A Series of Chronological Haikus

London I
xxx
Countless days, wasted
Ever been this desolate?
Never sleeping right.
xxx
Belgium
xxx
Rude, nice, confusing.
Why are they excluding me?
Who are these children?
xxx
Catania
xxx
Me, mom. Three others.
We shouldn’t have come here with
Them. Please stop fighting.
xxx
Highgate Cemetery
xxx
Wet: moss, ivy, leaves
Darling wife, mother and. She’s dead.
Bodies keep melting
xxx
Amsterdam
xxx
Lights, fur cloak, champagne
I feel so old for sixteen,
Incompatible
xxx
Berlin
xxx
I am connected
Me/the city is pockmarked
Pain she remembers.
xxx
Istanbul
xxx
Yellow, blue, gold. Cats.
Mosques sound like muffled beehives
Nature conquers faith
xxx
Seattle
xxx
Sun, long car rides, lakes
I’ve never been happier
Laughing endlessly
xxx
Cumbria
xxx
Sheep bleating, dew grass
I cry on a mountaintop
The world is ending
xxx
Mother Nature doesn’t give a fuck. She will defeat us soon enough. 
xxx
London II
xxx
I learn to love you
No more wasted days.
Becoming home
xxx
Kew Gardens
xxx
Conservatory
Nice but, not real, not nature
What’s urban wildlife?
xxx
Scotland
xxx
Peat, fog, Irn Bru
Where the dinosaurs once roamed
Cold wind. I’m grinning
xxx
Edinburgh
xxx
Rusty typewriter
City of daffodil hills
A charming grey place
xxx
New York
xxx
Be my saving grace
Too much crying over boys
Dumb. Angry lipstick.
xxx
The summer of no bras and not shaving and wanting to heal myself.
xxx
Chiswick
xxx
Crystals, matches. Poof!
Blaze. Memories up in smoke.
All to heal myself
xxx
Portugal
xxx
Gold: peaches, shells, sun
Back hurts. I can’t get up. Please.
Make me a sand throne
xxx
Seattle
xxx
An entire year, gone
Slicing meat, taking names, I
Have to split, cut quick.
xxx
Oregon
xxx
Water’s inviting
Where the dinosaurs roam, but,
Be careful, don’t slip
xxx
Lopez
xxx
Dirty kids play drums
We are bad at making fires
Fresh. Doors stay unlocked
xxx
Montreal
xxx
I feel rain on me
Wet, not made by my own skin
Elation chokes me
xxx

 

heart/chest/heart/beat

I used to be afraid of drums

When we went to parades

And I sat on my father’s shoulders

I could feel them in my chest and it scared me

I wanted to run and hide

I didn’t love music

I didn’t live for it, like I do now

Now I hear that beat

And I realize I feel it in my heart,

Not my chest

 

When I was younger

I didn’t love the stage

The theatre bored me

I had no interest in watching people perform

but that changed a some point in my youth

Now, performance is what I live for

Although I was born to be spectator first,

Performer second

Rarely and never necessary

 

I wonder if

When she sits there

In the back row

Legs crossed and a smirk

Like some kind of rock and roll goddess

I wonder if

She wants him

I wonder if

She knows he’s still hers

When he puts on an actor’s mask

And picks up an instrument

When he’s a rockstar for the night or just the hour

I wonder if

Is he looking at me?

It Didn’t Happen Like This

He noticed her when he walked in. She had mousy brown hair and a smile that looked like it shared a secret with her eyes. She was drinking espresso out of a tiny cup that didn’t match its saucer and writing in a notebook, surrounded by the debris of an artist at work. Pen caps, ink smudges and empty mugs laid in her wake. She looked up when he walked in, just like she looked up when anyone did, searching for someone to incorporate into her stories. Their eyes caught for a second, sending her blushing and him coughing awkwardly into his fist. He ordered his coffee, something he hated but drank anyway because it fit his image.

He watched her slyly, and when his heavy latte was placed into his hand, he took a small leap of faith. Footsteps approached her small window table, but she was busy now, half deafened by the voices yelling in her head. “Hi,” he said. She finished scribbling, a pointed period punctuating the uncomfortable pocket of silence inside the crowded coffee shop. “Can I sit?” The cup shook a bit in his uneasy fingers. She had been approached before, her silence there only because confrontation made her clam up. He pulled out the empty chair across from her and sat, sending her stomach fluttering. He was well dressed in a simple grey sweater that matched the sky outside.

“You’re a writer?” He waited, she blinked. “Aren’t writers supposed to be good with words?” She smiled at him, laughed a little.

“Only on paper, evidently.”

He looked relieved, now that her mouth had opened. Two sets of shoulders relaxed. Luckily they had enough to talk about, so him and her because us/we/them on a rainy, fateful summer afternoon.

Breakable, breakable

I thought I was breaking your heart,

but it was you who broke mine.

And it was silly to think, because you’re a city and

I am just a blip on your massive timeline.

I am just a human. I am nothing to you.

I didn’t even etch a single mark into you.

You are a collection of age old buildings and cobblestones.

You have survived great wars.

I am a collection of breakable, breakable bones

and skin that’s so easy to tear.

I haven’t survived anything.

You became my favorite place in the world and I was easily forgotten.

January 3, 2017

It snowed on New Years

At midnight, flakes fell

Clockwork

They blanketed the New Year in white

Sparkling and clean

People danced in the street

Lit flames against the indigo night

Kissed with snowflakes in their hair

 

Days passed and the snow stuck

Only to the grass and rooftops

Ice dangling from the tree branches

And topping off fences

It’s no longer soft and new

But on the third of January

It’s only fitting

 

The snow is an almost desperate reminder

Of clean slates

New starts

But as the days wear on

The snow is stamped down and mixed with dirt

Looking dejected

 

The snow will melt if the temperature ever rises

And when January turns over

Where will we find a reminder of hope

Stars, Sparks and Lightning

A year ago I received a nomination on the shortlist for the first annual BBC Young Writer’s Award. The story below is what I submitted, but not exactly. Even though this piece is what got me my first recognition as a writer outside of my family or school, it continues to change. Every time I go back to it, a change something. Usually it’s just a word, a synonym that fits better than the original. This short story represents, to me, the writing process. Nothing can really ever be complete. Also, admittedly, I’m trying to relive my glory days.

Stars, Sparks and Lighting

Persephone is all sharp lines and cat-like reflexes, inured from decades of mean Russian dance teachers and days on pointed toes. Her voice is as sweet as lavender syrup, conditioned into a soaring soprano through years with voice coaches and musical directors. She glides where I stumble. All the time I’ve spent in the kitchen has made me soft, like the butter I eat too much of, rounding my edges into gentle curves.

The night we met, I was catering with an hors d’oeuvres company. It was a job I hated. I didn’t want to be offering artisanal cheese puffs to sweaty people in black tie. The rooms were always too small, and the odor of hundreds of nervous socialites hung in the air. Persephone was already doing what she loved. She was performing. This night it was with a jazz band set up in the corner, playing Armstrong and Basie. I like music as much as the next girl, but something about Persephone was bewitching. I couldn’t help but stop and watch. Her large eyes were closed, the lids shrouded in dark shadows, and a slinky black dress draped off her sinewy frame. I could smell her perfume, something deep, with hints of sandalwood and musk, coming towards me in small waves as her chest heaved with “Learnin’ the Blues”. I stood, neglecting my cheese puffs, to listen to Persephone croon. It was as though the music possessed her, flowing out of her fingertips and the perfect O of her petal pink mouth. She finished the song, and kept her eyes closed until the band played the last flourishing note. She finally looked up, her nails already tapping out the next song on her thigh, to see me obviously staring. Our eyes connected, and Persephone winked. I turned bright red, hurrying away to replenish my platter and continue the rounds.

I was packing away dishes at the end of the night, when Persephone approached me. “Hey,” she stood with her hands on her hips, towering over me as I kept my head bowed and my hands busy with plates and boxes.

“Hi. Is everything all right? Were the mushroom turnovers too mediocre? Any complaints will have to be taken up with my boss,” I told her, flicking my head towards the fat man smoking outside the door.

“No, actually, I wanted to talk to you,” she said. I kept my eyes focused on her bouncing feet.

“I’m sorry I stared at you earlier,” my cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“Oh! Don’t worry at all. I find it flattering… I was going to ask you if you were hungry.”

I closed the top to the last box. “I could eat,” I stood with my arms crossed.

“I wanted to see if you’d like to join me for Vietnamese food once you’re done here,” she smiled, and looked down at me through her thick lashes.

“Really?” I was skeptical.

“Yeah. Why not? You seem nice, and I’m tired of eating alone.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” I told her.

“Do you have a car? The place is a bit of a ways, and the band already left with the van. I was counting on you saying yes,” her wide grey eyes crinkled hopefully.

“Yeah, it’s the Volvo out back,” I reached for my bag. We stood uncomfortably for a moment. “We can go,” I urged, leading her out the door.

My station wagon waited for us in the parking lot. We got in, Persephone shifting the seat to fit her statuesque frame. I started the car, wondering what this stunning girl was doing in my passenger seat. She looked confusedly around at the lavender that cluttered the dashboard and hung on the windows. She pointed at it saying, “Is this some sort of vampire repellant?” Out of the corner of my eye I saw her smirking at me.

“Breathe in,” I told her.

She raised an eyebrow, but I nodded, inhaling deeply. Persephone followed. I could feel the sweetness of dried lavender filling my nose.

“Nice. Air freshener,” she said.

“Yeah,” I agreed, smiling slightly. “I like things to smell nice,” I admitted. We drove in silence for a little, down the interstate, Persephone humming quietly to herself as I focused on the road.

 

Sister, Sister

She stands taller than the rest of her small family, not quite towering, but with more of a poised presence. Most people seem alarmed, offended, frightened even, when a stranger tells them that their beauty is almost otherworldly. But she’s magnetic. With the kind of lips that are easily described as pillowy. Smooth, perfectly bronzed skin and small, dark eyes covered by expensive lilac tinted shades. In between her grey crop top and light wash shorts, is the small of her back, the space covering her spine a valley. Wrapped around her hourglass waist is a thin arm. The arm of a younger girl, wearing mascara and matte pink lipstick but navy blue overalls covered in multicolored hearts. Her legs are bronzed, but in a less calculated way than her sisters, still covered in the dark peach fuzz of youth. Tanned, not from lying on beach towels and turning every hour, but from full days spent running under the sun. Her hair falls in long, ebony ringlets from underneath a backwards baseball cap. The gorgeous hair that her sister traded in for permed straight locks and pin striped highlights.

They’re both arresting; beautiful, brown and soft. One is painfully aware of that. The other clings lovingly to her arm, laughing at everything she says and looking up at her with eyes full of awe.