On Being Okay With Dying

The steps for writing a poem are as follows:

1.  Don’t write a poem for a year or so, only use previously written poems when people ask you for one, and wallow for that year in your inability to write anything quality.  Feel crushed.  Consider becoming a stripper to pay the bills. Buy only lettuce to try to channel and bask in that “starving artist” mentality.  Give it up cuz lettuce sucks and eat an entire pizza.  Feel briefly and primally satisfied.

2.  Stay up way too late one night so your brain is a mess of emotions and words and stanzas.  Read Dickens.  Turn out the light and listen to your bird make his way over to his perch in the darkness.

3.  The inspiration comes: it’s often just one line that just makes you want to take your muse by the shoulders and whisper sweetly

you are brilliant you are

 

(because apparently I can’t get through a post without including a Doctor Who gif)

4.  Your heart rate increases dramatically.  Gotta get the adrenaline going in order to make the trek across your room to notebook and pencil.  Much to the annoyance of your bird, you turn on the lamp again.

5.  Then you write.  It’s like how whittlers say the shape of whatever they’re carving is already in the wood, and they’re just coaxing it out–in writing a poem, you want to feel around in the corners for every scrap of imagery and line that’s supposed to be a part of it (I’m very spiritual about this okay) and make sure it all gets there somewhere.

Usually at this stage my mind is 90 miles ahead of my hand and sometimes words get combined or even whole stanzas.  Afterward I have to go back and disentangle them.  The important thing is just getting everything down.

6.  Stay up for another hour or so, heart still racing, unable to sleep because you’ve penned the Great American poem,  you feel it, and won’t your mother be so proud?  (It’s midnight now so you can’t rush to her and brandish it under her nose.)

It’s always much worse when you wake up, but, eh, it’s something.

Without further ado, I guess: the poem I wrote last night.

***************************************************************

On Being Okay With Dying

Maybe, someday, kids everywhere are gonna have to memorize your name

cramming first and last, middle initial, basic life stats

down their throats the night before History finals.

 

Maybe, someday, you’ll be a scorch mark in a family ledger

that obscure branch of the tree your nieces can’t quite remember

because, as far as they can recall,

it bore no fruit.

 

Maybe you’ll crawl into bed with someone some night

and to them your smile will taste like lemonade spritzers, watermelon sangria

and your laugh is like orchard workers tossing apples to each other from the tops of ladders

The way you move to turn off the lamp is peach brush strokes on a gray canvas.

 

Maybe you’ll start spending too much time in cemeteries

swaddling yourself in black and buttons and a scarf thrown over your mouth

walking with the crows and mostly trying to avoid one grave in particular

because you know how you’ll scuff your toe along the empty plot next to it, thinking,

Mine.

And who’s to stop you digging into it now,

folding earth around you like the cloak of a magician

performing his final disappearing act?

 

Instead you waltz, alone

slowly and gimpily

the way they never quite managed to teach you.

You can see your breath suspended in the chill

and you start to laugh

because you’re quite literally dancing on your own grave

and then you stop because you wonder if it’ll still be funny

down on the receiving end.

 

Maybe, someday, they’ll dig up your diaries

and you’ll be a relic, and a legend

a little girl in a checkered dress

imagined in sepia,

scented like yellowing old books and dust and sunbeams in an abandoned house.

Not watermelon sangria.

 

Maybe they’ll dress like you and your friends

at a theme dance at a middle school.

 

Maybe you’ll do extraordinary things with your life.

 

Maybe you won’t.

 

Maybe you’ll go down in textbooks.

 

Maybe you’ll go down quietly in the obituary section of your town newspaper,

circulation 800,

like a late-summer peach no one notices shuddering and bumping to the ground.

 

Maybe someone catches you before you bruise;

maybe something comes along a few days later

and leaves

with sticky whiskers and paws.

**********************************************

So…that’s all, folks.  As always, things are ©The Girl in the Orange, BUT if you luuurve (or hate?) things then any feedback or sharing (via reblogging, Twitter, Tumblr, email, shouting from the rooftop of your school gymnasium, etc) is GREATLY appreciated.  I’m pretty serious about this writing thang; every bit of constructive criticism/exposure helps.  Happy Sunday! 🙂

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Week in Review

If you haven’t cottoned on, for my last few posts I’ve been trying, albeit with questionable success, to give my posts zippy and witty and possibly punny titles.  (No, autocorrect, that word is not puny.)  My brain is fried this week though, so I guess you guys get a blessed reprieve mournful absence of my normally on-point and ineffable wordsmithery.

So, yeah, um.  My brain is fried.  Don’t mind too much, though, it’s a great excuse for rambly posts with lots of comma splices and erratic ideas from all corners of it.  (It being my mind.  This might not be a too-coherent post.  I’ve just finished up with finals and am trying to type this up while streaming Sherlock S3 for the second time…)

Weekity Things: (by which I mean events of note that occurred over the course of this week, excusez mois)

  1. Reading Good Omens.
    DSCN4422I don’t–I can’t–it’s just–*exhales sharply through nose in frustration* this book is now one of my all-time favorites ever, and I can’t really explain why.  Why does it make me tear up when I think of it now? Why did I feel the need to put off studying and self-care for a whole two days in order to tear through it?  Why did this religious satire speak to me on a more profoundly spiritual level than any other book I’ve read?

i don't know doctor who gifIt’s just ineffable, I guess.  (Heads up: I will be using the word “ineffable” so much in the coming posts that you will become so ineffably done with it that you feel an ineffable itch to ineffably strangle me.)  It was one of those weird things that really struck me in exactly the right way, and now my conversations with anyone new this week have been beginning with a sharp and judgmental “Have you read Good Omens?!”  Most people haven’t.  Uggghhh.  Get on this book, world.  It is so good (and hilarious) that whenever I think of it I’m pretty sure my heart rate speeds up and the emotional center of my brain (is that the amygdala? *googles* yes it’s the amygdala) sort of spasms out and my face is kind of caught between doing this
giphyand this.
glass cage of emotion
IT’S NOT EVEN PARTICULARLY SAD OR PARTICULARLY HAPPY IT JUST GIVES ME ALL THE FEELS UUGGH.

Here’s my equally non-articulate GoodReads review, if anyone’s interested:

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, man. Why didn’t I read this book sooner? Why, oh why, did I pick it up for “idle reading” in the heat of Finals season??
I’m not really sure how to describe this book, except that it’s one of those books where you drift around with your eyes unfocused for hours after reading, and you spill a bunch of stuff because you’ve been well and truly entranced. It’s one of those books that you can stare at and squeeze to your chest because the characters, even those that hail from the pits of Hell (especially those) feel like your best mates and the whole book fills you with a kind of existentially ironic warm fuzzy feeling, which I didn’t even know was a thing. Laugh-out-loud hilarious, a good read for those who want to stop taking themselves so seriously. The writing was beautiful and I loved the dialogue. In the beginning (haha, Bible pun, haha) it felt like there were WAY TOO MANY characters for my poor feeble mortal mind to juggle, but it pares down into a glorious semblance of sense.
I also have the hugest crush on Aziraphale, bless his soul.

View all my reviews

(bee tee dubs you should all become my friend on GoodReads because I need more virtual friends to fangirl over books with okay? okay)

     2.  Scholastic Art and Writing Awards results!  (This was the thing that my poetry collection won in last year, with the celebration at Carnegie Hall.)  This year I submitted a short story (that I wrote in 8th grade and that you haven’t read), “We Hired Death as Our Landscaper,” a poem collection of “Dichromate,”“Ellipse,” and “Silver,” another poem collection including two of my spoken word poems “Solicited Advice to Prepubescent Nintendo Freaks” and “Sweet, sweet Adolescence,” and finally, my poem “The Professional Aimless Wanderer”.  Two of the poem collections won Silver Keys (which is like an honorable mention except there is actually also an honorable mention category so I guess Silver Key is like one step up from honorable mention) and “Wanderer” is going on to National Judging!

SAWA 2014 announcement

Hmm.  Well, I realize this doesn’t actually look too…legitimate.  (You gotta love the PicMonkey “paper scrap” feature though, amiright?)  I promise these were my actual results. Huzzah for creative censoring.

It’s kind of wryly funny that Scholastic always loves my poetry (at least they seem to), whereas I work a lot harder on my prose and like it better than my poetry.  I wasn’t sure about some of the poems I submitted, but I definitely thought the short story or at least “Landscaper” was going somewhere.  I guess I’m too biased.  I also guess that the fewer words in which I have to say something, the better I say it…which I kind of already knew.  Brevity is not my forte, but when I can manage it, it definitely improves my writing.

3.  FINALS SEASON IS OVAHH! *upturns a science lab bench and begins tap dancing upon it*  Really, that’s being a bit overdramatic, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. In a fit of procrastination and denial one night, I even wrote a satire of Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” proclaiming “Some say the world will end with Finals…”  I had just heard so many rumors about how awful they were, and I suppose I had it easy since I’m but a wee freshie, but they were all right.  My lowest score was in Algebra 2/Pre-calc, predictably, and that was just an A-.  I am in a state of ineffable gratitude that there was no Orchestra final, because my Orchestra grade has now squeaked up to a 93.01%, which is literally one-hundredth of a percent over the requirement for an A.  So now my GPA is a 4.0. *smiles beatifically*

Hope you had an equally eventful week, my dearest tropical fish, and that the next 7 days also hold, for you, a trove of mystique and ineffable excitement. (Congrats on getting through finals, if you’re a student!)

We hired Death as our landscaper

pm1 pm2 pm3 pm4 pm5 pm6 pm7This was the flyer Death left tacked to our door.  I stood on tiptoe and took it down to read it.

Wanted:  Odd Jobs, & Odds and Ends

Hey there.  Death’s the name.  (Yeah, people say I should change it all the time; make me more approachable.  But the only other thing I could think of that kind of suit me was Lucifer, and as Lucifer people still avoided me.)

Anyway…I can take care of almost anything you need taken care of, but my real specialties are extermination, varmint control, weed control, controlled burnings, etc.  And music lessons.

I’m good with kids.  I know how to silence them when they’re crying.  And no one who’s experienced my services reports back negatively.

I’ve included a picture on the back of this flyer because most people get the wrong idea of what I look like.  Usually I get skeletal, white, draped in black flowy robes in desperate need of a wash–no nose.  Then if I get too close people usually snap change their minds, saying I’m surely some big jolly old white guy perched on top of a cloud.  I guess you could say my identity is fluid..?  I hope you don’t have anything against the genderqueer.  Like I said, I’m great with kids.

My fees are what I consider reasonable; years of work have worn me pretty thin, you know, and we all have to support ourselves.  I understand that modern medicine has its benefits but it’s really thrust tough times on some non-deservings with its increasing prevalence.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this flyer, and, if you’re interested?  Just give me a call.  You know where to find me.

Death had been standing right behind me, reading the flyer with me, over my shoulder.

Preface to Poemography #…6, is it?

Haha, yet another random scrivening that is by no means actually a poem–more like flash fiction, I guess?  I was outside for an hour this morning taking pictures of dead things and having several nasty brush-ins with spiders and their webs and I eventually convinced myself that there was a mountain lion after me because I kept hearing swishing noises.  Do we even have mountain lions in the PNW?  Ah, well…this is what I get for writing dark things.  In my defense, I don’t seek out things pertaining to death to write about, they just sort of pop into my head.  I promise I’m not a psychopath, and I’m not thinking darkly all the time…

Ellipse…

DSCN3292Ellipse

so named for the way your ellipse

stretch back over your eteeth

catching your etongue between them,

stopping it dead in its path of treachery

and your efingers,

unbeknownst to you,

tap out on the table that hesitant

dot dot dot

speaking of omission

things glossed over while quoting your inner monologue

haphazardly

getting the dates wrong,

deliberately turning a blind eye to the parts that don’t support

the point everyone seems to want you to make

blind eye + ears

as they hand you a rubric,

list of main ideas,

requirements for 10 in-text citations

“Oh, it’s okay…

if you’re quoting something really long you can…

leave…out some…parts…”

So much can be salvaged by delving into the infinite millimeter between the dots

and pulling out what fell into the empty spaces

please try to stick to commas

they suit you better.

Preface to Poemography #5

This poem is one part of a longer collection of poems I’ve been working on; sometime last year I-don’t-know-when, I embarked upon the mission to assign each of my classmates a punctuation mark to fit their personalities and write a poem explaining the similarities (between the person and their assigned punctuation mark).  I haven’t written as many of the poems as I would like, so it may be a while before everyone gets one.  The collection doesn’t have a cohesive title yet–any suggestions would be appreciated!

Silver

Silver Cream

Teapot

trying to remove that one last stubborn splotch from the surface of the teapot,

she turns to me–

rub rub rub, in a circular motion–

and begins to gab about the size of her stomach and how sad her eyes look.

I’m eight years old and I’m not really listening.

Partly because I don’t believe her and partly because it’s boring and partly because I’m just

Too engrossed by the way the silver is catching the light,

and the way the word makes me think of a pebble.

For a moment I’m frustrated that there isn’t anything to rhyme it with.

Silver.

rubrubrub, in a circular motion.

The years have accumulated on her collection,

as years do.

The saucers are dimpled, the cups are mossed over,

the teapot shimmers except for that one damn splotch.

She doesn’t like tarnish.

I find it ironic that it rhymes with varnish

then I figure that’s intentional anyway and frown.

She wears her flaws like charms on that empty chain bracelet always dangling around her wrist

falling to her elbow when she raises a hand in greeting and dropping to wind itself around her fingers in the night

it is the first thing she feels when she wakes,

the first thing she sees when she looks in the mirror

and she paints her eyelids

silver

to remind herself that she is made of stardust–unfortunately,

so are They.

She realizes she is composed entirely of cracks, fissures,

held together in space only by the Strong Force

the same pull that keeps the apartment in order, atom by atom

and the force that

just once

helped her to keep from flying apart when she got too close to him,

too far away from him

but she forgets that the beauty is when light gleams through the cracks she forgets

too much polishing will wear down the finish

and something too reflective will blind you.

Rather than people who shine,

I tell her,

I like people who glow!

At eight years,

I like the way my mom’s heartbeat is strong and steady,

the way she’s so warm and comfortable to lean against,

the way she’s a beacon of soft light and nourishment.

I like the way my dad pulls on galoshes and wades assuredly into a task,

the way he fights with light.

I’d never seen anything more beautiful,

flame encased in silver

and I liked

the way that I knew they were both okay with the change the flame would create, eventually;

the way some things would melt and some would glow red.

She looks at me like I’ve said the best thing ever and then smiles, sadly, ruffles my hair.  In a circular motion.

Aw, sweetie, but the world doesn’t.

I’m really confused as to how the world could ever be more important than my own thoughts and ask,

So the world is trying to polish you?

She says, Something like that.

IMG_3808

Preface to Poemography #4

It’s not even a poem, really.

More like broken prose, somehow.

I think it starts out more like prose but then shatters apart into vaguely poetic ramblings.

I think this is a metaphor for something like life but I can’t be sure.

As I told you, I built it around that one line.  I’m not sure if that one line would have taken the same direction as it did had I not been required to build a poemography post around it.

It’s two days late.  Sorry.

Breaking Glass

dainty,
delicate,
spider-leg threads of space-time
tiptoeing onto the scene,
creeping into the calm and distorting that fourth dimension
with a feminine chinkling that would be melodious
in any other context.

pic 1 try 3But, as it is,
you stand dumbfounded in the middle of the kitchen,
your hand still clenched around the goblet that isn’t there;
you took a hammer to your mirror, so enraged by the image it portrayed.

DSCN1101
And as we wince at those snowflakes embedded in our angry skin,
we ask ourselves
How can something so beautiful do so much damage?
Before we realize
That it hardly ever works out any other way.

The avalanche buries the group of hikers,
The glistening pelt of a tiger latches onto an unfortunate,
The glowing beacon in the sky will burn you if you touch it.

 scalding sun