A Stab at Poetry

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Writing Down the Bones

Fiction has always been my forte. I usually stick to what I know. But recently I have gotten into the practice of doing free writes in a journal. This was a suggestion I picked up from the great book, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

The act of putting pen to paper is so different than writing on a computer. I found it refreshing, tapping into a different part of my creative brain. I would like to share a free write that I did on the bus home from New York City last weekend. I decided to type it up in the form of a poem.

This is something vastly different from the work I usually do and I am looking forward to any comments or suggestions that my fellow bloggers would like to share. As always, and in any capacity, Happy Writing.


I dreamt of the terrifying fear of jumping off the high dive.

I swore I was in love.

I was so happy

And woke up feeling so sad.

I am powerless in your presence.

I feel pain and hurt and I haven’t seen you for years.

Does this make me weak or does this make me a butterfly?

Am I transforming?

I no longer know if I have wings or if I have toes.

I apologize for my inadequacies.

I apologize for my restless, ruthless emotions.

Why should I shun my failures?

Why shouldn’t I sit on a park bench with nothing but an empty coffee cup?

I like to feel the subway rattling below me.

Last night in bed I felt it again, but further removed

No physical shaking, just a soft noise

Like a moan or a creak of the bed.

Was that it?

Is that all he has for you?

Maybe there is more, but I won’t stay around long enough to find out.

I want to feel the bones under my skin.

How does the sun look in your eyes when you wake?

Will I ever get the chance to know that beautiful secret?

There are so many cars.

But are there as many cars as gravestones?

I would count but I don’t have the time.

My time is more important than money.

I want to lick a penny.

I want to write until the bones in my hand turn to jelly.

New York is there-

On the other side of that hill.

The wind blows all the reeds in the same direction

Except one.

A Canadian Goose stands alone by the side of the highway.

The Turkey Vulture makes fun of its long neck.

I love your long neck.

I want to bite till I draw blood.

I want you to remember me forever.

Why are people biking?

Why is everyone exercising and smoking cigarettes?

I see your face everywhere I look

But it’s only a memory and you are a stranger.

Billboards ask me questions that make me self-conscious.

I always make the wrong decisions.

Where am I going now?

Best not to ask.

It’s strange to see green again, like I don’t believe in Spring.

Soccer fields show their wear with bare patches of dirt.

How does mine show?

I am transparent.

I am a dandelion in a hurricane:

Blown Away.

I am a circle and you are a square.

I hate your corners.

I want to smooth down your edges so we can finally fit together.

I slept until Hartford where I got off to buy a coffee,

To scold my insides back to life.

Remember me: Life?

No, give me more death.

Please, I’m not ready for this shit.

I’m not ready to be surrounded by passengers asking me the same question fifty different ways.

I’m not ready to go back into the woods with two people in love

And a bunch of animals who won’t show themselves. 

An Excerpt From This Morning’s Writing

It’s the wrong place, Marjory told herself. There’s no one here, it’s abandoned. Maybe that cab driver Rusty sent me here as a joke, or worse for some kind of malicious intent. She shivered in the growing cold. A light snow started to fall. She passed a Motel 6 on her way. Take the loss and head back over there, she told herself, if only I could remember the way. Her long sigh came out as a stream of hot air against the cold night. She rubbed her hands against the inside of her trouser pockets. And just as she was about to turn and lug the suitcase back down to the street she heard something from the other side of the door.

Muttering, a deep male voice, she couldn’t make out what he was saying. And shuffling footsteps. Her heart leaped as she composed a smile on her face. The door opened slowly and there on the other side was not a man at all, but a woman. She was large, with brown hair streaked with gray. The skin on her face was slightly pocked and her brow was furrowed. She stood looking down at Marjory and her suitcase and didn’t say anything.

“Erm, hello.” Marjory said, trying to keep the smile on her face.

“Are you lost?”

“Well no, I don’t believe I am.” The woman was looking just as impassible as the closed double doors. Then she remembered, “Rusty sent me!”

“Rusty?” The woman screwed up her eyes in concentration, her pudgy hands were stuffed into her front pockets and she rocked back and forth on her heels. “Oh Rusty. Right, well what’d he send you here for?”

“The thing is, I need a place to stay, and I don’t have much money.”

The woman looked at the large suitcase suspiciously.

“Look honey, this isn’t a hotel.”

“I understand. And I’m willing to pay.”

She sighed, withdrew a hand and ran it over her chin and a few gray whiskers. Finally she took a step back and motioned for Marjory to step inside. She did gratefully, and struggled to maneuver her bag across the threshold. But when she did, she was welcomed by a wash of warm air and a whiff of food. Something with tomatoes she thought.

In the middle of her eyes-closed-bliss the older lady interrupted. “We got rules here at the Douglas House and I’m gonna tell you what they are.”

The two women were standing just on the other side of the closed door. It was a rather dark hallway, with bare walls and a single floor lamp by the entrance. It was quiet, but now that she was inside she could hear a slight din coming from down the hall.

“Listen up,” she said, her bulk towering over Marjory. “Number one, we got what we call sliding scale payment. That means if you got money, you pay money. You don’t got money, you don’t pay money. From the looks of it, you got money, So I’m gonna have to charge you.”

Marjory gulped and nodded in agreement. The woman was back to rocking on her heels. She eyed the suitcase again. “The rate is going to be 10 dollars a night, non-negotiable. That includes one hot meal a day. Not two, not even one and a half. That’s one hot meal. You’re on your own for the rest. Supper starts at five sharp. If you’re late, you don’t eat and unlike AT&T they don’t roll over, so don’t even try.”

Marjory nodded again and shifted her weight. Her fingers were starting to thaw and now in place of numbness was a painful tingling sensation. She wiggled her toes inside her shoes. She glanced at her watch, 5:15. No wonder the woman was so grumpy, she must be interrupting supper.

“Next, these are shared accommodations. That’s one room for men, one for women. You can choose from any open bunk. You keep your possessions under your bunk and we are not responsible for any lost or stolen items, so you best keep an eye.”

The woman started ambling slowly down the hall, stopped and motioned Marjory to follow. “Well come on now, my dinner’s getting cold.”

Marjory received the abbreviated version of the grand tour, including the kitchen, mess hall, sitting room, the women’s dorm and the bathroom. The inside of the building was dark with sparse lighting throughout except in the mess hall. There, fluorescent bulbs lit up two long tables which were packed with people of all shapes, colors, sizes happily stuffing their faces. Marjory’s stomach growled audibly and the large woman looked down at her.

“Well no wonder. It sure doesn’t look like you eat anything for how scrawny you are.”

Marjory shrugged her shoulder and waited to be invited into the mess hall. She didn’t see any open chairs. The older woman patted her stomach.

“Well, I’m going to get back to my dinner now, long as it’s not too cold. I already told you the rules, so you know you’re late for supper tonight, means you’re on your own. But there’s a cheap bagel shop right down the block. Just no eating in the dorms.”

Marjory nodded and turned to go when the woman stopped her with heavy hand on her shoulder.

“Shoot, how rude of me, not even introducing myself. My name’s Lucy, but you can call me the boss.”

“Pleasure to meet you Lucy. My name’s Marjory.”

“Well Marjory, welcome to Douglas.”