Thursday, July 28, 2011



I want to see ruins.
Not just abandoned houses,
windows cracking,
siding peeling in places,
doors off hinges,
dust settling,
although there is a certain hollowness there.

I want to see actual ruins,
stone thousands of years old,
ivy and grass and weeds plunging out of every surface
consuming the once proud architecture.
I want to see towers crumbling
and imagine their past
their height and strength and majesty
I want to feel the dust of ages in my palm
the great wisdom it provides.

I don’t want to just walk up to it, either.
Another tourist snapping photos.
I don’t want to just look,
with a fleeting glance,
go back to my life like it never existed.
I want to feel the ruin.
In my heart,
in my lungs,
in my bones.
Feel something that stood for millennia
and understand how it let the world pass it by.

I want to get down close to the ground
and breathe it all in.
Lay on the cold earth
and look at the sky.
Embrace a pillar and feel the caress of cold stone.
Lean against that pillar for hours
just to learn what it feels like
to stand still.

when I finally feel that I’m one with this place,
this monument to ages past,
I want to stand in the middle and scream.
ask, at the top of my lungs,
one question.
Ask it how—
how it felt,
going from something beautiful and proud
to something withered and old,
something tourists take pictures with
to pass the time.
Ask if it was quick--like a meteor,
divine intervention blasting its world apart in seconds flat,
or more like a slow decay,
if it could feel each vine seep into the mortar
new and cursed veins slowly sucking away
its precious life-blood,
feel the emptiness left by each brick as it fell
every layer washed away,
every slow erosion of its heart.

Ask it how it felt to watch--
the progress of millenia,
as strange structures began to invade the countryside,
watch--abandoned and utterly alone,
as the world continued to revolve--evolve,
leaving it to molder,
nothing more than a stinging reminder of what once was,
nothing more than a piece of history to be forgotten.

Ask if it can still remember when it was whole,
remember its strength and grace with a sordid pride,
or if now all it has to cling to is a sort of half-life,
knowing that its missing something it cannot remember.
Wonder if it ever wishes it could scream.
Wonder if it thinks anyone would hear.

Mostly, I wonder if the ruin will answer me.
hope it will lend me its wisdom,
even if its just for a moment.
Wonder if by answering these questions,
helping me understand,
I might start answering my own.
original: 6/2011
latest: 7/2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Unspoken Sentiments

Unspoken Sentiments

I wish I was daring enough to speak aloud
the words I scribble onto the page
in this notebook.
To scream at the top of my lungs
exactly how I feel – what I believe
in that very moment.
Have the courage to breathe life into these lines,
pulling them from the flimsy college rule
stained with the ink of poems past
and release them into the cold winter air
like a thousand tiny paper planes.
Have the guts to
pull the pin from these grenades
watching their explosions
with spasmodic glee.

Sure, on paper I’m brave,
I feel the words fly from my fingertips
onto seemingly endless pages,
free and clear and beautiful,
but once the ink is dry they are locked
within the margins of my mind,
sheltered and hidden deep within
like the buried treasures of old.

I keep them that way,
fossils of fastidious feelings
that will grow dust
in unopened folders
in the backlogs of my computer.
The way I see it,
the way I protect myself,
Is that no one can judge what they haven’t heard
or seen.
No one can hear my deepest and darkest secrets
if I refuse to speak them aloud to anyone.
At least that way I’ll be safe, right?

Sometimes, just sometimes,
I wish I was strong.
Wish I was brave enough
to rip the cobwebs off these phrases
and shout my unspoken sentiments to whoever will listen.
I wish I could say the way I love you
to your face.

But I don’t,
because deep down
I can’t muster up the confidence to speak my voice.

I don’t-
because I know I’m too afraid
To take that risk,
expose that intimate part of myself
to anyone or anything but the page
in front of me.

I don’t-
because I can imagine my pulsating heart
lying on the chopping block,
you with butcher knife in hand,
slicing and dicing my heart into horrifying pieces.
I can’t help but cringe
as I imagine the pain stabbing into every fiber,
even the tiniest corners of my soul,
and that image is just too damn terrifying.

I don’t.
because I’m a coward.
because I wonder what the world,
what you,
 would think of me.

original: 2.2011
latest: 4.2011

Dear Girl in the Women's Bathroom on the First Floor of Shaw

Dear Girl in the Women’s Bathroom on the First Floor of Shaw

To Whom it May Concern,
I had a lovely time, yesterday, hearing about Mike’s
luxurious locks
his smoldering good-looks,
and the way your eyes locked across the dance floor at Theta Chi,
how his hands, smelling mildly of perspiration,
and Keystone Light,
caressed your neck and you were hooked.

I really am sorry that he’s giving you
The run-around
sending you mixed signals
that are making your head spin,
and that his frat-boy flakiness
is breaking your heart

But I’m even more sorry that you don’t have the confidence
in yourself to know you deserve better.
To know you’re only as strong as you let yourself be,
So don’t let the douches bring you down.

But let’s be real here-
As much advice as I’d like to give,  
I’m really not invested in your life story.
This might seem a bit harsh,
But given that we’re currently in
The only women’s bathroom in the whole of Shaw Hall,
All I want to do is pee in peace.

Just after I enter my stall,
on the brink of that exquisite moment of release,
I hear a metallic keening,  
suddenly pumping the room full of
“if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.”
then, your shrill voice,
pervading the formerly
Silent air with these immortal words…
“I swear that bastard will regret
dancing with me all night long, friending me on Facebook.
and then making out with Cindy the  next fucking night at afterhours.”   

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone
In thinking
That it’s entirely idiotic
to make the assumption that you are alone
In a very PUBLIC restroom.
That’s why it’s public, after all.
because, you know, people USE IT.

And here you are—
Stomping in like you own the world,
Or at least most of Illinois Wesleyan,
ruining my previously pleasant bathroom experience.

Now I either get to sit here and wait
Until you finish dusting yourself in the mirror
To make my move to the exit,
Or I flush now, and make you
Embarrassingly aware of my presence,
And the fact that you spilled your heart out
With me two stalls over.  

Neither of these options is appealing.
But I guess I don’t have a choice.

I remain silent,
Seething at you in my head,
As your voice
as torturous as a never ending baby’s wail,  
or a thousand years of listening to nails scratch
on an ancient chalkboard,
continues to interrupt my attempted
respite from the monotonies of class.

I wait—for my chance to relieve the building stress  
On my organs
while a veritable river of insults
speeds through my brain.
Finally you stop,
And I start to silently
Thank the bathroom gods for being so kind,
When I hear you choke back a sob,
Trying to keep yourself from breaking down.
That’s when I know I’ve gone too far.  

Until this moment,
You were just a voice, a pest—
Something I wanted to swat away.
One of those stupid green aphids
that swarmed the quad last fall,
getting into our noses, eyes, mouths,
making moving anywhere a battle.

But Girl, your tears have made you real.

Even though I never said anything,
The thoughts in my head were bad enough.
I act this way—think this way,
because I’m jealous that someone liked you enough
To at least try to hook up with you,
Because I’m fairly certain I’m dying alone.
I’m making fun of you to prove to myself
However pointlessly,
That I’m stronger than that.
I’m above you,
That I don’t need a guy’s attention to fulfill me,
Because I’m okay with being alone.
But really I’m not.
And that scares the crap out of me.

I’m also just jealous
Because you have the courage to talk about your problems
No matter where you are.
You’re probably aware that you are in a bathroom,
but you’ve stopped caring what people think,
And I haven’t.
I wish I could stand up and flush right now,
But I’m too much of a coward.

So thanks.
You’ve taught me something important.
Taught me that having the guts to speak my voice
is sometimes just as important as the words being said.

I guess all that’s left to say is…
I’m sorry,
Girl in the women’s bathroom on the first floor of Shaw.
Sorry for my needless judgment,
And even sorrier for your pain.
But, most importantly,
I hope you find someone who deserves you.
Because obviously Mike didn’t.
I hope you can see that.
I hope you can be happy.

original: 2.2011
latest: 5.2011