There exists within them
A quiet understanding of my world.
They see the concepts
That words don't exist for;
The ones that structure my existence.
They knew from the beginning
That it would take them
A very long time
To learn me.
And yet they still sit here
Patiently reforming my complexities,
Between the things I already know.
Knitting me without a pattern
Because they know I don't have one,
Nor do I have the desire to predict
How they will change me.
They are tethered to me
Not with conversations and interlacing fingers
But despite them,
And instead leaning upon
The intricate language
Of mutual sentience.
all i ever wanted to do was breathe
Life isn't easy
and it hasn't been the best.
Once I thought,
"maybe it won't ever get better,"
feared the worst,
couldn't see past the darkness.
I was told I wouldn't make it.
"How will you survive real life
if you can't survive high school?"
"How will you have a job
if you can't talk to people?"
"How will you be loved
if you don't put yourself out there?
If you look like that?
If you aren't even sure love is real?"
And I believed them.
I couldn't talk to people.
Anxiety and depression controlled me.
I didn't trust people;
too many had shown me I shouldn't.
And I didn't believe in true love.
My parents convinced me marriage would just end in hate.
Then my heart got broken
and it was the lowest I had ever been
and probably ever will be.
But it made me grow.
It finally destroyed me enough
for me to seek help.
I went to therapy
and slowly my mind was convinced
that not all my thoughts are real or true.
Not everyone hates me.
I am not solely what I look like.
I am creative and funny and hopeful.
People like me and want to be my friend.
So maybe I'm not rich or famous
but I have a job
and I have friends
and I talk to people.
I'm doing okay.
And that's much more than I thought I would ever be able to say.
there are some things
like the little boy
who played with a lighter
and caught his Christmas tree
and killed 12 people
in apartment row houses
inside brick walls
will never fully leave
it’s actually a new relationship
pathetic. horizontal and hungry
I stained my new blanket with three days
worth of mucus
a lingering fire in my eyes
and a hovering shadow on my spirit
finally to be lifted by a new authenticity
and mutual freedom
crawling on eight legs
clicking dial on your phone
to answer in woodstained pleas
to regret the seconds with you
more than those seconds without
vacuum seal, then, your
wallet-sized heart. tuck it away,
wouldn't you like to see something,
Stargazer, to mold your own world
dusty plaid sunset countertops
speckled with those lonely
kind of days-weeks-months
forever, then, isn't
all too long
long as you're unreachable on
the other side of my phone
“To find the journey’s end in every step of the road...is wisdom.” - Emerson
I wrote my first historical fiction when I was eleven, about 15 handwritten pages that each contained a chapter with a different narrator. All lived around Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889, and each witnessed an event attached to the flood that destroyed the town. The sixth-grade teacher who oversaw the writing club was deeply impressed. That story, now lost, represents my first writing. I choose it for my origin because I had never before put so much effort into a piece of writing, or experimented with a narrative in any way, or put written anything I would later remember. Since my first novel (in-progress) is also historical fiction, recollecting my Johnstown flood story also feels like drawing a circle.
It is a circle with several missing pieces and drawn over many years, though. In high school I wrote some poetry and in early college some short stories (hopefully unremembered by anyone, as they were awful), and then I did not write anything for a long time. I never took a creative writing class. Five or six years after graduation I picked at an abortive attempt at a novel for a few months; a couple years after that I labored on an essay that I submitted to a few journals, but I understood too little about both writing and publication to succeed. In the years after that piece, I dabbled with ten-minute plays.
In all these phases, I hoped for an editor to accept my work for publication. I have never expected to make a living with writing – I am a teacher, and happily so – but I wanted validation and an audience. Those desires, in hindsight, missed the point of writing because I valued the goal above the process.
Writing has provided me with a place of escape and control. I resumed writing in October 2019, and when March and the pandemic struck, writing became vital in ways I had not expected. It provided me with an ongoing project when so many aspects of life had ceased, and with time eddying endlessly and case counts swallowing attention and energy, writing presented a solvable puzzle. A sentence must be rearranged, a paragraph shortened; a bit of description must slow the pacing of the dialogue, or a word switched to further shade the phrase’s meaning. A story is unlocked one absorbing step at a time, and entering into this work with all my mind brings a clarity and a freshness that I treasure.
My writing goals have changed. I received the publication I sought: I’ll confess that valuing the process over the prize became a great deal easier with that particular primate wrested from my back. I have stories and poems still looking for homes and currently under review by editors; I hope they find the light of day soon, but beyond my willingness to prep more submissions, that is out of my control. I have 68,000 words of a projected 90,000 words of that novel written, and I want to finish. I anticipate writing the final sentences of The Ghosts on the Glass early in the summer of 2022. I’ll spend the remainder of the summer editing and sending out my first queries to agents. I do not know what will happen, but I will take my shot. Perhaps stars will align and a press will publish my novel; perhaps my search will end a couple years and dozens of rejections later, and I will publish myself. Regardless, the experience has been a rewarding one, and I will have received no less pride and no fewer moments of calm and clearness from my writing.
getting these moments
round round round like merry go round
stop and think : it's not electricity
just leaves on leaves on leaves
spotlight sunstreak witness moonbeam
planets spinning spinning spun
letting it go
drift into cloudfall rainbows somewhere
and the road is dark
i'll run toward the falling sun
whisper my name
Six ways to be a butterfly
Land gently and linger among the marigolds and asters, snapdragons and lavenders, daylilies and sunflowers. These buffet of flowers are yours to savor.
So don’t settle.
Strut. Twirl in eddies because you know everyone is watching.
Flit between sunbeams. Let light filter through your splendor.
You are beauty.
Be careful where you rouse your wings. You are power, rippling exponentially.
A creator of hurricanes, you change the world.
Emerge backwards into your cocoon. Disassemble each scale in your wings and strip.
Be cozy. Stay cozy. Invent cozy if you want to know it intimately.
Love your furry plumpness. Caterpillar, you are child again.
Unfurl yourself. Let them see you. Let them see your whole self.
Then fly away. Follow the tail end of summer with your brethren.
Let the wind guide you.
The sky is home.
Never be one thing. You are a child that flies. You are an adult that never leaves home. You are the essence of metamorphosis. You survive for sanctuary.
You die to live.
A single drop of rain,
oh, so fragile.
A single tear,
clinging to the eye,
afraid of leaving,
until its salt creases lips.
oh, so lonely.
with a sadness.
by the hand of life,
Oh, so quiet.