Saturday, January 11, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand poems.

Though it pains me to admit this, there are times that I get insanely jealous of those people who can draw and paint and bring things to life in that way. Instead of letting jealousy eat away at my insides, I do what comes naturally and use my words to tell a story. I give a voice to those people captured in portraits and paintings. And you know what? There is merit in that, too.

Take this as an example of "art skills that make Jenn jealous":
You can buy this. You should. It's stunning.
How could I not get lost in her? How could I not think about what she's feeling and what put that look on her face? After I waded through my initial reaction to this piece, I took the next logical step and told my version of her story. The words came pouring out almost faster than I could write. (Thank God for computers, auto-saving, and spell check.) Admittedly, there is a little of my story in there. Maybe a little of my friends' stories in there. Maybe you'll see a little of your story in there. But that's the most amazing thing about art - whether it is a painting, photograph, or poem, there's a good chance you'll recognize a piece of yourself in something beautiful.

Here is where I need to give credit where credit is due: I am humbled by the fact that the artist who created this gorgeous piece let me post his work to this poetry blog. Obed Raimundo is a ridiculously talented (and an all-around wonderful) guy. You should check his stuff out immediately (here or here or here ) after you finish reading this blog post.

Alright. You've come this far. Here's my poem:

See Me

While rocking myself to sleep, I hold my heart tight and force the tears back down.
The words are burning in my stomach, scratching my throat, and clawing to get out.
You stare and I reach for the flashes of contempt, but drown in a sympathy I don’t want. 

There is nothing I wouldn't gladly give to have my eyes and gaze haunt you.
My ghosts following and wordlessly demanding you to recognize the here and now.
The maybes, what ifs, could happens, and mights. 

Must you live in the whys and hows of history?
How can you set my lively spirit aside to make room for the dead ones in your past?
Can’t you give me just a few days of your present? Tuesday evening will do.

What are you seeing when you look through me?
I want to know the things you’re searching for on the other side.
My body feels hollow; your gaze is sharp and it cuts through flesh and bones. 

Focus. You must see me. Perfectly flawed, but willing and wanting you.
Would it help if I touched your face? Ran my fingertips over your lips?
These hands are not the cold ones from your nightmares. These hands are warm and curious. 

This is me begging. Look at my face and deny the truth living there.
I dare you to read my goosebumps like braille.
You’ll find all of my secrets rising up through this skin. Given to you freely, but with consequence. 

Are you afraid that these straining muscles will make you come undone?
That these eyes are mirrors; reflecting the thoughts you’d rather not think? That the words you are scared of hearing will fall out of my mouth? Drip right off my tongue like the sweetest honey. 

My lips won’t tell you lies - - they will show you the truth.
My dreams are dancing on the edge of reality - - can you trust me to take the lead?
Hold my hand and know that I can’t and won’t do this or be this for anyone but you. 

In the darkest part of night, when you try to forget me by pushing your face into pillows and blankets, remember that we pray to the same God but are simply asking for different things:  
I ask for strength and guidance. You ask for protection and healing. 

Such a thin veil between my dreams and your reality.
My happily-ever-after and your worst-case-scenario; the devil is in the details.
I live with ghosts and you fight demons. 

Why is it that this love haunts me, but terrifies you?

(Thanks again, Obi. Muah.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I get by with a little help from my friends.

I've done it before and I'll do it again. Yes, that's right, I will use the art of others to inspire my own. Creativity begets creativity. Once again Mark Hall, music producer extraordinaire from across the pond, gave me a little writing boost with his track "And the Angels Fell". (You can listen to it here.) So, like the famous song says, "I get by with a little help from my friends". (For what it's worth, I like the Beatles version, but I LOVE the Joe Cocker version.)

Something about this particular track of his tugged at me. I was entranced right from the beginning, and then I could feel that slight knife-edge that slides right in. Beautiful disaster. You know the kind that hurts but you can't stop pushing it forward? Something about this track told me the story of a friendship that got twisted along the way. I can't tell if things worked out in the end, but I remain hopeful.

Okay, okay, okay. Enough rambling from me. Here's the poem:

Remorse Code

Look at you. smiling that smile. The slick one you have reserved for impressing people.
The one with no teeth and too much eye squint.
But with a turn of your head and change in mood, I see that damned dimple.
As if it were some secret code between us. (dimple, dimple, wink, nudge)
An unspoken apology for dismissing our friendship. It's going to take more than a dimple this time. 
Yeah. You fucked it up that bad.

You and me -- we have always fit like puzzle pieces.
You and them -- fit more like orange slices.
Some fits are better in action -- others are better in theory.

By now you should know that when I laugh, it’s not always because it was a good joke.
That “I’m sorry” does not always equal a good apology.
That “it’s okay” almost always means it isn't.

Friendships are hard. Doubly hard when you are hardly speaking.
Barely whispering. In fact, all I hear is radio silence.
(tap, tap, tap - - is this thing on?)

Things are different now that we've grown up.
The responsibilities, the other relationships, the distance, and the godforsaken busy.
We are different but more.
The same but less.

I am still a simple woman.
Simply complicated;
but lucky for you I am easily appeased.
You of all people should know how to do that.

The question is will you…
...and will I let you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I have something to say about this...

As you might guess from the title, I have something to say. Go ahead and read this tumblr post. 
Just do it real quick:

Now here's the deal. I met my husband when I was just 18 years old through a mutual friend. We started dating when I was 19. Had our daughter when I was 21, married at 22 (wedding was in May and my college graduation was in August - a busy few months), and home owners by 23. There is not a single day that I regret any part of our time together. I have a constant companion and best friend, no need to worry about dates for parties, have someone who likes to cook me dinner, fixes things around the house, and mows the lawn. IT'S GREAT!!

Here we are on our wedding day. Say it with me, "D'aww"!
Do I give him a hard time and tell him that he robbed my of my youth? Absolutely. (Teasing him is one of my favorite pastimes. I might even call it a hobby.) Do I mean it? Absolutely not.

There were lots of folks out there who didn't think we stood a chance. Didn't think that we were ready to be so committed at that age. Didn't think we understood that kind of love or the work it would take to maintain it. I am so pleased to have proven them wrong.

Sometimes young love works. I'm sure it's rare and most of the cynics out there are right 90% of the time. But this still leaves that 10% of couples who fall in love as teenagers and somehow manage to defy the odds. 

December 15th, 2013 will mark 11 years of togetherness for us. I know without a doubt the reason it is so easy for me to work so hard at my marriage and be so willing to compromise is that I am certain all of that willingness and work is reciprocated. Also, it should be said that he has never asked me to be anything that I'm not. Never said, "Jenn, I wish you wouldn't laugh so loud. It's obnoxious." Never said, "Jenn, I wish you would try to be better at baking cookies." Never even said, "Jenn, your humor is absurd and it scares me. Please stop." Total acceptance is a beautiful thing.

Yes, I know that this is predominately a poetry-centric blog so just sit tight and stick with me for a minute...

I'm about to let you guys see a very special place inside my heart. Posted below is the first poem I ever wrote for my husband when we were younger. He has this printed out and stapled to the wall above his work bench in the garage. (He's adorable.)

Dear                   ,

Someday you'll settle me down.
you'll keep me away from
doubt and regret,
from wishing for better boys,
from needless self destruction.
you'll rescue me from the oxymoronic
everyday business of monotony, boredom,
and chaos.
show me calm, collected; captured even.
you'll teach me how to breathe again.
slow, steady, serene. 
my vocabulary will start to include words
I once though were bullshit.
monogamy, romance, love.
dinner plans at 8, meet the parents.
hold hands like a couple. 
someday you'll get to name my obsession,
you'll call it your own.
you'll put my admiration and adoration
on the wall above your bed.
so high,
infinity could be my mother.
you'll show me my biggest fears and desires, 
both disguised as ridiculous, 
reflected in your eyes.
attachment, necessity, must have.
you'll wash away my guilt; insecurity. 
reassure me that I am still myself,
a whole, intact, and alive.
I'll just be me
standing next to you inexplicably
and completed by each other's
synchronized exhales of relief.

Someday I'll settle you down.
Sunday morning coffee and crosswords.
Tuesday afternoon naps on the couch.
you'll begin to understand affection,  
companionship, and returned phone calls.  
appreciation of the little things
that mean nothing.
belly rubs, back scratches, and purchased packs of smokes
will become manifestations of everything.
I will keep you away from cloudy and powdery
white monsters.
I'll show you a world of truth.
you'll find beauty in the reality of here and now,
today and tomorrow -- forever and always.  no need for you to hide behind that bad boy
with tattoos, did I ever tell you about the time... image.
someday I'll tell you another secret.
you'll forget the confusion that was your past.
trade it in for wide-eyed clarity.
you'll realize your worth; the infinite power of you.
brother, son, best friend, and lover.
simply-complex perfection.
I'll keep you and your comfort, intentions,
reactions, and daydreams,
all on the tips of their toes.
you'll understand what it means to be valued,
you'll recognize in my voice, eyes, arms  
something familiar that you can't quite
put into words.
because it belongs in a dream.
all that I am.
your 5am reality check.

always with love,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Long time, no see...

Well, this is awkward. It's been three (...and a half) months since I've written anything. Not just talking about a blog post, I mean I haven't written ANYTHING. Not even so much as a stanza. It's pretty pathetic. Sorry. No excuses here, just apologies. I've been in a rut/slump/funk and am extremely disappointed in myself. Alas.

If you've been a frequent-flyer to this blog, you know how much I love to use pictures as writing prompts. This time I asked my friend Thomas Brown to supply the photo. (Seriously, if you're ever in need of a photographer in Arizona...look him up. I very much enjoy his fine art photos.) I tackled this writing exercise a little differently. I gave myself only 15 minutes and decided that I would post to this blog that piece EXACTLY as it was, with NO EDITS. Gotta be honest here and tell you that it is so damned hard to put this up without any tweaks, changes, edits, or rewrites. But, I know how I sometimes wish I could see other poets first drafts. Because I'm curious. So...

Here's the photo:

Photo credit, Thomas Brown Art. 2012.

And here's my poem:

 "On Remembering How to Forget"

I wish I could remember how I forgot you the first time.
I just dropped off. Begged you to leave. Made myself be alone.
Walked away. Ran away.
In the end, all I learned was that emotions do not leave me slowly.

Forgetting is so hard when all I can remember is how you used to wait with me for peace to come 
by counting the minutes and slowly braiding my hair down the length of my back.
With every new fold, you would tell an old story and make a new dream for me.
You wrapped them all up in a beautiful pattern for me to sleep on.
Those old stories made such painfully beautiful dreams.

Counting the minutes these days is like counting souls crossing the River Styx.
Just a few at a time and the passing comes with a price.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Come play with us, Danny. (Scratch that one off the bucket list.)

(...way back in April. Yeah. Totally slacking on getting this post up. Stop judging me and just start reading. Look at my pictures at a minimum.)

Let me start at the beginning. All of these wheels started turning when I sent my mother a link to an article interviewing Stephen King about his sequel to The Shining. It tells the story of an all grown up Danny Torrance. (FYI, The Shining is one of my favorite books AND favorite movies.) She got just as excited as me about this and the next thing I know, we're on a road trip to Colorado for a two night stay at the Stanley Hotel. BOOM! My Mom wins all the awards and gathers all of the cool points because she booked us a room on the 4th floor (haunted floor) and we got a Redrum coffee mug, glow in the dark squeezy ghost and frisbee, AND a night time ghost hunt. GAH! My excitement is still palpable four months later.

Side note: for those who don't know, the Stanley is where Stephen King was staying when he was inspired to write The Shining. BECAUSE IT'S A FREAKING HAUNTED HOTEL!

So first things first.
Here's where I started to lose my mind...simply driving up to the hotel is an experience all by itself. I was bouncing around and clapping in the passenger seat like an over-excited seal.
Seriously? This place is just amazing. 

When we checked in, we were promptly given our Ghost Swag. Also, I think it's important to note that when you check out, the folks at the Stanley ask if you want to keep your room key as a memento. This was wonderful because then I didn't need to feel guilty about stealing it.
FYI - I take that Redrum mug to each and every staff meeting at work. It's not awkward - - it's appreciated. 

Next up was the elevator. The ONLY elevator in the whole joint. It was shocking. Literally. EVERY SINGLE TIME I pushed the up or down button I got zapped. But it was worth it because that thing was stunning. Also, it made me say things like, "Third floor: Undergarments, garden hoses, and tea pots." See what I mean. Look at that cool lever thing!
Heh. Elevator selfie. Sorry about that. 

Also, it should be mentioned that one of my other favorite movies has ties to The Stanley. That's right folks, Dumb and Dumber was filmed here. When I got tired of being zapped by the elevator and took the stairs, I would look at my Mother and say, "Race ya!". C'mon, you know you would do it, too.
Yes. I really did "race" my mom up these stairs and raise my fists over my head in victory. 

We stayed just a few doors down from room 401, which is one of the most haunted rooms in the entire hotel. I cannot lie, the place does have a creep factor to it. Despite its beauty and architectural value, there is a sense of heebie-jeebies that cannot be denied.
This is me in between the old servant stairs and room 401. After this picture I just stood there staring at my mom saying, "Come play with me, Danny". She rolled her eyes at me a LOT during this trip. 

Our room was on the fourth floor facing out towards the entrance. I positioned myself in the window as frequently as possible. LOTS of tourists are going to have my face in their photos. LOTS. Here's the view from our window looking out:
Three days and two nights of photobombing opportunities. Like I was really going to pass on that. (Also, you can just barely see my mom in the bottom right hand corner there...)

Here is the picture that everyone takes when they stay at The Stanley. It's a picture just outside of room 217. 217 is THE ROOM where Stephen King stayed. It's the room that started it all. Honestly, if this room creeped out Stephen King, I probably would have peed myself at some point.
Obligatory photo outside of room 217. 

Apparently Stephen King was sort of pissed that Stanley Kubrick didn't use The Stanley hotel for filming his version of the movie. Some years later, Stephen King put out a made for TV movie that was in fact filmed at The Stanley. This is the miniature version of the hotel they used for some of that filming:
Mini Stanley made for a mini series. (Like the Vanna White pose? Ta-Da!)

During our late night ghost tour, we ended up in the ballroom and the tour guide went behind this curtain and pulled out the prop door they used in the mini series for the "Heeeere's Johnny!" scene. At that point I was practically vibrating with excitement. Talk about a fangirl having a nerd moment. 

Now, at this point, I'm sure you're all, "Jenn, these are great photos, but when are you going to tell me all about the spooky stuff that happened to you?". Here's the deal. I'll probably tell you about some of the stuff, but not all of it. But you've got to understand that I absolutely believe in ghosts and I don't want to hear about how flaky I am and how it can "all be explained by science". Don't misunderstand me, I absolutely believe that there are in fact lots of reasonable explanations for things and I certainly don't believe that every bump in the night is a ghost. But sometimes, it is...

So, stay tuned for PART 2 of my adventures at The Stanley.