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6.5k · Aug 2014
homesick
Natasha Teller Aug 2014
i need it: the concrete floors
that send electricity through the soles of my shoes,
the ascent up stairs, cold metal under my palm
as lana sings to me and i give her my own words in return
and the pillars of my past rise up before me.
i need the now-familiar halls, the gleam of wood and glass
appropriately placed. i need the embrace of cold air,
heavy with home smells: vulcanized rubber, sweat,
fresh ice. i need my wall, my stairs, my home address: 112, 3, 12.
i need my family, related by blood and ice, by joy and frustration,
by elation and tears. i need the ceiling off its trusses,
the pitch black, the red lights, the resounding bass,
the cold and reverent silence as the bulbs sizzle back to life--
the opening face-off, teeth gritted, fists closed.
i need the smack of sticks against ice,
pucks stinging red pipes, blades scraping up snow,
the crunch of the boards, the red light and the deafening horn,
six thousand people erupting in screams, one entity,
every hand pointed to one end of the rink. i need the urge to
bite my nails, an adrenaline rush, i need to clock-watch,
i need to ***** and laugh and yell and grin, i need to
collapse and breathe when the buzzer sounds, three more points,
closer to the penrose, closer to the ncaa's--
i need hockey.
i need home.
43 days until face-off. I'm getting REALLY homesick.
2.7k · Apr 2015
hometown poems
Natasha Teller Apr 2015
1-- Legacy

This city was my ancestors' town.
We have laid tar on your horse-paths-
a university grew from Riverview roots-
you chopped firewood from the
great-great grandfathers
of these trees.

#2-- saint cloud sounds like

midnight, shoemaker: haunted cries.
munsinger's melody: scurries & chirps.
when TNT shatters granite at the quarry.
pucks' percussion at the brooks center.
buzz of summers on lake george's shore.
somalia & scandinavia, singing.
My city runs a contest each May; they engrave poems into portions of the sidewalk. This is the first year I've entered.
1.9k · Dec 2013
shotgun opera
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
the wind whispers to you in furious ways,
ominous notes, like a dusty violin
stenciling finality into the air.

the percussion
of foot-soldiers trembles the grass.

  you have grown, my war-child,
  from the days of ****** tea parties
  to a diva guerrilla,
  terrible and well-rehearsed,
  your bulleted libretto close to your chest--

and as trumpets sound in the offing,
the curtain draws back.

AK-47, pizzicato--
gasoline breeds fire, incinerates woodwinds,
the wine of the coloratura soprano
melts into blood.

  witch, *****, daughter of gunpowder,
  bella contralto, your
  deep and tremulous vibrato is a
  grenade,

and as death crashes to a crescendo,
mortality in the tin frequency of cymbals--

the only armistice
is annihilation.
Natasha Teller Sep 2014
your parents were right
when they said not to make friends online
because it's dangerous.

don't make friends online
because while your almost-brother
can't sleep for the 159th night in a row
your arm can't reach across half the country
to grab the sleeping pills out of his hand.

you won't even have money to fly to the funeral.

and you'll blame yourself
for the rest of your ******* life
for not being awake with him.

don't make friends online
because your life turns into numbers:
$642 for a plane ticket,
4 states away,
20 hours behind the wheel.

don't make friends online
because you'll fall in love with her
and you'll never touch her.

don't make friends online
because when she has a panic attack,
california is hours away
and you can't bring her tea
and count 1-2-3 to help her breathe
and hold her while she cries.

don't make friends online
because you'll constantly live in fear
that it'll happen again, but on purpose this time,
that she'll give up on life
and you'll have two souls pulling on your shoulders
and you'll cry yourself to sleep
with the same mantra pounding at your skull
i should have been there

so listen up kids
it's dangerous
I just needed to get this out.
Natasha Teller Sep 2014
Sisters: my veins drain into the sand.
My grave exists on wood.
My eyes close.

The crows pick at my womb; my brain.
Each nail tattoos my blood
into my bones.


My dying started long ago;
it started in my youth,
when Teacher told us

boys pull our pigtails,
shove us down on playground pavement
to show their love.

It started in high school,
where bare shoulders blinded boys
from their books.

And now we are twenty.
Now men's fingers pull us into the dark.
Now the alley concrete burns.

Now a suit and tie
asks if his defendant
could see your breast and thigh.

One out of every three;
if we escape their claws
we do so narrowly.

If we flee when they call,
we risk the slice of a knife
or an exit wound

or an asphalt tomb.
Whistles peel at our skin,
the wolves to our moon.

My body is a temple.
I open my womb
to expel all who intrude:

wrinkled politicians with withered pens,
with legalese, God's pharmacists,
the filthy, forceful tongues of men

who chain my worth to fertility.
I drive them from my holy rooms
with whips of cords.


My body is limp on these boards.
My skin is an ossuary
for relics women will soon possess.

It is easy for me to die.
I bleed for my Chinese sisters,
slain before they speak;

for my Indian sisters,
doused with acid,
stolen while they sleep;

for my Saudi sisters,
given a warden,
kept from their own streets;

for my American sisters,
losing their bodies
to others’ strict beliefs.

I bleed, I bleed;
come, stand in the scarlet mud.
Come, bathe your feet,

wash your hands
in the dregs of my end;
come, purge unwanted seed.

Come, drink of my last breath,
women who wear veils,
women who sell ***.

The crows circle,
the vultures too--
I smell of death.

I am not weak.
I will not forgive them;
they know just what they do.


Now, my slaughtered sisters.
Now, my survivors.
Set down your stones.

Take the nails from my feet,
plunder my bones.
Wear them as amulets.

In three days,
I will rise
and forge weapons from your cries.
1.3k · Nov 2014
white girl
Natasha Teller Nov 2014
I'm white.
I don't know what it's like
to have a black son
and wonder if he'll get shot
on a walk down the block
because his skin
camouflages him
into the night.

I am white.
I don't know what it is
to fear shots
from the gun barrels of the cops
hired to protect and serve
"us" from "them"
thick boots stomping the block--

cops more **** than Trayvon,
more **** than Mike,
more **** than the pre-teen
with a BB gun
robbed of his life.

I am white.
I don't know how it feels
to bleed out in the streets,
the fruit of my veins
soaking into scorched tar,
my still-open eyes seared
by the August sun.

I don't know how it feels
to lie there, dead,
an echo of ancestors
dangling from trees,
from light poles,
sunk into the Tallahatchie
with barbed wire and a cotton gin fan.

I am white.
Our history is filled with pale devils
enslaving races,
seizing lands,
killing millions--

so if someone's going to get shot,
maybe it ought to be one of us.
Just a stream-of-consciousness rant that I needed to get out.
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
for Mark, on our wedding day*

I.

beneath trembling constellations,
your eyes reflect orion
and i realize--
the ink of night has drawn us into
wick and flame.

fragile orchids bow at the shell of your ear,
my lips in their wake,
whispering of light and shadow and love,
violent and fierce and
angelic.

my face is pale against the wind.
your bones have all but disappeared.

II.

you are as coal and ember,
fugitive in my fireplace,
dancing songs upon my cold skin
with dark fingers,
laced into the atoms of night.

the votive flame waltzes
in its mirror of wax,
our vigil;

tremulous as the first breath of midnight,
steady as the whispers of ivory
that dust the unbroken canyon
glittering under the full moon.

III.

your name breaks open
shattering over stones like starlight--

the resonance echoes
in the spaces blurred by darkness

and i am lulled to sleep,
to shelter.
Natasha Teller Apr 2015
I.

I wear the stern face of my ancestors,
the apron-clad Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from rock and bone.

My husband, my good friends, my family, my colleagues
all affectionately name me "intimidating."

They say:
"You're the strong one."
"We'll send you to win the battle."
"They should have known not to cross you."

They name me fighter,
mouthpiece,
leader,
and stand like tin men in legions at my back.

I am obliged to march on;
I cannot remember a time
when my feet have rested.

My banner waves in the northwest wind
and I hold it, dutifully,
fearing its inevitable fall
as my arms shake.

II.

My arms
shake.

Wind camouflages
this constant trembling: the
fabric of my
flag
whips and ripples and any
falter
in its course
is blamed on the wind, but

veins shrink - skin
shrivels - muscles
shake - I am no Atlas,
my
breath slows
sharpens
stops -

III.

I am a dry sand-castle:
one touch will obliterate me.

I am the brittle leaf on concrete:
one shoe will shred me.

I am dandelion spores on a plain:
one gust will erase me.

IV.

In my chest beats the soft heart of my ancestors,
the ruddy-cheeked Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from soft earth and azaleas.

So name me weakling,
broken-down,
dependent;
give voice to all of me.

Lift this banner,
and give rest to my weary shoulders.
Hold me in your arms
when I need to collapse.

V.

At times,
even a general must be carried by her soldiers.
Title is a play on a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream-- "Though she be but little, she is fierce"
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
it's nights like these
i feel trapped by the city,
raw nerves exposed by interrogative streetlights,
my burning fury unable to escape
the bell jar of light pollution.

i need a long stretch of country road,
the windows rolled down in my ******* car
as i drive straight into farmland,
cornfields embracing me on either side,
the whisper of husks and leaves reminding me
it's going to be all right.
i need the only light to be
the sea of stars above, night left unmarred;
i need the pastures, the ponds,
the animals asleep in the barns,
the smell of hay, sweet and familiar.

i need to wander into the night
and kneel down in the dirt
and curse what i need to curse
where no one can hear me screaming for miles.
1.1k · Oct 2014
O Goddess
Natasha Teller Oct 2014
Righteous Isis,
priceless queen, rife with green
vines winding between her lungs,
around her tongue, crowned with beams
of the ancient sun, power of Ra
beneath her thumb, life-giving wife,
wild child of reptiles, pride of the Nile--

righteous Isis,
she who gives birth to heaven and earth,
sovereign sorceress, steward of words,
my ancestress, blessed with flesh, this
bright protectress, next to death with
theft of her name, maimed by insane fanatics
grasping semi-automatics aimed at

righteous Isis,
spliced into terrorist crisis
situations, sacred name on a
radical federation, used for devastation,
appropriation of my divine mother,
brothers-in-arms killing the culture
of their own nations, of past generations, of

righteous Isis,
torn from her temple by
scorned fundamentalists,
prayers to her used to take
insurgent censuses
now when i bow to my goddess,
my empress, the powers suspect I'm a member of

rightist ISIS,
who crosses off competition
with crucifixion,
lays foundations for jurisdiction
with immolation, with detonation,
decapitation of journalists, their
murderous fists taking nations,

rightist ISIS,
whose power rests on the shoulders of dread,
men obsessed with erasing the names
of every goddess we hold close, of every man
who knows Mohammed did not preach death,
of every Buddhist, every Jew, every pagan, every Hindu,
choking the breath from those who don’t believe what they do--

rightist ISIS,
you think you own the sun but not this one,
not this pristine queen who tears the thunder from the skies,
and she will strike you down with pestilent blight
she'll smite you with a blistering light,
she'll drown you and ignite the tide,
and you will die with the second rise of

righteous Isis,
whose hand rocked the cradle of civilization,
whose shrines make the sacral heart of nations,
whose each breath gives divine illumination,
who shakes off the wasted shame
and patiently waits as we chant her names--
all ten thousand in glorification.
this is a rough draft.
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
surrounding us: a billion stars
in a time when a trip to mars is like walking around the block
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive.

we’re beaming to a planet’s surface. now listen:
i know about inverse tachyon beams
i know about coded klingon screams
i know about going to warp factor eight
i know about redshirts' survival rate.
(no. chance.)

i’m beaming down with the main crew
to the surface of minerva II
we've got a malfunctioning interstellar transceiver which is distressing-- dysgraphing? dismantling…
…i don't know.
scotty said it was defective.

so we’re on this planet,
standing on one side of a thick forest packed with monster janeks,
starfleet says we need to fix this thing yesterday, and we’re in a panic—
and **** it, mccoy is a doctor, not a lumberjack,
and kirk says we should just burn through the middle with phasers,
and spock says we must preserve respect for all life forms no matter the situation.

now please remember kirk’s the captain.
that means he runs this show
but kirk always listens to spock,
so
we spend two days walking through the forest.

surrounding us: a billion trees
in a place where a strange disease is rare as feathers in a flock
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive.

halfway through this dark-lit trip
things go wrong (obviously)
and an alien with shellac for skin captures the captain.
said alien grabs a vine, ascends into the canopy of the trees,
and for one glorious moment
i believe kirk’s the dead guy in this episode, not me!

but spock, in his calm and logical vulcan voice,
orders us to exercise any necessary force to recover the captain.
translation: **** EVERYTHING. JUST GET KIRK BACK.

we reach the janek village.
being a good redshirt, i rush in, phaser blasting, ready to complete the heroic rescue of our captain—
and get killed instantly.

as i was dying, i heard the sound of thousands of janeks dying beside me
saw spock help kirk off the ground
and the last words I heard were theirs:
“captain, are you in need of immediate medical attention?”
“nah, spock, i’m fine—”
“mr. scott. the captain is hurt. beam us aboard immediately.”
one’s arm over the other’s shoulders,
they vanished.

surrounding them: a billion stars
in a time when a trip to mars is like walking around the block
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive—

but the prime directive
was never the real objective.
My very first attempt at slam poetry, back in the day... this was written for a sci-fi slam. Live long & prosper.
1.0k · Aug 2015
en pointe phoenix
Natasha Teller Aug 2015
I.

pink satin masks
blood and broken toes.
i keep effortless poise
while knees and lungs shake.

i dance in tattered tutus,
in old toe shoes,
for a pocketful of coins;

i dance until i am blind with joy,
until my lungs are full of trumpet shouts,
until i am exhausted and weightless,

until my audience is standing,
breath gone, knowing what it is to be--

II.

in the storm of applause
one gnarled hand launches a torch.

"you danced with me," i cry--
her lips seal shut.
wild, cold eyes watch
flames singe my feathers,
fuse flesh to bone,
floorboards collapse.

she stays until she hears
my heart stop.

at dusk,
the stage is ash.

III.

at dawn,
a chorus of mouths emerge from the ground,
my audience, full-throated, white-knuckled,
tchaikovsky hollowing cheeks,
nasoprotivnyia daruia;
knuckles white--

flat-footed, slack-jawed,
the arsonist stands--

and i ascend from the dirt
on pillars of diamond forged from ash,
while my bare feet spill blood and i say
look at the source of my strength--
while new wings spread,
blood-red and gilded and brilliant in the sun--
while fire sprouts like flowers from my palms,
while spiders wrap my toes in silk
and i dance on thick-tongued harmonies
that tremble the earth with new roots
and i bourrée across the green trunks

and i become the sun
"nasoprotivnyia daruia" -- "from all evil deliver them." It's a line from the choral version of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which is a song that means the world to me <3
1.0k · Dec 2013
trompe l'oeil
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
I. the breathing of human nature

her poetry weaves a chimera
through ontario maples,
ghostlike songs intoned in late november breath:
*i don't really want to be a pretty girl... *

whispers of woodsmoke fall from sky
(sky, pink as cochineal, pink as avarice
sky, blue as bruises, as jazz, as tropical waters)
she steps from the fog and ash into the beckoning trees,
seduced by leaves,
an autumn saturnalia of honey, flame, amber,
nectar, pistil, anther.

she is cupola and chalice,
budding fuchsia and iron cherry--
but she writes and breathes
as if something more than a woman
who knows all the names for the ocean
stirs and struts inside her.

II. the statue and sobriquet

piano wires melt into statues,
heat steals rusty bottle caps
and bends them eerily into muses.
butterflies perch astutely on their shoulders,
violet, violent, a mosaic of shredded lilies and shellac,
paris in flames, flowering tea-houses,
the mariana trench, a thicket of morning glory.

nature sculpted this metaphysical tribute to her
for all that she has done, for all that her bent fingernails
and snow-covered lips have given
to inspire solstice and equinox--

in the night-songs of the crickets,
crystal bells and rustic chirps,
she was lauded.


III. declaration

she feels the songs in her eyelashes
and writes of wine and palest bone,
fragments of bashful moon,

roots her fingernails into the tarnished canadian willows
and finds her way through magnolia clouds and sea-spray sky;
after all, she can soar.
871 · Jan 2014
Forestry
Natasha Teller Jan 2014
I.

She is held by long arms of vines,
belted by dark flowers:
a living column surrounded by broken maples,
shadowed willows,
and daisies of ink.

She is still as stone
and whispers like rain,
soft and wet syllables beneath gray skies.
Many creatures hear the noise;
few listen to the words.

Help, she cries.

II.

They come, at last,
to save the forest.

But she still stands,
toes rooted deep in the dirt,
her bark unmarred,

and they cannot see
the rot within.
808 · Mar 2015
soon, there will be blood
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
i burned hot this weekend:
one unblinking flame
in a toxic green sea.

thousands of mouths
tossing out the word "women"
as if it's the worst insult
their forked tongues can spit.

when i cut up their faces
with the rings on my fists
they'll learn "hit like a girl"
isn't an insult after all.
806 · Feb 2014
nuclear
Natasha Teller Feb 2014
YOU ARE the mushroom clouds beneath my flesh,
shaking my skin with every explosion;
dropping your bombs through revealing emotion
your fission to my fusion / blurred vision and collusion,
you're bright like destruction, it's fatal seduction,
eclipsing existence, to hell with armistice,
come shock my shell come **** my quell
come make me ring that warning bell
come raid my air
come slay my care
come rip
a*part
mY
HOSTILE
PRAYER
798 · Sep 2014
great red spot
Natasha Teller Sep 2014
I.

this room tastes like a storm on the sea:
salt crashes in waves
against the soft shore of my lips,
hot like thunder, hard as hail.

drenched, desperate, drowning,
fingers palm-deep in wet earth,
you infuse my blood with lightning,
fill my lungs with water,
pull me under--

a death knell floods our ears,
a furious cradle of waves;
our eyes shut, lashes silvered with rain,
mouths crushed, sharing one last breath,
electricity still humming at my core,
our bodies making
last promises

II.

the current lifts us to the surface;
we clasp each other and pray to the old gods
ignite us, belyse oss, strike us, ignite--

the sky yellows over us
and we taste petroleum on our tongues
and we dig in with fingers and limbs
we absorb each other, we hold--

your eyes are blue as the water
when the wind rips you from me--

ignite us ignite us

lightning breaks the tempest--

bathed in gasoline, we become
two flames in the sea,
inextinguishable.
edits later; it's 2 a.m.
786 · Sep 2014
skeleton
Natasha Teller Sep 2014
upon the scaffolding of your bones,
she builds.

where a heart used to beat,
she invents a wild chaos with taut strings,
a mechanism fueled by *******.

she paints the walls of your long-silent skull
with a fresco of desires you never harbored,
vices you never possessed.

systems of ascension are fixed to your spine;
an express elevator, a jet, a zeppelin.
with glee, she crashes each one.

her vision shreds the blueprints.

and i, who walked the old halls,
who knew the sonorous echoes of your heart's hollow,
who learned the secret passages and the warmest rooms,
am powerless to halt her sabotage.
Natasha Teller Oct 2014
the safety vest my rib cage calls home,
tight on my chest as i pave this road

tangerine juice in mismatched mugs
at a midnight breakfast

sunset in the dusk mirror of Pelican Lake,
tendrils of light sailing on a gust of wind

the crisp, dry fire of leaves
crowning autumn trees

my garden marigolds, rimmed in oxblood,
planted despite their toxic pollen

prescription bottles in my cabinet,
filled with pills, model of an addiction

a lace of rust, climbing trusses,
devouring steel with tender teeth


embers at the shore of my bones
in this skin, a permanent glow.
756 · Jun 2014
String Theory
Natasha Teller Jun 2014
I am in love--

with the monophonic hum of the vibrating
strings of existence, stars and fingers
and atoms singing a Gregorian chant,
the chaos of particles, wildly dancing,
the beauty of the infinitesimal,
the belief in a theory
of limitless possibilities.

I am a poet, not a scientist.
When I close my eyes,
I exist on a quantum level.
Physicists' particles, theorists' strings,
dance in purest form:
gracefully spinning en pointe electrons,
belly-dancing quarks, lithe and writhing,
a photon, swaying, dressed in light.

For comfort, I walk at night
on Einstein-Rosen bridges
from my world to others,
searching the stars for angels;
for escape, I wrap myself
in a quilted multiverse,
knowing that a version of me exists
in a universe with a version of you.
Spirituality: Judaism and Brian Greene.
747 · May 2014
holy grail
Natasha Teller May 2014
she's got a gold gold cup of poison
all these words waterfalling from her mouth
she wants to anoint me, sister
she wants to make me one of hers

i'm a little rodent,
she says, she says
running, piercing my feet
on a star of david wheel

jesus gotta save me
heavenly father gonna save me

and i told you i don't believe in that man
no divinity
no star of bethlehem


there's one God for me, lady,
one God,
Adonai's my salvation
he blesses me just fine
don't need no holy son, lady,
Adonai's just fine

and i ain't gonna drink your sacrament water
there's no cross for me

Adonai's my salvation
Adonai's just fine
It is likely that there will be several more angry mother-in-law poems over the next few days. You have been duly warned.
746 · Apr 2014
a dearth of language
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
i want to write a poem
that can swallow lightning and wind
and crush all that power into a single bright seed
to plant in the wet ground between us

i want to write a poem
that will flourish like rome
that will rust like bronze
and rise each morning with the russet sun
a poem that will be its own colosseum
each word a lion; your heart a gladiator

i want to write a poem
that will weave music into silence:
a love song, a requiem, a lament,
a death knell, an exaltation

i want to write a poem
that is soft and sharp--
to build you a nest of letters
with fragments of string and bits of daybreak:
a new shelter that can never replace the old

i want to write a poem
that will cover you
a blanket woven of whispers
of all the secrets i've spoken only to the wind

i want to write a poem
but i cannot be fluent
in a language that does not exist
and science has no term
for the cosmic force of my need

and how can i write a poem
when my lips and breath and mind,
my knuckles and gasps and eyes,
my fingers and knees and dreams--
cannot grasp your existence?
735 · Apr 2015
ambush
Natasha Teller Apr 2015
I want eyes that
cut like a fjord; I want sharp
geography, mountain-peak cheekbones,
I want God's calligraphy, two thick eyebrows,
shadowed sky-soot,
I want lunar eyelashes
tuned to the singing of the moon.

I want fingers
that shimmer like the aurora borealis,
I want to be your palace on fire-- I want
to vanish into the storm at your core,
the whirlwind blizzard of
thousands of cold caresses.

I want lips like glaciers--
like campfires, lips that chill doubt,
that burn my resolve,
that etch hymns into my bones;
I want a voice like a gray wolf,
a growl to tremble my blood,
a low song of protection.

I want a room: a vault of ice,
a glass-topped pod beneath a canopy of stars,
a wood-walled retreat embraced by trees,
with your wave-sharp eyes, your
sky-mountain bones, your celestial
fingers, your fire-bright lips, your--

I want things
I never thought
I'd want
from you.
732 · Dec 2013
songs with my father
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
in infancy,
vienna waited for me.

before bedtime,
i stood on my father’s feet
and put my tiny hands
in his large ones
as we danced around the livingroom
to billy joel.

i learned to read at two;
while young, my father taught me
how to gently set a record on the turntable,
move the arm, set the needle down

and i read the lyrics, memorizing:
war child, dark side of the moon, sports.

we made our fingers walk on a thin line;
we made our faces angry with grins.

he, via ian anderson, showed me
how to carry a sword and take a stand,
told me to be who i really want to be
and taught me what to do
when i join the good ship earth.

older yet, we sang duets,
his deep “by the hand, hand, take me by the hand”
to my “i wanna hear some funky dixieland—”
his “no sugar tonight”
to my “new mother nature.”

now, at fifty-six and twenty-five,
we sing about shiny teeth and having
nothin’ but a good time.
we teach the midwest
not to mess with a *******.
698 · Feb 2014
the stars are bright
Natasha Teller Feb 2014
I remember the way you were always there for me when I needed you, and I feel now the striking void left in my heart by your absence; in my darkest hours, you were my light, my beacon, the one constant I could count on—

—like the North Star. You sent me a necklace once because it was labeled a North Star, and you misremembered that it was my favorite— I don’t exactly have a favorite star, I’d said with a smile, I was talking about the hockey team: the North Stars.

And I didn’t have a favorite star, not until you died and all I had left of you was that star around my neck, and my tears left an ocean at my feet— and here, now, as my scars read lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate, as I face midnight, I lift wet eyes to the night sky and I hold my breath and I know you’re still here—

—because the stars are bright tonight.
I'm doing writing prompts with a group of friends-- this was something that emerged from the prompt "the stars are bright tonight." True story, though. I miss my best friend so much.
660 · Feb 2015
Whittling
Natasha Teller Feb 2015
They whittle us down
until we are nothing more than a whisper;
a croak.

My flesh is balsa wood—
“pliable,” said the boss.
“Easy,” said the judge.

Men are born with knives.

Behind closed doors,
they carve.

Their chests swell as they set satisfied knives
on solid walnut desks, glossy with
the oil of money,
spit of secretaries,
greasy fingers.

No one
musters the courage
to knock.
654 · May 2014
minstrel in the gallery
Natasha Teller May 2014
ian anderson wears my father's face,
my small hands in his work-worn palms
as he sings to me: war-child,
dance the days and nights away...


LATER.

my home is barefoot wandering baker street
in the dirt-path days before arthur conan doyle,
rabbits running in the gutter,
arms full of tea-cups,

praying to the gods of war
at the chapel of the bright city mile
on a dusty sunday afternoon--

and every song is home:
like the inside of a tavern,
yellow candlelight dancing across the wooden walls.
i see falstaff, ruddy-faced and drunk in the corner,
roland, passed out with a cup in hand,
my father, the minstrel in the gallery,
smile on his face, piping out a tune.

it is because of him i am a valkyrie, a war-child.
it is by his virtue that i brandish a sword,
that i stand at attention, that my back is unbroken,
that i give no armistice--
and he taught me how
(though it seems inconsequential)
to play solitaire.

OF COURSE.

and while the horses wander the hillside,
while i become the poet and unsheath my pen,
while i join the stage and leave the audience,

i know-- always--
i can follow the flute home.
Listening to "Thick as a Brick" today and realizing that Jethro Tull music has a very specific feel to me. I was raised on Tull music, thanks to my father, and have very fond memories of singing along to the War Child album with him as a very young child. I want to improve this-- this was an attempt to spit a draft onto paper. With Tull music, I'm often reminded of three distinct things: 1.) for some reason, I always pictured Ian Anderson as my father (and, in their old age now, they actually look quite alike), 2.) I get a Falstaff feel, for some reason-- tavern music from the fifteenth century? 3.) Home, undeniably, like I could climb up and make a bed for myself in the lyrics.
651 · Apr 2014
bad religion
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
this morning, i could not get one breath in edgewise
as she stuck her nose in the air and told me condescendingly
how parroted prayer and mass-market worship got her closer to god

and i had to clench my teeth
to refrain from telling her
i prefer the nine inch nails version of
that.
634 · Jul 2014
personhood
Natasha Teller Jul 2014
so apparently the blood between my legs makes me less
less than a skyscraper with men in suits and vests
less than a cluster of cells who can’t breathe yet
less than a white man with a **** and a company
and if i can’t even pick what grows within me
how the **** can you call me free?

i’m nothing but an oven to cook your bun
nothing but a *** object for your own fun
nothing but an *** for you to cat-call
as you walk down the street, down the block, down the hall

i’m nothing but a **** for sleeping around
you’re the “ultimate player,” the king of the town
you call me a ***** for taking control
but you’re just a “leader,” you’re running the show

my sisters have died because they said “no”

and you won’t let me have the drugs that keep the blood in check
and you won’t let me save myself when my body’s almost wrecked
and you think it’s fine to strip my rights for Holy God Most High
and you think it’s fine to **** me if i’ve showed a little thigh

so a revolution is on the horizon
the only solution is all women rising
with venom and gunshots
with words to attack--

**we’re taking our ******* bodies back
I am so ******* about the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling I can't see straight (which is why this poem *****). WHERE IS THIS GOING TO END?
608 · May 2014
Curtain of Stars
Natasha Teller May 2014
Veil me at dusk with a curtain of stars;
I want to live with the tenderness of war,
the blood-stained heartbeat
of gunpowder and sedition,
the hollow soul, the stolen bones,
the mute stare of seclusion.

Ankle-deep in mud,
forced to face each other,
we give few words to the thick air.
Few were ever needed.

Your fingers are cold and hard as ice.

Inside your ribcage dwells a colony of skeletons,
dusty and sanguine, broken and sharp,
building houses for the ghosts
of all the men you've killed.
I can hear them in the dead of night,
arid voices whispering "welcome home."

Veil me at dusk with a curtain of stars;
I want to live with your demons.
597 · Apr 2014
melting point
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
I doubt anyone knows
that my calloused fingers
are raw in their translucence
beneath the scars;

that the pomegranate and magnolia you wear
are in my veins like my very blood;

that your pulse was all that remained
when they stripped the rest of me away,

and that the melting point of steel
is 98.6 degrees.
Prompt: "I doubt anyone knows..."
I'm still attempting National Poetry Writing Month? Maybe at the end of April, I can sit down and write a ton in the span of a couple of days...
586 · Dec 2013
beauty
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
he was beautiful,
but not in the ways we covet so often.

he did not have hair i could run my fingers through
or soft skin to touch;
his eyes sat deep under a too-thick brow,
his hair was a tangled mess,
and his face was rough as concrete.
he was not outgoing and eloquent,
nor was he cultured—

but he was beautiful
in the way a whisper threads through air
in the way a spider dances
in the way one stands among ruins
and breathes softer,
in awe of the quiet power of the place,
as if a gasp would shatter the stones

he was beautiful
like the red flush of shame,
in the way rough terrain tells more intimate stories
than a smooth road,
in the way thunderstorms are
a thousand times more glorious
than the sunshine,
in the way the hoarseness in your throat
is triumphant after losing your voice
to screams of joy

...he was beautiful because his was
a purposeful ugliness

he was beautiful
because he tried so hard not to be
565 · Apr 2014
haiku: treason
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
divine assassin--
bury your benevolence
and take root in me
napowrimo... will I ever catch up?
546 · Dec 2013
Passing Into Me
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
The clouds enshroud my night in blackened cold
I'm stretched from tundra to savanna grave
The snow and sand comes at my eyes, a wave
In shades of frozen white and burnished gold.
I'll heal, I'll overcome my grief, I'm told
But healing's not the medicine I crave;
There's nothing left of breathing now to save
And nothing left of loving now to hold.
But when the sky parts, brave and bright with stars,
I feel your ghost rise up inside my skin
And though my smile is cut apart with scars
The promised healing fuels and begins.
My faith consoles me; you'll be never far--
The presence of an angel is within.
529 · May 2014
the day i said "no more"
Natasha Teller May 2014
because you need to stop.
because there are times when my own mental health
must be put above the mental health of others
if only to save my sanity.
because, sometimes,
even if you are fragile as thin ice,
you need a strong dose of reality.
because i dread seeing you.
because you need help that none of us can give you.
because the last thing i need
is to see you
one
more
time.
527 · Mar 2015
wildfire
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
I. first

a whisper of thunder woke the forest.
one low caress of sound pulled warm dew to trembling grass,
sowed a symphony into the soil
and coaxed the flowers to
burst.

fingers of lightning banished the penumbra,
wrapping their soft fire around trunks and twigs,
achingly singeing thin bark to ash
and licking the trees into flame.

II. then

roots unraveled underfoot,
damp soil shivering like cello strings;
buds collapsed in showers of green dust,
choked by young smoke--

III. and

ancient roots
divorce
the dirt,
tangling clusters with
webs of lightning

thick branches crack and
crash
obliterating
the gentlest creatures,
sparks of life consumed
by hotter
fires

but the wind straps you on her back
and carries you away,
leaving the forest to die and burn.

IV. finally

suffering fireflies reflect the inferno
and, when the final flames extinguish,
illuminate the palimpsest of scorched soil
left behind for the next lover.
518 · Jul 2015
played out
Natasha Teller Jul 2015
i feel like:

a violin string
unprepared for pizzicato
plucked too sharply

the skin of a drum
after ten thousand songs
beat too hard

a piano wire
awaiting the strike
strung too taut

the singer's throat
called for an encore
too hoarse to scream
472 · Jun 2014
virginia & sylvia
Natasha Teller Jun 2014
if you fill your pockets with stones
if i make a bed in my oven
if we fade into whispers
who will write for us?

I.

your Blitz came in the form
of uterine invasion, tissue and blood
in ovarian prison camps,
red as the streets of London.

****** lives in the same apartment
with a beer gut and "paternal rights,"
sieg heil* forced into your mouth
and you are too weak to fight.

You close your eyes.
There has never been a door
to my bedroom,
you think.

Blood seeps from your thighs.

Every night, you sleep for so long
and waking up is agony:
what if-- what if i didn't have to wake up again--

once-verdant fields are dry,
dreams are dead,

and the stones feel smooth in your palms.

II.

My world is a bell jar, a chrysalis:
I beat my tiny fists against the glass
until they are bruised as midnight.

They cried his name, cried "suicide,"
speculated on prescription cocktails
as they tipped back wine and thought nothing
of the ones he left behind,
crying on the livingroom floor.

Life was taken from me then
and I have no power to grant it now--
I am Rachel, barren, empty,
in need of a Bilhah.

I was born to a trailer park mother
and a farm-bred father,
and I am proud of them both--
their secondhand flatware was better
than any silver spoon

but here in the land of the stars and stripes,
you cannot break your cocoon
you cannot spread your wings
unless someone pays to crack your shell.

I am stuck.

My oven is apartment-sized
and the kitchen has no door
but it is small enough
that it wouldn't take long.

III.

You and I have loved each other for years,
and the cruelty of distance has kept us
from touching each other.

Once, you said you hadn't given up
because we made a promise to each other,
and it hadn't yet been consummated.

Part of me never wants to kiss you,
if only to keep you breathing.

IV.

Or maybe--
after--
we could hold hands
and walk into the ocean
together.
for j.

title is a reference to sylvia plath and virginia woolf, in case that was unclear.

thinking about expanding the last two and letting this be a cycle of four stand-alone poems. idk i just spit all this out at 3 a.m. soooo... we'll see
454 · Apr 2014
Labor
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
today, in a public restroom,
i give birth

to the only fruit
my womb will ever produce:
a sanguine child, shredded and torn,
shapeless and faceless and lifeless.

the thick black ink of "god's plan"
mocks me from between my own thighs.
i stare blankly at the gray doors
as i hear the cries of the child
whose diaper is being changed outside.
i wonder: is she a good mother?
will that child grow up with bruises,
on his heart, on his face?

i am told, time after time,
to trust god, benevolent god,
and i can only grit my teeth--

for god so loved this child
that he forbade me to have my own.
442 · Jan 2014
strike
Natasha Teller Jan 2014
you make the quietest sort of noise,
a silent red static
to harmonize with my screams

you are
bright and strong
and solid as a minnesota lake
in the coldest winter

your eyes are steadfast
as keats' star

and if anyone hurts you
i will tear the heart out of them
436 · Dec 2014
God Is an Abortionist
Natasha Teller Dec 2014
two feet on concrete
planted like cactus
needling—
     “please don’t let them **** your baby
     hell awaits you, young lady”

look at me, *****.
is my belly a moon?
is there life in my womb?
no—my body’s a tomb.

god killed my children.
he slaughtered my daughters,
he plundered my sons;
i wonder what water
my wine has become?

you hit the street
with statistics on heartbeats
while dead eggs and the dregs of unformed arms and legs
rot in my core.

hey, lady—
i wonder what special hell
god’s destined for.
424 · Nov 2014
sol + nox
Natasha Teller Nov 2014
I.

our toes sift the smoke-seared carpet,
together. i watch them, twenty
white mice, burrowing into
nonexistent holes.

your toes
are next to my toes.

i can't believe you're here.

II.

still, i keep you at my throat;
still, i know the press of your lips;
still, the scar on my hip
is a magnet for your palm.

only one season has passed.

did we expect our bodies
to turn traitor
so soon?

III.

under vellux and linen,
we leave pools of heat:

every cell a sin,

we, the king and queen
of fire.
404 · Mar 2015
On Fire and Sleep
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
To sleep, to dream: both goals I cannot seek,
While columns built of flame attend my bed;
They dance like alfer, singing 'til I'm weak,
Could **** me-- but devour me instead.

Your fingers strike like matches on my skin,
My blood the only fuel you'll ever need--
We'll stoke the flames with gasoline and gin
'Til Hypnos drops his poppies and concedes.

Hold fast to me and cast away repose
We'll torch the night with breath and whispered fire;
Too tenuous are dreams and, like Zyll's rose,
They'll burn upon a fragrant funeral pyre.

And as our veins combust, we cast off rest,
Both cradled by the sweet inferno's breast.
Shakespearean sonnet-- because why not? Allusions to Hamlet, Greek mythology, Danish folk tales, and the sacred (to me) A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
402 · Apr 2014
Phoenix Emerging
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
The whispers of frost have not yet left this forest;
they cling to blades of grass, to rugged bark and clambering vines,
as we cling to each other, desperate and unready to welcome spring.

Above us, the sky is still painted in shades of winter, blue and white,
a mirror of the little lake at our feet;
the clouds vanish into the blue, swallowed by the atmosphere,
like the water reclaims the ice.

As you spread out our blankets, one on top of the other,
the melting ice reminds me of a phoenix;
a flame, consuming itself until it is ash, the beauty of rebirth—
and you and I are both red against the snow.

Our words float into the air like ghosts, thick and crystalline,
and I thank God for the cold, for making your promises tangible,
for letting me touch your syllables as you tell me that I am your solace.
But even as the wind carries them away, we see the heralds of the end:
a green shoot pushing through a carpet of wet brown leaves,
the song of a returning sparrow,
the falling of ice.

If it is to be our swan song, we don’t speak of it.
Under the riotous sunset, your fingers find mine;
your eyes have changed from green to turquoise
and we burn together beneath fleece and cotton.

When we catch our breath, the stars have emerged.

Won’t this be better in June, you say, when we don’t need the blankets?

The last of the ice is gone, returned to water once again.
I throw off our covers.

If this is spring,
I am no longer afraid.
I've decided to do National Poetry Writing Month-- I finished this one yesterday. I like the concept, but it needs some heavy editing... I'll get around to that at some point.
393 · Apr 2014
amaranthine
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
so long ago it seems infinite:
heavy velvet, dark wine,
our crest on the wooden walls
in autumn splendor,
the gasp of midnight
and the vacuum of shadow,
a void in which only stars exist.

we became raw in that sacred space,
madoc and zyll, adam and eve,
souls and bones and flesh and breath,
a prayer in the closeness of our lips
to the omnipotence of reckless abandon--

we were god and goddess,
angels, mystics,

and though you have gone

we burn on,
we breathe and become,
breathe and become,
beacons in the blackest of skies,
little flames in the swallow of night.
napowrimo continues. this one came after I heard a song I have not heard in a very long time.
388 · May 2015
This Is Not An Apology
Natasha Teller May 2015
I.

Last winter,
when snow softened streets
and windswept ice decorated
cold light-posts, you called
Minnesota "home--"
"koti--"
for the first time.

I sat across from you
as a Minnesotan might--
I looked you in the eye
while we shared conversation
and you avoided my gaze.

Face red like firelight,
you smiled at all the right words
and spoke softly, your
thick accent stumbling
over English.

Each time our eyes met,
a grin darted across your lips,
an unspoken assent
to a question I hadn't asked--
then, quickly, you trained your eyes
on my shoulder-- on my forehead.

Maybe, I thought, he's
traditional-- maybe my
V-neck makes him uncomfortable.


II.

Today, I learned that
eye contact-- in your country--
is an invitation
to bed.
Soooo THAT'S why he was blushing so furiously, and THAT'S why it was awkward. I should study all eye contact rules, I guess-- even before talking to a Finn. Oops.
385 · Apr 2014
deirdre and naoise
Natasha Teller Apr 2014
i knew nothing but solitude--
and then the snow fell.

from behind the windowpane, they entranced me:
twirling on the wind, innocent and delicate,
yet sharp as a star.

then, a raven, jet black, prey in his beak,
landed just outside; in the endless sea of white,
he began to **** the creature on the snow,
a scarlet slaughter.

transfixed, i went into the storm.

blood on my lips, raven wings on my back,
snow in my veins,

i let winter swallow me whole.
napowrimo 4/4/14

based on one of my favorite Celtic legends.
373 · Jan 2015
seventh year
Natasha Teller Jan 2015
this is the seventh year
i have laid awake
in the small hours of the morning,
seized with insomnia,
reliving the night you died,
knowing that a part of me
will always blame myself--
no matter what my therapist says.

this is the sixth year
i have known
i'll sleep eventually.

this is the fifth year
i can't find the right words anymore.

this is the fourth year
i was able to celebrate you
instead of merely mourn you.

this is the third year
i have had a teaching job
and had to call in sick
because i can't fall asleep until 4am
when all i can do is stare,
bleary-eyed, into the snow and stars
and ask myself why the hell
i ever went to sleep that night.

this is the second year
i've realized your voice
is fading from my mind,
and it scares me.

this is the first year
i've realized that it gets better
but no easier.
mourning the loss of my good friend tonight. i miss him.
369 · Nov 2014
I Remember
Natasha Teller Nov 2014
I remember the cinnamon pancakes that night,
when the stars hid their faces and wept for our plight,
they were crossed like two roads, like two guardians sent
to stand watch at the start, knowing how it would end.

I remember the promises-- "only one time--"
but you spoke Norwegian and I called you mine,
you soldered your fingers to my silvered waist,
I melted my metal to settle your taste.

I remember my hand on the small of your back,
you were hot like a tommy gun after attack,
all your bullets broke bones, non-ascetic assault,
but I pulled the trigger-- these wounds are my fault--

I remember your hair, glowing flame in the dark,
a beacon on nights that we snuck through the park,
I remember dead grass and cold dirt on our knees,
and the whisper of stars, and the cradle of trees,

I remember the nights that I slept in your bed,
when I should have been home, you were in me instead,
I remember the snow that seeped into my bones
on the Fridays I knew you were sleeping alone,

I remember your skin as my skeleton curved,
as it shaped to your bones, to the body it served,
I remember the leatherbound Bible you'd shun
while shouting your praises for God and his Son,

I remember contentedness, drifting to sleep,
I remember the red drink umbrellas we'd keep,
I remember your words to me: sinner's love psalms,
I remember my cheek in the cup of your palm,

I remember the makeup I left in your room,
I remember the season that ended too soon,
I remember the first time I dreaded the fall,
I remember the terror of losing it all,

I remember the way that I felt when you left
I remember that we said "it's all for the best,"
I remember the way your name filled up my chest,
I remember your necklace, a noose on my neck;

I remember its weight; I'm still wearing it, too--
I remember I wear it to remember you.
368 · Jun 2014
Trigger
Natasha Teller Jun 2014
I.

I read an article by a man whose sister was killed
when a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.
He visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
"Vulgarity with the noblest intentions," he called it.

I think this article
is the most important thing I've ever read.

Until this moment, no one has put into words
how I felt, all those years ago,
when you finally, finally got to sleep
and never woke up-- when your face was everywhere,
when strangers speculated, "Oh, I bet it was suicide;"
"**** yourself up like that, deserve to die young;"
"Shame. Addiction, that is--"
--and none of them knew you and
the vacancy in my heart was headline fodder
and I saw your face and heard your name every day
and no one stopped to realize
that their tributes might be killing the ones who loved you.

II.

Those men and women in the towers became posthumous media darlings,
their names used as war cries, whispered in museums, offered as prayers,
and as icons and martyrs they lost all humanity.

You became some sort of James Dean, the unlikely hero in a tragedy,
and they spun you a romantic, drug-laced casket to lie in
because it would sell the most magazines.

Death is nothing more than trinkets and dollars.

III.

At the museum, there are recording booths
disguised as therapy, collecting the stories
so they can be told in U.S. History classes to our grandchildren.

I never talked, not once, not once,
because I was afraid of being forced into one of my own.
What would I say?

IV.

His sister was turned to ash and so were you.
We have no place to stand and mourn.

He laughs at the rows of unidentified human remains;
maybe because there's nothing else to do.

I wonder if you have grown flowers.

V.

"Everyone should have a museum
dedicated to the worst day of their life," he says.

*******, I say.
I'm usually not so forthcoming about this. This may be deleted later.

The article, in case anyone's interested:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/stevekandell/the-worst-day-of-my-life-is-now-new-yorks-hottest-tourist-at
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