Sorry I’m a ghost
Hey, lovelies! I have so many tags from you all, and I want to apologize that I have been away for so long. I signed a publishing contract for my second book, and I have been working hard on getting that prepared. There is still a long way to go before it is actually ready for publication. I want to be more present here, because this community has really helped me to grow, but I also know I can’t ever promise my solidity in a space. I appreciate everyone here who still supports me even with my long absences. Much love <3
The Ghost of Our Fallen House
We keep breaking glass
The mug in the kitchen
The mirror in the bedroom
The candle in the bathroom
The light in the office
Dust the corners
And still, my feet bleed
A Train Is Always Stopped On the Tracks, and I Wonder If This Is My Stop
Who could have known the way the seeds would sow. The wind carries direction in its palm. Freckles the cheeks with the things that pass through. The dead ties a noose and we savor the taste of the throats beneath our teeth. There is still satisfaction in the wet of the flesh. Capillaries wear out. Pray we stop. Capillaries cry out. Know we can’t stop. The tendrils grow knee-bound. Learn the work in the breaking. The way they’ll still stand, post-fissures. We watch the lace that blooms from bones. Bind ourselves to the birthing. I love you in the hunger.
In a letter addressed to apathy
A major flaw of the human condition is the golden rule. It gives people a mindset that we are not only all the same, but come from equal backgrounds and opportunities. It isn’t enough to treat others how you would like to be treated. Mainly because some people do not settle for the same socio-norms that you yourself might settle for, but additionally because most of us think we are better than we actually are. We would like to believe that we always take the moral high ground, that we would never be in the other person’s shoes, and that we would know how to be more accepting if we were.
On the subject of other people’s shoes, I am not entirely convinced that walking in someone else’s may prompt as much empathy as this world needs. I propose that in lieu of taking a walk in someone else’s shoes to try and relate to their emotional journey, there is a better more accurate way to incite an empathetic reaction. Think about the person you care for most in the world (if you have children, they work perfectly for this exercise), and place them in the other person’s shoes. Now tie your hands behind your back and watch from afar as they stumble.
How do you want to help them?
How could you have done better?
Dear Lucy, stop sharing this way. You keep overloading the packages, and they break before they’ve arrived. Dear Lucy, I’m not trying to tell you what to do, I’m just trying to help, and yes I know, you’ve heard that before. It’s just that, I don’t think that everyone gets where you’re coming from. I don’t think that everyone gets where they’re coming from. Dear Lucy, I’m sorry that things happened this way. I’m sorry about how many things you can remember. And no. I don’t think that most people have so many things to remember. And no. I don’t know how to stop the memories, but Dear Lucy, it just runs in your family, this heaviness, and this running, Dear Lucy, I don’t know what you mean about feeling too small and too large all at once, but I’m sure that you could just call it antithesis, Dear Lucy, Dear Lucy, have you tried sleeping? Have you been eating? Dear Lucy, you have to sleep, Dear, Lucy, stop crying, stop holding those hands, stop overfilling, you’re not under-filled, and I swear one day you’ll be full, if you’d just stop giving so much away, Dear Lucy, I think I understand now, and Dear Lucy, we’re spiraling. Dear Lucy, don’t leave. Dear Lucy, I’m leaving, stop writing me here.
I Still Don’t Talk At Holiday Parties
In a dream, I invite my father over for dinner. In a dream, I speak with my hands. I press index and middle finger on each hand together, then fling what they’re holding away
/they’re holding nothing/
and I’m saying, I’m lost
In a dream I flourish both hands out to my right and push myself away, and my father loads the word abandoned into the barrel of a gun
I hold up 3 fingers on each hand and the light blushes at my innocence
I am speaking with my hands, but I don’t know most words, so in a dream I clear the table by pressing my face down into the dirty plates. I pull the table cloth out from under the dishes, and it’s actually a quilt, and the food crashes to the floor, and I suffocate on things I didn’t want, and I leave my bed to stop the crying that started in the closet
The ceiling is yellowed and the walls are suicidal, when I put two fingers to temple and close the thumb down to shoot
I don’t know how to speak with my hands, so in a dream I stare into my father’s eyes. I hope that when I cry, he swallows the tears and teaches me a new way to deal with the things that I locked up in the attic
/the attic is empty shadows/
But even in the dream he agrees with the word gun, and I hold up an amber alert so that he knows that what I meant by the milk carton was that this is where I learned how to fix things
I press a bullet into his palm and a pill into my own
I paint the scene in red, I swallow the scene in blue
Let Them Lie
Something is prodding my rib cage. I squeeze my eyes shut tighter. I am not ready for this. Two hands shake me. One nudges me in the armpit. The other scratches behind my ears.
“Damnit, Jenna. Stop poking. What do you want?”
She smiles too big. She is crouching down next to me. Legs bent, grasshopper-like. Her fingers are spread in the fur at my neck, stroking absent-minded. A whining sigh creeps up my throat uninvited, and I jerk away from her. She frowns momentarily, then brightens as she digs her hand into her pocket.
“You left your lighter at my house! I wanted to return it.”
“I don’t smoke anymore, Jenna. No one smokes when they are sleeping.”
Her smile slips, again. This time it doesn’t return. She gets to her feet and begins kicking at the ground. She bites her nails. Weighs her words.
“Ok. I was bored. This place sucks. I haven’t had fun in...”
I cut her off here. A sharp bark escapes me before I have time to compose myself. I should have known. She is ever prepared. She would come with excuses.
“Surely, you could have asked the cat? She’s a riot.”
“Gillian? She scares me. She has no regard for my life.”
I want to tell her that Gillian has nine lives and therefore, has little regard for life at all. Now doesn’t seem to be the time. Striking a conversation will only prolong this meeting.
“Jenna. I’m going back to sleep. Wake up the cocker spaniel, Billy? Bobby? Benny? I don’t know. I’m sure he will be up for anything you like. He has a soft spot for you.”
“M, I’m so lonely. I needed to talk about it.”
I have a soft spot for her too. My body does that twitching thing. A shiver from my tail up to my shoulders. I try to shake it out, but it lingers. I feel heavy, even for a Mastiff.
“Alright. Well, you woke me up. Buy me a drink, at least.”
Jenna never makes me wear a collar or a leash. It is just one of the things that fuels my amity for her. She could. I’ve seen people tie up smaller breeds in hopes that they don’t run away. So they don’t chase their tails. To control the situation. Dogs are strong. Jenna knows she has no control. I’m awake. She has no control. She is quiet as we walk to the bar. I am rambling lazily. She trots to keep up. When we get to the bar she orders sparkling water for herself and an IPA for me. Something is off. She’s not talking. I feel anxious.
“You’ve got cigarettes on you?”
She rummages in her purse, then hands me my lighter and a square. My brand, not hers. I know why I’m awake.
“You’re sober now?”
She doesn’t answer. I know why I’m awake.
My name is M, and I am Jenna’s addiction.
I down my beer and order two shots. The first goes down hot as fire. The second, like syrup soothing my raw insides. I order two more, hand Jenna my cigarette. She takes a drag, blowing the smoke into the bartenders face. They both laugh, but hers sounds hollow, forced. I push one shot to her and paw at the other.
“To waking up?”
She looks like she might not accept the toast, but then she laughs again, raises her glass.
“To waking up.”
She throws her head back, swallows hard. I lick her nose, and now she laughs for real. A giggle. Small, but genuine.
i) i never require company to take off their shoes. no surprise that i keep finding foot prints. no one ever wiped their feet.
a) open-door policies lead to unwanted guests, and i’ve had a hard time keeping track of who’s been renting and who is here for good.
b) open-book policies make it difficult to ascertain who read the facts and who just wrote in the margins.
1) some damage is evident. a coffee ring here, ripped edges there. i find more dog-eared pages these days than i’d like to, but i just keep unfolding corners. not that the wrinkles disappear. but they’re easier to look past.
ii) long-forgotten tenant leaves a microscope.
a) there are more fingerprints than i once realized.
1) i know who these fingerprints belong to.
2) i don’t know who all of these fingerprints belong to.
b) tear stains smudge ink.
1) salt crystals cluster.
c) tear stains are harder to look at than finger prints.
iii) it would have been smarter to use a time stamp. it would have been smarter to alphabetize. no. to place in chronological order. no. these pages are all tearing. these pages are all mixing. how many books do i have here?
iv) i hire a cleaning service.
a) the footprints have stuck in wet cement. i didn’t realize they were here when the foundation was poured.
1) i should have hired an exorcist.
2) i should have sold the property.
3) i should have burned this place down.
v) i should have burned this place down.
After what is the reason for your absence by Atifa Othman - @ao_poems
I just want to say a quick thanks to anyone who has purchased my book! I am beyond thrilled to be able to say that I started my public journey here on Prose. Much love, as always <3
this cold is far too abundant. there’s so much winter left, but i’m still mid-summer.
/i haven’t even made it to fall/
my limbs are still all underneath-green. all new-birth and life.
/do you know what the shock of constant snowfall does to hot-blooded saplings/
i’m bending and breaking under the crush of frost-permeated boughs. heavy-drift, weighing down my softer parts.
/and sure, in autumn i would be just as likely to snap/
but that’s a clean break. that’s bones, brittle and frozen to a crystallized ache, splitting with out the rough edges. summer drenched in blizzard creates tears. it is sinew and tendon shards still clinging to one another. it pulls and stretches, all supple arches and willowy-give.
/and it’s the shredding that aids the lingering/
do other people hold on the way that i do?