Poetry, Unbound

Beneath Fairy Lights

Beneath fairy lights she sits
contemplating her next steps
like a grandmaster strategist
surveying the field of battle;
one wrong move could mean
sacrificing her queen
to destruction and damnation.

The cool breeze
of an April night time sky
kisses her skin
and envelopes her
with the memory of a life
she has tried to forget.
The stars do not shine for her,
and there is no running
from their absence.

The silent moments between
the breathing of the wind
are pregnant with promise.
In the distance,
as in herself,
a storm brews.

In response to Daily Prompt: Glimmer
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Twinkling Lights” by PublicDomainPictures (CCO Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Checkmate

I want to write
and tell you what happened,
to put the truth out there that
you know who I am
even though you might hear differently,
but the words are splinters of glass
nicking me on their way out,
blurring what I really mean to say.

Refrains of “why is this happening to me” echo
in each calculated interaction
I have with the world,
but there is no real rhyme to these things.
They just happen.
This should give me some modicum of comfort,
but it doesn’t.

“I deserve this” joins the chorus,
and this pitiful acknowledgement
of mistakes made
adds to the swirling amalgamation
of doubt, self loathing,
and words too hard to write.
I don’t deserve this though.
No one does.
But there is no one I can tell this to
that cares enough to hear it.

There is a torment of not knowing.
Not knowing what to do.
Not knowing how to feel.
Not knowing what the future holds.
Not knowing if these words will be my last.
Not knowing if I will overcome any of this
(even though people tell me I will).

The worst pain is that of having an apology
but not knowing who to give it to.
Perhaps I should give it to myself,
to the world,
to you:

I am sorry for not being who I needed to be.

In response to Daily Prompt: Struggle
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Chess” by Felix Mittermeier (CCO Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Let Me Be Myself

This was the result of a creative writing exercise I did while attending a conference in Amsterdam this April.  It all points to identity and the things we desire if we could just drop the social pretense and requirements and be ourselves.

Let me
wear jeans for professional dress.
Don’t teachers teach better in jeans?
I heard that was true,
and if not, it should be.

Let me
just sit down and cry,
release the expectation that I have
all the answers even though I sometimes
don’t even know what I want.

Let me
etch “Carrie was here”
into the glass ceiling
and shatter it
as I dot the i in my name.

Let me
forget the shame
of bad decisions past
and prevent them
from haunting my quiet moments.

Let me
speak my mind
even if I lose my eloquence
and revert back to the girl on the ranch
doing a man’s work.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Ranch” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

I am

the taste of vanilla
melting into a concoction
of pecans and bliss
on Thanksgiving
when the warmth
of family is rising
like homemade bread.

The laughter plumes into the air,
and I smell the stale cigarettes
on my Mother’s hands
as she kneads the dough  –
their strength molding my world.
A twinkle of teeth flash
through open mouths
as a symphony of guitars
crescendo in a sense of urgency.

These are the moments I remember
while I lie in bed wrapped
in the warm embrace
of my mother’s cashmere blanket.
Salty tears catch at the corner of my mouth
and the bitterness
of these life moments irrevocably lost
stings like the wooly worms
I stepped on as a child.

“Baby girl, you need to stop worrying.
Dry your tears.  It’ll sting like hell today,
but in the morning it’ll feel better.”
If I close my eyes tight enough,
I can still smell her hair, freshly washed,
as she bent down to kiss
my seven year old foot.

In this moment I can taste
the bittersweet mix of
3 Musketeers, Dr. Pepper, pain medication,
and the release of a final labored breath.
In this moment I remember
she is
and I am.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Heart” by castleguard (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Star Stuff

This is a notion I’ve heard many times before but which didn’t fully realize until I shared the room with individuals from all over the world: Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Italy. The full gravity of it hit me when a Syrian refugee and educator shared stories of how she would play music for her students to drown out the sound of airplanes and bombs. Carl Sagan says we are all made of stars. Instead of trying to dim them because of their differences, I think it’s time we celebrate the things that make our fellow stars shine.

We all are made of
oxygen
hydrogen
nitrogen
calcium
and phosphorus.

We all feel
anger
fear
love
loss
and happiness.

There are a million things that we aren’t.
There are a million and one things that we are.
When we look at comparisons,
holding ourselves up to
a mirror
or someone we think should be our mirror,
we always look at the one thing that makes us different.

By doing so, we either
negate the other person
because we believe our difference is more important,
or we negate ourselves
because we believe our difference makes us somehow deficient.

In reality,
we should be looking
at the one thing that makes each of us unique
and celebrating the miracle of improbability
that created it.

It’s all in the connotation of things.
The way we see things in either:
lightness or darkness.
love or hate.
lament or celebration.

We all try to dim
our fellow stars,
but it doesn’t have to be this way.

This post initially appear on Miss Ross’s Blog via my school district.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Stars” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Teaching

A few lines composed during state standardized testing

Their heads are bowed
in suspended animation
or it could be silent prayer.
There’s a good chance
it’s a little of both.
Bodies hunch over,
shoulders thrust forward,
shielding their fragile flame
from the storm of data disaggregation.
An uncomfortable silence
stretches on into the abyss of
“Thou shalt not write outside the box”
and flecks of pink eraser.

All this a mockery
to the life of individuality,
the promise of self exploration,
that previously filled the halls.
My students –
knowing and yet not knowing.
A horrible amalgamation of
imposed requirement and Schrodinger.

These momentary glimpses
at the normalizing of standardization
and erasure of student identity
makes me want to rip down the sheets of paper
I used to blanket their work on the walls
and throw a ticker-tape parade
with the shredded test books
as we celebrate a return to creativity.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Desks” by macco0514 (CC0 Public Domain)