Beauty of E flat

The beauty of e flat.

Melancholy and strong, a

tragedy weaving through the forced smile of C major.

A shudder and swoon

a plunge and leap

over the keys,

that unlock all the doors that shouldn’t

be opened.

 

 

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Show Stopper

The red tulips were, at first, hidden in the weeds and shrubs next to the train tracks. This tangle of brush, all muted browns and dull greens, had taken over the steep slopes in a forgettable arrangement of plant life that blurred by my peripheral as I biked down Ravenswood.

But as I pedaled closer, their crimson petals emerged, spotting the brittle overgrowth in defiance. 

Like dried spots of blood,

or a punctuation at the end of a matter-of-fact statement.

Making me stop.

And take

a

breath.

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Savage Fairies

The kids spilled onto the yard, pastel colored shirts flashed down the porch stairs and disappeared from view. Then the creaking of their trampoline and the steady

appearance

and

disappearance

of their tiny heads as they propelled each other higher, their five year old bodies showing surprising strength as they flung themselves toward the sun.  Giggling and screeching, their helium-pitched voices began to claim new identities:

“I’m a flower fairy!”

“I’m a water fairy!”

I’M a tooth fairy!”

I’m a gerbil fairy!”

The voices struggled to win in volume. The flower fairy battled the water and tooth fairies, while the lone gerbil fairy repeated his self-proclaimed title, unsure of why everyone was yelling.

Frantic, hysterical, they chanted their new personas, screaming with such a conviction, that for a moment, I was envious of their self-confidence. But there was a caste system that I was unaware of in the fairy world, and soon these fairies were crying and shrieking and racing in circles at each other like little lunatics.

They had all become savage fairies.

Except for the boy, I could hear him occasionally remind himself that he chose to be a gerbil fairy while hitting the fence half-heartedly with a stick. The little girls screamed furiously at each other in what had escalated to a show down between the water and tooth fairy that was guaranteed to make the parents take final sips of their margaritas and intervene.

gerbil fairy

 

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This Fear Burns Brighter Than My Dream

These artists, these writers, these words that I insatiably devour in hopes that I can be full… filled, with their passion, their conviction, their reckless showcase of emotion. Envious, I watch them burn with a need for expression that I have only half-heartedly pursued.

I wanted a plastic version of this desire, one that was easy to clean and didn’t break if it fell out the window of a speeding car, or smashed in my pockets when I tripped on the sidewalk after a drunken night.

My greatest fear has never been of dying, or of being alone…

It is the idea that I won’t ever be able to articulate this unquestionable, uncompromising love for something that burns in my inner core, that is MINE, that can’t be taken or received but only created by my beating heart and shallow, excited breaths and a tingling sensation that pricks the hairs up on my forearms in a goose-bumped terrain.

It is this fear of never, fully, owning what I have been given, never accepting the invitation, hand-delivered and with a bow,
that makes me save folders of quotes,
scraps of artwork from magazines,
books that weigh my shelves into an exhausted slope,
beautiful metaphors copied in haste on lined paper,
sepia-toned photos of train adventures from 1932,
jazz records that skip,
outdated publications with inspiring fonts,
personal journals from 8 years old to present.

But still, living vicariously through someone else’s art, is not really living your own.

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A Wasted Hour

Everyone’s words started to sound like the low-rumbling grumble of a collapsing foundation. Syllables and consonants globbed together
forming a vibrating bass tone that blended into the background.

All meaning was lost.

The occasional surges in frequency or pitch, the inappropriate laugh or frustrated explanations of numbers and statistics, would startle my senses. My mind would thrust to the surface of the moment, before sinking back into the warm and watery echoes of uncaring presence.

My doodling circled to the corner of the paper, my thoughts walking the labyrinth over and over as I followed the fading ink trail to the precipice of my notebook’s edge.

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The Path Behind Us Has Disappeared

When I woke, he was already rustling around downstairs. I could hear him shuffling his world maps and the distant clinking sound of his coffee cup being placed on its saucer. I lay in bed, enjoying the moment of solitude before I would start another day of answering Frank’s usual questions of where he had gone and where he was going.

The accident had taken away more than the hearing in his left ear, Frank couldn’t remember anything about himself past the age of 35, and he had difficulty retaining information from day-to-day. He was lucky though. A tiny scar ran a white, raised trail around the back of his head, leading to a slight indentation, and that was the only physical proof anything had happened a few months ago. He was still my Frank, even if I wasn’t his.

I rolled out of bed and put on my running clothes. I examined for any signs of gray streaking through my ponytail and descended the stairs.

“Have you ever been to Costa Rica?” He looked up from his glossy guide book when he heard me round the corner and took a gulp of coffee.

“Good morning. Is that where you’re headed?” I slid into the chair next to him and picked up the atlas bookmarked to a giant map of Cost Rica.

We had been to Costa Rica years ago, I had persuaded him to take surfing lessons with me. He hated it, and after the first afternoon he went and got drunk on mimosas and later he accused me of flirting with the instructor. It was the only time I had raised my voice at him, screaming actually, in the 25 years we’ve been married.

His strong hand smoothed the wrinkles from the giant world map he had carefully laid across the kitchen table. Choosing a dark green marker, he hesitated before tracing a line along the Pacific coast.

“We were in Tamarindo.” I pulled my ponytail tight and stood up to find my shoes.

He stopped and circled the tiny pin point that marked the town where we had vacationed years before. He reached for the stack of post cards and journal entries he had organized in a chronological timeline since his accident, and flipped to an entry from Costa Rica.

“May 14, 1997

I should have remembered to bring my cargo shorts. Costa Rica is humid and I’m tired of wearing the same clothes day after day…

Since the accident, Frank had clung to his collection of letters and photos in hopes of piecing together the years that had been erased from his memory. He had been an avid writer and obsessive collector of ticket stubs and museum pamphlets, but all the writing was nothing but a second-hand story to him. He joked that most times it was a really boring, second hand tale. That always made me sad.

Beneath the brochures and Costa Rican bar coasters was a post card of Peru. He picked up his marker and circled Peru on the world map typed in a bold-faced courier font, and began to research his own journey of how he went from Costa Rica to Peru, a time span that covered a year and a half, and one that I wish he would leave alone.

I tied my shoes and set my watch to zero.

“I’ll be back in 30 minutes.” He might not remember that I even had left. I scribbled down that I would be back soon on the back of a junk mail envelope by the door and left him to his research.

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Happiness is Safe in My Pocket

Put this in my pocket.

This happy, soft reminder

I can roll between my cold fingertips

deep in the folds of my wool pea coat.

My subtle smile on pale, chapped lips

conceals this secret that can’t be shared

in fear that dirty hands will smudge its purity.

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