Tag Archives: memory

Slumber

17 May

A poem from the memory of grade school birthday parties,

and a current sleep pattern that’s never quite matched up with the other twentysomethings’.

 

Slumber

I am always the one in silence.
I am the first one asleep,
and the first one awake.
I sit in empty rooms with sleeping bodies
while the morning breathes quietly.
Hugging my knees,
perhaps reading a book,
and waiting for the life around me
to remember that it exists.
That I exist, too.
Slumber parties
were always a particular kind
of torture chamber.

My Depression’s Become a Splintered Beam

9 Jan

Depression is no longer an atmosphere now for me. It is not a fog, not the ether through which every day plods, not the pervasive perpetual drowning that it was for months of my life. No, now depression is an interruption. An undercut. A startling collapse of the stage I thought I had so solidly built for myself to stand on. I’ll be walking through my day, seeing clear and breathing free the sparkling clarity of the air around me, when suddenly, I will sit down and some beam, some ballast will splinter and snap within me.

It happens without warning. It happens when I am unawares. And most often, it happens when I am alone.

Lots of the time, I think, at least, it happens just when I have decided to work. I have sat down at the keyboard, or opened a textbook at my desk, picked up a pencil and notepad to work on, and suddenly, my inner fortitude will implode.

Perhaps it is because it is at these times that I am most silent, most still, waiting and vulnerable. The mists of uncertainty can rise up from my soul and condense within me, until they form a painful, solid lump of memory that whacks at the legs I have balanced my new platform upon.

It’s in the solitary quiet that I am most a victim of myself.

That time when depression was the daily weather forecast, unchanged from when some meteoric prediction was made ages ago and left frozen on the screen, I think I set myself up for this. Unwittingly and without choice, sure.

I would come home from school, where I’d spent eight hours that day battling just to stay at the surface of my brain, but more often descending into the suck of its derisive, murderous quicksand. But on the outside, at least, even as I sunk deeper and deeper into the much within, I managed an appearance at least of neutrality.

Oh look, there’s our future valedictorian. Isn’t she pretty. So attentive to the teacher, so ponderous in her work.

People think our eyes are windows but they are merely cracks in a wall, and you cannot see through skin.

So, I would arrive home, flee up the stairs and behind my bedroom door, leaving it locked behind me, of course. And there, where I shed the weight of my backpack and nothing else from my shoulders, I let those walls shatter around me.

And I would cry.

I would cry for hours. Sometimes, I’d try to stuff the pressure of undrowned sorrows back, get to work right away, but that always proved a futile move. It was short and decisive, the tap it took for my mind to break the glass of my eyes, the non-windows.

But I was to be the future valedictorian, attentive to the teacher, ponderous in her work. The idea of returning to school with anything unfinished was anathema. And so the struggle would begin, the tug of war between my tear ducts and my pencil lead, two halves of my mind jeering as they pushed and shoved for control. The brain is a tyrant, and I was under its most merciless control.

School work, whether it was a chemistry set or page of physics problems or couple of chapters of biology reading, became a sharply painful task to face. Because there, with my mind fresh and sweating from its mental acrobatics, I was most prone to cramps from its internal infection.

The voice that says you should die is not a kind one, and it doesn’t give much of a shit about whether you need it to be quiet so you can focus on your calculus homework.

I learned to anticipate a lot of frustration whenever I’d attempt to work, that year.

And while I have slain so much of that monster that grew within me and called its name myself, there are still corners of rebellion in the recesses of my body that never quite gave over harboring that dark hulk of gnawing, piercing tooth and fatally sharp eye. And sometimes, the progeny or memory or still-unrejected parts of that monster rear up in me.

It’s usually when I’m alone. It’s usually when I’m not expecting. It’s usually when I’m trying to do work.

And so I do that thing that so many refer to as “dicking around on the computer.” I flit from sight to sight, trying to find some input that will reset my emotions and allow me to awake once more, refreshed and able to get down to business without the ghosts of old nightmares swimming before my brain and crowding, clouding my vision. I shove down the tearful thunder storms that seemed to appear out of nowhere, knowing that I have stared at my skies for hours on end, hashed and rehashed all of my weather systems, done my duty and attended to the cloud formations that have swept across my soul.

I distract myself. Usually with the internet. Browsing may be a solo activity, but the pages and posts, they whisper of other existences and remind me that there are other humans, others out there. And then I don’t feel so alone.

Some call it procrastination. I call it survival.

Falling Awake

28 Oct

A poem for this late Sunday night.

 

awake at night

 

 

Falling Awake

You never go to bed alone,

with the whispers of your memories

sounding in your head,

keeping you awake

with the uneasy doubt

that there is something you forgot.

One flash in your brain, like lightning,

silent.

 

You never go to bed alone,

with all those ghosts behind your eyes.

Mushy-Mush and Meta

9 Oct

So, in a world of questionable literary analysis, some might call the following “poignant.” I call it kinda sappy. But I thought I’d share it with all you lovely readers anyway, because it might be worth the amusement of finding out that I TOTALLY CONSPICUOUSLY I mean very surreptitiously scratched this down and camera phoned a pic (I can make up verbs if I want to) during my art class tonight. The prof had told us to spend the first twenty minutes of class looking through the library of art books; I’d grabbed a volume of fantastic Nat Geo photography and, well, this just kinda happened. Hope y’all enjoy 🙂

Oh! Btw, I am in no way advocating not paying attention during class… no way whatsoever…

Anyhoo. The brain blurb.

Photographs

The Typewriter Men

20 Sep

typewriter men edited

Today I read writer C. D. Hermelin‘s piece about becoming a hated-hipster-meme because he happened to be photographed while doing something I think is incredibly creative and that I wish I’d thought of first (hmm… Los Angeles is on the completely opposite side of the country from New York… that’s non-compete enough, right?). But I’ll let him tell you the whole story himself – here’s a link the article.

Anyhoo. Hearing about Hermelin’s typewriter busking prompted a bit of flash fiction to bubble up in my mind and coalesce into something decent-ish. I wanted to just email the thing to Hermelin – he spends so much time writing stories for others, thought it might be nice to have somebody write a story explicitly for him for a change – but, likely because of the rude comments he’s gotten from idiots, is no longer easily accessible publicly. So instead, I thought hey, I haven’t given my lovely readers a short story in a while; how about I post it here and tweet the link to Hermelin, and then lots of people can enjoy (hopefully) the writing? Brilliant idea, right?!

Oh god, please agree with me.

Well, that’s probably enough of my jibber-jabbering. Here’s that flash fiction I promised you.

The Typewriter Men

You used to see them roving the parks every so often. But that was years ago. That was back when the men in ragged coats and ladies in tattered clothes roamed the sidewalks with their typewriters, murmuring of their wares to passersby.

“Tales for sale,” they’d coo softly. “Tales for sale.”

They’d write you anything you wanted, the Storymongers. Tales of heroism and tales of hate, tales of love and lust and longing. Tales of fae and fall magic, of winter and the tulips to come. They’d write you tales of infancy and tales of old men, tales of every young woman’s want and tales of what burns beneath a new man’s cheeks. They’d even write you tales of yourself, if you asked them.

Though they’d always frown a little before. Ask if you were sure, really sure.

And always, we’d laugh. Of course I’m sure, we’d say. It’s just a story. What harm could come of that?

That was before I knew.

That was before anyone knew.

That was before the government tried to make us all forget we knew.

You see, the Storymongers did not really write us tales. They wrote us our histories. Because they were the only ones who had never forgotten.

In a time where no one can remember what happened beyond yesterday and your few alone have not lost the memory, perhaps it is best for one’s kind to dress in rags and tatters.

Yes, you are more likely to be abused.

But that’s only if they notice you.

And Storymongers are the ones who did most of the noticing. That’s why their stories were so coveted – even by the fur-and-diamond ranks who pretend to care nothing for those uncanny fruits of ink-smudged fingers. The Storymongers, they could look right at you and know.

It didn’t matter what they knew. Because really, they knew everything.

They knew what story you wanted and why you wanted the one you did. They knew what story you needed to hear and what other story would be the one you’d think you’d need anyway. They knew the story of your parents – how they met, how they fell in love – and, sometimes out of it – and how somewhere in all that chaos they came together and made you. They knew the story of your parents’ parents, and their parents beyond that… All the way back. Forever.

They knew the stories of the wars and bombings, of plows and reaping, of pacts and princes and popes and pills. They knew the stories of everything. All the way back. Forever.

I suppose that’s why, when the government finally found out about them, they were declared to be so dangerous. In a time where people have forgotten what happened before breakfast, it is a tremendous threat to your power for someone to know more than you. Even about yourself.

Especially about yourself.

I suppose that’s why they’re in hiding now, the Storymongers. But they say you can still here the click of their keys in the night, the haunting slide of a changed line feed in a faint howl of wind. And every so often, as I walk through the park, a single page of orderly black type will blow across my path. I will pick it up and tuck it in my coat pocket. I read them all, every day. And that is how I remember.

The Dowager Queen

1 Aug

dowager queen

She was the dowager queen, they said,
never married at all but once.
But I have seen the wrinkles in her eyes
and know they are faded
far beyond the skin of time.

Boys will be fair, she said one day
while I sat at her knee,
and men may be kind,
but life is cruel
and in the end a heart can break
more than once.

I looked up at her,
the questions in my eyes,
and for once
there was no disguise
for the pain behind the laugh lines
and the crow’s feet
and the bags
that so often escape the notice
of those who do not look for life’s weight.

 
She smiled,
the only cruel mockery
time had left her
of a once whole heart,
shook her head,
and sighed.

 
In the end they will disappoint you, my dear,
the lovers, the suitors, the husbands, the friends.
They will murmur sweet words
while they lay in your bed
but the days always come
when the dream will end,
and you will be left
with the scent on your pillow
and nothing but the excuse of their lips.
And even should the sweetest stay,
in the end this world will have its way
and the lips will turn cold
even if the heart does not –
and time will do a man’s job for him
should he refuse.
If he does not leave,
then he will be taken.

 
I raised my face to protest
but there was nothing to say,
not when the dowager looked that way.
Not with the memories tearing through her eyes
and ripping across her face,
her old, veined hands trembling,
held by a thousand ghosts.

 
They say the dowager was only married but once.
But I,
I say that she has been married forever –
or not at all.