contemporary prose

I don’t know my way back home anymore.
No one will show me the way.
You knew every way, every back road, every highway to get me back to the warmth and the privacy and the joy and the joy and the joy.
You knew my fears and how lonely I could be and you had a library of words that could sing my worries back to sleep and you still know but you won’t pick up the damn phone and there is no one to show me where my home is, where my heart is.
So I’ll stay here in this house instead. I’ll leave the light on for you. The key is under the mat.
—  In Which You Can’t Keep Me From Missing You

i sneak out of my shell at the same time my mother sneaks out of hers. she’s told me i mustn’t give in to temptation, that purity is too precious to waste. she is fortunate: she insults me, but i never tell on her.

i retreat into the blue of my bedroom. i flutter in front of the mirror. i put on some pretty underwear. i tell myself that you will never see my underwear. i change back.

i wait until my mother has flown from the window before i make my escape. i shake with disgust. she looks terrible, flushed with love & secrets. pink makes her look jaundiced.

i pretend that holding hands with you isn’t awkward. i pretend not to notice that your palms are as dewy as my eyes. i pretend that these are tears of joy & not embarrassment. you trip over your own feet, sometimes.

i let you lead although i am smarter than you. your tag sticks out constantly & you stammer when you’re excited, but i follow you anyway. you build things from the sky, & i so desperately need a sky.

your words weave a blanket in the darkness. it is softer than french perfume & thicker than security. your words are heavy over us. i should have worn the good underwear, but you say you can’t tell the difference.

–should i follow someone who can’t tell the difference?

i have read more books than you ever will, but you still call me a child. look, you say, at these delicate fingers. these sweet hollows. these innocent lips. s-s-say, dear child: have you never told a lie?

i have, i lie.

in my bedroom i slick blue shadow over my lids & ignore the fact that i look like old photographs of my mother. i swipe lipstick over my deflowered mouth. at least— i tell myself— at least i look good in pink.


blue shadow baby

I want you to come through the door;
the door I unlocked
just for you.
I want you to come through the door;
and see the ink on paper
for you.
your name
a verse.
again and again.
Away from all eyes,
all night.
—  Anava.

Black rocks and blue lagoons

The hardened lava in it’s jet black omnipresence, cooled by the ethereal waters, of a calm so blue.

Intrigue and shadows, pull you into a haunting but delicious dream.

With a birds eye view, we roam in a copter over the active volcano, Kilauea, while she spits fire in the air. We swirl and swirl above her flowing glowing mass, while inhaling the smoke
from her smoldering womb.

From sulphur to sweetness, we head north, entering the dark velvety valleys
that taste of perfume. Nature in it’s
playfulness, squirts streams of water from it’s winking and smiling cliffs.

My favorite pilot is Crazy Joe. He flew
attack helicopters for the U.S. Army, which was obvious in his every maneuver.

His love for rock, trailed psychedelic notes in the tropical sky. Laughing, he was always laughing, with a twinge of devil in his eyes.

He would always find his way back to earth though, that giant floating black rock…

and as for me, with every flight I took with Joe, I changed a little…my eyes more wild, I laughed a little louder, and I would always chomp at the bit, to once again, soar in the untamed sky…


partial image of my own work, oil on canvas with ground Carrara marble from Italy

I LISTENED TO THE CURE TODAY and I didn’t think about you. Not really. Not as much as I used to. Which is to say I’m done making monuments of the ghosts who haunt me. Which means instead of thinking of you, I’m thinking of heaven and the way you said you found it in me. You gave up believing in a place that could save you until you saw redemption in the words and pages that tumbled from my hands. Just like heaven, you said. But you didn’t believe it. You don’t believe in me anymore either, but I’m still putting you down on paper, I’m still immortalizing you in ink. I’m still here, listening to The Cure and putting down every word I know for your sad eyes. And all of this is just to say: I’M SORRY I couldn’t save you. I’M SORRY I’m not heaven and just another person needing to be redeemed.
—  just like heaven, megan m. 

kindness is disingenuous. i don’t profess to be kind, but accommodating. i will curb —but not bend— my passions around you. i am not the gentlest of people, & heaven knows i haven’t any patience to speak of, but i’ve blunted my claws so that i won’t cut you when you come to cradle me. do not thank me— i struggle with compassion. it is a nestling thing, a warming thing; it is mawkish & tenacious as i am reticent & harsh. & you! oh curious creature, you know that i am negligent in noble pleasure; you know that my fervor is a front to deny my disillusionment. i am not nice— why must you insist on calling me so? i smile only to lure my prey, even if that prey is myself. i shoulder burdens only to increase my mortal strength. it is a conceptual teething; the pain makes my mouth water. i love only to know the joy of love, i give only to know reception. if i spare you from the knife, it is for my dislike of blood. this isn’t to say that i don’t value happiness— i simply do not feel attracted to a saccharine existence— it repulses me through & through! kindness is manipulation! kindness is a rebuke! & you, oh curious creature! how can you proclaim to love me with open arms, yet reproach me with piteous eyes? —no. i am accommodating, considerate even; but darling, i’m not nice.

hard sketch, fig. 2

“Writing is actually the translation of a text we already carry within us” Kamienska.

“I like Simone Weil’s idea that writing is actually the translation of a text we already carry within us. That notion makes a heavy task lighter. In fact, though, writing is the backbreaking work of hacking a footpath, as in a coal mine; in total darkness, beneath the earth. 

In poetry there are moments of illumination. A streak of light falls in the dark corridor, then the darkness slams shut overhead once more. 

In prose the darknesses are even thicker, the black clods even harder.”

Words: Anna Kamienska, from “In That Great River: A Notebook”
Image: Tacita Dean. “The Roaring Forties: Seven Boards in Seven Days”

I sometimes think of talking to you but for some reason, that wanted action only remains as a pure thought.

I don’t know if the sound of my voice would sound like music to your ears.

And the same thought would sometimes circulate inside my mind to talk to you, to talk to you, to talk to you. And the same feeling would always beat inside my heart not to, not to, not to.

So I decided to listen to the beat of my heart. And now that wanted action is now a pure feeling. And I feel like I’ve fallen in love with you all over again even though my heart beats not to, not to, not to.

—  The Beat of My Heart by Juansen Dizon 

“[T]he word that would unlock it all seems constantly to be almost on our lips, waiting just outside the gateway of our memory, just a shape, a phrase, a sound away the moment that we choose to utter it–but when we try to say the thing, something fades within our mind like fading light, and something melts within our grasp like painted smoke, and something goes forever when we try to touch it.”

Thomas Wolfe, from “The House of the Far and Lost,” Contemporary Southern Prose, eds. Richmond Croom Beatty and William Perry Fidler (D.C. Heath and Co., 1940)

To my beloved.
I know. I know there are memories that still torment you. I know you still regret mistakes that should have died, forsaken, in the past.
Trauma has burned itself into your mind and is therefore laced into every decision you make. You hardly notice it, but this is the trutb. Reading your stoic face is difficult, but your eyes, your eyes scream of your unhappiness and the racing thoughts nearly suffocating you.
How do you forget how do you forget how do you forget things like open bottles of liquor, your father looking at you with no recognition when
that look is all he left you with.
The past will creep up and haunt us. It always does. You rue the fact that all of the necessary words died on your lips, and now it’s too late. I love you and I know it won’t make it any better. I can promise you this, however: I will not go.
If you show me the wounds you’ve been concealing from most everyone, I will stitch them without flinching. I will untangle your burning
heart strings, one by one, and make no complaint.
You never talk about the nightmares that plague your sleeping brain. They’re why you lie alone every evening. But I will never let them take you. Introduce me to your sheets, and I will always bring you back to me.
I know there is anxiety that gnaws at the edges of your heart, anguish that keeps you up until three in the morning. You fight your shutting eyelids because you fear what lies beneath. You do not want to be alone with your thoughts because they’re difficult to face. I, my love, will teach you how.
I will make the necessary as comfortable for you as possible, so you may heal.
I will fit you safely into the crook of my neck. I will hold you when you are afraid, kiss you when you can’t stand to look at yourself.
Now I marry my lips to your ear and present to you these solemn vows: I will never let anything hurt you. I will never leave you.

Ogallala Aquifer

On my way to Jackson Hole I stopped in Madison at a roadside restaurant. I watched the cream in my coffee mix like water and paint. I found a poorly penned letter from you tucked in my leather bound notebook.

An apology for being a novice lover and never being strong enough to help carry my darkest thoughts. You beg me to be safe and to stay inspired. There are a number of faces I could visit on the map, but none of them deserve my sorrow.

Back home it poured for days on end, in the desert I lie hopelessly on the red ground praying for the earth to open up and swallow me whole.

At the fill station in Ogallala, I can’t work up the guts to call with an update. I spend two hours listening to your voicemail. The longer I’m on these straight, monotonous roads, the better you sound.

You owe it to yourself to forget about me.

** Jordan Alan Brown **

Stylized Fandoms - or, when It’s All The Same, but also It Isn’t.

NECESSARY STUFF: The OP above gave full permission to use their post as a launchpad for this commentary, so please don’t mistake this as either endorsement or criticism, and please do not mistake it as a group invitation to attack. I’ve written about this phenomenon in the Rowling fandom before and this gives me another excuse. Plus, as someone who tried to join a fandom via this writing strategy and failed, I think I can contribute some thought fodder on the issue of content sameness.

I’m bout to drop an essay, hobbits. This essay isn’t, however, a critique. This is a non-evaluative observation and a writing theory. And, finally, an open question to fellow fic writers.

BASE OBSERVATION: The dominant writing styles in book-based fandoms mirror and pay homage to the style of the original author.

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