Lemon Drops

In late 2012, I was writing a story on a local open mic night. There, I was introduced to some amazing spoken word artists, and after I attended a few nights, I decided to give it a try. I hadn’t written poetry since high school, but it really proved itself to be a valuable outlet for me. Below is a collection of some of my favorites that I’ve written.

How to secure your spot in the friend zone

Step one
Get a friend
A best friend that fits you well
Share belly laughs over things
Others wouldn’t understand like
Bandit masks or
Cereal box toys
Do movie nights
And happy hours
Talk all day
And sometimes
Through the night
Find a friend
Who doesn’t judge you
For the past
One who supports you
And says things like
“don’t put yourself down, I’m so proud of you”
Step two
Brace yourself
When you tell said friend you like them
As, more than a friend
Maybe, you’ve even liked then for years
Smile
And laugh
When they tell you
“I had no idea you felt that way.”
Don’t get awkward when people ask
“why aren’t you two dating?”
And whatever you do
Don’t start to think
You’re dating
Because
You’re just a friend
Step three
Do not
Do not
Get upset with they tell you
They’re seeing someone
You’re the friend, right?
Our friendship won’t change just because I’m seeing someone, right?
Don’t you dare
Say that Previous movie nights
Turned date nights
Tear your heart in half
Don’t mention
That you’re jealous as hell
Don’t say
That you wish it was you
That you’ve wished it was you, forever
That you want to be across the table
From them
Sipping cocktails
Laughing at those things others wouldn’t understand
Like Bandit masks
Or cereal box toys
Don’t wonder if she’s prettier than you
Or if he’s a better kisser
Don’t make a list of all the things that might
Have gotten you boxed
Into the friend zone
Don’t admit
That it’s quite possible you fell in
Love all on your own
Because you’re just a friend
Step four
Stop wondering how on earth
This friendship will continue
Don’t think about how shitty it’s going to be
When you meet their new
Other half
Forget about the million times you’ve heard
You’re soooooo awesome
Because you’re not awesome enough
For them
Smile when your friend assures you
You’ve just had a run of bad luck
It’ll happen for you
It happened to my sister
Attempt to master
The art of juggling
This heartbreak and friendship
Find a balance
In the things you used to be able to say
And the things you must keep quiet now
Step five
Don’t define the word friend
Because then you might find
      That it’s time to find a new one.

Crown Royalty

It started with a styrofoam cup
A little detail
About you that I once found charming
So much so
I even put it in a poem
But the elixir in your white cup
Turned from ruby
To royal
Crown royal
The kings drink
Found its way from your liver
To your lips
Spitting lies at me
In the early morning hours
Your gaze turned cold
Your steps heavy
It was the you I’d never seen before
Our senseless fights
Turned ugly
Your royal majesty
Crushed my engagement jeweled dreams
Between his knuckles
I wished
So hard
That he’d give you a hangover
Worthy of a title
But your liver was
Made of stone
Instead of a headache
You had amnesia
And you said
If I don’t remember it, then it didn’t happen
Well do you remember
The time I picked you up
At 4 am
Sitting at Troop A
I In my favorite pink plaid pajamas
And you, in a suit and cuffs.
Handcuffs
After you’d blown it
Literally
A .217
Earning you and your crown a seat in the big house
Not quite the castle you dreamed of
Well do you remember
That time you were kicked out
Of a bar
For fighting?
Wearing your Crown again.
I wanted to be your queen
So bad
I cried
And you said
Stop crying and stand up for yourself
But if my spine hardens
Theres no way i can fit into
Your bottle neck
To become
A part of your royal family
My backbone
Can’t handle the kings cup
The insults swirled inside it
I can’t even stand the sight of it anymore
I hate the person you’ve become
A person who can’t see past
That little styrofoam cup
Despite
The arrests
The jail time
The effect on your daughter
I wonder if the only emotion you’ve really felt is drunk
And our little dance
Was just punch
Drunk
Love
When we said goodbye
You blamed it on me
When it was your royal court…
Jack
Jameson
Jim
…it was you
So now that I’ve handed over my backbone
Tell me,
Where is your X-ray?

Hoosier Girl

I am a collection of nail polish

Sometimes I mix & match

I am a leopard trench coat

The only pair of perfect shoes left in your size

I am a fresh mojito under the western sky

The final shot of whiskey in a cowboy’s cantine

I am my father’s footsteps

My mother’s ease

I am a signant ring

A rusted set of spurs

A jar of black ink

I am a country singer

My lungs loaded with romantic stories

Of the days behind me

I am a typewriter

Leaving lines you can’t quite see

Emphasizing

    each

        Letter

I am the one that got away

A pocket watch

I am a mouth full of curse words

At the white linen table

I am a fire pit

The melody on the radio

I am an old friend

A noisy screen door

That slams in the middle of the night

I am a cornfield

Nestled under an Indiana sunset

Waiting to rise.

Things you should’ve said

You should’ve said

It was someone else

That it wasn’t me you were looking for

You should’ve said

You loved her

And not me

You could’ve said

You bought a ring

Shared a hotel room

Took a picture

That would prove my point

You could’ve said

You’re getting married

You’re letting her walk down the aisle

Stepping over

Years of lies you fed her

Getting closer

To the lifetime of nights

You’ll have to

Lay beside her

The one you betrayed

And live with the

Moment you told her

Father you’d take care of his girl

In my dreams

You would’ve said

Her name

That it wasn’t me

You would’ve said

You did me wrong

You could’ve said

I’m sorry.

Things you should’ve said (Part 2)

I’ve already written you this letter

Searched my heart for the words

To make you understand

What it feels like to be had by you

But when I shared my letter

The consensus was as such

Not enough “Mother Fuckers”

Needed more “Piece of Shit”

Where did my anger hide?

Perhaps it built itself strong

Growing from glass to brick

Adding stilts around my heart to

Ready for the hurricane

Prepping for the blow

The “Mother Fuckers” drowned

Themselves in my sorrow

The “Pieces of Shit”

Turned into fragments of sorrow

Knowing I am not the only one you

Attempted to shatter

Mother Fucker,

I can’t let you build

A house of hate inside of me

I’ve spent hours

Rifling through the

Pieces of shit

You piece of shit

I need peace

Of mind

Why can’t you give it to me

Mother fucker,

Admit your wrongs

Stop hiding

Quit pretending

Mother fucker,

Take my original advice

Pretend I’m dead

And oh,

Mother fucker,

Nice seersucker suit.

PTSD

I was recently diagnosed with PTSD

A collection of letters I’ve heard

On CNN

Paired with numbers

9-11

An abridged version of the alphabet

That takes me back to a hotel room

In Austin, Texas

When he jumped out of bed

Reached for an invisible rifle

At the knock on our door

And the faint, “Housekeeping.”

I have PTSD

My dog tags were sold on eBay

My boots brandish high heels

I’ve never been overseas

But I’m tired of swimming

My ankles are still sore from the chains I wore

I couldn’t tell you the exact moment

I earned my set of letters

What bomb went off

The IED exploding beside my chest

When you said

I’m leaving today

Like it was an MRE waiting to fall at my feet

Your rucksack already packed

No time for a salute

I was in the trenches

Your covert operation

Kicked sand in my face

I reached for my letters and numbers

AK-47

But you, armed with the grenade

Threw it and ran

Camouflage

To my feelings

Don’t ask, don’t tell

Ignore my purple heart

Covered with a patch

That says it all

DC-squared

My boyfriend keeps a pair of black shoes

on the floor beside

his side

of my bed

They are lined up

just right

The toes are turned up

just a bit

He has a signature walk

The insoles are worn

A 12-hour day is what he calls “short”

My boyfriend likes to sip wine

sometimes from styrofoam cups

He likes the way his tongue feels when

he drinks a cab sav

At the bottom of a bottle

or two

he’ll start asking questions

“How is it that YOU are with ME?”

He mentions money problems

But while I’m clueless about the numbers

on his bank account

I know his fists won’t clench

If I start to cry

His voice won’t raise

when we disagree

His eyes won’t drift

When she walks by

“How is it that YOU are with ME?”

He says he’s not hot

But I can count on him to warm

the cool nights

Bank on a tingle

When we touch

He’s

all I see

I’m no j-lo, but my love don’t cost a thing

I’m not a pit boss but i’d bet against the house

on you and me

‘Cause when I’m with you

It’s like I’m in the money

Whether we have it or not

I could use a Tylenol to break

the fever you give me

I’m not worried about

the man you think I need

I worry that I’m not the

woman you deserve

so how is it,

that you are with ME?

DDM

I was the proud owner of a dashboard decision maker

At least that’s what we called it

I found it at the bottom

Of a Lucky Charms box

It was made of clear plastic

A bubble revealing a die inside

Six sides that held our fate

Yes, no, maybe so

I shoved it in my pocket

And We hit the streets,

The way we always did

No plans

Just us

3 blocks from my house

I revealed the plastic toy

A stick of gum later

And it was on the jeep dashboard

Like a cheap Garmin

Hey, DDM, we’re at a red light

Should we turn left

Pop

Yes! And left we went

Our guide drove us through

The city

A city we had memorized

After years of riding in backseats

Carpooling through the suburbs

Gazing beyond the trees wondering

What was outside of our bubble?

Our version of Google maps

Lead us to our favorite place

Where rules didn’t apply

We ditched our shoes

Letting our toes feel the earth

Countless nights welcomed us

There

To the marina

A lake serving

As the backyard

To mansions we would never know

We sipped alcohol

From our parents homes

Smoked flavored cigars

And swam to the floating dock

With a single fear of

creatures

in the water

It was a place to see the stars

A place

Only found beyond the maze of

Paved country roads

But Somewhere along the route

I lost the guide we had that night

Since then, the tires of

The jeep have covered

Enough miles for the Guinness book

The marina sands

Have turned themselves

Bearing witness to

Rites of passage

Adventure-seeking souls

Looking for answers

In the night skies

Worthy of a Tom Petty song

I can’t help but wonder

Where that dashboard decision maker

Might’ve taken me

If I hadn’t lost it

If I hadn’t lost

You

#30

Birthday #25

2am visit to your house
High heels
Trench coat
Confetti cake
November cold

Kitchen table sex
Front yard cigarettes
A late night connection
Or confused confections

I fell for you
Fast
Mistook
Lust for love

Empty
Shot glasses
Cashed

Mansion in
College park
Stability
In
Secrets

A paved
Path I
Wish I
Could
Turn back

Birthday #26

Took her for
drinks
Took her
home
Took her
clothes
In front of me
Lied
In front of me

You
Were
Caught

Afternoon apologies
Morning toast
Midnight bottles
Back porch fortunes

I
Was
Lost

Birthday #27

A plus sign translates
To a negative

Jelly
Wax paper
Pills
Holding me up

Silence
From you
Carefree

In your
Cubicle world
Wood floor
Apartment
Miles
Away
From us

The lies
Stacked
Themselves

Cementing
Like bricks between us
Building
Cities
To keep us
Apart

Roads closed
Time gone
Decision done

Birthday #28

4am
She calls
You lie
I cry

Hate you
Love me

Vodka soda
Whiskey coke
Cigarette kiss
Neon lies

Everything
Is fake
Can’t see
Through
Your smoke
Your stories
Your life
Without
Me

Birthday #29

Call it quits
I’m at my wits
End

Leave
Give me the key

Convenient
End
On a Friday
Give her a call
Tell her you dropped the ball
And chain

One year away
From #30
Didn’t want
Vows
Didn’t want
Kids
Didn’t want
Me
To be
Forever

#30 meant
No more
Flings
No more
bar tabs
No more
lies
For fun

I was just
cake
on a birthday
Just bricks
In the city
Just a notch
on his bedpost
Just cash
At the clinic
Just 4 years
in a lifetime

So this year
Birthday #30

Wake up
Perfect bed
Sheets
Tangled
In lies
Hungover
From the
Hearts
you break

Paved driveway
Company car
Ironed shirt

Joining
A row
Of cubicles
Sitting
Ducks
Men
Who do the
Same
Men
Who are the
Same

So

When
A nameless
Face
Takes the bait

High heels
Trench coat
Confetti cake
November cold

Blow out
The candles
Make a wish
That karma
isn’t real
That fate
Will answer

Pray
For the lost ones

Hope that
#40
Is the new
#30

What it’s like to be a journalist

(for those who don’t know)

It’s feeling like a traitor
When you read the Sunday Times on an iPad
It’s a churning stomach
When it’s time to make a pitch
It’s knowing that a pitch
Doesn’t involve a ball

It’s looking at your coffee pot
As a fine investment
It’s watching the morning news
To see what you can squeeze out of it
Localize and bank from

It’s admiring a collection of typewriters
Recalling on the days when that was the only way
Now chuckling about it
And writing it off as
Just an experience

It’s moving past the inverted pyramid
Which has nothing to do with Egyptians
Remembering the letterpress
And knowing that a slug
Used to be about melted metal covered in black ink
And not just a catchy headline

It’s watching interviews
Because you love the person asking questions
It’s reading 30 books a year
Because if you don’t have time to read
You don’t have the tools to write

It’s pen and paper
A voice recorder, if you’re fancy
It’s taking pages of shorthand notes
during conversations that will be printed later

It’s a collection of legal pads

It’s waking up on publish day
Wondering who’s going to see it
Hoping the person you quoted
Feels proud

It’s thinking you’re the best
And knowing everyone in this business
Thinks the same of themselves

It’s tucking a bic ballpoint behind your ear
With a backup in your pocket
Because there’s really no place else to put it
The ink is low and deadline is at 5

It’s living by everyone else’s watch
It’s getting paid only when published
It’s speaking in word count and inches,
Not dollars and cents

It’s working on weekends,
Holidays, birthdays
The news never stops

It’s either oh you’re a writer!
Or oh, you’re a writer?

It’s comparing words per minute,
The time you went to bed,
Or the amount of days you’ve gone without sleep

It’s knowing that writers block
Can only be cured with a Slinky, 10 percent of the time

It’s pretending not to have a political stand
When you bleed blue
It’s being an advocate of the 1st Amendment
Even when there’s words you don’t want to hear

It’s standing up for your own
When we are blamed for
Handing out fame
Electing the president
Killing the innocent

It’s people thinking your life is a movie
All the presidents men
Or a tv show
Sex and the city

It’s sometimes wishing your life was a movie
Or a tv show

It’s knowing that the deadline isn’t real
But the drop deadline is
And putting the paper to bed
Has nothing to do with pillows

It’s meeting people with real stories
Hard workers
Underdogs
The looked over

Its knowing not much of their stories will be heard
Unless you sell it like its your own

Its composing the best collection of words you’ve got
Just in case you decide to read it

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