Poem: The Great City

I realize that I really like these kinds of rhyming schemes. Oh well. Here’s another one!

The Great City

I used to be in a great city
with the houses all lined up in rows
The buildings all towered like tapers,
glowing like midwinter snow

I used to belong to a city
with walls of cradle and care
each brick a brilliant memory
racing up through the layers of air

The soil was soft as the silkwebs,
The grasses as gentle as night
The earth had smelled then like honey
The air had tasted of light

The wind had sounded like smiles
The glass was as clear as the rain
The sidewalks all smoothed out and stretched
like the neck of a new paper crane

I once had beheld the great city
cradled in the cracks of my hands
And the infinite planes of the city
had held me, cracked though I am

I once clung on to this city
who nestled me in the strings of her streets
She hoisted me on her high rises
And hid me in deep wells of wheat

The city had given me wishes
The city had given me strength
The city had given me everything,
Until everything was given away

And the sun had set on the city,
and my shadow had reached for the dust,
for something so golden in sunset,
for something to sate all my lust

I used to be in a great city—
And the city had resided in me—
but I wandered in search of my freedom
without knowing what it means to be free

 

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Poem: Swirling

Swirling

We are swirling
turning in top-tabled towns
And we spin, spin,
dancing in past paper gowns

And the echo
of faint footsteps falling
and curt cattails calling
The summer air over there
where
did we go?

We kick up the glitter dust
with our Achilles’ heels
And we wind our way ‘round
like a set of cartwheels

And we whirl,
wooden birds, we take a dive,
pictures all prepared to glide
Paper airplanes,
folded with creases and
lines in between us
and cracks inside

Our tiptoes are light as a
stack of matchsticks,
And we construct cake-castles with
a series of clicks
As we build up the walls,
the castle, it leans
and we fill up the moats with
good gasoline—

We’ve got a flare there,
burning in cinders so
slow that it lingers, oh
tingling across all our times
here.

We are swirling
turning in top-tabled towns
And we spin, spin,
‘til we will take the dive down

5 Words, 5 Short Pieces

The number 5!

“5” is the lucky number here on the blog today, since I’ve got five short pieces lined up for today’s post. (And technically I’m putting this together on the 5th, although it’ll be posted on the 6th, so there’s another “5” for ya.)

Last year I took a short story writing class, which was all kinds of fun as you can imagine. The prompt for one of my assignments was this: go through your old writing, find the five words you use most often, and use those as titles for five different paragraphs. It really got me thinking about what kinds of words I use when I write, and it spawned some of my favorite short pieces to have ever written. Reading these in class was especially fun, because the professor had us hide the titles of our paragraphs at first so that those listening would have to guess what the titles were.

The five below are mine. In the spirit of my short story writing class, I’ll keep the titles hidden if you want to guess what they are. They’ll be be listed in the tags. Hope you like them!

I.

Under a rather tall stalk of grass, there is an ant who goes by the name of Mip. Mip is somewhere in the hills of the Dakotas, but he doesn’t know that. To Mip, the entire world is what can taste in the air, what he can see ahead of him. So he makes his way towards what he can taste, towards the smell of sugar and jam on a picnic blanket, the smell of a dried straw hat and the curious scent of skin. Mip will wander up to the biscuits and take a crumb that is nearly too big for him to hold and wander home without looking out across the hill. He won’t notice the way the sun paints the entire sky orange, or how the hills roll out like green waves that have been smoothed over by polishing stones. He’ll make his way through grasses that are so high he’ll have to crane his head to see them, across yards and yards of dirt on one small section of one hill in one of the Dakotas, and he’ll go home to his ant hill, with little thought of anything else.

II.

My favorite place to be is in the lighting aisle of Home Depot. There’s probably a good explanation for this buried somewhere in my childhood—maybe my parents took too long to decide on which refrigerator they wanted, and I wandered off into that aisle to play pretend beneath a floor lamp; maybe I had gone to the store with my uncle to get replacement bulbs for his bathroom. In any case, I’ve always been in love with the warmth that spills out from the fancy lights. The color that washes across the aisle is the color of home—not just my home, but the homes of a thousand houses across the city, each one with a lamp hovering just over the sofa or a chandelier in the dining room. It’s about equivalent to the smell of cookies baking in the oven—something about it just takes me back to childhood, to home. I can just imagine my own light fixture, hanging from the ceiling in the front room, making my house look like a holiday card when it’s dark out. I’ll buy a simple one, with round, clear bulbs and silvery attachments, and it’ll hug my house like a blanket. I’ll settle into my chair under the golden glow, and I’ll reminisce and think, this is my favorite place to be.

III.

Where were you? he keeps asking me. Where were you? Pacing back and forth, getting a little neurotic. He won’t believe me if I tell him. No, where were you really? he’d say, and I’d repeat it to him and he’d continue to pace until he wore a hole through the floor. What can I say? He’s at that point now, so dead set on what he thinks is the truth that everything else he hears he thinks are lies. I could tell him what I did—that I just went for a drive, just to clear my head, but then what? Even to me that sounds like I’m covering something up. But I only went for a drive, I swear. That’s all I did. Just took the Chevy and turned off onto Gill Road, looped around a couple of times. I look at him, this worried, shaking mess who won’t even look at me, and I think: Should I tell him the truth? Or should I lie? I watch him for a few more seconds, pacing back and forth—and then I lie.

IV.

There once was a pair of rather scruffy looking wings, and I say “pair” because of course wings always came in twos. They went everywhere together—like a set of ears or a set of eyes, it just wasn’t right seeing them by themselves. They were white like whipped cream, feathered down and lighter than helium. Lovely, they were. They flitted from place to place whenever they chose, causing the wind to stir up around them. Ripples would appear in the pond where they played; the dragonflies that landed on their arches made them sneeze; the flowering rush made them giggle when they flew through. They poked at each other and chased each other. They were complete together—but that was “once,” a long time ago. There was a day when the clouds turned gray and somber, and the flowering rush wilted and the dragonflies landed but did not rise. And on the ground, whimpering and cold, a single white wing sat muddy and alone.

V.

I can tell you when you were born. Year, day, minute, second. I can tell you when you’re going to die, too. Year. Day. Minute. Second. When you have lived as long as I have, there isn’t much you won’t know—when your beard is longer than the miles winding around the earth, when your eyes are deeper than the trenches of the sea, then you will have lived as long as I. I can tell you when the first rains fell across the Sahara. I can tell you how many different types of butterfly there are in the world (17,591 if you’d like to know). I can tell you where the stars will be each night, what kind of boots you’ll buy when you’re sixty, who is holding your first kiss, who will hear your last words. I know everything there is to know about every single subject on this earth, because I have lived so long. I know it all… except… except for why. Why the tally of butterfly species comes to 17,591 exactly. Why the stars trace these kinds of patterns across the sky. Why your first kiss will be on the boardwalks of Santa Cruz, so uneventful that all you’ll remember of it is that it tasted like cotton candy and dust. Why your last words will undoubtedly not include whoever was involved in your first kiss. Knowing and understanding are two different things—and for all my old age, I do not understand.

Poem: I Crushed Myself a Human Spirit

I Crushed Myself a Human Spirit

I crushed myself a human spirit!
Yes, I really did;
T’was a precious, jubilant, juicy thing,
and I’d slain it where it hid

T’was easy enough to find it,
‘tween the chinks and chains of mail—
T’was easy enough to strike it,
and laugh as it grew pale

That jewel, it was a-beating—
a-glowing, a-pumping, alive
That bird, it was a-singing,
a-screaming just to thrive

Oh, I hated that vibrant spirit!
That tulip-and-daisy sprite
I loathed that burning ember,
that star that fell by night

So I trampled the spirit’s guiding shine,
tamped out its warming fire
I slashed the flowers’ tender stems,
and trod them in my ire

My sword had come up ruddy,
still sodden from the kill
And though I’d washed it many times,
bloody is it still

I crushed myself a human spirit,
and since have not returned
And I will continue to crush those lives,
‘til I receive what I have earned

Old Poem Trio, Part III: A Page and a Half

And finally, the last part of the trio– A Page and a Half, which was originally untitled as well. A Page and a Half actually was not written for an assignment, unlike the other two poems. I believe it was written in the cafe section of Barnes and Nobles one very fine Sunday night in the middle of winter, last year I think. Quite nice. Again, hope you like it!

A Page and a Half

I am a page, a page and a half.
Nowhere near complete.
The stray dog that wanders from house to house,
But doesn’t get a bite to eat.

I am the girl in the corner of the room,
Whispering fortunes foretold.
But no one can tell me what will become of me,
When I am gray and withered and old.

I am the cup of the burning-hot drink,
a cider, a scotch, an ale
I glide lovely velvet, a comforting friend
though it is the foe I most truly hail.

I am the cat, on the sill of your window,
who crosses as you reach the door.
I see all, but say only nothing,
and will remain silent forever more.

I came and I went, never truly a whole
A traveler, apparition, a myth
Though I have many a trick up my sleeve,
I do not always exist

Be careful, when you see me,
Be careful, when you don’t
Be careful, if you should be me,
Because the others won’t

I offer you this warning
for I know what here does rest
for should the box be opened,
you shall never escape your guest.

When you wander, when you dream
When you become untethered from your world
Remember what I have told you,
the events that have unfurled

Though I am nothing but a page and a half,
know and honor this—
Where you stand, I once stood
and there is much that I will miss

Old Poem Trio, Part II: Whistle, Whistle, Sweet and Low

Okay, part II– as I mentioned earlier, these are just a couple of old poems I found sitting in the bottom of a box, so I thought I’d put them up here. This one was a then-untitled poem written two years ago for yet another unit in my English class, one on To Kill a Mockingbird and Langston Hughes. The exact prompt that I had written for the poem said: “Write an original poem about what I think Hughes would have wanted to say about Tom’s case and how he was being treated by Maycomb’s citizens.” So here it is. Not terribly original, but nice none the less. Enjoy!

Whistle, Whistle, Sweet and Low

Whistle, whistle, sweet and low
through
the birdcage’s iron bars
in the cage
out the window

Snipped my wing
caged me in
Though I’d done no wrong
committed no sin

Even if I could get out
I’d still not be free
Because this world’s an iron cage
a cage meant just for me

They mock me for my darkest feathers,
Condemn me for being of the night
They may have the judge with them
but it does not make them right.

And still someday I believe
the iron bars will crack
Set the clocks, await the hour,
because someday it will come back

Our fathers will all be colors there
not merely black and white
We will all fly side-by-side
And sing into the light

And I will sing a happier tune
Let our voices swell and grow

Whistle, whistle, sweet and low,
Through the birdcage’s iron bars
out the cage
out the window

Old Poem Trio, Part I: The Cargo Train

Hi all! I was going through some old papers of mine (getting ready for college, you know), and I found a bunch of old poems that I thought I’d share with you! This first one’s called The Cargo Train, and it was written two years ago for an English assignment. I think it was supposed to be the unit on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and rhyming couplets. Hope you like it!

The Cargo Train

Down in the pass where the graces don’t go
A weak, one-way bridge lies, near crushed by snow

When he, shadow of dark, draws near, he aims
To take his prize, drink deep, collect his claims

And there, a lavish Train runs off its rails
Crying out to the night with awful wails

Quick sparks spring swift, closing precious light’s gate
Black coal burning within reflects their fate

He laughs, “Rose cheeks, naïve, so defiant!
Shrill, vain, and greedy now become silent.”

Repurposed World

A Fence Somewhere Else

Repurposed World

We start over, building the world again

Taking blocks and
pressing sand
to powders

So that they can all be used once again

All that was old has been taken apart

Repurposed
so it loses its old face

But keeps a new name—
new time—
new purpose

We can build towers,
and ships,
if we want

Scale the highest heights
sail the ocean blue

If we rid ourselves of the shackles first,

And try to build them up again—
anew

Kid’s Book Project: If I Were a Turtle (Si J’étais une Tortue)

Red Fox

This is a project I completed a few months ago for French class, called Si J’étais une Tortue, or If I Were a Turtle. I thought it was really cute so I wanted to share it with you. Above was my original idea for the fox. Also good to note that my scanner was doing funny things so the pictures are a little off, but oh well. Hope you like it!

If I Were A Turtle part 1
If I Were a Turtle, by Jackie (me!)

If I Were A Turtle part 2

If I Were A Turtle part 3
I think I’d like to be a turtle. If I were a turtle, I would have a shell.
If I had a shell, I could hide easily.
If I Were A Turtle part 4
If I were a turtle, I would eat my vegetables,
and I wouldn’t have to hunt my food.
If I Were A Turtle part 5
If I were a turtle, I would swim in the sea,
and I would play with rocks.
If I Were A Turtle part 6
If I were a turtle, I would never die,
and I would be able to wear glasses!
If I Were A Turtle part 7
If I were a turtle, my life would be perfect…
But…
If I Were A Turtle part 8
If I were a turtle, I would have to carry my shell,
and it would be too heavy for me.
If I Were A Turtle part 9
If I were a turtle, I wouldn’t be able to hunt things…
…and I would have to eat my vegetables.
If I Were A Turtle part 10
If I were a turtle, I would have to ferry animals across the sea,
and I would look like a rock!
If I Were A Turtle part 11
And, if I were a turtle, I would never die,
and I might outlive my best friend.
If I Were A Turtle part 12
So… Maybe…
I wouldn’t want to be a turtle.
I would like to be me, with you.
The End!