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Strange Prayers (9death poems)

To me, woman sounds like wormwood. Sounds like something slippery and slithery, a box with a false bottom. Stick your hand in, Brother. There’s a blade in the bottom of the box, a dead rotting thing at the bottom of the well.

Alcohol is the great polarizer, making lovers of us all, making us all go for the throat.

 

Welcome Back

I’ve been the absent gardener these days, I know. I got caught up in life changes, plus the self-imposed pressure of finishing this Mad Scientist book before the year’s out.

I’ve been a busy lady, friends. I work, and type, and hunt for jobs; and I try not to get too sedentary. I’ve been falling hardcore in love with yoga these days. The deep breaths are good for someone as anxious as I am, and I find that as I get older, my flexibility isn’t quite as self-maintaining as it once was.

Also, please check out the wonderful folks at Fictionvale. They’re doing great things with digital anthologies, bringing short stories into a technophilic age. My short story, “The Calligrapher’s Lover” will be available in their next episode, so look for it August 15th.

 

I have poems to fill you up with, friends, if you’re still here. Thanks for bearing with me while I let the ground lie fallow. I’m back now, just in time for the tail end of summer. Let’s make some more magic.

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They call you indecisive when they don’t like the choices that you make.

Don’t fall for it.

Miracles of being

I go tender at the sight of new leaves.

Something about such tiny perfection sparks a wave of love and awe in me. Surely, we walk among miracles. I don’t talk about it much these days, but the act of sprouting, the way a seed gives rise to new life, has always been the only proof I’ve ever needed for the existence of a loving god.

I know the science of it, but I find it miraculous despite knowing the explanation. Science is miraculous, wild and weird and wonderful. Our interlocking adaptations, the niches within ecology. There are mushrooms that eat hair soaked with the inky tar of spilled oil, digest it, and spit out life again. It’s beautiful. It’s a miracle of being.

Is it any wonder I find life so sacred? There is so much to protect here.

More notes on process

I felt the need to draw this morning, so I looked up “woman martini,” hoping to find reference photos of, you know, women holding martinis. Instead, I found pages and pages of cartoons of women sitting in martini glasses. Apparently this is a thing. Why? Who finds this sexy?

I have a post I’ve been really wanting to do, about the rise of selfie culture, and why it’s probably not as bad a thing as it’s made out to be. Unfortunately, this is not the day for that post. I want to spend time doing actual research (citing my sources!), so I’ll save it for another week.

I’m slogging through the book, slowly but surely. Yesterday was spent doing almost nothing but transferring my chicken-scratch first draft into a computer document. For whatever reason, I just can’t do first drafts on computers. Something about the immediacy of fingers on a keyboard, I think. I type much faster than I write, but my brain needs those extra seconds it takes my fingers to scrawl out words in ink, to come up with sentences.

I’ve discovered a new world, halfway through this novel. It’s a land called: My Book Sucks and All My Ideas are Dumb and I’m a Talentless Hack. I’ve read articles written by people who have also written novels, and these articles assure me that this is not an uncommon thing.

After spending so long with this idea, I’ve become convinced that it’s utterly uninspiring. My plot seems to make less and less sense the more time I spend with it. I guess that’s what second drafts are for. I can’t wait to get at everything and rip it apart and really tighten it up.

But first, there’s still more heavy lifting to do. For now, I’m just slogging through the first draft, making rough forms of my scenes to be tweaked and polished later.

Dear god, I can’t wait till there’s an end in sight. When I finish this draft, you can bet your life I’ll be celebrating over martinis. Maybe someone will even take a picture.

On Leaving a Job

It strikes me sometimes, that to say “yes” to anything means saying “no” to a plethora of other things. So it is with my job. I was feeling the need for a break, to recharge. I needed a way to have less stress in my life. Someone once described chefs as “adrenaline junkies,” and yes, yes we are. I doubt it’s the last turn I’ll have in professional kitchens, but that’s all for now, folks.

Yesterday was my last day at Babette, the restaurant where I’ve been working. While it wasn’t a teary goodbye, I felt a twinge of… something as I wiped down those counters for the last time, turned off all the lights and locked the door on an empty kitchen. A kitchen that’s been my playground and my hell and my workspace for the past year. So long, guys. You will be missed.

But a quote from a poem by Rumi struck me, as I was shutting that door for the last time. To paraphrase, “Do not grieve. Anything you lose comes back in another form.” I feel it. It’s the hope I have for the future.

This is what I think people don’t understand, sometimes, when I have this conversation with them. The conversation goes something like this:

“But I thought you liked this job.”

“Oh, I do. Very much. In fact, I love this job.”

“But you’re leaving?”

“Yup.”

Granted, I’m not particularly forthcoming with my feelings or thought-process with strangers, but the gist of it is this: I feel very, very lucky when I can leave something I love, in order to go to something else that I love. I’ve loved all of my jobs. I’ve met some brilliant, amazing, inspiring people through my work. But in order to have all the experiences that I’ve had, I’ve had to leave many, many places. 

I think it says something wonderful about both sides of the equation when things can work out this way. Amicably, with respect and admiration on both sides. What a beautiful world we’re building.

Other Prayer

Her hair shines in lamplight, hangs down to the floor. She kisses the hands of the old.

She brews water late into the night, makes the kettle whistle in the silence, utters strange prayers through hands splayed wide like the wings of doves.

She weaves apologies into her hair and tries to remember that nighttime is not a death sentence; the sun falling below the horizon in no way resembles the executioner’s blade.

Mouths are beautiful to remind us to speak beautifully, to talk kindly and bless each other with our mouths. She reminds herself that fingers are so long and fragile to allow us to gently cup fallen birds’ nests. They’re soft so we can caress the curve of another’s body.

Hands are for helping and feet are for walking gently on this earth.

She feels like the cup of tea tipped over on the shelf, Earl Grey leaking out and pooling at her feet.

She feels like the rabbit the gunshot killed.

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