Inexorable (I-III.)

I.
They are still carving you up with their incisors
and knives, when you sleep or have turned your back
to face the sun- a blink, exhale,
and you’re wondering why there’s blood in your cuticles again,
yellow nicotine stains on your fingertips,
a taste of acid in the throat.

Inside-out or outside-in.
The ground that will ensconce you is indifferent.

You’re wondering which is quicker, not painless,
which leaves less remains for the rest to find
after your animative light has extinguished
after your body forfeits its longest fight.

II.
There are some things I just can’t bear to confer-
cataclysmic entropy thrashing inside a shrinking headspace
illuminated by the flames peeling from the suppurations
of my brain, words like stitches unable to close
the rose-pearl chasm of open flesh. A greed
that will tear you ligament from limb
while scavengers lick your skin-stretched bones.

Darling, I can’t stand to imagine the miserable
shrivel of your eyes when you see what I’ve done again,
the crossed lines in a crossfire of psychomachia.
This sorrow’s not something you deserve,
and I’ll wrap myself in the lincel and velvet
before I let you look upon the vile
writhe of chimeric
thoughts and memory.

III.
Trembling hands fumbling with the paper and filter,
a clumsy cigarette taking shape between your fingers.
The lighter is in your pocket, your shoes are
splattered with mud and spit, your voice is the scrape
of gravel under your tread.

Where is the piano coming from, who has shot the streetlights,
why am I shivering on the concrete?

You’re sucking poison into your chest like it’ll burn
away your limnetic madness, like I’ll forget
what I asked before you fled to inhale your death.
You wanted a different question, one with an answer
you’re proud to own, and I can’t blame you for that.
We can burn the query if you promise to reconcile
with the honesty that remains, gleaming like a pistol
under the ashes, and I’ll wrap you in my coat,
I’ll walk you home under the smoke-smothered stars.

Moon.

We’ve seen this movie before, and here’s the part where he finds the bodies, finds himself in mirrored caverns, a gallery of pallid twins asleep in metal cradles. I doze off on your shoulder while he’s checking their thumbs for spindle-pricks, kissing them awake to raise a barren colony. I wake up as he draws a portrait of his wife in sterile dust like the indelible footprints left by his hallowed predecessor. You wipe drool off your shoulder and press your mouth on my hair.

The man on television is making a village out of popsicle sticks, a microcosm he wants to curl into with his oxygen and scarf and postcards. He wants to know if his wife remembers the constellation of freckles on his back, he wants to brush an eyelash off her cheek, he wants to say her name somewhere the sound doesn’t die. I ask you whether you’ll call my name the next time you’re spinning softly within a woman’s gravity, four feet above black water, bodies in the lake and nothing underneath. You hold me a little tighter and say you don’t forget details.

The man on screen is beating his fists against insentient rock. He has effaced the fingertip trace of his earth-bound lover. I understand him, and want to be like him, never giving up on altering the dismal course of linear orbit. I understand how much it aches to be an afterthought, Saturn’s seventh ring, pure white glove on the surface of the moon.

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

Page 42.

I dreamt of
a book, little souls
on the pages.
I lived
on page 42
and that’s where
all those fingers traced
all my letters till
my corners bent
like little paper petals.

The xylem of red
pens annotating the biology,
every line with a cerebral pathology
and unknown
unyielding
methodology
of a true savant.

There are still so many pens
sputtering scarlet ink with which
to write scarlet letters on all
my bro-
ken
promises and ill-worded bromides
and I am afraid

they will
Stop
and realize there’s nothing
on page 43.
Was that it, my magnum opus composed

at 18 with a rose caught between my teeth, thorns
lodging hard in my mouth
fibrous fangs I can run my tongue across?