I live in the future

Cambodia and Thailand are 11 hours ahead of home. I live the whole day before the people I love have even woken up. So I wrote this poem about the way I feel here in the future.

I live in the future
And in the future
I lean out of windows
Gazing into the heat
Letting my hair cascade into the past
For my friends to use
As a ladder into my mind

In the future
I go fast
Kicking up the dust in my lungs
And the tuk tuk drivers
Make me feel safer
Than my last love ever could

In the future
My heart is steady
It doesn’t get dressed
Or put on makeup
It simply is fully loved as herself
Warm and beating
Basking in the sun

 

In the future
I am so free
And the whole wide world
Will watch the sunrise alongside me
And the sunrise
For all her heat and struggle
Will let me through the clouds of doubt
And she will hold me close
Letting me love her
In my broken way

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Reconciliation to self.

My sister wrote this poem and sent it to me the other day, and it was so exactly right, so exactly how I am feeling. I haven’t had the will or the strength to come up with my own words lately, but hers have filled my heart and spoken for me. I am learning how to hold the good and the bad, the light and the dark, because as long as we are in this world we will have both. We will live through both. Life is learning how to live in the tension. Learning how to choose good, to choose the light, and learning to forgive ourselves when we don’t. Learning to forgive the people we love when they don’t. And learning through all of it to remain rooted and grounded in love.

 

I promise to go away

I promise we will travel and see all the places we said we would

And we won’t wait, we’ll do it now.

I’m sorry we failed, I’m sorry we feel

Like it is not enough

To just lie on the couch and think about life

Because life doesn’t look like something we planned on

We will drink more cups of tea and less alcohol

We will hug more friends

And less boys who say they like to be with us

I like to be with us

I like to be at home

All alone,

Because I never feel lonely when I am at peace with what I choose to be.

I am sorry to my stomach for treating it like steel and

Sorry to my heart for pretending it was immune from feeling

And I’m sorry to my friends for the lies I’ve told them about where I’ve been

It is so isolating to hurt on the inside

Without being able to get the true words out from inside my mouth.

In my head I am trapped

But it will not be forever

I believe there is forgiveness and a bridge to walk over

To a field where there is peace

And freedom for the past

I have a friend there

He doesn’t need me to speak

He knows

And he felt the ache in my stomach

And the cold bathroom floor

I can feel he is with me

And I will meet him there

 

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April Poems

April is poetry month and I (along with lots of other writers) have decided to write one poem a day for the entire month. So far my poems are mostly terrible and I assume they will continue to be terrible as the month goes on. However, I wrote this poem the other day when I was sitting in a cafe and thought it wasn’t the worst, so I’m sharing it now. I hope it makes you feel something.

 

In a pastry shop

a man with a beard and a walking stick

s l o w l y

sat down next to me

his beard was grey

it was raining outside

and everything rearranged itself

s l o w l y

as the lunch crowd came in.

The man ordered coffee

and a cinnamon roll.

He placed gently

the cinnamon roll

in front of the empty seat

across from him

once twice

a dozen times

he glanced towards the door

expectantly

waiting

once twice

a dozen times

he picked up his phone

anxiously

waiting

eventually slowly

he took a sip of the coffee

eventually slowly

he stopped looking towards the door

and I felt my heart

pound

once twice

a dozen times

I have waited for something

that doesn’t come

eventually slowly

I stop waiting

eventually slowly

the man reached across the table

picked up the cinnamon roll

and took a bite

once twice

a dozen times

I have given up too soon

and eventually

s  l  o  w  l  y

being alone

is all we know

 

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A Poem for Strangers

 

Do you know how many times I thought of you

between breakfast and lunch?

27

times 10.

 

Are you right where I left you

filled with hope and self doubt?

I know about your nightmares.

I know about pain

and being so so scared,

so scared all the time.

I know you can’t sleep with your back to the door.

I know you sleep better with your hand

on my stomach.

 

Do you still exist

when I walk out your door?

I need to know if I imagined

all of the love

I’ve ever felt.

The whole world is empty.

My whole world is empty,

but no

it’s not.

Surely you are real

just as my mother is real

just as every person on this train is real.

And God loves you,

that’s real.

Do you ever think about that?

About the heat radiating from the black city streets

seeping into our skin?

I think God’s love is like that.

 

I don’t really know you

but I think you are filled

with love and hate

and darkness and light.

Do you make pictures out of the black dust

that’s settled at the bottom of your lungs?

Do you paint black on your porcelain heart,

portraits of children

whose hands you’ve held,

whose mothers you’ve watched die?

 

I am not as good as you,

for all my rings

and purity

and church services.

What do you think of cathedrals?

I think your heart is a cathedral.

I want to walk through the ornate doors

and pray

and ask for forgiveness

for lying to you

for letting you believe I was good.

My religion does not make me good,

your love does.

 

Do you know how many times a day

I think about holding your face in my hands

and saying I’m sorry?

I’m sorry.

Will you still remember me

If I knock on your door?

Will you let me in?

Will you be kind to me,

or will you be unforgiving?

Will you expect things from me?

Heavy things I cannot give?

Or will you simply lie with me

with your hand on my stomach

and let me be someone

who needs only to exist.

 

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Three Cities and a Poem

 

I recently went traveling through three cities in Eastern Europe and it was magic. Here are some photos and adjectives and a poem I wrote on a train.

 

Bratislava, Slovakia

Alleyways and early mornings

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Vienna, Austria

Palaces and colored lights

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Budapest, Hungary

Glittery views and sunshine

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I walk through cities you have never seen

and may never see.

Palaces are my living room.

 

I make my bed

out of a window sill

and a city skyline.

 

Do you envy me?

Do you wish you saw

everything through my eyes?

 

When I wander

through back alleys made of stones

You are so far from my mind.

 

It is only when I stop moving

that I think it would be nice

if you were here

 

What if you saw

everything through my eyes?

Would you understand then?

 

Instead of beautiful winding roads

I see a maze of bones

and strangers voices whispering through the cracks

 

I walk into my palace living room

and the prison door slams behind me

nothing can get in, I hope

 

I make my bed

in a room full of people who don’t care

I listen to emptiness drip from the ceiling.

 

When I am still

and floating in the sky

I feel the phantom of you in the space next to me

 

If you look through my eyes

you will see yourself

forever walking away down a city street

 

If you see through my eyes

you will see through the ache

and it makes everything more beautiful.

 

A Poem About Breaking

On my Instagram page (@elizabeth_ee), I’ve been doing this thing that I call Tiny Poem Sunday. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but every Sunday I post a short 4 stanza poem. My first few posts were based off of a poem I wrote while sitting on the floor of the Tate Modern on my last day in London. By breaking it up into small individual poems that could stand alone, it turned into something much better than the original. I’ve now pieced it back together, and I thought I would post it here. I hope you enjoy it. Here is a broken puzzle of a poem about breaking.

 

Your hands are stronger

than they look.

You touch my cheek

and it cracks

sending flowering vines across my face

in place of your fingerprints,

Because I am fragile.

I always have been.

My glass fingertips

shatter a little bit

every time I hold a book of poems

or your hand.

 

I am a holding pen for beauty

and I will soon understand

that I have been seeing myself

through your small eyes.

Now begin to glimpse the truth of my reflection

in the pieces of glass that fall from my skin,

Because I am so much weaker

than a mountain or a word.

I am the delicate, crumbling parts of them.

But the truth is, I would rather be a thousand pieces

breaking away in your hands

than leave no proof that we ever touched.

 

I was here for so long,

But now I’m beginning to feel

like building a palace out of my body

and going home to it.

I will thank you for the flowering cracks

you left in my windows

And you will let me go.

I will be left standing,

amazed at the strength of my own legs.

Watch me as I walk away.

You’ll see the back of my head as a mountain, resolute.

Only I’ll know the lovely truth of my cracking porcelain bones.

 

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On Fridays We Write Fiction

Here’s a thing about me as a writer. I don’t really write fiction, even though technically I concentrated in fiction writing as an undergrad. The “fiction” assignments I turned in were almost always stories from my life, where I just changed the names and a few details (sorry, Prof Russell). But maybe that’s all fiction really is any way. Lately though, I’ve been tired of writing non-fiction. I’m bored my own stories, so I’m trying to write proper fiction (with the help of Kiteley’s book 3 A.M. Epiphany). I’m even thinking of dipping my toes into a couple of real, structured genres (think steam punk or post-apocolyptic). The results are guaranteed to be disastrous but so much fun. Whenever I have something new, I’ll probably post it on here (on a Friday, of course, because of alliteration). So here’s one of my first attempts. I hope you enjoy it! Happy Fiction Friday!


 

The girl saw her first. She was walking to her piano lesson just like she did every Thursday: down the street, across the bridge, through the park with the big tree—and that’s where she stopped: to stare at the tree. Because there was a woman in there, or that’s what she would tell me later.

The girl stood staring at the young woman in the tree, and the woman stared back. They stayed for a couple of minutes like that and then the woman winked, startling the girl who jumped back and bumped into a boy, a classmate of hers. He had olive skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He was an orphan who had been adopted by the young, unmarried town mayor.

“Oh I’m sorry!” she said, but the boy, who had turned towards the tree when the girl bumped him, didn’t seem to hear her. He was staring at the tree, his mouth agape.

“Do you see her too?” The girl cried, grabbing the boy’s arm.

“There’s a woman!” He said pointing.

“I know! What should we do?” They both stared at the woman. She was laughing and had her arms thrown up so they extended in and around the branches. She kept wiggling her fingers, which scared the birds away.

“I’m going to get my father,” the boy said, and ran off.

The girl stayed where she was, staring. The woman appeared to be doing jumping jacks but her arms kept getting caught in the branches. The girl was so mesmerized by the woman that she didn’t notice the crowd of people who had gathered around her, all staring at the tree.

“She winked at me,” someone said, and a few others murmured in agreement.

“Look what she’s doing with her hair!” A man cried.

The woman had begun to toss her hair up into the tree. She would fling a lock of hair, and it would ascend into a branch and then begin wrapping itself round until the ends finally caught on a leaf. She had divided her hair into seven locks and did this with each one until all her hair was above her and above us, wrapped in and around the tree branches. When she finished, she appeared to sigh with satisfaction.

The boy returned at that moment with his father, the mayor. The mayor stood staring, mouth open. And then the woman in the tree winked at him, waking him from his shock.

“Someone get the professor!” The mayor shouted. There was a mumbling through the crowd as to who would go, and finally the girl volunteered.

I was in my office when she found me. She explained everything in detail, every movement the woman had made and the way she looked. I nodded along, and then agreed to go with her and see for myself. There was, of course, no woman in the tree. I diagnosed the whole town with a kind of mass hysteria, which is now known as the Daphne Epidemic of 1848, a name I came up with myself. I studied the members of the town for the next few years. The town was quarantined, as this was seen as some kind of bacterial epidemic. But eventually the people of the town stopped seeing the woman. Or at least, lost interest in her. They walked by the tree as if nothing had ever happened, though occasionally they would glance at it as if to check if she was there.

There were several campaigns to chop down the tree, all stopped by the mayor. The tree had been there for centuries, and he believed it should be preserved, regardless of what it had come to now represent.

I went on to publish two books about the case, which earned me national recognition. The girl and the boy were married ten years after the epidemic. The wedding ceremony was held beneath the tree and the whole town was in attendance, including the mayor and his new wife, a tall woman with long brown hair and a great sense of humor.

There are rumors that the mayor’s new wife is, in fact, the woman in the tree. That the mayor fell in love with her and begged her to come out so he could marry her. And that when he slipped the engagement ring onto one of the leaves, she laughed and emerged from the tree as the woman we now see. These rumors are of course untrue. Though, I will say, when I first met the mayor’s wife, she winked at me.

 

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