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.

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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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Solicited Advice to Prepubescent Nintendo Freaks

was is the title of the poem I performed last night.

Very casual venue; a public library, of all things.  So I got all dressed up in a slouchy Mario T-Shirt but, it has something to do with the poem!

The performance was recorded; not with the awesome camera of bloggity fame, but with a decidedly less high-resolution thingymabob–hopefully, this will not cause you to deign from watching it.

I love poetry, and I am quite very much nervous to post this on here–for some reason it feels much, much more nerve-wracking than just posting a written poem.  You finally get to hear my voice, and see me in my full gawky teenage splendor.  (Note:  I look SO TINY in this video!  And I sound it as well!  Know that I never seem this small in my head…)

Solicited Advice to Prepubescent Nintendo Freaks

Transcript:

You are turning ten

and I want you to know

I remember what that feels like.

We were about to move 988 miles westward

I started wearing deodorant and a training bra–

you won’t–

and the summer smelled like the pages of a manga book, and chlorine.

Mostly I was marveling over the fact that I was now

two

whole

hands.

I want you to know

that life is about to get

so much harder.

I want you to know that really the only way you’ll be able to have the vaguest idea where you’re headed

is by consulting your moral compass, and even that

is terribly indecisive sometimes.

Most times.

Life gets complicated, bro.

I want you to know this because no one ever told me

but I do not want it to sound like a warning because

look at the solar system, the veins on a leaf,

the pattern on the pad of your finger.

Complexity is beautiful.

 

 

And about those video games of yours–

They teach you

that anyone who attacks you

is a bad guy;

kill on sight.

They teach you that the number of points you earn

is based on the amount of blood you spill

the amount of lives you take

the amount of coins you gather and the amount of

destruction you leave in your wake.

They teach you that entertainment

will always be provided to you

in the form of high-definition graphics and an overdone plotline

They teach you that the princess needs saving,

the dragons need slaying,

the mushrooms need flattening

the galaxy needs traversing

the only life paths are scoundrels, scouts, and soldiers.

 

Maybe not by much, but

I’ve been around longer than them,  Easton,

let me tell you that

when you meet your Princess Peach–

don’t try to lock her in a tower,

the only reason she’ll ever need saving

is if you put her up there.

You are not Bowser;

you have an unfair advantage in terms of height but I trust you not to abuse your size

and your gender;

do not flatten kingdoms for the fun of seeing the Toads run screaming.

The world may give you points for that but I will not,

because I am your Rosalina,

I will watch over you always and I will not find it funny if my humble starship and my family of lumas

are the very ones that you are snatching stars away from.

My beacon will always burn bright for you

I will not always be there to see you but just look up,

I am that star–

the second to the right, yes, that

is the soft glow of my laptop as I type out a poem for you, surf the internet for memes that will make you smile.

 

 

I want you to know that this is special–

don’t you ever be in a hurry to grow up because it will always happen,

and you get nowhere if you try to pedal backwards,

believe me.

 

I want you to know that you will be a different person in the next few years

you will need something to define yourself by

but don’t be afraid to let that go–

the trouble with dictionaries is that they will try to define you in terms of other words,

when the language itself is not making sense

toss the whole thing out.

 

I want you to know that it’s a good thing my Language Arts teacher made me write this poem,

because I want you to know that there’s no way you’d hear half of this otherwise–

 

I want you to know that I will never tell you this but you

are special

I wait for the day when you will

become a Shooting Star,

when I will try to chase you down on my Wario Bike only to have to surrender with a quiet smile

Your life is ahead of you and you will laugh down it like the final lap of Rainbow Road.

I want to be there when I will flip away from my cooking shows and see you on the news,

and I will be so filled with pride I will need to call someone and tell them,

That’s my brother

only to find I’m halfway through dialing the number before I realize

it’s your own.

 

I want you to know

that I know

that you are probably squirming in your seat right now

but I hope you know

this is the first day of the rest of your life,

I will send you a copy of this poem from opposite sides of the country when you are in your twenties and

Peach has abandoned you.

Because Luigi is faithful like that.

I will send you a copy of this poem when you meet Daisy,

when you grow out of your boyhood once and for all

and still have the women swooning over your dimples–

it shall be excellent blackmail

 

I want you to know

yourself.

 

©2013 The Girl in the Orange

Allow Me

A poem I wrote, stumbling into my bed at midnight after the play’s cast party.  It’s dark…did I even have to say that?  But, like I said, that night was one of the best I’ve had in a long time; just because I wrote a dark poem does not mean I was in a dark mood!  I’m not quite sure how this is possible, but most of the adults in my life are skeptical of this–I promise, I was VERY happy.  In fact, I was HAPPIER after I wrote this!  It’s like bile; I need to get these little (or big) things out of my system through poetry in order to feel like I should.  In fact, here’s a shorter poem, a haiku, expressing this:

I spin my poems from

black thread; it keeps me smiling

at all other times.

 

Okay? 🙂  Okay.  So, now that you don’t fear for my emotional welfare:

 

Allow Me

Allow me this.  Please.

 

I am so, so tired

of trying to decide what’s a mask and what’s not

whether your smile conceals a thousand crooked years of weary agony,

and whether that’s something I can fix;

trying to figure out who I should be to them and who they are to me.

 

Why must so many people hide behind their makeup and their smiles?

 

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

 

How many anguished deaths occur every minute while I, naive to the things people lock away with their grins and hushed whispers,

dance on?

 

We are all contained inside

a bubble

of happiness now,

or at least

I think we are.

So allow me this.

Everyone’s smiling and laughing and singing and even if

the sobs are just being mistaken for giggles, let’s let ourselves be

swept up by this

This…

joy

free of suspicion,

not bound by skepticism or analysis, rationality

Please hug me and smile

Tell me you’re okay, but DO NOT LIE

I don’t think I could take it if you started speaking in those tongues they use

dry deception

 

Allow me this moment, please.

I need to believe people contain some truth.

 

 

(This poem was also published on my Figment channel.)