“Oh, my arm around your waist is,
just another smart accessory to blend in…”
“Oh, my arm around your waist is,
Nunca by Trails And Ways.
“Show me your Sao Paulo. I wanna go where you hide out, where you paint graffiti—I’ll follow.
Show me shapes, spiral lines, I can’t translate. And leave your mark, felt tip pen, your tag, my chest.
I wanna tell you how you’ll understand—I will; Nunca nunca. Te esconder, desaparecer. Nunca, nunca nunca.
You tell me this city is only a maze; of walls and laws you just can’t obey. You can’t write laws, and so— you paint that tattoo on the city arms, on the city face.
Nunca, nunca nunca.”
If you really like this song, you can download it at the band’s website.
“Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood”
to my people
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.”
Poem by Thich Nhat Hanh.
1957 by Milo Greene.
“You act like you don’t know me, my God you tempt my anxious mind.”
Poppy opened her honey-brown eyes and felt drops of sweat running down her face as she gasped for air. Her hands touched the damp white sheet as she sat on her twin bed. Her right thumb moved quickly to her right ring finger. It was still there. A soothing feeling of relief came over her as she began to breathe normally. Her drowsy eyes focused on the black and white silhouette entering her bedroom.
“What happened, my child? Another nightmare?” said Mother Elisa. She had heard Poppy’s screams while she did her morning round in the Girls’ Dormitory. Rounds that became usual due to Poppy’s bad dreams.
“Yes,” said Poppy, looking down at her ring. The golden ring had an emerald in the darkest shade of green. The shape of the stone was that of an eye with surrounding golden petals sparkled with zirconias.
“I’m worried about you, Poppy. Lately, you’ve barely slept. What are these dreams about? Maybe I can help,” said Mother Elisa, as she sat beside the bed while covering Poppy’s ring with her warm hand.
“They are about my mother. I need to know where she is, Mother Elisa. It’s all I think about. She promised this was only temporary. Don’t you know anything about her? I’m fourteen years old now. I think I’m old enough to know whatever it is you know. It’s been nine years.”
“I know, my child,” said Mother Elisa as she held Poppy’s hand, “but I know as much as you. We haven’t heard from her since that day in September when she left you at the orphanage. Don’t lose faith. You’ll see her again in God’s time. You must not worry.” She patted Poppy’s hand and stood up. “Now go get ready and meet the other children in the Dining Hall. I heard they made flapjacks for breakfast, your favorite.” She smiled at Poppy and left the room. Poppy thought about what Mother Elisa said, but still felt a void in her stomach. Her words that in many occasions had been consoling were not enough.
The sound of the children’s voices could be heard from outside the Dining Hall accompanied by the sweet smell of syrup from the flapjacks. Poppy entered the large white room with the tall windows that lit up the whole space. She was wearing a worn-out burgundy and black plaid dress that had a white collar and harmonized with her fair skin and black hair. There were rectangular dark wooden tables organized in rows, with plates of flapjacks and amber syrup in serving cups. On one of the tables, was an empty spot, her spot. She sat next to an orphan boy that was more or less her age. He had dark blonde hair that he covered with a dark brown cap. Every time he laughed, his dimples seemed to deepen. His electric blue eyes had a mischievous look to them and glanced at Poppy as she sat.
“Hey Pops!” said the boy with his usual smirk.
“Hey Liam, would you please stop calling me Pops?” said an annoyed Poppy. She still remembered the sound of the popping balloon behind her back, her squeal and all the children laughing.
“Come on Poppy, have a sense of humor! It was hilarious.”
“It’s just one of those mornings again.”
“Oh, what was the dream about this time?”
“I was in the same dark empty space,” she paused. “But this time, it was different. I was shivering, and smoke came out of my mouth. I heard my mother’s voice faintly call out for me. I ran towards her voice until I couldn’t hear it anymore. I started running faster fearing the worst. That’s when I woke up with this emptiness in my stomach. I need to find my mother, Liam, but I don’t know where to begin.”
“Well, I happen to know where Mother Elisa keeps all the files of the orphans, if you are interested. Maybe there’s something in your file.”
“There’s a room inside her office where all the file cabinets are. It’s always locked.”
“So how exactly am I supposed to get inside the room if it’s always locked?”
“That’s why you need me! I know how to open it,” said Liam with a grin.
“Fine. We’ll do it tonight.”
“Yes Liam, tonight.”
“Then I’ll meet you in front of Mother Elisa’s office after lights-out.”
The hallway that led to Mother Elisa’s office was lit by the clarity of the moon that penetrated through the windows. “Mother Elisa” stood out labeled on the frosted glass of the wooden door. Poppy sat on the floor in front of the office waiting for Liam, just as agreed. The rapid pounding of her heart was the only sound she could hear aside from her thoughts. Her mind was creating all the possible scenarios of what she would find in her file. She wondered if Mother Elisa was hiding something from her, but refused to believe that. Suddenly, she heard some distant footsteps, and the possibility of getting caught came to her mind. She recognized the figure that was walking towards her, and it was Liam.
“Where were you?” said Poppy.
“Trying not to get caught,” said Liam as he looked at the brown leather satchel Poppy was carrying. “What is that?”
“Uh, I brought a flashlight and a few things in case we needed them. Well, let’s go in.”
“Aren’t we being a bit impatient?” said Liam, while Poppy stared at him with a straight face.
Liam took some rudimentary lock-picking tools from out of his pocket, but to Poppy they seemed like nothing more than metal sticks with differently-shaped tips. Her eyes followed every movement of Liam’s hands. He stuck two metal sticks inside the door lock and moved them repeatedly in various directions. She didn’t think it was possible that Liam, moving his hands up and down or side to side with all that silly shaking, would actually open the door. Her mouth slightly opened when the door lock clicked indicating Liam’s success. He smiled and opened the door slowly.
“After you,” said Liam.
“Where did you learn to do that?” said Poppy, surprised by Liam’s lock-picking skills, as she entered Mother Elisa’s office.
“When I arrived at the orphanage, I was much older than you and had been living on the streets for some time, where someone taught me. That’s how I was able to survive the winters. I would get inside an abandoned house and use it as a shelter. It was also how I ended up here.”
“You were caught?”
“Yes, but I guess living here is better than being on the streets,” said Liam and changed the subject. “Now, let’s open the door where the file cabinets are.”
Metallic file cabinets were lined against the wall, with labels on each of the drawers that hinted to their alphabetical order. Poppy searched for the drawer that was labeled with an “H” for “Hollingberry,” her last name. There it was, the box that contained at least a pointer to the whereabouts of her mother. She hesitated at first, but her hand grabbed the handle and opened the drawer. Her fingers glided through each of the folder tabs seeking for her surname. When she read it on one of the folders, Poppy got it out and opened it.
“Liam, I found it,” said Poppy.
“Great, what does it say?”
“There’s not much about my mother, but it has the address of my house.”
“That’s enough. We can go to your house and see what we can find.”
“Wait. You’re not coming with me, Liam. I don’t want to get you in more trouble than I’ve already gotten you into. What if Mother Elisa finds out about this and that you also escaped with me? Thank you for helping me, but I think I’ll go alone.”
“Are you crazy? You don’t know the streets like I do. You’ll get lost.”
“No, you won’t. If I don’t go, you won’t go either. I’ll let them know you escaped and they’ll probably catch you before you can even get to your house.”
“Fine! You’ll go with me.”
The sound of their shoe soles against the pavement increased as they approached house number 44 on Park Street. It was almost midnight and the neighborhood was dormant. Number 44 stood before them. Poppy and Liam were greeted with silence. Poppy’s eyes perused the house as if to be certain it was the place she used to call home. The pale, blue paint that once covered the house was now a dark shade of grey, there were no lights on and the lawn was untrimmed with dry leaves. Poppy went up the porch stairs with Liam behind her.
“This is my house, but not as I remembered it,” said Poppy.
“It looks like it’s been abandoned for a long time.”
“Yeah, I think if we go inside, we might find some clue of where my mother is.”
“I guess, there’s always something that stays behind.”
“Let’s go find out.”
While Liam picked the front door one of his tools slipped from his hands and fell to the floor, making an undesired metallic noise against the wood floor of the porch. Liam quickly bent down, grabbed the tool, and waited for a few minutes that felt like hours, before trying to pick the door again. Poppy kept looking at the neighboring homes, as a lookout would. Their mishap apparently went unnoticed. Liam turned the door knob slowly and the door opened making an eerie creaking sound. Once inside, Poppy got her flashlight out of her satchel, but all she saw was emptiness. There was a lonely chair in the living room lit by the moonlight that entered through a window. A stale smell could be felt in the air, the typical scent of a house being closed for a long time.
“There’s nothing here, Poppy,” said Liam, coming out of the kitchen.
“I want to go to my mother’s bedroom. Maybe there’s something there.”
Her hand grabbed the dusty rail as she began to ascend on the steep stairs that led to the second floor. With each step she took, Poppy’s mind was filled with faint past memories of her mother in their house. She remembered the way her mother Anna would smile, as she looked at Poppy patiently waiting for her flapjacks. Poppy remembered how worried her mother was when she found her after she had gone missing for many hours of exploring around the neighborhood. Yet the memory that she most held dear, came to Poppy on the last step and it was her mother’s scent of sweet powdery vanilla while she felt her warm embrace. She even closed her eyes as if she were trying to smell it again.
“Who’s there? You shouldn’t be here! I called the police!” said a voice coming from downstairs.
“There’s someone here, Poppy! We have to—” whispered Liam.
“I see you two. Come down! You’re in a lot of trouble,” said the man.
“I’m sorry, sir! We didn’t mean to break in. We don’t want any trouble,” said Poppy as she quickly made her way down the stairs with Liam. The man stood at the entrance with the door open. He was wearing a night robe over his pajamas and had a key ring with keys in his left hand.
“Where did you get that ring, girl?” said the man, noticing Poppy’s ring. The precious stone sparkled as it reflected the light that came from outside the door.
“Be careful, Poppy,” said Liam, as he stood beside her.
“It’s okay, Liam. My mother gave it to me,” said Poppy.
“Your mother? You are Anna Hollingberry’s daughter?” said the man, as he moved closer to Poppy. His grey hair seemed unkempt. The lines on his forehead were noticeable and showed his surprise to her response.
“Yes, I’m Poppy Hollingberry, and this is my mother’s house. Who are you?” asked Poppy, wondering how this man knew her mother.
“I’m Oswald Wright; I was an old friend of your mother and also, her neighbor. I’m taking care of the house until it’s sold.”
“Excuse me, did you say sold?” said Liam.
“Why is my mother selling the house? And what do you mean with “was”? Where is my mother?” inquired Poppy, as her heart began hammering her chest. A shadow covered Mr. Wright’s face.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but she passed away seven years ago,” said Mr. Wright.
“No, that can’t be true,” were the only words Poppy could utter. She felt how Liam held her hand. A heavy weight was placed on her chest and it made her gasp for air.
“What happened to her?” said Liam.
“She became very ill with polio. Most of her money was lost paying medical bills. The bank took the house. When she couldn’t be at the hospital anymore, I told her she could stay with me until she recovered. She never did. The poor thing didn’t have anyone else but you girl. She’s at Concordia Cemetery. Now leave before the police arrive.” said Mr. Wright.
“We should go, Poppy.” said Liam.
It was after they had left her house a few blocks behind that Poppy decided to go see her mother’s tomb. Beyond the gate of Concordia Cemetery, an array of tombstones rose from the neatly trimmed grass. The darkness of the night covered the cemetery grounds. Poppy and Liam walked through the graves, reading the names. She started shivering and with every breath, smoke came out of her mouth. The knot in the pit of her stomach hurt as she walked to a grave that stood alone from the rest. She pointed the flashlight and read her mother’s name. A cold chill travelled up her spine and made her dizzy.
“Liam!” Poppy tried to scream. “Liam, I found it!”
Liam rushed to where Poppy was standing and stared at the name of her mother carved on a slate of stone.
“Are you okay?” said Liam to Poppy.
“Yes. I think I am. Please leave me alone for a moment.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ll be nearby.”
With a blank stare, Poppy sat on the grass in front of her mother’s grave. The tombstone became unclear as her eyes drowned in tears. As a habit, the tip of her thumb caressed her ring and she felt warmth pouring from it. She wiped her tears with her hand and paused to look at the ring’s emerald stone. Fixated on the ring, her mind travelled to another moment in her life, a memory that she thought had faded with time. It all came back in the form of clear and vibrant images that were as real as the recollection itself.
Poppy stared in silence at the falling leaves of autumn outside the damp window of the checkered taxi cab. Bright reds, oranges and yellows swirled around the low brick buildings as the wind blew them off the trees. The taxi driver stopped and Poppy felt an empty void in her stomach. She grasped the door handle firmly, as her mother got off the car. Mrs. Hollingberry rearranged her burgundy dress and asked Poppy to step out.
“Come on darling, don’t be scared.” she said.
Poppy scooted clumsily across the back seat and grabbed her mother’s hand. They walked towards the stairs that led to the entrance of, what read, German Roman Catholic Orphanage. Poppy clinged to her mother’s arm as they approached the middle-aged woman wearing the black and white habit on top of the stairs.
“Hello, Mother Elisa, I’m Anna Hollingberry and this is my daughter, Poppy,” said Mrs. Hollingberry with her hand on Poppy’s shoulder.
“Hello, my child,” said Mother Elisa as she smiled and looked at Poppy, “and hello to you, Poppy.”
Poppy glanced at Mother Elisa with her trembling lips pressed together and uttered a “Hello.” A tear streamed down her cheek as she held tighter to her mother’s arm. Mrs. Hollingberry slowly stooped down and looked into Poppy’s eyes.
“Darling, don’t cry. I will come back for you. This is just temporary. I promise,” she said. Then she opened her black patent leather purse, took out a dark green velvet pouch and gave it to Poppy.
“This is for you darling. My mother gave it to me and now I want you to have it. It has been in our family for generations. Think of it as a piece of me for you to keep.” She paused. “I must go now,” she said with her now broken voice.
Poppy’s chest ached as a lump formed in her throat, rendering her speechless. Mrs. Hollingberry asked the taxi driver to please put down the two plain brown leather suitcases that contained Poppy’s belongings.
“Goodbye, darling,” she said to Poppy.
“You knew,” said Poppy to herself and looked at her mother’s grave. “You knew you wouldn’t be able to come back for me.”
“We should go now before Mother Elisa finds out we are not in the orphanage,” said Liam, as he touched Poppy’s left shoulder.
“Yeah,” said Poppy as she got up. “Good-bye, Mom.”
It was almost dawn when Poppy and Liam arrived at the orphanage. The sky was dressed with faint violets, oranges, and yellows as the sun awoke. Each of them made their way to their rooms as if nothing had happened that night. In her room, Poppy changed to her pajamas and laid on her bed. For a moment, she stared at her mother’s ring with that deep green stone that resembled a black hole. The sole thought of the secrets it held mesmerized her. She closed her eyes just to rest for a moment, but heard the door open.
“Poppy? You’re awake. Did you have another nightmare?” said Mother Elisa.
“No, and I don’t think I’ll have any more nightmares.”
“Why do you say that, my child?”
“Because I found my mother.”
“So, you know,” said Mother Elisa as she looked down for a moment. “Many times I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how you would react. I feared that you might leave the orphanage looking for more answers. And it is dangerous out there on the streets for a child. I couldn’t bear the thought of you out there alone.”
“I would’ve liked to hear it from you, and not from a stranger,” said Poppy, and looked straight into Mother Elisa’s eyes. Her hazel eyes seemed to shine more than usual.
“I’m deeply sorry, my love,” said Mother Elisa, as she sat beside Poppy’s bed. “You’re right. I should have told you myself. I didn’t have the courage to tell you. I didn’t want to lose you.” A tear rolled down Mother Elisa’s cheek as Poppy’s eyes began to glisten.
“I would’ve never left, Mother Elisa. I’m happy here. You’ve been like a mother to me, but I needed to know about my mother. I needed to know what happened to her.”
“Forgive me for hiding it from you. I should have known you would find out some other way. You’re such a clever girl, and I love that about you,” said Mother Elisa, and grabbed Poppy’s right hand, “just promise me you won’t sneak out of the orphanage again.”
“I promise, just don’t hide anything from me again.”
“I won’t,” said Mother Elisa, as she warmly embraced Poppy.
I liked this version. It touched me as I wrote it. It’s still not perfect. I think I need to work more on the dialogue at the ending. As usual, if you have any comments, they are appreciated. Thanks go to@AlxRodz (for grammar corrections), @BohoDoc (grammar and storytelling), @MetalMulishaNK (storytelling), @SheySuncar (storytelling) and many others that gave me their valued comments.
The street light was our spotlight, the road was our stage and the full moon was our audience. We were the protagonists of this play without antagonists. One of the houses from the dormant neighborhood served as our backdrop as we stared at each other, mute. A ray of fluorescent light illuminated your eager brown eyes. Your pupils dilated surrounded by a golden halo. My eyes fell to your thin lips and were enthralled by them. You had an inviting bow. The moment was ripe as the distance between our bodies vanished. Our trembling noses met and greeted as first time lovers. My arms found your neck while your arms held my waist. I felt your warm whispers on my lips. I closed my eyes as your moist lips parted mine. Our tongues caressed one another. Our saliva mixed. Our hearts pounded in unison as we played the first scene of our story.
This is my third poem. It is a prose poem. I think it needs a lot of work. I was trying to make a sonnet at first, but I’m not good with rhymes without sounding trite. I finally decided to do a prose poem which uses narrative because it is more natural to me. The poem is about a first kiss. Any comments are appreciated.
My surroundings faded to black
my eyes swayed under my eyelids.
I was transported to new scenery
that resembled a Western film.
The wind-blown sand vanished,
the familiar silhouette of a building appeared.
A church made of stone
in a Romanesque style.
The detailed rosette window,
the uncomplicated structure of its bell tower,
and the iron cross that announced this was the house of God.
When I entered, my eyes traveled from the parallel placed wood benches
to the statue of the crucified Christ.
I sat down on a bench,
the one in the middle on the right side,
to admire the well captured sadness on the statue’s face.
It wasn’t long until I saw the impossible:
The statue moved! It moved!
Carrying its cross, it passed right by me
while I stared petrified.
The church bells rang incessantly.
I felt the urge to follow it,
and I did.
I couldn’t stop running; I was so close.
I extended my hand,
to touch with my fingertips his left calf…
I opened my eyes.
I panted as my heart hammered my chest.
My body dripped in sweat.
It must have been a nightmare
what happened last night.
This is my second poem and first draft. The purpose of the poem is to tell as vividly as I can a past experience. I didn’t had as much time as I did with my last poem. I feel it needs more work than my first. Any comments are appreciated. Credits to @ebp0 for his help on my storytelling.
Olive was the base
of this prune-like skin canvas
sprinkled with tiny cinnamon speckles
that resembled freckles.
The wrinkled bony dorsum
with thick swirls of apple green veins,
each knuckle stamped with tiny stars
at the beginning of her long curved fingers,
had the knottiest of joints
which made way
to her short trimmed oval nails,
painted with cosmic latte nail polish
along with a worn-down golden halo that orbited her ring finger.
The cushiony surface of her palm,
warm as the rays of the sun,
was certainly the map of the universe
and it concealed in each crease all of my constellations.
This is my first poem. It’s just my first draft. Consider it a work in progress. The purpose of this poem is to describe my grandmother’s hands. It is the only thing I remember clearly about her. She died eight years ago. Your comments are appreciated. Credits to @AlxRodz for his help on structuring the poem.
When I say she looked at me like a motel looking at a highway,
I mean the light was on above her parking lot.
I mean I could see the pink neon of the Vacancy sign
all the way from the off-ramp.
I mean her lobby door was slightly open
and through the plate glass I could see
a roomkey hanging on one of those little brass hooks
behind the receptionist’s desk.
When I say she looked at me like a motel glancing at a highway,
I mean that in the quiet alcove of that glance,
there was a Coke machine humming
beside a tropical plant.
I could hear the ding of the elevator door
and from there it seemed an easy step to
being transported swiftly upwards
to the second or third or even fourth floor of possibility.
I mean that walking down the carpeted hallway
I could hear, behind each door, a dripping faucet
And I could sense those little complimentary bars of soap
beside the sink
telepathically requesting to have their wrappers removed—
That’s what I mean when I say she looked at me
like a motel looking at a highway.
That may not be okay with you,
but remember, I’m just an ordinary highway—
my job is mostly holding steady
right between the lines, I go on and on,
I’m not a fairy tale or a sentimental journal.
All of my imagination goes to
getting here and there connected;
And after a long day of driving Me through Me,
I need a place to stop and rest,
And I don’t mind a little small talk.
Poem by Tony Hoagland.
1979 (Cover) by RAC ft. Liz Anjos.
“To see that we don’t even care to shake these zipper blues
and we don’t know just where our bones will rest,
to dust I guess,
forgotten and absorbed into the earth below.
The street heats the urgency of now,
as you see there’s no one around.”