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[title undecided]

Frenetic fireflies glinted behind her eyes that summer. I didn't know what had changed her, but she swung her arms freely, wore loose hemp bracelets with colored beads, drew wild birds with marker in the crooks of her elbows: I never knew till then she was ambidextrous. Electricity crackled and sparked between us like lightning kissing telephone wires in a midsummer storm. I kept hoping her straw-colored hair was wild and dry enough to light a fire in, but all summer long we smiled and laughed and smiled; she thirsted too much to drive her closed eyelids into the rain, so I indulged it all, glad, at least, for her presence.

Once, at school, I snuck up behind her during lunchtime as she stared intently into her white computer screen at an empty table beside the wall. As I reached out to poke her in the ribs my eyes glanced across text and the blinking cursor: Pond water festers in my veins and my heart has stopped trying to turn it into blood. I have been trying to forget myself before anyone else remembers me. I backtracked, stepped quietly away, but sometimes when she looks me in the eyes and asks me where the thunder's gone I wonder whether she heard me breathing behind her, then.

She vowed, one spring night under the stars, after hours clinging so hard to a boy's stomach as his motorbike screamed down a deserted Minnesota highway that the imprint of her clenched fists took three days to fade from his skin, to exist. This I learned after her death, after that summer, when the boy came up to the funeral podium holding a battered piece of paper that held only aimless sketches of her eyes and crumpled against it. After he left her, the only way she knew how to hold onto him was by expanding in her promise to live, and so she did wildly, desperately, swallowing soil and sunshine into her open throat to grow wildflowers out of each of her orifices. After that summer was over, they told her she had to let go. So she let autumn dry the auburn leaves and pressed her wildflowers between the pages of her journal, and as one by one the foliage fell, she let go.

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Collision

Some say they've seen another world
where life and death collide
and all the earthly darkness
suddenly seems insignificant.
God, they say, waits on the other side,
offering salvation for a life well spent.
I've never been a big believer in angels and the heavens,
but some nights, I sit up wondering if maybe
there is more to this life than just
shooting whiskey and writing bad poetry.
Maybe God is up there saying
"Don't worry, darlin', it'll all be worth it someday."

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So...what now?

Caught clocked in

at another boring pitfall;

back blocked off

front/left/right

all wrong.

Thinking that

I've got to be

something better

than a better me,

and I could be content

but is that what it means

to say you're free?

I just move

(I never said that I am living).

I don't have to prove

a single thing

cause I'm not listening,

and the only one that matters

doesn't need to hear to know

that everything will follow

once he's finished saying so...

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After "Nothing would be the same if you didn't exist"

Rejection has all but consumed me

wrapped me in bubbles started playing

the funeral march with ever pop.

 

When nobody wants you, how do

you move forward?  I am stuck,

a revolving door of hello and goodbye.

 

The universe never donates the

stories I want to tell.  I am left with

cracked casts and an eye patch.

 

I guess that’s what I’m here for,

to make other people look better

to help other people find their dreams

 

while mine remain an infant, desperately

trying to crawl away from home

with a rope tied around my ankle.

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Rain

As the yellowed elevator doors crack open on the third floor, I change my mind. Press the “close doors” button, over and over till they have slid wide then back tight again. Push “7.” Close my eyes and wait. I can feel this little capsule I’m in, pushing up, up, up, creak and lurch its arrival announcement. The doors split again; it looks the same, but as I step out there is a sense of the unfamiliar. There are a few extra doors, the tiled hallway angles off in a different direction than it does on my floor, a large watercolor painting of a tree hangs under the right-side window instead of the familiar gold and red carving of birds across from it. Exploring, I turn the corner, step by step up the dark concrete stairs, pick the squat metal door on the left, wonder if it is locked, but why would it be, push. 


Air. The sky is orange here, energy from the city’s faded streetlights caught between droplets of gray mist. The door to the stairs has no handle on the outside, just a keyhole, and I am afraid some mysterious force will slam it shut behind me while I am out breathing, so I keep my fingertips lightly attached to its cold aluminum surface.  But there is an overhang here and I am not under the sky and this rooftop is so perfectly invitingly wide and deserted - I cannot resist it. I find a decaying dark red brick lying on a small stack, set it precariously upright so that its upper edge just reaches the base of the open metal door, and I am free. 

It is nine thirty on a December night, but somehow there is more light than there should be - the concrete rooftop glistens with the week’s drizzle, and the crepuscular light has turned the world into an illusion: too dark for shadows, too light for obscurity. Light enough to see everything except the dimensional corners and details and hard edges of this world. 

I love the rain here. It feels like the sky is falling, precipitating lightly to kiss my mortal skin, remind me of my airy origins. The rain forgives me everything, even coming down here, even abandoning it. Always. On days when even the sky remains imperiously impervious to my upturned face, the rain always breathes me back, melts my searingly solid flesh into its benevolent immateriality. 

Rooftops are a magical place. If you've forgotten how to dream, they are all you need to remember. Especially on a rainy night. Desolate, abandoned, you have the world to yourself: the rain is all yours to catch in hands that are always too small to hold our wide earth, and the stout jungled mountains rise taller than even the skyscrapers.  Your whole world spreads out like a drawing before you, below you, around you: an eagle’s eye diorama of your reality feature film, moving through existence in real time. 

I cannot help but think of Jeffrey, how he said he would combine himself with the sky for me, though they are two separate and holy entities and that could never happen. How he said we should lay one day, staring at it, and talk. Like in those romantic movies, but this is not about romanticism. This is about truth. 

This concrete rooftop would be perfect. Irreality, world reduced to a moving diorama, gasping chasms between the skyscrapers, and the sky and the wet rain falling, falling, falling. 



There is faint clink. The brick has toppled; the squat metal door is swinging unstuck. I am not supposed to be up here. I hurry down to call the elevator, then pace back into the unlit stairwell, step down, down, down, down, down through the dark, spiraling staircase as the world pulls me slowly back into its vortex. 7, 6, 5, 4, 3. Here is my turnoff. Exit the stairs, verify the gold and red carved birds, welcome back to your reality. 

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Finding the Writer

I am the error in my ways

a format that I can't explain

in status of an editor

it's hard to read my own work.

 


The principals that I've applied

are stretched and so they are denied

connected by similarities

immersed in substance but lacking a hook.

 


Vague does well to justify

I've tried to find a better side

but things are not as stable

or specific as they seem.

 


Just take a look and you will see

with reason there's uncertainty

and though I read and write in text

I am not a book.

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dreams...

    I want a place with real shutters. I want a house with a wrap around porch and stairs leading up to the welcoming door of our home. I want a wide yard of lush green grass bordered with the brilliancy of crape myrtles. I want to watch the sun fade into the horizon, lining the clouds in gold and painting the sky in shades of pink, a symphony of colors all from the porch swing. I want chickens and goats, and rows and rows of vegetables. I want a roaring fireplace in the winter, where we can sit and warm up our hands from the bitter cold.

     I want toys littered everywhere, and children running up and down the hallways. I want a tree in the backyard, with great deep roots, with a tire swing hanging from one of it's thick branches. I want my ashes to be buried there upon my death, a place of mourning and remembrance for my family within their own backyard.

     I want a world away from the world. I want to live daily by the work of my hands, harvesting fruit from trees, watering the garden, and picking up eggs from the chickens. I want to do laundry and dishes, and vacuum cookie crumbs trailing from the kitchen floor. I want to hear the laughter of children and wipe the tears of children. I want to clean off the smears of their sticky handprints from the walls.

     But most of all, I want to be near God. I want to glorify Him in everything thing I do. Being a homemaker, and producing our needs from the very land He created. I want to teach my children and raise them close to me. I want to hear His voice in the silence of breaking dawn and in the noise of little ones wrecking havoc. I want to walk hand in hand with Him as I guide the hands of my little ones. I want to be close to Him, in every way, in every place. To never leave Him, Him to never leave me. 

     There's a beauty in all of this. Simplicity. Contentment. Most of all love. But is it even possible? To tear away from the news, to leave behind facebook and the internet. To forget the world's desires, and hold onto the Lord's. To no longer lust after things that'll sooner rust and fade and rip… but to chase the one thing that is everlasting.

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Life Story

 

Life Story

 

Your story starts with setting and circumstance,

What you have to deal with at the start.

The plot is what happens, your experience.

Pay attention and you learn;

Connect the dots and you understand.

Figure out what it means and you’ve gained wisdom.

You’re the main character, the protagonist.

You’d like to be the hero, but oh the pitfalls.

There are antagonists in every chapter,

And circumstance keeps creating ups and downs.

Irony sneers and snickers at you,

As the plot, hopefully, moves forward

Or at least keeps things interesting.

There are many climaxes along the way,

And you resolve to make the most of them.

The big one decides if this is a tragedy, a comedy,

A mystery.  Romance would be nice,

But stay away from fantasy!

I hope there’s time for an epilogue.

Read it again, maybe tinker with the plot a bit.

Whatever, it’s bound to be your favorite story ever.

 

Chris Brockman

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we are the ghosts of our cold home / i have never felt like my own person

She tells me that as a baby, I stood in my crib and peeped over the top of the bars, silent and patient, waiting for sight of an open eye before belting my first wail of the morning. I was thoughtful, I was considerate, I was the infant who wanted my first word, no matter how incoherent, to mean something, none of this screaming into the open air with violent intentions and no grasp of control; I was all about control, and I stood there, as a baby, for who knows how long. I stood there:

 

“mother may I”

 

and grew up to be the disappointing daughter, the prodigal firstborn who failed to fulfill the prophecy, I was no chosen one, I was nothing but a pile of potential under a cocoon of brown skin and myopic eyes

 

“mother may I”

 

I didn’t know you could cross the street diagonally in boston until I was standing at the edge of the sidewalk,  my life not quite at a crossroads, and the pedestrians going horizontal had the okay and the pedestrians going vertical had the okay and was there ever a wrong way to walk? no one walks in ninety degrees because the fastest way anywhere is a straight line but I am all about these detours, these delays, these sorry-not-sorry inconveniences, these procrastinations, these never-have-I-evers

 

“mother may I”

 

just like I didn’t know that if you skipped enough meals your body would give up on you, on the thought, like two disappointed parents finding out you’re not going to graduate on time, and then even the smell of food is nauseating, and you realize you have the power to eat or not to eat, you are all about control, I am holding the remote control and changing channels

 

“mother may I”

 

to a show that everyone says my family should have, where are you going with all those teeth in your mouth, all that sorrow in your palms, how many hearts are you going to break with eyes like that, please stop looking at me, looking at me, look how much of me is waiting to be branded like a slave in the old days, all this brown skin, all this war, all this depression

 

“helium helium helium helium helium helium helium”

 

I still don’t know what happens to balloons that little kids lose hold of, as I so often did. I mean, I do—they pop at a certain point in the atmosphere, don’t they? the broken rubber floats down to reality, thanks to gravity, I guesss, and here we are

 

but I want to go up and up and up and no one wants to hear me talk about dying but I want to talk about it and I want to be detailed because when I am alone I plan the moment, like how there will be this beautiful song in the background on repeat and I will lay on the ground until my breath gets shallow, and no longer will I have to ask for permission

 

“mother may I”

 

she will never say yes. (will she ever, will she ever) she will never
say yes. 

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mist

the misty day seems brighter now

and the air smells freshly cleaned

dew drops cling to blades of grass

i hear robins singing somewhere 

*

but all is not as it appears 

there's an ominous void over 

my left shoulder - i no longer hear

your voice or your shuffling 

*

before the morning's brew kicks in

and the bacon's smell wafts through;

i know we vowed to eat better 

but some things you can't eschew

*

we left most crap behind, but some seeps in

anyway, who said a plane was the only way to fly

remember when we took a trip in our back yard

boy, we never laughed so hard

*

and God forbade the junk we ate, when we 

raided our stash behind the shuttered gate

and listened to our favorite songs that

the neighbors kids would clown around to

*

dancing along, mocking us in our embrace

on songs that slowed for us to sway to   

never any doubt where we belonged

memories kept gloom at bay, then

*

when we would wonder just how long

we would carry on, silly cads

who knew that memories never fade 

but remain in mind after you've passed 

*

the visions too, as i immobly rest

as though i can still see you standing there

i'm praying now for your fog to lift 

for your light to shine through the mist

*

yours is the task to make amends

for fate's deprivation of your truest

friend to the end, now that it's ended

when you're left with only wisps 

*

of how we blended in so many ways

oh how those thoughts may sustain  

as you carry on, but not alone 

there are worthy others who'll share

*

they certainly can feel your value

and will find, as did i, the treasure

awaiting them in your hearth;

so I'll quit my rambling and

*

allow you to re-attend to things 

your bacon is burning now, i'm 

grateful to have shared a thought, yet

you're lying oh so still in your tub's space

*

dwelling on me in a blissful rest 

in my own cozy, peaceful place.

*

7/3