Ten Candles #throwback

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Photo by Rose Renolla

One. You asked me if I’m happy. The truth is, I don’t even know what that means. If by happy you mean being able to spend an entire day not haunted by you, then I guess I am happy. I wake up to different dreams now. I started liking new songs. I started working out. I can run up to three miles now without gasping for air. Everything feels different… even my definition of happy. It’s not the same as the happy I felt when you were here but I think this happy could work. This happy doesn’t come with the same hangups you did.

Two. I have spent so many sleepless nights wondering why things ended the way they did. Until I finally decided that I don’t want to ask that question anymore. I’ve come to accept that knowing why would not change anything. You’d still be you and I’d still be me. So we still won’t work. I guess we’re meant to be one of those stories about unfulfilled love. I guess we’re destined to be romantic.

Three. God, I hope that I’ve changed. Being the person I was and wanting the things I did put me in an endless cycle of internal battles I was delusional enough to think I could win. I kept deciding to logic my way through my feelings thinking if I played a game of elimination on all the reasons why I should take a leap of faith and cross them off one by one, I could find a loophole… a foolproof way to get what I want without having to gamble my heart. They did define insanity as doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. I was insane that way. I was insane that way, with you. And I’m hoping I’m different now because I don’t want to make mistake I did… with you.

Four. I don’t think I’ll love anyone the way I loved you. I will do better. I spent the whole duration of us loving you with silence. But I learned that there are things that should be said out loud. I refused to say them because I thought you understood… I thought I didn’t have to tell you. I wish you told me you wanted my words said out loud. I was never good at loving people in a loud way. For you, I would have tried. But that ship has sailed so you know what, the next time I fall in love, I will definitely do it better. I will scream it from my rooftop until my lungs burst. I will not be silent about it.

Five. After you, I thought about finding a nice boy who could give me everything I could possibly want. But then I realized that I don’t really want for much. The only thing left that I really want… is to just be a girl. I have tried everything… being a fighter, a victim, a sinner, a saint, a dragon, a sheep, an artist, a poet… but the one thing I haven’t tried yet was to be a girl. And because of that, I decided that I can never settle for anything less than the boy who can make me feel like a girl.

Six. A few weeks ago I noticed that I stopped thinking about what we could have been. That was the exact same time I noticed that I stopped missing you. I miss how it felt… belonging to someone, having someone who could feel like home. But I don’t miss you or your potential anymore.

Seven. I think if I look back, I could pin down the moments where we just didn’t make sense. Yes, with an s because there were too many of them. I think one of my tragic flaws is believing the best in people because there were red flags all over the place. That, or I like to pretend I’m color blind and I don’t see red.

Eight. I’ve heard somewhere that regret tastes good with Bourbon. Here is what I can promise you: Bourbon will feel like fire spreading into my bloodstream. I’d rather burn than say you taste like regret. 

Nine. If I had to pick a favorite among the things I should have done differently, it would be that I could be willing to love myself less. I think I loved myself too much I could be a poster child for self-love. The more I fell in love with you, the more I pulled away. I got scared of losing myself… in you and because of you. So when it came down to a choice, I decided I’d rather lose you. I know hearing this from me won’t bring you comfort. I’m sorry. I guess we now know why you still haunt me.

Ten. You were the very person who would have made me believe in destiny again.

Ten. I think of stab wounds whenever I hear your name.

Ten. Because of you I skip through my old favorite songs.

Ten. I hope you tell not just her, but also your children about me. I hope I ruined you that way.

Ten. Can we skip the whole friendship thing?

Ten. If you ever come to my wedding, make sure you watch my face while I look at him. Count my tears. Notice the way I smile and the way I couldn’t wait to be his wife. Know that because of you, I honestly believed I would never be that happy.

Ten. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was us. Maybe it’s no one’s fault. At this point, does it still matter?

Ten. I used to hug my heart to my ribcage worried I will lose it after I lost you. I used to stare back at the shell of who I used to be in front of my mirror after the sparks in my eyes died. I used to wonder if the hollow laughter I could hear from my voicebox really belonged to me. A part of me died the day we put an end to us. But I’d go through it again. And again. And again. Not because that’s how much I love you. I’d go through it again just to squeeze every last drop of lesson I have to learn out of a failed something. I’ll look at the signs until I know them by heart.

Ten. I don’t want to love someone like you.

I hide to seek.

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I would like nothing more
than to hide you
in my poetry
where I keep the things
I wish to be safe.
For you to linger
at the tips of my vowels
especially the O
where all the things I left unspoken
are dangling and hanging on for dear life.

I would like to hide you in my poetry
for them to see
the things I silently marvel at,
which I never verbalize –
the soft tips of your hair,
the mild crease on your forehead,
the glimmer of excitement
in your eyes
that promises a taste of what
your childhood left behind.
I would like the world to see you
as I see you;
not nearly perfect as you make it seem
but still perfectly fine.

I would like to hide you in my poetry
so I could show you off;
show how rapidly my heart beats in anticipation
just at the sound of your name.
I would like to hide you
so I can wear you –
the poet adorned by her lovely words,
her emotions resting on her hair
as her lovely crown.

And maybe,
I would like to hide you in my poetry
so you can live forever.
Immortalized by my own hands,
a gift I know I’m the only one
who thought to bestow.

Photo by Rose Renolla

Political Correctness

 

My mother taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, I should just keep my thoughts to myself. The lesson never stuck.

I went through life with my foot permanently shoved down my throat – always grabbing the least perfect moments to say the wrong things. It got me into all sorts of trouble, which I didn’t mind, for it’s something you get used to when you can’t hold your tongue.

I couldn’t be politically correct even if I tried my hardest. Which is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that when I fell in love with you, all the things that made my brain buzz with excitement added to the mounting pressure I could feel pushing against the walls, the ridges, the fissures inside my mouth.

And I tried. I tried to hold it all in, like a dam preventing the water from flooding and drowning an open field.

But you know what they say about habit – you can only fight against it for as long as it takes for it to kick in, take you by surprise.

I said I love you – putting everything I am at stake in just three words. You looked at me like it was an assault, like you’ve been victimized, brutalized, like I grabbed my pen but instead of writing on paper, I stabbed you with my words. No one saw it coming even if it was in plain sight – not you… certainly not me.

I always thought it would take a storm to make a ship capsize, I’ve seen all the movies. I didn’t know three words were enough to make every crew jump ship, leave the wheel unattended until the ship sinks or crashes into sea boulders. But what the hell was I thinking trusting all those pirate movies when I knew that just like fairy tales they’re just products from someone’s imagination, they’re fiction. Just like this thing we have, it’s all in my head and apparently it’s a sin.

Well, I refuse to apologize. What I feel isn’t a bloody curse word I swallow inside the church and sing as a fucking hymn of praise. I refuse to be politically correct about my feelings. I refuse to treat my emotions as if they’re so disgusting and offensive. My love cannot be a crime – not when it finally feels like I’m starting to do everything right. Not when loving you feels so good.

When I was young, my mother always threatened to wash my mouth with soap if she ever heard me utter a curse word. The insides of my mouth have never felt so clean but the soap couldn’t wash away the stain the bad words left behind, I can still taste them sometimes. The memory of every bad word that passed through my lips left a tinge of unpleasantness I couldn’t wash away, even with wine.

I love you – I thought the words would taste sweet even if they were wrong.

I love you – it tastes like vomit.

I love you – it makes me want to wash you away from my insides violently with soap.

I love you – I wonder why the kiss of death had to be served in mouthfuls.

I love you. Let me savor it one last time – that fraction of a second where the words are almost sweet, that moment before the bitter takes over.

I love you.

You think I should learn to be just a tiny bit politically correct. But I will expire by spontaneous combustion if I don’t let my guts spill. My love isn’t a sin. It’s not a filthy profanity. I refuse to let you make me feel guilty.

The Modern Fairy Tale

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“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest of them all?”

Like the evil, stepmother queen,
voices teach us
we don’t need to look within.

Now Snow White, with her doe-eyes,
grace the magazines,
eyes reflecting only bright lights.

Cinderella wears only
beaded gowns
she’s always pretty
walking around town.

Ariel loves her legs
and hates her tail –
she forgot she was birthed
by the sea.
She thinks not being herself
is what will set her free.

Rapunzel still lives in the tower,
waiting for the man
who has the power.

Mulan commands an army
but to do so
she must always prove she’s hardy.

No, the fairy tales
aren’t to blame –
we fell deep into society’s game.

We tell girls
they are just little princesses
to be more would be an excess.

But princesses
can wield swords too
while wearing high-heeled shoes.

If we teach our daughters
to look within
they will value more than the color of their skin.

This is the modern fairy tale
we teach them to ride the tide
we don’t tuck them in
with drawing pins.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
little princess, don’t settle for fair –
when you can have it all.”

They say fantasies never work out quite the same way. But hey!

My mind goes off on a tangent
playing imagined highlight reel.
Here, the playwright and the actor
go through the same ordeal.

I blend my mind’s eyes’ colors
just to get the right tint,
brain wrapped in a hard squint
sketching your skin’s blueprint.

A few minutes’ worth of my time
spent perfecting our lines
timing our exits,
in sync and aligned.

You are the hero
in my imagined story –
dashing knight, black armor
voice spun from silk.

Back and forth,
a game of words,
I pinch your heart,
you tickle my soul.

And yet my mind stops,
rebelling against itself
it wouldn’t go further,
for everything else.

It’s too mind-consuming,
the game I play –
I stop the story,
I call for a rain check.

But who could blame me?
I love the thrill of delayed gratification.
And I’m sure you’d do a great job in my head,
I would rather seal that deal with our lips, instead.

His name wasn’t Captain John Smith

In the beginning
there were shadows
pulling at the chains.
One must not leave his own soul unguarded
lest someone comes
looking for a forrest
to turn into a wasteland.

In the beginning
there were devil eyes
staring at your exposed back
threatening assault
without a moment’s notice.
They wait for the marching orders
before they commence slaughter.

In the beginning
you were an explorer
looking for a bed of grass
to rest your weary back.
I was an untamed land
and I held on to my silent ritual,
ignoring anyone who wishes to stay the night.

In the beginning
you sang a soul song.
My trees fell in love
and sent their leaves to peaceful repose
in time for the Autumn wind.
The sunset’s skirt never looked so red
laid out against the cot that outlined your back.

In the beginning
the shadows fell back.
One by one, the pillars fell down
til none was left standing.
You’re still the explorer.
I’m still the untamed land.
But we spent nights whispering secrets to each other.

In the beginning
the secrets folded themselves into stories.
Witnessing the winter, the spring
and the summer come to pass.
The first autumn held seconds and thirds.
The untamed land became a home.
The explorer lived as a native.

The life span of a poem

If you ask me how long
a poem should be written,
I will tell you:
write it
like you’re letting go.

A poem must never
feel like a chore.
Like forced love
isn’t love,
a strained poem
sounds insincere.

Try writing phrases
too short,
one will never get enough.

Try letting it stretch
longer than it should
though it has gone past
it’s time and have seen
everything it could,
you risk leading people
into a winding road –
you soften the blow,
and let the pain linger too long,
it’s become dull.

A poem, like love,
should only extend
for as long as it could –
just enough to teach
what you need to learn
and to relinquish
what they need to feel.

So if you ask me,
how long should a poem go,
I’ll say: watch me
kiss this poem goodbye
and set it free.