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weathered, yes, but still standing



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Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:44 am
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niteowl says...



@BluesClues @LZPianoGirl @bluewaterlily Thank you so much! I try.

This one, we're going to pretend I wrote on Sunday.

12. on dates that shouldn't matter

today is not easter.

i know this,
the way i know
that we make the cross right shoulder first,
that communion comes with bread, not wafers,
and that jesus was born in a cave,
not a manger.

it doesn't matter,
because i had both easters growing up,
because arguments about calendars
and theology i never understood
shouldn't matter to me anymore.

i know now
that the god summoned by byzantine chants
cares more about rules than reality,
that the god who answers to a man with a funny hat in rome
(as opposed to a man with a funny hat in constantinople)
apparently doesn't care about the kids abused by his priests,
that the god who lets you wear jeans to church and tries to be cool
still thinks women are less than men and gay people go to hell,
and that the gods who think a cross is just the letter t
don't make any sense to me either.

my sense of reason
(something i do believe in)
suggests that logically,
easter is just another sunday.

but another voice,
a deeper intuition
that awakens in the presence
of icons and incense,
says it still means something
and that today is not easter.

Spoiler! :
Okay so this is kind of a weird poem...I grew up Greek Orthodox, spent a lot of my teen/college years in evangelical megachurches, and finally came to the conclusion that I am happily agnostic but essentially atheist. But on the occasions I've been in the Greek church after I stopped believing, I still felt something intangible. Almost like I could believe if it weren't for the tiny fact that I disagree with the Orthodox position of probably everything. Of course I think about this around Easter time, since the Orthodox Easter is usually different from the western Easter
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 16, 2020 12:31 am
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niteowl says...



13. explaining pandemics to guinea pigs

you, my wide-eyed little ones,
evolved to be afraid of the world,
every shadow a threat,
every noise being something
that wants to eat you.

and so you hide,
even from the ones who love you
and bring you food.

we, the tall scary creatures,
are not used to being eaten.
usually, we're the ones doing the eating.

but now there's a teeny tiny bug--
yes, tinier than you--
and it wants to eat us.

so now we have to hide
in our purple igloos
and we don't know
when the cage doors will swing open.

i used to envy you, little ones,
hiding all day,
emerging only to eat,
but now i'm living that way,
and now i know why you're afraid.

Spoiler! :
So my sister got two guinea pigs in January. She takes care of them, so I'm really more of the kooky aunt who will sometimes bring candy (as in fruit, plz don't feed your guinea pigs candy). I was basically "the tall and scary creature who does not bring food". If you've never raised guinea pigs, they are prey animals so they are slow to trust, even when you are the primary bringer of food. Now that I'm working from home, I've been talking to them more since I wanted to get them used to me. So I tried to explain the pandemic/quarantine in simple "baby talk" terms. I don't think they understand, but the friendlier one will let me pet her sometimes, so my efforts are working, haha.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:00 am
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niteowl says...



14. winter hates to be forgotten

snow in april shouldn't shock me,
even if it was so nice out
the last time i dared to go outside.

this happens every year,
in a battle old as earth itself
between long sunny days ahead
and cold snaps that refuse to let us go.

but this is not every year,
and though my reserves of shock
should be depleted
by blizzards of headlines
i could have never imagined
even two months ago,
i look out from my shelter
to see the predictable flurries,
and i am surprised.

still, i guess it's comforting
to know that taxes are delayed
but winter still stands up to death.

Spoiler! :
for non-Americans: April 15 is traditionally when tax returns are due, but the filing deadline was extended, so the tax day snow made me think of the old maxim about death and taxes being the only certainties.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:17 am
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BluesClues says...



I just keep laughing at all the snow poems today; it snowed twice here and I guess everyone else got a bit, too.
  





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Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:53 am
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niteowl says...



Spoiler! :
@BluesClues yeah I haven't read other poems but yeah it snowed here on and off today and last year I literally wrote "she is as trustworthy as Michigan in April" so this seems to be kind of a theme


More seasonal poetry, loosely inspired by @Traves's poem "fall" The weight of my word. Basically my brain just took a detour from fall to ranting about my career woes.

15. an open letter to my would-be executioner

in october,
you said you'd given me
chance after chance
but every day since july,
i had failed you.

i guess it was three strikes you're out,
but no one ever told me the score.

i crushed autumn leaves
the way you crushed me
and then i asked them
how it was possible
that i didn't want to die.

i grew numb in the winter
to protect myself from the pain,
but in march,
a grocery store, of all things,
gave me hope that i would truly live again.

summer was a blur
of moving boxes and false hope
and the next fall, i fell
into a temp job
that wasn't much
but at least it knocked you
off the top of my resume.

in spring, it ended
but the next gig
turned out better than expected,
forgiving my mistakes
and letting me heal
the wounds you gave me.

the next may, i was still there
and it was incredible to realize
that someone might want to keep me around.

but by fall i could see
that i was stagnating.
i needed to leave
and so i searched for something more,
deleting every mention of you
from my life's official record.

on a dark winter morning,
an interview i thought i blew,
but somehow it turned into
"we'd like to offer you the position".

i have a new beginning,
even as the world outside is ending,
and i want to believe
that this time, i'll make it to july,
surviving those crucial three months.

but i learned from you
that there's unwritten rules
you can't break,
and it's hard to learn them
through laptop screens and conference calls.

my therapist says
i can't talk about you anymore,
that you're too far away
in space and time
to hurt me anymore.
and i've grown in ways
you never got the chance to see.

ultimately, i know
that i have to believe in myself
as much as you didn't believe in me
or all i will know
is the pain of october.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:43 am
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alliyah says...



I really like these last two poems - I think the connection between death/taxes/snow is smart - I guess I've been reading a lot about people excited about their stimulus checks to the point that they're like momentarily forgetting all the other junk going on - and it's like a weird feeling that feels a little bit like being entertained with "bread and circuses" I guess.

And then the last poem kind of felt like a montage - where the reader walks through time passing with the speaker - and the themes of personal growth and seasons changing is nice too.
maybe i make up colors for poetic cadence, but i don't think i can ever love someone who doesn't understand that teal is a different color than dark cyan
  





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Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:30 am
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Cadi says...



niteowl, I love how you paint such concrete pictures from your experience to talk about emotional things. Things like the non-skid yellow socks, and taking steps in them in #6, and the details of swimming in cold pools in #4. I really like reading poetry where you get tangible images to work with, I think it can be really good for communicating things that might otherwise seem unsayable.

Also, I like these lines:
still, i guess it's comforting
to know that taxes are delayed
but winter still stands up to death.

It's always cool to see a mix-up of a common saying like the one about death and taxes!
"The fact is, I don't know where my ideas come from. Nor does any writer. The only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn't collapse when you beat your head against it." --Douglas Adams
  





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Sun Apr 19, 2020 4:48 am
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niteowl says...



Spoiler! :
Thanks @alliyah! I thought it was a pretty blatant riff on the saying that there's only two certainties in life-death and taxes. And I didn't know that was a Ben Franklin quote about the Constitution and now I'm sad.

Thanks @Cadi!


16. empty girls with empty words

usually, alcohol makes me wide-eyed and restless
or anxious and sad,
but last night, it emptied all my thoughts
and i was left staring at a blank screen,
my cursor wanting to move,
but my hands not knowing what to type.

usually, i think it would be freeing
to feel so blank,
so far removed from my tangled thoughts,
but instead i felt so hollow
i wondered why i should bother breathing.

Spoiler! :
Yeah so the other night I had one beer...just one, and yet it had this weird reaction (maybe with the meds you're not supposed to mix with alcohol) where I just felt all numb and I was trying to write but I couldn't and it was super weird and not good.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:39 am
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niteowl says...



17. just another ballad about a girl

I knew a girl who loved me once
when we were seventeen.
I thought we'd last, but turns out that
it wasn't meant to be.

We held hands on our small town street
and think we knew it all.
We'd heard young lovers grow apart,
but we would never fall.

but i grew up and had to leave
to see the city lights.
and soon enough we fell apart
no matter what we tried.

I knew a girl who loved me once
when we were seventeen.
I thought we'd last, but turns out that
it wasn't meant to be.

And in the city I sought out
too many ladies fine,
but none of them could match up to
the one I once called mine.

Soon wedding bells would ring for her,
she found a better man.
And I prayed that he'd dance with her
just because he can.

I knew a girl who loved me once
when we were seventeen.
I thought we'd last, but turns out that
it wasn't meant to be.

I gave a ring to someone else
but it never felt right
I'd make a wish to get her back
on shooting stars at night.

Now forty years have come and gone,
we both have broken hearts,
but when we met by chance again,
we couldn't pull apart.

I knew a girl who loved me once
when we were seventeen,
It took some time, but now we know
That it was meant to be.

Spoiler! :
Wow this ballad was easier to write than I thought it would be! Not my most imagery-ridden work but I may add more if the mood strikes idk.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:18 pm
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Awru says...



I really love of your poems. And there all long and I love it. Long poems aren't very common but I love them. I especially enjoyed when I meet you on the other side, to the highschool sweethearts, an open letter and ofcourse the latest ballad. Keep it Up!
Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth
"You owe me"
Look
What happens
With a Love like that
It lights the
Whole
Sky
  





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Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:11 am
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niteowl says...



Okay this one is bad but it needed to be written. Will probably delete later or at least heavily crop. Title from The Cranberries "Zombie"

18. it's the same old thing since 2015

sometimes,
i wonder if i'm only friends with you
because it's the only proof i have
that i'm not a selfish bitch.

look at me,
the paradoxical narcissist,
so caught up in self-hatred
that i can't show up for other people,
(so self-centered, as my mother would say)
so caught up in my desires
that i feel incapable of love.

either i am so oblivious
to other people's pain
that i seem incapable of empathy,
or i feel too much,
and their pain mixes with my own
and glues me to my seat,
unable to help a single soul.

but then there's you,
with all your cycles and voices,
just trying to survive.

i know the patterns of your illness
(stop meds, mania, new meds, crash, lather rinse repeat)
probably better than my own.
it's been five years
since i learned i couldn't fix you
and i should know better
than to become your one woman crisis line,
and yet i always do.

every time i think
we're out of the woods
(no, this is your forest, not mine,
i need to tend to my own trees),
your mind leads you right back in,
and even when you see the "wrong way" signs,
you feel like you can't go any other way.

and i try to tell you that's not true,
that there's another path.
one with sleep and functioning and relative stability,
but i know i can't pull you out.
if i try, we both fall apart.

so instead, i tiptoe around the perimeter,
never sure what will trigger you,
never knowing what helps delusions
and what makes them worse,
never knowing the magic words
to get you to take your pills tonight.

i want to believe you'll find a way out,
but if that day ever comes,
will we have anything left to hold us together?
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:28 am
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niteowl says...



@Awru thank you! It's actually interesting that you pointed out that my poems are long, because I think my poems are longer than they used to be. So here is a brief explanation of why that might be.

19. meditation on poem length

my poems are longer than they used to be.

perhaps it's because
i am older now,
so i have more stories to tell.

maybe it's because
i want to paint a whole picture,
give the reader all the context
that i have built up over three decades of life,
and i need more words to do that.

but more likely, it's because
work disguises and sleepless nights
have worn out the part of me
that knows when a poem is supposed to end,
so where there were once tight vignettes,
there are only rambling attempts at sagas.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:01 am
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niteowl says...



Uh...wow don't ask me what happened over the last week. I don't really know. But I did write a bunch of poems yesterday. I'm still not sure whether I'm going to try to marathon my way to 30 or call it a day. But let's type up what I do have first.

20. an unintended legacy

i don't know what dreams he had
the first time he picked up the ball,
or if he was always so full
of bravado and hubris,
but i'm sure rudy gobert
never imagined this sort of infamy,
his sports trivia legacy robbed
by an opponent no one could see.

Spoiler! :
So Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for Covid-19. Which led to the NBA getting cancelled, and then all the other sports followed suite. And then the states started going into lockdown. Even though I'm not a sports person, I knew the sports getting cancelled meant this was officially getting bad. To me, this was the turning point between "The Before Times" and wherever we are now. And I guess he was a super-good player, but I don't know if his career will live this down. Assuming sports even come back for him to have a career.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:07 am
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niteowl says...



21. divided we fall (warning-gratuitous mangling of science metaphors)

and when we have splintered
so far apart
that even space and time
can't work out their differences
enough to stay together
and we fall back into a primordial soup,
will we forgive each over
before we are nothing but quantum light?

or will some insist they're just fine
even as they watch us cross
the event horizon.

Spoiler! :
Okay this is bad. It's based off a weird dream I had the other day where my aunt was running for president, we were having campaign events at a zoo for some reason, and then some weird physics stuff happened as we were all getting torn apart and sucked into this light, and somehow people were still arguing. I have no idea if quantum light is even a thing, but it sounds cool so it stays unless I decide to revisit this.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:12 am
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niteowl says...



22. the eternal dance

time might be the enemy,
but it is all we have.

it births us, ages us,
wounds us, and heals us.

it makes us hope for the future,
but reminds us that we're too old
for optimism.

it gives us so many seconds,
but we never see the clock,
never know the secret scores.

and even when it buries us,
it's not done with us
as it chips away at our remnants,
the memories we left behind,
and even those we see as immortal
will be forgotten someday.

Spoiler! :
Kind of cliche, but I like the "life as a really weird sports game" idea I stumbled on, so I might do more with that.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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