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where i'm from

Middle Name Mag - Friday, June 16, 2017

I’m from counting spoken melodies on scalloped fingers,

from watching my breath and countless thoughts unsaid pool in clouds of

white-washed vapor on frigid, obsidian evenings.

I’m from the smell of too many unused notebooks and

how beautiful empty pages really are,

the fresh, crinkled lines waiting to be filled in with

too many unforged similes.

 

I’m from summers spent cavorting with Billy Collins, Anthony Kiedis, Barbara Kingsolver,

Emily Dickinson,

from heat seeping between twitching toes,

the anticipation of eight stationary hurdles

laying against my conscious like too many sleepless evenings.

 

I’m from counting out steps between seamless strides,

from driving beneath light-polluted skies,

from the first time I saw the Milky Way,

how it was a puddle of spilled milk and

uncut diamonds,

luminescent against ebony velvet.

 

I’m from running every morning at eight AM to escape monuments I had yet to construct and

from wanting to write a poem every time I

saw the sun steadily creep from behind Blue Ridge clouds.

 

I’m from needing to be the best at everything,

from finally God damn realizing that I only need to be the best me I can be.

I’m from eventually learning that love was not about taking,

was not no means yes and every conversation was not meant to be a war of some sort and

what was the end game anyways?

 

I’m from falling in love with Richmond all over again,

from no longer seeing demons leering from behind closed eyelids,

from remembering that, yes, this is what happiness feels like.

 

I’m from cultivating and growing,

from accepting the things that I cannot control,

from parallel branches and red roses,

from too many evenings spent over thinking,

wondering what it meant to be not so broken.

 

I’m from getting a tattoo simply because I needed

to hold on to something permanent again.

 

I’m from rattling fingers and knocking knees

beneath unforgiving stage lights, just like these,

from learning how to read these insecurities to rooms of unknown beings,

from discovering that poetry is the best form of therapy.

 

I’m from Cyprus, and Ireland,

from Scotland, and Richmond.

I’m from these words rapidly sewn to a rumpled brochure on a steaming August afternoon,

one of the few days in which I was not attached to my family’s hip,

from ends and beginnings,

from cramped hands and bellies full of laughter.

I’m from wanting greatness and only ever thinking I had achieved mediocracy,

from slowly finding a voice amongst a sea of rolling, crashing personalities.

 

I’m from so many different, shifting memories,

from stagnant love and undulating peace,

from sky-high expectations,

from always feeling as if I’m just two steps too far behind.

 

But this is a new evening,

a new beginning,

a new stage, a new see of beings I may never see again.

This is new page in one of the many notebooks lining my walls,

and maybe now,

this is the time to be from something

other than these unsure perspectives.

 

-emily johanna

Take This Hand

Middle Name Mag - Sunday, July 03, 2016

The music begged for reciprocation,

For an eye to see the heart
Beating the metronome of rhythmic possibility
For an ear to hear the honesty chanted at the level of connection, like a plea.
Desperate to exchange sincerity with the ones willing to listen,
For a tongue to taste the sweat of dedication,
The persistence of waking up the next morning
Is uncertainty
As if experiencing the day through the innocence
Of a baby, learning and trying
And failing
Until the first steps click,
Gripping understanding with a clenched fist.
For a nose to smell the energy dispersing
Through the air like smoke,
The electricity of passion manifested in seized gifts,
The risk of chased dreams
Reaping bonfires that demand attention.
For the hand to touch the essence of the meaning behind the words,
To give in to the call,
Drawn into visceral overload
As if overturning bodily control.
The music begged for reciprocation,
For someone to take its hand and
Never let go.

 

-ileana lucia

 

 

I Would Be a Poem

Middle Name Mag - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lately,

people have begun to ask me
“What is it that you want to be?”

 

Simple in composure and projection,
it’s a question I have yet to find an an answer to.

 

You see,
I’ve been asking myself the same thing
since I began counting the stars clustered together in

Picasso skies,

since I could see words in the way the waves
crumpled against burnished shores,
since I noticed the similes and stanzas
hanging from willow trees and
the ones sitting beneath
squeaking swings on sun-dusted days.

 

I guess I could please them by saying
cardiology calls to me
just like it did for my father, his brother,
and my papou.

 

I could lie and say the way
hearts contort and beat,
simply trying to keep us and our
optimistic dreams upright and existing,
fascinate me,
but in reality I’ve only ever been able to see
the poetic symbolism in its contractions and pulsations.

 

I could claim that medicine sparks a need
for more knowledge and learning in me,
a thirst for intuition and understanding,
but I'd always be lost in the brain,
in the way it creates contorted similes and
poetic irony in our already circumvented beings.

 

Lately,
people have been asking me what I want to be.

 

How can I explain the way poetry calls to me,
the way I see potential stanzas blooming in the wrinkled petals of
magenta azaleas and
in the linings of scalloped palms
stained from countless afternoons pressed against
corrugated tracks?

 

Once upon a time,
I wanted to be a doctor, an inventor, an engineer,
wanted to be a first, a legend, a woman of science.
Fascinated and invigorated by the mechanisms of the physical world and
the multitude of ways our bodies are tethered and held together,
all my desires, hopes, and dreams were held in the belief
that I would be a Madame Curie, a Montessori, an Anning.

 

But now,
I’ve lost myself in a love of words and their origins,
the way they slip from my tongue easily, effortlessly,
how they stain countless untarnished pages,
the way I can simply step into a world of another’s creation,
forgetting the scars and worry criss crossing and corrupting my mind.

 

When people ask me
“Well, what do you want to be?"
I ache to tell them that if I could be anything,
I’d be a constellation,
a star,
a sea of cosmic beings illuminating a need for poetry.

 

In a world with countless possibilities and
without terrestrial limitations,
I would be a collection of well-worn pens
or a furrowed sheet of unused paper,
the lines waiting to be filled with thoughts stemming from
lazy May days or
clever comparisons conceived on evenings
watching heat lightning arch and scream across skyscraper clouds.

 

When I think of the rest of eternity,
everything I hope and wish to be
lies in the pages and pages of poetry
littering my bookshelves and
In the way book pages fill me with a sense of fulfillment yet to be found
in any other aspect of my existence.

 

I always seem to feel the antiquated words against my raised skin,
the centuries of history and possibilities encapsulated in their print.
I want to be them,
want to leave this earth
even if it was just for a thimble of stolen moments,
to cease being a tarnished collection of decaying supernovas and exist
in the words of others’ stories and poetry.

 

When people ask me what I want to be,
I want to scream at the top of my indecisive lungs and describe how
I want to be the words Dickens, Collins, and Neruda painted on
corrugated pages.

 

I want to be the similes buzzing beneath
moonlight as it's cupped in puckered palms.
I want to be the metaphors and symbols synchronizing with the prayers of young girls
still yearning for a sense of security and prosperity,
want to be the novels carved from a need for reform or
transparency.

 

Lately,
people have begun to ask me
“What is it that that you want to be?”

 

Instead of lying and claiming a false love for cardiology or neurology,
instead of walking down a path well-worn and trodden by the
family of doctors who raised me,
I want to be the words
slipping form muddled tongues,
the letters penned in the wavering liquid light of dawn,
the dialogues and soliloquies consummated between star-crossed lovers.

 

If I could be anything,
I would be a poem.
Because maybe
poetry
is the only thing I’ve always believed in.

 

- emily johanna

 

 

Attachments

Middle Name Mag - Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thick against my feet are the sounds and the webs I try not to weave. I hear so many different sounds, none of which are mine. The faint cry of my feet are numbing; have you ever seen a butterfly with no wings? Have you ever seen a painting made with no paint?

 

That hollowness that I have grown so accustomed to throbs against my shoulders; if you listen close enough to Bowling pins falling you will hear that hollowness.
if you listen close enough to the grandfather clock, you will hear this hollowness.
If you cry soft enough, you will hear the hollowness.
I is a letter I have forgotten how to properly use.
I used to pretend that my heart wasn’t filled with valves, that it was filled with a thick liquid and it beat to wash itself clean.
The last thing my mother asked me was whether or not I believed in god and the last thing I told her was that god didn't seem to believe in me.

 

My mother is a Christian that righteously believes that black is the devil's color and suffocates herself with strings of hair etching shapes around her head. Her mantra is that everything must be righteous, what had gone so wrong?

 

Have you ever fallen asleep on a bay of leaves? Have you ever felt the mangled touch of claws on your face? Have you ever felt boulders in your stomach?

 

I have tried to hard to blend in among waves and leaves I don’t know how to see; I moisten and dampen pages of words just to wash out the words I have never meant to type. The trees get sullen every once in a while; I hear voices in the trees just to realize that I speak to myself poetically.

 

All I know for love is the slight taste of a hand growing these vibrant little red flowers of the sides of my temples. In my cheekbones. Out hollowed under my eyes. Sleep is a casualty which is something I heard that nomads believe.

 

I pound my leather against the veins of the leaves. They are moist with my tears and globs of spit tossed form my mouth.

 

It has been weeks and I hope that I am dreaming; I just don’t remember anything other than salt tasting this sweet.

 

I hope nobody approaches me. Soft weeks go by and Vericose veins erupt on the sides of my thighs; I trace mazes on them in my free time wondering how blood can be so potent.

 

I hope I am well.

 

- leyka simran

 

Blisters

Middle Name Mag - Monday, March 28, 2016

I like to linger in the space between one day and the next –

the entire world fades away as eleven turns to twelve,

and I somehow remain,

left to gather up the fragments of a shattered heart I cannot remember how to repair.

 

I take a drag of my future and hold it,

heavy and glowing inside my lungs for

one, two, three.

I exhale, watching the tendrils of smoke wind their way

around AP Calculus, around Raleigh, around college essays,

in the door of a 200 square foot musty apartment and out into a green backyard

with a picket fence and a border collie named Inevitability.

 

I find a certain pleasure in tearing pages from my notebook –

as if by laying fragments of my existence face-up on the hardwood floor

I can will them to rearrange themselves into something better;

as if by flicking ash onto black ink

I can become the paper, become the fire, become the smoke that will carry me

far, far away from here.

 

There’s a building pressure inside my chest

and I’m not sure how many more pages I can burn before heat consumes me entirely.

Perhaps I am not words, but light and ember –

perhaps I do not want to reorder myself

as much as I want to watch blisters simmer across my fingertips.

 

This should be simple:

smoking ashes in a firepit sixty-five miles west of Abilene,

rain that lingers on my lips long after I have ducked inside.

 

This should be simple,

yet I linger to light up again.

 

- maye hadley

 


 

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