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Month: September, 2014

Wednesday Writing Prompts: If my girlhood bunk bed could talk

Rough. Draft.

If my girlhood bunk bed could talk

When I first arrived, I, entirely disassembled,
clanky, awkward, fragments
blood-red inside
a giant rectangle box
Their mother had ordered me new
and not together I understood
that I was somehow different from
the secondhand kitchen table and the
plaid chair that was great-grandma’s
before she became second-
handed off to the nurses in the home.
The first night the tall girl pushed
me and my big box
across the room
blocking the door, with the flash
light on my side. I didn’t understand.
Then he came in. He opened the door and
knocked into my box and the heavy
light fell onto the tall girl
who was resting with her back against my box,
so tight against me, like a someone cornered against brick
in an ally way, no place left to run.
The short girl under her arm.
He laughed. A laugh that shook me and I clanked.
“Is this for me?” He asked. I still didn’t understand.
Later, together, I understood.
That laugh like a reverse aftertaste, for
shadow. Dark.
Me, metallic and crimson,
supporting the bodies of these young girls,
but useless. I came with a guardrail
for the short one who sleeps on top
but for the tall one, nothing. An oversized exposure
extending out beyond her sister’s crib.
I am nothing.
Cold metal. Blood red.
I am her witness
as he returns night after night.
I try to shake free,
to gather the strength of the little girl
our first night together when she shoved
and yanked my giant box
but I only wiggle myself loose, clank,
and drop my bars on her
the nights
she actually looks peaceful, safe there,
finally asleep.

– – –

Prompt:
Personify or animate a building. Choose a subject from a project you have been revising.

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Wednesday Writing Prompts: Not the brink, but the nexus of insanity

No one wants to go insane. In heavy moments we joke that we are going crazy. In desperate times we worry that we have become mad. We label other people loony, crazy, mad, insane. But for ourselves we note when we are on our way there, at the brink of it. It is a journey, a process. We find ourselves going: insane, crazy, mad. But how do we get there?

And why do we fear it?

Will you come with me now?

I am reaching for your hand.

10 Ways to Insanity:
(Not the brink of it, but the nexus)

1. Fall in love.
2. Go to a place where your strongly held belief, your reality, is a minority belief. Or a sin. Use your voice here. Speak your truth.
3. Be born with a vagina.
4. Make a decision based solely on feeling. List all of the rational reasons not to, and list the consequences, if you cannot help yourself. Do it anyway.
5. Take on the responsibility of the survival of another human being. Give birth. Adopt. Serve in a war.
6. After completing step #5, decide that it is also your responsibility to ensure that that person thrives. Is happy.
7. Choose a theme of our culture: Capitalism, Patriarchy, Christianity, Monogamous Marriage, Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism, Colonialism… Now, decide not to participate. Live your life in this way.
8. Choose a theme of our culture that negates who you are: Capitalism, Patriarchy, Christianity, Monogamous Marriage, Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism, Colonialism… Understand that even though this ideology is aimed to keep you down, you also participate.
9. Hold yourself accountable to what is right, even when it doesn’t serve you. Even when it hurts the people you love.
10. Let go while you are still in love.

At the brink we are at the edge of our truth and theirs.
Who are they?

Here at the nexus, the core, we hold our own truth.

We are no longer going, at risk of. We have arrived.

Prompt:
Prompt: Explain how to get from where you are to:

1. Nonsmoker
2. Employed
3. Partnered
4. Outside your house
5. Good job/wealthy
6. Mars
7. Your conception
8. Loving yourself
9. Ability to say no
10. Highly educated
1. Jupiter’s outer most moon
2. The edge of a fairy’s wing
3. Not the brink, but the nexus of insanity
4. Well-being
5. A field of exquisite 4-leaf clovers with only one three-leafed one
6. The appreciation of elevator music
7. A new understanding and state of acceptance about the consequence of beheading
8. A grave of a stranger who shares your name
9. A back of the bus on the last day of school
10. The place where a mermaid’s dagger is kept
11. You choose

Wednesday Writing Prompts: Signs of Humanity

Moonlight in the kitchen is a sign of God. We don’t blame God for the empty cupboards in the kitchen. We blame ourselves for hardship, thank God for miracles. Are we capable of miracles? Is God responsible for hardship? The Christian God created the world in seven days. There are seven days in a week for working. After working six, God rested. After working seven, are you rested? Are you working? On the radio last night you told us that she told you: “Idle hands are the sign of the devil,” so you kept working through your disability. Have you noticed there are many signs of God, always “a sign” of God, but when it comes to the devil it is absolute, “the sign” of the devil? Absolute, but we don’t capitalize devil. There are a million ways to capitalize, just tug on your bootstraps and climb up to the glass ceiling. At the top, pressed against the glass, who do you see? Do you see God? Is this success a sign of God? Take off those old boots and thank God that you made it, glass top. Drop those bootstraps, now you need to find a way to hold on to that glass. Grip, slip, drop. Get a grip on those bootstraps but they are gone now– you are barefoot. Barefoot, and pressed to the bottom, who do you see? Do you see the devil? Are empty cupboards in the kitchen the sign of the devil? Is capitalism, busy hands, making your way up, up, closer to the heavens a sign of God?

Where are the signs of humanity? Absolute signs like the devil? Varied and mysterious signs like God? They created them both, God and the devil, in our image. They say we climb to heaven if we work, keep working. Rest–if we don’t work hard enough, absolutely the devil they say. They, on the other side of the glass.


Prompt: Begin this exercise with the sentence: “Moonlight in the kitchen is a sign of God.” which is from Anne Carson’s poem: “God’s Work.”

Then, write something in which each sentence has one word from the previous sentence and is a reexamination of the previous sentence and that crucial word. And on and on.

Wednesday Writing Prompts: Considering Cliches

Without [a Care] in the World

Everything feels so god damn heavy.
But these days the fashionable thing is to think positive
Without a care in the world.

What are we even suggesting?
There are no cares. Forget them. Be free. Live.
Everything feels so god damn heavy.

War? Starvation? That child your neighbor is molesting?
Racism? Lack of equal pay? Throw it all in that sieve:
Without a care in the world.

I care. I cannot help it. And that means the world I see is depressing.
I want to lighten up, think happy, something’s gotta give
Everything feels so god damn heavy.

Share your Prozac, no, there is no sharing
but turn your cheeks, forgive
Without a care in the world.

Can you imagine a world absent caring?
We would just be living in a world without,
Everything feels so god damn heavy–
Without a care in the world.

Prompt:
Choose a cliche to use as the second refrain for your villanelle. By the end of the villanelle, when the refrain repeats, the meaning of the cliche should be changed somehow or considered literally.

Wednesday Writing Prompts: What I Learned

An ex-lover and I have decided to switch off offering writing prompts to each other on Wednesdays. I have decided to share my side of that process with you. Because writing, like living, is a process. So here are the raw beginnings of my writing from last week:

In the morning, in the car, on the way to drop my son off at the public school I have never been able to afford considering not sending him to, before I go to the teenage boy’s freshly built house to tutor him while he completes an alternative online high school program run much like a corporation, the man and the woman on the radio have a passionate debate about funding vouchers for private schools versus using the funding to enhance public education. The woman arguing for public education keeps referring to them as community schools. The man supporting vouchers keeps saying the poor children should have access to private education regardless of means. The woman reminds that community schools are state regulated and private schools are not. We pull up to his school and instead of telling him to learn something, or to have the best day ever, like usual, I say: I love you. The passion of the radio guests strikes me. Sending our children to school seems so simple. So routine. We forget the power of it all. Schools have been the tool of genocide. Forced assimilation. And Hitler trained his army of boys in schools, too. And there were so many other things, things we aren’t even aware of.

Emily Dickinson once wrote: “Hold dear to your parents, because it is a scary and confusing world without them.”

A postulate is a thing we accept as true, in order to reach common understanding.
Does one first have to understand herself, before she can participate in this common understanding?
I am afraid I don’t understand.
I am afraid I don’t understand myself.
Even now, writing, I wonder what purpose this serves.
Is this a monologue? What is your role?
Is this an aside? Who is my audience? Did I intend for it to be you?
Or is this a soliloquy? My insides projected, almost shouted, because how else will you understand?
Can you help me understand inside of me?
What the hell kind of bird is that? With a breast so daringly orange, wings so shamelessly black. If that weren’t the beauty that could save the world, I might consider it an outrage. At this moment to be so bright under such circumstances.

Like the difference between cohesion and adhesion. To become one with oneself, one with others much like the self. Or to latch on to something different, to latch on to the other. I am wondering about assimilation and appropriation. I am feeling about her. Always feeling about her.
Did you know so much of the language of geometry begins with the prefix co-? Collinear, collateral, and there she is again, in biology. And more pairings. These things that exist together. Are defined by their relationships to each other. Bonds. Van der Waals force and the improbable joining, but the attraction too powerful to resist. Inescapable, still the bond is so weak. Ionic bonding, where one element gains and the other gives up. And covalent bonding, harmony. Balance. The world is filled with these, co-s. The relationships. These meant to bes. And I think, each part must know who she is. She must understand her insides, to take her place. Follow these postulates. Usually I would be questioning this postulate, but I am preoccupied, wondering, desperate to figure out: Which bond are we?

Once I saw her in the garden, licking her knees. Licking and biting her knees like a wild animal.

But she wasn’t her. Not my she. She isn’t in the garden. She wouldn’t lick or bite her knees. Inflexible and tame. Too tame. The way children who are taught to be nothing but obedient obey the pedophile. But now I don’t know if I mean her danger or mine. Even if it were an ionic bond, who gives up and who takes away? Nothing static, everything contradicting. Like her bending, too flexible, bent up to please me. But she doesn’t understand what is inside. I don’t understand. We can’t co-. She is wild, too, but of course she is, bent up and licking her wounds.

Before this, the radio was discussing the purpose of art, primarily literature. Art as art. A postulate. And art as a tool to change. The radio talked about art as political commentary. About the use of art by the lower class. About the waste of art as nothing other than art. Paired this with painting something beautiful as you sat on a sinking ship—useless in saving lives.

And I understand the resistance. Inside of me, but I don’t look inside when I see her. And I wonder about art. And I wonder about purpose. And supposed tos.

The Dadaists refused art, art the middle class etiquette, to fuel a revolution. Nonsequiturs and scribbles and randomness. Anti-art. Isn’t that beautiful?

I used to be desperate for a dialogue. I used to need so much to engage with you. Forgive me here, as I abandon art, and propriety. As I get naked, in this garden, in this trash, and crawl inside my gapping heart-wound.

Emily Dickinson was right.
Dim the lights.

All co-s are postulates. What happens if we deny them?
It is amazing how easy it is to overlook the obvious.

Don’t applaud. Don’t throw tomatoes.

Crawl inside yourself.
Lick your wounds.
Shamelessly flap your wings.

You are the beauty that could save this world.
Understand?

***
The Prompt that began this:
Make a list of 5-10 new things you learned this past week.

1. Postulate
2. Emily Dickinson quote
3. Funding for public/private education- vouchers
4. Ionic bonds, covalent bonds, and van der Waals force
5. Monologue/Aside/Soliloquy
6. Cohesion/Adhesion
7. Dadaism
8. Overlooking the obvious

Write whatever speaks to you from this list. Use these sentences:
“And there were so many other things, things you weren’t even aware of.”

“What the hell kind of bird is that? What the hell kind of bird is that? With a breast so daringly orange, wings so shamelessly black. If that weren’t the beauty that could save the world, I might consider it an outrage. At this moment to be so bright under such circumstances.”

“Once I saw her in the garden, licking her knees. Licking and biting her knees like a wild animal.”