Monday, November 23, 2009

My first REPUBLIC curatorial project: Way of the Word was a success!

Success! REPUBLIC wants to thank everyone who came out to B.O.A. in the East Village on Wednesday Nov. 11th for our first Way Of The Word poetry event. Curated by Marissa Forbes, in support of the READ literacy foundation.

It was a remarkable night beginning with an interactive gallery hour featuring work by Edward Hopely, Jason K Tallon, Brian Van Remmen and a journal by Robert Snyderman that documented his journey across America.

Once in full swing, the evening transitioned into one uniquely memorable reading after the other by poets Aldrin Valdez, Khephran Riddick, Peter Ford, Davey Vacek, Katie Przybylski, Lonely Christopher, Robert Snyderman, Marissa Forbes, Brian Van Remmen, and Jason K Tallon.

REPUBLIC wants to thank all of the readers and participants, especially the jazz group Me & Him and DJ Jeffrey Tonnesen for keeping the good vibes rolling on late into the night.

We also want to thank the READ foundation and Bar On A for their time and efforts.

Way Of The Word anthology Vol.1 Edition 1, which includes work by the poets from the event along with many others from around the nation is still available for purchase.

To purchase limited edition copies of Way Of The Word Vol.1 Edition 1 please contact Marissa Forbes at piscesris@gmail.com or call 443. 528. 6761 for more information. The anthology will also be available soon atwww.republicworldwide.com.

Thanks again and stay tuned for upcoming events and future REPUBLIC projects or leave comments and questions by adding yourself to our mailing list. Simply write torepublicbrooklyn@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The next day

It's like an itch in your nose when you need to sneeze and someone says, "Bless you" at the last second, ruining it. Then you're sitting with a glass of whiskey and ginger, next to a good looking guy and you shoot snot all over his shoes. Wishing your knees weren't soaking up the $6 drink.

But what happens is, the guy sees you in a real moment and strangely all he wants to do is kiss you and wake up the next morning in your bed. Even if you don't touch each other's centers, he wants to see how pretty you look when the sun rises on your face.

He tell you, "Hello beautiful" and you know you'll fall in love when he makes your perfect eggs (with cheese). After coffee and cigarettes, he tells you how your face looks like it's been kissed by angels--with all the make-up worn away your freckles shine through.

There's nothing to hide. Then you make love and there's nothing more or less to hope for, except the thought of seeing him the next day....

the next
the next
the next.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And the horizon


took too long to curve around itself
so you reached down to scratch 
"Always" into the sand.
You never were one for patience.
Or maybe I'm the one who isn't,
but we don't mind waiting
as long as it's with each other.

Sometimes we drink whiskey
like it's wine and I ask you 
to rub your fingers through my hair
and you do but not for long.
I don't mind though,
because of the way you kiss
the back of my neck, right at
the hair line as you take
your hands away.

On too many nights
we fall asleep on the couch
and the TV whispers
infomercials up our noses.
In the early light of the day
we move to your windowless
room with sore necks.
The dog rests her wet nose on your knee.
You hold me while I glimpse
you in a dream 
and you always walk the same.
Once you weren't smiling
but I woke to your breath on my back
and I knew what I'll always feel.

This love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ignoring verses Ignorance

What doesn't bend, breaks.
I'm malleable like a flower
and you may think
you're sturdy like a tree
but life will cut you down.
I'll always rise through
the soil again in the spring.

You can laugh all you want,
I'll always bite my lip.
We're meant to
bleed, scab, heal
and bleed again.
Scars are not the joke,
you are.

My being is meant
for thoughts
and love making,
you're one to fight
and fuck
then fight again.

I'll pick the ripe grapes
off of my vine
to make sweet wine
while your delusion
envelops you
like a rotten pumpkin
with seeds destroying it's own soil.

I carry heavy anger for you,
so much so that I would forgive
those few I hate
just to make room for you.
But I'm not for that misery,
I would never, ever
want to keep your company.

I said it before
it even had a place to live:
Ignoring is harder to pull off
than ignorance.
So I'll keep my integrity
and you can sink down
in your stupidity.

And now I'm over it.

They knew what they feared (or they feared what they knew)

They came to eat.
They compensated.

They came to cry.
They stubbed their toes.

They came to sing.
They plucked violin strings
and chipped their nails.

They blew kisses,
some stuck fingers
down their throats.

They forgot to call,
stayed awake all night
with charcoal on their clothes.

They came to speak--
metaphors beat
them over their brains.
Cliches crashed into their thoughts
and hung what's left
on the wings of airplanes.

They came to prove
something or everything.
Eventually nothing?
Some lost their dreams
and watched
ice cream melt
under their desk lamps--
dripping into pools
around their pencils.

"And what about art?"
They asked over and over.

Over.

They came to scream
their names
and the lack of stars hurt
their windows. But
they forgot how stars
are still there,
even when unseen.
A silence became
their darkness
or lightness
or that tiny space between
where pain gropes
at their groins.

They came to become real
but all that's left is
the soap scum on the tiles
of a soiled bathroom.

Soiled.

They came. Can there be forgiveness?

They came to be
known
loved
accepted
envied.
To be.

And they came to learn a language
unknown to their tongues.

They came to contort their existence
and they stepped out
from the shadows
to be pushed behind
the bathroom stalls
where used tampons rest
on the toilet paper rolls.

They came because
they know the stench.


And maybe they left because
a certain amount of human empathy
is needed and
never felt
never seen
never opened up.

Open.

But it's now closed.

The book
is closed
the door,
the mind,
the fingers on their hands
are closed.

They came to transform
their foreign thoughts
into native words and,
quite understandably,
they left because
no one listened.



For my international students at Pratt, especially to the one who didn't give herself enough credit and I'm sorry for all the pressure and pain she felt, whatever it was deep down.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dumb doorknob



I never really think about doorknobs

Until they fall off—

A culprit in causing

Claustrophobic catastrophe.

This one is transparent.

The palm I had read

Last month is magnified,

Morphed, like it’s under sea.


This is a doorknob,

Failed.

Is it ashamed?

Maybe it never even wanted

To be a doorknob.

Did it dream of being

A beer bottle,

Scotch tape,

A butter knife,

Socks,

A stapler,

My ingrown toenail?


It’s been days now.

The branches sway

And scratch my window.

The fan blows

And my laundry smells.

The lamp flickers.

And the doorknob lies

On top a metro card

That ironically reads,

“Optimism.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I cast shadows and blame the trees

I can't help

but to scrutinize

the way you cool hot food,

only after

it’s in your mouth.


I don’t use the word love

unless it’s an active verb;

either way it can change

the rhythm of my blood.


The sun tells fables about the moon.

Mornings are addicting

and the day is prozac

in the form of chaos.

Nights are scratches

we discover

after they’re healed;

a map of long-forgotten mistakes.


I’m an overflowing ashtray and

you’re in a perpetual state of quitting.


I hang out between people’s thoughts.


I defeat those I love with soft words.


Love is like hearing a friend

say he saw a shooting star

for the very first time.

I used to always miss it, catching

a glimpse

the second it fades.

Monday, September 21, 2009

From Freshmen Year

My roommate fell in love a gay guy

All starry-eyed, she giggles.

Pigtails and cigarettes.

With raunch and warming oils

he parades around, vulgarly awkward.

They share eyeliner and secrets

like best friends—

with knives to each other’s backs.

Confusion lies silently in bed with them

while he tells her about his blowjobs

from guys in skin-tight jeans.



To Cavities

A poem in the style of Kenneth Koch's Addresses

You made your way through my mouth,
happily befriending

chocolate, soda pop, and fruit roll-ups.

Marking your territory—

trenches in my baby teeth.
My mother stood
behind me with a toothbrush.

General of the army—

fighting a war against you.
Fluoride, whitening, tartar control—

she wanted them all,

you resisted each!

I cried when you were found.

Novocain shots
brought tears
and made my feet jump

to attention.
You won the battle

when I lost the rotten tooth

to the earnest dentist.

You learned to love
the silver lining
and
I learned to brush my teeth.

Monday, September 14, 2009

from an old disk

Remember that poem I posted that was just titles of other poems? Well, I found a disk of old works of mine and found the poem, "Flowers in Trashcans" that had been one of the lost. Pretty exciting for me.

Flowers in trashcans


This can’t be growing up.

Posture will always be in rebellion with stature,

permanent markers keep score

on doorframes.

It’s no longer Disneyland

or cotton candy.

It’s no longer kool-aid

or dollhouses.

Life is an artificial sweetener.

Grown-up Barbies

with lanky legs that blossom into secrets—

can’t be kept

can’t be vindicated

can’t be softened by the truth,

no matter how much

strawberry shortcake lip gloss

she licks off her teeth.

Skinned knees in short skirts.

She sleeps with the prince

on a bed without sheets

and wakes to find her glass slipper

flushed down the toilet.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Call for POETRY

I'm organizing an event through REPUBLIC and this is an official call for poetry submissions because I'm going to be making an anthology. Please send any of your poems to piscesris@gmail.com and I'll keep you updated on your status and mine.

Thanks and take it easy.
Marissa

Friday, July 3, 2009

Heaven

Is it what we make of it?


Heaven is a goal, a prize. Even angels fall.


Sometimes men use heaven in their pick-up lines and most women roll their eyes.


When praying, people roll their heads downward and when heaven is cursed, people raise up their fists in fury.


Heaven is having a job and not having a job.


Heaven is a song. No one knows the notes or how to play it, no one knows where it starts or ends.


Heaven is not ripping off a band-aid, maybe it’s the wound underneath.


My pupils shrink in the sun and I squint my eyes to see your face. You smile and heaven feels something like my eyes dilating again.


Heaven is getting enough sleep but is it a dream?


We feel heaven when love is found, when making love.


Heaven is not what keeps us alive, we have hell for that.


Heaven is a pumpkin no one picks so it shrivels and rots on the vine. It becomes a part of the ground it was born from.


Can there be heaven on Earth?


Maybe heaven isn’t our happiest moment but more like a moment we’re most ourselves.


When I’m naked in front of a mirror with a tampon string hanging between my legs, holding my tender breasts, I imagine the day a baby will grow in me. I imagine seeing heaven in his or her eyes the first time light hits them.


I don’t want to end with a cliché but maybe that’s what heaven is.


Monday, June 29, 2009

I remember...

I wrote this freshmen year of college in my lyrical essay class (taught by the great Sarah Manguso). I have a million new memories since then, but this poem represents the parts of me that made me who I was at the time. I do wish I had included more mistakes that I remember but, at the time, I wasn't willing to admit those. I'll post another I remember and include those too.

I remember...

I remember the first time I lied. I said I had been using the same toothbrush for six months. Within three minutes I felt really stupid for saying it.

I remember flying on a place on September 18, 2001.

I remember a dream I had where Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton robbed a 7-11. The cops came and took off the robber's masks. Nixon's face appeared from under the Clinton mask and Nixon was actually Clinton.

I remember all those times I forgot where I parked my car.

I remember learning what real fear is from my brother when he had knives in his hands.

I remember thinking I was smoking my first cigarette; it turned out to be a joint. I was the "look out" for my brother and his friends. My brother let me take a drag. I was seven. I don't remember the first real cigarette I smoked, but I assume I was expecting the same effect.

I remember the smell of apricot trees.

I remember reading the first and last pages in every book I picked up in the library.

I remember collecting smiley faces.

I remember begging my mom to stop buying me every smiley-face collectible that she came across.

I remember Sweet Valley High books.

I remember not liking a girl because she was beautiful.

I remember meeting my stepdad. He walked into my house when I was eight. My mom and I got into his 4x4 truck and drove for five hours through the Colorado Mountains. We planned to only stay for New Year's weekend but we got snowed in and never left.

I remember the day in gym class when I, literally, ran into my first love.

I remember the embarrassment of throwing up next to the fountain in the fanciest restaurant in town. I can't eat plums anymore.

I remember sunsets in Florida. Streets that are too clean in Washington. Amusement parks in Missouri. Clear lakes in Arkansas. The airport in Chicago. And the faces of mountains in South Dakota.

I remember using an entire roll of film taking pictures of Arizona palm trees.

I remember my six-year-old mind thinking Indians were hiding behind every bush when I ran up the hills in Utah. I remember the disappointment of their abscence.

I remember visiting Iowa. I went to the house of the artist who painted American Gothic.

I remember babysitting so I could play with toys.

I remember not being able to sleep after my mom said, "Good night, don't let the bedbugs bite," the day I found out bed bugs were real insects. I never let her say it again.

I remember making love on a bed with no sheets. When it was over he asked to put fresh ones on for him. I remember that I did.

I remember being bored for a year, so I made my room into a huge collage. It turned out I was just depressed.

I remember the smell of overflowing ashtrays.

I remember getting my first tattoo. I remember getting all of my tattoos.

I remember leaving baby teeth I lost in cups of saltwater on the counter for the tooth fairy, rather than under my pillow.

I remember breaking a ceramic bunny that my mom made for me when I was a baby. I kep it a secret for a year. That same year, I kept my rape a secret. When I told my mom, she asked why I let her think I was a slut for a year. I don't keep many secrets from her anymore.

I remember the way the sky looked the moment I was bucked off a horse.

I remember the expression on my mom's face when my aunt called her a cunt in front of me. It was in the car after my aunt bought me a 90210 comforter for my 11th birthday.

I remember kissing girls when we played house. I don't remember who played the husband.

I remember girls saying, "She's a slut," and me always thinking, "You have done the same things she has."

I remember Reading Rainbow.

I remember crippled Shane. The entire hallway in my high school would be empty and, still, he ran over my foot with his wheelchair. I remember the "Republican" license plate on the back.

I remember meeting my friend Alicia in a tree.

I remember reading the word, "Whoa" and thinking it was pronouced, "Who-ah."

I remember turning left while driving when I meant to turn right...at least once a week.

I remember loving the way a really ugly guy smelled.

I remember learning to play the violin, only because my uncle gave me one.

I remembering seeing a shooting star. It was the night I moved across the country.

I remember singing while riding through meadows. I don't remember any of the songs. (Except 2 years after I wrote this, my mom remembered that it was a Beatles song...the one that goes: "I don't like you, but I love you, you really got a hold on me."

I remember rotten milk.

I remember falling asleep in my toybox.

I remember suddenly liking tomatoes.

I remember my fingers always being sticky from fuit snacks and smelling like Kool-Aid. Now they just smell like cigarettes.

I remember being a cowboy in the only play I was in.

I remember the hot summer day when my stepdad made me pick up all the rotten crabapples in my back yard. It was my punishment. I don't remember what I did.

I remember laughing so hard I farted.

I remember saying, "Also, too, as well," knowing it all meant the same thing.

I remember my first pimple, my first period but I don't remember my first kiss.

I remember laughing at the jagged line of eyeliner the first time I applied it.

I remember doing all my friends' hair for prom before I did my own.

I remember my date and me eating Taco Bell for dinner in my Ford Escort in the parking lot right before prom.

I remember coming to college, thinking I knew who I was, only to realize I'm so far from who I want to be.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Smoker's cough

Have you ever confused a dream for life?

I take too much aspirin.
My mind throbs
until my back aches.

I eat when I'm not hungry.

I need to say, "I don't know"
more.
I need to say, "I'm sorry"
less.

I'm intense on the inside.

Someone always says,
"Look who it is,"
when I walk into a room.
I don't get embarrassed
often but
it's not hard
to hurt my feelings.

I smoke too much.
I don't write enough.

Lie in the beds we make

Some of the time
logic and love
don't fit on the same bed.
We become dirty ghosts,
wearing the same sheets
everyday.
I count the minutes
and he does too,
but the possibility
that what we wait for
are on opposite sides
of the room is too large
to fit through a door.
How do we forgive?
Maybe in our dreams.
Maybe in rage.
Maybe in silence.
Maybe in our excesses
of warmth and coldness.
Maybe in the early light
of the day,
with sleep in our eyes
when our lips are dry.
We lie like question marks
and I turn off the light.
The room fills with one thought:
Is our love a soft breathe,
or is it suffocating us?

Magic

If I could be anything else I would be:
magic
a fish
Native American.

I would be born of flame but turn to ash and fall apart at the touch.

My magic would take away the mean. Being a fish would carry me to the sea. Maybe if I were an Indian I would know my Grandmother.

What color will I become in my own fire?

I have never found more than $5 but I've seen clouds that look like horses with saddles made of sunshine.

My favorite part is that these words are not about my pain or my need for whiskey. They're about being able to change my skin, or maybe about learning to barter.

Once I was walking down the street and the only word in my mind was phoenix and then my knees just gave up. I sat and waited for a vision, then a man stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told him and he said, "The only thing you'll get here is mugged."

So, he took me to breakfast at a diner and I talked about phoenix and fish. He told me about beating his wife and he wiped a tear from his eye with soot on his fingers then he had soot smears on his face.

I feel like my head's in the bathroom and my stomach's in bed my feet are hanging from the ceiling fan.

And maybe sometimes there is no resolution, but my hair keeps growing and I'll always have Dancing with Wolves. I can work on being stoic. I can learn to swim against the current and, most importantly, I can hold the magic of feeling fear like inferno, feeling thoughts like a heart attack.

All that's left is learning the magic of solving little problems by not fighting fires with fuel.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Better Balance

There once was a little girl, made of flowers and princess dreams. She would fall asleep in toy boxes and cry when she fell off her bike.

Then she was just a girl, made of mud and crushes on boys. She would play with barbies when she was alone and win all the races at the playground.

She grew into a young woman, made of steel and words spoken straight from the heart. She would smoke pot every day and study books until her eyes were sore.

Slowly, as she became just a woman, made of delicate paper and deafening mistakes. She would crumble under pressure and scream at her small weaknesses for days.

But then one day, she looked in the mirror and realized she still had the eyes of a little girl. She said to herself, "Let's put it all back together again. Let's see what kind of flowers that mud can grow now, what kind of ideas can be written out on paper to build a stronger, fiercer steel machine of a woman finding her way to a better balance."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't blow out the fire


You sit there, so logical and serious and all I can do is wonder where the February in you has gone.

The same way we can't wait to cut a hole in your wall, I want you to come from the corner with out your hands in the air.

Did I steal your smile away?

I want the key.

We can't control each other's happiness.

I just need to be unwound and soak up the sun so I won't hear that chill in your voice.

I'm a piece of beauty in your eyes.

I want to be the laugh in your thoughts and I am able to house your sweet pain in the spare rooms of my heart.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Coveting Summer

Under the stars
We lie on our backs,
side by side.
I let the cool sand
tangle my long hair,
you fold your hands
across your chest.
The moon
is so beautiful
that the ocean
becomes a mirror
and we soak up
the blue light of it
until our skin is
moist with lust.
We whisper to each other,
like there's no tomorrow,
about all our instruments
of might and demise.
You ask if I would trade
and I say only if
I will love you the same.
The tide is lower now
but the water still
touches our toes
and it's a surprise every time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some new things

HEY HEY HEY HEY
what's good fellow bloggers/blog readers? I started a new blog, it's called, The Worst Picture Blog. Ever and it's just a bunch of pictures. But who doesn't like pictures, right? So, check it out.

Also, I'm doing work on another blog (soon to also be a website), and it's called REPUBLICBrooklyn. Check that out too for art, music, and party events.

Part 1 of the Short Film Script

FADE IN:

INT. LIVING ROOM NEAR MIDNIGHT

ALICE, aged between ten and twelve, sits in front of a dead Christmas tree with ornaments falling off. You can see the legs and shoes of older people moving in front of her. She looks up toward the camera and it pans to a black and white television. A New Year’s Ball drops into the year 1979.

EVERYONE: Happy New Years!

Alice’s father, FRANK grabs her arm and pulls her up.

FRANK (slurring): I told you to go to bed hours ago.

ALICE: Mom said I could stay up until the ball dropped.

Frank drags her through the crowd and pushes her up the stairs.

FRANK: You think I fucking care what your mother says?

Alice looks to her mother who chugs from her beer and takes a joint from a guest.

INT. ALICE’S BEDROOM MORNING

Alice gets out of bed, goes to the window. She squints at the sun glinting off the snow. She shivers and is startled by bottle smashing against a wall down stairs.

INT. LIVING ROOM MORNING

Alice walks over half-passed out people scattered across the floor and into the kitchen. Frank’s back faces Alice. Her mother, KAREN, is backed in the corner.

FRANK: Don’t lie, Karen, I saw you with him.

Karen: No, no, you’re wrong.

He slaps her.

FRANK: See what you make me do?

He punches the wall and walks out of the kitchen. Alice opens the refrigerator and there’s nothing in it but two beers, mustard, and moldy cheese.

INT. LORA’S BEDROOM NIGHT

Alice and LORA are tucked into bed, and Lora’s MOTHER lays Lora’s robe over a chair and sits on the side of the bed.

LORA: Please mom. Can Alice be my sister?

LORA’S MOTHER: If you two were sisters you would never get any sleep! And you would just fight over all the pretty dresses.

ALICE: I swear, we won’t. I can even do chores.

Lora’s mother stands and kisses both girls on the forehead.

ALICE: Please be my mom and tuck me in every night.

Lora’s mom gives her another kiss.

LORA’S MOTHER: Oh, Alice. I would love to have you for a daughter. But you’re parents would miss you.

Lora’s mother turns the light out and shuts the door.


ALICE: No they won’t.

EXT. BACK YARD LATE AFTERNOON

Alice and Lora make castles in the snow.

LORA: You think they noticed you’re gone yet?

They look at each other when they hear Alice’s name called in the distance. They stand, and hold hands.

ALICE: Plan B starts tomorrow.

From across the alley between Alice and Lora’s house they watch Frank stagger toward them, red faced and ranting.

Frank: You no good…lying little bitch. You’ve got your mother all worked up. You know that only pisses me off.

The girls squeeze their hands tighter. Frank grabs Alice’s other hand and pries her away from Lora; he drags her back across the alley. She stumbles and Frank nearly falls over.

FRANK: Pick up your goddamned feet.

INT. ALICE’S BEDROOM

Frank has a letter in his right hand and his left over Alice’s throat.

FRANK: I told you ‘NO boys’ and here you are getting love letters.

Frank pushes her against the wall. Her lips quiver and tears roll in steady streams down her face.

ALICE (mumbles): I’m sorry…I’m sorry.

He opens the window and bends her backwards over the ledge, she screams.

FRANK: Shut up, you shut up! If I didn’t love you so much, I would just throw you out the window.

ALICE: I’m sorry.

Karen walks in the room and rushes to Frank and Alice.

KAREN: Let her be Frank. She’s a little girl. Please, please.

Frank lets his grip loosen around Alice; he pulls her back to standing position. Karen grabs his hand, and tugs him slowly out of the room.

FRANK (to Karen): Yeah, go get all gussied up now for the bar. I’m giving you twenty minutes.

Part 2 of the Short Film Script

INT. LIVING ROOM LATE NIGHT

Alice lies on the couch. The living room is scattered with garbage and the Christmas tree’s pine needles litter the floor. The clock above Alice chimes 3 a.m. Her parents fall into the living room from the front door, drunk. Alice sits up.

ALICE: Mom?

Her parents hap-hazardly climb the stairs, Karen stops and looks at Alice.

KAREN: What?

ALICE: I’m hungry.

KAREN (slurring): Well, eat something.

ALICE: There is nothing.

KAREN (slurring): Eat in the morning then.

ALICE: But what?

Karen hits the banister with the palm of her hand.

KAREN(slurring): God, I don’t know. Just go to bed.

Alice lies back down on the couch, her stomach growls. She cries and falls asleep.

INT. SCHOOL COAT CLOSET AFTER SCHOOL

Alice stands behind Lora gripping a composition notebook to her chest. Lora organizes a pillow, a blanket, a flashlight, books, sandwiches wrapped in aluminum, two shirts, and two pairs of pants in one of the larger cubbies.


LORA: I’ll bring you new stuff when you need it.

ALICE: Will you stay here with me?

LORA: My mom would get mad.

ALICE: I know. Don’t tell her about this, okay?

They hug and Lora shuts the door, leaving Alice standing alone.

INT. COAT CLOSET NIGHT

Alice lies on her blanket, reading a book by flashlight. The light in the classroom comes on and she scoots as far back into the cubby as she can go. She clicks off the flashlight as the door opens and the JANITOR turns the light on.

JANITOR: What do we have here?

Alice tries to scrunch herself into a tighter ball. He steps closer.

JANITOR: A little girl, hmm. Who are you?

He walks over and grabs her leg gently to pull her out.

ALICE: Alice Burkholder.

JANITOR: Well, Alice Burkholder, let’s call your parents and get you home.

Alice frantically scoots back into the cubby.

ALICE: No…I’m fine here, really.

He bends down to her level and smiles.

JANITOR: I’m just going to have to call the police on you then.

Alice leans out of the cubby and snatches up her notebook. She flips through, looks up, and smiles weakly back.

ALICE: Yes, let’s do that.

INT. POLICE CAR MID AFTERNOON

Alice sits in the back seat with a raggedy bag of clothes and she holds a pretty dress, gingerly, over her lap.

FEMALE OFFICER: That’s a pretty dress, Alice.

ALICE: My best friend gave it to me. It’s for when I meet my new mom.

MALE OFFICER: Hope it still fits you when you do.

The female officer whacks him in the arm. The car pulls up to a sign next to a big building that resembles a school. The sign reads: Children’s Safe Haven. Alice is let out of the back of the car and she follows the female officer to the entrance where a tired looking woman, JOAN waits.

Part 3 of the Short Film Script

INT. LONG HALLWAY MID AFTERNOON

JOAN: It’s just such a pleasure to meet you Alice. You’ll settle in no time.

They walk down the hallway—as they pass certain rooms, yelling and crying can be heard from inside. Jackie, a girl with a shaved head and bandages on her arms runs into the hall and tackles Alice. The men who were following her catch up and yank her off of Alice.

JACKIE (yelling): This is hell, no one gets out!

She kicks and screams until she is no longer seen or heard.


JOAN: That poor girl there, lost her dad in Vietnam and her mom killed her self just because.

INT. COMMUNAL BEDROOM NIGHT

Alice sits on her bed with her dress laid out next to her. She cries and touches the faded bruises on her face and arms. Jackie sits on the bed across from her. Alice stares at Jackie’s wrapped wrists and rubs her own. Jackie stands and snatches up the dress and Alice jumps to try and get it back.

JACKIE: You better hide things like this. They won’t stay nice for very long.

Jackie gives it back and Alice hides it under her bed in a trunk.

ALICE: I won’t be here for long.

JACKIE: Yeah, okay. All those hippie foster care parents don’t like the pathetic ones.

Jackie pokes the bruise on Alice’s neck and walks away.

INT. RECREATIONAL ROOM CLOSE TO MIDNIGHT

Alice sits alone at a table while the other girls dance and sing along with Blondie songs. She looks over to the television screen to see the ball drop into 1980. Jackie walks in front of the TV and lifts her skirt at the screen.

JACKIE: Fuck the ‘70’s.

INT. COMMUNAL BEDROOM MORNING

Alice opens the trunk and lifts her dress. She holds it up and it’s been cut with a pocketknife. As tears stream down her face she counts twenty-seven.

INT. SUPPLY ROOM MORNING

Alice walks into the home economic office holding the tattered dress. She goes to a COUNSELOR who gives her a long hug.

ALICE: Can I get white thread and a needle?

COUNSELOR: Of course, but you need to find someone to supervise.

Alice looks around the room. Her eyes stop at a pretty woman, SHEILA, who appears to be a churchgoer with manicured nails. Alice points to her.

ALICE: Her.

The woman notices Alice pointing at her.

COUNSELOR: She’s not volunteering Alice. She’s here to meet with a few girls.

ALICE: Well, why can’t she meet with me?

Alice walks to Sheila and extends her hand. They shake slowly.

ALICE: Hello there, I’m Alice and I need to have supervision while I sew. Would you want to join me?

Sheila looks around, as if she’s looking for someone to answer for her. Alice points to the counselor.

ALICE: It’s okay, that counselor knows where to find you.

INT. COMMUNAL BEDROOM EVENING

Alice and Sheila sit on the bed, facing each other, mending the holes in the dress.

ALICE: Nope, haven’t talked to her since I’ve been here.

SHEILA: What if she came for you?

ALICE: I would want her to be a good mom.

Part 4 of the Short Film Script

INT. COURT ROOM MORNING

Alice, Karen, and Joan stand before the judge.

JUDGE: And what have you done to try to be a fit mother, Mrs. Burkholder; during the eighteen months your daughter has been under the care of the state?

KAREN: I left my husband for starters. I’ve been going to AA, trying to stay sober.

Alice’s eyes don’t move from Karen.

JUDGE: Trying? How trying are you?

KAREN: Two months, your honor.

JUDGE: Joan, what’s your recommendation?

JOAN: It’s always my recommendation for the child to go back to the birth mother, but weekly check-ups are mandatory.

JUDGE: Then Alice will reside under the care of Karen Burkholder beginning June 16 and the first check-up will be exactly one week later and every week following.

INT. COMMUNAL BEDROOM MORNING

Alice packs her belongings. Jackie walks up as she folds her dress. Jackie yanks it from her.
Alice stands and glares.

JACKIE: Look, I’ll hold on to this for you. You know, in case you end up back here.

Joan walks in the room and touches Alice’s shoulders.

JOAN: Don’t worry; you can come back if things get hairy again. Don’t worry.

Alice shakes her head up and down.

INT. KITCHEN NIGHT

Alice washes a fork at the overflowing sink. The microwave beeps, she takes the TV dinner out and, walks from the kitchen into the dark living room.

INT. LIVING ROOM NIGHT

She sits down on the couch and watches the 11 o’clock news. Karen walks in the door, dressed as Cher.

KAREN: Were there a lot of kids trick-or-treating tonight?

Karen takes off her wig.

ALICE: No. We didn’t have any candy to give. I had to sit here in the dark so they wouldn’t come to the door.

Alice looks out of the corner of her eye at her mother struggling to get her coat and shoes off.

KAREN: Oh yeah…next year then. But you should get to bed. You’ve go school in the morning.

Alice leans back on the couch aggressively.

ALICE: No I don’t, tomorrow’s Saturday.

KAREN: Well, bed time anyway, kiddo.

Alice gets up and follows Karen up the stairs. They each go into their separate bedrooms.

ALICE: Goodnight, mom.

Karen shuts her door.

Part 5 of the Short Film Script

INT. OFFICE AT SAFE HAVEN MID MORNING

Sheila stands at the front desk, holding bags of craft materials. The SECRETARY sits.

SHEILA: What do you mean she went back with her mother?

SECRETARY: Ma’am, I know you applied to be her foster mom, but I already told you, she went back to her real mother.

SHEILA: Can’t I just get the address? I have all these craft supplies for her.

SECRETARY: I’m sorry. I told you, that violates our rules of confidentiality.

She turns and walks, dejectedly, out the door.

SHEILA (to herself): But what if she’s not happy?

EXT. LORA’S HOUSE

Alice and Lora sit on the porch steps looking at the red, orange, and yellow trees. They sip hot chocolate and eat cookies.

ALICE: I think she’s drinking again.

Lora stops dipping her cookie and looks at Alice, quizzically.


ALICE: Yeah, just little things make me wonder.

LORA: Tell the social worker.

Alice sips her hot chocolate and shakes her head.

ALICE: What if I’m wrong?

She leans into Lora and Lora puts her arm around her.

LORA: But what if you’re right?

INT. ALICE’S BEDROOM NIGHT

Alice lies in bed and sits up when her mother opens the door.

KAREN: You alright for tomorrow?

ALICE: What do you mean?

Karen walks slowly to the blinds and closes them.

KAREN: You’ve got that presentation, right?

ALICE: No, that was a few days ago.

Karen walks to the door.

ALICE: Mom? Will you tuck me in?

KAREN: You’re too old for that.

ALICE: Mom.

Karen walks back to the bed, tucks Alice in and gives her a little kiss.

KAREN: Sleep well.

ALICE: Were you drinking tonight?

Karen looks at Alice, looks away, rubs the back of her neck, and looks back at Alice.

KAREN: I had a cocktail after work with Bonnie.

EXT. ALICE’S SCHOOL MORNING

Karen pulls up to the school and Alice gets out of the car. She leans her head back in.

ALICE: Goodbye, mother.

Alice turns and walks toward the building. She turns around to watch her mom drive away. Then she crosses the field and waits for the bus.

INT. BUS MORNING

Alice pushes the button, signaling her stop.

EXT. STREET MORNING

She departs the bus and walks around the corner to the Children’s Safe Haven.

INT. CHILDREN’S SAFE HAVEN MORNING

Joan and Alice walk down the hall and turn into the communal bedroom. When they get to the bed Alice begins to cry and Joan holds her. They rock for a few moments.

ALICE (sobbing): She didn’t change much. She didn’t change enough. She didn’t change.

JOAN: It’s okay Alice, I promise. Sheila wants to be your foster mom.

Alice jerks back out of Joan’s support and wipes her eyes.

ALICE: What? When?

JOAN: Tomorrow Alice. I’m going to your mother’s to collect your belongings and Sheila will be here tomorrow. Now, you just need to smile.

Final Part of Short Film Script

INT. COMMUNAL BEDROOM AFTERNOON

Alice sits on her bed, in the dress that’s now too small and you can make out the slash marks. Jackie sits next to her.

ALICE: Thanks for holding it for me.

Jackie smiles weakly.

JACKIE: It’s the least I could do, I did ruin it.

Alice shrugs her shoulders.

ALICE: It doesn’t matter now does it?

There’s a knock on the door and the girls look up to see Sheila. Alice jumps up and walks to her. They hug. Sheila pats Alice’s long hair.

INT. SHEILA’S HOUSE EARLY EVENING

Alice follows Sheila up to her new bedroom. On the bed are the bags of craft supplies and a new very pretty dress.

SHEILA: Just make yourself at home.

She giggles.

SHEILA: Because, it is your home. I’ll be down in the kitchen getting dinner ready. Come when you’re all through up here.

Sheila leaves the room and Alice walks slowly around the room and touches the little, hand-made dolls and holds the dress up to her body, twirls and smiles. She sits on the bed and touches the bags of craft materials and leans onto her back. A tear falls while she smiles.

INT. KITCHEN EVENING

Alice sets the table for two and Sheila brings the food to the table. They sit. Hold hands and say grace.

INT. ALICE’S NEW BEDROOM NIGHT

Alice lies in bed and Sheila sits on the side, smoothing the covers over her. She stands and kisses Alice on the forehead.

SHEILA: I’m so glad you’re here. You’re a special, special young woman.

ALICE: Really?

Sheila stands.

SHEILA: Yes, really. Everything’s going to be okay now.

Sheila reaches the door, turns around, smiles.

SHEILA: Sleep well. I’ll get you up in the morning.

She turns the light out and is a shadow in the doorway.

ALICE: Sheila?

SHEILA: Yes?

ALICE: Thank you.

SHEILA: Hush. Now, rest. We have church in the morning.

Sheila shuts the door, leaving Alice in the dark.

ALICE: See you in the morning.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Haiku 2





club crackers with cheese
contains wheat, milk, soy products
Keebler elf taunts me

A short story: On Their Skin

This is a short story I wrote for the L Magazine pocket fiction competition. I took my character sketch A and G and connected them for this story. It's almost 1,500 words, so it looks longer than it really is so give it a read. I hope it worked and that you like it (let me know), I hope I make it to the semi-finals, at least. I'll let you know.

On Their Skin

Aaron is unquestionably astute.
His hair, brown and curly when wet, but fluffy when dry. His eyes, almond shaped with no particular sparkle.
In sixth grade, Aaron had to take D.A.R.E classes. He asked, "Is an alcoholic always an alcoholic, even if he's on a deserted island without a corner store in sight, for years with lips as bone dry as the rocks under the midday sun?" This teacher said yes. That day, Aaron embraced his mother's lack of hope.
When Aaron was fourteen, his mother used entire rolls of film taking pictures of Aaron and his father. Then she left his father and moved them to California because his father could never finish anything but a case of beer. Aaron wondered how long he would have to wait for love, if he would even understand it at his father’s age.
He used to have acne but took medicine that causes depression in some. He tells people he feels the same without pimples.
Aaron had kissed three girls by the time he was seventeen. Well, one was more like CPR, that summer night he was swept under the current. And one was a "double dog dare," but Leslie, she really kissed him by the dumpsters behind Burger King. Her hair smelled like fries and his fingers were greasy from all-beef patties. After that, the only words she spoke to him were orders.
During high school, his counselor asked him to join the yearbook staff because he was good behind a camera, but he said, "No, I don't want to make a book of memories about this place."
She furrowed her brow and said, "That's terrible," like he had told her his grandma just died.
"No, it's a lie," he said as he looked out the window at some classmates sneaking to their cars for cigarettes.
She sighed and said, "Oh good."
"No, that book is a lie,” Aaron paused to look her in the eye then continued, “Because if it were filled with real memories, people wouldn't read it. They would want to forget.”
After a long silence, she finally said, "Oh, never mind."
So, he graduated high school without having joined a single club, without having played a single sport, without dancing or holding hands.
Aaron went to college for one year in San Francisco, and then moved to Brooklyn. His favorite bar stories are about his roommate, Evan, who had dusty blond hair and a laugh that scared everyone. It was heavy and terrible, like his cricked teeth shredded it to pieces. It annoyed Aaron how Evan collected things that came from the sea, but they often stayed up late making lists of their favorites. Evan’s favorite food is anything his sister, Gwen, makes and Aaron's is hot pockets. Every time he burns his mouth he can't wait to relieve the pain with the frozen center. He thinks, "I burnt the top of my mouth today, now I can feel myself growing back."
At twenty-two, he began taking pictures again and drinking whiskey. When he told his mother about getting a bartending job, she said to make sure he could always feel the future on his skin. He worried about his bad breath and his virginity often. His fingertips were always raisins and cold from washing pint and shot glasses. The only other use for them was holding a camera, but he wanted to hold a woman.
One day, he waited for a bus under the B.Q.E and focused the lens of his camera while squinting from the glare of the sun. Suddenly, a shadow was falling and he clicked. Shame came over him as he heard her hit the ground. Real as...real.
Cars stopped and cars honked. People cried and he wanted to hear her soft voice. She finally took a breath, and took his away.

Gwen is desperately guarded.
She was born with hair so blonde that she looked bald on white backgrounds. That never changed, even as she grew into her adult skin. Her breasts are too large for her bird-like frame; her eyes have enough yellow in them that people tell her they look like sunflowers.
She was raised in Iowa, in a little house that wasn't broken. Her father never hit her mother but she always wanted to fly. As a little girl she begged her brother, Evan, "Higher, higher," on the trampoline and when Gwen jumped from swings, for moments at a time, she felt like she had wings. Once, she landed too hard and knocked the wind out of her lungs. She gasped and looked into the wide faces of those circling her. Gwen's smile crept over her whole body and she got right up and back on the swing.
At eighteen, Gwen moved to New York because her parents felt there was too much open sky for her in Iowa. She learned to run for subways and watch strangers cry. She would do nothing except scream inside, then make eye contact and smile.
As often as possible, Gwen walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and sat on the courthouse steps in downtown Brooklyn. There is the most captivating wind tunnel to watch. She envies any newspaper stand owner who dares to take post near by. Their papers take flight and swirl around like ballerinas caught in an invisible tornado. The newspaper peddlers scurry for the "Arts" and "Economy" sections and Gwen leans back and sucks on her blue lollipop.
To say she is lonely is an understatement. She goes to bars and sips whiskey, alone. Her voice is soft and unclear, so it takes the bartenders six or seven, “What, darling?” to finally get her order. Once, a fluffy haired guy leaned in so close that she could smell his cheap dinner.
He looked at her with his almond eyes and grinned when she nearly growled, “Jack, please.”
Gwen let the television distract her when he said, “My name’s Aaron and your JD is on the house.”
Maybe she was lonely because she had intense and unsatisfying crushes her whole life. She already wanted to touch his raisin fingertips, but every time she looks in a mirror she is not the same. Men absorb her beauty wherever she goes but none pursue. She always thinks, "I'm much, much better off."
Gwen often begged Evan to visit from California and sit on the Brooklyn Bridge with her. The last time she asked he said, "I'll have no sea."
She held the phone tighter and said, "You'll have to see?"
Evan said without irritation in his voice, "No, I'll need the sea."
As she looked out the window at birds in flight, she said, "Oh, you need the sea the way I need the wind."
And he said, "Yes."
Gwen said, "You're lucky you can put your feet in it."
"But the wind is every where," he said and she could tell he didn’t understand why her needs weren’t satisfied.
Finally, she said, "Someday, I will fly."
Gwen understood Evan because she felt weight like the sea when she walked down streets and stood in coffee shops. She just wanted open space. Open and fierce like the wind. She wanted to sail through the sky and feel silence on her skin.
One sunny winter day when Gwen woke up, the sun shone through her window and the tops of the skeleton trees cast shadows across her bed. Gwen is obsessed with windows and loves how skylights do nothing but serve their own purpose. She dressed slowly, even matching her socks.
She got in a cab and told the driver to go until she said stop. Somewhere on the B.Q.E. between downtown Brooklyn and Bed-Stuy she said stop and he actually did. She stood on the edge of the overpass until her nose and toes were numb. She let the bright sun glow orange behind her lids and then she jumped.
Time passed and sometimes she could feel her childhood sitting next to her bed in the hospital room. Evan finally made it to NY, only after she jumped. He put his sea art in galleries and sat by her every day. He told her about colors, vivid and dull. Time passed and sometimes she could feel her future next to her and this voice told her about all the things she was missing out in the world and all the things that made people sorry they aren't.
Time passed.
More time passed and sometimes she could feel the nutrients in her body. Finally, she felt the urge to be grounded—but not in a grave. On the nightstand next to her bed was a black and white photograph of a shadow falling. Her body flying.
Aaron stood at the nurse’s station; his palms left sweat blotches on the counter. The faux red-haired nurse said, “She’s awake and she won’t stop asking about the photograph.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Haiku







delicate flower
an origami creature
cannot be folded

be my king


i'm a seed
you're the pod
i'm a flower
you're the bee
i'm a tree
you're the shade
i'm summer
you're the heat
i'm winter
you're the snow
i'm the wood
you're the fire
i'm the floor
you're the rug
i'm the cup
you're the coffee
i'm the jam
you're the bread
i'm a wink
you're a nod
i'm a kiss
you're a hug


be my king
i'm your castle

Monday, March 9, 2009

Post-it note poetry 2


Fishy Thoughts

Apples fall--
red, ripe, and ready to eat.
I wish to feast on the cores
in a palace by the sea.
I'm left alone with the worm
and suddenly I wish
I were a fish
swimming endless circles
in the blue dish--
thinking only of the bait
that got me there.

Post-it note poetry 1

Waking Numbness

I toss false wishes
down the well
and wait for an echo
like there is no hope
for a sunny tomorrow.

I wake up
and there's no way to cope
with the words long gone
and lost from my mind.
I relish my dreams,
confuse them for memories
that scramble, fall, and scatter
across my pillow
then down to my toes--
curled under the blanket.

Like my fingertips
resting off the edge
of the bed,
I am numb.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Bar Poem


Brooklyn comes alive

The barbwire wrapped tire on the chain link fence reaches as low as my neck and I shutter to acknowledge the dog barking at my heels.

In the morning construction is in full swing. I get hootin’ and hollerin’ but they get diggers and 4x4’s. I love and hate the moments between their cigarettes. They sit around like stray cats sssstts sssst.

This is my home ‘cause Brooklyn is the place to find myself. So I walk for a few blocks and practice patience—waiting for the walking man to light up. The noise of traffic hits my mind, numbing it as my feet navigate the cracks in the sidewalks.

Finally I’m there and it’s a fuckin’ Russian Orthodox Church, only now it’s been sold and I’m going to dance all night where alters used to stand. There was a moment that night where I thought I stepped outside myself and I was painfully different than I once thought I would be.

I live in what some used to call the ghetto. I’ll always remember the grandma from a few stoops down saving me from the homeboys holding up their pants. I got a scar on my knee that night, from tripping over the rack of hipster bikes on my run home. Repeating the whole way, “I’m just trying to get there.”

And who can forget the sandwiches from the corner bodega? No one. That thinly sliced pastrami, on the day Puerto Rican flags flew as far as we could see, melted in my mouth and dripped down my chin. Then the cops told me to stay in my house while they calmed the crowd. All I wanted to do was get some cold beer to ease out of the hot day and into a warm night.

And sometimes there are moments when I step out into the sun from underground and I feel like I’ve found everything I need right here. Right in this little funky borough that’s so full of flavor. But other times I know there are a million mistakes to swallow down, it makes my insides break a part. Brooklyn is one situation during the day and an entirely different feeling after the moon is up. Just look at the stories all the graffiti spells out for us, it’s pain and beauty—fear and enlightenment.

Every time I see a Jesus statue in someone’s window, I wait for it to come alive.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bar Poem

Of the Sea

There were freckles
at my fingertips and
I followed them
down your back.
When you woke me,
softly by whispering
my name I was breathless.
By the moon,
maybe more so
by your touch.
Then we basked
in the light of the night
until the sun was on our skin.
The smoke of cigarettes
dried our tongues
and then there were kisses
all over me.
It was heavy and light
and we found the space between.
My name means "of the sea,"
and I swim your eyes.
My body feels everything
when you sink down in it.
I could start
my days with you
until I have no more,
but I love taking you in
at night just the same.
Let us follow the sweet
subtle sounds of a heart
until ours meet
the same beat.
I'll say it again
and again and again
that I'm yours.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

incomplete

i dream about
s
t
r
i
p
e
s
that go like this and
stripes
that go like that.
my back hurts when i wake up
so i crawl to the shower.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Fast Forward Exercise From the Past


Swift Evolution

I kiss, I tell, I lose my virginity on a bed without sheets. It's the first semester of high school, then the beginning of summer six years later, and now I'm in love with a man who didn't even remember me the first night we talked at a bar from the class we had once shared. We spend the summer in Boston, in an old motel-turned-Harvard dorm. There are shopping squares, liquor stores, expensive cafes. The pre-college kids have video games and music they're always playing; even with the door shut you can hear them yelling at their televisions. My boyfriend eats peanut butter from the jar with his fingers. He's twenty-two and lazy, I want to unwind too so we stay in bed all weekend to make love and drink rum. A month later his teaching gig ends and we go back to Brooklyn. By winter, he's got a full-time job and we're at different points in our lives: One is a blurry-eyed movie animator in a studio downtown, the other is a struggling student with a full schedule. A couple with too little time and hardly enough love to still hold each other tightly while they sleep.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

History and Titles

So, when I began my college writing career, I was certain I would be a poet. And I kept that up until junior year when my computer was stolen and I lost close to 400 poems that I had stupidly not backed up or printed out...so I decided to stop writing poetry. Then I decided to back up what little poetry I did have on here and shortly there after I began writing it again. All and all, I'm very happy I let poetry back into my life. The break was needed but it really is one of my life passions. But anyway, I recently began going through all my college notebooks because, frankly, I miss structured learning. I found a poem simply called, "Title Poem," which is exactly what it sounds like: a poem that consists of titles from other poems. It made me laugh because I remember writing some of those crazy poems but also sad because I don't have most of them anymore. So, here is that:

Silence
Fork tongs, warm
G.I. Joe is golden
Bestiality is best if weary
Sad records
Broken something
Between a heart and your head
Skin
She laughs freely
Swing me
Don't be lonely
From tree to limb
Can't fall, free
A real good cook (or look...I can't read my hand writing)
Painted socks
Bottles of pills
Flowers in trash cans
Skip me
Constant
Tidal waves
Strawberry honey
Relish fetish
Sometimes it moves
What's gone
Deeper hopelessness
Holding breathes like hands
Big eyed fools
Carry on on on
Over misters, under sons