Tag Archives: quick

Thoughtless Gestures of Love

A story for you, written in 20 minutes
3:06 a.m.

We drove from my Mom’s house to my Dad’s house. This was my Friday night. Headlights going down the highway in the rust polka-dotted, old geo-prism. My sister wasn’t with us. It was just me and Dad and NPR. I passed the time by road ogling for an hour fifteen.
I think he was trying to bring up a woman’s issue. I was in 8th grade. About to be a real teenager. About to be in High School. He brought up the importance of self-confidence for young women. He didn’t mean me specifically. He meant, young women as he knew them, as the idea ideal. I said, “I have like zero self-confidence.” I’m not sure if I was joking or not. Self-confidence isn’t something someone tells you how to acquire, they just seem to measure. My Dad turned his head from the highway to look at me. He usually spoke to you like he was a recording, and when you were talking he was only on pause. But this time, he seemed to look at me. I knew I’d done something wrong.
From where he drove, I was his little girl. He didn’t get to spend enough time with me. I was just growing up so fast. I seemed happy enough. I talked about my friends. I was good. He had nothing to worry about. I made my grades. Not the grades he wanted, but the grades I worked for. He wasn’t sure about my school. The history teacher seemed to have his facts and opinions too close together. But I’d be fine. Grades don’t matter till high school. I seemed to care.
He must have read a book about this somewhere. Mom told me once he was so nervous about being a Dad he read those books. A good student till the end. A student of black and white in print. And this self-confidence thing, now that was something bad. He had to fix that. That couldn’t go on. Self-confidence was very important for young women. I was a young women. He had read this is important. He must have decided he knew he could improve my confidence.
On the way home, we stopped at the library. I picked out a couple movies. At the checkout counter he said, “these are for you.” He handed me a stack of books. I walked out to the car with them piled in my arms. I read the titles once we were half-way home. They were themed. Improve you self-confidence, how to be a better you, how to love yourself the teenager, find the good inside everyone.
Right then, I think, no I know, I saw my Dad for his faults. First time. How did he not know this wasn’t how to fix me? How did he not know his own daughter well enough to know when he did something to upset her. Worse, when he upset me, why didn’t he care? He never should have told me there was something wrong with me or my confidence. He never should have given me a book. He never should have tried to fix me. I learn through talking. Why didn’t he talk to me instead of past, over, and to my sister? I put those books down. In one of my first acts of teenage rebellion, I never touched those books again. He condemned me with a library card. If he would have said anything to me, I would have been better off.
He scared me. In retrospect, he might have asked those questions, and I probably wouldn’t have answered. I was just nerves. I worried whatever answer I gave might not be the right one, and I’d get a lecture, or he’d raise his voice. So I started not telling him. He couldn’t hurt me that way, if I didn’t tell him something might be wrong. I can’t be fixed if I won’t tell you anything important. So I stuck to safe topics. I learned to have non-issue opinions that would keep him talking. No one could tell me something was wrong with me. I’d be perfect in the middle of the road, normal. You can’t suggest to the perfect.

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10 Poems in 20 Minutes (November 23rd)

Ok, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. I miss having a structure and a deadline to write poems. I really do. It’s like part of my day is missing. So I wrote more poems, off the top of my head. And I feel better about life.

I Wrote 10 Poems in 20 Minutes (7:09)
Day 11-23

Poem 1:
I’d like to think I’m good
A good person
Who does good
Well
Well, I mean, I’m not sure anymore
I can’t find a good judge
Someone who’ll fair judge me
And say,
Yes you do good.

Poem 2:
I spoke to my sister today
In a way I haven’t in a while
We talked of all we’d loved
All we’ve had
All she’s loved.
Because she has that in her
To love, this man
She loves him.
I’ve never had that in me,
I’m not sure, it’s even there.

Poem 3:
And I couldn’t speak
Everything I said got dissected
Or told that wasn’t right.
So I held my tongue
In the grip of polite.

Poem 4:
She says to us
You could have said it this way
And it wouldn’t have been mean.
So I write that down
In my playbook, my list
Of the proper phrases I can say to my mother
But she keeps editing
To say
I’m angry with what you’ve said
So I’ll keep picking at you
Cross that out and only ask for my love this way.

Poem 5:
Find me sunlight and
I’ll show you shadow.
I will.
Find me good
I’ll turn it wrong
Just by titling my head
And saying look how the sun shining on us
Misses all those over there.

Poem 6:
What do I say?
To my father when he asks where my job is.
How do I bargain with peace for stillness
So I don’t have to explain myself.

Poem 7:
I haven’t seen it
You know
I never have.
My face from your eyes.

Poem 8:
He said, let me get a job
And we can flirt with the idea
Of buying you a plane ticket out to see me
He priced them out for me.
I’ll probably hold grudges against him in time.
Just give me time
And I’ll find fault in the hundred percent.

Poem 9:
I sold something back
For less than I paid for it
So in effect
I spent forty dollars on my birthday and
Got hassle.

Poem 10:
I want to know what I’d look like skinny
If I was thin
How beautiful I would be
I can almost see my bones now
Without the added weight.
Beautiful in mirrors with pinched skin
And drawn on lines
With perfect shades,
We’re artists of our faces.

10 Poems in 20 Minutes (Day Twenty-Five)

Twenty-five days in a row of writing poetry in twenty minutes. My god. I should do something to celebrate or some such nonsense. I’ll do some sort of tribal victory dance.

10 Poems in 20 Minutes
Day 25

Poem 1:
I could be doing my favorite thing
But not care
I could be missing three fingers
But I would meh shrug
For the listlessness has overcome me
I could be caring

Poem 2:
I show you my heart,
Because you asked.
I pick up this squirrely strands, mismatched, slippery, falling
Shove them in your general direction and say,
This is who I am.
Because you asked

Poem 3:
I scare myself
What I would do if I really cared

Poem 4:
I want to wrap my arms around something warm
Hear another heartbeat
And not be scared
Not have to move.

Poem 5:
He won’t like me because you’re weird
That strange word for everything other
Encompasses all the others
Gives you an excuse to say no

Poem 6:
The wonderings forms me stronger
If I had done this it would be better
Makes us strength in memories in the past
Improves us now, so we can say we did
Kicks us to keep getting better
Not to accept the same
The hopeless say not what if, but when

Poem 7:
An old kindergarten paper with my pink paint smudged glitter hand print
In that kid like font on special printing
I put my now hands over the then hands
Not much growth

Poem 8:
When I get old
I’ll creak and crack
My mind will too
And I’ll forget to move my boundary in lines

Poem 9:
He wanted us to go in front and talk about our papers
I didn’t have a real argument
I didn’t want to stand
I cut class
So no one asked me to defend myself
What’s there worth defending

Poem 10:
Lemme explain to you why I won’t ask a guy out
I told him
I’m stuck in generations
The grandmas tell me never to cross your legs
The mother’s tell me not to depend
But they both stayed with their husbands out of understood duty
My dad opens car doors for me, so I pause at any frame
But no one’s asked me
No one told me
How to bat eyes, and spritz, or smile, or grind
And I can’t do anything without knowing it’s ok first
They just forgot to mention
Hell if I’ll ask

10 Poems in 20 Minutes (Day Twenty-Four)

Twenty-four days of live action poetry written under a time limit. Twenty-four is a good number.

10 Poems in 20 Minutes
Day 24

Poem 1:
She told, she’s had people abandon friends who are dying in hospice
They don’t know what to say so they don’t sit
Sit with me a while
For my cubicle death soul and his
Squared off vigil

Poem 2:
Find me a river
Let’s go dancing
Turning waves
Shot of breath
Breathe shorter and shorter

Poem 3:
I stalked up to the front of the class
Hi prof
You don’t know me but
How to tell a stranger you know, who has power over you
That a greater obligation calls your attention
No matter money spent
Regardless of infinite prior knowledge
My dad, he’s in surgery, if I get a call
I’m leaving
They have to say ok
Then as you walk back
Remember they’re a person
And ask if you’re all right

Poem 4:
I tell me at times
That I’ve got a good soul
And that I’m not quick to anger or threaten
Abhorrent violence
But how far has that been tested
If I could push a big red button
Could I know what I’d do
If I wasn’t there

Poem 5:
I only did as a child
Swung onto a held hand till the shoulder socket ached
Waved to strangers
Wanted to be big
Couldn’t hold on till I could ride a ride
Knew it would be better, not hoped

Poem 6:
Favorite hymn, I want that one played at my funeral
Because this guy, she said, wasn’t a believer
Had no hymn picked out
But the priest knew he was saved
Sung the brother’s favorite hymn instead
Respect the lived idea’s of the passed
He wouldn’t have wanted not to be in a church

Poem 7:
Waiting for this head space to clear
Then I see everything all filtered
By what I’m going to need now
In this certain position
From this different angle place in my head

Poem 8:
The pride comes from hope the second time around is all better
He sideline sits. Watches the big bulk son hit and scrape
This is glory

Poem 9:
I like to take an action many before have
Kinship over time with similar thoughts in mind
Like watching fire
Combing hair
Carving apples
Spilling cups
Clasping hands
Picking teeth
And slaughtering chickens
All to survive, we do it all to survive

Poem 10:
I’ll get up early tomorrow
Watch the sun come up over dingy dinghy neighborhood
Uneven concrete blocks
Tilting blue spruce pines
Remind myself that beauty hits everything
But it won’t be pretty tomorrow they’ll be clouds
This place will still be the same
Birds behind shutters

10 Poems in 20 Minutes (Day Fifteen)

This. I have written ten poems in twenty minutes for fifteen straight days. Seems impossible.

10 Poems in 20 Minutes
Day 15

Poem 1:
First time I decided not to share
I think I held back because no one noticed
Somehow they didn’t get to know because they didn’t see

Asphalt as the playground outside the box white pre-school, kindergarten, grade school
I wanted to run as fast as
So I did
I fell and skidded
I don’t remember the blood just the that the square and taped gauzy and white
It took weeks before I realized there were three big strikes on my knees not a red square
Mom never asked, still scarred
They didn’t get to hear what happened

Poem 2:
I saw her chase a fence squirrel
I didn’t think she had it in her
Maybe it is just dog arthritis
I’ll find her not breathing later
Stupid dog making me care

Poem 3:
Slammed the drawer so hard the whole front broke off
It just cracked I guess
Power to shut
No power to hold
Just like me then

Poem 4:
After I gained some weight
It’s easier to catch food when it falls on you
That’s nice

Poem 5:
I kept vigil while she drove just to check
Then I nightmared she didn’t see that car again
Turned to the other side
Folded pillow under my knee
Calling up all my tricks to see just the

Poem 6:
My one friend I sit with in a bar
She’s so different from me I take solace
She’ll ask exactly what you mean when you say that
Then keep asking till she’s figured it out and how it relates to her
My greyness, ambiguity and rhyme seek this plainness
Open to nothing but lines

Poem 7:
The zip code numbers made us friends
A cruel girl
Who straightened her straight hair
And talked Colbie Caillat
She talked out of your code
To tell those girls all you did
How you practiced making sexy faces in the bathroom mirrors

Poem 8:
He asked me to sew on the patch
Square and colored to show a new belt for kicking well and high
Broke the needle into my finger
He said you can finish later
There’s no hurry

Poem 9:
She sits and chats with her people she knows
You’re in that odd circle of standing people
But you don’t speak
They don’t talk to you
So you pull on her arm as hard as you can in your mind
Like she doesn’t even remember she’s obliged to you
They keep talking new colors for the concrete

Poem 10:
Pure red river honey
On the bottle
This bottle
My bottle
Rumbly tumbly mason jar
If I stuck my hand in that jar I could leave hand prints