Unspoken Rewritten

if words could fall

I would let them sink

furrow into the ground beneath

and then grow

along the

tops

of trees and sprawl through the veins

of our mother’s open arms

breathless is the lost unspoken word

that the wind carries

the ghosts of missed

and broken

opportunities

exhaled into vapor

what you feel but do not see unless

you use your fingertips as your eyes

feel the words that leave your right brain

and notice their density as molecules swarming

through the open air and not ever quite as small

as you thought they were when your arms

refused to notice the shape

of the  sounds around you.

 

Lost People and False Realties

Travis found another bottle of lighter fluid in the back seat of his Jeep and clumsily tossed it over to Marcus, a guy in a black hoodie who then drenched the remaining branches and tossed them into the fire. The world around us didn’t matter in this moment. Before, we all piled into trucks, jeeps, and a Rav4 and managed to remain conspicuous while trespassing on private property. We pulled over on the highway, turned off our headlights, waited till what seemed like the last car rolled passed, then pulled in between a few trees where a path had been created, not normally seen while passing on the road rolling at 70 miles per hour, that is unless you scoped it out a day ahead of time.

This path must have been created by kids with motorbikes or four-wheelers. With twenty-some people crammed into a Dodge, Chevy, Jeep, and a crappy Toyota the stutters left bruises on each other’s heads and the tight quarters to awkward small talk. The guys in the trucks slowly rolled over every whoop as the rest of us in the Jeep and Rav4 took the risk and skipped over every jump and crashed down into the pits until our entire vehicle’s bright red and steal blue body was coated in a thick layer of mud.

At the end of the trail the scenery opened to where we could see the crescent moon gleaming against the river. The trucks were parked along the edge of the river to block the sight of the houses that lay across the water. It was somewhere between one and two in the morning when we first pulled off the highway, but when we were here time didn’t matter to us. We were in the age of invincibility and may as well have worn “F You” across our foreheads. To me this was my family, the twenty some group of people with whom I hung out with after school but wouldn’t dare acknowledge in the hallways. This was our group, our army of weirdos, popular kids, jocks, and drop-outs that could no longer stand the cold breathe of conformity, so instead we lit the world on fire.

From behind the two trucks could easily be seen a community; mansions owned by the rich with their opaque outer shells that cover up dysfunction and lose their allure at night. In front of the two trucks was a blustering fire, lit with rage, and fueled by lighter fluid and excess gasoline poured into glass bottles and launched into the flames. We fed off of the sound of breaking glass and the appeal of an erupting fire, a gust so strong there is no doubt it grew higher than the truck barricade hiding the pearly houses.

We drank, we yelled, and we smoked. We sank deeper than the pits we drove into but screamed the entire way. Together we were falling, a clan of overly emotional and angry kids that saw nothing but the hatred that blinded them and the overwhelming heat of flames. Our minds were dazed and fuzzy but that was a feeling we embraced.

Travis stood on top of a dirt pile and yelled obscenities with no real meaning, however, the message was all too clear. In response we yelled back, a strange sound along the lines of animals roaring and chanting, mixed with the revving and grind of four-wheelers that were brought along in the beds of the two trucks.

Nothing in that moment made sense and that was more or less the point. We all carried so much stress from attending or formerly attending a prestigious high school, living in a community with the weight of normalcy pulling us down, fighting to find common ground with our desires and reality, and facing the day with a fake smile when all we really wanted to do is run away and never look back. When we were all together and as far away from being sober as possible is when we felt that we had finally made our escape, but what we didn’t know is that eventually one day we would be forced to face reality with nothing to show but the hatred behind our eyes and the mud stuck in the treads of our shoes.

Eventually this day came and we had to make our decisions. A few found their realities in jail, some in college, one continues to run, and one saw facing their reality all too much. For me, I continue to write and rewrite my reality, taking control of what I am instead of leaving fate with all the power. And in my reality, I found that none of my friends from our adventures deep into the night, surrounded by nothing by trees, flames, and beer bottles had a place.

The Unchangeable Man

What is the most changeable part of an old man? His hair, surely, but definitely not his mind. The hairs on his head rework, thin, and disappear, but his mind will never reform.

So what is it with the old man who lives next door? He sways on his deck-swing every morning while smoking his pipe. I’ve grown to memorize the tobacco he smokes just from the times I’ve rode by while on my bike on the way to school. And each morning he raises his stale eyes from behind his round metal glasses just enough to peep at me as I pedal by, then grumbles to himself. He lives in routine.

Last night I sat on my roof overlooking the trees that flourish over the land across from my house, and I saw him. His metal framed glasses reflected against the dim streetlamps as he silently swayed into the woods. Afraid the old man would get lost or had dementia, or something, I followed him.

He took the route along the creek and didn’t trip over a single rock. His feet knew their path as if they’ve done this 100 times before. I stumbled behind as I followed the glow of his flashlight and kept my distance to not be heard or seen. When the old man stopped, so did I. When he turned around to check his surroundings, I hid. When he took in a breath I mimicked him, paranoid my breathing was competing with the creek’s gentle flow.

Soon he stopped, faced towards the creek, and reached into his pocket. I found a thick tree to hide behind and peaked my eyes around it just enough to take in the strange man’s movements.

He pulled something out of his thick wool jacket. It was round and small and glimmered under the flashlight’s rays. The old man stepped towards the creek and stood between two trees that leaned in towards the water at a peculiar angle. I saw the old man lift his head, take in a breath, glasp his hands together, bring them to his mouth, then fall to his knees and weep.

I turned around and redirected my eyes away from the old man, the man known for throwing rocks at teens for egging his house. Instead, I now know him as the old man who cried along the creek, an unknowing side to the man who shut his front door in my little sister’s when she tried to sell him Girl Scout Cookies. Now, he’s the old man with a story not written across his face.

Hello, I Suck

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who will sit in front of her laptop for hours writing and rewriting posts to then later delete everything and call it a day. I feel self conscious about what I write and sometimes delete posts days later because I still feel embarrassed.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who will tell people I have a blog but will not give them its name because I fear criticism. When someone asks me “what do you blog about?” I freeze and quickly make something up because, although I do post short stories and poetry, I also post about personal matters that I would rather leave behind a glass screen for people who haven’t seen my face to read.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger that will think of creative ideas for posts when I should be studying for class, then blank as soon as I put my fingers to the computer keys. I fantasize about being a well know blogger and writer, and yet my mind stumbles like my fingers stumble along the keyboard. Words get mixed up, letters appear in the wrong place, I hit the wrong punctuation key, I backspace by accident, or I add too many spaces. No wonder I can’t bring the ideas from my head to appear behind the glowing screen in front of me. They’re just being spat out in all the wrong places.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger that has little to no confidence in myself and somehow hopes people will enjoy my writing. Being a blogger means that you have the power of self expression with the mystery of being an icon image in the corner of another’s screen, and yet, I struggle to put myself virtually out there even if it is just the arrangement of 26 letters that I create.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who is on the search for self-awareness, self-love, confidence, the beauty in my shadow, and that light some say they seen in my eyes. I crave a change and I feel as though I am finally ready to make that journey to so save myself, but how does one begin? It is a mystery worth solving.

 

The Artsy Downfall

It may have taken me a long time to realize that writing is an art but I have grown to understand that art is an entity that can be found all around us. I wouldn’t say that I come out to people when they first meet me and address myself as an artist, I’d rather address myself as a writer just to keep things simple and to prevent any unintended questions or comments, but thinking of myself as an artist is empowering. I love the idea that I am creating art through my words, through the madness that erupts from my mind and oozes from my pen across sheets of paper. And like most artists, my work feels far less than perfect.

You may hear that many artists will never be satisfied with what they’ve created because they will constantly view it as a work in progress. What pulls a work in progress to a finished piece anyway? How does one make that judgment? I think back to when I was in high school and I remember my teacher giving us thirty minutes for a free write. She said we could turn in our paper sooner than thirty minutes but we need to make sure we are proud of what we have created and have produced a completed story. I took the full thirty minutes for that free write (which isn’t all that surprising) and ended up putting those pieces of paper with my story into my backpack and took it home.

She said the story had to be complete and we needed to be proud of it, how was I to be proud of a story when I only had thirty minutes to write it? I was so thrown off by this assignment that I never turned it in. Now, this was before I realized I wanted to get into the art of writing and dedicate my college career to learning more about it, if that wasn’t the case I’m sure this would have raised a few red flags about my inability to accept my work as ‘finished’ or to really be one hundred percent happy with what I have produced.

Today I will write essays, short stories, and poems with the intention to write something that will be a representation of myself, an exact copy of what I envision in my mind, and yet I always miss that feeling of complete satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, I have been proud of some of the pieces I have created; however, I will never be able to read and reread those pieces without a judgmental and revising eye. But this is how I feel all artists are. I doubt a painter is able to look at their piece without scanning it for flaws and for places where they wish they could have used a different color or brushed the paint in another direction.

We are always trying to improve ourselves and I guess coming to terms with the idea that my work will never be perfect will be something I’ll learn to live with. I can do that, right?

 

My Creativity was Steeped — a Cup of Tea

My creativity was steeped – a cup of tea –

Set aside – but not forgotten –

A shelf became a home to thee –

A house of simple pardons –

 

From times of change – a flip of page –

A story forms and fades –

Through life I steep – power increase –

As temperature cools to aid –

 

A tender heart – a lively mind –

Strength slowly begins to increase –

Color erupts – as taste bitters –

Add a sugar to make me sweet –

 

Lost from sight as abandoned hope –

Imagination bleeds – liberation –

Forget me nots in porcelain cups –

A meaningful sweet concentration –

 

Return to your place – between the shelves –

Find your hope and dreams –

Rewrite your past – create your future –

And never be afraid to be free –

 

Where a Mystery Lies

It’s pitch black and I’m running through the cornfield until I come across the opening where the corn has died and can no longer grow. I search for her eyes along the way as a kind of guiding light to send me in the right direction when a cold hand wraps around my arm and yanks me to the side where the opening is. Her face is a shadow that my eyes have not adjusted to see but her eyes are glowing bright green as the stars overhead glimmer off their glassy surface.

“There isn’t much time,” she says as she pushed the tin box to my chest, “please keep this safe.”

Without warning she has raced off again, blonde hair dancing and swaying with the sudden gust of wind that sails her spirit back home, wherever that is. I look down at the tin box in my hands and run my fingers across the engraving along the top. She told me not to open it until she gets back, but when would that be? Where did she go?

I stand in the center of the cornfield where the corn has died and hold the box in my hands, pondering what to do with it. I figure the best way to decide would be to open it and see what exactly I have been asked to keep safe, but what I didn’t know was that opening this box would tell me the truth. A truth I wish I have never discovered.

Molding a Writer

An English Major: a person who enjoys reading and writing, the parts of life many people run away from or drop as soon as they get out of high school, but for a select few, there is somehow enjoyment formed out of it. Starting a new book before going to bed and not being able to put it down until you find out who killed who, who marries whom, what happens next, or how it ends is one of the many exciting parts of an English Major’s life, and being able to create your own stories is something amazing in itself. We move from being the admirers, captivated by an author’s work, to the ones who hold the power to create and destroy with a simple click of a key or swipe of a pen. But this life is not for everyone, the constant judgment of “not having a real job” and the countless rejections received when submitting your work into journals and publication is enough to make anyone lose confidence or sight of the glimmering light of publication and consider other paths. But this never ending trail is rewarding. With every poem or story is the creation of self-expression, an inner release that creates a new life more magical than the stale world we live in. A world of endless possibilities that begins as a blank canvas for our ideas to pour out and paint a new reality. For me, this path has been laid out as more of a hiking trail along a mountains rocky edge than a linear path with birds flying overhead. I have though many times about turning back or taking other routes but somehow I manage to keep going, climbing along that rocky mountain with a goal in mind strong enough to push past the negativity shot in my direction.

From the early years of my education I acquired a love for writing poems and stories. I would finish an assignment as fast as I could and doodle on the back of my paper any scene that popped into my head and write a story about it. Of course this meant I would do poorly on the assignment from blazing through it, often being reprimanded by my teachers, but how could I think straight with a story buzzing through my head and characters screaming to come to life through my poorly drawn doodles? Although I enjoyed writing, I faced one major obstacle that would leave me hanging off the mountains edge just when I thought I found my calling.

I was a quiet student, sitting next to friends or other students never enticed me to talk. I would silently sit at my small metal desk, my fifth grade mind dizzy with stories and ideas as I would daydream out the window, imagining my stories taking place before my eyes, like the window was a TV screen. The class would continue without me, I could hear their voices switch back and forth with the teachers as they moved through the lesson plans. Eventually I would be called on and my TV screen would flash back to the trees and cars moving by outside the classroom, I have to read the next paragraph. Instantly I begin to sweat, my legs and hands shake under my desk and I can feel my body become numb as my heart races within my chest. Paragraph five, I can read that, it is not that long, but what if I mess up and stutter? What if I come to a word I do not know? My classmates always laugh when I have to sound out words and they always jump in every time I take too long. As I begin to read I instantly start to stutter. Every word blends together and I switch them around without even realizing it. The class quickly intervenes, I can hear them huffing and tapping their fingers on their desks as I try to continue, but I have already stumbled and do not know how to regain my footing. I try to stay positive, maybe if I act goofy everything will be okay. I hear the class laughing so I do the same, my teacher’s becoming aggravated and stops me. She reads the rest of the paragraph and I look back to the window that turns into my TV screen again, my heart rate slows and the jitters subside.

The anxiety of reading out loud got worse as I began middle school. I would find any excuse to keep me from reading to the class and sometimes left the room right before it was my turn, hiding out in the bathroom until I decided it was safe to return to class. High school was not much better. I became a pro at speed reading ahead to become familiar with the section I would be given. One of my English teachers would use popsicle sticks with our names written on them to pick the next reader, so one day when she was not looking I found my popsicle stick and stuck it in my backpack. From the anxiety I felt, I soon lost my love of reading and even my love of writing. My journals housed more blank pages than they use to and when I did feel the urge to write I would get frustrated and rip them out and throw them away.

Junior year of high school I chose creative writing as an elective. Although I knew I used to love writing, I was nervous and sometimes dreaded coming to class. We wrote countless stories and poems but each one had to follow strict guidelines, offering very slim wiggle room for open expression and creativity. While writing, I would regain the feeling of excitement as I crafted my unique poems and stories. Feeling elated with what I came up with, I read them to the class with pictures bouncing through my head of the story I created coming to life. But I would leave the class confused and full of judgment, I did not follow the directions correctly or they would say “that is not even a poem,” leaving me dangling dangerously close from losing grip of the mountains edge with no power or motivation left to hang on any further.

In college I switched my major three times. With no idea what my calling is, I started dabbling in different careers from various classes: criminal justice, environmental science, and nutrition. I enjoyed all of these classes but could not see myself doing them as a career for the rest of my life. It was not until I took a Women in Literature class at the Anne Arundel Community College that I realized the burning desire I still had to be a writer. My professor was very passionate and despite the class taking place online, I could feel her love of writing and to see her students succeed in the literary world.

The class focused on the movement from female discrimination in the 1600’s to how females have gained their voice in present day writing. I became very expressive towards gender equality from this class and without even realizing it, I soon regained a passion for writing all over again. I felt inspired to start a blog and one of my first posts was called “The Female Traveler” where I spoke on the topic of female empowerment and being fearless when diving into life without the bind of discrimination to hold us back. I later wrote a post called “The Unrealistic Expectations of Beauty” where I spoke, probably way too strongly, about the way media has created a false reality of how women are to look and act. These topics soon expanded to praising various female writers such as Sojourner Truth and Gertrude Stein. In my writing I became an activist, rebelling against the norms of what it means to be a female and expressing myself through the pages of my blog and later through the stanzas of poetry and lines of short stories.

The desire to be a writer was back and I obtained the strength to hoist myself back onto that rocky path I have dangerously dangled off of for years, and sprint head on into the mysterious world before me. The trail may still be twisted and narrow, but how satisfying it is to be able to face those hurtles with all the power and determination I have gathered from my past. Writing became a regular part of my life, and the old habit of creating stories in my head was a great way to pastime between classes, but this time I make sure to have my phone or laptop with me so I can take notes or blog about it.

As I continue on this path, I have managed to meet so many amazing and inspirational people who have guided me when the path left me dizzy and confused. One being an author who agreed to mentor me. She helps me expand my confidence as I submit my poems and short stories into literary journals, and offers reassurance when I receive countless rejections. Her story inspires me to keep writing and where she shared her own personal journey of facing discrimination in the literary world from being a female. She told me of her new identity as a male author and how she became published under a pseudonym, all while sending in the same work that was once rejected under her real name.

The rejections and negative comments I receive about my choice in major and dream career are what empowers me to keep moving forward. Even when I am told “writing is not that hard,” “that is not a career,” or “you are not going to make money with that career” I still dream of writing and publishing my own novels one day and maybe even working in the TV or film industry as a writer. The path of an English major is not for everyone, but for those who have a love for writing, it is impossible to see yourself doing anything else.

Little Red Alien (flash-fiction)

It’s a simple town, small, orderly, and as many outsiders would call it, boring. Of course living in such a stuffy town where the most excitement comes when the wind blows the leaves in a vortex, and running through it fulfills your itching need for adventure, one takes interest in other forms. Well, at least Henry does, and by other forms, he means aliens. You know, the little green beings that probe into your house while you’re asleep, taking samples and notes on your strange existence and obsession with the color blue and gluten free snacks.

Henry awaits their visit, setting out various foods to entice stop every night by googling ‘Aliens Diets’ online. He makes sure to have a clean house so they can come inside without fear of tripping and waking him up. He even leaves letters for them on the dining room table to introduce himself and to tell them about his lifestyle, you know, to make their job a little easier. But one day, Henry came across something that proved too much for him to handle.

While preparing for his job at the local Wallmart, Henry found a red balloon tied to his mailbox with a thin silver string. With no children neighbors within miles, Henry is greatly taken back and concerned with this finding. Could this be the aliens? No, their mental capacity would find balloons feeble and irrelevant. This must have been the work of some other force. The mystery left Henry concerned and confused.

With no idea what to do with the mysterious balloon taking residence on his beat up metal mailbox, Henry devised the best plan to handle this situation. He walks back inside and rummages through the kitchen drawers until he finds a pair of child protective scissors left behind by his three year old niece, and walks back outside, being sure the scissors are pointed away from his body.

Henry then cuts the silver string and watches the balloon slowly float away with the breeze twisting its path. Some things are best left undiscovered and Henry was already late for work.