Unspilled Ink, and the Coming Year(s)

It’s 3:27 am, and I’m in bed hoping the light from the screen or my fingers on the keyboard aren’t troubling my roommate’s sleep (if you’re reading this Hong, and I did in fact wake you, I owe you cereal). A deluge of thoughts is keeping me up tonight, and though they are not the belletristics I usually post, I feel as though I have enough kinship with all of you to share them.

This is my first year in college; however because of a high school credit program (AP anyone?) I’m set to graduate Spring 2016. This anomaly of my first year being my penultimate one means I’ve less time to become qualified for the workforce through internships and campus involvement. To say nothing of the fact that I don’t even know what I wish to do in the professional sphere. I’m 18 so I frequently hear “well, dear, you don’t have to know yet- no one does at this age!”- but this doesn’t sit right with me. I’ve learned with intentionality since my freshman year of high school, when I enrolled in courses with scholarships and college credit in mind. I knew there wasn’t a way for me to pay for my secondary education, so I decided that if I pushed hard enough, won scholarships, and exempted out of enough pre-rec courses, I could do this without wrecking my financial stability. It worked, I’m here, and in another year I may be graduating…what??? I’m a Global Studies major/French minor, heading this August to a French university to work and study, and perhaps get a clue as to what the hell I’m supposed to be doing. All I’m certain of is that I wish to commune with people around the world, speak different languages (Spanish and Arabic- you’re up next), and above all give love as deeply and proactively as I can throughout my life.

However in the past year or so, writing has evolved into an integral part of my life and my identity. I don’t leave campus without an anthology nor a notebook and pen (I recently made the mistake of biking to a bookshop without either, and promptly purchased a miniscule pad of paper and 4-inch pen that I could put in my shoe on the ride home. I had found inspiration among the bookstacks). Writing alleviates pain, rejoices in the beautiful minutiae, inspires change, and so much more; it has become my hope that my words can achieve these ends. But I have so much growing to do. A kind reader recently urged me to consider classical forms, and I promptly realized I’m utterly ignorant when it comes to anything but free-verse. There is so much I want to know and study, but it’s too late in the game to change my major. Professors have urged me towards graduate school for creative writing, but the idea of spending more money that I don’t have terrifies me. The thought of losing out on the chance to grow as a writer terrifies me even more. So I’ve been doing the cost-benefit analyses in my head, factors in which include time, providing for my future family, career, job experience, etc., and if I finish my undergrad at 20- why the hell not? I am young and should not limit myself by something as transient as money.

I also realized today that my gifts and skills are independent of anyone else. For a couple months now I’ve been inadvertently seeking validation from a couple writers I know and admire, and comparing my own style to their very different ones; this is folly. I create on my own terms, and my work should not be dictated by another’s. This should have been obvious, but I was enamored with the new thrill and blessing of knowing other people with word-shaped hearts, and got lost in comparing the phrases within. (Okay, so maybe a couple belletristics.)

It took me skipping class yesterday and getting lost on my bike for me to come to these tenuous epiphanies. It took me receiving the kindest, most encouraging email I’ve ever read for me to realize that I no longer have a say in the past- but what I say about it can be everything. This past year I’ve been recovering from PTSD and a few other related disorders caused by traumas that I will not elucidate upon. My recovery has been colored by a spectrum of emotions- hope, rage, hate, despair, resolve, to name a few- and each of these feelings has brought with it a new way to say what’s in my heart. What I write may not always be easy to read, but it will always be honest- and I believe there is beauty in truth.

So I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to all of you who have helped me along the way, reminded me why I write, or read my work. Thank you for sustaining me these past months and in the ones to come. I am inexpressibly thankful for all of you. With love, M. Alden

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Gannet Hollow

A fire is still going, and burning up the roof
ashes drifting into our hair so we grow old
together, the way we always dreamed
coughing on ruined homes and
breathing in charred rainfall.

Dilapidated cabinets with rust-scabbed
hinges, cracked glass on the other side.
Empty fridge, barely cold.
Half-open pantry with your favorites
still stocked inside, stale and
molded. Still a feast if you eat it quick.

The stairs stained with dog piss and other
unnameable messes under my naked feet
bony rail creaking under my hand, the other
stuffed in my pocket, fingers cold because it’s full of holes.

I push open your door, pressing hard because the
other side is strewn with singed jackets and broken
picture coffins and half-torn smiles. Rumpled
green sheets with unutterable emptiness.
I breathe the moment you threw me down,
one shoe on, crumpled lashes, bra strap
hanging off my shoulder and asked me to stay.
I’m there on the carpet, taking off my
shoe and saying “okay”.

I think somewhere my phone is ringing. On the
bathroom counter, shivering on the marble
smeared with toothpaste and scum.
Blue October ringtone, the one you set
one morning when I wasn’t looking.
Is that you calling? You always said
it was always me.

I curl into your shadows and live a hundred days.
The ashes settle into my lungs.
Slowly the roof burns.

Treasure Hunting pt. II (Reprise)

Re-re-reread
every line I might find an answer-
matrices of verbosity
hints of cold causality
and the prosaic virtuosity
that can’t explain
or assuage

a crimson penumbra overcast
empty hands with hollow palms.

Catching glimpses of your tragedy
through tourniquet words that didn’t stop
the bleeding

and I
ache
for
you.

And now what’s left
just this
self-composed elegy
for sparsile hearts
that can’t
settle
down.

Pas-de-un

My head is a music box, illimitable
dancer, limerant notes::

Set upon an elliptical run
unlocked coffin
that contains tiny imposters

How wonderful life is::
my thoughts sing in old refrains.

Our songs, lid open, orbiting lines
smiles with porcelain lips.

Heretic’s Psalm

Lock our hopes
in profane reliquaries
with precious overlays
of velvet and veneration
an offering past its time.

Promised
a meaningful end
in an infinitesimal terminus,
rot-lunged smokers
and prodigal whores
go to otherworldly sleep

singing lullabies
and wine-stained songs

while skyward mysteries
whisper
of existential reign.

if we close our eyes
we can ignore the divine
vacancy under the golden lid
and call it holy prayer.

Shoes

You can’t trust crazies with shoelaces
so we strung our feet together with zip-ties.
And don’t let us get ahold of a spork,
its prongs may bite at twitching wrists.

I didn’t have any shoes within regulation
(the buckles are almost as dangerous as sporks)
and my toes curled against the hospital-grade carpet
embarrassed to be so ill-endowed
of shoes, of sanity.

My mom wore sneakers just my size
and quietly her hands pulled
the laces loose through the parallel spaces
till they sat, two vacancies
for ten ashamed toes.
She pulled off her socks,
two cotton skins to keep me warm.

A nurse bent down and looped a plastic chain
where the laces used to be. I think her hands
were tender because she had seen
the procedural exchange, and my mother
walking away with
two buckles on her steady feet.

To K. Alden, the supplier of regulation footwear and the most astonishingly kind and brave woman I know.

To Be Determined-

Someday I’ll write about you in a different light.
You can read the curves of my hand
that trace prosaisms
draw prayers for us
two stars drifting in slow leagues of time
till we untangle and understand
that the end has justified our tremulous journey.