Single Word Reply
Why make things important?
When you leave, it’s all the same
Will exist quite as it did in the before.
And now, here in the after,
Although at first your eyes may be misty with newness,
The saturation of newness will unavoidably pale
And the mist will dissipate
And generally, things will remain
Things are only what they are nothing more
So instead of goodbye,
I propose a simple, unheralded departure
ROY G. BIV and B is for Blue
If you were to open your eyes
Just under the surface
Of open ocean,
You would surely hear
The stark sound of blue
An eagle carries on its wings
And burdensome black
But none as heavy
As the blue of a cloudless sky
A speck in the galaxy
A mote of dust in the universe
From space, earth is but a berry
Though not quite the same shade
There’s water in you
Moisture in your skin
Liquid in your skull
Dampening your tongue
And frozen there
Frozen there in pools of blue
Starry nights, so distant
So distant they’re black
So distant in fact,
With sun in lack
They’re not blue
Folded, a mess
Your blood’s not quite red
Not before it meets oxygen
So when it’s running
Through your veins
In and out of your heart
It might be good
That you feel blue
The Playground Hotel
I remember for some reason we stayed there a lot
I remember icy chandeliers, dripping crystals onto the rug
I remember the all the strangers. Of course they were so much the same that they weren’t really strangers
I remember the hallways, running past door after door
I remember the hallways that welcomed in salty ocean air
I remember the hallways, what a strange little vagabond I was
I remember lying in beds that were made from pieces of cloud matter, fallen from heaven
I remember how she said goodbye too many times before
I remember balconies above the golf course
I remember tanning on pool chairs
I remember the sticky steam from the hot tubs and the smoke that rose above the cool of the stone pathway
I remember when my parents were married there
I remember how they looked as they floated over the glossy floor of the ballroom
I remember their smiles
I remember when the three of us were still so young
I remember how I grew up, playing in a hotel
Spread throughout the room,
We bathed in the orange glow of a dim lamp
The lamp in the corner of the room,
The dog waited at the outside on the back porch
We put him there to keep him quiet
We filled our bellies before we started
To keep them quiet as well
We promised each other
For seriousness, focus and productivity’s sake
We hid behind the empty pages before us
Each scrunching down or leaning in
So as not to be tempted
To meet eyes
Or by the desire to whisper
In the absence of sound
Our thoughts were so loud
But we tended to stillness
And scrawled over blank papers
The words that would have been said.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, for which there is no definite cure. Cancer is an abominable disease that ravages and destroys lives the world over. There are entire organizations devoted to ridding the world of the likes of cancer. Safely said, everyone hates cancer; lung cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, thyroid cancer and – especially – Cancer Petrovski. After all, who would want to be friends with a kid named Cancer?
Cancer Petrovski was rail-thin, with bones painfully protruding at odd angles beneath his pale, freckled skin. His hair was so blonde that it appeared to be white. Upon first glance, one might think that Cancer would shatter at the slightest touch or fly away with the gust of a gentle wind. But that didn’t stop the boys at school from shoving him down flights of stairs or stuffing him into garbage cans.
This year, his birthday fell on a Saturday, so at least there was no school. It was the only redeeming factor to such a dreadful day. Cancer’s mother was an astrology enthusiast and had named him after his zodiac sign. Because of this, he resented first day of July more than anything else.
He woke up that morning squinting at the bright bursts of sunlight that peered between the spaces of his drawn curtains. It would be an uncelebrated day, silenced of any and every shred of excitement the world had to offer. He knew this, his parents knew this, everyone knew this. Not that anyone besides his parents would have cared anyway. The only person that might care was his blind pet tortoise, Rocko… Read the rest of the story in We Digress…2012, coming in May.
Homemade Horror Movie
The heat from the old Jeep’s engine made the hood almost unbearably hot. If it hadn’t been for the layer of blankets under us, we might even have gotten a little burnt. But the night was too pretty, and our feet were aching too much for us to care. The three of us sat side by side on the hood of H’s Jeep. We were parked at a lookout that was a ways up a hill. It was at the dead end of a street with just three dark houses on it. It wasn’t particularly cold that night, but there was a chill that passed through every so often that sent us into a bout of shivers.
We looked down at the scintillating lights of the town below, up at the cloudy, starless sky and noticed as the blinking blips of airplanes passed by. Words and laughter floated out into the dark as we talked about nothing. R said that he would miss H and me when we graduated. H and I joked about how awful life would be for him, rotting on the island for another two years without us.
“What are you gonna do out there anyway? Wherever you’re going,” R asked. His voice cracked in the pubescent way that it always did. H and I quieted.
H coughed. “Well, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m leaving. I’m not sure where to, but I’ll do anything it takes to get out of here,” she finished resolutely.
“I have a plan. I don’t know how well it’ll go through, but I mean, yeah. As long as I can spend some time away from here and figure out how to be my own person, that’ll do,” I said.
“You guys, I have to tell you a secret,” R announced. He sighed, “I ne–”
“What was that?” H cut in. It was nearly pitch-black, but I could see her eyes widen. “Did you hear that?”
R and I tried to tell her it was nothing, but I could tell he was getting scared.
“That is legit a face. I’m not even joking,” H said. She leaned forward slightly to get a better look at the bushes near us. Her eyes were still saucers….
To read the rest of the story, check out the print edition of We Digress 2012, coming May 7.
Children and Trees
In this place there are trees. The trees stand at the tips of their roots, reaching up to graze the sky with their lofty branches. They stretch and reach like a small child in a toy store straining to pluck a model airplane from a tall shelf. The child jumps, swatting his sticky little hand blindly in hopes of making contact with a wing. Then he becomes bold and steps onto one of the lower shelves, hoists himself up onto it and finally reaches the plane. The trees use the wind to lift its leaves and to then finally reaches the clouds.
The Echoes of the Rain
The echoes of the rainfall sink into the earth. They beat steadily above ground. The water droplets create a rhythmic pulse against the soft earth. The echoes, however, are absorbed by the dirt. It’s so subtle that the absorption goes unnoticed. The way a towel absorbs beads of chlorinated water off of a swimmers damp skin. The way the noonday sun absorbs the sky, making the stars go unseen. The echoes are hushed.
It’s possible that the appeal of this place might come from being so far away from home. At home, the quiet is distressing. It’s a quiet that begs to be filled. Unsatisfied, the quiet tugs at your shirt sleeves and prods your legs with its restlessness. The quiet of home is damaged and needy. It’s scarred from the abandonment of conversation and padding of bare feet on wood-paneled floors. The air is stale and still and dense with lonely. But that’s the difference between home and the trees.
It’s quiet out in the trees. But it’s a quiet that’s complete. As the wind passes through, it tickles each branch so the leaves roar with laughter. Below lies a bed of fallen twigs and soft, damp earth. Scant and fragile rays of sun peek through the treetops. The air is dewy and dreamlike and tastes of sweetened melancholy.
At the bottom of the hill of trees, there’s a park. And the park is always welcoming, even on the rainiest of days. The rain covers the park in a blanket of cold comfort. It’s not a rain that would spitefully ruin a picnic or a rain that would pelt you with an onslaught of hard and fast raindrops. It’s a rain that tucks little seeds into the dirt, so they can sleep, and so they can grow. The cold pinches your nerves and wakes you from the stupor of day-to-day sameness. And once the rain has stopped and the sky dresses itself in a shade of perfect, spotless blue, the world smells clean and new.
It’s a place that’s my own. It’s a corner of the universe where happiness and truth can exist without being mocked because of its triteness or naivete. Between the trees, skies, rain, wind and grass, nothing seems real. It’s a place of quiet.
A Letter to the Trees
You were never very good at keeping secrets. I was there listening among the creatures taking refuge in your sprawling branches. We heard you whisper the secrets of the night to the pale morning sky. As the wind blew, your quivering leaves murmured of the lovers, who sat below, on your roots exposed. You spoke of the wanderers that ambled over the bed of fallen leaves and twigs. You told of the dreamers who climbed up, above to the highest branch, talking to the moon. You’re not as honest as you seem. You chatter away to the afternoon clouds, rolling along about the birds hopping from place to place. Your branches creak and groan as they stretch to tell the sun about all that you see. But I’ve spent some time, leaning against your hollow trunk to understand. I know that your life can get awfully lonely. Those you meet will only pass you by. They might take a quick pause to use the shade that your provide. But it’s not long before they move on to the cool, bubbling river down the path or the pond across the way. No one stops to admire your trunk, so mighty and tall. Not even the animals are guaranteed to return. Because there are other parts of the forest equally as shady and quiet. And so you are left alone, solitarily stationed. I’ve come to realize that it’s not only about what you give, your shade or your shelter. Because I know that you also require. So, here I am. I will protect you from those who’d threaten to tear you down, ultimately taking all you have. And although you aren’t the most trustworthy, neither am I. I’ll confide in you and you can do the same. So, here I am. I’ll be your friend. Here, I’ll stay.
How to Ride a Narwhal
Little is known about the behavioral characteristics of the narwhal. They are mysterious, majestic creatures of the deep. To ride such a beast would be a great adventure, indeed. Narwhals live in waters around the Canadian arctic and Greenlandic seas. The first step in accomplishing this feat would be booking a trip to either of these far northern lands. Be sure to pack warm clothing, as the temperatures can be chilly, chilly, chilly. The Narwhal thrives in this kind of atmosphere. However the winters can become unbearable for even the bravest of narwhals. In which case, they will migrate to warmer waters. The next step is acquiring a large amount of krill and plankton. This will build the animal’s trust. Noon is the perfect time to start the search for a narwhal friend. Take the krill and plankton and pour it into the ocean evenly like icing on a cake. Sensing the tasty treat, the narwhal will follow its trail and come to you. Keep in mind that they often travel together in pairs or in a group. Look for a bright-eyed-shiny-toothed narwhal. Put forth your hand to show that you are no threat. Then once it is near enough, gently stroke its spiraled tooth. Look into its eyes with the utmost sincerity, deep into its soul. Once it is ready, the narwhal will bow its head. Then, climb over its broad back and take hold. The narwhal will plunge into the icy water. Nudge it with your knee to keep above the surface of the water. You will soon find yourself gliding through the sea on the back of a newfound whale friend. This is how you ride a narwhal.
He Could be a Star
He is the clean scent of soap
He is the crease in a five dollar bill
He is twelve pieces of sushi
He is half iced tea and half lemonade
He is three stitched initials on an oversized backpack
He is spray painted gold and blue sequined shoes
He is the nerve shaking shivers of opening night
He is the spotlight on center stage
He is the favorite for whom the crowd roars
He is my little friend
The light was on
I thought you might be home
I knocked when I was ready
There you stood expectantly
I thought you might be home
Your eyes were full of tears
There you stood expectantly
You welcomed me in
Your eyes were full of tears
I’ve been gone for too long
You welcomed me in
Even when I abandoned you
I’ve been gone for too long
I just needed some time
Even when I abandoned you
You were still there waiting
I just needed some time
I knocked when I was ready
You were still there waiting
The light was on
Old Trunk with Key
He didn’t need it anymore. Everything else was gone, so what good would it do him now? He’d already sold the books, camera, lenses, and filters. It was a wonder that they survived. He thought about keeping it. Maybe he’d use it to start over. Sell a couple of new pieces to make some quick cash. But it hurt too much. Nothing as important as what he lost was saved. Now he’d give this up too. It was the only remaining memoir of his life before it turned to ash.
Aside from a few sparse streaks of fluffy cumulus, the sky was an endless expanse of blue. It was the kind of sky that filled him with vivacity and made his whole body ache with overwhelming inspiration. He ambled down the stairs to the kitchen where his family was gathered for breakfast. His wife was at the counter squeezing oranges for a fresh pitcher of juice. His three little children were around the table digging through a box of cereal for the secret surprise inside. He watched their eyes light up as his oldest son triumphantly pulled out a shiny, silver toy plane. They began to run around the room, arms spread out, making the sputtering noises of a propeller, pretending to fly far, far away.
Then the phone rang. It was the gallery’s collection manager. He was needed at the showroom to go over the last few details for his exhibit that night. This exhibit was the catalyst to launch his career as a professional photographer. After years and years of trying to get his work out, he was finally picked up by one of the most prestigious galleries in the country. This exhibit was his dream finally coming true.
He threw on a coat and rushed out to his car. He didn’t want to keep the collection manager waiting. When he arrived at the show room, he pushed the door open and felt a cool rush of air wash over his nerve heated cheeks. It was amazing. Each of the walls of the large room was covered with his photographs. He crossed the glossy hardwood floors to the nearest one. It was of his daughter smiling up at him through a dewy spider web she found in the trees behind their forested cottage. This entire body of work featured his family and the nature that encompassed their home. It captured them honestly in their daily life. His motivation was to share with the world the warmth and hope his family brought him and extend it to whoever looked on.
He approved of the space and left to return home. Then from the road, he saw black smoke winding through the forest. He saw flames dancing above the top of trees and his heart dropped into his stomach. He sped up, pressing his accelerator into the floor of the car. Sirens of fire trucks wailed behind him. He gripped the wheel even tighter, his knuckles turning white.
They told him there was nothing he could do. They told him it was an accident. But he felt like he was the one responsible. He let this happen. He should have been there to put the fire out before it grew so big. After looking through the charred remains of his home, the only thing still intact was an old trunk. He hadn’t seen or even thought of the trunk for years. Inside the trunk were his very first camera and photography book. The ones he first received from his wife those many years ago while they were still dating. But what good was it to him now? It couldn’t bring her back. It couldn’t bring his children back. It was just a trunk. So after selling everything in it, the last thing left to do was get rid of the trunk itself. “Old trunk with key, $100. Take it, please.” He didn’t need it.
I’m Hopeless with Similes
I’m hopeless with similes.
I’m clumsy with metaphors.
I’m terrible with adjectives.
I can’t make things rhyme.
Analogies are a lost cause.
Clauses never make sense.
I don’t know about synonyms.
My sentences are a mess.
I’m not always sure how to say what I mean.
I stumble and stammer and stutter.
I get lost in words that don’t seem to fit.
Despite all that, you still understand me.
A Pirate’s Life For Me
I once sailed across many seas
The ocean, my sailboat and me
The journey was grand
Now I understand
A pirate is what I should be.
Death of a Sandcastle
Regardless of the sun’s scorpion rays stinging every pore on his back, he continued to work. His concern was focused solely on the sand and his bucket. He paid no attention to the rising tide that licked his little pink toes. Instead he ushered the sand out of the bucket, tapping it with care. He was in the process of constructing the greatest sandcastle the world would ever know. That day, many of his other attempts toppled, were stepped on or simply weren’t good enough. It was almost time for him to leave, and this was his last chance at achieving perfection. He sculpted and molded with his small, childish hands. Clumsy as they may have been in holding a pencil or ruler, they moved lithely over the grains of compacted sand. He patted and added to his growing masterpiece, sand smudged across his sunburned face. Then his mother begun to close her book and his father got up to shake out his towel. His sister then ran out of the water to join their parents. The time was fading quickly, but he wasn’t quite done. Once a twig with a single leaf stuck through it, was placed at the peak of the castle, it would mark the completion of his architectural genius. His hand hovered over the top, a second away from securing his leaf flag in place, when from behind him a surge of ocean water rushed out over the shore. It swept over the beach and its wake, destroyed his beautiful castle. In that moment he watched every bit of love, every bit of care claimed by the power of the unforgiving sea. He watched as it crumbled and fell, reduced to menial lump of watery sand. Before his very eyes his masterpiece was erased, each grain becoming a piece of the beach. It was over. His mother extended her hand to him. For the first time he took his eyes off the spot where his beloved sandcastle once stood. He took her hand and lifted himself up. He ran his foot over the place where it had been. Walking away, he looked over his shoulder. It wasn’t over. This wasn’t the last time he’d ever build a sandcastle. He was sad for the loss of the one he built today, but he knew this wasn’t the end. At that beach and at every beach, he knew there was a castle waiting for him to be unearthed and discovered from the million upon million grains of sand. His back was washed with the warm oranges of the setting sun behind him. He was satisfied.
Introduction from a personal narrative
I threw my blanket haphazardly to the side, hopped out of bed and dashed into the kitchen for a rainbow-toned bowl of fruity cereal. I shrugged out of my PJs and into a t-shirt and jeans that were faded at the knees. Then hurriedly, I waddled my way out of my neighborhood followed by the sound of my pink bag rolling and rattling violently along the road. At the age of five, there was nowhere more fun than school. It’s where I had all of my greatest adventures. As a kindergartener, school was my favorite place in the world.
Our classroom was the second in the long, stretching hall of kindergarten classes. The desks ran along the perimeters of three walls. Two rows of desks were facing each other and one faced the board in the front. Posters of colorful letters and numbers covered nearly every inch of the room. Below the board was a green oval rug where I first learned to criss-cross-applesauce. Next to the rug were our cubbies, where we’d shove our belongings as we toppled over each other, running in from recess. And in the back left corner of the room was our class library. I loathed that library. It was like a prison cell barred with books that only used three letter words. It wasn’t because I didn’t like reading. I had no qualms about sounding out short, rhyming sentences either alone or for an audience. I hated the library because it was also my designated napping area. Nap time was always my least favorite part of the day. However, when the time came to keep myself pinned to the ground for those fifteen dreaded minutes, I did my absolute best to keep my eyes shut for every second. I knew that if I did, I’d be rewarded with a big shiny sticker. As a kindergartner, stickers were everything to me…(read the end in the print edition of We Digress being released in May 2011.)
Late Night, Early Morning
This is a poem that crawls into bed with you.
In the corner of the world where the sun burns the edges of darkness into dawn
That fogs your consciousness with a haze of sentiment
Because last night was a colorful blur of red, blues and greens
Because details melted away with every second spent falling deeper and deeper into the night
And when regret
Knocks at the gates of your better judgment
This is the poem that lulls you into sleep
Among the comforts of your room you snuck away from a lifetime ago
Like the orphan left on the doorstep awaiting its future
24 Apa`a Place is my favorite place to be. Here I can see ceilings so high like a bed for the stars, three red chairs like benches of ruby and tiles, white as foam on the sea. I can hear bubbling laughter spilling over fond, recalled memories, the faint tinkling of bells from a wandering cat, and the fast and frantic thumping of feet on two sets of carpeted stairs. I can feel heat radiating between a blanket and I while I fall asleep, curled on the couch. I can see, I can hear, I can feel in my favorite place, 24 Apa`a Place.
I had a monkey, that was a mistake.
He never wanted to stay in one place.
He climbed onto the cupboards and broke all the dishes.
He dropped a knife on my foot and I had to get stitches.
I tripped you.
I stuck out my foot and you fell to the floor.
You sat there, looking up at me confused.
But I was not.
I knew what I did.
And I knew why.
As you were falling, you looked like an angel.
You fell beautifully, which not many can do.
I tripped you so you would see that you’re not awkward.
You’re not gawky or graceless.
I wanted you to see, like I do.
The Dog and the Concert and Midnight
There were people in all directions, all jumping, frenzied, all screaming and waving their arms. It was all so, so loud. But it was perfect. In fact, she paid for this. It was supposed to be the most amazing concert of the summer. And so far, it had been. It was just about midnight, but the night still felt so young, like it would never and wasn’t meant to ever end.
She looked at the crowd as a whole. There were flashes of light coming from everywhere. It was blissful pandemonium. Her phone buzzed, taking her out of her trance. The battery was low. She meant to shove it back into her pocket, but fumbled with it for a second before it fell onto the ground. She knelt down to get it and when looking up her eyes were met by those of a large brown dog. What was a dog doing at a concert? But the harder she thought about it, the less it made sense. She got off her knees. As she did, the dog turned away, but kept its eyes on her. The look in the dog’s eyes was that like she had never seen in any other animal. It was almost as if it were thinking something, almost as if it had a secret.
What should she do? Should she just forget about it? It was too strange to be real anyway. Should she ask someone if she were seeing things? But then they would think she was crazy. The dog continued to look on. It seemed to her like the dog wanted her to follow him. What was going on? A decision had to be made. She looked around and quickly grabbed her purse from her seat.
The dog led her out of the concert hall into the cold and crisp late night air. She followed along for a few more minutes before they reached an empty lot. The ground was covered with ashes and rubble. The dog then scampered off, leaving her alone in her new burnt surroundings. She brushed her shoes against the ground, moving aside some of the ashes. She saw the glint of something shining. She picked up and turned the chain over in her hands. It was then she realized what today was. It was August 23. It was the same day that her best friend, John had died in a fire just three years ago. How could she have forgotten? She felt terrible. So there, among the burnt remains of her best friend’s house, she sat down and cried.
Just then, the big brown dog came back. He licked her hand and lay down beside her. She knew that this creature was more than just an ordinary animal. It would be her new best friend.
When the Sun Goes Down
From the darkness came a sound. But she felt nothing. It no longer made her heart stop from beating or cause her hands to break into a cold sweat. The pulsing vibrations against her pillow persisted. She rolled onto her side and looked at the screen. It was him, just as she had expected. She glanced up at the clock that glowed a digital 3:43 AM. She didn’t even bother to cough away the sleepiness from her voice.
“Ohhhhh, heyyyyy.” She could hear the loud but muffled tune from a stereo in the background.
“What,” It wasn’t a question as much as it was a demand for him to say something.
“Shhhh, shhh, shhhhhh! You’re making my head ache!” He yelled.
You probably can’t even feel your face she thought to herself.
“Any any any anyway, I just wanted to tellllllll you that yer the most gorgeous girl in the world! I love you sooooo much. Do you hear me? I love, love, love you. You’re my best friend ever, ever. I’m so serious. I would never joke about something like that and –”
She cut him off. “Where are you? Do you need me to pick you up?”
“No, no. I’m fine, fine. I just wanted to you to know how great you are. I really meeeean it.”
“Well, if you’re okay, I’m going back to bed.” She said.
“Okay bye my beautiful friend! See you!” His voice trailed off with the last vowel and then abruptly ended as she hung up.
You’re making my head ache she thought. She didn’t mean to get herself into this situation. But she couldn’t help but be in love with him. It was this erratic, stubborn, crazy boy who had somehow found a way to break down all of her defenses and make her feel this way. He was a terrible creation of broken bits and pieces, this boy. Getting drunk almost every other day, his late night calls were part of her routine, part of her life. The worst part though, was when he told her everything she wanted hear. There were sometimes she wanted to believe his liquor laden words, but they weren’t meant for her. They were simply the product of his determination to escape reality. Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes just be an illusion (Javan).
Her thoughts were interrupted by a flashing light in the dark. It was him again. She accepted the call, but stayed silent. The background was completely quiet.
“Hey,” He said, and then listened for a sign that she was there.
“You’re making my head ache.” She replied.
“I know. I’m sorry. You know…I just…” He paused.
She sighed. “It’s okay.”
“Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow morning then.” He said
She hung up, and from the darkness, there was no sound. In the silence of the night, she closed her eyes only wanting morning to come sooner.
I Am a Mouse in a Maze
I am mouse in a maze.
This is a task to be completed on my own.
Of most of it I’m sure, but not entirely so.
It doesn’t matter if I get lost along the way,
So long as I don’t stop.
For someone to watch me stumble through my maze,
To judge my every move,
Makes me nervous, more hesitant, and unsure
But once at the end, there’s no need to be afraid.
The journey was all mine to be proud of or ashamed.
And coming to that end is enough.
Writing is putting your soul on display.