The Usual Place

The creek at Peace Valley Park


Meet me at our usual place.
You know, 
the one we found together.
The sun is bright enough
today to paint glitter on the creek.

Let’s both bring our lunch.
We can eat it after we go wading.
If the creek isn’t too high,
I might cross to the other side
just to see what the view is like from there.

We’ll walk as we go talking, taking in all the scents of the woods,
from honeysuckle to loamy earth. You always did like
the way it smelled like the sea where the streams met.

I’ll bring an Inca Cola. You bring a Jarrito.
We’ll crack them open by the shade of the hollow tree.
You can point out all the plants you know by name.
Me, I am still learning where to find mugwort.
Maybe I’ll be successful growing my own this year.

We’ll talk about all the boys
who did us wrong.
We’ll talk about the ones who did us
right and the creek will laugh
as it flows right over the rocky parts.

We’ll talk about places away
from this creek, the honeysuckle and the woods.
You'll talk about England. I'll talk about Japan.
And we really will mean it
when we say we wanted to see them together.

Meet me at our favorite spot.
I’ll be there even when the sun has set,
when the water’s laughter is whisper above a hush,
when the honeysuckle's scent is spent,

and the moon paints mourning silver on the creek.



Song Choice: The Space Between from Disney's Descendants

The Liner Notes for This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, Where Are You Placed?

 

Sakura

What magic to be
included in the dancing
of a sakura,
from when it spun from its tree
to the moment it lay still.



Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings prompt, Liminal Space.

April Can (2021)

April can be kind.
April can be cruel.
April is
April after all.

April must be
at home in Alice’s Wonderland—
October’s petal frocked twin,
hiding her teeth behind a teacup.

April leaps
up in yellows, pinks, and greens,
determined to grow out of spite
of the winter before she arrived.

April is especially hard
this year, demanding a new start
from an earth whipped sore
while trying its best to live
after the dying winter. 

But April can cry
right alongside you,
keeping company in quiet mists
or keening with you
in inconsolable storms.





Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, April.

I Pity the Poor Old Bird

I pity the poor old bird
who didn’t value the strength of the tree
that sheltered her from the storms,

and instead spent her nights
lamenting over another
tree that would not bend
to cherish her near so well.

I pity the poor old bird
who knows nothing
other than playing
at being a harpy,

befouling every space
unlucky enough to know her presence.

It is clear she envies
the kestrel and her mate,
lovingly paired and partnered,

with no wingbeat taken for granted—

the kestrel who knows the joy
of the welcoming blue sky,
the stars, and rising sun,

who has flown with true companions
that were only taken from her by death,
and not driven away by spite.

I pity the poor old bird,
who when she finally falls
stiff and cold from her perch,

will fall
unmissed,
unloved,
and unremembered,

save for the worms
that will find plenty of room to burrow
in the cavity of her empty chest.

I hope those who hold you fondly in their mind have a true and clear image of you. 
I hope you are seen clearly for who you are.
May you never look into a mirror without seeing your true face.


Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, Bird is the Word.

Once A King

My dog was once king
of the elementary school bus stop
every morning.

He was a fair monarch,
granting belly rub privileges to all
the children before they started their school day.

But the corner has been empty
of adoring subjects. If they see him,
they wave from behind windows now.

And the once king of the bus stop
makes his rounds near an empty playground,
howling at the other exiled kings and queens
who also miss the noisy old days.

Kit, in his pre-pandemic stance.
 


Liner Notes for This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United, Beloved Companions.

Absence

A seed dropped by chance
inside a high-walled garden
became a tree
with impossibly deep roots
whose absence left a crater.





This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, Trees.


Punk Rock Angel

She was no one’s angel
but her own. In love
with loving and exploring
underappreciated beauty
with every one
of her senses.

She was a punk rock angel
too in love with this world
to be interested in (or wait for)
a monotone heaven.

So she made her own,
stuffed with all the delights
she loved best.

Her heaven had room
for both adventures and lipstick,
dark truths and real smiles,
fine china in a blanket fort,
Shakespeare and Bubblegum,
witchcraft and shenanigans.

Her heaven had room
for every last lover,
anyone who identified as a dreamer,

and me.

She danced every day of her life
in her homemade heaven.
Until she couldn’t.

I’d call her a liar
for promising me an after
(this time with English wells,
and tucked away tea houses),

but there was no sin in her heaven,
save being untrue to yourself.

So I forgive her last lie,
and hold on to the truth

of best friends forever
in a summer star land,
where punk rock angels play 
the most raucous of concerts.

And the cheese,
and the bread, 
and the dancing, 
and the sex
is so much better there
than the bland heaven
the world tried to threaten us with.

I always get misty watching this anime, but now the part where she makes her wish
to get her best friend back will make me weep too. Cat understood how much I loved it
and probably expected it would be the first thing I binged after she died.



Liner Notes for This Groove: I lost one of my dearest friends in the world on Monday morning. She fought chronic illness for so long, but never let it dim her love of life. I'll miss you, Nekko-chan. 

Everyday

Everyday 
there’s a new blue sky
waiting for me
to disturb all the earth
thrown upon me
the day before,
and see if I’ll come dancing.

Everyday 
there's a new spark,
either hiding in the curl of a leaf
or out in plain sight
in the curve of my love's smile
strong enough 
to remind my heart what it's there for.

And all is made new again.




Liner Notes for This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, Starting A New Relationship. You can start a new relationship with a day, right?

Hard Reset

I’m looking for a hard reset.
Silence. Enough
to allow my gunpowder emotions
time to settle down from their fine mist
and lay quietly
away from incendiary sparks.

I’m looking for space
where I don’t have to
MacGyver my emotional state
and self-suture the same old wounds.
One where I can really rest
and learn what healed skin looks like.

I want to find
what it feels like to know
an extended peace
in my battlefield brain,
so I can reclaim the salted earth
and put it to work
growing only the things I chose to plant.



Song Choice: 24/7 by Kehlani

Liner Notes for This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United: Wait for It. I may have twisted the line I chose to work with "I'm looking for a mind at work" as far as its limits could go. 

A Serving of Nightshade

Well this looks like my lucky day, thought Adira as the room came into focus.

She was in the drawing room of her ex-fiancé’s townhome. Lord Bradley sat in his favorite chair, sipping a glass of wine, and watching her.

“I’m sorry, Adira,” he said. “But I thought this would be more comfortable for you than a cellar in Cheapside.”

“Very thoughtful,” she said, as she smoothed her hair back towards the untidy bun held by her favorite hair stick. “But it might have been nicer to have left me near the opera house.”

He made a tut-tut noise. “And left you at the mercy of Nightshade? That would have been rude.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Let me tell you a story,” he said, refilling his glass. “There was a naïve girl, whose romantic notions made her an easy mark for Nightshade, a notorious criminal who has become something of a hero to gullible young women and a nuisance to my guild’s interests. She unwisely agreed to be a lookout for one of his capers. Thankfully, a concerned friend was there to intercede before she had to face serious consequences.”

“Charming,” she said, stretching out her hands and fingers. “But what’s the price for his intercession?”

“Information. Everything you know about Nightshade’s organization, including the contact you were supposed to meet tonight.”

“And if I don’t?”

“It’s my duty to turn you in to the constables. Considering the trouble Nightshade has caused, that cellar is going to seem nice in comparison,” Bradley said.

“So you haven’t told the authorities yet?”

“Of course not. Adira, I can protect you. If you cooperate.”

Adira looked down at her lap. “I don’t want to go to jail. What if I told you I know who Nightshade is?”

He jumped out his chair. “Really? Who?”

“Me.” Adira pulled her hair stick free and threw it at his throat. It hit its mark. As he tried pulling it out, Adira picked up the bottle of wine and cracked it over his head.

“I have a story for you,” she said. “There once was an unscrupulous and overconfident man who wouldn’t shut up. So I fixed that. The end.”


Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Song Choice: Gives You Hell by All American Rejects

Liner Notes for This Groove: This bit of flash fiction was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United, Two Into One Shall Go. I went with embedded narrative. 

Monster Heart

Here is my monstrous
heart. I remember
when bile didn’t mix with blood
as it traveled through
un-gouged walls.

I don’t trust it
not to alarm the unwary
with its feral beat
and shadow roaring
reverberating around old scar tissue.


But I will trust you, always,
with the truth of the stories
behind each scab and bloodied bit,

because this truth,
odd and unshapely,
is the most precious thing
I have to give.





Liner Notes for This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United. I chose to work with the phrase "Love can be a monster, or not."

The Villain of the Story

The dung landed in front of me with a wet plop. I turned my head, and as expected, saw the sneering face of the urchin who had been following us for the last few days. Before I could stop her, Yoli picked the dung up and flung it right back at the urchin. It hit the child square in the face.

“Yeah, well… you only hit me because you’re good at throwing,” she screeched, before diving back into the undergrowth.

Yoli’s face went from satisfied, to confused, to moody. I gave her the space of a few seconds before I spoke.

“That didn’t feel as good as you thought it would, did it?” 

Yoli scrunched up her face. “No. But she’s been annoying us for days, mistress. And what kind of comeback was that? Good at throwing? I ought to be, as a squire of the Kingsguard.”

“We do prefer that our squires have good aim, yes,” I said.

Yoli glared at the bushes, then slumped. “Good aim against another trained fighter, not some little kid.”

“Did you see what she has wrapped around her arm?” I asked.

“A piece of the enemy’s uniform,” Yoli said.

“A piece of the uniform that could have been her father’s, her brother’s, or someone else she loved. We’re the villains in her story.”

“How can that be? They’ve tortured innocents, put children to death. Mistress, they wouldn’t even respect you as a fighter.”

“Their respect isn’t as important to me as my respect for myself. Tell me, Squire Yoli, how is your self-respect at this moment?”

She looked at the ground. “Not good.”

“Why?”

“Because I picked a fight with a dumb, and obviously sad, little kid. And that’s not who I want to be.”

“Save that aim for an actual opponent when we find one. It might keep your hands cleaner,” I said, smiling. “Let’s find a creek and get them washed off.”

“She’s going to keep throwing shit at us you know,” Yoli said.

“Then it’s a good thing that we train our squires to dodge as well.”

“I’m fast enough for that,” Yoli said. “She really does have terrible aim.”



Song Choice: Good Riddance by Green Day

This piece of flash fiction was created for the Weekly Scribblings prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United: Hit Me with Your Best Shot. 


Keeping it Real Curly

For the longest time, I was the only one in my family with thick, curly locks. Then I had my Darling Eldest. We didn’t know how much his hair was like mine at first. He got a lot of regular haircut throughout his youth. But when he went away to college and haircuts weren’t as high of a priority as say anime club, we all finally got a look at what his mane would do when left to its own devices.


He had been home for a bit because of the pandemic before he finally approached me. He likes keeping his hair long but had been resisting the idea that maintenance was needed. Could I help?

Well during the pandemic I’ve been hard-core upgrading my curl game (it was a reliable bit of self-care that always made me feel better). I was delighted to share techniques I learned, product suggestions, while being sure to let him know the ball was in his court as to how he chooses to deal with it. I have to say, his satin lined hat is cooler than my cheesy sleeping bonnet, but both of them protect our curls.

There was one morning when we were wearing our respective caps when my husband made the observation that not only do we look alike, we both act in very similar ways when we get angry or frustrated. He looked at me in horror and said, “I think I’m turning into you.” I told him not to worry unless he suddenly got interested in planners and picking out cute stickers to go in it.

Of course considering we both just got excited over recognizing a familiar voice actor in an anime series, I’ll be sure add an extra pack of cool-looking, anime-inspired stickers to my next stationary order. Just in case.


Song Choice: Hair from the musical of the same name.

This post was created for Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings Prompt: What You Resist, You Become.

To the Little Girl in the Blanket Fort

I know it’s hard
not to be constantly embarrassed
by a weird, wild heart
that keeps finding itself
snagged on a world full of splinters.

You imagine
it’d make such a beautiful sail,
freed from the limits of its chest,

for those times when you want to flip
all the blanket and pillow walls 
and turn them into a boat
to glide over the squalls.

Be patient with it. Your heart
can't help the way it throbs and dances.

As odd and awkward as it is, your heart
will be something you grow in to,
not something to grow out of.

Photo by Sdf Rf on Unsplash



Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the Weekly Scribblings post at Poets and Storytellers United, Hindsight is Rather Tricky. The phrase we were asked to work with is "if I knew then what I knew now." I really should have spent less time worrying about being that weird kid, and more time just enjoying it.

Unmistakable

It’s hard to believe
in the promise of springtime
while walking on the dried remains
of snow crushed grass, 
until
you see that first bit of green, 
thrusting forth an unmistakable digit
at the retreating frost.

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash



Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created by for the Weekly Scribblings prompt at Poets and Storytellers United, Beautiful Words. I chose the word shitamoe , which means 'plants sprouting under last year’s dried grass or under the snow' as my inspiration. 

Stranger

I’ve been up all night thinking I’m a stranger to who I wished to be.

Strange times, strange words make for strange fates even under sympathetic stars.

I scream out the questions that she’d never have had it in her to ask.



Song Choice: Nobody Told Me by John Lennon 

Liner Notes for this Groove: I decided that I needed three American sentences to make one whole response to the prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings Prompt: Something About Mary. I riffed off the phrase, 'all night they had thought of what they would like their lives to be'.

Keep Walking

How many steps does it take
to be truly away? How
are those steps measured?

Even if my feet weren't small
it is going to be a long walk for me.

You gave me a head start,
with your rightward shuffle
I was supposed to be
polite enough to ignore.

And though I've paused 
at this milestone moment,
I am too tired
not to keep walking

and wondering
how many steps
until I’m really away 

and no longer expecting 
to hear steps besides my own.

Photo by Adam Cao on Unsplash

Song Choice: Not Ready to Make Nice by The Chicks


This poem was created for Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings prompt. I went with Walking Away.