Friday, July 6, 2018

before you go

Before you go
Collect your fingerprints from this place 
So they do not become the ghosts of you
For I know you once made yourself at home
But I cannot have you lingering 
Where you no longer tread

Before you go
Erase the lines of your history
From my palms
And take back your stories, dear storyteller
So I will not catch them slipping from my own tongue

Before you go
Retrace every path you have wandered here
Tell the wind that you stand upon foreign land
Until you believe it yourself
And perhaps a breeze will kindly efface
Your footprints

Before you go
Clear out these crowded rooms
For they are stocked full of memories 
I cannot walk without tripping over
So please reclaim every piece of yourself that resides 
Within the mansion of my mind

Before you go
Wipe the angry tears from my eyes
And explain again to me the art of letting go
But most importantly
Do not ever
Leave without saying goodbye

I'll spend hours trying to write something and I get nothing, and then this spontaneous creation springs into existence
so I’ll get back to you when I find an explanation for that

Thursday, June 7, 2018

river of stone

The night encased the moon child in a silver robe 
As it soaked in her whisper, where shall I go? 
To the river, it said, with a curling ethereal touch 
It had breaths so close she felt lilac tears 
Shivering in its soul 

The forest opened a gnarly embrace to receive her 
For it had carved the arched outlines of her heartstrings into ancient oak
It said, I feel your ache, tenderfoot, and my paths are inclined to your footfall 
Where shall I carry you now? and she replied, to the river, 
With a voice fragile and dripping velvet 

Skeletal tree fingers swept against her skin and guided her to where 
The foliage sloped and dew blossomed on her lashes 
Her knees bowed with the trees as she listened for the river’s poetry 
She waited for it to wash across her bent figure and cleanse her of many sorrows 
But the water never came, only the wind’s guttural moan

Kneeling girl with the tight lips and hollow eyes, what is it you seek? 
She answered, the night sent me here 
The wind shuddered and clutched her in its arms 
And it repeated the question, what is it you seek?
The lie I do not know rolled cleanly off her tongue

She had never lied to the forest before
Her betrayal was a gliding knife that sliced it open and gave it life
Springing forth veins that drew her back into its clutches as it howled,
Child of the skybreather, have you thrown your honesty to the wolves?
Have they sunk their teeth into your throat? 

She struggled in vain before she opened her mouth and confessed 
I have replaced my thoughts with theirs and so I have lost my mind
And I have wandered for so many years I have forgotten where I am from
Now I want to feel my secrets unravel from my spine
There is a bitter flavor in my mouth and I want to taste the sun

The forest released her and threw her against the riverbed
Look, the wind cried, look at the river of stone
This is your heart, these are your bones,
A cracked and shriveled wasteland
Where is your love, child, where did it go?

In response she testified
That she had loved and loved and loved and lost
She had bled herself dry and weathered storms that
Battered and hardened her heart
And now if she closed her eyes she was walking barren land

What is it you seek? asked the wind
My home, she sobbed, where is my home?
I have found the river of stone and there are no tides 
I have only found questions that leave my doubts open and raw
Oh, my eyes are open now, and they are burning, burning, burning

A cold heart thawed beside the ghost of the river
The lionhearted girl had lost her roar and she ached for it
Her insides were numb and learning again how to feel
And if she listened she could hear a voice breathe into her soul
It is courageous to have a soft heart in a cruel world

Kneeling by the river of stone she invited love into her heart again
She said, wipe your feet at the door and listen to me tell of your worth
Let me reflect the love that has already been bestowed upon me
Because the night sent me to the river of stone and before my own eyes 
Grace flooded the wasteland, grace filled my soul

But the night had not finished yet 
The wind drew her beneath its billowing wings and sighed
Child, what is it you seek? 
I am seeking my home, she answered, and I will reach it one day
But it is far beyond this river of stone

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

blue and burning

time is caving in;
it is crawling beneath my skin.
it is sprawling across the lines
etched across the walls and the blinds
and your eyelids fall when they do.
i want to ask you
where is the ground beneath wavelengths of blue?

it crawls up your arms and i wonder if you hear the alarms
or my breath and your name pouring into empty space
or the heaving of my lungs because i've run all this way to touch base
with the familiar story of you and the paths you have wandered
the days you will claim you have squandered
so i can press my lips together in a vain attempt to suppress laughter
as something soft drips between cracks in my heart's broken rafter.

but you are saturated with sadness and attempts to strip you of it are madness.
instead i press my palms against yours and recall psalms
i have read when i have felt broken and if they are spoken
maybe they will open your eyes to a remedy
or if you like i’ll sing your favorite melody
i’ll stay even if my fingertips are stained blue;
until you awake i’ll stay with you.

i’ll paint stars on the ceilings and unleash the waterfalls down the sides of my face
i’ll mix blue with violet and crimson and orange hues and collapse shuddering against your bookcase.
the letters and the ink will kiss the pages like the wind does the sea when a storm rages.
i’ll gather the blue and the rest of the colors and i’ll leave you sunsets in a trailing wake
though the ground may quake
if it shatters it will remain a work of art
like the masterpiece of your fragmented heart.

this beautiful mess reminds me that when i was a child i colored inside the lines

and now i blur the chiseled edges of my own designs
with authenticity and scars knit with gold.
i hope i don’t forget what it’s like to be young when i’m old
with the walls of my perception stained all the colors of life
after the happiness and after the strife
memory of this process as sharp as a knife.

i know pieces of this sorrow might be the ghosts of tomorrow
or perhaps we will carry it with us through the maze of our years.
either way i know we will step into the sunlight when the smoke clears
but for now every inch of you is soaked in blue: your skin, your bones, your hair.
i dip my fingertips in the sunset then your forehead to leave rippled prints of painted air
a brief sense of the horizon you would see
if you could wake up and laugh again with me.

as the tides rise i murmur to you

that if you are soaked in sadness the shade of blue you are loved.
if in the yellow sunshine you and i dance you are loved.
if you are bleeding red fury or leaking gray indifference
if you are wandering in the night seeking deliverance
if you are burying your pain beneath folds of a facade
you are loved in light of the fact that you are flawed.

and if you are, like me, a million burning technicolor shades at the same time

sleeping, awake, or groping for a rhyme, a rhythm, to mend the unsteadiness you carry
if you are a crestfallen wanderer seeking a sanctuary
whether you are blue or yellow or gray or black or red
or teeming sunsets or raging oceans or a sky devoid of stars curving the earth with dread
open your eyes and look into mine and understand my endeavor
to remind you again and again that you are loved forever.
for i am the epitome of turbulence and you the breeze.
i am the girl of dripping inky hands and quick breaths whispering please.
i hope you don’t mind that i drank in every story on your bookcase 
and now amid my churning thoughts i have stepped into the space
between reality and dreams where nothing is as it seems
and i am fading out while you are leaking blue—
it seems we both are in need of a rescue.

if i let go we will both fall slow.
if i stop trying to cram our shattered pieces back into our old puzzle
we will be more beautiful than broken bones and aching muscle.
if i have the courage to step outside the door perhaps you will wake up and follow
blue and hollow
out of the room of my burning streaming fires and your oceans so vast
and we will find our savior waiting with redemption steadfast.
and we will be free at last.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

eyes open

I learn to breathe again, standing in the night with tendrils of starlight to keep me company while 
illusions tug at my hands and weave through my hair; if I close my eyes I will fade into a dream
 I will walk the roads we’ve been before with bittersweet nostalgia soaking into my fingerprints
and everything I touch will be tainted by it; though the concept of my hideaway is tempting 
I would rather keep my eyes open for now because I want to see the flowers, the real ones,
and I want to inhale fresh air into my aching lungs and I want to bury my toes into the
earth and I want to sing until I lose my voice because it is here I finally know what I
want, I want it all to be real, I want to run from the scrutinizing eyes and the crisp 
tones and the broken glass I always find myself touching because I’m plagued 
with this aroused passion to love and reach and help and when I’m alone
 the light crawls through the blinds in my bedroom and dances across
my arms and I like the patterns it engraves into my mind and I 
know most people might prefer to close their eyes and feel 
the moment but sometimes I would rather keep mine 
open to drink in the images and I’m not sure why 
but what most people consider mundane 
fascinates me; I wrote a letter I’ll 
probably never send, and oh do 
you mind? that I think 
in images but 
I’m burning 
to translate
them into words 
and if I don’t write 
them down, lay them out, 
split them open and examine 
every vein and every stem of life
inside I might burst at the seams and
don’t you see that if I couldn’t write I would 
spend nights screaming into pillows, days biting 
my tongue, and my hands would grasp at emptiness in
 the dark with the inability to hold a pencil because I wouldn’t 
know what to do with it, and if written expression wasn’t at my 
disposal frustration would tear my mind open and I would pour my 
words out to the walls, and you know most people who talk to walls are 
considered out of their minds, but maybe some just don’t know how
 to express the storms and the oceans inside of them; do you mind?
 that I overthink everything so what I speak most of the time 
is neatly trimmed to the point of unoriginality and I’m
 sorry if that bores you but the art I write is raw and 
unless I am writing it for another person’s eyes
 it is not trimmed, it is flawed and open 
and alive, because in the 
starlight I learn to 
breathe again
I weave 
into my hair 
like a young girl 
with felicity in her step 
and the dream wraps me up
in the wind and tries to lift me
above the ground and the skies are
 oh so lovely but I politely decline the
 invitation because I yearn to absorb
momentarily the reality so I
think for now I’ll keep
 my eyes open

Saturday, April 7, 2018


On this breezy spring evening I wander along a dirt road,
Young and restless with my heart on my sleeve,
For it is here I am chasing happiness,
Though every time I believe I am holding it again
It slips through the gaps between my fingers
And soars away beyond my reach.

I thirst for the taste of it,
Recalling it as a refreshing swig of water for the traveler in the thick of the badlands,
The rush of the breeze in my hair on a sweltering summer day,
The sight of the night sky, stretched out around me,
Stars like punctured holes in a black painted canvas,
The cosmos that pours wonder into my heart.

Happiness remains a recollection and nothing more;
The memory leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth,
A heaviness in my chest,
And a grim determination to continue my journey,
For I refuse to cease my trek
Until I find the elusive feeling again.

My head is down, my feet stumbling across the untamed ground,
When suddenly, I hear it—
A child’s laughter, ripping through the heavy atmosphere,
Crystal clear and spilling happiness,
And I lunge forward to capture it, clasp my hands around it, before it fades . . .
I draw it close to myself and listen.

The aroma of it overwhelms me;
If I shut my eyes, I might believe I am standing in a field of wildflowers,
Breathing in the rich fragrances of gardenias, daisies, wisterias,
And as I inhale, it floods my veins—
The happiness I no longer seek because I hold it now,
And it hooks me, overtakes me.

I hold it until it evaporates and dissolves into the air again,
And I know it will rebirth as something new, though it will please me the same;
For now, I sink like a stone to the ground,
Opening my empty fists and gazing at my hands, where perhaps I might find a trace of it:
The feeling every human chases,
The fleeting thrill that teaches us how to feel alive.

We all desire to build a home out of the feeling,
But it flies faster than we can run,
And in the end our souls are searching for something more,
A fulfillment we will never find unless we search beyond this broken planet;
But until we die our flesh pursues whatever causes us happiness
Because happiness numbs the hurt, if only for a moment.

i wrote this for a class so it feels different from my normal poetry and i can’t decide exactly how i feel about it. it depicts the human struggle, i think: the wrestling of trying to fill a God-sized hole with a temporary emotion. the emotion (happiness) is not meant to be an idol, but a blessing to receive and enjoy. if you want something more, joy comes from the Lord, and it is something you can carry with you. you just gotta let God in first.

Monday, March 26, 2018

ghost town

there is something about the ghost town that draws her.
perhaps it is the winding roads, or the few people that tread them,
or the loneliness that bleeds from the alleyways, tainting the place from the inside out.
loneliness she has already tasted innumerable times, and yet it continues to find her.
it is on her breath now; it lodges in her throat during the day
and the back of her eyelids at night.

there is a red string tied around her wrist,
trailing behind her through the paths she has wandered,
reciting its promise to lead her home when she’s ready. 
for now, she is content with being simply a fragmentary drifter, 
roaming the cracked, dry, asphalt streets,
as the taste of it soaks into her veins.

her eyes flicker across the faces of those passing by;
she doesn’t know anybody’s name, and nobody knows hers.
so she wonders as she wanders, tugging along her red string,
about the minds and the lives surrounding her,
about the red strings trailing only a few feet from her own.
she wonders about the eyes: the smiling ones and the angry ones,
the ones with the dark circles beneath them,
the ones with the skin wrinkled at the corners. 

she wonders about all those heartbeats and all those souls:

if her red string were to cross with one of theirs,
if she were to hold on tight and follow it home, 
what would she learn of where it’s been?
if there is one sentiment to which her nomad soul has clung
it is that the facades are misleading, but the strings are not.

she stares at the frontier of the town, pivots on her heel and scans the outskirts,
and the insides, and the cracked, dry, asphalt streets snaking through.
there’s dust in the creases of the pavement, and now it’s in the creases of her palms.
she rubs her weary eyes, and her fingers withdraw stained black.
there’s a slight pull at her wrist; she glances down and realizes 
her red string is calling her back to a temporary home. 

it’s a lengthy trek to the motel, but she doesn’t mind.
it provides her space to explore the depth of the trenches that are her thoughts,
space to slip between the borders of reality at the verge of her perception,
space to forge stories and dreams that make her eyes appear slightly less tired,
space to ask the ghost town how many red strings have crossed within its borders, 
how many have uncrossed, and how many have aimlessly wound round and round the streets.
she begs to hear that she is not alone, longs to know if there have been any other red strings
bound to wrists attached to bodies encompassing minds with such wild aspirations as her own. 

she listens for a response, heart hammering against her chest,
tongue glued to the roof of her mouth, sweat glistening on her skin.
the ghost town answers her questions with a sharp gust of wind, 
but it is only a string of teasing mutterings in her ear.
she can hear it laughing; she can feel it trembling, breathing.
she can see the dust sifting and grazing the edges of the sidewalk:
dust that belongs to the streets, dust that belongs to the town
and all that has occurred within the perimeters.

while she leaves her footprints in it,
her red string leaves a sprawling, narrow line 
scratching the skin of the layer upon the road.
in the motel, the floorboards of the staircase moan with each step;
she wonders if it’s just her imagination, how the walls tremble.
the door whispers across the stained grey carpet as she closes it behind her,
and her aching feet carry her to the slick, tiled bathroom, 
illuminated by a dim and dying light. 

she climbs into the shower 
to rid her face of the traces of makeup and her body of the grit, 
flinching as the water makes contact with her skin.
occasionally the shower head coughs out warm water,
but for now all it has to offer is so cold that it burns.
five minutes later, she’s shivering uncontrollably
and she doesn’t have any feeling in her fingers or toes. 

the circles beneath her eyes are more prominent,
and so are the inflamed craters in her complexion,
but she quickly dismisses any care for such matters.
she doesn’t have time to fight that battle,
for she is far more concerned about her red string,
which has refused to be robbed of the dust.

she slips on threadbare clothing she wouldn’t deem presentable,
but it is soft and loose against her tender skin.
she settles on the couch with her heart fluttering in her chest,
an intricate network of thoughts resurfacing in her mind. 

she finds that gap in her head, and once again she plunges into it.
once again, she loses herself in weaving between the mountains her dreams have built.
she fingers the dusty red thread dangling from her wrist, and she knows
she will carry this ghost town forever.

cheers to yet another scattered poem

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

the earthly conqueror and the eternal king

     A man rose from the ashes of a fallen kingdom with knuckles of brass and passion burning like a fire in his eyes. His promises were tempting, his words polished and smooth on his tongue, and stories of his character reverberated through the people in songs of praise. His aura was of strength and youth, sweat and blood, battle and victory, and legends branded him with the title of a true conqueror. 
    Late one night, he leaned against a balcony railing, slid his palms across the shimmering golden surface, and his chest swelled with satisfaction at the sight of the city beneath him. It was all beneath him, literally and figuratively. Every inch of the land, every building, every bit of wealth, every creature, every soul suppressed and contained within the boundaries of his country belonged to him. He ruled over all of it. He could almost feel the power crackling through his veins, in his bloodstream, in his bones. His own promises echoed in his mind, accompanied by his plans to fulfill every single one of them. 
    He turned swiftly, with a dignified sweep of his robes, and strutted through the palace doors. He entered a magnificent room with pillars that stretched so high, a person would have to completely tip back his head to view the ceiling, and then he would have to walk a great distance to comprehend the full extent of it. There was a massive table at the center of the room, with gold lining the edges and ancient symbols embroidering the varnished legs and surface. The king lowered himself into the chair at the head of it, and his callused fingers began to trace over the map spread out before him. With unfeigned zeal, he studied the etched shapes that represented kingdoms beyond the borders of his own. He analyzed the markings he had made of the locations of his armies, considered the extraordinary strength and number at his advantage, and his battle plans for the future that were complex, intricately formed, having been examined from every angle. He was ensured of success. The future was stretched out before him, and it breathed to him of his glory radiating within every household, every city, every country, from the heart of his palace to the edges of the earth. It whispered that the world was for his taking, that nations would bend and bow, fold at his will, and shatter at his fingertips. Yes, he would grip the world with his brass knuckles, iron fists, and it would crumble before his eyes. Then he would build it back up again as he pleased, and the lips of those young and old, rich and poor, would proclaim his name and shout it from the rooftops. His name would be buried in the bones of those who dared defy him, and it would mark the beginning and end of every year, every age, every moment of passing time. His legacy would carry on, and people would thrive and break and breathe and die at his command. He would forever lack any need for children, or a queen, or any other. Yes, he had advisors, but his word was always superior. For he was a god, and they were merely mortals. This was how the world appeared through his warped lens. 
    For years, his reign continued, his riches multiplied, and his kingdom surpassed the wildest dreams of those who had ruled before him. It seemed that he crushed even his most feared rivals with ease. Years turned to decades, and the king relished in his victories, but he was never completely satisfied. He was constantly hungering for more, aching to stretch his kingdom’s boundaries even further, longing for new ways to display his power, and though he owned every secular form of wealth, it was never enough. He spent most nights parading with nobles drunkenly through the castle halls, caught up in a wild celebration of himself. He swore all the while that the world was his and that he perched on a throne impossible for him to lose, for he was invincible. However, what he had always refused to consider was that there might be a power greater than his own. This state of ignorance contributed to his downfall. 
    Another king rose up in the east, and he also was a conqueror. His territory trickled into the west, and gradually it crept closer and closer. But the self-proclaimed king of the world was not afraid, for he trusted his armies to annihilate any threat. He trusted in himself and the power he believed he had gained on his own. 
    It was a dreary and fateful night when the king from the east arrived, and his armies were fierce and their precipitous approach unexpected. The walls fell, and battle cries mixed with the clanging of metal against metal and the moans of dying men. The war was over before it had begun. That night, a sword pierced the heart of a king intoxicated with conceit, and as his life bled out and stained red his deathbed of riches and grandeur, he realized that the power flourishing in his veins had always been an illusion. 
    Centuries later, he was simply another name in a history book that a middle schooler studied only to pass a test, and then to forget. The world had never belonged to him, and the land he conquered had never truly been his. For there was, is, and always will be a King far greater than any human ruler. The worldly kingdoms rise and fall at His hand, while His sovereignty endures forevermore. The earthly conqueror has no true power compared to that of the eternal King, for the world bows at the Creator's fingertips alone.
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