Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Self Discovery

Composure Decomposed

Airbrushed each day
in competence activity and rectitude
her face was flawless
free from blemishes
of failure insecurity and sin.
At least everyone thought so
and when asked about her skin regime
she only credited eating lots of butter and olive oil
and the luck of good genetics from her mother
who at 75 had looked no more than 60.

But then the perfect storm
of expectations loss and slaughtered dreams
beyond what she could bear
ripped away her glasses
grayed her hair
and with each squall and tempest
the careful coats of paint
then peeled away
in several shades of hardship
revealing all she’d lived and covered
while extolling optimism.

When the winds had once more calmed
and she first looked in the mirror
she reached from habit
for her brush and powder
to fill the cracks and layers now exposed
but when she took in her reflection
she saw a tender beauty there
from the sadness in her eyes
and weary sallow of her cheeks
to the deepened worry lines along her brow
all a burnished gold patina now
the vulnerability of uncertainty
of living her own truth.

1st Anniversary of a New Voice

Version 3

In response to the supportive urgings of my writing group to put my work out into the world, I created this blog one year ago today. At the time I’d first met them more than a year before, I’d been working on a novel scene by scene for a couple of years, much of which I then shared with this revolving community of fellow writers in the back room of a Belltown cafe we met in twice weekly. Hearing the diversity of their work, from poetry and memoir to sci-fi and urban fantasy, was as helpful and inspiring to me as the thoughtful, constructive feedback I received about my own work. From Smeeta I learned to dig deep and tell the truth; Mark’s action-packed narratives taught me to inject energy and movement into my own stories; and Kay recognized and encouraged the voice of a poet in my rambling prose.

Six weeks before signing onto WordPress that first time, I had sustained the most devastating trauma of my life. Five weeks after that day that shattered my universe, I discovered something that intensified and distilled the trauma. I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety and despair gripped me, caused me to scream and wail while driving, to dig my fingers into my unwashed hair in an attempt to extinguish the pain of overwhelming anguish. I tried to write about it, but alone at home the page remained blank. Finally, after four desperate days, I headed to the cafe to sit in silence among my tribe of fellow writers knowing that if nothing else, I would find acceptance and understanding there of my blocked state. Forty-five minutes of free-writing later, Found Receipt emerged in powerful verse from my pencil. It was only the fourth poem I had ever written. The first had been a child’s gift to my parents for their anniversary, the second a high school English assignment, and the third an abandoned experiment.

Completely cracked open by this unimaginable trauma, I discovered a new voice that day and have written over 100 poems since. I would never have chosen the tragic events which led to that discovery, but I am incredibly grateful for this growing voice. To honor it and commemorate its birth, I am submitting some of its verse today for publication consideration. Regardless of the outcome of that submission, I will keep writing. It has been a salve to this deep wound which still bleeds but is healing, an invitation to others to share their own grief, and a bridge of connection to people who would have otherwise remained strangers to me. It has led me to the desert of Utah and the Highlands of Scotland and back home again to my own writing desk. I will keep writing. The characters of my dormant novel have even appeared on the page again for the first time in over a year in recent weeks. I will keep writing. Thank you for reading.


Found Receipt

Found Receipt

Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Why didn’t you pay cash?
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You’d have gotten change back from a ten.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You charged it on your credit card.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You left it for me to pay for.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
They were cheap and there were lots of ’em.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
For a box of fifty.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Forty-nine more than you needed.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Because it only took one.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
For a bullet in the brain.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
To kill yourself.
Life is expensive, but death is cheap.

The inspiration for and the power of a new voice discovered: The Value of NO


Bookmark Quote #119



When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.

-Clifton Fadiman

Read the story of 1000 Bookmarks.

Beached from Love


I have hit the limit
of what I thought was limitless.

Once emerged
from a chrysalis, transformed*
free and joyous
through trials and challenges
a tiny, sturdy skiff, I was
ever open-hearted.

Even at my deepest loss,
sunken into grief
I did not contract or pull up oars
but split open
eviscerated, spilling my sorrow
my brokenness, and humanity,
split open
which let in the light
of unexpected kindness and compassion,
split open
to receive the miracle
of pools of unprecedented love
vulnerable, shared, mutual-
imperfectly perfect human love.

But now I’ve hit the limit
of what I thought was limitless.

I believed I had a heart
that was infinitely expansive,
forever buoyant,
a boat at home on placid ponds
built to bear the gales
and lithe enough to navigate
the hidden channel of the heart.
With each crag or dam encountered
its sturdiness was tested
and found ready to face the waves
and the vastness of the sea,
each new love a voyage
and I a ready voyager.

But now I’ve hit the limit
of what I thought was limitless.

For the first time in my life
I’ve headed now for shore
not to rest at moorage
at a cozy dock or cove
but have pitched my oars and rudder
turned my hull against the sky
its scars and scales
out of reach of future tides.
These last beautiful cascades
hid rocks that pierced the strake
has broken its integrity
and compromised its waterline.

I have hit the limit
of what I thought was limitless.

And for the first time
I have retreated
from the quest for love,
unequal to the task.
This quiet, solitary beach
chills and frightens me
more than any exploration
through fog or winding currents
out of sight from shore.
For it is on the waters,
even of a simple pond
that a vessel truly lives.

Because I’ve hit the limit
of what I thought was limitless
and with that I’ve turned my back
against the endless seas.

Photo credit: Jamie Burgoyne, used by permission.

*Referenced from Feline Butterfly

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