Categories
poetry

Off

My portrait’s kinda crooked

I tried to tilt it back

But then it slid off the wall

And I lost my track

My records started to scratch

The song sounded lame

And my head was pounding

Because the song had no name

I sat in my room

And felt utterly alone

One moment I was melting

And the other cold to the bone

The walls breathe and whisper

When they think I don’t hear

But where they’re gone

It’s the silence I really fear

My head’s a little displaced

I don’t have room to complain

Because I have a papercut

Compared to other’s pain

My skin feels backwards

But I can’t turn it around

Not when my birds are watching

Otherwise their fuss will make a sound

I find I kinda miss you

And everyone I’ve hurt

But now you’re all in the clouds

And I’m crawling in the dirt

I feel stupid sick and foolish

But at least I look okay

Maybe this week got started all wrong

Tomorrow’s a new day

Tomorrow I’ll stop missing you

And go outside the home

Maybe then, it’ll stop being “if” not “when”

I start to feel alone

You’ll never read a word I write

I’ll never give you that chance

But when we’re old and shrewd

I’ll meet you back in France

***

A rather sarcastically whimsical poem about a once dear friend of mine. We had a wonderful time together over the course of about one or two years, then dissolved into a bitter acquaintance. I wrote this poem a while ago, long after we stopped speaking but near enough to the present that I can still feel my frustration from his words. Give me a nice little comment if you ever get your hands on this, won’t you, Zockales?

Categories
short stories

Hollow Boy and Fire Girl

I waited for you. Hour after hour, day after day. We spent more time together than this. Usually. Finally, I heard a knock on my door. Relief, then trepidation. Tentatively, I turned the brass knob and opened it. Relief again. “Hello,” you said. The door flung open. A tight hug. A joke. A smile. Shutting the door behind me, we walked from the porch and the street and the civilization towards the ocean.

She calmed me. Her waves, her color, her tides. You sat on the sand, as gray as the sky yet still as tragically beautiful as ever. With a hand clenching the earth below you, and teeth barred into a smile, you said, “life’s a little too gray for me today”. I laughed.

That was my first mistake.

We returned and watched the sunset through my dirty kitchen windows. You said goodbye. I smiled and waved until the door closed. After a few minutes of starting at the spot where you used to stand, I went to bed. Said my goodnight to the moon and her stars. Buried my head in dreams and today’s memories. Your words were left on my nightstand. Alone. Forgotten.

The sun rose. A new day. I grabbed for the phone, dialed your number by heart. It rang. One. Twice. Three times. Your voice clicked, but it was nothing more than a recording. I frowned but carried on.

That was my second mistake.

The day came, the day went. Business kept me from calling, as more and more responsibilities dropped onto my heavy shoulders. No worries. I burned through them all, for I was a fire girl. You were my hollow boy. We were an unlikely pair. Sometimes my flames charred your flesh. Sometimes you extinguished my blaze. Most days, we found a balance. A thin wire we walked on precariously, together.

Another night passed, and this time my dreams were tinged with your grimace and the smell of the salty ocean brine. When I awoke, there were no new messages. Concern gnawed at my edges, distorting my disposition. I called you. No answer. Again. No answer. Again. Again. Again. Finally, in a final act of desperation, your mother. She hadn’t heard from you either. With dread looming over my head and licking at my flames, I took a day off and walked to your home.

It was a little dinky suburb, just like mine. Same paint, same cookie-cutter format. I jumped up the steps, two by two. Knocked twice. Waited for five minutes. No answer. Finally, I sunk down onto your welcome mat – the bristles tickled my legs – and I waited.

Hours passed.

Days.

A week.

A month.

I went out, every morning, and waited for you. Some days, I slept on the old wood made of fireflies and questions and music. Others, I glanced at your home before traveling to work. Every day, I called you. One. Two. Occasionally eight times. Once, two days ago, twenty times. The same voicemail, every time. “Hello. I’m not home right now. Leave a message.” Eventually, I stopped calling and just waited. It’s okay. Despite my fire, I was patient. There wasn’t anyone else I’d rather wait for.

That was my third, and final, mistake.

Finally, someone came. Relief, then trepidation. I looked up. Disappointment. Two men, two blue uniforms, two badges. “Ma’am? Do you know this residence?” one asked. Slowly, shaking, I stood. The dread that sat in my stomach for the last thirty-three days still ate at my mind. My flames burned blue, simmering instead of their usual passionate red. Blue as the police uniform.

“What happened?” I asked, and one gave me a gaze full of unwanted pity. I didn’t need comfort, or reassurance. I just wanted to know what happened. Where were you? It had been too long. Were you hurt? Vacationing in a far-off land? Taken? Pulling a joke? Despite your hollow inside, you still loved humor. And the sea. Almost as much as me.

“I’m sorry,” one of the officers said. His mouth continued to move, but I didn’t hear him. I couldn’t. My knees buckled and I collapsed onto the welcome mat, one that you would never wipe your feet against again. The two officers stood over me, two giants. Two reapers, with only useless words and condolences.

Your funeral was small. Me, your parents, your little brother. Everyone else wanted nothing to do with it. They said they found the gun in a different place. Of course you couldn’t do it here, I thought. Not with all the memories. Not with me around. I thought of the last time I saw you, on the beach, one hand clenching the sand while your face contorted into a smile unnaturally. “Life’s a little too gray today.” My first indication, and with every second I felt your death haunt me. The body in the casket wasn’t yours. It was a husked out shell, a hollow boy more hollow than you. You still whispered those words in my ear, over and over, until I wanted to scream.

I waited at your porch again. Lied against the welcome mat. The bristles no longer hurt because there was nothing to feel. Once my cheek pressed against the worn wooden door, I cried. Cried for your absence. For my absence. For your family. Most of all, I cried because your heart was broken and you never told me. Now, you would never tell me anything again. A small verse came from my lips, words I must’ve muttered before or scratched into my journal or the neighbor’s tree.

“You are my hollow boy

And I am your fire girl

Together, we’re broken

Inside a tiny fragile world.”

The words repeated over and over, raking its claws in my heart and picking up every buried emotion with it. You are my hollow boy and I am your fire girl together we’re broken inside a tiny fragile world. You are my hollow boy and I am your fire girl together we’re broken inside a tiny fragile world. Hollow boy fire girl broken fragile world. Boy girl broken world. Boy girl broken world.

My fire roared for the first time in months. It destroyed everything around it. Devoured your home. Our home. Our memories. Our lifetime. Charred the welcome mat. Blackened the wooden door. Melted the brass doorknob. Finally, it burnt out. And so did I.

“You were my hollow boy

And I was your fire girl

Life was a little too gray today

So we both left this world.”

***

This is the tragic story of two friends who couldn’t live without the other, a realization made only after the death of one. I’ve never experienced such loss, but it’s always been a great fear of mine that someone I loved should decide that their life wasn’t worth living. I hoped to capture this fear, and its reality, in the most artistic way possible while still writing a short story. For anyone who may relate to this story, whether they’ve been the fire girl or survived being the hollow boy, you have my condolences.

Categories
poetry

My Broken Temple

It all started with what you drew

Lines on paper, that went up and through

An image beautiful and harrowing and hollow too

That’s when I knew there was something haunting you

Your smile was contagious

Your humor outrageous

I remember you on the stage

Just right

Every night

You took off in flight

Saying lines to the light

Persistently proving your amorous ambition for acting and its high

How sad it was when you decided to say goodbye

You woke up on the wrong side of your mind

Decided that you were a little behind

Slipped into shoes old and ragged

Smoothed out your edges, rough and jagged

Ran your fingers through your wild hair

Put on a careless and relaxed air

Ignored the monster under the stair

And lofted about on a blue, ancient chair

I looked at your art again and again

A curious case of a curious new friend

Piecing together the puzzle and trying to comprehend

Why your aura was cold and desolate and blue

Why you shut down when the focus wasn’t on you

Why your knuckles were scarred and bruised

Yet nothing affected your upright attitude

We talked more and more

Months and months went by

I eventually found out

And it made me cry

Your past was dark and jaded

Any determination you had faded

Depression loomed over you and waited

Anxiety eating at you on a day-to-day basis

Yet you gave me the understatement

Blew it off and tried to be patient

You carry a world of hurt on your shoulders

It gets larger and larger as you grow older

You keep your distance, but refuse to grow colder

But you’ve also sacrificed other things

Your drive disappeared

You seem to live in fear

Your focus isn’t even here

What do you love or hold dear?

This puzzle is only half-done

I don’t know if this is just some

Theory of a question that will never see completion

Or perhaps… you’re an artist who’s just begun

***

A dear friend of mine asked for a perspective, to see what I thought of him. Hours later, after a burst of creativity and consideration, I created this poem and showed it to him. To accommodate for brutal words, I crossed out lines and phrases, but the poem itself still demonstrated the good and bad of his character in my eyes. Days later, he gifted me with a picture of his perspective. There was no malice in the image, no hint of my vices (which are plentiful). It remains one of my favorite illustrations. Still, guilt gnaws at me. While my apology may never see fruition, I do regret my coarse and brutal nature as much as I regret befriending his patience and kindness.

Categories
poetry

You and I

You and I are pieces of glass

Made from colors and sands that surpass

The normal square that a cube usually makes

Because we take on our own, jagged shapes

When I think of us, I think of the ocean

Of dreams and laughter in motion

Of toes in the sand and my head in the clouds

Or of closing curtains and dark denim shrouds

If we were vases, I’d be small and you’d be tall

Stretching shadows far off the wall

Yet never shining that much at all

I’d be blue, and you’d be gold

With some black veins that made you look old

“Antique” is the name given

The name you live in

It’s the tide you sit in

When the ocean’s coming back from its first wave

Your black veins would show a darker inside

How you’re afraid and hide yet try to coincide

With this difficult existent

Please

I’m at your side

Sometimes there’ll be days when you stand

Smile like a jaunty marching band

Playing your song across the sand

Yet refusing to let the heat be fanned

Please

Just take my hand

The world if full of people who cheat and lie

People smiling and simpering with soft sly shines

Slipping through soles of silk

Sipping on sumptuous secrets and snakes

The loft of my shop

However

Is never at stake

So we slide into our comfortable silence

Keep the quiet

Hide inside it

Just you and I

Toes in the sand

No more marching band

But still

Please

Just take my hand

***

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to help someone who refuses to believe they can be fixed. People build connections and bonds over shared memories and secrets, from actions we both remember and don’t. Every relationship comes with tears, laughter, and love. A friend of mine inspired this poem, and he’s been a constant muse for a while. Some of the greatest inspiration comes out of relationships, whether we write in sadness or joy.