Aphrodite

aphrodite

Aphrodite, goddess
raised by ocean storms and sea foam,
knows that the only corporeal thing a woman can rely on
is herself.

A lover’s embrace,
can crush, can bind, can trap
as easily as it offers support, extends comfort.

She knows that not even the ground
will always be there to catch her.
Water will slow the fall,
but cannot stop it.
Only her legs, her arms,
the strength of her lungs,
and the stubbornness of her heart
kept her from drowning.
Fire will burn away the flowers,
evaporate the water
before the embers crumble into cold ash.

Aphrodite, feared by men
and envied by women,
and punished for hips and lips and bedroom eyes
that were no use to her adrift at sea,
learned that if she wanted anything,
she would have to take it.
If she wanted happiness,
she would have to take it.

She tamed the earth and coaxed it into a garden,
contained the waters that raised her in a luscious bath,
ate the fruits of her garden with her body submerged,
ordered the fire to warm the bath waters
and turned the ashes of the fires that burned her
into luxurious soaps for her bath.

Aphrodite steps in front of her mirror,
tells herself she is beautiful,
she is clever,
she is a goddess.

Aphrodite, goddess of love,
feels faint with excitement
when you step out of your bath
and in front of your mirror
tell yourself you are beautiful,
you are clever
you are a goddess.

Her fingers tremble
as she combs them through your hair,
makes a braid of your uncertainties,
wraps it around your head like a crown,
tells you to smile at your admirers
and wink at your enemies.

 

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Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I am so lucky.
I love you. I love you.
I want to be your first and your last.

I don’t know what I want.
I don’t know what you expect from me.
I feel… I feel… I feel…
I don’t want you to touch anyone else.
Are you still awake?

I told you not to tell anyone.
Relationships are about compromise.
I want to take you out on a real date.
It’s between you and me, you and me

Look at that, it’s two of your favorite things.
What do you mean you’re not straight?
Of course you’re straight.
No one else would be so patient with you.

Maybe you should go home tomorrow night.
You had another nightmare, and midterms start tomorrow.
Maybe if you paid closer attention
I don’t see what the big deal is.
You are so lucky I love you.

 

Dream Journals

Last night I had a dream that I was turning to stone. My teeth started falling out first, tooth by tooth, and I thought they were rotting. Then my toes started turning gray and crumbling away. I thought I was cold.

And little by little, I crumbled away.

I wrote the above at 3am the other night after a particularly vivid dream. I’m prone to nightmares and disorienting dreams, but the upside is that it occasionally makes for some interesting prompt fodder.

I’m currently working on weaving this concept into a short story. Another project on top of the WIP pile…

What are you currently working on?

Safe City

Last night, I dreamed of fear.

I dreamed of a steel gray sky,
metal slats that slid over the city
like a hat, a jacket, a glove,
a tomb.

I dreamed of sounds like thunder but without lightning.
I dreamed without light, and my hands reached out
feeling for feeling’s sake
fingers for eyes
grooves and temperature for colors

I dreamed of other hands, familiar hands
strange-to-me hands, hands I’d never held
grazing my shoulder and recoiling
because it wasn’t the comfort
–the shoulder, the door knob, the weapon–
their hands were reaching for.

I dreamed of choreographed cacophony,
of whispers that grew into murmurs,
from chatter to shouts to screams.
I dreamed of sobs that sounded familiar
only to find they erupted from my own throat
after I swallowed down the bile.

I dreamed of foot steps slamming against asphalt,
ankles turning on uneven sidewalks,
of the memory of daily routine guiding my movements
as my fingers spread out, learning the night,
as my fear thrummed in time with the metallic thunderclaps,
as I ran towards a sound like my name
towards the hope that somebody was running towards me,
seeking me out with their reaching, clawing, grasping hands.

I dreamed they never found me.

Visitation

Copy of Pillow Talk

Growing up, I spent weekends
sleeping on a pull-out couch in your living room.
I could have slept in your daughters’ room,
but the oldest didn’t want to share her bed
and the youngest kicked and stole the covers.

I did not fake sleep convincingly:
I held myself too still,
breathed too heavily,
snorted more than snored
always half a beat behind
my heart beat.

That is to say, I think you knew
that I did not sleep
through very many of those weekends
and you didn’t want me to be
lonely.

Sometimes, you would let me stay up late
and instead of watching the TV in your bedroom
you sat in the living room with me.
I would inch closer and closer,
commercial by commercial,
until I was leaning against your side.
Those were often the only nights I slept through the night.

When you and your family moved away,
You promised to call
on every birthday, every holiday.
It will be eight years this year,
but I still reach for the phone.

Last night, I slept on your wife’s couch.
I was visiting her for another funeral.
I was visiting to meet another grandbaby
that will never hear your laugh from down the hall.
I had trouble falling asleep
in this house I didn’t grow up in
surrounded by sounds I wasn’t used to hearing.
When I fell asleep, I dreamed that you sat next to me on the couch.
I could still feel your arm when I woke up.
I didn’t even notice morning break.

#MeToo in Kid Lit

The original title for this reflection was “Sexual Assault in KidLit.” In retrospect, that looks like a click bait title. It has that split-second implication that children themselves are being targeted by sexual predators in the industry. But the allegations aren’t less serious because they’re targeting, as far as we know, adults.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m following the developments regarding allegations made in the comment section responding to this article originally posted on January 3 of this year regarding sexual assault and harassment in the author community.

Continue reading “#MeToo in Kid Lit”

When the Trees Get Lonely

When the Trees Get Lonely.png

Title: When the Trees Get Lonely
Words: 1425
Summary: Ashford Academy, a private high school, shares a border with a small town with a natural burial cemetery. The students at the school trade ghost stories about the young forest that lines the western boundary of the school. Ben loves to fall asleep listening to the trees moving in the wind. Sometimes, he could swear they were talking.

Notes: This is an excerpt from a current, long-going work in progress. I’ve never considered how difficult it is to maintain the creepy aura of a thrilling horror novel before. Do you have any genres that you find particularly challenging to write?

Continue reading “When the Trees Get Lonely”