Week 37: A Stranger Once Again

Each breath of you is a baffling occurrence
Like a lizard you, moving in stops and starts
Blazing rapid through doorways, vibrant hued
Then dripping as wax, cooling into shades of blue

She is a stranger, though I know the color of her eyes
Though I know each of her eyelashes by name
Though I know every sigh and blow and whistle of her
Though I know her by the sound of her feet in the dark

It is a stranger and it walks at night
It holds wild rituals just over the crested hill
Dancing with moonbeams and lapping dew from fallen leafs
It is a foreign beauty, the mist of an ancient valley
A pagan of the north wind and the churning sea
A prelapsarian devil, unmarred by hell or heaven

It, or she, or even you—once just a stranger
And then a name and a vague color
And then a face, and then more than a face
A person then, and then a person who I knew
And now, up close, a stranger once again

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is an odd one I suppose, but I like it. It’s about getting to know someone well, but not totally being able to relate to them or get inside their head, so the more you know about them the stranger they seem. Maybe it’s a bit too clever and just ends up being confusing, but I thought it was fun playing with the pronouns as the poem progressed, emphasizing the weirdness and distance.
I’m very pleased with myself for working the word prelapsarian into the poem, (meaning ‘characteristic of the time before the Fall of Man’), and love that line because it has a timeless gravitas that makes it sound like it was pulled directly from Milton or something.

Favorite Line:
“A prelapsarian devil, unmarred by hell or heaven”

Line Even I Don’t Really Understand:
“Then dripping as wax, cooling into shades of blue”

Week 36: Proof

I encounter a shadow cast in a pleasing way
the outline of something interesting
something beautiful or artfully twisted
cold marble or maybe a thing that breaths
maybe a thing with skin that burns in sunlight
a dancer captured in bronze, or a doe
stretched out, drinking from a cool lake

and I reach for my camera, because
in that moment I am reduced to an algorithm—
compelled to harvest beauty and convert it into bytes
that serve as frail proof I am present in the world.

Author’s Notes:

I very much love photography, and I think that it’s a great hobby that can actually help you experience things in a more vivid way, because it makes you pay attention to things you’d otherwise miss. But sometimes the instinct to capture a moment changes the quality of the moment itself, and it’s good to be able to enjoy things without relying on a camera to tell you you’re having a good time.

Favorite Line:
“that serve as frail proof I am present in the world”

Oddest Line:
“maybe a thing with skin that burns in sunlight”

Week 35: Nice to Meet You

You say, “I’m Charlie,”
and I say, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Benjamin.”
and you say, “It’s nice to meet you, Benjamin.”
and I say, “So what’s your name then?”
and we look at each other for an odd second
and you say, “Well, yeah…it’s Charlie.”
and we look at each other for another second
and I say, “It’s nice to meet you Karley. I’m Benjamin.”

Author’s Notes:

When I meet people, I often get so focused on the part of the conversation where I have to introduce myself that I immediately forget the name of the person I’m talking to.

Favorite Line:
‘and we look at each other for an odd second’

Best Line:

‘and I say, “It’s nice to meet you Karley, I’m Benjamin.”’

Week 34: Please Don’t Expect Much

Please don’t expect much

I am capable of many things
but today I am tired and
my heart is elsewhere

nonetheless, I am here
even on a day when being here
is an accomplishment in-and-of itself

so if you catch me lost in thought
staring out the window or down at my phone
please forgive me and know
that I will shine again tomorrow.

Author’s Notes:

I really didn’t feel like writing this today, and of course it ends up being one of the better, more relatable ones I’ve done.

Favorite Line:
‘none-the-less, I am here’

Most Confident Line:
‘I am capable of many things’

Week 33: By Order, Not by Name

You know me by sight
By order, not by name

I know you by your freckles
Medium light roast, please

You hand me my drink
The same one I always get
I smile and say thank you
You smile brighter, right on cue

I will see you in a week
And probably the next week
And maybe the next one after that

And then on some gray Friday
You will be gone
A shift change or a new job
I will never know

Author’s Notes:

There is a unique kind of relationship that you have with people who you only interact within specific, limited contexts that I think is interesting—a lot of times this might be customer service type relationships, or people who regularly overlap with your public transit schedule, or things like that.

You can develop a certain type of comfort and coexistence with them without necessarily knowing a thing about them, and your mind automatically fills in gaps, and you start to feel like you know them. And it’s funny, because eventually one day, they’ll be gone and you’ll never see them again, and it’s not exactly sad, but it does feel odd— like you were robbed of a goodbye.

Week 32: Dressed and Ready

There is a car parked out front—
its headlights on, engine running quietly

you peek through the drapes, careful not to be seen
and you see me sitting there at the steering wheel—
not starring at the door impatiently
not muttering to my wristwatch about lost time
not looking nervous or full of expectation
but just waiting, as if waiting were itself a thing to do

you can’t recall how long it has been, seconds or days
but you look down and see you are dressed and beautiful
and you notice your hand is on the doorknob, turning it
and you find yourself stepping out into the cool breeze
walking lightly down the steps with a little bounce
moving carelessly, as if you were a slip of the tongue
or an accidental smile

as you open the car door you feel the feeling
of not quite remembering—the feeling
of having lost your page in a book—
what once was is no longer
the world is an empty place
all you know is you are going somewhere new.

Author’s Notes:

I think this week’s poem is interesting because it has as oddness and unanchored feeling to it, while still being sweet and optimistic. I like it, but I’m not sure if it will read well for most people or not. There is some funky stuff going on with narrative perspective that is a bit risky. I’m tempted to try and talk through it, but that sort of kills the poem, so I think I’ll refrain.

Favorite Line:
“moving carelessly, as if you were a slip of the tongue”

Line that I Stole from a Friend:
“what once was is no longer”