LOVE POEM #89 – The Leaf

The Leaf

 

If you look at all the flowers

blooming in the fresh spring air

you might miss her floating in the breeze

on her way to greet you from the forest,

 

but if you keep focused on the flowing sky

you will catch sight of her fluttering

like a dancer, so forgotten in her song

that it seemed like the wind was flying on her.

——

 

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WAX FIGURE – 50 WORD STORY

He pulled the carving knife away from the eyes, and blew a burst of air across the honey-eyed woman’s face. The thin shavings that carpeted the floor made up the last of the imperfections, yet as he shut off the bright lights for the day, she felt anything but perfect.

——

 

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MORNING YEARNING

Watching cross-legged from the rooftop

as the sun curved over the countryside,

I thought the crescent moon looked out of place,

 

but as the crown of light overtook the cold

she cast her weary face on the cabin,

never wondering why the morning came

or why I was awake on such a calm day.

 

She only wished to covet a few moments

beyond those restricting her to the clouds

where colors spilled out of the darkness.

——

 

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WONDER WOMAN

Diana wasn’t like her comic book counter part.

She didn’t feel any inner struggle over her Superman.

She struggled with her taxes, getting tenure,

and which of her sister’s twins had twisted the cat’s tail.

 

But she was a Wonder Woman nonetheless;

the kind of woman who would wake up at five

and take the bus to the homeless shelter

just so the sorrowful could have a decent meal.

 

Maybe she pictured herself from time to time

soaring over the skyline as the sun began to shine,

dressed in a one-piece, red and blue suit

and a tiara that twinkled in the sunlight,

 

but I saw her more as the brutal hunter,

ready to hamstring the next Actaeon

that paraded his way into the wrong bathhouse;

protecting her nymphs from another abuser.

——

 

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MIRRORS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Red Dawn

Another day gone

waiting for the sun to shine

through sanguine curtains.

 

Leaves

My sandals are lost

in the labyrinth of leaves

lying on the ground.

 

Benches in the Rain

The park bench awaits

the return of little legs

kicking empty air.

 

Unexpected Friends

Under the arbors,

the rain spotted me sitting,

and comforted me.

 

Mirrors

She hides in her eyes

so only her reflection

will really see her.

——

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THE TWO DIMENSIONAL WOMAN

I dream myself, one night, inside the seams of the wallpaper, looking in on our house. It was a wonderful feeling—to be utterly flat, and without a care in the world, living in the second dimension. My family was there, staring back at me, like a crayon picture that had learned to dance about. There were all sort of secrets that I learned about behind the closed doors. My son hid candy he had stolen beneath his clothes in his second drawer. My daughter had a very handsome boyfriend (that was a shock, speaking that he had never come through the front door)! Whenever my mother would stop by to visit, she would comment on how the couch pillows didn’t match the rest of the household, but only under her breath when everyone else was out of the room. It became quite a life.

I eventually figured out how to move from wallpaper to electrical wire, street signs, and so on, until I could make myself useful and run errands. Nothing like getting groceries—two dimensional hands don’t work to well with carrying things. But I could deposit checks, and when I figured out how to walk inside the computer, I really made my way into a different world. My husband would open Word documents, and I would get to rearrange the letters he typed on the page. It made for mischievous fun, and great laughter.

But then I found out a secret that I wished I hadn’t. One that, living in three dimensions, I had never had to worry about. My husband kept a journal on his bedside table, and I had never looked at it before, since it was personal, but while trying to learn to transfer from wall to paper, I accidentally fell into the pages. The first few pages were beautiful. He drew, and wrote, and occasionally scribbled. There was a poem about me. It was like walking in a field of daisies.

It wasn’t until halfway through that things took a bad turn. The daisies were replaced by dead roses, and the sunny skies became covered with thunder clouds, and the beautiful words grew harsh and jagged. He missed me; resented my freedom. Jealousy, anger, loneliness, depression, stress, and all sorts of real world issues fell on his shoulders in the place of mine.

To relax, he had taken up staying late at work. I had never check in on him there, because overcoming the rocky hills he was stationed in had proved too difficult. Apparently, there was a woman he worked with, Stephanie, who had recently transferred from Washington. She had been staying late with him, and they had been entwining together as I entwined with the paintings in the living room.

Which is when I woke up, feeling lonely in the middle of the night, to see him laying next to me. There’s nothing quite like cuddling up with someone after feeling like you lived a whole lifetime apart from them.

——

 

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THE PAINTING MODEL

“Hey, would you model for me?” he stammered. She was walking through the hallway as he spoke, on her way out the door.

“What?” She said to him, turning on her tall, black heels sharply. His cheeks reddened, and he felt his ears grow hot.

“I-I said, would y-you model for me?” Her eyebrows raised behind her oversized Chanel sunglasses, and she cocked her head to the left. “I was thinking about how er…what you said earlier, about how people had called you Amber Rose, and how…um…how you didn’t like that people said that because they never had anything to show for it.”

“And…?” There was a light impatience in her voice.

“And well, um, I was thinking that maybe I could, like, paint you or something?” He exhaled deeply, and the vibrant red that had filled his cheeks washed away. He looked down at the ground, ashamed, as the room filled with silence.

One…

Two…

Three…

The words floated through his mind like wooden planks down the Nile. Then, she clucked her tongue once and tapped her heel.

“I’ll think about it,” and she turned to walk out the door with half a smile. He listened in stunned silence as she walked down the hall, each clack of her heels fell with the same heaviness as the beat of his heart.

 

*          *          *

 

He scrabbled with the lock on the door; his arms were filled with bags and his myriad of keys were all jumbled together. When he finally got it open, he hoisted the bags up higher so he didn’t accidentally let one slip.

“Hi there,” he heard from around the corner. He walked in, set the bags down on the counter, and began unpacking

“Hello again, I picked up a few jugs of—” his eyes drifted up and his voice caught in his throat. She was standing in the room, fully exposed save for an exceptionally tiny bikini. He looked back to the contents of the bags, “I-I picked up a few containers of milk this weeks since everyone went through it so fast.” She laughed at him.

“Thank you,” she said, “I decided you can paint me—”

“I didn’t quite mean—”

“You didn’t mean today? Good. I wanted to spend this afternoon tanning.”

“Well I was thinking I could paint you, perhaps, in a little different setting?” He had turned to face her, and could feel the heat in his body rising.

“Oh?” She said. After a quick pause, her eyes lit up, and she reached behind her back to undo her top, “nude? I’m game to do nude.” His cheeks burned inside him and he turned his head away.

“No I was thinking something that didn’t…objectify you so much? Maybe something like sleepwear?” There was a silence. He felt the air grow cold around them. Then, roughly, she grabbed his chin with her thumb and forefinger and turned him to look at her.

“You want to paint me right?” She asked firmly.

“Yes,” He tried to look away.

“And why do you want to do that, hmm?” she pulled him closer to her, so that they were within a few inches of each other.

“Well I—”

“What, do you want to fuck me?” He tried to pull away but her grip was tight, “you want to fuck me? Turn me over, lay me out? You think coddling me with kind words and romantic pictures will seduce me?” Her thumb pressed harder into his chin. “Let’s get this straight. You won’t fuck me because you’re nice to me. You won’t fuck me because you’re mean to me. If you fuck me, it’ll be because I want you to.” She glanced down meaningfully. “And you’ll paint me how I want to be painted. Not how you want. Not how some man wants. Me. Ok?”

“Ok.” He said. She released his chin and smiled.

“Good,” she snaked up and kissed him softly on the cheek, then turned to walk away, twirling her top in her hand, “tomorrow it is then!” she called back, and put a hand up to wave goodbye.

——

 

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NATURE’S FURY

I saw a single blooming flower on the tree. Against the dense, green foliage riddled with long, thick leaves, the delicate white of the flower stood out like the first star in the night sky. The flower itself was enormous—nearly the size of a cantaloupe, with majestic petals, curling their way out to greet the sunlight. Yet it had not completely unfolded into its maturity. The purity of the original bulb shape was still perceptible to the attentive eye.

I saw this lone flower blooming, and knew I had to have it. It was off the ground, out of my reach, and the tree appeared to be an arduous climb. But the craving in my gut pulled me up to the task. I moved to the base of the trunk. The bark of the tree was rough and protective, like a father. It was also quite sturdy, and as my nimble fingers curved themselves into nooks and crannies, I found that the shoulder like branches of the tree were stronger than I had initially expected. I darted up, from branch to branch, with such rhythm that I felt like Tarzan himself.

The last few branches were the most perilous. Near the top of the tree, the branches thinned and swayed, and beneath my weight a few began to snap. I glanced as they fell away, while my arms grabbed for new holds on the tree. Eventually though, I found my way to the flower. She was beautiful, pure, and perfect. There was no flower quite like it—no flower that I had battled so valiantly for. I knew she would love me as I loved her. My hands, trembling, reached out and cupped the base, where she connected with the tree, and carefully plucked her away.

The whole tree seemed to shake for a moment, and the flower quivered, curling slightly back in on herself. Then everything was still. The descent was much easier, fortunately, and I carefully shielded my flower from the stray branches and leaves as I passed through them. They felt like tiny hands, pulling, scratching, and seizing my clothes. I shook them away as I moved. I reached the ground, and broke into a great, boyish smile. I took the flower home; watered it, and gave it sunlight.

But would you believe how she repaid me? The bitch wilted, unbloomed, before my very eyes. The vibrant pure white, which seemed to cleft through the surrounding, faded into a smoky fog, and then further into a dead, blackened husk. Every morning, I awoke, and saw her with disgust. Such beauty; why couldn’t she have been mine? And yet, I felt in the pit of my stomach something more terrifying, though I had no idea as to what it was.

Until, of course, the dried petals finally began to fall. Then, I was shocked, to hear the roar of the forest, like thunder, calling to me. The great tree, which had grown since I had stolen her from it, had taken up its roots and marched on my home. All my structures—the walls, the roof, and the floors—were ripped apart by this incarnation. The wrath of Nature itself stood on my doorstep. Roots and vines tore it apart, until I stood, naked, before the behemoth himself. The vines snapped and slithered around me, wrapping around my arms and legs, and I was pulled into the air.

I hung there, limp, for what seemed like an eternity, while the vines snaked around my neck. Then they paused, and a vine lifted my chin. Before my eyes, he held her. She looked solemn, limp, and peaceful, but utterly dead nonetheless. In a rush of pain, I felt both my legs snap. I cried out, but there was no help for me.

Then, it all stopped. I was dropped on the ground with a thud, and the tree went away. My legs sprawled lifelessly beneath me, but I had been shown mercy. My watered eyes looked out around me, and I saw the tree disappear behind the hills. I slumped to sleep, as my eyes grew more and more blurry, and as they shuttered closed, I saw a single, pure white petal, before me. Mocking me.

——

 

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INTERSECTING PERSPECTIVES

Hello everyone,

 

I have been thinking about perspective quite a bit over the last couple days, mostly after listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” and then the follow up criticism a few of my friends have shared over Facebook. Because there was some division between my interpretation, and the interpretation given in the criticism, I’ve spent all morning pondering which perspective is closer to the mark.

So here’s the divisive lines:

 

I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop

Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor

Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks

Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy

 

Make sure you watch at least this part of the video, so that you have some context for what the imagery displayed was (it’s at 1:43 minutes). What was your perspective on these lyrics? Are they sexist? I mean, an argument against Photoshop, in favor of a natural look isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, it is still telling women how to dress and looks, assuming this addresses women in the first place.

Now that you’ve gathered your thoughts on this set of lines, let me tell you the interpretations I have been struggling with. First of all, there’s the perspective that applies these lines to all women—as in, this is Lamar’s expectation for women, and even if he’s arguing against the mainstream media’s presentation of women, it is still narrow minded and does not actually make a difference. Women should be empowered for whatever decision they make—whether it is being all natural, getting plastic surgery, or whatever—rather than be judged as simply objects by men (and society). This isn’t an unfair assertion. I mean, look at the last line. It directly addresses the “you,” which can pretty safely be assumed to be women, speaking that Lamar is pretty clearly heterosexually inclined.

The other interpretation goes simultaneously less far and further. It stops at “he’s arguing against the mainstream media.” The allusion to Richard Pryor, an old, anti-establishment comedian, as well as the statement about Photoshop, indicates that his first three lines of this segment are perhaps not addressing women, but instead addressing those who portray women. Instead, he asserts that what people care about is the real look of a woman, over the superfluous tendencies the media puts upon them. It isn’t entirely a progressive view, since it does still objectify women to an extent, but it is less “anti-woman” through this perspective than through the previous one.

The video adds a significant amount of depth to the lyrics as well, showing the two faces of a woman—one apparently done up and whitened, in the way the media often prefers, the other lacking make-up, and so on. I’ve chosen to withhold which perspective is mine, and which is from Facebook, because I don’t want my personal perspective swaying you, the reader, one way or another. The irony is that sometimes even the most parallel perspectives will cross lines in the details. That’s what, in many ways, occurs here. But that’s why it is a discussion. Let me know your perspective in the comments!

——

 

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CAUGHT (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Perseverance

How do you succeed?

Fail at a million things,

Till you win at one.

 

Diseased

The pain in my bones

Is dull compared to the pain

That rots in my heart.

 

Orders

“Women shouldn’t be:

Afraid, angry; too sexy.”

…Because that’s worked out.

 

False Lives

My friends post pictures

Of their glorious nights out,

But tell me they’re sad.

 

Caught

Perhaps the liars

Aren’t all terrible people.

Just those that got caught.

——

 

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