Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pale September

Pale September/I wore the time like a dress that year/The autumn days swung soft around me/Like cotton on my skin ... and all my armour falling down in a pile at my feet ~ Fiona Apple

As those closest to me know Fiona Apple is my favorite female solo artist on this planet. Now, considering I have a deep admiration for many female solo artists -- including Bjork, Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Kate Nash, Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, Neko Case and more recently, Kristin Hersh -- to say she is my favorite is quite powerful. She takes a box of ivory keys and creates melodic poetry, sung with such depth and soul, you feel as though you're listening to her from her insides. Yes, much of her music is often melancholy, tranquil, mournful or just plain jaded, but she also has many uplifting gems in the mix, such as the one quoted above.

"Pale September" is one of my favorite songs by her and especially at this time of year, for more than obvious reasons. Fiona is also my favorite lyricists. Her songs are rich, poetic and always resonate with me, especially on rainy nights like tonight ...

Reflection has fell upon me. I'm swaying backward today. I've been delving into memories leading up to today ... good ones, bad ones, ugly ones, beautiful ones. And as the leaves begin to change and the smell of autumn filled my lungs, I let out a deep, rhythmic sigh, feeling my insides swell with emotion that reached to the farthest corners of the spectrum. Most days, I know what to do with those memories ... but today, I do not. I'm not quite sure what to do with them all, just that they're there, breathing me slowly in and out, like a shadow in the darkness.

I also feel ripped open this week. But the slits aren't all bad, they just hurt. As my best friend told me a few nights ago, "It's good when you're offered different perspectives on things or called out on things, but what's important is that someone is there to remind you right after just how amazing a person you are just as you are." And she did, as have others. And I felt a little less heavy. Because I think we all should be given new perspectives once in awhile. I think it's important to be shown our flaws, albeit, gently shown. But yes, it is good to have someone there to remind you how, even if a single bone in your body never changes, you've still got things to offer.

And if nothing more, all I could ask of those reading ... is to tell someone, right now, this very moment, what they mean. Because, speaking from experience, randomness sometimes hits the hardest.

So, with that, I'll let Fiona carry it away ...

Pale September
I wore the time
Like a dress that year
The autumn days
Swung soft around me
Like cotton on my skin

But as the embers
Of the summer
Lost their breath
And disappearred
My heart went cold and
Only hollow rhythms
Resounded from within

But then he rose
Brilliant as the moon in full
And sank in the
Burrows of my keep
And all my armour
Falling down
In a pile at my feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep

He goes along just
As a water lily
Gentle on the surface
Of his thoughts
His body floats
Unweighed down by
Passion or intensity
Yet unaware of the
Depth upon which he coasts
And he finds a home in me
For what misfortune sows
He knows my touch will reap

And all my armour
Falling down
In a pile at me feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep
All my armour
Falling down
In a pile at my feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep


Sunday, September 18, 2011


“It can be depressing when no one takes interest, and a lack of response makes the writer question why they’re writing at all. To have one’s writing rejected is like you, yourself, are being rejected. ” ~ Lizz Clements

Got my second rejection from an agent Saturday morning while lying in bed. There I was, buried beneath my comforter and sheets the way I always bury myself in sleep, when I heard my phone signal I had an email. So, groggily rubbing my eyes, I cracked them open just long enough to see the beginning of the email ...

"Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to read your submission.  I appreciate you considering me for representation of your project. Unfortunately, after careful review, I have decided that I might not be the right agent for your work ... "

I let out a soft groan, turned off my phone, rolled over and fell back asleep.

Granted, this is only the fourth agent I've submitted to -- there are hundreds in various genres my novel could technically fit I have yet to submit to. One ended up wanting to read more, but a published author I stay in touch with and trust told me to steer clear of him after reading his fee requirements, another told me the same as the above and the fourth I have yet to hear from. Obviously, rejection, in whatever form, be it love, academia, family, society, writing, is never easy to take. For some people, it's crippling. Not for me. Perhaps it's in reading about how many rejections very successful writers and authors have had before they finally broke through the chained glass. 

Perhaps it's partly from me learning how to accept rejection and turn it into something constructive instead of letting it destruct me. Whatever the reason, I'm going with it. And on some levels, each letter feels like a skinned knee or when I bust a knuckle punching my boxing bag ... it hurts, but it feels good at the same time, because it happened during something productive, during something that makes me feel alive. I don't think I'd want to get any of my major work published without obtaining a few scars along the way. I want to feel a little dirt caked on my skin, to feel the hurting, elating itch of constructive criticism. I want to falter for a minute and use my strength to pull myself back up again. Because I know inside I'll punch through that glass eventually ... and until then, I'll just keep writing.

The prologue of my novel:

The aged stone walls were dewy with last night’s rain, the dank scent of mold seeping from the dark corners of the room. But the rest of the dilapidated enclosure blazed red from the fire outside the barred windows. She shuddered, her bones suddenly icy with fear.
The ropes around her wrists cut into her damp skin, causing her to wince and grit her teeth. The pebbles growled beneath her as she dragged her bare, cut and calloused feet under her legs, hugging her dirt-caked knees to her chest.
Hearing the scuffle, the guard turned his surly face and pursed lips her way, revealing severe, yet placid eyes that seemed to look straight through her. Whatever spell she was accused of having on others didn’t seem to stretch its gnarled claws his way.
She sniffled and he turned away, looking at the entrance once more, her presence nothing but an afterthought. Slowly, she began rocking back and forth, the rhythmical movement providing a tangent of solace. Though the barbed tentacles of terror pierced her parched throat, somehow her vocal chords found vibration. She began to hum a soft, low melody her mother used to sing to her as a child, after waking from the dark grasp of a nightmare. Its rich, mournful notes laced with sharps and flats brought chills down the guard’s spine, though his expression remained blank.
Chains, crimson with rust, sliced into her ankles and clanked against the cold, muggy floor. She could hear both screams and cheers outside the sole window of her cell, as though a riot were brewing. Each crackle of the fire, as logs collapsed beneath its scalding flames, seemed to puncture her skin.
Suddenly, the creaking strain of a door slashed through her dismal song, jarring her attention to the caged entrance of her cell. She heard footsteps approaching and felt the familiar tingling of his energy filtering through the bars and into her body, causing her heart to jump and her breath to violently catch.
Slowly, with precision and stifling pain, she stood, gripping the bars to provide balance as the tattered remains of a once vibrant peasant skirt shook around her legs. Her chestnut hair fell loosely down her back and shoulders. Its dark, wavy, auburn tendrils playfully tickled the hairs upon her arms and framed her mystic eyes, now fiery embers of emotion.
And just like that, he was there.
The older looking guard escorting him stepped back, allowing a moment of privacy not required.
His turgid eyes locked with hers, and then briefly left their hold to gently skim over her shoulders, collar bone and delicate neck. A place his swollen lips had traced not but days earlier now tarnished with dry blood from the ropes that had dragged her from the warm haven of a bed to this perdition.
He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple softly rising and falling under her steady gaze. His body shuddered from the sudden jolt of electricity as her eyes once again met his, now glistening with anger from the damage done to her – this beautiful creature he had given up everything for.
Her glowing irises mirrored his, emanating anguish over the bruises soiling his angelic forehead, shoulders and cracked ribs, all places her clement skin had grazed fervidly not long ago. All places she had memorized down to each exquisite freckle and scar.
Before another breath was expelled, he stepped a shackled leg forward and brought his tied hands to the sole bar in front of him, grasping her trembling fingers and closing all space between them. The original guard started forward, but was stopped by the sharp arm and fierce look of the second. 
Gently squeezing her hand, his lips hungrily dove into hers, eagerly swimming in her energy. She softly parted them with the tip of her tongue, intertwining with his and igniting their hearts. The fiery glow that seemed worlds away whipped through the window and lit the tear streaming down his right cheek before glinting off the ones searing across both of hers.
The older guard cleared his throat, bursting the bubble and jolting them both from the trance.
“It’s time,” the man simply said, stepping forward and grasping his right upper arm. 
Nothing could be done. They both knew it. 
“I love you,” he whispered violently, his body pulled back by both guards, shattering his grip from her hands, her pulse.
“I love you,” she managed through cracked vocal chords.
 And just like that, he was gone. 
A tremulous breath captured her, buckling her knees and sending her cascading to the floor, crippled by an excruciating agony planted in the depths of her core. Waves of sorrow rolled through her, tossing her body into billows of misery she could no longer control.
The crowd grew more boisterous, which could only mean his presence was made known amongst them.
A sharp click of the cell door pulled her from her bout with despondency, sending her head jerking toward the guard entering what little space she had left, like poison pervading a vein.
He bent down to pick her up, but her eyes shot up to his, stopping him in his tracks.
He backed up slightly, his face no longer a blank slate, but filled with apprehension and uncertainty for something foreign to him.
Lethargically, she made her way to her tender feet, rattling the chains around her ankles. But her sound calf muscles fluidly contracted, sending her body forward and the guard following suit behind, not daring to touch her flaming skin.
She exited the cell and walked down the short, decrepit hallway, past two more empty cells on her right. Then, the giant, heavy oak prison door swung open, pouring smoke-filled dusk air into her lungs and causing the crowd to burst into more cries and shouts. 
She paused and exhaled, shaking her mane of chocolate locks out of her face and wiping her eyes with her bound wrists. 
Then she took a soft, graceful step forward.
The cluster of onlookers divided, making a path to the wooden steps 20 feet ahead. Some eyes cast to the dusty ground in fear, others looking her dead on, hate in their charcoal pupils, while others gave fleeting glances of sadness and compassion. 
Words of hate were spit at her along with prayers spiraling at her feet.
But she paid no attention to any of this. She was looking for one pair of eyes, and only one.
She found them.  
Surrounded by four armed guards, he stood, his oceanic, helpless irises fastened to hers. As she floated up the steps, it was as though everyone was enraptured by silence. Neither of them heard anything, only the potent heart beat of the other.
The guard behind her untied her wrists, tersely pulling her arms backward to bind them once more around the wooden pole pressed firmly against her spine. Her teeth clenched in pain, but her eyes remained locked on his, her lips slightly parted and still swollen from his kiss.
Heat from the blaze around her grazed her skin and hair, setting her dark eyes ablaze. Gasps were heard from onlookers brave enough to gander. The very priest who condemned her – who had said he, too, had succumbed to her spell, allowing its essence to fill his mind with unholy thoughts – stood cold and black at the bottom of the steps. 
“Any last words?” He asked, guilt like venom dripping from his mouth.
Yet her gaze never wavered. She kept her eyes on the stormy spheres of her mirrored soul.
And the world around her dispersed into the flames.

 ~ C ~

Monday, September 12, 2011


There is a harmony in autumn and a lustre in its sky/Which through the summer is not heard or seen/As if it could not be, as if it had not been ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

As my favorite season approaches, I am trying to soak up what little is left of the sun, the green lush trees and soft earth. The other morning as I drove into work, I hit the crest of a hill and everything in front of me was blanketed in a thin, misty fog, including a large cemetery to my left. I just shook my head, feeling a sense of both excitement and melancholy, for a feeling washed over me that the seasons were beginning to change. I felt it in my bones. And like all change, I felt some trepidation laced with anticipation and new breath.

Fall is nearing. I can smell it. Sometimes I wish I lived within the burnished cloak of autumn all year around -- yet, its short, sweet smelling, teasing breath is what makes me appreciate it even more. And as the leaves begin to change, I will continue to alter with them. Only this year, unlike years past, I am going to try my hardest to take in every moment of that transition. There's something to be said for not knowing what exactly is to come.

I'm going to find the beauty in winter again, a season that always tears me into fragments with its long, never ending fingernails, cold, black nights and sleeping trees. I often have to piece myself back together when it finally breaks. But just as I took in the mist the other morning, I'm going to take in autumn in all its burning glory, letting it speak to me the way I haven't in a long time. And as it makes way for winter, I will embrace her, too. Because there was a time when I enjoyed catching snowflakes on my outstretched tongue, letting them fall onto my eyelashes, watching my breath take form before me and gazing in awe at the stark white landscape sparkling beneath the moonlight.


Long sage blades cease growth
As the breath of autumn wafts past
Its sanguine scent filters through leaves
Burning at their core, singing their edges
Leaning against an old tombstone, I watch them

They gently rustle in the sweet breeze, serenading me
I gaze at the weathered headstone before me
It reads: "Change is a measure of time 
And, in the autumn, time seems speeded up
What was is not and never again will be; what is, is change."
~ Edwin Way Teale

I lean my head back, feeling hot tears form beneath my lids
Slowly, they sear down my cheeks, falling to the earth
Knees to chest, my arms envelop them as I look to the sky
Fall clouds tinted with impending showers shadow me
I pull in a deep breath, feeling my ribcage slightly give

The dying earth and decaying leaves bury me 
Filling my insides with burnished flames
I feel my ashen skin flushing with color
The sun peeks out, flicking through a fiery tree
 I close my eyes once more as its rays flutter upon my lids

Yellow, brass, crimson, fuchsia

I let them dance

I let them burn

I let them change me

~ C ~

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comforts ... Poetry

There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits ~ Robert Southey

We all have our things. Comforts -- things that make us feel like we're at home within ourselves. Mine are warm fuzzy socks in the winter, black and white films, Frank Sinatra, the smell of dryer sheets during a walk on a crisp fall night, cheesy romance novels, a teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter, graham crackers dipped in hot chocolate or tea, a glass of wine (white when I'm feeling happy or creative, dark red when it's been a hell of a day), and hot mugs of most anything (though tea or cocoa are preferred). If I bring out the warm milk and honey, you know it's been a rough week. My mom used to make me warm milk and honey as a child. That one pulls out all the stops.

<3 Compliments of Sandy Ward <3
I also have an affinity for water drops. There is something peaceful about raindrops on a windowpane or against the leaves of a tree, plopping on the asphalt, tickling the gutters ... but if there's no rain to be had, I find comfort in letting the steady waterfall of the shower head pelt against my neck and back. Oftentimes, I'll sink to the floor of the tub, bury my head in my arms and kneecaps and block my ears with the sides of my forearms, just so I can internally hear the individual drops hit the crown of my head, patter against my neck and along my shoulder blades as though I'm listening from the inside out.

That's where I found myself tonight ... and that's when the poetry finally came:

 White Noise

Noise filtered through the cracks of my brain
Wedging into every grey nook like endless prattle
Off in the distance, I could hear tall reeds sighing in the wind
Bending back and forth, but never breaking

The moon's silver stream poured into the bathroom window
Casting an ethereal sheen upon every cold, hard surface
The restless clatter on the edges of my conscious begins to scurry
As my soft hands slowly turn the knobs, creating a piercing sizzle

The muddied noise clamors once more before dying on a whisper
Thousands of searing water drops drown out its last remnants, branding me
I slowly sink within my own skin, folding over each layer, down ... down
I feel the slight change in temperature, the cool ceramic fighting steam

The blathering only temporarily muted by the blinding, high pitched waterfall
I lean forward on my haunches, pressing my forehead against the silver knob
It's chilled touch, a paradox to the heat harnessed beneath it
I dip my head lower, bringing my forearms against my ears

Suddenly, the cascading static is muffled, propelling my mind inward
My eardrums quiver, separating each droplet -- its echo, a soft caress
My steady pulse faint against its thrumming heartbeat as I listen from within
The water glistens against the moonbeams, flickering and dancing down my spine

Nothing exists 

But me

~ C ~