Saturday, December 12, 2015


(This is really a response to 'Advent,' so I might be cheating a little bit.)


Having a door opened and not wanting to step through. It doesn’t feel real, doesn’t feel right.

 It was a tricky door; its lock needed a special touch every time you tried.  You only ever picked the lower lock. The easy one, the one you could reach. Time and time again you’d go there, more confident each time, more experienced with failures adorning your utility belt of adulthood. But it never quite clicked, never connected and each time you’d go away exactly as confused as the time before. So now, they are standing here, holding that door open that you struggled with for so long, swinging it back and forth like it’s nothing, and you hesitate.

You don’t like the look of the door anymore. It is no longer your door, you don’t recognize it. The scratches from your key have been painted over; you wonder who took the time to do that. This is not a metaphor, this is your damn door and someone else is messing with it. And you don’t like it.

Why’d you even bother trying all this time? So now this has become something else entirely, something sinister inside of you. You don’t want to go through and you hate that your door has lost its sparkle. And you hate it because you know this is all in your head, that you invented this villain, and you are the one stopping yourself from just playing it cool, staying calm and walking through that door.

But you see (you see), you have reasons. This is not your first rodeo. You’ve been through doors that have swung back around and hit you, ones that locked behind you- mostly you’ve just met more doors.  OK, this might be a metaphor now. When everywhere you look is a sea of doors, but never any keys, you’d think an open one would be a welcome sight. But instead it’s illogically suspicious.

There is no end to this story, this is your life and always has been: an endless tunnel of doors. You never exit or enter them the same way twice, and as much as you’d like to say you never look back, you do. Let’s be real: of course you do. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

From Maria's 'the conversation stretched through the night'

The conversation stretched through the night
I failed to make it land almost right
It reached to make it but tipped at the last
Making me then wish for a past
That I never had then and now
That I am old enough that time has passed
I waste my foolish hanging with a bow
To what was then and how
I am a stranger to myself and perhaps a foe
The myth I need and cannot find to let myself go
To smile at the then while laughing at her maybe
Clasping the dream, I scowl at she
Who winks fondly from behind the glass where she likes to hide
Leaving my confidence blown open wide

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Before we had brains, we had hearts

Before we had brains, we had hearts

 Taken from bits of my journal

I’m in the future now, and it’s not like you’d imagine.

I hear the bulldozer getting louder as I swat the grass off my ear, scratch my leg with my other leg and wonder if the world is about to end.

“We belong only by doing,’ the machinery hums and I realize it’s too far away to affect me.

My skin crawls with the uncomfortable itch of all the things I’m not doing, but I don’t move and I think of you.

You once told me that someone said you were a static person.

This was back when we actually still believed that age would bring clarity and that picking scabs would help them heal. That’s not how scabs work.

The conversation relaxed through the night, and almost landed just right. But there was a lot of space between the things we felt and the words we said.

“I never quite can be what I’m trying to be,” you said, “I can’t be what I want to be. What I am is always an accident.”

“People who read writers like Chekhov are more empathetic,” I respond.  “It’s scientifically proven. So a least you have that.”

It never used to be this hard to get at meaning. Before we never needed permission to be big, to talk big.

I kissed you, which was always terrifying. There are so many ways it can always go, and half of them are bad.

“You just love making rules for everything, “ you said when I pulled away, and I knew you were right.

We stayed like that till dawn.

We are an accumulation of our rejections and failures.

I am in the future now, and it’s not like you’d imagine. But now, we have more important things to worry about.

All the givers are gold.

The way is clear and I am there for you.

“It was part of the game. It was important.”

“Flowers will protect us.”

I don’t know what it feels like to be unconnected.

“The love is in the fish guts, so I’m told.” My friend for life explained once, as coffee spilled and I pretended to understand. “Before we had brains, we had hearts.”

Embedding intentionality.
I know that you know.
I know that you know that I know.

Virginia Wolf is the master of this.

I know exactly what I want, just not what form it will take.  

My uncle says that everything we imagine is real. That’s a dangerous thought.

“I shall not exist if you do not imagine me.” There is no harm in smiling.

So here we go again, the same old thing.

I think I’d rather go play on the swing.

Monday, November 30, 2015


It used to be about the little doors
Numbered and impossible to prise without tearing
But now it is about waiting
And thinking
And thinking
And waiting
And wanting to know the past and future
What is meant and what will be
Who is right and what they mean
Watching the light and knowing the good
Listening for the truth
And hoping to know it when it comes
It is opening a door with more than chocolate promised
It is having the door opened
And wanting to step through

Tuesday, November 24, 2015



I went to Home Depot to make myself feel better.

My dad used to take me there when I was little, when I had broken my arm and had to go get the cast looked at before they freed me from it. This trip to Home Depot-after-the-doctors thing might have only happened a few times, but it always made me feel better about having a caste from my wrist up past my elbow.  Aisles upon aisles of not-yet-made things, tree houses and play props and PVC pipe for miles. Dad might remember these trips differently, might remember Elementary-School-Maria getting bored and pulling on his arm when he would enter into an hour-long conversation with literally every employee (he’s a carpenter), but I remember those trips fondly.

So, I went to Home Depot to make myself feel better. It was a weird day. All I needed was a watch battery, but I happened to be near Home Depot so I thought ‘why not?’

Even just driving up to the store transported me, but not where I thought. A few years ago, I was staying with three of my best friends in England, spending the final days of my three year tour in their spare room, hanging out. In exchange for the rent I should have been paying my friend that month, I painted the room I was staying in. I spent a few weeks painting a white room a different shade of white, which involved a few trips to the Home Depot-like store. It was the same feeling, same smell of sawdust, concrete and possibility. From Virginia to Oxford to Baltimore, these stores will always feel the same.

But this is not Virginia or Oxford.

I went straight for the batteries, thinking I’d get what I came for and then wander around and see if there was anything else I did not yet know I needed. I found the right one just as a middle-aged man to my right started talking to me.

“Are you going to be alone for the holidays?”  he asked.  His voice was high and soft and friendly.

“What?” I asked.

“Are you going to be alone for the holidays? I will be.”

I can’t remember what I said, but I know it was not the right thing.

“I could give you my number,” he continued, “and maybe I could come with you.”

“I’m sorry, but I won’t be around,” I said, lamely.

“There is something special about you, I can tell.”

“Oh I’m nothing special, that’s for sure,” I said. “I’ve got to go, have a good day.”

I walked away a little faster than I normally would, feeling much worse than I usually do in Home Depot.  The portcullis of possibility lifted, the plywood and PVC pipe no longer looked like tree houses and time machines.  The world smacked me in the face and not for the first time reminded me that I actually did grow up.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Only words (or Considering a Retort)

You know those words are waiting
Dancing on the damp curve of your tongue
Abseiling your tonsils, desperate for escape
Imagined letters rattle your gated teeth
Ordering the portcullis raised though judgement protests

You know you should keep quiet
That it is none of your business
That once you open your mouth
The words will not conveniently reverse

You know there will be no orderly queue
Of words to march back into thought's safe space
Where they shimmy, swill and swell
Until chance whispers maybe it is a good idea to let them loose

After all, how much trouble can they possibly cause?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Once, you knew me.

Once, you knew me. 

Once, you knew me.
Small, shy, hardly there.
I made my own impact,
did my own thing.
And you were there,
you knew what I was up to.
But that was then,
and this is now.
And things have changed!

I've cut my hair,
short and sleek.
I threw away all my clothes
the moment I got back here.
I only bought new ones
when I needed to.
I moved somewhere new,
found some friends on the internet,
and slowly made them real.

Once, when you knew me,
I didn't like to talk on the phone.
Once, when you knew me,
talking in front of people made my ears red.
Once, when you knew me,
I thought I was unintelligent.

Now, on occasion,
I would love to chat on the phone.
Now, when I do presentations,
my ears still glow, but I smile through it.
Now, I accept the things I don't know,
and ask a lot of questions.

Once, you knew me.
Now, come meet me again!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Response to a reunion

Once, you knew me, so you remember me
Now as though I was the same person still,
But I was pretending then, hiding me
Behind that girl you think you remember.
I know this because I don't know you now
And I never did so stop pretending,
Keep your memories to yourself and go.
Run riot with your school friends and move on
Leave this girl who was not your friend alone.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Will It Matter At All?

Will It matter At All?

‘Can’t come- too many babies.’
‘Have a drink for me! Wish I could make it.’
But you go- it’s been ten years and you’ve kept up with everyone you liked, but you go anyway.
They all group at once, as always.
Sociably Popular
Those really are the only groups.
You are all a quilt with only two colors, sewn together by the Socially Popular: those who can transcend all perceived barriers with conversation.
You could be one of them- you are different than you were in high school.
Your job is to talk to people- you can talk to anyone.
Now anyway, but never back then when these folks knew you.
Everyone’s-first-crush takes pictures.
Someone made a cake.
Beer flows like blood through everyone’s veins.
Of course there is venison- this is the country after all. You're in a barn and outside, all around are stars and November darkness. 
Lots of eye contact made and avoided.
Lots of familiar faces and names lost in indifference.
But, in the end, you don’t hate it. Not as much as some people will when they wake up the next morning.
You sort of wish you had talked more.
You wish Zack had recited the Raven.
You wish you’d eaten more venison.
Mostly, you wish you’d talked, tried a little harder. As always.

But in ten more years, will it matter at all?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Response to Maria's poem

Decisions, decisions, what will I make?
A mistake or a wild leap to the stars?
A hit, a miss, will it matter at all?
Such a tiny moment, as the world spins,
Dissect that step, move back again and then
Wobble as you make thejump and scream loud

What Will I Make?

What Will I Make?

Decisions, decision- what will I make?
Graffiti? A poem? Patience to rhyme?
There’s more than just love baked into this cake.

When you’re a kid, it’s easy to fake-
older you get, it is harder to climb.
Decisions, decisions- what will I make?

So we try a few things- try not to break.
It’s hard when you don’t have even a dime.
There’s more than just love baked into this cake.

When you’re lying in bed, still wide awake,
the paths that open are covered in slime.
Decisions, decisions- what will I make?

You try to be smart, for everyone’s sake,
and your childlike ways help you to mime.
There’s more than just love baked into this cake.

And now I’m afraid to make a mistake.
What I don’t have is a whole lot of time.
Decisions, decisions - what will I make?
There’s more than just love baked into this cake.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crossing over.

Tempted by the bridge
It waits for your decision
Into the future

Or stay in the past and walk
Now dusk falls there is no talk



Across this bridge, now:
enjoy the view all you want. 
Falling makes bridges. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Time to be part of it all.

Image result for rainbow

Look at that
Get out of the house
And look
Don't look.  See.

As an honoured contributor to this fine blog, I'm responding to Maria's piece on Gladys yesterday.  The girl needs a reason to get out of the house (Gladys, not Maria) and I thought a rainbow might just do it.  Nano 2016 day three!



Gladys never liked being invisible much.  It was interesting, she’d give it that: it was, after all, something she had always wanted. Now, whenever she tripped into a room, no one noticed. Now, she would never have to meet new people. Now, clothes were optional and less stressful.  These aspects lived up to the hype and more. The box didn’t lie: she did feel like a completely new person!

It was around when she realized it was permanent that she became less satisfied.  The panic one would think would squeeze your heart upon the realization that you will be invisible forever did not hit, however. It was more of a slow burn. But Gladys always had been a level headed and logical person: she knew it was no use to lose herself, especially now that her physical self was no more.  But, it turns out being invisible is not all it’s chalked up to be. Now, whenever she tripped into a room, no one could catch her. Now, she would never get to meet new people. Now, what was the point of getting dressed anyway?


In response to Rebecca's poem in the comments:

Girl invisible
Blood beneath the street
Breath in the wild air

Run now, hard and fast and free
Grasp that shadow - it is you