all my bones are dolorous with vines

The title is what I keep thinking when I see the native flora lately (Thinking, or singing). I love how everything around here in the summer gets thick and green and any untended patch gets matted with overgrowth and wild grapevines. Actually, a lot of things lately remind me of quotes from either the song “Emily” or T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock poem.

But then there are some things that don’t remind me of quotes but instead inspire me to make my own words about them. And it’s frustrating in a way, because I want to be able to express things in the moment, but it takes time to formulate and I end up staying up late at home just writing it out in different forms. Usually I just make notes in some way or another, but the night of the 5th I actually wrote a poem, all in one sitting, which I haven’t done in a while. It was mostly based on some fireworks I saw/a drive along the highway at night, but it came after a day of seeing so many things I thought were cool or interesting or lovely (and fueled by how in those moments I just kind of babbled something dumb– I wanted to actually say something that made sense). I feel like I’m always grabbing someone’s arm and going “omg omg omg look at that it’s so cool” and they’re like, “Um. That is a brick. But I’m glad you’re so easily entertained.”

*cue the Prufrock references* Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets et cetera.

Some of the things I babbled about were:
-a weird development that was an eerie old-70s-future style, all dark wood. And on a slightly overcast day, too. (I said it seemed like the setting of a creepy suburbs movie, but Oliver said, “No, it’s like a Star Trek episode…” And he proceeded to act out the parts of Kirk and Spock: “Ahh! The geometric shapes!” and stalked around with an imagined phaser.) I actually saw a cloud of bluish smoke breathe from the upper window of one of the houses, and then, obscured by a tree, the shape of a man smoking a pipe and looking out.

-a power plant across the street from all this. You could see the chimney things from the development and then when you crossed the street, the whole thing on the edge of a park dim with locust trees. It loomed over this little beach that we walked along, climbing on a stone wall and stepping over a stream of water that spilled from a gross grate to the lake. Anyway, have you ever seen a building that you think, if this was a story, this building would be alive/sentient/possibly hungry? No? Well, then I guess you haven’t seen this power plant. Some of the high windows were open and I could see scattered bright lightbulbs on, burning with that particular incandescent yellow-orange light. The lights on made it seem like the building  thought it was nighttime but also didn’t sleep.

If at least one of these things don’t make it into a story someday, then I just don’t know.

Yesterday, I was at a baseball game and from up in the stadium facing out I could see across the city and its thick green clotted coat, patched with bridges and train tracks and neighborhoods and big factory-type buildings whose purposes I don’t know. Later we walked through downtown, and drove the side passages beside the river and down the straight stretch of road in the steelyards that lives in perpetual night in my imagination. All of this, I wished I knew how to grab hold of, or inhabit, instead of always looking and looking and maybe grazing it occasionally.

Hey! My half birthday is in a couple of days, I just realized. So, there’s that as reminder that I haven’t only been thinking of poetical stuff. I also think about half birthdays and how much I love blueberry popsicles (eating one right now).

Oh noooooo. I dropped popsicle on my shirt, I kid you not. Well. Typical.

A Post-Plane Poem

Soon when I go to work, it’ll be dark:
the wet streets shining orange back up.
Reminds me of the plane ride, the cities flat-out
little smatters like places comets dropped
a spread-out net of sparks and then suddenly stopped
in the black lake; the plane tipped
and I saw stars.

I don’t know why, but I think of that now
when we drive down my street.
I picture this city as comet shards,
and my neighborhood, coal cooling under a wing.

started early, took my blog

Yesterday I thought to myself that I should once again try sending some poetry out to different magazines and such. So I got out the old Poet’s Market (well, actually, it wasn’t the old one– my library is very up to date, you know) and started going through.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

In the descriptions of what the magazines want, it’s always “we want the edgy, the avant-garde, the weird, bizarre, disturbing–” And then I skiiiiiip….

Or it’s “we want pieces that will make the reader _________.” Well, I can’t control other people’s actions or emotions. This is Basic Life 101. I mean, I can write something with a certain vibe, but how am I supposed to be certain that it will resonate in a certain specific way with someone? And isn’t part of the awesomeness of art that everyone can interpret things in their own way, that the same piece can be important to someone for totally different reasons than it’s important to someone else? (Or unimportant to someone else, as the case may be.) (“Important… Unimportant….” as the King of Hearts would say.)

And then they give tips like: “Send only your best work.” Seriously? I guess these people must have gotten submissions that were hand-written in pencil on a greasy napkin. Because they also say things like, “We want works of great literary and artistic value”. It seems to me that writers are constantly doubting themselves (I certainly am), so of course we don’t think of our stuff as being Literature. We don’t picture ourselves as marble busts in splendorous libraries with those rolly-ladder things. (Especially because how would we write anything, seeing as we’d lack hands?) So when you say that, magazines, you’re going to discourage the down-to-earth writers who just write, and get submissions from Poets who Write Poetry. 

But I think the problem is not just with literary magazines. The problem isn’t even just with people’s current attitude toward art, like you have to be a breathy, bespectacled Artist and create things that no one can understand but that people in the know will pick apart and interpret into something meaningful. I think the problem lies with poetry itself, with art itself these days. I’m not going to cry about bygone eras (except when I think of all the lovely frocks I could wear if I had a time machine). And I’m all for new stlyes and being less rigid (Lord knows I never could write a decent haiku). But I feel like we’ve gotten to a point where not only would Tennyson or Frost or Yeats or Dickinson or Thomas never be published– they rhyme, how trite!– but no one with anything new will be, either. People think poetry is either this:

I like birds
and I rhyme words
cuz I’m a poet
and now you’ll know it!

Or this:

the
tomato
rots
on the window-
                              sill.

Which, yeah, rhymey-rhymey poetry is dumb, and the second one sounds poetic or metaphorical. But where’s the imagery? Where’s the… Where is this windowsill anyway? What are you doing while the tomato’s rotting? And why should I care?

And what’s wrong with rhyming, anyway, when it’s done well? Anyone ever heard one of the million examples I could pull out of my brain/the interwebs if I had more time? Rhymes are, in my opinion, more fabulous than non-rhyming when the rhyming makes it sound like that’s the only way you could possibly say, well, whatever they say.

And I like them. So there.

Poetry isn’t writing a bunch of Poetic-sounding things and then chopping the lines up so it sounds even more meaningful, okay?

Poetry is…
Um.

I could say, “Poetry is something that moves your soul” or something like that, but I won’t. Sometimes I don’t feel as much soul-moved by poetry as “Well, that was really cool.” And what’s wrong with that?

If “poetry, like bread, is for everyone”, then who cares if I like to eat mine with butter?

~Pen

to watch his woods fill up with snow

I have a big book of Literature (ie Alleged Classics! Let’s just call it what it is, people) that used to belong to Mom. So I was digging through it for poems that I like, and I discovered that I do not hate Robert Frost. Due to (cliche as it sounds) “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Although I kind of wanted to yell to Frost, “You took the stupid road less traveled*, remember? You’re supposed to do your own thing!”

And that’s kind of how I feel about life in general now, I mean– taking the road less traveled is so far making all the eye-poking-out difference, believe me. But Frost, you had two choices, two “roads”, if you like (because we are all aware that you love metaphors for life). One was to go into the woods, and watch snow fall, and do what you wanted despite the fact that later you might have been sleep deprived and reputed as flaky (ha-ha, puns) for being late. Instead you chose to make it to your appointment on time and do everything right and get healthy amouts of sleep but I think you never did see those woods again. Take that road less traveled, you smart aleck.

OK, so I lied. Maybe I’m still not on great terms with this guy.

Still, I do like “Stopping by Woods”, and this is just one interpretation I got from it. The first interpretation was just that he wrote a very nice poem about something that happened to him. Really, all other interpretations are more about WHY he wrote about it. Lots of things happen to poets, but there are reasons they put some to paper. There must be something about the experience that he couldn’t get out of his head. 
 
Also do you find it a little strange that I have hypothetical conversations with dead writers?
Because I find it strange.

I wish I could have a real conversation about writing (and books and life and stuff) with the Quill Fellowship, but they are both away… Alas, it’s just me and all the little voices in my head.

Yours till the pork chops, (Dad’s obsession has shifted from Making Lawn Furniture to Daily Grilling of Dinner)
Pen

*You think I had a lot to say about “Stopping by Woods”? Don’t even get me started on “The Road Not Taken”…

birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name

For Easter, I got Matched and so I’ve been reading it again. I forgot how good it was. Even though I know the story now, I still feel tense as I read… and I’m once again inspired to memorize as much poetry as possible. (I know the “do not go gentle” poem is the important one in that book, but I LOVE the birthday poem. It’s a possible addition to my memorization list.) Although I was already partly inspired to do this when I checked out a book of Tennyson’s poems from the library. I loved “The Splendor Falls” because of the blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying / blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 
And our echoes roll from soul to soul
And basically the whole thing.
I’m going to memorize that one first.

And then I went for a walk and it rained and when I got home we had recieved our new trash cans. The same ones the DHFs have had for ages already, the same ones that Bug hates, and which disturb me for various reasons. (Namely because it’s just a clever, clever idea to eliminate more jobs. Congratulations on being a dang genius, whoever came up with this.)
Mom: “The dystopia has arrived!”
Me: “Welcome to Mapletree Borough.”

I find it ironic that this happens on the day I have spent reading Matched and listening to The Suburbs (this town’s so strange / they built it to change and we used to write / we used to write letters, we used to sign our names… but by the time we met / by the time we met, the times had already changed and pretty much all the songs make me think of dystopias like Matched and Fahrenheit 451 and oh wait the one we currently live in.)

In other news, I think one of the names I should have been named is May. Because:
1. It has the letter y in it and y is my favorite letter. Especially in lowercase form.
2. It’s classic.
3. People think of the month of May as springy and feminine and flowery and bright. But it also has the potential to be strong and unpredictable and stormy. Which I would like to think of as a metaphor for myself, as I think that due to my appearance (and, indeed, my generally pleasant disposition) people assume I am the flowery, feminine, spring-like sort. Which I often am. But I also like to think that I am also unpredictable. That I can create a storm. That my words can fork lightning (to quote Matched and Dylan Thomas).
4. The other meaning of May, besides the month. Not the “Mother May I” meaning, as in permission, but the may as in maybe, perhaps. Will she do this? Will she become that? She may. She may. She may not. I like the uncertainty, like no one is ever really sure which way I’m going, and neither am I. I’m never going to stop being a “perhaps” sort of person, I think. I think I’ll never be finished, polished, done, solidified. Static.
5. I’d like to always be changing, growing, springlike and new. All these things come to mind when I think of the word “May” and that’s why it’s the first name I’ve ever truly felt would really fit me. (There are a lot of names I like, just none that are mine.) (But May actually might be.) (May be.)

But obviously, as I was born in January, my parents would never have thought to name me that.
Sigh again.
Sometimes people need to think outside the box.

~Pen

PS: Whoever caught all the (too many) Matched refrences in this post deserves appaluse. :)

what’s on the telly?

I’ve puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore…but I finally posted a poem on Apricotpie! That must be the longest it’s ever taken me to write a poem in my LIFE. Sad. Usually it all just pops so easily into my head in somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour. But this time it took quite a bit longer! Of course, I did keep getting interrupted. It seems my brothers have forgotten that my writing time is non-interruptible. I’m about to “sock ’em one in the face” as Poncho says. It might alos be my fault, because I’m so easily distracted, but still. I’m trying to get back on track, all right? White Funeral editing is done for now and two people from my writers’ group have offered to read it, so all I can do is wait on that one. Guess that means I’ve got no more excuses. Time to crack the whip on the noveling. The weather sucks… might as well spend some extra time in front of the computer doing something productive.

I HATE THIS KEYBOARD! Grrrrr. Typing on it is like when you try to run through waist-high water.

But anyway…  In other news, we got a new TV!

It went from this:

to this:

Much improved! No more lines creeping down the screen! No more speakers in their death throes. And best of all, no more converter box! Of course, reading still provides better picture and better sound than any technology… ;)

If only I had a good book right now to prove it. I quit on 1984 already. It’s just kinda dumb. It’s so obvious that it’s a dystopia that it’s not even interesting. It’s like the author had all these great concepts– the people are being spied on by the government, the telescreen thing that you can’t turn off– but he made it so obvious. Wouldn’t it be more sinister if the people were so brainwashed they didn’t want to turn off the telescreen? Or if they thought it was a good thing they were being watched? (Both of which I think are plausible… most of the time we are spied on anyway, there are cameras everywhere and the internet stores your searches– and people think it’s good because they’re so flipped out about safety. And the telescreen, well, people are already on the computer or their phone 24/7, and they don’t want to unplug.) Step it up a notch, dude! However, I will give him a small break because it was a long time ago and maybe back then people still had a sense of privacy and the need to not be bombarded by noise and other stimuli all the livelong day. But whatever. 1984 isn’t as relevant to here and now as it’s cracked up to be, that’s all.

Well, I think it’s time to break for lunch. Then I’m going to sit down and crank out some serious writing.

Yours till the roof tops,
Pen

I shall be telling this with a sigh

On Monday, I had a writing day with my writers’ group (well, some of them), and it felt so good to focus and get through a bunch of things I’d been stuck on. I even did a little editing to White Funeral, although I have to say I feel a teensy bit guilty whenever I take my writing time to do that. I guess because I never took White Funeral all that seriously until after it was finished, because I never thought it would turn out to be this well-recieved. So of course now what do I dream of? I dream of getting a novelette published… Why must I always go off the beaten path, eh?

“I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference…”
One day in the fall there was some discussion as to whether Frost meant that it was a good difference, as it is always interpreted. Maybe he meant it in a bad way, like if he had taken the one more traveled he would’ve had an easy life. Or maybe he meant it in a literal way. “Gee, wish I’da taken that there paved path, then I wouldn’ta got all lost in the woods ‘n stuff.” or maybe he just meant it made a difference and it wasn’t good, bad, or literal. It was just different.
OR maybe he had a secret evil plan… “I will write a poem full of ‘symbolism’ with a ‘vague’ tone, and an ending about a road less traveled, oooh, the teachers will like that. Then they will force the students to read my poem! Memorize it! Rip it apart and decode the symbolism! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”
His poem may or may not be a coded message about taking over the Tri-State Area. 

It’s funny how poems always get interpreted in ways the writer never intended. Most of the time, I don’t care how other people interpret my poems because that’s what’s fun about reading poetry, you bring your own perspective and, like art, the poem takes on a different meaning for you than it does for the next person. And I love when people point out something about my writing that I never even noticed or thought of, but it fits so well or it’s such a cool concept! Because a lot of the time I just write whatever comes to mind and figure my subconcious probably knows where it’s going. That’s what it’s there for, right? So I’ve no idea as to the “meaning”. My poems are never written to be “taken” a certain way. (Unlike my emails. But that’s a different– and rather traumatic– story.) 

I think you can’t say to someone else, “read this, it’s about such-and-such”. Then they’re looking for things to fit the meaning, instead of looking for meanings to fit the words. It’s like science. You can’t look for facts to fit theories; it must be the other way round. Never read the comments before the piece. Never read a review before the book. Never read people’s interpretations of a song until you’ve heard the song clearly at least thrice.

Writing things with secret meanings is fun, though. Can I tell you a few secrets? Indeed, I never said anything for or against Bronach being Queen, so did I imply it? Or was it all a dream?
Hey, that kind of rhymed. Maybe I’ll make it into a poem…

“Was the story as it seemed?
Was Bronach the Queen?
Or was it all, as Poe once said,
but a dream within a dream?
And Frost, you can deem
to take the less-traveled road in your scene
and while you’re walking on it
I hope you fall into a ravine.”

Love,
Pen

PS: I am leaving for winter camp on the morrow… :)

Humbug.

I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind at the monent, several of them which would be good for a blog post or a poem, but alas, they have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. And not only that, but they are not the least bit jolly or merry or even lighthearted.

It is not fair that just because it’s a few days until Christmas, I can’t write about those things. It’s enough to make a person hate the lead-up to Christmas (because I still can’t hate Christmas, I mean come on).

How come that is, eh? My brain does not work in holidays or themes or one mood at a time. My brain does not conjure nice poetry about Christmas coming (although it has in years past…), or about winter, or anything like that. No. Instead, today, it got a few good ideas that involved nothing short of poison, conspiracies, moon phases, and housing developments. 
In short, nothing to do with Christmas. 

But still very intriguing matters that need written about. 

Humbug.
-Pen

roses are red, violets are–shouldn’t they be violet?–blue.

Today being Valentine’s day and all, I decided to compose this love poem.

Ahem….

“Roses are red, violets are violet
my brother Poncho will never be quiet!
 Some flowers are white, like freesia and such
and so is the snow, except where it’s slush.
Tiger lilies are orange with little black specks
kind of like ladybugs after they’re dead.
Sprigs of holly and such are usually green,
quite like the mold that on bread can be seen.
Carnations are pink, carnations are yellow
and I must inform you that I do not like jello.
Bleeding hearts are pretty in a pink of deep hue,
and plastic flamingoes often are, too.
There’s lots of flowers of all colors and shades
though none of them rhyme, so there’s not much I can say.
Violets are violet, roses are rose
and flowers are better sensed through the nose.”

I am sure you found that very romantic, didn’t you? In fact, much like the White Knight from Through the Looking Glass, I am suprised you aren’t crying right now. It always makes me cry! Oh, love!

xoxo,
Pen

PS: Dad got Mom some chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day…. cue the “awwww”s!

what does your writing say about you?

Lately I’ve been considering the above question. What does my writing say about me? Since I think it’s a pretty interesting study, I decided to go deep and make you a little essay instead of just rambling. Soooo… here it goes. :)

Main Characters: Who are my main characters, usually? Well, usually they are girls in their early/mid teens. OK. So at first thought it seems like my characters are usually like me. But then I look at their personalities. Often, they are shy.
Now, I am not a shy person. In fact, I take after my grandfather in the way that I can talk to just about anyone just about anywhere. I make friends easily. I’m not afraid to speak my mind, stand up for someone, etc. I love the spotlight, love performing and being on stage.
But, looking at my characters, I wonder if maybe somewhere inside me there is a shy version of myself, just cringing away from the world. I mean, there are times when I’m nervous or awkward in situations, but I work through it pretty fast. However, perhaps it is through some of my main characters that the shy girl inside me gets out. Maybe that’s even how I manage to shove down my insecurities when I have to. Because I’ve already worked this out, through my main characters. 

Antagonists/Evil:
When I was a little kid, I was horribly, horribly afraid of fire and heat. Anything that burned. The oven, the stove, these heater things we have, fires in hearths, even birthday candles terrified me. I remember sitting in front of a candlelit cake, leaning away from it and cringing until I got to blow it out.
Nowadays, my fear is not so extreme. But I will admit that I am still pretty daunted by our old stove and oven. I’ve worked out a system for getting my baking out of the oven, but I’ll only se the thickest oven mitts we have and I still lean back from the heat and force myself to breathe.  But I do like candles, and campfires, and the fire in the grate at the DHF’s house.
Looking at the evil in my books, I realized that a lot of them use fire. In my current novel, that’s basically the whole concept, the evil fire people and fire!! I began to wonder about that. In the past, in earlier novels and in novels I’ll probably never finish, fire pops up a lot on the dark side. Maybe it’s because I do still have this big fear of fire and being burned. Perhaps the fact that I’m able to let it run wild in my writing helps me control it in real life. Maybe the fact that I can have some outlet for it in writing is the thing that allows me to reach into the oven, cook over the stove, use a hair blow dryer/straightener.

Those were the main things I noticed about my writing, novel-wise. But I am sure that if I analyzed my poetry, I could see a lot more, since I approach it differently than I do my novels. My poems almost always reflect what has been happening to me, even if I mask it in such a way that only I know what I was talking about and to others it’s just a poem they like but don’t quite understand. I guess that’s why it was easy for me to just sit down and write a poem on AP, what made me realize that I liked poetry. It was a way for me to talk abut something without having to completely explain it. I just had to paint the emotions and the details and not worry about plot or anything. That’s why I can sit down and shoot off a poem in about a half an hour, because it’s straight from the heart, mind, and gut reactions. I guess it’s sort of bad of me to post without editing, but that’s just how I do things. If I ever submit poems somewhere or make a book of poetry, though, I promise I’ll edit.

I guess my poems don’t show my innermost fears or secret personality the way my prose does, but looking back at the ones I’ve written over the past year (2009) I can see how far I’ve come. I can see how I’ve stayed the same and I remember what was going on in my mind when I wrote those poems. But I can look at the past objectively through the poems I’ve written. I don’t relive the experiences or thoughts, just view them. It’s good, I think, to be able to see things as though you are a stranger looking at your past self. But it also can be a little bothersome when you notice a typo or something, and think: ‘how many times have I viewed this and I never noticed!’ Ugh. Plus it’s a little depressing to read depressing poems and that’s what a lot of mine are at the end of 2009. I don’t know why. I guess I was just out of that happy-happy-rhyming phase that began my career on AP. I still wonder why Ben let me be a Monthly Writer based on that stuff, it was… it was… young. I was younger and so I’m going to not read them anymore and not loathe them and their cutesey rhymes. Though there were a few that I think reminded me of Shel Silverstien, so that makes it OK.

I just hope that my poetry doesn’t say I’m all teenage-angst now. UGGGHHHHH. *sudders disgustedly* Please let me never be that way in poetry. Everyone has their angst-moments, but pleeeease let mine stay a moment and not be an eternal blemish on Apricotpie and literature in general. ugh ugh ugh.

You know, I could talk for ages about AP. There’s so much that could be said about it, and how it’s wonderful and amazing and should never ever die. It’s taught me a lot. Lately it’s been teaching me the art of suspenseful chapter/part endings, mwahaha! But I would never stop, and it would lead me to other topics, and so I will log off now and go write a novel or perhaps Part Six of “White Funeral.” 

Ta-Ta!
-Pen

PS: you know that Irish Blessing, may the road rise up to meet you blah blah blah? Well, I have one for writers. Ahem:
May your page rise up to meet you,
may your pen never run out of ink;
and when someone is discouraging,
just tell them that they stink.

Beautiful. Tear Tear. 
Ha. Riiiight.