To Touch the Sun – A Poem

He got onman on bus

the bus wearing

a smile. I

called out to him.

“Morning!”

He gave me

a vague wave

but his smile

widened. I had

heard him mumble

a few words,

a few syllables,

to himself. Sometimes,

when he did

speak, it was

stilted, as if

the words were

weighed down by

memory and he

was unable to

pull them out.

I knew that

he was mentally

disabled but I

didn’t know what

kind. It didn’t

matter. I always

saw people looking

when he mumbled,

when he shuffled

to find his

seat, when he

made noises at

the back of

his throat. People

would stare at

me when I

spoke to him,

as if apologizing

for the fact

that he was

speaking to me.

He sat in

the seat behind

me. We rode

this way for

a minute or two,

me in my

seat, he in

his, until he

said to me:

“Do you ever wonder what makes the clouds glow so brightly?”

I turned to

face him. He

was staring out

the window at

the early morning

sunrise with childlike

wonder. I shrugged.

“I don’t know. I think the sun has something to do with that.”

He touched the

window, drew a

finger along the

glass as if

he were able

to touch the sun.

“The clouds always look happiest when they’re orange. I like red clouds fine, but they look happiest when they’re orange and the air outside is crisp.”

He took a

deep breath as

if he could

smell the air

outside instead of

the stale air

inside a bus.

“Or when the clouds are yellow. They look so happy, so full of joy. I want to be happy like that, bright like the clouds.

He took a

deep breath as

if he would

never get his wish.

“I remember when my mother used to take me out to play as a child. The sky was always pink when I was with her. I don’t like purple though.”

I had been

mesmerised by his

voice. It was

the most I

had ever heard

him speak.

“Why don’t you like the colour purple?”

He looked away

from the window

and right at

me. I saw

right into his

eyes, they were

a deep and

gorgeous blue, so

clear that it

seemed he could

see into me.

“The clouds were purple on the morning my mother died.”

I’m shocked by

his words and

there doesn’t seem

to be anything

I can say.

I try anyways.

“I’m sorry.”

I mutter lamely.

“Don’t be sorry. Whenever I see pink clouds, its my mother saying hello.”

The silence is

broken only by

the sounds of

the bus and

other passengers. I

think he’s fallen

silent when he

speaks once more.

“It’s my mother saying hello.”

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Armor Inside – A Poem

My life is filled81756acb53aefa88ac565a7f2cca7406

with needles and pills.

I take an injection

every day and pills

three times a day.

At first, the act of

injecting myself each day

was a hindrance, the pills

a liability. I felt they

were a sign of weakness,

an indication that

I was somehow lesser

than everyone else.

A sign of my weakness.

The very act of having

to rely on a needle

was a daily moment of fear.

As time has passed, however,

I’ve grown. As I’ve grown,

how I view myself has

changed, a little at a time,

until the needles and the pills

just became normal,

a part of my daily routine.

Instead of something to fear,

the pills and injections

have become part of

the everyday. Now, whenever I

take my pills, I imagine

them filling me up

with light and everything good,

until I’m so full of light

that it can’t help but shine outwards.

Now, when I take my injection,

I imagine that each needle

is another piece of armor

being placed inside my body,

protecting me from the illness

that resides inside of me.

Each injection is another

piece of armour, another

link in the chainmail

that is keeping me whole,

from the inside out.

 

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Magic Made Real – A Poem

As a child, I used to dream04aff97b6b3444a0f72e281617759de1

of magic made real,

of distant lands where magic

held sway, where it was a

real, vibrant thing that

coloured the sky and shone

from the eyes of everyone.

As I grew older, that dream faded,

replaced by the words and actions

of others, those so rooted in

the mundane that they pulled

me down into it and the world

no longer shone brightly.

As I grew older still,

magic could be found only

inside books because they

would never hurt me

of judge me, never mock my

dreams of flying on the back

of a dragon, or riding across

hills in distant lands that

I yearned so much to visit.

Now, I am living that dream

because of you. We have travelled

to far away worlds on the wings

of large metal birds, we have seen

strange creatures that defy description.

You have helped me to believe

in time travel; we have been together

for over two years, and yet

it feels like I met you only yesterday.

We have celebrated and created memories,

each more magical than the last.

You have given me so much.

My life is brighter

because of you and the love

that you have given me.

I believe in magic and wonder

once more and know that you

are magic made real.

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Leave a comment

The Story Well – A Short Story

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt began, as a lot of things did, with light.

Cedric had noticed the lights flickering on and off in the bedroom. He had replaced the light bulbs three times and to no avail; they still flickered, almost as if in tune to a song. He would stare at the bedside lamp and the overhead light and imagine the tune that they were blinking along with. It seemed to be a peaceful melody.

The superintendent, a man named Gustav, shrugged when Cedric told him about the lights. “It’s an old building.” He said, his accent thick and melodious. “These things happen. I will take a look at the lights.”

Thanking him, Cedric went about his day and was taking some meat out to defrost for dinner when he noticed the fridge was acting up. The freezer seemed to be frozen over, a thick layer of ice covering everything. Looking closer, Cedric noticed that it wasn’t a layer of ice that had grown over his food, but a layer of sparkly dust caught in glass. It glittered like fairy dust. As he looked, he realized that the freezer seemed to go on forever, as if it were a land of ice and snow contained within.

Opening the fridge, Cedric saw that it was filled not with food, but with grass and flowers that went on as far as his eyes could see. It looked to be a meadow and he could make out butterflies frolicking in the distance.

He called Gustav. When he explained about the fridge and freezer, he could almost hear him shrug. “It’s an old building. That happens all the time.”

Cedric snorted. “Seriously? There is a meadow in my fridge and glass covering my frozen foods.”

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my time as a super. You wouldn’t believe half of them. I will look at your fridge and freezer when I look at your lights.”

That evening, the radiator started letting out little puffs of steam. They looked like little clouds floating up to the sky. The puffs of steam alternated with the lights, so that the tune Cedric heard in his head was more complete. The fridge chose that moment to let out a soft hum that started, held and then stopped again. This continued for a few minutes, the music sounding fuller then ever.

The fridge and the radiator went silent so that Cedric was left with only the blinking lights. He decided to try and ignore the lights and went to his bookshelf to find something to read. He wanted to find something light, something that would carry him away to somewhere different within himself.

Cedric loved that books, music and art could do that. When the world got to be too difficult, he would turn on an album or dive into a good book. Art could do this in a way that nothing else could. It was why he wrote…or why he used to. He didn’t write anymore.

He chose a book (Alice in Wonderland; it had been a long time since he had read that) when there was a whispering sound that filled the room. It sounded as if the walls were talking to him. The flickering lights threw everything into shadows and out again.

Looking around the room, Cedric called out “Hello?” even though he knew that he lived alone. He even went to the doorway of his bedroom, as if he expected someone to be there. There wasn’t, of course there wasn’t. Sighing, he took his book in hand, the line spoken by the Mad Hatter running through his head (“Have I gone mad?”) and made his way back to his bedroom.

As he made his way back into his bedroom, he found what had made the noise. The plaster of his bedroom wall had cracked. Running his fingers along it, he already knew what Gustav’s response would be and could hear his voice (“It’s an old building”). He ran his fingers along the cracks again, wondering why the walls didn’t bleed. I mean, aren’t houses alive in some way? Housing so much emotion, so much hate and love? Don’t the walls take those feelings in to themselves?”

“I really am going mad.” Cedric said. He wondered when that had happened. Smiling to himself, he went to the bed to lose himself in a good book.

Cedric had just gotten himself comfortable and was about to open Alice in Wonderland to the first page when something caught his eye. Maybe it was the light that drew his eyes, flickering as it was, but whatever the cause he looked up.

On the walls, made with the cracks in the plaster, were the words HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?

Cedric thought about not saying anything out loud. He had a moment to decide that this was pure madness. However, Cedric didn’t know if he couldn’t not speak. He always loved a good story, but the fact that he was living inside of one? He couldn’t ignore that.

“I’m fine?” He would think about the fact that he was talking to a wall later. “How are you?”

There was another whispering sound that filled the room as the cracks along the wall rearrange themselves to form other words. They were I’M LOVELY. IT’S SO NICE TO FINALLY BE SPEAKING TO YOU.

The radiator stared again, letting out happy puffs of steam and he heard his stereo turn itself on, playing a soft, happy song.

“Have you always been here?” Cedric asked.

There was the sound of laughter followed by a knock on his apartment door. He looked at the writing on the wall and said softly “I’ll be right back.” Walking to the door, Cedric thought it might be Gustav the super again. He opened it to find someone else altogether.

“Honey, why haven’t you returned my calls?”

Cedric’s best friend, Jessie, stood there with her hands on her hips. Today, she was wearing a long broom skirt and a poets blouse with sleeves that hung like bells on her arms. She had topped that off with a choker made out of amethysts and opals and a pageboy cap, tipped saucily to the side.

She flew into his apartment without waiting for an answer. “Seriously, I thought you had died, or gone on the lam from the law after your last novel bombed. Or maybe you tried your hand at raising the dead spirit of Shakespeare to find out what made his books sell so well.”

Cedric gave her a small grin. “I think you might be exaggerating a little bit.”

“Well, maybe a little about raising the dead and running from the law, but your last novel did bomb, so there’s truth in what I said.”

She went to the kitchen and took out a bottle of wine. “Honey, why do you only have one glass? I bought you some for when I come over.”

“They’re under here in the cupboard.” Cedric said, pointing to the cupboard under the sink.

Letting out a loud sigh, Jessie looked and found the box of glasses.  Taking two out of the box, she washed and dried them and opened the bottle of wine. “Why haven’t you called me back? I’ve left like a trillion messages.”

“I’ve had lots to do, I’ve been really busy.”

“Oh, yeah, what book are you reading? That’s all you ever do now. You lose yourself in books instead of writing your own.”

“Hey, you can’t ignore the classics.”

“Cedric!” She turned to face him, a glass in each hand. “Shut up and drink this.”

Cedric knew that look. Jessie had perfected the Mom Look early on and he knew there was nothing to do but drink the wine. So he took a glass, clinked it against hers and took a sip. “Happy?”

“Yes. Now will you tell me what’s going on? You’ve been hiding away for weeks!”

“What’s to tell? I wrote and now I don’t. Can’t be much clearer than that.”

“Honey, you can’t let one bad review stop you from writing. You’re a writer, it’s in your blood.” She took his arm and led him back into his bedroom. She motioned at the bookshelf with her wine glass. “Look, all your books!”

“Yeah, and my last one was trashed. Nobody liked it. It was picked apart by every reviewer and trashed from here to Timbuctoo.”

“Not true. Your publishers loved it, your agent loved it. I loved it and I’m clearly the most important person in your life, so my opinion matters most.”

“Well, that’s all well and good but my readers didn’t like it at all.”

“So?” Jessie asked.

“So? So? Really, that’s all you have to say?”

“Yeah. So what? A bunch of people didn’t like your novel. Whoopee, the world is ending!”

“Jessie, honey, if people don’t like my books, they won’t buy them and I’ll have no career.”

“Again, so what? One bad book doesn’t make a career. Bedsides which, The Hills of Yesterday was a brilliant book. You can’t stop writing because of one bad review.”

“Jessie, there are hundreds of bad reviews.”

“Who cares. Who did you write the book for?”

“I wrote it because it had to come out. I had to write it.”

“Exactly. And would you change anything about it when you finished writing it?”

“No, it had to come out as it did. That was the way the story wanted to be told.”

“So what’s the problem? You were true to your art and your words. There should be nothing more fulfilling than that.”

“But no one liked it.” Cedric hated how sulky his voice had become.

“Honey, you wrote it for yourself. Nothing else matters.” Jessie told him. She put down her wine and embraced him in a soft hug. “You have to keep writing. It’s what you do, it’s who you are.”

“The story well is dry, there’s nothing left in it.”

“Occasional droughts happen; it’ll fill up again.”

“I’m not so sure. I can’t think of anything else to write. I’ve been hoping for an idea, but nothing is coming to me.”

Just then, there was a whispering that filled Cedric’s whole apartment. The lights began to wink on and off and the radiator began to let out puffs of steam again. Jessie looked around the apartment with wide eyes. “What was that whispering? Is the warranty up on your apartment or something?”

“No, come and look at this.”

Leading her into his bedroom, Cedric watched as she looked the writing on the wall. It had changed again. Now there were different words: HELLO. I’M LUCY. YOU’RE THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTO WITH CEDRIC.

Jessie looked at the words and turned to Cedric. “Honey, what’s going on?”

“I think I have a ghost.”

Jessie let out a snort. “I could have told you that. How long has this been happening?”

“It started this morning. Come look at this.”

He took her to the refrigerator and showed her what lay inside the fridge and freezer. Jessie looked at the meadow and the Iceland with wonder. She reached into the fridge and plucked a small flower, bringing it out and placing it under her nose. “It’s real.”

“Yeah, it is.”

Jessie looked at Cedric with wide eyes. “You told me the Story Well had dried up, that it was empty.”

“It is.”

“Um, Cedric? Hello? You’re living in a story idea!”

Shaking his head, Cedric said “I can’t write about this.”

“Sure you can. You’re a novelist. You can write anything you damn well please.”

“I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Jessie sighed and looked at him as if the answer should be obvious. “What do you do when you want to tell a story? You start at the beginning. If talking to a ghost doesn’t give you an idea for a story, I don’t know what will. Talk to her and I bet you that your Story Well of yours will be full in no time.”

A light flickered over Cedric’s head and it got brighter as if he had had an idea. He went back into the bedroom and sat on the bed, Jessie following him and sitting on the bed beside him.

“Um, Lucy? How did you come to be a ghost? Can you tell me your story?”

There was the sound of wind chimes, though Cedric owned none. Words appeared on the wall. I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG TO TELL SOMEONE. I WOULD HAPPILY TELL YOU.

“Why don’t you start at the beginning?” Cedric said and waited to hear what the ghost would say…

Posted in Info, Short Stories | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Lay Forgotten – A Poem

She got onAmazoncollegemailroom

to the elevator.

When she saw

me, her smile

brightened and her

whole body shone.

“Hi!”

She said, excitedly.

“How are you? I haven’t seen you in forever!”

I looked through

my memory, the

albums of memories

that are there.

I flipped through

the place I

thought she should

be, but the

page was blank,

with nothing on it

except the words

MEMORY MISSING

written in bold

red type. I

closed the album

within my head

and looked at

her, hoping that

my smile was

convincing enough. I

offered her pleasantries

and asked if

she had vacation

planned. I didn’t

ask anything personal

because I could

remember nothing about

her, not her

name, not where

I knew her

from, not even

how long I

knew her. Inside

my head, I

opened the memory

book and placed

a photo of

her, so that

it would be

there next time.

When the disease

hit, it left

me with a

battle to fight

within my own

body. It also

took something from

me. My memories.

I used to

be able to

quote from movies

on queue, remember

the plot and

title of every

book I’ve ever

read, every place

I’ve been to,

songs I used

to know by

heart. Now, all

those memory books

are filled with

blank pages, blank

faces, empty places.

After the heaviness

left me, and

I took up

the fight, my

focus was on

getting better. As

I started that

battle, I started

to realise how

quiet it was

inside my head.

I took a

look inside myself

at the boxes

filled with memory

books, pictures and

pieces of paper,

memories preserved for

later reference. I

was shocked to

find an almost

empty room instead

of a warehouse

filled to the

brim. Now there

was only one

room filled with

a handful of

boxes. As I

started to go

through the boxes,

I kept seeing

MEMORY MISSING

where a memory

once resided, its

page left with

a vague outline

of whatever had

been there before,

a shadow of

what it use

to be. At

first, this worried

me and I kept

thinking that my

boxes would never

be full again.

I lamented that

which I had

forgotten. Eventually, I

realized that, in

a way, it

was a blessing,

that everything that

had been forgotten

could be filled

with a new memory,

and that everything

I had forgotten

could be new

all over again.

I realized that

new albums could

be made and

that life didn’t

have to be

spent lamenting what

I had forgotten.

That the past

was the past

and all I

had to do

was focus on

the future. I

turned to the

woman in the

elevator and asked

“I’m sorry, but could you tell me your name again?”

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Tagged , | Leave a comment

An Orchestra of Wind, Light and Leaves – A Poem

I can hear the sound of leavessmall

whenever you walk,

rustling along the ground.

I look down to see if

I can spot them,

trailing merrily along after you.

Every time I do,

I am shocked to find

that there are no leaves

fluttering in your wake.

It was only when

I began to hear the leaves

sliding along the ground as I walk

that I understood.

The leaves are your music,

a soft silky sound,

like paper leaning to fly.

I carry your music

inside of me,

your love for me

is like a symphony of leaves

and wind, singing its song

that fills every crevice

of my body.

I can feel them swirling

inside of me,

basking in the light

we share with each other.

That light intensifies

every time we touch,

each time we kiss.

My love for your

is its own symphony,

a swirling of leaves and wind

and so much light

that it would be blinding

to the naked eye.

When the two swirls intermingle,

a brilliant thing occurs:

the wind is replaced

by a voice that is singing,

my vision is overtaken

by the light emanating

from both of us

and every touch is a note

inside that voice,

every touch a pause

before the crescendo.

Every kiss is like a flare

of wind and light,

within that song,

We carry an orchestra

of wind, light and leaves

within us that

will continue to sing

for our song

has just begun.

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Leave a comment

The Forest Inside – A Poem

The trees have returned.smaller

I can see them out of

the corner of my eyes,

their leaves waving

like fingers trying

to beckon me closer

so that they can wrap me

in a dark embrace.

I can feel my body

answering their shrill call,

a heaviness in my chest

that is filled with nothing but shadows.

I breathe deeply, trying

to find my centre,

trying to brush past

the well inside of

me that is filled with malaise

instead of the water and ink

that brings words.

There is no reason for the

dark forest to return,

but it is always there,

underneath my skin,

waiting to burst

forth from inside me.

A woman is walking towards me.

I almost don’t see her through

the thick branches.

She puts a hand on my arm and says:

“Where are you going in such a hurry?”

I look at her and decide

that she’s genuine.

“I’m trying to get away. The trees are too strong.”

She gives me a kind smile.

“You carry a forest inside of you, don’t you?”

I nod grimly.

“You know, if you don’t let the bad stuff out, it’ll push itself out in the most bizarre ways.”

I thank her and move on.

The trees have grown thick around me,

the rustle of the branches,

the call of the wind

and its lullaby whisper

is almost too strong.

Something is struggling

to break free of my body.

I can feel it in my throat,

and I try to keep it down,

attempt to keep the shadows

inside of me. I’m kneeling

on the ground. I hear footsteps.

I look up to see the woman

that stopped me before.

“You have to let the bad stuff out. You can’t keep it inside. Go on now, let it out.”

I nod, tears in my eyes,

streaming down my cheeks.

I open my mouth wide

and a piece of shadow slips out of me,

resembling nothing but sludge.

Then, as we watch,

it begins to shape itself

into the shape of a Crow.

Its eyes regard me with

curiosity, unsure of me.

Its feathers shine like

obsidian and it ruffles its feathers.

“It’s beautiful.”

I whisper.

“Yes,” She says. “The darkness can be beautiful. But we mustn’t let it consume us.”

“So what do I do? How do I walk away from the forest?”

I realise that she is kneeling beside me,

as she is so close. There is a warmth

coming from her that fills my body.

“You have light inside of you. Use that to banish the dark. What else can the Crow be?”

I shake my head, unsure of what to say.

“You are a writer, are you not? Why not make some ink? Fill the well inside of you with ink instead of shadows.”

I blink at her and then nod.

I look at the Crow,

feel the pulse of its darkness

inside of me. I blink my eyes,

thinking of a pen, of something that

can hold ink and stories inside of it.

Wishing for something

to keep the shadows at bay,

to combat the lullaby of darkness.

When I open my eyes,

the Crow is gone. In its place

is a pen of black obsidian

and a black journal

waiting to be written in.

I look up to thank the woman

but there is no one there.

I stand as if I have just won

a battle, taking hold of the pen and journal

and I feel them pulse,

full of the stories

waiting to be written.

Posted in Info, Letting the Water Flow, Poems, Talking Poems | Leave a comment