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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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poetry

Blogvember #24 and #25: Thursday and Friday.

#24: It was lovely being off work on Thursday. This is what I did, rather than blog. Sorry. Well, not really.


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#25: Since it’s Black Friday, here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago, entitled, naturally, Black Friday

and so she believed the hype.
she tipped her head toward the heavens and waited for the stars to descend into her eyes, and she waited, so quietly, to hear a skip, a jump, a tiny hop within her heartbeat, and she gazed at him and waited for an infiltration of memory to imprint his every nuance and niche…
they didn’t tell you, did they, honey?
you may leave with a shiny new gadget after that doorbuster sale, my dear, but hype isn’t the heart, and the feeling of his hand in yours will never not feel like a bag of nails tapping at the soft flesh of your confused palm.
behind silly platitudes and empty love songs is nothing but air and the truth and you.
and so you believed the hype.
and you were duped, conned, swindled, sandbagged, hoodwinked, and yes, so sadly bamboozled.
but didn’t you know? 
when did love ever need a sale?

Blogvember #17: Throwback Poemday.

I wrote this a few years ago. Happy TBP.

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From Damascus to Emmaus 

I’m waiting you out.
I’ll be here in Damascus,
waiting for the scales to fall from your eyes.
You’re making it hard on yourself, honey,
determined to wear
these blinders, determined to
ignore what we and the world know:
I am the one for you, and you are the one for me.
So, go on, kick against this oxgoad,
persecute your poor heart with denial,
hold their coats and stand aside,
pretend like you don’t feel it or get it.
The light will come. 
Oh, yes.
And it will be luminous.
When it does, I’ll be waiting, ready to use my heart as your salve to open your poor eyes, 
ready to journey with you to Emmaus,
where our chests will burn with love and understanding.

“…wings of her own.”

I wrote this poem seven years ago. Bon Throwback Thursday.

 

Mrs. Birdman

 

When he finally lands,

the odds are that she’ll be waiting for him by the riverside.

He’ll tell marvelous tales

of the sweet air up there, of racing with skylarks and ravens,

that near-miss with the eagle…

She’ll tell him that Billy lost his tooth, and that Sally started walking.

He’ll smile and ask if they remember him and she’ll lie and say that

they do.

She’ll cry when he says that he has to go again,

(“I thought you’d stay longer this time”)

and he’ll placate her with promises that they both know

will fly away faster than he can, never to be seen or heard of

again.

Up, up, up, he’ll go, the Man who makes the sky that much

more unique, as they all like to say.

She’ll continue by the riverside,

waiting,

too morose and too teary-eyed

to realize what he hopes she never will,

that she’s always had

wings of her own.

Elegies.

I’m still writing poems about him. I don’t think that will ever end.

 

Elegy. 16.

Perhaps I always knew I would end up near you, my dear, departed one,
near the streets you once walked upon, near the air you once had the privilege to breathe.
Somehow that dreaded constant summer began to call out to me and I began to listen…
A siren’s call, surely, one worthy of wax shoved quickly in the ears, but your memory is far too strong, far too melodic for that Odyssean self-control, and I’m not willing to let you go.

(How is it that the silence that spoke such volumes when we stood across from one another is even louder now, now that you slumber in the ground?)

 

Elegy. 98.

I’m in the mood for you.
For your fanciful cowboy tales–
For your romantic sunset–
For that gleam of mischief in your bright eyes–
and for the sadness I saw in them, too, the kind that told me who you really were.

I’m in the mood for you.
For your arrogant understanding of me–
For your inability to understand nothing at all–
and for the sadness I wanted to take away so badly, the kind that your actions couldn’t hide.

But moods pass.
So did you.
And sadness quietly changes partners.

 

Elegy. 99.

Memory becomes my salve.
Numbing the skin, numbing the nerves,
creating a youthful version of you where smiles ruled the day and
laughter echoed through the halls of our temporary home.

it is advisable that we not remain friends.

I wrote this in 2012. Stuff was happening back then. These days, my quiet life is unencumbered by angry poems about silly boys. (Primarily because I’m married to Idris.) Happy Friday.

it is advisable that we not remain friends.

i will sabotage your efforts.

you will bring this new girl to me,

forgetting that our failed transition from

friends to something more is as fresh as the

gash you created on my heart,

and you will ask me that silly question of

“what do you think?”

and i will respond about her niceness and pleasantness

and casually mention that hopefully her meanness

will go away,

and you will wonder about this meanness you hadn’t

seen before, and i will assure you

that women know women, and i see it there, that meanness,

lurking right alongside her lazy eye and her obvious materialism.

and i don’t want to do this to you.

so don’t bring her before me, ok,

and don’t bring her up, and don’t suggest

this friendship that we obviously can never have.

just let me tend to my poor, weak heart, and

just keep away from me.

or, rather, stay over there,

close enough where i can see you,

but far enough that my poor heart and i

can pretend you’re no longer there.

Contests.

I recently submitted a few of my pieces (two short stories and a poem) for some writing contests. I submitted them with the reminder to myself that 1) I’m not the only writer in the world, and 2) there’s a high likelihood that I won’t even place, because see #1. I should tell you that I don’t doubt my talent for a second; gone are the days when I would compare my writing to every one else wielding a pen and/or a laptop and wonder why I couldn’t evoke emotions like Writer A or describe scenes like Writer B. For years and years now, I have wielded my pen/dusty laptop quite confidently, as every writer should. But it was also important to provide myself those two reminders because This Square Peg definitely likes being real and honest with herself. This foils disappointment and eternal irritation with judges who clearly don’t have eyes.

All that said, I received an email yesterday that with 375 entries submitted, I wasn’t selected as a finalist for the poetry contest. And how did I react, being that I gave myself those two reminders? I glared at the email and muttered to myself that I would never participate in that contest again. (It was my second time sending something to this literary festival.) And, yes, I wondered if the judges had eyes. And yes, I almost threw my phone on the ground. Of course, some time later, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at

phone
Yep.

myself–because as a writer, moments like that par for the course. They just are. Writing is entirely subjective. Person 1 may think my collected words were borne from the divinest of clouds. Person 2 may wonder why I didn’t choose basket weaving instead of writing as something to fall in love with. (And may wonder why I insist on ending sentences with prepositions.) When you think about the variety of writers and styles and then we all enter contests with each other? Kind of incredible.

However: for a few moments, more than seconds, I entertained my anger and my irritation. Yeah, I’m a writer, and I’m mostly a realist, but I’m also quite human. So there you go. But eventually, I bounced back. I told myself to cool it, to seriously stop flirting with throwing my phone whenever something doesn’t go my way, and to remember that I write for one person only: myself. When I’m happy and content with the work I produce, all is well. The icing is when my readers feel the same way. No contest needs to tell me any of those things.

But if those short stories don’t do well…kidding, kidding.

Tell me: in life, how do you deal with disappointment?

[Pardon the Interruption]…

…But I’d like to deviate from the daily Parisian round-up and share my new poem with you. Enjoy.

Birthright

Before I could even learn to appreciate you, I was desperate to shrug you off, this mantle that clung to the nuances of my dark skin like birthplaces and legacies.

You were the mirror I was ready to turn away from, the reminder that I was nothing like them; not mysterious and joyous, but something to point at and destroy.

And what of it?

Merely the source of special names and special people;

merely the home of my creators;

merely a rich, colorful center.

Before I could even learn to appreciate you, they informed me that I was simply a location hoarder, not real like them, just the holder of an address that was not worthy of me.

You were the mirror I intended to claim, the reminder that blood and culture can be whatever I want it to be; not a clingy shroud of shame, but something to be proud of and accept.

And what of it?

Merely the source of special names and special people;

merely the home of my creators;

merely a rich, colorful center.

Birth and death, accents and colors, time and memory: you are mine and mine alone.

Let them cajole and caw.

I bear it well and I bear it unaffected.

Like the solid stance of a landmass, a continent,

you and I cannot be moved.

Zelda.

so I’d like to believe that you
were his Daisy Fay,
holding him at bay,
until all that could glitter could
finally become gold.

and for a time, you
and your pretty egg were
the toast of the town,
flapping around,
drunk on your jazz and roses.

but you forgot, didn’t you,
that such things don’t last forever;
that precious metals fade,
even our own minds betray,
when our wings become clipped.

you could only flap for him,
as it were;
suppressing your will
to write in order to remain still,
as if only he had a hold on history.

perhaps you were punished
for being his Daisy Fay
and holding him at bay
when all he wanted was you there
at the very start, simply by his side.

well, harbors do wear away
and lights turn from green to gray
and jazz music no longer plays—
when we are waylaid
by burials that rule the day.

Les Poèmes.

Autumn: Brevity

I pull open the doors for you,
my intermittent love,
eager to greet you with the cool kisses of yet another season.
It does not bother me that you arrive once a year bearing your all-consuming brevity.
It does not trouble me that I compete with the other colors in your world.

When did hopeless beggars have the power of choice?

You are mine.
Whether orange moons or darkened afternoons–
whether burnished leaves or hearts exposed on long sleeves–
You are mine.
Cloak me with the fleeting warmth of your love and affection and
disregard what errant tears you may see from me,
for we have so little time.

The Ally

Softly, that fallen eyelash resting underneath
your lovely eye calls out for my touch.
It urges my fingers to gently brush it away as
I send it on a whirling journey to the ground,
a satisfying ending for this tiny friend that
sacrificed itself so that I could replace its
tenure on your skin.
Because I think the eyelash knew,
you see, the longing I had to rest my fingers
there, underneath your eye, my warm touch
communicating what my frightened heart
had been unable to say for so, so long.

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