Wild Thing

 

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Pardon me,

That I may gaze upon you,

Your figure twisted into a Peaceful Warrior,

Hips stacked, body balanced, arms aligned, head high,

Staring into the face of the universe without fear,

The sunlight dappled across your skin like waves

Lapping upon the shore of my dreams,

Like a heat map that leads my eyes to yours,

Like a road flare illuminating the shadows of your soul,

And in the half light, the moment stretches, and,

Brought to the breaking point,

Sings one last warbling note on its golden lyre,

Then shatters.

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I Wanted to Write You Into a Love Poem

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I wanted to write you into a love poem,

But all I can conjure

Is a picture of a girl crying off her mascara

On a stoop in the south of Chicago,

Smeared burgundy lips wrapped around

One

Thin cigarette,

And the man she used to love

Entering the scene upon his exit

From the doorway with it’s crumbling yellow paint,

Pale, now, in the rising moonlight,

Faded from

Two

Decades of wind and rain,

And the gun he’s hiding behind his back –

“Come in,” he says to her –

Voice shaking in the cold December night,

And she says

Three

Words in return,

Breath rising like a halo around her lips,

But it’s lost to the wicked wind,

And he raises his hand and puts

Four

Slim, flattening bullets

Into her, and the

Five

Children they had together

Come running

Just as the church bells ring,

Announcing the arrival of the hour

Six.

The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

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She slowly unfolds the paper, and it crinkles in her hands as she smoothes it against the skirts of her dress. The first thing she does before reading it is to bring it up to her lips, breathe deep of its scent, and smile, wide and free.

 

Dear People of the Internet,

 

My generation is one of texters, snappers, and tweeters. Any sentiment that cannot be expressed in 140 characters (or less) is quickly discarded, trimmed, or divided into tweet-able, text-able chunks.

 

Sometimes, it’s poetry. Sometimes, one doesn’t need more than 140 characters to say what they mean, but more often than not, the message is just one in an endless deluge of trillions of others sent by the billions of people with access to a mobile device.

 

At risk of sounding like I am an immortal being born two centuries ago, I quite frankly miss the days where you sent your lover clandestine letters under the cover of darkness, or kept up with your mother through long, rambling letters that still smelt faintly of her cooking.

 

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t miss the really old days, the ones when it took years to get a letter from your family in the New World, providing neither the ship carrying the original letter nor the reply sunk on its long and treacherous journey across the Atlantic.

 

Rather, I miss the letter-writing habits of my mother’s generation, and that of her mother before her. I yearn for the thoughtfulness it takes to put pen to paper and pour your deepest secrets onto the page. I miss the special little touches and flairs of personality both senders would adorn their letters with. I long for the days when communication was not instantaneous.

 

In a world where communication with people around the world is limited only by the speed of our network connections, complex, nuanced thoughts are left behind. They hover, phantom-like, at the periphery of our mind, begging to be expressed, but they do not fit the mold of today’s fast-paced, speed-of-light communication. There is a real pressure to condense and simplify our thoughts until all subtleties are stripped away, replaced by trite clichés and overused metaphors. Those thoughts flare and fade, seafoam on the shoreline being boiled away by the apricity of the sun in the winter.

 

Even in poetry, there has been a motion towards shorter, more compressed forms. Some poets take it upon themselves to compose their works of literature within the 140-character limit. Flash fiction is becoming more popular than ever. If brevity were a horse, then everyone, it seems, would jump on its bandwagon. What is at stake is revealed by asking oneself where, exactly, this horse and its wagonload of tweet-happy, tech-savvy youths are heading?

 

Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps I’m just a cynic, but it’s clear to me, having been isolated from social media as a teenager, that the edge of the cliff is fast approaching, and that today’s youth are speeding towards it as they age into tomorrow’s workforce. One doubts they’ll be impressed by the brevity of the fall; it’s a long way down.

 

“Ur hot” is a far cry from Sonnet 18. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” has had its essential organs removed, and has suffered a lobotomy to boot.

 

It certainly gets the point across, but at what cost? At the cost of poetry, at the expense of beauty? Yes, times change, and so must we, but the sacrifice of our language for ‘text-speak’ is like exchanging a banquet for a single piece of fruit. The so-called prize of brevity seems like a meager consolation. The price we’ve paid in words and in sentiments for our communication to keep up with our fast-paced lives is far too high for comfort.

 

What happened to stopping to smell the metaphorical roses? What became of sitting down with a writing instrument and some stationery to pen a thoughtful letter? Where, pray-tell, did letter-writing go to take to its deathbed, and why is my generation doing utterly nothing to stop it?

 

It is any wonder that our interpersonal relationships are in tatters because of social media? It takes no courage to ‘troll’ someone. There is no valor in telling a woman of your undying affection if you do it through text messaging.

 

So much is lost when we separate ourselves by our devices. We are so far removed from each other that even when sitting next to one another, young lovers will be texting others on their phones. What is the point of a mobile communication device if all it does is cheapen our conversations, rob us of the nuances of our language, and compress our thoughts into character-limited shadow versions of their original selves?

 

There is so much complexity and beauty in every human language. There are long-winded metaphors, rambling comparisons, flowery poetry. There’s the give and take of body language, and the clues given by inflection, and the tell-tale signs of defeat or joy or any myriad of emotions playing themselves out across our features.

 

I think my generation likes to think that social media and texting bring us closer together. Certainly, it makes the world a smaller place, but we are further removed than we’ve ever been from one another. Our machines and corporations like Twitter decide upon the quality of the thoughts expressed through them. Not every thought can be condensed, chained and constrained by the limits of texting and tweeting.

 

I have a confession to make. Ninety percent of the texts I send serve not to bring me closer to my friends, but rather to isolate me. We sit in different rooms, in separate cities, intently starting at our screens and watching the infernal ‘typing’ symbol. I feel anything but connected in that moment. All I can think, doing my part as a twenty-something woman to try to keep in touch, is that I am alone in an empty room, waiting for empty words stripped bare of nuance and complexity.

 

Even calling them is not an option. “Why didn’t you just text me?” people of my generation will ask, seemingly confused by the engagement of their vocal chords rather than their thumbs.

 

Soon enough, talking on the phone will have retired to the Southern Hemisphere, alongside the fast-dying art of letter-writing.

 

And one day, when my generation is personified by an aging gentleman furiously texting his grandchildren, the children will laugh while letter-writing is slain by ever-faster modes of communication, and Mr. Millennial, drawing one last ragged breath, will look up from his phone and wonder how, with his 547 Facebook friends, and 1320 Twitter followers, he ended up so very alone.

 

Maybe he should have written a letter instead.

 

Signed,

 

Caitlin Cacciatore – Poet, Space Opera Novelist, and Letter Writer Extraordinaire

More Faith than Flesh

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I toss my troubles

Down the wishing well,

Watch them until they melt into the inky black,

Bid them farewell, if only for the night,

And let myself wander the alpine forests of my youth,

Where the wax seal of time

Is still warm from the pouring,

And the swaying, golden fields of life

Have only just begun to be harvested,

Where the air is redolent with the heady scent of loam

Mixed with distant traces of sea foam;

And if a tree falls in this forest,

It won’t make a sound,

So unburdened am I

That I am more faith than flesh.

What I’ve Tasted of Desire

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Title is from a line of Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice.”

She’ll wear your perfume, but only once you’ve left, or rather, once she has chased you out, swift-sweeping all the remnants of you from her castle, save for a single bottle of the pink lilac scent you used to wear, when you were her lover.

She’ll burn your clothes, it’s true, and you’ll leave in such a hurry that you’ll forget your dream journal, which she’ll decide is too sacred to read, and into the pyre it’ll go – all those dreams you used to hold so dear, all going up in a blaze of glorious smoke.

Your books will end up in a bin in front of a library twenty miles out of town, though she’ll consider keeping Tolstoy, if only for the irony. She’ll decide against it, in the end.

She’ll pour your cognac down the sink, or better yet, toss the whole bottle into the ocean blue, for the mermaids to get drunk off of, and they, too, will feel the heat of the passion you once let smolder in between the bedsheets, which she’ll burn later, when she goes to the beach next Midsummer to light a bonfire in memory of freeing herself from you.

It isn’t until the quiet stillness of September of the year after dawns that she’ll gingerly free the bottle of perfume from an unadorned wooden box in the corner of the side drawer of her most frequently neglected dresser, and dab it between her breasts, and upon her wrists, and anoint her neck with the scent of you, breathing it in like a starving animal – and she will remember you, then, and only then, with some degree of longing, and her heart?

It’ll burn too.

rose-colored glasses: a poem

 

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her hands shake.

it’s not the first thing you’d notice,

but it’s the kind of habit that you begin to wonder about

when you take her hand in yours,

and she’s trembling, and you take her wine glass and

maybe she’s just a little drunk, but no,

the sun’s just rising,

and it’s just rose-colored water,

or perhaps something more sinister;

either way, you cannot help but greet the day

by pressing her up against the wall,

letting the glass fall unbidden to the floor,

and it shatters, the scent of blood thick on her breath,

but it’s only, you find, because she’s bitten her lips raw,

and, oh, she must love the taste, love it as she’ll never love you –

and you can taste that on her, too,

the way she tenses under you,

the manner in which she pulls away a second or two too soon,

and then you kneel before her, your knees scraping against the broken glass and

your blood mingles with hers and

it’s not all right and it never will be,

but maybe, just maybe,

she’ll lie with you tonight,

if only to lick the bloody tears from your eyes as you mourn

what could have been.

her hands will be steady as she wraps them ‘round your throat

and that’ll be the last thing you ever notice about her, the world, and all,

save for maybe a passing thought about how there are no stars in her eyes, now,

though you’d swear they were there, earlier.

Gray Like the Shadowlands of my Youth

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I will never be able to come up with an appropriate metaphor

For the color of your eyes;

Gray, like the shadowlands of my youth,

Not in truth,

But in memory,

Green with jadedness from strife,

Not in life,

But in dreams,

Blue, much in the same manner of the sea

On a cloudless day;

That is to say –

I know not,

For I, too busy mapping the stars in your eyes,

Never paused

To notice something as terrestrial as their hue.

That is forgetfulness – its Cupid’s arrow sweet and true.

Alexandria

 

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Nighttime is the sweetest of all sorrows, rose petals – soft, supple, silken – shattering upon impact with some greater force, becoming bitter and brittle in the instant before it comes time to face the music of their fall.

A cigarette being lit in a back alley somewhere near the city of Alexandria, all while the ancient regime crumbles, and another empire upon which the sun will never set rises from its ashes.

Time, time; the fire in which we burn, cigarette smoke curling in thin circles around our lips, obscuring the words we meant to say and leaving only those we’d rather have left unspoken.

Time, time – be mine.

Alexandria burnt, and no phoenix rose to take her place.

Our fate will be no different – time, scattering us upon the winds of fate, ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

Our destinies diverged the moment we entered stage-right, but in the end, we’re all appointed to meet pale death in Samara, or some other city whose name used to be some kind of parable for life, but is now only remembered as the site of a spectacular graveyard; the place a great battle was fought, and lost.