Golden

Picture from The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers (AYAW) Blog

I submitted a collection of five poems to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards this year. After winning a Regional Gold Key award, I progressed to national jurisdiction from which I received a National Gold Medal. Congratulations to all our Mason entrants and winners.

Scroll below to read my submissions. 

cancer

the word is caked in mud.
your saliva tries to dissolve it,
but mud clings to your teeth.
you close your eyes believing
that beneath your eyelids is a special kind of dark:
dark like velvet, not snails, that has no teeth.
but sleep abandons you, and you find a
new crutch–Tearlessness. the word’s granite
breaks your teeth, but you take a
sick pride in your dry eyes. your mother
begins to think you are Handling It.
you think yourself stone
when you look in the mirror.
but your reflection spits, and you ignore it.
it wants to be broken like you.
the words are as thin as water,
but broken people don’t rain.
you tie ribbons around your brokenness and
pretend it’s a gift. but your mother
doesn’t believe you, so she forces
you to say it, and dirt crumples from your lips;
your jaw strains against the
mud-glue cementing your teeth together.
you whisper it, though it’s not
a victory you can taste.

 

candied clouds

there is a sigh one makes
when a breeze ruffles a work
and scatters stanzas like wind chimes.
reflections of raspberry light on blades of grass
dance as the reader proceeds.
i have not heard that sigh in ages;
oh, what they must think of me
a sliced soul on a platter isn’t enough.
i’m all metaphor and no story
and as i read the work of the greats
my heart shrivels, readers bite into its
pruned flesh, dollops of purple blood hang
from their chins. this is all i want
but it’s a profession based on candied clouds and
jagged rocks lurking on the ocean floor.
i haven’t traveled to the floor yet but i can
see the faint imprint of scrapes on my hands
and the clouds aren’t enough to sweeten them.
i read to save myself, and i eat the words
like oranges, hold the rinds between my teeth.
the acidity burns me awake, and i can see
slivers of tangerine light reflecting on blades of grass
but it’s not my doing, it’s his
the one who carves his own glass
dies it the intricate metallic of snake skin.
but there are no fingerprints on the page
other than my own, no sandy
edges of lavender glass. i could turn it to
powder between my thumb and forefinger
but how could i when it seems it has always existed?
my hands are lime with reading, and
my eyes are wind chimes. i want to shatter
words with my palm, line up their glass edges and
pretend it’s symmetrical. but mosaics need glue
and i have none, so i gather pomegranate shards because
as the breeze ruffles the hairs on my fingertips
and my soul scatters like glass–
there is a sigh i make.

 

New York City

Mama, I know what I want,
but the odds laugh
at me like the schoolchildren
I once threw rice at. I’d waste
my whole lunch that way
wishing rice weighed the same as rocks
and you’d come home and scold me
and I wouldn’t listen; I’d eat all the food
in our cherry house. But I can’t starve
myself now–I have no rice to
throw. They’re laughing, all laughing.
I feel their fingers in my
eye sockets, in the holes in my back.
It burns like my face when they
called me Sissy Jane and the egg
on my face just drips, drips.
And I stand there with
yolk in my eyes
not knowing how to
fight something I
cannot see.

 

To A Voltaic Era

you know nothing of the paper birds
wings mottled with ink
that flit around my shoulders, nest in the
crevices of my house
you know only the luminescence of
fireflies, insist their glow
doesn’t hurt your eyes, its sharp serif
veiled by bluish film
you know nothing of the paper birds
wings smeared with ebony
that carry my pulse to their nest
where it may beat, rustling the birds’
paper feathers, unmarred by bluish film
safe from that moment when the
firefly light will inevitably
extinguish

 

we thought we were siamese

we thought we were siamese
(though we weren’t always conjoined)
and when we realized our necks had molded
we slumped on to my pleather couch
and pretended our nickel eyes
saw the same silver in between its cushions.
my lips were metallic, but you didn’t care:
your mouth was locked on a straw-flavored boy.
you liked that the straw pricked your lips
enough to draw blood, and it wasn’t until
the guillotine severed our neck that i realized
that’s what i was tasting. i have never tasted love
and i can see in your eyes    (in your contact photo
that lit my phone with green when you
called)    you think i never will.
but we were conjoined once
and though you scattered that boy to the wind
none of those who warmed you have made you
anything more than a cheesecake girl with leather boots
and a raven-feather heart.
(i think that’s why i answered
when you lit my phone with green
sunday before last.)
i too long to fly–but i sought solace in paper wings
tales of cinnamon loves that lasted long as Nokias
or shriveled like my diligence on that sunday when you called.
i think i wouldn’t care if my heart was cleaved
like our neck: so long as i could taste berry blood
as i kissed the raven who made my paper wings fly.
you claim you’ve been there, but all you’ve kissed are
bluejays      (though there is a mottled one
that heaves twigs on to your shoulders).
but you’ve never wept robin’s eggs because the blood
you’ve tasted has never been made of berries.
(but my phone is green again.)    i know this is about
the bluejay who makes your raven-feather
heart race to the edge of the mulberry cliff.
(you don’t know what i know–
his feeble wings won’t catch you
on the way
down.)
but birds chirp in the air.    (my phone is still green.)
and as i answer, i pretend when the screen against my ear
glows red, you won’t forget the way my name tastes–
you will remember not to leave; you will
remember we were siamese.

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