and they’re kept in peace

She listens

as rain hurries

past, birds keeping

melodious company

with one another. She

marvels at how they call

over & over without care 

they may be a bother. They 

are not confined to lies inside

their mind: you loser, idiot, you

can’t fly. You made a mistake,

you should have remembered

not to turn to the side; now 

you’ve fallen out of the sky &

tears beg streaming apology.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean

to. Give up already, would you?

You’re weak, needy, & Jesus overcame the world, but look 

how much he cares about the small

stuff now. He turned water to wine, yet leaves you wondering: how can

he love me when one wrong move 

leaves me aching his arms about me?

Birds don’t long with water hitting their eyeglasses. No, they sing, letting this man of many sorrow chart their ways.

Ending Ached, New Year

Last night, I told my mother

I will never get better.

She says I say this

every time, but a smile

finds residence across

my mouth. This isn’t only

PMS magnifying fault

I’ve allowed myself believe

no matter direction my cold feet

travel me. This is me losing

sleep, repeating: There is

nothing to fear. Whispering

inside my head, it’s just the dark.

I close my eyes, picturing you folding

your hands reverent. I stand over frailty

once housing a soul maybe my twin.

We shared fears—death, loss, mistakes.

As I do with mom, I cried over them to you.

Voice firm, Julia, you are too hard on yourself.

I always thought you were scolding, until I recall

your watery eyes, seeming to know my needing right

once and for all times. You knew only Jesus could give

answers human mind doesn’t comprehend. When I

wandered through this desert, leaving school in search

for Him. Instead, I spent hours asking why, Jesus?,

why, Grandma?

why, Mom?

I’;ve failed,

I am a failure.

Between head,

world chaos

I put this fear into collection

you called, asking if I’d pass

copies your way.

This was the last time we spoke.

I’ve wondered if my raw honesty

frightened you as much as the day

grandpa cried peace into my ear

hushing my whole bod

Memory Had

A few days ago, I wrote this post about letting God have His job back, I wanted to take it down as soon as I published. For quite the same reason I want to stop writing right now. I don’t want to show the poem in this magazine. I don’t want to reread the first stanza. Read the line “atop my shoulder blade.” Instead of “atop your shoulder blade.” It makes me shudder, thinking how the meaning could be taken.

it could be only me. The poem follows three specific moments I had with my friend Gwen, when she visited in May. These moments brought back memories I told her about. My dad exercising my legs to make them stronger up until 17 maybe. Him taking me to Barnes & Noble, so I could wander the aisles. He did this at the library, too. He would always find a book and wait till I found one. Then, we would go home and read our picks. Him on the couch. And me sitting indian style on my bedroom floor. And the last section talks about when Gwen and I left B&N, and I told her how it wasn’t the same whenever he has taken me. AndI I miss it. And her sorry made everything in me want to burst. Not in anger or sadness, but silence.

This poem reminds me relationships aren’t perfect. I am sure not. I’ve gone through previous posts, to see words I’ve forgotten, probably misspelled. And how I’ve felt embarrassed behind this computer screen. Because I generally edit while I’m writing. Which means it takes me hours, instead of letting loose and fixing later. Clearly, I have perfectionist problem. (Earth to me: mistakes are OKAY. OKAY?) I really need to embrace the imperfect, so here in unedited glory is another broken part of me.

—————

Memory Had

1.

I tell her how yoga
reminds me of stretching,
nights on old bedroom carpet.

Your palms callous
against my pained skin,
as you set my ankle
atop my shoulder blade.

There is no refrain
between placing my socked feet
under her pale leg & my frustration
in recreating a daughter’s memory.

Daddy, how she tried.

2.
We walk through Barnes & Noble-
aisles of more than twenty-six books.

Science fiction.
Romance.
Teen.
Thrillers.

I think I spot Stephen King
but look away before you
sprawled out on a plaid couch
with his novel
enters my memory.

3.
I tell her how I thought of you
after we leave the parking lot.
Sympathy fills the open space-
an apology for old familiarity
I blanket myself in,
pretending a crouch doesn’t exist in silence
we now speak.

Letting God Have His Job Back

Friday, I read this quote.

“Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty. They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all—and underneath—they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.” — C. Raymond Beran.

I immediately sent this to Megan.

I said, “so you.”

I was overwhelmed. That isn’t saying much, because according to this test, I’m 24/27 highly sensitive. (Not that I need a test to tell me..)

Anyway, she sent me a box. Not just any box, but a box with a tree that looks straight out of The Lion King. With a Cookies n’ Cream Hershey’s bar. A leaf ring. A locket necklace with charms surrounding. Stouffer’s chocolate. BACON flavored lipgloss..

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Let’s not forget the #bestiefortherestie necklace. (It’s really a leaf with the word “BEST” in the corner.. But, MEGANNN, we need a #bestiefortherestie necklace, kayy?) And her book.

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I’m in a real difficult place—this place where I want perfection, but I’m curled up in fear because I want to let go. I’m tired of not being me. A child. Who isn’t asked to do everything right the first time around. Or the second. Third. Fourth. Even beyond.

This morning, my mom and I were talking about mistakes. Today, I was published in the same magazine where I sought approval in October. I sat there crying when it didn’t go how I expected. I didn’t think I deserved it. I thought it was a mistake.

This time, the happiness I felt the first time, wasn’t there. When I saw the email saying the issue came out today, my heart stopped. There’s a word in the poem they chose, I feel changes the whole meaning. I asked if I could edit. I was told to wait and “don’t get your hopes up.

I did though. Then, I worried. I’ve been a teeter totter. God, no way!! Why would they pick me again? You’ll come through! What if they say no?

And you know what? They never let me fix it. And my mom’s words after my angered question (toward myself) about why this bothers me, hit like a ton of bricks.

Maybe you won’t admit to yourself you made a mistake.

She’s 150% percent right. I don’t want people to see this poem isn’t exactly how I wanted. Much like the relationship this talks about. I especially don’t want the person this is about, my dad, to get the wrong idea.

Do you see where this is going? God already knew this was going to happen. They’d say yes. I’d deny it for a week. I’d finally look, only to see a mistake I d ask to fix. And now, it’s out there, out of my hands.

It’s reminds me of Megan writing about her unbelief at my 7 poem poetry book. How small. How short of perfection: no copyright page, different font sizes, formatting, and no doubt spelling errors. Brutally honest, but lovingly so.

If I’m honest, I didn’t want to publish that book. I was discouraged everywhere I looked, even myself. If it wasn’t for the friends I shared this with through here, and real life ones, like Megan, I would’ve gave up.

God moved through my small offering of imperfect.

I always want Him to impact a ton of people (okay, whole world) with my writing. That’s never been His intention though.

It’s been a few people, who see past my approval hungered heart, whispering: I love you. Be you. You are beautiful.

And God’s lesson today: Let Me shine through the small.

Okay, I’m Uncertain

I smell peppermint,

no doubt wafting over

from the napkin holding TollHouse

cookies & a tangelo, nestled close

together on the bedside table.

A comfortable distraction I want

reason to reach for, but there is none.

Sugar, whether natural or artificial,

dulls me down, slumps my brain

down a depressed hole. I eat,

chewchewchew, “this tastes wonderful.

What is going to happen?” I don’t worry

all for two seconds, maybe more, but

I know my soul is crying. One word,

name, my now tearing blues fell upon

moments earlier. Abba. Father.

I curled up with these words:

Therefore, there is no condemnation

for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The Spirit I received doesn’t make me a slave,

so I fear reaction from a mistake I think I made.

I was listening to melody, when I noticed

my phone light come alive urgency.

A number I didn’t recognize, requires

my mind assuming a debt collector.

Debt collectors don’t generally leave

messages asking if you would like continued

grace period, because they know you are troubled.

After six months time, you have to pay up.

No, this man asked if I would like to remain

on the wait list for a room at a school

I fear performance will rule.

I didn’t pick this one, or

the one before.

I did what

I was told.

I never thought,

“What do you think, God?”

I knew He existed,

but I didn’t know Him.

When I went to the first school,

I made a friend who looked me

straight in my sadness: He died

for you, Julia.

I wept hardest at every stoplight.

I felt trapped, repeating: why?

Why me? Why me? Why?

If He whispered love over my sobs

I didn’t hear. Slowly, He brought

other people wanting to know me.

Talk to me.

Look in my eyes.

Demonstrate love’s first name.

Bible study, I’d be asked my thoughts.

Pray? What do you say?

The layout felt paralyzing.

Still does, for me, who wants to talk

as a child: question everything.

Wonder. Share not with a huge

crowd, but one or two people,

this Son of Man’s desire for all humanity

Me. These friends, who wanted me to meet

the Author penning my whole life, let me come

undone slow. The spark becoming an ember

I ran from when fear begged me hide away.

Run, run, run! There’s schoolwork to be done!

Jesus scared, scares me. I ached abandoning

work, to sit in the glow of these smiles & never

say a word. I wanted to listen, maybe ask a question.

All those people set my nerves ablaze. Fear.

I struggled through a year of not knowing

why I was an English major, why writing anything

other than poetry, hurt, bored me. Why reading

His versed love, left me inking heart cries

other souls connected with. Why He kept, keeps

calling after me this way. Through this wilderness

I thought would lead me further astray, He finds me,

quivering, please don’t make me go back, I only want

to write you until an answer arrives. I want to write

poems, stories, dialogues, but money is short.

This is where I come alive. Yes, I want friends,

but I wish college wasn’t my only option.

Time management isn’t my forte.

But here in this plate, time, everything

leaves me free. Jesus, I don’t know

what to do. I don’t want to say yes or no.

I know faith isn’t sight. You spoke gently

when you allured Gomez out from worldly pleasures.

Speak gracious your love. lead me where your still waters

quiet my dismay.

Where’s Joy?

The way I am wishing

to become a winter song.

When words fall out my

lovingkindness drawn mouth,

they will be quiet welcome.

Snow collects on dirtied soil

without asking: May I rest here

awhile? We must be okay with the

chill, because we carry left over cold

as a souvenir for our hearts. We

point out past wrongs, you left

school, you won’t go back.

You’ll never hold this down,

pay this back. You’ll never be like

me. You’re a jerk. Idiot. Asshole.

Sucker. Now replace that with an F.

This is what I hear. I can’t lie, saying

complaint doesn’t rear it’s ugly

blackhead, pimple I am sure will

need popped by week’s end. I can

never see them, but they are as

painful as these words slain on a

cross. More bloody than the slightest

whimper I make about hurt I can’t

control. Joy is hard to swallow,

especially when I’m handed this gift

daily. I fight to believe the way other

people talk, never has to be

normalcy. People I don’t know well.

dare to call me sweet, beautiful,

friend, as I swim up a current, so

don’t fall into conformity. If I am

honest, I have overthought more on

God’s love for me, believing every

day, His love is the same as my

family. The quick snake tongues

never pride empty. Strike. Strike.

Strike. It’s not a turkey, I’ve only

bowled once perfectly.

It’s me, trying not swing back at their

falsehoods to produce a grand slam

belief: this is the way life has to be.

Father, Incline Your Ear

Dear God,
where are you now?

Their eyes burn with reveries
old-bitterness claims specks of light, downturning faith, once gleaming founding.

My words fall silent on ears expecting want filled, need of truth seemingly lost to sheep without shepherding.

Father, forgive me for opening doors locked, in belief healing could come–
please, pardon the flooding darkness
& softly guide ignorance back where
Your kingdom comes.