise sea. 

Sun, 
I would make you solid.

I want to eat fistfuls of dirt and cherry blossoms, 
to surrender as you inflate my insides with your vastness. 
Full and alive, aching with a prayer of terrible gluttony,
the sun and I would skewer ourselves on kebab sticks still dripping with fat.  

But I settle for sunflower seeds. Bitter and salty like sweat, I place them on my tongue and spit, staining the page with a half chewed fetus.  

 

Lost in Translation

Singing Darts

My mother tells me that when I was little I would lie in bed, exploring my phonemes.

I have been reading Lorca lately. I hardly speak a word of Spanish, but my chest swells with each syllable I whisper. 

“La Lola/ canta saetas”  saeta, sa-ee-ta, sa-eta...

Saeta (pronounced sah-ATE-ah) is a dart, an arrow, or a piercing song from the Andalusian region of Spain. In poetry, saeta can exist simultaneously as a dart and a song. Both it’s sound and shape pierce the heart. 

I like it when translations leave the poetry raw, senseless and full of sense. Like a child I feel my way through, delineating my own precious shades of passion.  

Rebellion

Common sense wavers in the moonlight. 

The derelict structure of human heartbeats,
denotes only the space between our sighs. 

Our tower of precious moments teetering,  
we revolt against the stars. 

Setting as Mood

The Red Corsage

I was drunk and stumbling over broken glass, gum wrappers and the laces of my shiny shoes. It wasn’t a joyous inebriation; the stars seemed distant in the brown city light. I had made my way off the highway and was now walking through a filthy alley with a flower still pinned to my jacket. I had half convinced myself the alley was a short cut. But really, I just wanted to walk through a dark alley. I wanted to break my skin on the sharp edges of the world and let the pain spill out. Getting knifed is a good remedy for a broken heart. 

I kicked at an empty can, but missed. My cursing echoed, unnaturally loud. I cringed, but cursed again. And again. I bent down to tie my shoes, Slumping against an alley wall. The strings wouldn’t fit together. I gave up, examining the flower instead. It was red, delicate. I wanted to rip off its petals one by...

Frozen Flowers

As the bath-water rises to my chest, I consider the broken philosophy of frozen flowers. I need a break from dying so I can die again and finally decompose. The line between summer and winter has dissolved. Jarred by the erratic motion of minutes,

I breathe and I breathe and I breathe. 

Life is a series of insurmountable singularities. I hold up the blue sky with my pinkies, sweating in fervent denial of all the incomprehensible eventualities. The liquid is up to my chin. The  impenetrable viscosity of lukewarm water is juxtaposed against my goosebumps and belly full of extremities: winter and summer, inhales and exhales. The bathtub overflowing,

I breathe and I breathe and I breathe. 

Mid-December Grab Bag

Imaginary Numbers

Dear √-1, 
time is imaginary. 

But rhythm is real, 
and it corrodes us like warm desert wind.  

Humanity is getting hot, 
too much negligent friction.  
Our frayed shoelaces are trailing on the cement. 

Capriciously,
we dissolve into disparate threads, 
highways going nowhere,
towers of red plastic cups leaning like Pisa.   

2020,
you were a year of muted revolutions.  

At the end,
winter sunlight filters through
filmy curtains decorated with butterflies.   

Lying in bed,
I separate moments from the sun, 
until the light resembles jasmine tea, 
until I can drink spring’s hazy flowers. 

In the night,
when I picture the butterflies,
I think only of their wings, 
flightless civilizations of stained glass,
trembling in the acrid breeze. 

Disembodied, 
my body aches and flutters and waits to be beautiful, 
I weave a year out of sighs,
tripping over shoelaces that were never meant to be tied.

2020, 2021, 2121...,
with faintly whispered sincerity, 
I hope our galaxy collapses and we stop spiraling...

Commensurate

In dialog, our words stumble into each other like blind lovers,  
our brilliant clumsy tongues hopelessly courting the infinite.   

The space between our desires is proportional to the space between our philosophies, 
and you gesticulate a burning sun.   

Mid-December Grab Bag

Imaginary Numbers

Prompt: Write a letter to 2020. 


Broken dynasties are like frayed shoelaces.
Humanity is getting hot. Too much negligent friction.  
Capriciously, we dissolve into disparate threads.

2020, you were a year of muted revolutions.  

Here, at the end,
winter sunlight filters through filmy curtains decorated with butterflies.   

I Separate moments from the sun, 
until the light resembles jasmine tea, 
until I can drink spring’s hazy flowers. 

In the night, when I picture the butterflies, I think only of their wings, 
flightless civilizations of stained glass, trembling in the breeze. 

Disembodied, 
my body aches and flutters and waits to be beautiful, 
I weave a dynasty of sighs, tripping over shoelaces that were never meant to be tied.
 

Mid-December Grab Bag

Imaginary Numbers

Prompt: Write a letter to 2020. 


Broken dynasties are like frayed shoelaces. 
Capriciously, we dissolve into disparate threads.

2020, you were a year of muted revolutions.  

Here, at the end,
winter sunlight filters through my filmy curtains, 
decorated with butterflies.   

I separate the light from itself, 
until it resembles jasmine tea, 
until I can drink spring’s hazy flowers. 

When I picture the butterflies, I think only of their wings.

Disembodied, 
my body aches and flutters and waits to be beautiful, 
I weave a dynasty of sighs, tripping over shoelaces that were never meant to be tied.
 

Given First Line

Colonialism

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board: silk, bananas, opium, assam, cinnamon, gold, cotton...  

Linen suited bureaucrats, I address your fidgeting, your ledger books, and tacky tea cups. It is easy to wish, to build an empire from algebraic desires. But summaries aren't measured in sweat.

 

I'm a Bigot

Sometimes my mother slips into a southern drawl. She says she likes the way it feels in her mouth. I understand, our tight-lipped Seattle mumble is an exhausting vernacular. But when I hear her relinquish her pseudo liberal birthright, I squirm. 

I have no excuse. It’s pure and simple prejudice. I don’t mind Southern accents when they are spoken by Southerners. But I can’t stand my own mother sounding like one of them. Despite the fact that it’s the people in Georgia who saved us.  

I am ashamed of my bigotry. White, Middle-Class, Biden-Voters from Washington still have a lot of work to do.

Frequency

The sun is under a lot of pressure.
3.84 trillion psi at its core.
Hot enough, free enough, to compose wild-eyed symphonies. 

I am growing and burning.
Each sunrise reminds me that I am going to die.
The trembling gold solidifies and I turn back up the asphalt road,
pinned to the indelicate laws of pendulum motion.   

Navigation is tradition.
We walk through the sunrise and into the sunset. 

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,


there and back again 
and dragons 
with fiery stomachs
and home 
with a hearth inside. 

We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.


We dance; 
we tango in alleyways
and taste the dirt in our red wine

The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.


Living, the stars shine and create and fill us with the bloody music of our legends.

Ornamental Angels

My soul is depreciating. I folded myself into complex origami, Gothic arches and bowties and little paper snowflakes, but the creases are starting to tear. 

There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about a Christmas Tree.  Cathedrals are beautiful. Mosques are beautiful. Forests are beautiful. I think Christmas Trees might be beautiful. Is it beautiful to give life to a dead thing? 

Do hopeless pilgrims pound life into miles? Do fat bankers eat living gold?  Do passionate martyrs die alive? Or do we modify our Gods after they are gone: hopeless, fat, passionate.    

I’m failing to harmonize. Ornamental zits corrupt my facial symmetry, and the rain falls rhythmless. Midnight is passing, the moment illuminated in electronic light and an electronic choir of depreciating angles.

Pandemic Memoir

Lethargy

My cat has become very fat. 

“All Alive”

Building with Pebbles

When I was little, two or three, I would sit on the porch, wedging pebbles into the cracks between planks. When the stones didn’t fit, I bruised the wood. To fill each and every gap was the very first goal I remember setting. I think the emptiness bothered me. 

I would examine each dusty pebble before finding it a place. I would rub it between my oily fingers. I would hold it to my mouth. It smelled like determination. 

Children have a certain gluttony. When we are young we require things to make sense. And we are content defying logic to avoid uncertainty. 

I never mended my porch of imperfection. But I can still feel the ache, the tangible thrill of an impossible project, of methodical faith.

My Grey

Where I live, both the sea and sky are grey. The clouds collect in our cups. Mirrored in dichotomy, monotony dances, revealing the subtle irony of divine humor.  We drink tea. 

We can only contemplate infinite. By defining our melancholy, we make it finite. 

God, You are bitter-sweet. Whole. Made of a dense, dancing, emptiness. I pour You into me like hot water and I wait to feel the colors. 

Under heavy blankets, hovering amidst insubstantial blue, I watch the achromatic light evolve as the morning flattens and deepens. I wait for grey.

Old Stone

I walk through a cathedral. Cavernous, but perfect in its symmetry. The arches and trusses are curves accented with the geometry of angles. The cathedral is patient, but I can smell its exhaustion. It's shade is heavy like musty perfume. God's glory is a lot to hold. 

We gave the cathedral a soul. We sang to it. We filled the cavernous space with our expectations,

with arms held to the heavens,
with weighty proclamations,
with Latin phrases of frozen form. 

It is tiring to hold our syntax. 

But cathedrals are proud. When we cry, they lift our chins to the cross.

She meets me there. I am staring at a window, but my eyes can't penetrate the glass. It’s stained with stories. I lie down, flesh and bones and blood. The stone floor pushes me back, back together. I feel the tension, convulsing between surrender and desire. A human in the face of God.     

She holds me. Her arms are warmer than the...

Fresh Yellow Legal Pads

I dressed impeccably each day for work. I carefully chose a pair of high waisted trousers, silk or wool, depending on the season and a gauzy blouse that showed just the right amount of neck. On Friday nights I pulled on a black dress, a strappy thing I wore to ensure the dinner was kept short.  I was business like in all things, even pleasure. After the boy took the dress off, I would walk him to the door. 

I had reports to finish, pages and pages to fill with words, dull black words on unnaturally white sheets of printer paper. I had always assumed that as a lawyer I would tear through legal pads in a flurry of frenzied logic, brilliance peeking through the messy scribble of my rhetoric. But in reality I spent all day at the computer. The letters were flawless, the language sterile. There was no sweat, no frantic scribbling, only the muted tap of fingers...

Rome

Romans are made of marble. 

Carved with the heavenly grace of muscles and pride, 
Rome equated Divine Providence with bureaucracy. 

Each empire has its own currency,
its own series of sacred faces,
Its own iconic blasphemy. 

The Romanovs sewed gems into their underwear. 
And then, in their nightgowns, they were shot. 

Bullets commodified just to pierce their hearts and diamond encrusted corsets.

Like banquets, blood baths are opulent.
Like religion, philosophy corrupts.

Fresh Yellow Legal Pads

I dressed impeccably each day for work. I carefully chose a pair of high waisted trousers, silk or wool, depending on the season and a gauzy blouse that showed just the right amount of neck. On Friday nights I pulled on a black dress, a strappy thing I wore to ensure the dinner was kept short.  I was businesslike in all things, even pleasure. After the boy took the dress off, I would walk him to the door. 

I had reports to finish, pages and pages to fill with words, dull black words on unnaturally white sheets of printer paper. I had always assumed that as a lawyer I would tear through legal pads in a flurry of frenzied logic, brilliance peeking through the messy scribble of my rhetoric. But in reality I spent all day at the computer. The letters were flawless, the language sterile. There was no sweat, no frantic scribbling, only the muted tap of fingers on...

Desertification

Grapevines drooping in the hot sun. 
We make wine of our moments, of grace-past 
of solemn banter and wilted eyes.   

Justine, Justice, we break ourselves on dissasionate perfection, 
fingernails and soft flesh and bordered breath.   

Our chests collapse. 

The Drabble

A Moon-Eating Resplendent-Goddess Lizard-Woman

I fall back onto my silk pillows and open my mouth to the moon. I swallow the hard light like it is chewable. I am already full of jasmine tea, thick summer air woven into spider webs, honey comb, crushed ants still skittering, and bitter dandelions.

Each night I concoct an elixir of pungent emblems to flavor my dreams. Insatiable, I keep to the fourth dimension where everything is edible. 

Lazily, I snatch a moth with two fingers, folding its hairy wings, placing its still warm body on my tongue. A moon-eating resplendent-goddess lizard-woman with incorruptible innocence, I fall asleep. 

Frequency

The sun is under a lot of pressure. 3.84 trillion psi at its core. Hot enough, free enough, to compose wild-eyed symphonies. 

I am growing and burning. Each sunrise reminds me that I am going to die. The trembling gold solidifies and I turn back up the asphalt road, pinned to the indelicate laws of pendulum motion.   

Navigation is tradition. We walk through the sunrise and into the sunset. 

there and back again 
and dragons 
with fiery stomachs
and home 
with a hearth inside. 

We dance; 
we tango in alleyways
and taste the dirt in our red wine

Living, the stars shine and create and fill us with the bloody music of our legends.

Given First Line

Colonialism

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board: silk, bananas, opium, tea, cinnamon, gold, cotton...  

Linen suited bureaucrats with ledger books, it is easy to wish, to build an empire from algebraic desires. But summaries aren't measured in sweat.

Calculus

There are curves in calculus. Lots of curves. You have to calculate infinity multiple times. It is a bit redundant. Complicated things are often variations of the same thing. I dropped calculus. I had a hard time thinking of a curve as anything other than a curve. Calculus was irritating, an exercise in the power of arrogant human assumptions. It was like drawing the outline of a map and pretending to know what was inside of it.   

She was most definitely a curve. I could pretend to know what was inside of her, but I only had a broad equation for estimating her infinite possibilities. The possibilities of multiple kinds of infinity. I followed her, plugging in numbers, asking the occasional pointed question. I had a lot of questions. She always strode ahead of me, her steps purposeful. But she never seemed to have a destination. I wanted to hold her hand, be swept away in her remarkably simple infinity,...

The Philosophy of Seeming

My Aesthetics are different from my Poetics: 

Things should either be practical, or beautiful in their own right. 
Words should be repeated with traceable rhythm. 

Two summers ago we took a trip to Copenhagen. Scandinavian Cool was woven into the city's geometry: clean canal water, yellow plaster, color coded bookshelves and a pleasant matte finish. The bricks were carefully laid. 

I do not have the discipline to shed my mask, to peel back the varnish and reveal the sanded wood underneath, to be beautiful in my own right, to trace my own rhythm.  

So I state my philosophies: 

Things should either be practical, or beautiful in their own right. 
Words should be repeated with traceable rhythm.

Acid

Lactic:
ingrown passion. rotting flowers. sweating like a clinomaniac. sweet, sweeter, sweetest, sour.  I want the sky to fall.   

remember the pickle jars.
I left them on the windowsill.  

rain water. salt water. vinegar. coffee stains on the coffee table. concentric circles all the same size. each slow breath, static, commensurate. I follow broken lines. fermenting in-domitable curves. 

passion ingrowing, flowers rotting, sweet dreaming, sky falling, pickling, expanding, folding, never whole, never more than whole.