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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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

Final Entry of the Positive Poetry Project

So…this is it.  This is the post I’ve been prepromoting all week, the poem I’ve described as the epitome of this challenge, the pinnacle of positive poetry–a poem about happiness itself.

I actually wrote this one a couple months ago; believe me, I’ve TRIED to write a better poem about happiness, but at the moment, in the mix of all my adolescent fervor, I’m gosh-darn confused about what happiness is, exactly–this poem explores that confusion in the least negative way possible.  (You should have seen the other ones I was writing…)

Also, this poem is SUPPOSED to and NEEDS to be spoken word, and it is very much bugging me that it’s not at the moment.  I AM looking into audio hosters that would allow me to embed it in here, but for some reason the very thought of posting my voice on the internet makes me feel quite vulnerable.  There is also the indisputable fact that I will hate how it sounds if I DO upload it–recordings of your voice never sound right, know what I mean??

Without further ado…

Science

We study fear

and isolation, depression, death

so we have data to turn to in our most desperate hours

some small thread of logic that feels soothing to weave into the folds of our brains

 

We study terror

if only because that thread will stitch us back to a state in which we no longer have to analyze

 

When you are drunk with love you don’t want to think of

the hormones coursing through you, the biological need for reproduction

because perhaps,

you think,

just perhaps,

it defies science entirely!

and then it

doesn’t.

There are textbooks

written on the theory of love–

I checked.

 

But–I am writing this poem and I want it to be beautiful.

I am not writing this poem to trigger all the pleasure centers of your brain.

 

I am aware

that we have specially advanced brains for calculating and discovering

but we also have hearts that bleed

and I am also aware that that’s much too woo-woo to include in a poem about science so I’ll just say this–

 

When I’m elated, jovial, ecstatic, thrilled,

impassioned, joyful, cheery, radiant, overjoyed,

on Cloud 9 in 7th heaven,

You look at me and affirm, “Dopamine.”

But I want to ask you

why it is,

then,

that we have so many other words for it.

 

 

Ahhh…so positive. 😉  I have a feeling that my poetry didn’t get MUCH more positive over the course of this project, but I did learn some interesting things about myself through this eight-day foray into…poetray (couldn’t resist, sorry); I’m thinking I’ll do a recap of the whole experience later.

(Speaking of recaps, what on earth happened to my Monthly Recap for January 2013?  I’m sorry.  Without running to keep me sane, I appear to be going a little bit senile…in my teens.  Nothing really awesomesauce occurred, at any rate, so don’t think you’re missing out on too much :P).

–The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #3

In response to the theme:
Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities infamously begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What time in your life does this remind you of? Use this opening in a contemporary setting to describe something you’ve experienced.

A Tale of Two Cities 987 miles apart:

It was the best of times

And the worst.

That crystalline summer sun

smelling of chlorine and cardboard boxes

and black Sharpie marker

pushing its way through elliptical skylights

in what I never thought I would have to call The Old House

made anything seem possible

made everything seem surreal.

 

Two friends gathered in a spidery cement basement

wove tulips out of pipe cleaners

(I still have those, Christy)

wove friendship from embroidery floss

wove laughter and slivers of light into that

cold

silent

basement

cold silent time.

 

Cat’s Cradle by the pool,

prancing through prairie like fools,

both faces plastered with elementary school smiles,

not knowing how it would feel–

how impossibly, utterly, awfully real,

is the difference of nine hundred eighty seven miles.

 

“I’ll call every day–”

“Wish you didn’t have to go away–”

“But we’ll keep in touch, you’ll see.”

No way for either to know

Of the way things would go

Once “me and her” became just…me.

 

Because Life

gets

complicated

 

I whisper her name

and something like shame

on the tip of my tongue, starts to sting

And I know I should call

But can’t work up the gall

For fear that that phone will just

ring

and

ring

and

ring.

 

It’s a good thing I’m so contrary.

 

Dialing anyway now–

so many zeroes–

pity nothing rhymes with zero–

pity it’s the number for nothing,

squandered dreams, squished hopes,

no value, worthlessness, the epitome of emptiness-

No, stop, positivity.

 

Zero-zero-nine

Now at the end of the line

I hear the silence of the buzz of her room

And then that voice known so well–

Again weaving that spell

A friendship two years abandoned can so easily resume.

 

I’m drenched, now, in Pacific Northwest rain

(Cell reception is only outside)

But now I am sure:  Whether they bring us bliss

or a pain of the most needling kind

Once in your heart, people permanently reside.

 

 

 

This poem is not quite positive, but not quite negative, either.  Three poems already brings me to (almost) the halfway point of this weeklong endeavor, and in the latter half I’ll strive even more away from this neutrality–on the last day, I’ll take on the ultimate challenge, and write about happiness itself.  Until then,

-The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #2

To the prompt:

Opening Line:
 
“She had the best laugh–loud, sudden–I’d hear it in my sleep.” 
Use this line to begin or end a short story, or somewhere in the middle.
I suppose I’ll write a poem about this She.
No, Really, It’s Hilarious.

She had the best laugh–

loud, sudden–

I’d hear it in my sleep.

Ringing out over the cemetery

the one we could not avoid on our homeward walks together

managing to slice sharply through even that long-still air

the blade of a fan made of light and love.

The way it burst from her throat

At the oddest moments

with our fleece-mittened hands a swinging pendulum between us

was the one thing

that could remind me

that all this

life

is surely so

wonderfully

funny.

 

 

(Sigh) Still, with the cemetery reference.  And the past-tense.  But I blame the given-to-me opening line for the past tense, and the poem is “positive” overall.

–The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project

So I have this problem.

It’s not necessarily a problem, depending on who you ask, but if you ask me, it’s a problem.

I write such depressing poetry.

I like to consider myself a good poet, but for whatever reason whenever I go to pen something I can’t help but morph the whole thing into several stanzas of despair and twisted agony, and I can’t keep from throwing in a reference to suicide or death or cutting or giant metropolises engulfed in flame…

Yeah.  I need to work on it.

I think part of my problem is that I’m not pushing myself hard enough.  Sure, I’m pretty proud of the desolate poems I do churn out, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the course of my writing “career”, it’s that it is MUCH easier and MUCH more fun to instill an emotion like sorrow or terror in your reader than it is to describe happy, peaceful things.  It’s usually more powerful and haunting, too.  In example, have you ever heard of Edgar Allan Poe?  Who wrote such poems as “The Raven”, “Farewell Leanor”, and “Annabel Lee”?

What about Kay I. Kramer, who wrote a poem called “The Beauty of Nature”?

I rest my case.

Nonetheless, for one full week, I’m going to challenge myself here and post a POSITIVE poem daily–inspired by the daily Figment writing themes delivered to my email inbox–not quite daily, but I have at least seven unread ones stored up.

Oh, and this project is going to be followed through, you hear me?  With the amount of shtuff going on in my life right now, I realize that it is fully ridiculous to be investing in a week-long poetry project as well, but this is something I care about; I promise it will not be fated as the Savory October Challenge (fail), or the December Photo Project (didn’t happen).

So…first poem, inspired by the prompt: 

Create an emotion using only concrete nouns and phrases that depict concrete images and sensations (nouns that represent tangible things, like “dirt on a new white shirt,” “the smell of bacon,” and “air” instead of “dirtiness,” “hunger,” or “love”). List these things; use the images you create in order to provoke your desired emotion.
Oh, man, that’s annoyingly hard.  Okay, so, I’m “creating”…”hope”, mmmkay?
The Human Clot
  • rubble
  • pillars of ash, where once stood a kitchen table, a plush sofa
  • the color black, around the edges of all things
  • the puckering of the floorboards, the curling, the furling inwards
  • the darkened banners of surrender, telling of a life of sugar
  • rolled in salt, and soot
  • a clot of humanity
  • the would-be scab on the wound
  • pressing in, congealing
  • no more blood escaping
  • this clot
  • hosts benefit concerts
  • where men paint their faces black
  • and white
  • and scream into
  • black microphones
  • and turn their wailing into money
  • and this clot
  • gives all they have
  • to build something new
  • a house
  • not so black
  • the white walls and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling
  • putty pinning that two-dimensional universe into place
  • just to bring a smile to the face of that girl in the white bed
  • (hospital beds are always white)
  • (want to make you forget blackness)
  • the girl in the white bed
  • with oxygen whistling into her
  • the smell of maple syrup
  • (sometimes oxygen is not enough to breathe)
  • (and even oxygen has to be taken away sometime
  • but when the tubes are removed
  • and the only concrete phrases are
  • the new house
  • the sweaty construction workers
  • the men with black and white faces
  • and the thin little girl off oxygen
  • and all of them smiling
  • [not the house]
  • breathing feels right again
  • and the smile bounces
  • to the faces of newscasters
  • and newswatchers
  • and dissolves
  • alka-seltzer smile
  • and the human clot flakes away
  • leaves a scar
  • but scars mean that wounds healed)

Okay, I realize that even that had quite a dark tinge to it.  But it ended happy, I’m getting better, and I wrote it in about twenty minutes total (reading the prompt to finishing the poem)…thoughts? 🙂

–The Girl in the Orange