Everything Before

Everything before had been the set up:
his kiss when you walked in the house,
the bags he slipped from your hands
and left neatly aligned by the door,
just as they were before the trip.
The wine glasses were waiting
in an unexpectedly tidy kitchen.
Twenty minutes into the conversation,
when your name arrived
in the middle of his sentence,
road-weary and curt,
you picked up on the tension too late –
ad-libbing the next line
in a badly written bit of dialog
and no hope of later editing
the parts that might have
kept the plot from derailing entirely.
Or maybe not, since
everything before had been the set up



Not yet for us the brittle chill of winter
when the once distant hills draw their blanket
of quiet around us – world narrowed
to the comforts of home
while the spin of stars overhead
seems to move faster
and the river’s pulse
slows and stops

No more for us the fierce burn of summer
and its call of light drawing us to lithe effort –
long days with the slick heat of sweat
easing our way as we navigate
endless possibility and limitless self,
tangled together like wild berry vines
whose sweet fruit is always worth the risk

Now this endless moment where we stand –
unsure whether to move forward or turn back
with the weight of together holding us,
the freedom of apart whispering in our ears,
and the wind through the autumn
leaves the sound of time passing
in a minor key



It is only in a still moment
just before waking
that time slips sideways
and life, stripped
to its ash-tinted base,
drifts in hues of memory.
My palm brushes the sheet,
waves of heat drawing my hand
toward skin
in broad strokes
that shape a landscape
whose form is recalled
only in relief.
The rising sun slides in
bringing me sharply to
waking awareness
of life as caricature:
this lightly sketched
self-portrait that holds
more artifice than art
in your absence.
I reach back for that
endless moment
as your fading
voice murmurs
let me rest



Poetry is a recently acquired… oh, let’s not call it obsession but rather… interest for me. Reading it has allowed me to serve up a dose of the evocative in my normally quiet and routine daily life. As for writing it, well, that serves two purposes: it’s given me an outlet for those short sharp bursts of either inspiration or emotion that seem intent on elbowing their way to the front of my consciousness and it’s slowly influencing my long-form writing which is often too verbose and frequently contains repetitive elements.

Yesterday, my attention was caught by a phrase that went something like “…[it] washed over them in a heavy wave and [she] felt it draw something back with it…” and was struck by how well that expressed a large part of how my logical brain perceives creative inspiration. Unfortunately, only once has the experience been even close to that dramatic with the outcome a piece written almost whole cloth and seemingly with little-to-no conscious input.

I’m very much a construction worker when it comes to writing. I usually have a flash that forms the foundation but after that it’s board-by-board methodical labor. I was divided in where I thought this poem was going. My initial understanding was that I was going to write about “the muse” and I did write a piece along those lines but it wasn’t quite clicking into place. When that happens I’ll strip a poem back down to its core elements and see what else can be built of it. The rewrite wasn’t wholly successful because I ended up frustrated that it repeated thematic elements I seem to be stuck on recently but it rang truer than my initial attempt so now I’ll let it rest for a while until I decide whether to let it stand or tear it back down again.

What does your process look like and how often are you detoured from the expected path?



Your voice rolls in
crests and breaks
with a discordant crash

It recedes and I lose
my footing – common ground
giving way

You are entrenched
and I am unmoored
in this rush and retreat

Nothing in me understands
how to navigate
this unexpected surge

A shift in the current
and I awake a stranger to myself
washed up on this new shore alone


The original piece:



The voice rolled in
crested and collapsed
with a discordant crash

When it receded it
drew from me everything
held tightly for too long

Base offering
spilled to the ground
from my cup

Until, sifting rough grit
through my hands, I find benediction
in the rush and retreat


False Flower

At the breakfast table we watched
the hummingbird courting
a plastic red flower
seeking the sugar at its heart
glancing over at me you laughed
when it rose to hover at the window
peering in at my turquoise shirt
looking for a way to reach what
must surely hide sweetness:
biological imperative is assurance of that
I’m sending out signals
I’ve no more sweet sap
rising in me than a stone
although the tender melting as I watch you,
tongue darting out to catch
that last
bit of honey,
makes even me think
I might be wrong



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The Woman in Seat 12c

It was the expression on your face that told me
as you slowly flipped through the photo album
mouth compressed with grief
written in a parenthetical expression
that you were holding in emotions much too sharp
to ever let another person touch
A funeral, I guessed, going or coming

Though no one sat beside you
your arms were tightly circled
around your chest
as if to hold to you
everything that was being lost
A life lived in parallel with yours for 18 years?
The last person who shared your memory of growing up?
She must have been your sister
the blonde in the picture you lingered over for so long
one finger slowly tracing the familiar curve of a face
that was so much like yours

When the plane took off you closed your eyes
as if the pressure of forward motion
was just that much
too much
added to what you were already carrying
or leaving behind
I turned away when you brushed at your cheeks
staring out the window at the clouds
as if the unending blankness stretching out ahead
was what I had been watching all along



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This work by kayemnic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Lost, You Said

I never guessed
although I should have
that you’d give up first
Like the knee
injured years ago
always folds on a hike
before my lungs cry off
I knew it was there
that not-quite-healed
fracture in you
though you never shared
how it happened
and I just kept my head down
driving ahead
as if to prove
I felt no pain
not even noticing
you had stopped
until you were out of sight
Lost, you said, until she rescued you



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Lost, You Said is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.