I thought I’d found you-
your eyes a reflection of mine
but that was before,
when there was no answer
for the question not yet asked
or thought of more than once.
then in the night, softly,
you walked away, wandering
leaving me standing
local night life
a starry-eyed dreamer and a level-headed realist,
I cut careful forkfuls of steaming pizza,
biting back snarky comments
in a conversation that doesn’t interest
my narcissistic self.
eventually, our talk weaves its way onto
more common ground.
even so, I’m only half involved;
distracted by the steady stream of young,
walking confidently out of this specialty bakery
(get a tan while your pizza bakes! careful, new bulbs!)
into a mid-April evening
and cars with personalized plates.
i imagine that immediately upon arriving home
they each close their respective doors,
stripping off outer clothing,
and admire – or critique –
wish for a little more.
i finish eating,
steer our words into more personal territory-
two of us bypassing the lighter talk
of families (who
have now moved on to
hand-dipped ice cream)
just as in every group conversation:
wishing for a little more.
The challenge: Write a story poem inspired by this picture:
(This is a rough draft – probably. Assuming it ever feels important enough to go through again.)
okay, you win.
but not because i didn’t give it my best shot.
i tried every way i knew
to fit the formula,
to follow the rules-
i made new friends,
put together a new wardrobe,
changed my daily routine,
i paid attention
and did everything that was expected of me.
they said i was the prime example of a life remade
the perfect convert.
their success story.
but it wasn’t enough.
when it came down to it,
he didn’t want the girl
who compromised her life for him.
he could see what i hid from myself-
that the defiance was only skin-deep
and i would never belong in his world of rough edges and spontaneity.
he knew exactly what he wanted:
a mind that never stops working and
never backs down,
someone who will make him fight for everything he believes in:
i’ll go now.
back to my whitewashed life in the suburbs
and try not to think of you
speaking softly in the shadows.
sometimes late at night,
lying close to you and comfortable,
an unseen hand applies graphite
to the aging lock
that guards my airtight heart.
something about the darkness
and your consistent acceptance of me in my every shade of gray
opens my mouth
and I tell you the most important things about me
speak words I never meant to say out loud,
try to explain my beliefs
for a moment believing
that another human being cares about my soul.
you listen quietly
and as I finish, I wait for your response.
your words in this moment
could make or break me
(though you are the master of building me up.)
but, more often than not,
as we lie there in the aftermath of my explosive soul-baring,
I feel your body twitch
and realize you’re asleep.
for just a second, I’m offended – hurt
ah, well… those words didn’t need to be made real.
and your sleeping body is as effective as the priest
hidden away behind his own set of closed eyes
you, both of you, are cleverly formed decoys,
drawing me in and giving substance
to the God I can’t see
and can no longer feel.
all of the words intended for your ears
washed over you,
a broken and shattered loneliness
covered with words of depth
to hide the emptiness that you caused
paralyzed between the choice
fight or flight
the gloves of a weary warrior
become tattered and torn
the fragile wings of flight
still whisper possibilities
of the wind’s power
fight for a possible future
or embrace the ultimate freedom of soaring
with each powerful movement
unsteady ligaments stretch for clouds
as the broken and dark portions are
hesitantly left behind
unwilling to believe
the sky was the only acceptable route
you sweet, goofy baby.
so much furious passion
in your tiny self-
all directed at me
because I won’t let you play with that
enticing red ball
covered with delicious
ridiculous baby (almost one year old)
your entire body is shaking with fury.
crazy little thing,
maybe next year I’ll let you play with my