I miss

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I miss the younger me

The weightless unencumbered me

The carefree and aimless me

I want to hide beneath the weeping willow

A nature-made fortress…of solitude 

Where, like Superman, I flew

Thin branches wound around my bone-thin forearms 

Leaping against the pull of gravity

A mind that didn’t carry sorrow 

Or guilt 

Or servitude to the almighty dollar 

A helium balloon in the clouds

Tethered to unslumped shoulders

How I soared 

I bent spoons with my mind

Slayed dragons with vorpal sticks

I worshipped the mother in this church 

Light shining through stained glass leaves 

Many moons later

Barely able to lift head from pillow

I’ve sidestepped into a different reality 

Where I no longer felt like I fit and I made sense

This alternate timeline

After 12 hours of contractions

I find myself sentenced

Now I’m a contraction at the end of a sentence 

It is what it’s 

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Pendulum

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The pendulum swings

From pearl to gastrolith

I feel it’s weight with each shifting

In this damned uncomfortable chair

When it’s a pearl

It’s a story

A captivating tale that sets me apart

Sets me on the path of being

Actualization

When it’s a gastrolith

It’s still a story

A forgettable pablum not worth noting 

Securing my place of anonymity 

Forgotten 

The weight, either way, is there

It’s gravity a nagging reminder 

Often paralyzing 

There are times, though

When the bits of wire and rusted nails

Break free from the ingested magnet

Where all the world’s pain collects

These bits of detritus regurgitated 

Coming out through a torn throat

In bloody, mucosal, pyroclastic eruptions

There are times, though

The body feels warmth from the insoluble 

It gently encases it in layers of nacre

Making its expulsion more tolerable 

The vomitus a pictada fucata 

Throat stretching to accommodate 

The goose that lays a mother of pearl egg

In either case, the process is necessary 

Whether avoiding a stomach so full

I beach myself on distant, unknown shores

Having broken the elemental barrier 

Born again, but into desiccation 

Or the calcium that makes up the nacre

Is cancerous in high concentrations 

The body evicting a deadly tenant

A baby gestating too long

In either case, the process is creation

In minima

Like a young child staring in awe

The first time they make

Crying when the toilet’s flushed 

Or the first piece of art 

That makes the side of the fridge

There is value in the letting go

Not the reckless abandon of encopresis 

But the satiation of a need

The building of an edifice of confidence 

But just like the microdosing of dopamine 

It’s a bandaid for a puncture wound

True healing

A resurrection, not just a seance

A real fucking dose, not just a bump

I have to stop hiding

I have to  take the leap

But I daydream about skydiving 

And am afraid to fall

In the end, the true fear is failure

That if I cut myself open

If I dig this weight I carry out of my guts

If it’s DOA

Then I am empty, a shell, a testa

And where do I go from there?

I only have one recurring dream

And one ever-present nightmare

Reminder

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It had been so long that no one remembers just when it had happened. You’d think an event like this would be clearly recorded in our history, but like the wholesale slaughter of the Native Americans, it’s something those in power would rather forget—in order to feel human, that they’re part of something great. 

These little statues appeared everywhere and all at once. There were more in the areas you would expect to find them, at schools, parks, and grocery stores, but there were quite a few that must’ve formed in secret…in backyards and in bedroom windows. Rooted to the very ground upon which they stand, many were tried, unsuccessfully, to be moved, like atrocities from high school, social studies, text books, so we could go back to feeling normal.  This just wasn’t going to be the case. 

This horrific tableau. These children who were neglected and/or abused simply froze from their grief. Their little hands clenched so tight, fingernails puncturing what was soft, tender skin in their palms, leaving the burgundy dried blood on their hands and in spots on the ground below. The place where their tears had trailed down are now dried up streams, that left behind salt crystals that glitter in the sunlight. Their heads tilted completely back, as if their last action was to look to the heavens, the heavens that had clearly forgotten them, and then scream. Their mouths open as wide as their little jaws would’ve allowed, some almost appearing to open even further, like snakes that dislocate their jaws in order to swallow a much too large piece of suffering. 

If this had been the extent of it, then we might have adjusted. We would walk past them as if they were just pieces of furniture, or telephone poles, or some art installation that has been there so long…we don’t even see it anymore. But, again, this was not the case. 

We quickly became weather junkies. We’d watch every forecast. The weather man spending the majority of his segment pointing at the proximity of isobars. When those isobars were close together, this rapidly changing pressure gradient, meant wind. People would call into work on windy days more than on days of unrelenting snow fall. 

These statues, with their tilted back heads and their mouths agape, resonate when the wind blows, like blowing across the top of a plastic soda bottle. The sound that issues forth from this chorus is so soul-twistingly sad, that the strongest amongst us fall to our knees and sob uncontrollably. 

Those that had ones in their open windows, in their back yards, and on their porches…simply moved away out of shame, hoping to start fresh. 

There was a period, as the accumulated dirt across their faces, from the residue of long since removed duct tape attests, where we tried to stifle their song. But the very sight of these children, who were silenced in their suffering during their lives, standing their with taped mouths was more than anyone could handle seeing. The tape was quickly removed, but the stripe of dirt across their mouths serves as another reminder. 

As bad as all this was—as if this wasn’t enough to show us the error of our ways, we had to explain these statues to our children. Like most children their questions were never ending and built on the last, until it mounted to a crescendo, where we would finally just break down and say, “I don’t know, baby, but we’re better than that now, and it will never happen again,” tears rolling down our faces, as we hug our children tightly. Each child giving the slightest smile and tiniest of nods, as if to say that the lesson has been learned. 

Those that tried to use them falsely as a warning to misbehaving children, as if their temper tantrums would lead to this, were met with a implacable, marrow-deep knowledge that this was a lie. 

No one knew if this was a one time occurrence, or if more were to come if we stayed on the same path, but some hoped that, if we changed our ways so truly, that these children would come back to us. Even though they were generations old, we would take them in and finish healing them, and ourselves. 

We are still waiting. 

Learning to fly

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They hid it at first

He was so young

Only four

They’d call him a freak

Two little nubbins 

One on each shoulder blade

Loose shirts

Windbreaker jacket

Then the first event happened 

Fucking tuna fish can

Sliced his mom’s hand right open

Oh how the red scared him

Nerve damage

Limp fingers

She was struggling to dial

Goddamn rotary phone

She felt woozy 

Then two little hands reached out 

Gently taking hold of hers

As he placed his head against her 

The nubbins stretched out

Featherless little wings

His mother was dumbfounded 

She didn’t notice the bleeding 

Had stopped

He buried his face 

Into her stomach

I love you, mama

The next day they grew

Twice in size

More difficult to hide 

Homeschooling was the answer 

A couple years slipped by

His questions became more pointed 

His need to see the world deepened 

She began taking him on outings 

Planetarium, museum, theater, petting zoo

She worried so

Then the second event happened

During a long elevator ride down

To the underground caverns 

A middle aged man collapsed

An RN performed CPR until exhaustion 

She couldn’t save him

The little boy looked up at his mother

His eyes pleading

Her face twisting

She nodded once and turned away 

She could hear the gasps

Knowing life would never be the same 

The canopy of the tent fluttered 

With the wind blowing outside 

He missed the feeling of wind and sun

The revival would be starting soon 

His wings were the size of a condor’s

The tips dragging on the ground 

His mother gripping her rosary 

Muttered about the crowd gathering 

The 2:00 show

He looked so gaunt to her

The preacher’s sermon 

Was all fire

And brimstone 

Then the lines formed

With each passing touch

Each person given a new lease

He felt himself slipping further away 

The doctors and scientists tore him apart 

In the end they determined his wings

Were a cancer

And when he couldn’t give anymore 

Of himself 

He stretched his wings

For the final time

Slipping into oblivion 

Mandala

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I took my poems and pinned them to a giant cork board. Butterflies of every hue. Like a conspiracy theorist or a detective hunting a serial killer, I connected the poems with string. My crazy wall. I connected them by how old I was in the memory that spawned the poem, by themes of love and loss, by which of the two poles I steered towards, or away from, if the poem was looking in the past, thoughts of the future or grounding myself in the present. It started out looking like a spiderweb, and I plucked the strings of love and watched the poems thrum and give off chords of joy. Then I strummed the strings of loss and a mournful sound issued forth, making the room waver and dance. The strings of depression hung limply and could not be played, but the beauty of their draping form stood out amongst all the straight lines and angles, and the strings of anxiety were so tight they were shrill in the plucking…almost pulling the poems from the board. As my eyes moved about the board I found myself, simultaneously, smiling and teary-eyed.  As the web flowed about in waves from the welling tears, I had to wipe my eyes clear. To my astonishment, within what was to become my life’s dream catcher, was an outline of myself, arms outstretched to what could only be stars. Dumbfounded at how I didn’t see it sooner, I traced my fingertips about the edge of it. My hand eventually settling on a bare spot, a hole, at the center of this wondrous mandala, right where my outline’s heart should reside. I pondered whether this void represented the parts of me I’ve kept hidden or parts I’ve yet to discover. I vowed to fill this hole. To keep writing. To keep catching butterflies. 

Ice Age

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You have a book inside you that someone will love so dearly that, when everyone else is burning anything made of wood during the next ice age, they’ll hide it and read it in secrecy…lest it be taken for a moment’s pure bliss of warmth. They’ll lose toes and the tip of an ear just to feel the resonance of your soul. 

451 reasons to one. But that one reason, oh my god, that one reason…

Just keep bleeding out, until the edges of your heart blurs and your vision narrows. Until you vomit the bile of your genetic inheritance, of your fractured roots. Ride the leading edge of a wave built on generational success, but also on deferred dreams and compromises. This push and pull…this give and take is the tide you dragged yourself out of. Primordial soup for the writer’s soul. So when they try to sanitize you, you march right out into the yard, roll in the freshest pile of shit you can find, and howl at the hunter’s moon. It’s that very madness that’ll carry you through, that’ll get you and your reader through the long, harsh winter. 

LinkedIn feed writing prompt: remote controlled brains

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[The following paragraph showed up in my LinkedIn feed. It has such insidious implications that I thought it could be a great writing prompt. I won’t say much more, as I’d actually like to see your take on it.  Please don’t hesitate to leave your idea(s) in the comments.]

Here it is:

Feeding medicine directly to your brain: Researchers at MIT have developed a hair-thin device that can be implanted deep into people’s brains and distribute medicines via remote control, a potential game-changer for patients suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s or depression. The implants can bypass the blood-brain barrier — which can sometimes block medicines from reaching their intended destination — and limit the potential for undesirable side effects. The researchers aim to connect the implant to medication pumps that will sit beneath a patient’s skin, which can hold more than one kind of medicine and be refilled with a simple injection. • Share your thoughts: #DrugDeliveryBrain

Coo coo for Cocoa Puffs

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At the bottom of a spam email, probably 3-4 years ago, or so, I came across some unintelligible writing. There seemed to be structure but just didn’t make sense. The first sentence was, “At the hands of taking into consideration that missed July your Western European initiated against oriental programs many times contradropping basic steps…” For whatever reason, I kept reading. Near the bottom of this jumbled mess I came across the following text, which I applauded, at that time, the indomitably, creative human spirit of the downtrodden author, who must’ve been in a living hell, having to write spam emails for a living. Here it is (Note: The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the unknown author and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of any sane/rational person that I am affiliated with/know of, or have created as a fictional character):

“And then there are pigeons. Ever seen their mating ritual? Chances are you have, but can’t remember it. It never aired as a fancy schmancy Discovery Channel or Animal Planet documentary, that’s for sure! The mating ritual of the pigeon, rat with wings, and the only scavenger that has somehow succeeded in suckering hordes of people into feeding them, goes like this: A female pigeon’s trip led through some populated area…just minding her own business. Along comes a male pigeon. He starts follow her. Not at a respectable distance but within the tiniest of fractions of an inch from her feathery ass. She starts walking faster. He starts walking faster. She turns left, he turns left. She turns right, flies off, lands again, turns rightleftright. He turns left, right, flies off after her, lands again within the tiniest of fractions of an inch from her feathery ass, turns rightleftright. Finally she gives up and lets him bang her. This goes to show that what some call stalking others, notably pigeons, call courting. And if someway, somehow the pigeon society would ever evolve into a constitutionally governed state, bestowing certain unalienable rights to its citizens, such as the right to be free, and some schmuck, overly eager pigeon of a lawyer would demand a restraining order for the pigeon stalking his female pigeon client the pigeons would be royally fudged and die out in one generation. Luckily for the pigeons though, they’re really stupid and will only evolve into a society when hell freezes over, in which case fucking might be the only thing that can keep them warm.”

Curtain call

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A stage

Empty

Dark

A spotlight

Center stage

A woman enters from stage left

Standing at center

She smiles

Her hand covers her mouth demurely

She lets out a quiet, little giggle

Quickly reigning it back in

Her lips curling at the corners

Lower lip quivering

She lets out a long, full-bellied laugh

As it begins to trail off

A floodlight comes on

The entire stage behind her is filled

Men and woman of all types

They join in, in the laughter

At times it’s deep and throaty

At others it’s shrill and cackling

It moves to a crescendo

When the original woman lets out a snort

Everyone falls to dead silence except her

She snorts out, once or twice, into the silence

Embarrassed, she stops and hides her face

The floodlight goes out

Her body shudders

Slowly her hands lower to her sides

Her hands tighten into fists which shake

She lets out a guttural scream

Gravelly and tearing at the throat

The floodlight comes back up

Now the stage is filled

Women on the right and men on the left

The women join in the screaming

They focus their vocal assault on the men

Fists shaking and feet stomping

The men cover their ears as their lips snarl

The women’s screams die out

The original woman holding her scream

For a couple seconds longer than the rest

The men lower their hands from their ears

Bending at the knees the men crouch low

From deep within a growling grows

As they rise the growl becomes a howl

Arms flailing about and muscles flexing

When the howling dies out

The men cock their fists back in unison

The women fall to the stage

Holding their hands up defensively

The floodlight goes out

Leaving the original woman alone

Shielding her face with her hands

Her body begins to shake

She lets out a low moan of pain

Shuddering to take in air

She builds to a long, soulful vibrato, moan

The floodlight comes back up

Only women are on stage behind her

They join in the chorus of wails and moans

This crying moves in waves

Quietly whimpering to sobbing to shrieking

As it builds to a crescendo the women fade

The floodlight dims to black

Leaving the original woman still lying at center

Her shuddering slows until she is motionless

Lying supine she is silent and still

An area light comes up

It reveals a casket

She looks over her left shoulder at the casket

Her body begins trembling

She cries quietly

She picks herself up and goes to the casket

She stands at the side of the casket

Still quietly crying

She lifts the upper lid and peers inside

Her low crying and body’s shaking builds

The crying’s staccato seamlessly transforms

We find her beginning to laugh

She throws her head back

Belting out a full-bodied guffaw

She climbs inside of the casket

Still laughing

We can no longer see her as she sinks in

Her laughing becomes a chuckle

Finally she lets out a snort

A pause of silence and another snort

Her hand rises from within the casket

Another snort and the hand slams the lid shut

The area light fades to black

Fawn by Jimmi Campkin. Another great piece of nostalgia at Sudden Denouement.

[Photo by Jimmi Campkin] Fawn We’d convinced the girl behind the screen to let us climb the church tower. We were both stoned beyond human comprehension – only nature could understand us now – but with her bored expression and indigo hair, we could see a kindred spirit. Arms over shoulders we talked about the […]

via Fawn- Introducing Jimmi Campkin — A Global Divergent Literary Collective