Categories
poetry

Revelation of Existence

There’s a special revelation that comes with existence

When there should be absence.

It’s an itching

An uncomfortable whim

A whisper in the back of the mind that grows

And sparks

And blazes into beautiful

Terrible

Glory.

I can tell you that I exist in a state of permeance

When it should be impermanent

Things exist

When they shouldn’t

And that revelation cost me my normality

But granted me my euphoria

And I will endure.

I will endure the pain.

The thrumming.

The dull, hollow ache of existence

For the absence

And I cannot wait.

***

I have had a difficult time existing the way I am, recently. My thoughts are often melancholy or worse, numb. Although this makes for a excellent writing-session, it takes a toll on my daily life. As I always do, I will recover, but for now, it feels a lot like sitting in the midst of a storm that does not have a clear ending in sight.

Categories
poetry

Little Box

I can feel myself retreating into this little box

The box is quiet

Save for the occasional patter of raindrops

Or tears

I stopped counting long ago

The piano keys are still worn

And the strings of the cello even more so

My fingers still carry the scars of last March

And the scars in my mind still remain untouched wounds

I worry that every time my fingers skim over I’ll hit a nerve

Or botch a thought

Or destroy a plan

For this has all happened before.

It happened a year ago.

It happened in the little box

Yet no rain sounded from the outside

Just tears

I remember that much.  

***

I’ve written many poems about memory, recently. This is partly because many of my memories have resurfaced, in the most unpleasantly nostalgic of ways. However, with every replayed memory comes a new revelation, and I am grateful for those. At this rate, I’ll have enough epiphanies to drown out the bad experiences. Hopefully.

Categories
short stories

The Flower

There was once a flower that thought it could forget its roots and continue to grow.
It stretched towards the sky, constantly reaching for the stars. To most, the flower could touch the sun if it wished so. However, there were a few, a select few, that knew of the flower’s roots from inside their painted pot and chose to remain silent. After all, what harm could come to a flower that continued to climb so high?
It was a particularly starry night when the flower began to die. The city’s belching smoke and gurgling gas remained quieter with the egress of its human population, which meant the grey clouds that often smeared out the night sky thinned. Because the flower saw this as a perfect opportunity, it once more tried to touch the stars. Wind danced along the flower’s stalk and birds trilled their song, yet as the flower grew and grew, the wind became frantic and the birds’ song sounded like a warning. However, this wouldn’t stop the flower. Air became thinner, and the flower continued to grow. Light became dimmer, and the flower continued to grow. No wind touched the flower’s stalk, and it continued to grow. Finally, when the flower’s vision blackened to a singular point of focus, it realized it had gone above the clouds. A silence, gentle enough to be called peace yet too forced to be tranquility, permeated the upper atmosphere. When the flower reared its petals towards what was left, it began to realize that the stars were still many miles away. Too many miles. Desperation overtook its logic, so the flower continued to stretch. Clouds shrank and blurred into nothing, while the flower’s vision became completely dark.
The flower stretched until it felt warmth on its petals, so different from the icy isolation it dealt with past the clouds. Although the flower could not see, it knew it had reached its destination. It trembled with joy, past the point of exhilaration. Unfortunately, the quivers of excitement the flower emitted were enough to break its clay pot several million miles below. In the process of achieving its dream, the flower had forgotten where it planted itself, and so it began to crumble. Warmth faded as frigid blackness returned, and the flower cried out for the sun. However, the sun did nothing as the flower fell towards Earth, past the stars and the clouds and the trees.
When the flower’s petals contacted the ground, the flower died. Its head was too delicate to support the impact of the cruel, hard ground, and its stalk had died long before that. However, the flower did not die wrapped around the Earth 3,790 times as it would’ve if it truly reached the nearest star. Instead, its grandiose descent happened from a mere six feet off the ground, large for a flower yet not as large as the flower’s thought. The flower’s “sun” had merely been a porchlight but blinded by the idea of reaching such direct warmth and pleasing its admirers, the flower made it its mission to reach what it thought was the sun.
The flower was mourned by its admirers, yet they knew of its eventual fate. Rocks had already been laid out, songs had already been sung. Eventually, the petals of the flower decomposed to feed the unforgiving ground beneath it, until a new flower sprouted. Unlike the others with poor vision, this flower became content with its vast view of green fields and friends. Never did it reach towards a false sun, and never did it suffer a predicted death.

***

This was written with the first line in mind, like many of my entries. It is written with the tone of a fairy tale, and like most fairy tales, carries a message. Reaching for something extravagant and unachievable in life leads to failure, often much more grandiose than the victory. A little sad, a little dark, but it does end on a happy note. Failure sometimes breeds out mistakes in successors.

Categories
short stories

The Porch

I’d never seen a storm before.

As I stood on the porch, which screamed with every press of bare feet against splintered wood, I gazed out onto the grumbling clouds. They rolled like great trains across the sky, with faint murmurs of thunder and a flash of lightning here and there. Mama wasn’t home, so I was allowed to be on the porch. Which meant I could see the storm.

It came closer, and light raindrops began to kiss the dampening grass. I felt Mother Nature’s laughter as she came closer, yet the clouds betrayed her true anger. The sun vanished behind a mass of charcoal-gray, and part of me wondered if it would ever return. For the most part, I didn’t mind. Not when the storm was so beautiful to behold. 

The storm made me brave, in a way I hadn’t been brave since I was little. Raindrops grew heavier and heavier as I inched towards the edge of the porch, with my toes hanging off the rotted step. One more, and I would be off the porch. I’d never gone farther than the porch. I don’t know what the grass feels like because Mama always told me the outside world was poisonous. However, as the soft murmur of thunder became a roar, my confidence grew. Nature wasn’t poisonous, not when it created such beautiful and terrifying things. Time slowed as I inhaled deeply, lifted my right foot, and stepped off the porch.

The grass was different than I imagined. It felt like coarse wool, yet there was a gentleness to it that I didn’t suspect. A choked laugh escaped me as it began to pour, the rain softening the dirt until mud splashed up my legs. That laugh turned into a scream of delight as I danced across the muddy lawn, stomping in puddles and dancing in the storm. Lightning struck a tree nearly two miles away, and I laughed as its trunk blackened and split in less than a second. As thunder continued to roar and the wind began to howl, I let the storm carry me away from my home and out towards the open desert. I never heard Mama’s truck pull up to the driveway, nor her scream when she found me running as hard as I could away from the house and the porch and the false security she offered. The storm let me fly, and I wouldn’t stop soaring. 

***

We had a free write period in the meeting I join twice a week, and all I could think about was the rain during a thunderstorm. The quiet that settles over the world. Just like when snow falls, time stops when rain pours. Where I live, it is sometimes deafening. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Categories
poetry

The Sky

I once dreamt that I could make the clouds move

And time stop

I pretended that I rewound time to before my birth

Before the birth of civilization

And the sky was a beautiful, brilliant blue

With so many stars it almost hurt to see

In that same dream, my feet stayed chained to the grass below me

And the Earth wouldn’t allow my escape

I stretched towards the stars until my sides began to split

And my eyes began to burn

Eventually, as I swirled the clouds

And manipulated time

I became nothing more

Than grass beneath my feet

Always yearning for the stars

***

I’ve always enjoyed the myth about Icarus and his wax wings; this dream was very similar in message. I can’t recall when I had this dream, but I do remember its premise. I also remember waking up feeling frustrated and incomplete.

Categories
short stories

A Resigned Fate

Daniel knew he would die today. Perhaps it was because his bedsheets were just a little too warm when he woke up, or perhaps it was because he’d left his phone on the bed table not the charger or he’d forgotten to call his mother. Whatever it was, when he woke up that morning in a bed just slightly too hot for spring, he knew that was the last time he’d wake up in it. Ignoring his alarm, Daniel laid back down and stared at the ceiling for a minute. There was a stain in the top left corner of the room which vaguely resembled either Elvis Presley or Walt Whitman. He couldn’t tell. Once the minute passed, Daniel said a silent goodbye to his bed and stood up, ready to start his last day.

As if making up for the warm bed, Daniel’s shower was the perfect temperature. However, the pressure was so low it was almost more of a drip than a shower. Nevertheless, Daniel stood under the stream of lukewarm water for what seemed like hours. His fingers began to prune and the shower turned from tepid to cool. However, Daniel didn’t step out. Was this how he died, he wondered? Drowning in shower water, or accidentally slipping? Despite his morbid musings, Daniel knew in his heart that now wasn’t the time. The universe had given him at least the next few hours to make the most of his life before he died. After turning off the shower water, Daniel fumbled for a towel and wrapped it around his waist.

Daniel’s morning routine was no different from how it usually went. He dressed in a work-issued polo shirt and pants, grabbed a stale pastry from the plastic box on the counter, and found his watch from under the couch. When the analog’s hour hand ticked to eight, Daniel grabbed his keys and headed for the office.

Something about Daniel’s car was off to him today. Maybe a bird had pooped on the passenger’s side, or a spider had infiltrated his ventilation system and spun a web up in the corner of his windshield. However, when he reached his Honda Civic, he saw neither bird poop nor spiderwebs. On his way to work, Daniel called his mom. She didn’t pick up, so Daniel left a message. “Hey mom. Just wanted to let you know that I transferred the money that you needed for the house fixture. Don’t worry about paying me back; consider it an early anniversary present with Dad. Have a good day. I love you. Bye.”

Daniel was a consultant at Wicker and Brehm’s Development. He’d only ever met Brehm; Wicker had yet to show her face at the downtown offices. He spent most of his day answering calls, scheduling meetings, and engaging in mundane small talk with coworkers. One asked him what he was doing this weekend. “I think I’ve got a funeral this weekend,” Daniel replied. The coworker offered their condolences, but Daniel shook his head and said it was alright. He didn’t know the deceased very well.

During lunch, Daniel spent some time sorting out affairs. He made funeral arrangements and called up several family members, some he hadn’t talked to in years. Many were confused about why they were hearing from Daniel, yet he assured them that he just wanted to make sure everything was in order. Daniel also checked to see if his will was updated, which outlined that everything he had would go to his sister and his parents. As he made the arrangements for his death, a nagging thought in the back of his mind surfaced. What if he didn’t die today? All his money, all his possessions were already in the process of being transferred to his sister. After lunch, he was set to turn in a letter of resignation. For now, Daniel ignored the thought and finished up his phone calls, then returned to work.

At the end of the day, Daniel entered the office of his boss and handed him the letter of resignation. Daniel’s boss looked down at the paper then up at Daniel, as if he’d never seen one before. It wasn’t a great letter; the formatting was hasty and the word “offer” had three “f”s instead of two. However, Daniel wasn’t worried about being hired again. “Why are you quitting?” Daniel’s boss asked.

“I’ve been offered a better job at a different company,” Daniel lied. Daniel’s boss frowned. His nameplate read “Charles Khatri”, but Daniel hadn’t ever referred to him either as “Mr. Khatri” or “Charles”. In his mind, he was simply Daniel’s boss.

“We’ll miss you here,” Charles lied. In truth, he hadn’t thought of Daniel since he hired him until Daniel walked in with the letter of resignation. Daniel nodded, and he knew Charles was lying. However, he didn’t say anything. There was no point in arguing on his last day. He walked out of the office and closed the door behind him, just as Charles tossed the letter onto a large pile of papers that needed to be reviewed.

Because Daniel would die on a Tuesday, he decided to go down to the Mexican restaurant three blocks from his workplace. Their tacos were free every Tuesday, as long as a customer also bought a drink or another meal with it. He passed several people on his journey, and he wondered if they knew when they would die. Would they be scared? Or would they accept it, with the same kind of apathy Daniel felt? His thoughts were cut short by his arrival to the Mexican restaurant. The host greeted him kindly and ushered him to one of the outside tables. Mosquitos plagued him as he ate, but Daniel couldn’t blame them. The restaurant’s beef tacos were excellent.

When Daniel arrived back at his car, he immediately knew he would die in it. Daniel stared at the silver handle for a moment, then slowly placed his palm over it. It was a good car; the Honda had served him for over five years. Although he almost never went to other places besides Wicker and Brehm’s Development or home, he felt it had served its purpose. He opened up the driver’s side door and crawled in.

The drive home was fairly smooth. A light sprinkle had begun as the sun lowered across the horizon, blues turning to pinks and oranges turning to inky blackness. Daniel turned on the radio to Today’s Top Hits, only to switch it the Classic Rock station halfway through his drive. Cars swiftly passed him on the thick stretch of road, which crossed all the way from his state to the next. An intersection sat ahead, with three lights spanned across the divided highway. As the light turned red, Daniel decelerated his car towards the stop line. This isn’t what killed Daniel. His brakes were in perfect working condition and the Honda Civic stopped just before the stop line. What didn’t stop was the eighteen-wheeler behind Daniel’s car. Intoxicated from cheap booze and cigarette smoke, the driver hadn’t noticed the light turn from green to red in time to stop the truck.

Ultimately, the collision was a terrible and wonderful sight. The semi first barreled into the back of Daniel’s Honda Civic, effectively crushing its trunk and the first two back seats. A great roar sounded from the collision of the two vehicles, which sobered the drunk driver into attempting to stop the vehicle before more damage could be done. Two smaller cars T-Boned it from the area of the intersection where the light was green yet were fine compared to the damage the semi-truck had wrecked on the Honda Civic. Because the eighteen-wheeler hadn’t stopped until well after the stop line, it skidded to a halt on the other side of the intersection with the mangled remains of the Honda Civic in tow. Cars came to a complete standstill as drivers anxiously waited, unsure of whether to be more upset about the crushed driver or their cold dinner.

The doctors declared that Daniel died almost instantly after the moment of the collision. At the very least, he had been unconscious when the great, powerful wheels of the much larger vehicle smothered the rest of his. This was the universe’s boon to Daniel, if it hadn’t already given him one with the knowledge of his death. In many ways, Daniel was extremely lucky. If his spirit had wanted vengeance, the police arrested the drunk driver for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. If his spirit had wanted recompense for his family, his sister used his money to buy herself and her wife a new house in the countryside, where they both had always wanted to live. If his spirit had wanted a legacy, there was a giant, green sign near the intersection that read Please don’t drink and drive: in honor of Daniel Jones. However, Daniel’s spirit did not want any of this because it did not exist. What existed after his death were his mother’s tears, the drunk driver’s arrest, and the green, metal sign near the intersection. Although these would fade in time, and the story would slip from the news, it was just as inevitable as Daniel waking up that morning and knowing that he would die.

***

I had the first line of this story stuck in my head for ages. I feel like this is a common trope in some novels, but it isn’t talked about much because the idea is contradictory to human belief. Everyone would like to think that if we found out we were going to die today, we would do everything in our power to stop the inevitable outcome. However, I believe some people can just resign themselves to the fact, like Daniel did. Not exactly a tragic story, but definitely a tragedy.

Categories
poetry

Recall

I can’t recall

But if I try hard enough, I can remember

If I close my eyes, I can remember

 I can remember the before

There must’ve been a before, wasn’t there?

Because there was an after

I am in the after

And the past

Was the present

Which I remember

But my eyes aren’t closed

So maybe I just recall

But I think I can still hear the sound of your voice

And feel the soft warmth of your skin

I feel the tall grass brushing against bare knees

And sweet night air kissing bare neck

But the before remains a little blurry

Because the before was a different after

And the current after comes later than the before

And I’m starting to get confused on what I remember

Or what I recall

But if I shut my eyes tight enough

Maybe I can still hear the sound of your voice

And feel the warmth of your skin

On tall grass brushing bare knees

And night air caressing bare neck

And I remember

***

This poem is almost entirely nonsensical, yet it is just coherent enough to comprehend. Or at least, I believe so. This was written as a love letter to one of my fondest memories, one where time seemed to stretch to allow me to savor it. Alas, it still ended, and I mourn its loss.

Categories
poetry

Seattle

I saw a glass tower today.

Tucked between trees

On a hill that continued to descend into nothingness

I saw white mannequins showing off nothing

And a glass sign that read

“Science is God”.

I saw graffiti with misspelled and broken words

On centuries of broken brick

I saw Victorian homes

Painted black

With the Virgin Mother in the window next to a pentacle

I saw pride

And I saw shame

I saw the cardboard tents popping up like miniature cities

I saw skyscrapers too high to see end

My heart filled with an emotion I can’t describe

Akin to a recurring sadness

That I can’t place in origin

My heart belongs to the city

Yet the city never made a motion to grab it

I’m not quite sure what draws me there

But for a moment, I feel like I’m twelve again

Crying over how disappointing reality is

Or I feel like I was two months ago

When the doctors told me that I had to be cut open

And sewn back together

As we passed the tower

The pentacle

The graffiti

And the cardboard tents

I returned to the present

Yet my heart was still left in the city

***

I make trips into Seattle not as often as I’d like. However, the drive is long and tedious, and the traffic in such a large city is always a pain. I went back once again after writing this poem, and I couldn’t fine either the tower nor the house. Perhaps it was a dream that wormed its way into my memories. Either way, I can see it clear as day. Perhaps they’ll be there the next time I visit.

Categories
short stories

Late Night Strolls

It was far too late in the evening for someone to be busking, yet here she was, with an instrument so old the strains looked ready to crumble and a voice so defiantly strong that it immediately grabbed his attention. He smiled to himself as he approached her, her pleasant melody drifting through the air to mingle with the usual ruckus of the streets. Even when the hour drew close tot ten, he could hear dogs barking and neighbors screaming obscenities at their children. When he passed the battered guitar case–which only held on ten, two ones, and a few pennies–he dropped in a nickel. The amount was so pathetically small that the woman stopped for a moment and scoffed. “That’s all you have, pal?” she challenged. There wasn’t any greed in her words, just a bitter resentment. One look at the designer coat he wore and the expensive watch on his left wrist told her that he could burn twenties for fun and still walk away without a dent in his checking. Her bitterness grew when the man ignored her and began to stroll away. Just before the nightly shadows enveloped his form, he stopped and turned his head.

“Be careful, young woman. Here there be monsters,” he warned. Before he could take another step into the darkness and let the shadows swallow him whole, she plucked a chord from her guitar that commanded him to stop.

“Here there be monsters, this man would say. Yet, this is a man who hasn’t worked a day. Who schemed and connived with a heart filled with greed. Taking and taking without thought to plead. Here there be monsters, yet he ignores the greater fear. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” she sang, the simple couplets vicious and icy. She never lost her technique as she sang, and the wicked beauty of the simple verse intrigued him. His laughter bounced against the walls and ran shivers up her spine. When he finished, he spun around and took a step forward, away from the darkness.

“I applaud your improvisational verse, and your use of Dante’s famous quote,” he complimented.

“Do I ring true?” she asked, her fingers absentmindedly stroking the strings. The notes were sad, lingering faintly in the air before dying quickly. She leaned against the post of the lamplight and stared at the man, eyes filled with skepticism and stone. He bowed his head, simultaneously ashamed and irate.

“While there are some like me, who long to be free, of the chains we made to bind. There are some of us here, who have little fear, of what we leave behind. My bank is large and my wealth obscene, and with money I light my fires, but at the end of the day, I get little say, in the destruction of my ire’s,” he replied. The woman slowly nodded, then looked down at her guitar. Silence hung thick with the stench of wet trash and cigarette smoke.

“Any requests, white collar?” she asked. A small, cold smile crossed the man’s lips.

“Hallelujah,” he answered, the word bitter in his mouth. Without another word, the woman gently played the intro on her instrument, allowing her voice to join in a moment later. The man closed his eyes and leaned against the brick wall of a business office, enraptured by the music and its creator. He felt goosebumps prickle against his skin as she allowed her voice to effortlessly climb, reaching passionate octaves and swells that made his heart rate increase. It had been so long since he’d heard such music, such emotion. When she finished, he noticed several people were peeking out from cheap blinds with wide, wondering eyes. She sat motionless, her hands still poised for the last chord and tears gently trickling down filthy cheeks. His footsteps echoed across the empty street as he walked towards her and dropped a crisp fifty into her guitar case.

“Hallelujah,” he whispered, the word soft and reverent. She continued to cry, even as the man walked away and the raucous noise of the street ensued as if the meeting between the starving musician and lonely businessman never took place.

***

I wrote this as an entry for a small gathering of writers, all challenged to write about the same theme: Isolation and Protection. This short story demonstrates Isolation more clearly, for I feel that the guitarist is much more fulfilled in her life than the businessman is in his. I hope I do the description of nocturnal streets justice.

Categories
poetry

The Storm

There was a storm outside

And I stayed in

I sat in my bedroom

With thoughts squished in

I took off my glasses

And looked through the pane

I looked at the snow

Which turned slickly to rain

The sky seemed so close

And blankets the trees

I sat in my chair

But I’d rather be on my knees

I’d rather be clutching a symbol

Or a pillow or two

I’d rather having nothing

Nothing else to do

But even as I write this

My phone starts to buzz

One day until assignment due

Yet my head’s full of fuzz

Because I have a million thoughts

That soar and crash above my head

I have too little time

And not enough has been said

So I sit in the storm

And watch the wind sigh

And I say goodbye to this moment

To this moment, goodbye

***

Where I come from, the weather changes faster than the hours in the day sometimes. Storms are not common, but their occurrence is often expected. There is something magical about sitting inside when it becomes almost impossible to go out, and it usually leaves me reflecting. The rain and the clouds create the best days, in my opinion.