I like to write poetry…

(This short story is based off a secret I was given in a class, and asked to turn into a narrative. The original secret was “I like to write poetry about everyday experiences”.)

Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to write poetry. I don’t mean garbage like kids are forced to do for the HSC or like Shakespeare who everyone thinks is so great but is secretly just making clever “ya mum” jokes. I mean real poetry. 

I kept trying, even when it was really hard. I wanted to write from every day experiences, stuff that I knew well, but it’s hard to rhyme anything with dishwasher, or lunchbox, so for a long time I’ll admit I was stumped. I mean, George Papanakis could write stuff that would make you weep, or sit for hours pondering the meaning of life. He was the kid who sat next to me, and every time we’d have to hand something in for English, I swear, the teacher would beam as if they were getting handed a crisp hundred dollar note, not Georges homework. But whenever I sat down to write, whether it was about X-rays, My Xbox or my eczema, poetry did not seem my expertise. 

So one day, I decided to go to the professional. 

“George?” I asked, sitting next to him one recess. 

He grunted, not looking up from his book. I hadn’t thought he was busy and he was just sitting there, moving only to shove a bit of sandwich in his face or turn a page. Looking at the amount of lines of concentration on his face, I realised maybe I’d caught him at a bad time. 

“George I need some help.”

“No, Juliet Chen does not have a crush on you, she only pretended to win a bet.”

That stung a little, but I pursued my aim.

“No, George, it’s not about girls. It’s about poetry.”

George ripped off a bit of paper bag and bookmarked his page. “Poetry?”

“Yea George. You know, I know you’re good at it and I’ve always wanted to be able to write about stuff in a beautiful way, so I just thought you’d be able to give me some handy hints.”

George looked up at me, chewing slowly. After a bit, he patted the bit of bench beside him. “Take a seat, mate.”

I sat.

“Look mate, you’re not very good at writing stuff.”

“I know! That’s what I’d hoped you could help with!”

“You didn’t let me finish mate. If you’re not good at it now, and you haven’t been before… I don’t think you’ll ever be, mate.”

“What?” I couldn’t have heard him right.

“You just don’t have the gift, mate.” 

“The gift?”

“The gift, mate.”

” I see.”

“Sorry, mate.”

“No worries,” I said, hopping up lightly. “Thanks for your time, George.”

“Sure thing, mate.”

“And mate?” He called after me.

I turned around, tears threatening to cascade from my eyes.

“Yep?”

“I’m sure you’re good at other things.”

For the rest of the day I couldn’t concentrate. The gift? I absentmindedly doodled on the back of my workbook. 

I felt like I’d been slapped across the face 

After being told I didn’t have the gift.

The gift of writing, the gift to create,

And my whole world had taken a shift. 
All this time trying to do something great 

And writing line after line,

Could it be, possibly, inexplicably, 

I had been wasting my time?

All my passion, my love for words

The way they skip and interlace

A dream I had dreamed since just a boy 

Was gone without a trace.

Good at other things?

I didn’t actually want to be.

All I wanted was to write,

Good, great, poetry.

I put down my pen and tried to focus on what the teacher was saying. George was probably right- I couldn’t write poetry if I tried. 

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Lighthouse

By Danielle Bennett

April ran me down,
left me looking at the backside of a pig herd.

At the end of the month, mud thick as thighs
was smeared across my eyelids and lip corners,
and all over my spirit.

So tired, this voice I am losing is both a red and white flag
that tells a more honest story than my mouth does.

I’m tired of the discipline it takes to say no.
Of the daily quits and the daily asks.
Each message a jagged skip and whatever groove I had finally slid into.

Tired of being a thread always pulling through.
Of showing up to a keyboard, unimpressed by anything I have to offer.
I, too, am unimpressed by my own biography.

Tired of wanting to claw my way through skin until I am an indistinct skeleton,
slinking out unnoticed.

Perhaps then I wouldn’t be held by the fire of my own splintered dreamboards.

Shrink me tiny enough to escape failure by any on of my hundred definitions.
Help me believe that this art was only ever an experiment

I’m tired of doing my best.
Of telling the sugar to let me go.
Of being looked at like the next shiny trophy.
A feeling like a ladder rung, like an empty promised land.

I’m tired of what it takes to get clear,
of how heavy the fighting heart weighs in.
Of the “not quite, almost, just wait here”.
Of the questioning of my own aloneness, of my own enoughness, of my own too-muchness.
April reminds me that I am a six-figure grave and whoever taught me what that would mean.

Where is the triangle of blame that promise me relief one day?

Where is the relief in any of this one day?

 

The truth is, I am only bothered when I think or I know I have completely lost control.

My reputation, the feels, the knowing.
I have chased and begged them home, but I never learned to lasso.
So I’m doing my best for the thousandth time to actually let it go.

And everyone who’s actually nailed crow pose or hit five miles
know that repetition expecting a different result isn’t always insanity.
Sometimes it’s just a way of growth.

I am flaking mud.
Really I am left in no one’s dust.
I am miles behind and I am still winning.
I will never forget my own name.

I am letting us all off my hooks.
I am showing up, even when other people don’t.

I am not forcing resolve,
because I’m not sure that’s the way life folds.

But I’m reconciling versions of myself,
because I want them to meet one day and laugh at how right we swore we were.

I am not made of formulas, so I can no longer respond on your cue.
I’m gonna start asking questions that may make me seem slow,
but I am labeling that a good four letter word

And I figured out that two pieces of dark chocolate a day are not adding more inches to my waist,
than nearly three decades of stress I asked this body to stomach.

The manna has come enough to know that I will not be buried alive.
And I’ve never watched, but I can tell I am beautiful when I’m writing
and I know there is a humble man saving the rest of his fourth of July’s for my firework giddy applause.
And I don’t know where he is, but I know he doesn’t play hide-and-seek.
And I know I want to tell him that I haven’t been waiting.
I’ve been creating a hotel of stories he can thank for the shameless, crooked smile I’ve become.

I am flaking mud.
I am waking up.
Praise!

April is gone and I think May was a new sun and I’ve never loved the sound of crumble as I do now.
Under all that earth, I got soft, somehow.

I got a second draft biography.
It says: I’m not much of a sailor but I’ve built some sort of boat.
If you judge me by my crew, I am thoroughly good.
If you judge me by results, I am a two-time world champion of facing what I feared the most.

I have been published by several renowned atlases, for my work repairing lighthouses using only sound.
You’ll know they’re mine when you see them.
How the lights loop haphazardly like they’re completely out of control.

 

lighthouse
“My Guiding Light”; by Caitlin Robinson

The Love Song of Us

Don’t dismiss the messages of old as ones meant for those in times gone by. Don’t ignore the warnings of the writers and poets who were trying to communicate something to the wide audience of humanity. Humanity has not changed all that much. And so, when I look at men such as T.S. Eliot and the men he created, such as J. Alfred Prufrock, all I can hear is the blaring scream of this is you, and you must fix this. One of my favourite poems, and, indeed, one I believe is potent to society, is the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

In the room women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.

In a world where we have access to almost every piece of canvas that has had paint touched to its skin, to every scrap of paper that has met the nib of a pen, how can we simply glance over someone’s life work and label it “nice”? The mentality of Instagram- to scroll past images that flash before our eyes only long enough for our brain to determine whether they are worth a like. Is it so that we cannot comprehend such beauty, as it is so overpowering, that we find ways in which we can condense it to a single image? We cannot absorb the landscapes that call sublimity, we cannot gather the focus to examine the detail of true beauty, and so we snap it, post it, like it, scroll. A never ending world of pictures is at our fingertips, and so we rely on that to tell us what is happening outside our very window. Anesthetise the senses, because it’s all too much to deal with.

There will be time, there will be time, to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.

Social media- a medium where you can present only the face that you’ve, like a piece of fabric, applied the correct filter to. Cropped out what is not meant to be there, in order for your life to be perfect. Rubbed out any imperfections, spent hours on making up a mask to present to a community that will spend three seconds judging it before they continue on. How much time do we spent preparing our face? How much do we think people will judge us by it? Apparently it takes a tenth of a second to judge whether you trust someone, your entire relationship with them. So we must present our very best face. Not a hair out of place. And where do we take this time from? What else could we do with the hours we spend painstakingly crafting an eyebrow?

Do I dare Disturb the universe?

Do I dare disturb my friends and tell them I am not okay?
Do I dare disturb my teachers and tell them I am struggling?
Do I dare disturb the ebb and flow of my life to make a decision that may or may not go well?
After all, it mayn’t. Indeed, I shouldn’t. I should just continue living life the way it is. That is easier, after all. I shall continue wishing that someone asks me how I am, knowing full well if they did I’d say fine. I shall continue to play my role as a cog in life, hoping that I can continue knowing full well I am breaking into fragments slowly, and when I do crack, the life I know will come tumbling around me. Because I do not dare.

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter.

For, if we do turn to a greater power to offer us some solace, we are faced with a great Silence, whom we soon turn from. The effort of giving all to life is much belittled by the fear of giving all to a god. As humanity, are we not scared that, although it is clear we cannot do what we wish with our life, giving it over to someone else will be oh so much worse? Our life is ours to live, to choose and to screw up. Do not consider the alternatives, friend, for surely this is the best way? Surely, to fast, to pray, will lead to nothing. We cannot face our own spirituality because we are stemmed by the inherent rebellious belief that it will lead to nowhere and is therefore not worth the time or energy it would take, indeed if it saves us time or energy in the end. We are fine. Well, we are not fine. But we are finer than we would be if we left it to God.

And would it have been worth it after all…

Would it? Will I ever know? For I did not do. And now I wonder, would it have been worth it after all?

If one, settling a pillow by her head, should say “that is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.”

To be dismissed by those we trusted with the most potent gift we could offer- our thoughts. For, our thoughts determine the matter of our hearts, and our hearts are what we aim most to protect. Therefore, to give our thoughts- phwoar. To be dismissed by our peers should we offer a thought- to be tossed aside by our friends if we were to utter an opinion- oh, to be shunned by our parents lest we disappoint them with the thoughts clouding our minds? Why is it that public speaking scares so many so? Because you are being asked to look people in the eye and present your beliefs. And a roll of the eye, the crossing of arms, are blows to not only our ego, but everything we are, for if you dismiss my head, you dismiss my heart, and my being. And so, perhaps it’s better to stay quiet. Speak without saying in case one is to hear without listening.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

We deny ourselves the simplest pleasures for fear of looking foolish. Wear uncomfortable clothes because the others do not fit the criteria. Avoid desserts because they will make us fat. Refuse to laugh because we are acutely aware, perhaps due to a flippant comment, perhaps due to our preconceptions of the audience to which we constantly perform, of how we are perceived. We must exercise control. A certain smile is acceptable, certain jokes in certain companies. How do I look? How do you think I look? It does not matter if I wish to eat a peach, but rather, do I dare accept the consequences of what may occur if I indulge?

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me.

For, at the end of the day, is this not what we consider? That we are not worth it. We do not wish to express our feelings or thoughts because we do not think we are worth the time it takes to listen. We stay with people who put us down because that is all we deserve, and we reject compliments when they come because we cannot believe they were true. We are not worth the attention of even mermaids- they will stop singing when we go by, as our friends stop talking when we enter the room. How has our generation deteriorated so? Surely, with the consistent reassurance of people literally “liking” us, and taking the time to “comment” and “share” what we’ve said, we should be at the very least able to believe that, amongst the amount of friends we have, some of them must be legitimate? But we cannot allow ourselves to believe such things lest we be proven wrong. To hope and fall is worse than to not hope and, perhaps, one day, fly. Isn’t it?

Poem copied from : http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html