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Creative Writing

The Padlock and the Keys

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In his hand he held it

Cold like the air around him

Heavy but no heavier than his heart,

Metal and the color of

The sky just before the stars open their eyes

And sunlight tiptoes into

The tops of trees to sleep

With changing leaves.

 

 

He clicked it closed

Turned the key again

To watch it open

Like the door of an old friend

Who he could not wait to see—

The silver glistened against

The subway lights

As he held their padlock a little too tight.

 

 

All across the city he wondered if she

Would be there to meet him

As she said she would be—

But she said it once before

And he was alone

To hold his own hand

Hardened like stone

And breath that could not breathe.

 

 

That was before. Perhaps not today.

 

 

It was the plan

For each to bring

The keys to the weight he carried

To toss them to the sea

Mirroring pitches made all along

By lovers whose promises

Were promised and

Strong.

 

 

He found the place

Like a scout on a trail

Where their solidarity of heart

Would be stayed in the midst

Of a garden of colors and

Words etched with pride

The dates of a thousand choices

The names of two thousand tales.

 

 

A bridge high above

A sleepy canal

Where glitter and shadows

Fold into themselves

With wrought iron twisting

From railing to floor

This is the place he had chosen

To seal relation with she he adored.

 

 

He stepped off the train

And into the night

Passing by strangers

Pale in moonlight

Walked to the place—

The bridge and canal—

Where he waited to see her

With sighful exhales.

 

 

He clicked the padlock

Then twisted his key—

Open and closed—

A ritual he relied on

Until her face he could see

It kept her close

Inside his hands

Mirrored the place she held in his soul.

 

 

The evening cool

Turned to midnight cold

He fluffed up his scarf

Looked left and then right

No one in sight but a lonely dog

Sniffing the edges of a lowering fog,

Who looked with sad eyes

Then curled up in a doorway to sleep.

 

 

The clock in the tower

Struck only once

Four hours passed

The time they had set

The anniversary

Of the first time they met

Now come and gone—

The lonely dog stirred and then yawned.

The man remembered a time

When first they decided

To secure the padlock

Hours beyond their bodies uniting

It was a gesture of “yes”

A wish of “again”

And he realized now

They should have done it then.

 

 

The time had passed—

Too much time—

From the first to the last

So she changed her mind

She left him behind

Which never could have been

If the cold metal was clicked,

Their keys making love to the sea.

 

 

He sat on the edge

Looked into the glitter,

Which looked more like litter

With no light shining down from his eyes—

He remembered the sunshine

Climbed to the other side

Whispered her name one time, then

He dove into the water

With the padlock at his side.

 

 

The lonely dog sighed and walked into the night.

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: this poem was inspired by German artist Ruprecht von Kaufmann‘s piece, Under Water, 2004.  http://rvonkaufmann.com/home/ )

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The Girl Who Could Not Fly

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She lay in the grass

With her eyes toward the sky—

Wide from east to west—

And she why’d,

“What makes me different

from the rest,”

As a cloud floated by

Winking at the girl

Who could not fly.

 

 

Her daydreams fluttered

Like butterflies

And plans she made

Split the air

Likes bees darting

From flowers to trees

Not knowing what will come—

Even so—

Buzzing along.

 

 

As she listened to

The singing wind

Gather and rescind

Its voice

With playful grins

She learned a lesson

About coming close and

Tumbling back

Into the atmosphere

Where life continues

To breathe

Even in the midst—

In the absence of—

The things she thought

Would never leave,

Would always retrieve

Hidden places in her heart

Like brush strokes inside

A piece of art.

 

 

She felt the earth spinning

Like a merry-go-round

Flying from the ground

Into space

Where stars and moon

Recognize each face

As it passes along—

Singing familiar songs

Of the past and

The present and

The times in between

When young lovers hold hands

When old men and women kiss

And

When the choices we make

Change the fate

Of those who tread

Upon the dirt but

Do not touch

What is above the earth.

 

 

She felt her smallness

 

As a ray of sun—

Like hope—

Radiated and caught

The edges of

Glitter inside her skin—

The breathing life within,

And the way

All that made her “I”

Connected to all that

Was not of her

For the moments

In which her dust

Mingled among

The magic of life

And of hate and of love

And of wars and of lust.

 

 

Yesterday she felt a weight

Today a freedom came

Wherein Debussy still lives and

Elvis wiggles his hips

Where languages are many

Ideas are plenty

And the rhythm of

Being alive means

Saying hello and

Saying goodbye—

And still

The orchestra of

Nature and her melodies

Tumble low

Tickle her ear

While the voices of flowers

And of birds

Whisper secrets

Then disappear—

She understands

A marvelous truth:

Love expands our hearts

As hours grow the days

Disappointments are only silence when

Life is a song of praise.

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by the beautiful work of artist, Elicia Edijanto.  http://www.eliciaedijanto.com)

Subsequent Kingdom

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The hour came

When she no longer knew

Where to stand and so

She sat

In the middle of a ground

Hollowed of movement

And of sound

Wrapped her arms around

The tops of her knees

Squeezed and held

Herself in a balance

That felt like a trance

Faded memories danced

Then turned into smoke

Lifted up and

Away

Transformed day into

Night

Where what was bright

Had taken flight and

There was no way

To know for sure

Where her plight would

Take her or

Send her next but to a

Dream—

So she slept and found

That nightmares abound

But dreams are the things

Worth stepping into

And so

She slept and she stepped:

 

 

She enters

Her feet soaked in regret

A substance heavier than she knew—

Under,

Leaves crunching

Small souls darting

Dripping mysteries and dew.

 

 

She stands in a forest hidden

Where light is shattered

By shadow—

The sun trickles

Down tree trunks until

It is devoured by the shade

 

 

In this place—

Where light and dark collide—

Life breathes

Without fear of

Being censured or

Scrutinized.

 

 

Her hands tremble

Adding vibration to the breeze

That shakes from unseen clouds

Wraps around her skin and

Seeps past petrified courage

Within.

 

 

Location undisclosed

To she and he and me

Lost inside—

No fear of being unfound

No regret of being drowned

Between the monotony there

And this cacophony of sound—

Deafening

Increasing swells surround

Like a riptide racing around

Tearing her loose from security,

With confounding obscurity

Crowned.

 

 

A subsequent Queen

Bowed low

In a coronation of surrender to

Unpredictability and

Relinquished proposals and

Control.

 

 

Her scepter raised

Exposing cavity of beating heart

And soul

Warring against

Encroaching enemies

Threatening to bring low—

 

 

She breathes

She sighs

She catches the eyes

Of a creature coming near

In him a revelation

She holds dear

But senses she should not go near

Yet stuck

Between stimulus and

Reaction and

A choice as thick as the

Tangled underbrush below and

As wide as these grounds

She does not know

She stands still

A stabbing of thrill

Enters her side

Some kind of alive

Breeching the tenderness

Of the space in which

Her secrets hide.

 

 

She lowers her scepter now

Compelled to disavow

The tenacity of her presence

Here

In a place that,

Perhaps,

She should fear

There he stands

Quite near—

Treading upon this

Undisclosed ground

Gives air to her footsteps

And she, like a child,

Lays her focus at the feet

Of he and of

Mysteries

That surround her there—

She

Worships at the alter of

Her long forgotten

Sense of wonder.

 

 

Unexpected places

Unimagined faces

Unforeseen encounters

Remind her that life is

An unpredictable force

Impossible to bridle by

Her will

To maintain monotony,

“Let it be,”

Says she

With an indignant air

Of possibility

And a heaviness in her lungs

Making it difficult to breathe

But she breathes

And she sighs and

She moves into his realm

Sticks her fingers in and

Pries him open

Like a vice

Exposing his positives to

Her negatives—

 

 

A Pandora’s Box of

Magnetism

Cataclysmic exposure

Suicidal disclosure

Blasts through their chests and

Up and over

The tops of the trees

A burst of what is

Unseen

Careening

Trading winds with

All that is seen

A hurricane of chemistry

Unforeseen

Destroying the obscenely routine

Like a machine

Come to life

With a pulse and a

Long,

Sharpened knife.

 

 

She realized too late

That being crowned

In her dream

Precluded her stream

Of consciousness from

Waking

Stuck now inside her sleep—

Between worlds—

Stewing in a concoction of

Memories from her waking life

And the reality of

This present dream.

 

 

She remembers when

She had a choice

Where she sat

With her arms

Wrapped around her knees

And a breeze of normalcy

Blowing across her

Tear stained cheeks,

“The tears I knew

were softer

than these torrents

where light and dark

steal what

was—

what was—

to imbue the present with

the power to

unscrew all

they whip through.”

 

 

The hour came

When she no longer knew

Where the path of her then

Met with the path of her

Now going through

So she sat with her crown

Awaiting sundown,

Her sleeping life

Mingling inside

Her subsequent kingdom.

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s piece entitled, Bullriding.  http://www.heikomueller.de)

 Lighthouse Hero

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She called to him

Beneath a veil of night

When summer wore

Its hottest mask

Wax and dripping

Onto the earth

Leaving sticky puddles

Drenched and drying fast.

 

 

He was ill equipped

From skin to guts

No cape in his wardrobe

Or spectacles to hide his eyes

Paralyzed

By the fear–

No not the fear–

The knowing.

 

 

Knowing that his will

To fight for love

Was vacuum packed

And wrapped in moth balls,

It wreaked of age and of

The stench of desperate attempts

And falls–

Memories of unanswered calls.

 

 

Calls for him to be the one

The victor in the storm

Brimming to capacity

With strength enough to

Hold her heart–

At least her hand

Across jagged tightropes

Stretching over pits of sand.

 

 

Quicksand questions

Lined with glue

Meant to close the chasm

Between expectation and

What is true–

Catechisms from the past

Never brought to light

Long enough

For queries to last.

 

 

What lasted was uncertainties

And now he paid the price

Not wanting to lose

Her

But unprepared to fight

All he could muster

Was a broken hero’s

Journey into night.

 

 

Night fell

Long past its time as

Summer solstice

Lazily drew its haze

Upon a sultry sky–

Like the afterglow

Of a camera’s flash

Imprinted behind the eye.

 

 

Eyes heavy with fatigue

Propped open by ambition

He pulled his jeans up high

Belted at the waist

Sat on the dew-drenched seat

Slicing through salt

Like he was a Sodomite Sculptor

Entering the competition.

 

 

A competition

Against himself

Against the doubt

Bubbling through

His tightening veins

Waking him from

Slumber of uncertainty to

Valor through adversity.

 

 

Adverse conditions

In the black

Gave way

As light he carried

Burned a path

Radiant as day–

Along the way he set it down

The dread that he had nothing to give.

 

 

He gave her a coordinate–

It was all he had–

A map written in the air

To help her find him

Approaching beneath a beacon

Brave and bright

Like a compass

More meticulous than starlight.

 

 

Starlight led her way

Across a stretch of sand

The edge of land

And water

Lapping against her skin

Deep and

Deeper still

She wandered toward the glow.

 

 

Glowing first as though a firefly

Small and far away

His vessel cutting through

The foam, mocking delay

For time no longer mattered

As slow their paths came near

He, soaked with ocean

She, doused in tears.

 

 

Her tears were anvils

From her soul

Releasing injured expectation

She felt her heaviness go–

Fly

Into the heavens

Where drafts outweighed

The currents swirling down below.

 

 

She never saw below

The hidden treasure trove

Inside his hidden space

The place

Where thought and emotion

Ruptured like burdened banks

To flood his heart and

Overflow–

 

 

Overflows of adrenaline

Like rain

Saturated and drowned his pain

Leaving only

In the boat

He and the lighthouse he kept

For her

A flame no longer detained.

 

 

No act of the Furies could detain

His passage toward her eyes

The two he knew without seeing

He could feel at the side of his neck,

Glimpse behind the pillow

Where once she lay

Inside his dreams

And in the middle of day.

 

 

The glow began to grow

He rowed like a man

Pursued by death

And she

Released a laugh

That tore his heart

From two parts into one–

He dropped the oars so he could run.

 

 

He ran to just before her

Then stopped to etch her

All

Inside his mind

Where secrets forever kept

Could burrow, rest and hide,

“I came for you,”

He said–

 

 

She already knew

But she feigned a big surprise,

“I wondered at that

single point

upon the horizon growing

never knowing

whether I should run away

or stay.”

 

 

“I am glad you stayed,”

He kicked some sand

Between his shoes

And cleared his tightening throat,

“Now that you have

would you allow

this reluctant pirate

to stay here, too?”

 

 

She blew out the candle

Burning above his face–

No need to keep it lit

Inside this place

Where journey’s end

Had come to rest–

“I never really lost you,” he said—

“Then I was never really lost.”

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

 

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by Oakland based artist John Casey‘s piece, Lighthouse Keeper, 2016  acrylic on panel  40″ x 30″.  http://www.johncasey.com)

 

Love, Or Something Like It

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(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by American artist John Casey’s piece, Well Hello: 2014, pencil on paper, 14 x 11.  http://www.johncasey.com

 

 

There was a time

When the feeling was high

Like a tide

Rolling up and in

Surfers flying

Sun shining and

Invisible heartbeats

Crooning tunes of

Love

Or something like it.

 

 

The edge of desire

Between water and fire

Where burning is natural

Safe and contained

Where extinguishing

Is disregarded like a far-off joke

Laughter and ease

No appeasing

Only releasing

No hand on the trigger.

 

 

A season of passion

Final bastion before the mix

Of hearts and hands

Rhythms and bands

Playing songs for two

And candles glowing

Illustrating the knowing

Breaking shadows

Into pieces like crumbs

Along the way.

 

 

Shadows slip into

The hourglass—

Goodbye—

Crumbs and sands combine

Lost

And time falling

Sand filling darkness

That cannot be fished

All the way down

Into deepest fathoms of regret.

 

 

It is quiet there

Where thoughts dare not

To squirm—

They writhe instead

Slither over, “what the hell”

Wriggle past hatred

Lick the ears of obliterated

Words and

Images all stamped with,

“Doubt.”

 

 

There is a way out

But only further down

Past the malice

And through the chalice

Of poison

Red with the blood of

Something once living

Now stiffening

Twitching slowly before

Final death.

 

 

A memory of breath

Clouding

First love

Then hatred

Now something

More foreboding—

Indifference

The truest enemy of

That which was

And no longer is.

 

 

Indifference is

The air surrounding and

That one time we—

Oh, wait, now I forgot—

It is a stroll in the park

With nothing hiding,

Sitting at a traffic light

Waiting for green

But red is fine, too—

Nothing to forget, nothing to pursue.

 

 

There was a time

When hearing your voice

Scattered my focus

Like bees swarming

Drenched in honey

Bringing balance

To the flowers that we gave

And the ones we dropped

Along the way—

A garden full and thriving.

 

 

“Hello?”

My God, the timing—

I did not expect

How could I have known

That the ringing of my phone

Would start the race

Like a pistol pointed above,

Toward the space

Where helium-filled expectations

Rest in peace.

 

 

I touched my lips

As I do when my heart

Beats

Suddenly

Quickly

Stinging the parts that

Stabilize

When I realize

My hands are the only protection

I have.

 

 

“Hello,”

I heard—

Oh,

Hell no—

Hello is not enough

No greeting

Even in the repeating

Could fill the chasm

Between speaking

And hearing.

 

 

I wanted to spill

Like a leak in a pipe

Drip into the boards

Between my feet on the floor

Become a puddle

With no response

No chance to offer

More kindling to

Soak

Or to muddle.

 

 

I heard his voice

Once more

A bolt of electricity—

I was struck

With a memory

The simplicity of

The time that was high

The surfers, the tide—

A different world

A haunted time.

 

 

Then it was quiet

“It” being I

And I being the me

I remembered

I became

After the exit

Of he

And I breathed

Into the phone

Then I hung up—dial tone.

 

 

I poured a glass of Merlot

Sat in an unfamiliar glow

Once having waited—

Deeply anticipating his hello—

Now

Denied

Then

Intoxicated with his lies

But no more

And the red warmed my soul.

 

 

Once I read

Written on the sky

The opposite of love

Is hate

But you see, my dear,

I fear the stars

Were misinformed—

The opposite of love is

Indifference

I am sure I am right

As muted versions of

You and I

Are blown to dry

And stick

To freshly painted fingernails—

Not painted for you.

 

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

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