what are you running away from?

 

what are you running away from, child?

what are you running away from when you sleep with your windows open no matter the cost of temperature, no matter the ease with which bad men could make their way up those walls, no matter the wings that fly in to lose their life to the light?

what is it about that breeze that keeps your stir crazy self sane, that breeze that makes you tame your mane instead of letting it fall dirty and matted and free around your shoulders, that breeze that makes you breathe with your eyes closed?

aren’t you afraid you might fly away with it?

or perhaps you already have, and you keep those windows open in hopes you will one day return.

I know you’ve spent long days with your head hanging over the edge of the bed, eyes half open, heart fully broken, trying to believe that there are no whispers on the wind telling you to go.

what are you running away from when you sneak out of crowds when the lights go down and the voices are loud so your friends don’t notice your absence the way they notice the trees when they first start to bud?

what are you running away from when you pray to wake up invisible?

and God, how do you answer Him?

He sees you running from miles away and yet He stays, He stays where He knows you will stop when you are ready to talk and He waits with the diligence of a marble Roman statue.

and what is your excuse?

who made it so you cannot even open your mouth to scream “Why?” when He tries to reach out His arms to you, but rather you stand, brimming with boiling waterfalls, shaking your head in distrust as you turn away to start running again.

where is the start of your damage?

what made the first break in your mind?

I’ve found my freedom at the top of mountains too tall for demons to climb, but what goes up must come down, and I always came down.

it seems that now, I’ve stayed.

I was trained far more in cross country than in combat so when the mistakes I have made and the men who have made me mute and the demons who don’t dare stop their destruction finally catch up to me, I look for my open window instead of my weapon. and I run.

I am tired of walking the plank just because my vessel has the potential to turn from ship to shipwreck.

I am tired of calling it quits at the hint of connection.

I am tired of feeling guilt at the thought of resurrection.

but this life seems to spin too fast for my liking sometimes so I run to keep up, or to out last, or to not be left behind.

running away is what I do best

it’s what I do instead of being the lady that doth protest

but I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut and my lungs over capacity, I want to turn my forward motion into forward tenacity

I want to see the roses bloom where I plant them

 

you can stop running anytime, love, anytime.

the wind still blows even when your window is not open to feel it.

don’t believe what they say about once a goner, always a goner; the Lord will you meet you where your legs stop working and He will carry you to the finish line, stroking your hair all the while.

there is kindness the color of glaciers and hope as important as bees, they will rest upon you once you start growing, so start growing and stop running and know that your feet deserve a rest just as much as your mind does.

stop running and start growing:

you’ll find that your soles know how to take root, and how to take root quickly, you’ll find that your shoulders are mountains in themselves and your waist is small enough to slip through the cracks in their armor.

your hair is South Dakota wheat waving in the wind and your voice is the wind in itself.

your spine cracks like the trees and grows even taller and your ribs have the stars trapped between them.

just stop, take a break, take a rest, take a breather, take enough time to photosynthesize into a reminder that you are more terrifying that the things that chase you.

you’ll find that they might stop dead in their tracks once you do too.

cancelled contract

he is growing inside of me even as you stare and search for new cracks in my surface

even as you watch with a wary eye for the weakening of my worn heart

even as you say your hands are out to catch me when I fall

even when I see your hands are shaking

 

he is growing and I am growing with him and I will not need your hands anymore

 

I know you do not know how to love me without needing a toolbox

burn that manual that was stained with my tears and creased beneath your hands before they began to shake

throw away those nails you used to pound into my skin telling me that the blood was painful but necessary, that the healing would come in time

bury those hammers in the back yard

those hammers you would hand out to the team of healers you recruited in my honor

those hammers that blocked the light enough for me to realize there even was light I had been missing

those hammers I tried to throw right back at you

give that wrench to someone else, to someone who is still in pieces, to someone who has yet to become a home for anything other than pain

break in half that staple gun I would press to my own skin just to show you that I felt no pain, just to show you that I was stronger than anyone else, just to show you that I was so empty, just to show you there would be no blood

squeeze out all that glue you used to bathe me in when I came home at the end of night with my own body scattered between my own arms, the glue you said would keep me together long enough for morning to come

burn those tarps you and the team would wrap my body in as I lay shivering on the floor

 

I am no longer a house for you to reconstruct

I no longer have a demolition wish for myself

I stand on the top of a crane called faith and I have no fear

though the wind blow and tempt me to fall into it’s cradling, lying arms, I stand firmly rooted, a million miles above the collapsed shack I used to be

and I shout “I am no building but the forest they want to chop down for wood!”

and I shout “I am no system of pipes but the rushing river they cannot tame!”

and I shout “I am no mess of wire but the electric shiver the earth feels when the lighting kisses her cheek!”

he is growing and I am growing with him and I have long since surpassed the cage I used to need to stay alive

he is growing and I am growing with him

he is growing and I am growing

he is growing

he is

German Poetry for an English Speaker

For those of us more scientifically and analytically inclined, poetry can difficult. Poems are a tricky art; rather than painting canvases or modeling clay, poets craft their masterpieces from the selfsame words used to email a co-worker or write a shopping list. As a mathematics major, I like my ideas to be clean and clear. I like exact answers and definitions. In my experience, that does not mesh well with poetry. I cannot clearly define poetry, I cannot list the criteria for a text to be considered a poem. Poetry is a form of artistic expression and therefore fights such restraints. Despite this, I am fairly decent at recognizing the poetry I do encounter. Sometimes it is the rhyming scheme, sometimes the ebb and flow of emphasized syllables, but generally, one thing or another will tip me off, so to speak, that I am reading or listening to a piece of art. That is, provided the poem is in English.

A few weeks ago I attended a German poetry night at the urging of my German instructor. Having never studied German before college, I could only understand bits and pieces of the recitations. In Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll wrote nonsensical verses, stuffing them with made-up words. To my ears, German poetry sounds much like Jabberwocky, a few basic words are clear, but the others are undefined. One thing that surprised me about the event was that I frequently had trouble recognizing the rhythm of the poems. I could pick out instances of basic alternate rhyming schemes, but the other forms of poetry, especially those relying on the meaning of certain words, sounded merely to be choppy nonsense sentences. It made me begin to consider how a different culture would draft epics and convey sweeping grandeur with a different language.

Those who have studied a language know that literal translations only work for basic sentences. Before very long the literal translation becomes jagged and crude. It becomes necessary to paraphrase if you will, the meaning being conveyed. In German, I can say I am doing well with the phrase “Mir geht es gut.” Translated word for word, it would be along the lines of “To me goes it good.” German, like all languages, has its own quirks, idioms, and “strange” structures. It only makes sense that German poetry would reflect these. In fact, this particular phenomenon came into play when translating the Harry Potter series. Translators ran into great difficulty replicating the rhymes and puns J.K. Rowling had worked into the text. A German translator, Klaus Fritz, was forced to call Diagon Alley” simply by the name of Winklegasse, or “Corner Alley,” thereby losing the play on words. Interestingly enough, he manipulated the text slightly to achieve the same humorous feel, as he could not directly replicate the jokes.

I attended the poetry reading out of curiosity, not expecting to get much out of it. In one sense I did not; I listened for over an hour to words I did not understand, spoken with passion but with masked meaning. In a different sense, however, it was time well spent. I walked away with a question that asked me to take a closer look at the assumptions I held with certainty. As students, limited in our current knowledge, is that not what we should expect from the international events on campus? Are they not only for our entertainment but also another opportunity for us to learn?

(In looking up the name of the German Harry Potter translator, I stumbled across this article about translating the series. It touches briefly on the issues and approaches of translating the books into various different languages. It is not an in-depth analysis, but if you are a fan of Harry Potter, you may find it an interesting read: http://bytelevel.com/global/translating_harry_potter.html)

games

Push me.

take two fingers and press them firmly against my vertebrae

until I lean so far forward that I can’t bounce back

until I feel the ground disappear from beneath my feet – the wind rippling through my hair serving as a goodbye

let me blame you for this amazing feeling

F R E E D O M

from the world speeding by in a watercolor blur even Picasso couldn’t create

let me see time

slowing down: birth, 10th birthday, today

I’m smiling, a cheshire cat as the world rips to newspaper shreds

Whooping until my last exhale of breath before slicing into the ice water of Puget Sound

freezing my mind, the blood in my veins,

sinking to the bottom like a boulder

time standing still

looking up at the world through waves, light reflecting and refracting like they teach in science class

I was born to be a fish.

at least that’s what my mom used to say

I was born to be a fish

 

 

milky way

There’s a space between our fingers when we hold hands
where time & space freeze.
Our bacteria intermingle in a jubilant promenade
dancing from one digit to the next, swapping secrets as they go
about their most beloved memories & cruelest heartbreaks.

There’s a space between our kisses
when we come up for air and move back in for a sloppy wet one
like life depends on it
where birds croon, leaves fall from trees & God chuckles
at the innocence of his children
not knowing where he will take them next, but caring nonetheless.

There’s a space between our dialogues
where silence sings
like the 80-year-old soprano in the church chorus
where the vehicles on the freeway shudder angrily, awaiting
the tiniest hint of acceleration
where a man rests on a street corner with a sign reading:
Anything will do.

There’s a space between then and now
when shit went down & people got hurt & she learned
never to kick a man when he’s down
or trust an outsider with a sideways grin
or ask forgiveness before the go-ahead
a space where disappointment bleeds into anger
then disbelief
then absolution.

There’s a space.

Old Roan

Words cannot be actions
Sorrow is not young
People are not puppets
Protection is not guns
Love is not a light switch
Wars are never won
And anger is not conquered
By cutting out a tongue

Hate breeds inhibition
Inhibition brings defeat
Encouraged inhibition
Leads to blood upon the street
And fire cannot master
What this world holds up high
But a ticket to the first class
Will be the first to die

See, love is not a light switch
We told them they were wrong
Feeding hungry stomachs
Through lyrics in a song
For sleepwalking is common
And pigs will never fly
And memoirs, fingers, daffodils
Are crushed before they try

intro

I didn’t think there was a hand in existence with such a soft touch

or a mouth that spoke only words of compassionate comprehension.

I didn’t know that someone could have eyes that read my soul like a book

or a smile that says ‘I’ll always be with you.’

I didn’t understand that there is a brain filled with hopes and dreams of flying around the world and building a house in the country.

But now I know that there is a heart that beats with passion for saving lives and for weak sweet tea and has the capability of truly loving.

me

 

Spider

there’s a spider in my room

and i don’t know where it’s at

but i know that if i find it

i will use a baseball bat

 

to smash its creepy body

into tiny smithereens

then cackle as i drown it

in a wave of gasoline

 

and when its legs stop twitching

and it’s breathed its final breath

then ill light the beast on fire

and throw a party at its death

 

there’s a spider in my room

and i don’t know where it’s at

 

so honestly i’m just gonna call my dad and cry until he comes over and finds it and smashes it because i’m terrified of spiders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Loudmouth

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

I know that when you were a kid your parents told you to: ‘act like a lady’, chew with your mouth shut, only speak when spoken to, never give an unsolicited opinion.

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

I know that men shy away from you, try to talk over you, don’t respect you. I know you don’t care.

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

I know about that one time on Independence Day when you ruined dinner because your cousin called someone a n*gger and you wouldn’t stand for it. I know how your family told you to calm down and be respectful. I know how they laughed it off.

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

I know that girl called you annoying because you kept talking to make her feel comfortable, because you know nothing but opinions and smiles and laughter.

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

I know those uncomfortable silences you get when words flow out of your mouth unsolicited like vomit because you’re just so passionate. I know about the people who will talk about your attitude as if it is something that needs to be fixed as if they think you would be better if you shut up

but they would never say that if you were a Loudmouth Boy

Dear Loudmouth Girl,

Don’t let them steal your passion, determination, dedication. Don’t let them duct tape your lips and put you in line. Don’t let the world make you soft.

Blue

Blue

Like your favorite color

Or so I thought

Black

You said

Like your soul

But to me

Yellow

Like the color of the sun

Was what described you best

You couldn’t see that

 

So we laughed about black