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Feb 2017 · 741
It's hard to explain but—
natalie Feb 2017
it’s like
having a nightmare
you can see someone you care for you love they’re in danger
you open your mouth to yell warn them but
you can only squeak croak they can’t hear can’t hear can't hear
and your vocal chords vibrate with desperation and your throat is empty
you try to run move them push them wake them up
but your legs are stuck can barely twitch
you can feel the kinetic energy rippling in your muscles
but your legs they just won’t move won’t move won't move—

and then you see really finally see
it’s not just someone it’s you it’s YOU
but you didn’t know didn’t recognize couldn’t remember
who fed you thirty pounds what bird has been
pecking red sores into your chin who painted
purple blooms under your eyes and drained your red
your life turned your skin grey like a corpse
who sits on your shoulders they slump in defeat
it’s you it’s a stranger
it’s not right not right not right—

it’s like
you wake up and the nightmare has ended
but you still can’t recognize so you make a mask
foundation give your skin human pallor
concealer covers the pimples you gouge covers the purple petals
blush makes cheekbones full and warm not sallow
black and color gives your eyes a smile the one they lost they forget
you’re proud of your work it is humanoid it is a lie
you have to be careful watch closely
reapply frequently fill the cracks erase them
you carry your face in a bag like some great treasure
they won’t know you’re just a marionette
little wires in your joints smoke and mirror empty hollow
they’ll never know never know never know—

it’s like
trying to answer that question how are you
you want to say I’m not okay I’m sad angry numb riddled with anxiety
can’t sleep can't enjoy can’t help myself can’t even cry
you want to tell them but your voice has been stolen
it runs backwards upside down nonsensical
your tongue is thick tied into knots it lies so easily
I’m fine can’t complain
because
really you can’t
because
what about drought famine starvation
what about disease plague death
just ignore that I’m sad give me sympathy
it’s my fault my fault my fault—

it’s like
you’ve been horcruxed in two
one part is small weak quiet it wants to change to change
quit smoking
eat vegetables
run faster
get a dog
do better
be better
see things
go places
be alive ******
but the other part is loud loud loud strong and loud
it tells you stop thinking you’ll be happier
stop thinking
lay in bed for three days straight
stop thinking
drink ten cups of coffee before noon
stop thinking
chain smoke through a convenience store
stop thinking
ignore those messages
stop thinking
close that book
stop thinking
put down that pen
stop thinking
stop thinking
stop thinking
stop thinking
you’ll be happier stop thinking
just freeze right here **** that puny part of you
smash it to bits bury it deep dark
pour concrete over top then build a skyscraper there
one with pretty lights it’ll point at the sky
you'll be distracted you won’t hear it
won’t remember won’t remember won't remember—

it’s like
you’re a brain with a disobedient body you want to listen think feel be
you’re poisoned frozen stuck limbs wither muscles atrophy heart freezes
you're just numb empty nothing nothing nothing—
you’re billy pilgrim
but no alien zookeeper
you’re lady lazarus
but no phoenix courage
you’re just that foot
you do not do you do not do
you just sit in that old black shoe

and if you open your mouth they’ll know they’ll all know they'll know
you’ll speak it into existence
so you sew it shut lose the scissors forget
if you never say it it never has to be real
so you just pretend you just ignore ignore ignore
you're not empty hollow numb you're not nothing
you’re just fine, thanks, and how are you
they love your lie devour it are sated by it
you are sated too
Feb 2015 · 976
Indian Summer
natalie Feb 2015
I was the daughter of winter
when you began to whisper
in my frigid ear. I lifted two
snowballed hands and chiseled
through the solid ice; bitter
words pierced the raw mist
surrounding me, but you were
not disarmed. I tried to stop the
thawing, dreamed lustily of a
rapidly approaching sleep,
that deep freeze and muffled
silence. You stayed, shivered,
and I was suffuse in tender
sunlight, for you were an
Indian summer, a falsehood
by very nature—false hope,
false promises, false warmth.
Your lilting birds and sultry
air enchanted—I was dizzy
and drunk, melting slowly.
You sang in the soft breezes,
danced frantically in the wake
of falling leaves, and swore
with each delicate blue sky:
It will always be this lovely!
But you were just a charade.
I was no more than a pool,
heated from the diminishing
glow of your fervor’s twilight,
and Autumn waited, patient,
as the mask finally slipped.
I've been working on this poem for a long time, and am looking for some feedback. Thanks!
Dec 2014 · 386
Roulette
natalie Dec 2014
You were the first one to
take a true interest, that night—
not just drunk lips
clamoring for a mate
or clumsy hands
groping at my thicker bits
but prudent whispers,
foreplay,
misdirection,
that careful waltz.

You were the first one to
kiss me like you wanted nothing,
though we both knew
you needed everything.
I can still recall the distinct
flavor of your mouth
against mine,
how its absence left
my lips swollen,
that triumphant cigarette
a foreign shape as you
walked away.

You were the first one to
see what hid beneath those
winter layers. You were
impatient, ravenous,
but charming.
I was timid, awkward,
and terrified.
Don’t ever be sorry,
you said,
slipping into that
mischievous simper,
but you soon found more fertile soil.
For Matthew
Dec 2014 · 960
Ode to a Slug
natalie Dec 2014
O slimy tongue!
O patient tourist!
Your slow retreat has
left a lustrous spoor.

How admirable,  
your bold simplicity—
no radiance to distract,
no carapace to fortify.

How you coil and flex,
a solitary finger
sliding across our
forgotten places.

How we yearn to
pet your soft tissue,
to feel its cool shiver,
the recoil of desiccation.

How honest the world
must be from below as
you devour the decayed,
savor that sour brutality.
For C.B.
Oct 2014 · 471
The Lines of Nazca
natalie Oct 2014
He was born in the rendezvous of a clap of thunder
and a shooting star, fully grown and bigger than
a mountain. When they asked him who he was,
he said, A Wanderer, and when they asked where
he came from, he said, She left me, and no more.

But he was ravenous, ate splintering trees with all
their monkeys and birds and lizards, then washed
them down with murky rivers teeming with fish and
frogs and crocodiles. Soon the once-green valley was
a bony desert, and still he wanted more, so he cracked
his teeth on salty boulders, then swept his fingers
across the soil, creating massive tributes to his hunger-
fueled ruin in the soil and licking the grit off of each
digit, savoring the bitter zest of his destruction.

And when his throat was caked, they pointed to
the ocean, and he ran—an earthquake—to the
gloomy deep. He made himself a bed down there
of slime and old shipwrecks, slurping squid
and jellyfish until the day that she comes back.
Oct 2014 · 727
The Odyssey
natalie Oct 2014
On my first Christmas,
I learned that the city of
towering cardboard boxes
and the crunchy ocean
of kaleidoscopic paper were
destined for the trash bag,
but the complicated toys
I could not yet understand
were mine to keep.

Just before my second birthday,
my parents came home
with a pink, wrinkled
bundle of flesh, and said,
This is your new sister.
Though, at first, I found her
beautiful, with those pill-
sized fingernails and the
soft coos she kept pushing
out, I was horrified to
learn that my grandparents
were not taking this baby
with them, that she was
not here for my entertainment.
But the envy soon faded,
and I kept a lifelong friend.

At eight,
I decided not to keep
the magenta cast after
the stoic doctor sawed it
loose. It was caked with
doodles and kind notes, but
it stunk of sour milk, and
the boy with the copper
hair had not signed it.
I could not forget his
taunting laugh as I fell
that day, nor the fiery flush
that shaded my cheeks as he
snatched his hat from my
hand, already numb and
quickly swelling with
humiliation.

By eleven,
I had spent so much of a
childhood tripping over
sentences and paragraphs
and essays that when
my book report bloated
slowly from two pages to
five to eight to ten to thirteen,
I unknowingly conquered my
fear, stumbling over a
voice begging to be kept.

When I reached fourteen,
I had seen two corpses
in one year—one painted
as though in the height of
Expressionism and resting
in a casket so cheap it could
have been cardboard, one fat
and covered in smooth
fur, collapsed onto the cool,
indifferent metal of the
vet’s table—and I learned
that breath is in short supply.
But I also learned that
the destination matters less
than the odyssey, so I
tucked my grandmother
and my beagle into my
front pocket like two crisp
hundred dollar bills, kept them
with me wherever I traveled.
Oct 2014 · 334
Crazy Rob
natalie Oct 2014
was the sort of kid who would have enjoyed dissection
in high school, savoring in the permission to cut
a once-living creature open and scrutinizing the
parts that made it function,

would draw swastikas on furniture and his toys and his
body not because he was an Anti-Semite but
because he thought that maybe it could start
a conversation or two,

mixed different sorts of alcohol in his bedroom and claimed
to have brewed them himself because he
thought he could impress the friends whose
palates discerned the lie,

wore heavy black clothing even in the drought of August
or red-colored contacts and a black eye
eye patch because he thought this made
him intimidating,

carried an immense duffel bag packed so tightly with
dull-edged katanas and worn flasks
and umpteen lighters and extra shoes
it could not be fastened,

always smoked two cigarettes in succession as if
to say to everyone: smoking is
cool and now I am twice as cool
as the rest of you,

was so captivated by explosions that he poured
drain cleaner into bottles filled with *****
of tin foil and claimed to be creating a
recipe for ******,

did not believe in moderation and always ate until
his gut distended or drank until his pallid
skin greened or smoked until the bag was
empty and the room a thick haze,

never cared that his name was simply Rob and his
ever-changing group of friends insisted
upon adding the ‘Crazy’ since he had been young,
never hesitated to share his time or money
or material possessions with every person he knew,
never made apologies for his outlandish and
off-putting behavior because he was comfortable as
himself and was committed to enjoying
every moment of every day with unabashed gusto.
natalie Jul 2014
When we arrive at the beach, the oppressive sun has
begun his slow, creeping descent towards the gap in
the dunes where, if one stood at the very crest, he
might see the swampy bay, tufted in tall, thin grass
and dotted with ospreys and cranes. I carry a bag
depicting a bastardization of the American flag, and
he tugs the narrow mesh cart with cartoon wheels across
the flesh-toned sand. The crowd of hungry beachgoers
is thinning, and the lifeguards have just begun to lug
their tall wooden stand back from its perilous proximity
to the gentle breakers. I walk just a few paces behind
my father, until he stops, asking, “Is this a good spot?”
I nod, never before remembering a time when he
sought my approval for a seaside roost. After ******* our
umbrella—blue-green, as though reflecting in canvas
the fluctuating shades of the mutable Atlantic—deep into
the cool sand, and setting the two chairs firmly in its chilly
shade, he asks, “Wanna swim?” Again, I nod, stripping
until I wear nothing but a mint green bikini and sunglasses.
Leisurely, we stroll towards the small waves and wade into
the just-right water gradually. Subconsciously, I am again
just three or four footfalls behind his frame, as if I cannot
continue any deeper until he has tested the sea, and each
step forward is a promise that everything is okay,
and I may proceed with caution.

Our steady immersion suddenly releases in me a torrent
of memories. I see myself, maybe seven, planted next
to him on the beach, where the sand is only just damp,
digging holes with our hands so that a small pool of
icy liquid slowly emerges, and then cupping the sand
and carefully dripping it along the edges to create a
system of fortresses and castles melting in the breeze.
I see him explaining to me, age nine, the proper way
to bodysurf, and I feel once again a sudden fear that
the salty water will fill my nostrils and cause that
choking burn that I detest to this day. I remember
him laughing that hearty guffaw as I was, invariably,
thrown from my boogie board in the aftermath of a
particularly large wave, skinning my knees against
the broken shells dotting the rough ocean floor. I
hear his careful instructions about the proper and
improper behaviors when ****** into a rip tide—
swim horizontally, he’d say, and if I didn’t understand
the word, he’d clarify that it meant to follow the beach,
because following the sea was certain death.

When our waists have just begun to adjust to the
temperature, I overhear the father of a girl who is
about the age I was in these memories exclaim that
a pod of dolphins has come quite close, and upon
looking, I see their gray bodies slithering in and out
of the deeper water. I nudge my father and point, and
we both marvel at this rare occurrence. Thousands of
seconds pass, and this time he is pointing off in the
distance, saying, “They’re still hanging around. Must
be a school of fish or something.” When I ask him if
he knows why they are within swimming distance,
he tells me confidently that it must be due to the
water’s unseasonable warmth, and I know in my
heart and in my brain that he is correct, as usual.

After the dolphins have disappeared, I say that I
am done swimming, that I want to start the Marquez
tome weighing heavily upon my conscience and that,
besides, we shouldn’t leave our valuables alone for
too long. He simply shrugs, as if to say, “Why would
you want to get out of this ocean?” almost as though he
didn’t realize thievery is such a common occurrence
at the Jersey shore. From my haven in the shade, I
feel goosebumps emerge as my father’s shirt deepens
from heather gray to taupe. Before leaving the
house our family has visited every summer for over
a decade, I borrowed his brand new headphones—he
was so excited to tell me that they don’t knot—and
their bulbous coverings, when stuck in ears on a
windy beach, create the sort of howling found in
1970s horror movies, my own personal FX. Despite
the fact that I have just surpassed one quarter of a
century in age, I still see him, a few years past the
half-century mark, turn around, squinting, until he
sees me safely planted in the plastic chair, as safe
as a father could hope his oldest daughter to be.
Jul 2014 · 367
Paradise
natalie Jul 2014
For me, paradise is the sight of a soft
sunset, when the sky just above the tree
line is blushed with pink and swept with
clouds so fine and wispy I think that
they must have been painted by a hand
the size of Asia or a small galaxy.

It is the end of a day so stiflingly hot
and humid that my skin still steams
after hours reclining in artificially
cooled air, and when I venture to the
red chairs on the front porch, their
metal no longer sizzles, but, like me,
relishes in the tickle of a gentle breeze.

It is the conniving but stalwart beagle
who lies on the fourth step, squishing
his face against the end of the banister
so that the skin of his black lips are pulled
into an easy, familiar grin, his speckled
tail thumping against the cerulean carpet.

It is the joyous surprise of catching a
beloved and long-forgotten tune on the
fickle radio—humming the haunting
melodies and crooning the words
imprinted upon my soul elicits a face-
splitting smile, and a steady swelling of
bliss and glee deep within my chest cavity.

It is the comfort of my childhood home,
every inch so recognized I could navigate
its rooms in pitch black, locate a fork or
a heavy blanket with ease. It is the serene
beckoning of my bed after an arduous
day, its sheets always warm in the winter
and cool in the summer. It is the
imbibing of my favorite beer, expertly
cooled, while sharing company with my
favorite people. It is a firm and caring
embrace, the selfless and boundless
love of parents, the first lick of an ice
cream cone, the middle drags of a
cigarette, and the smell of the pavement
as summer rains begin to fall. It is

finding contentment, oozing self-confidence
growing acceptance of the things one cannot
control, the letting go of grudges, the start of
a new friendship and the simplicity of an old
one. It is the stubborn pride that lingers
after one has created something new and
beautiful, and the satisfaction drawn from
finding something thought to be irrevocably
lost.

Paradise is
subjective,
imperfect,
straightforward.
I only wish I
had recognized
this sooner.
Jun 2014 · 1.4k
The Ikea Monolith
natalie Jun 2014
Your bedroom is a carefully preserved time capsule,
a tribute to a fondly remembered time long past.
Though I have visited this small square room less than
feels right since our once tight-knit group dissolved, it is
kept as pristine as a display about a foregone era in a dark
and cluttered museum.  The walls still stand wearily in that
same stubborn shade between periwinkle and robin's egg,
the only difference is one unfamiliar poster-the rest have
hung steadfast in the same positions since you moved into this
bedroom from the one next door many years prior.  In the
corner across from your bed, rests the desk you have
used to hold some of your most valued items for as long as
we have traversed the undulating cycle between friendship
and acquaintanceship, including the now-empty terrarium that
bravely contained a wooly tarantula.  Your closet, still noticeably
bare, informs me, through a smattering of neon yellow t-shirts,
that you are still employed for the same landscaper. As we pass a
meticulously re-rolled cigar between us, two old and distant
friends, my vision drifts towards the dresser under the plain
windows, which overlook your claustrophobic backyard.  It is,
surely, an Ikea affair, for though it has the coloring of mahogany,
the wood has the unmistakable sheen of faux; but what compels me
to gaze at this dresser is not its questionable quality but the years
of graffiti scrawled across its drawers and walls in the sort of thick
black marker that might give one lightheadedness if uncapped for
too long.  I realize, suddenly, that this dresser is our monolith.

I express to you my incredulity that you have kept this dresser,
of all things, for so long, as a wry grin splits my mouth in halves.
Too many memories, you say, a melancholy tone suddenly echoing
through the small bedroom.  My grin fades, and I look closely,
recalling in a bright flash a multitude of intoxicant-fueled evenings-
you were always in that black pleather computer chair, while
always I sat on the bed, squished between or beside the
on-again-off-again couple.  The exact words inscribed upon this
Ikea monolith, I realize, are no longer of importance, for they
are largely insensitive, pejorative, and crude.  These words are
the spirit of a fading adolescence wasted in suburban bedrooms
and backyards, or in city basements and roofs, spawned by
countless cases of the cheapest beers available, by handles of
off-brand *****, by bags of substances in every shape and
size imaginable.  I am staring at a proclamation of a girl's
promiscuity on this very monolith when you exclaim that you
would give anything to have a time machine, to go back to those
days, that they were the happiest days of your life.  Though
outwardly I smile and offer a noncommittal expression of
sentimentality, inwardly I frown, struck by a wave of pity.  

Halfway between twenty and thirty, I am no longer the shy,
hasty, or withdrawn teenager who spent hours cooped up in
a stagnant bedroom, ****** and bored. I can suddenly perceive
exactly how little you, my old friend, have changed, and I am
ashamed of my inability to say so.  But that couple imploded
years ago in a neon display, temporarily destroying all that
surrounded them; all of the satellites that orbited our group
have moved out of our gravitational field, some going off
to college, some getting good jobs, some moving to big
cities, some starting bands.  Graduations or birthdays
might bring us together for a few hours of drunken
reminiscence, we all know, somewhere, that we have
grown apart, while you hide in this bedroom,
a lonely hermit.

This room is not a time capsule;
it is a tomb, and the Ikea monolith might as well be your
headstone.
Mar 2014 · 406
Found Poetry
natalie Mar 2014
By Anonymous*

“Go on, summer woman.”
You sing
bitter lies,
ask her for
sweet, sordid music,
like honey or peaches
on her tongue.
In drooling language
she cries out a chant.
Men ask for love
as enormous as the sky.
Never easy, some may show
you life like wind and water,
but some are like rock,
mean as diamonds.
Shake our iron chains,
blow storm but weakly.

I trudge sadly,
avoiding essential trueness,
yet spring rain must flood.
A thousand mad urges
always crush my goddess
as she fluffs elaborate
apparatus,

whispers raw vision behind death,
soars beneath the moment.
Together blood, like sleep,
a rusty beauty,
incubates dreams.
Delicate, language, luscious, cool,
after drunk with need—
I love bare lust,
smooth and frantic.
You here,
a sweaty symphony.
Lick skin only after swimming.

So
eat, scream, shine,
ugly one,
picture a lazy beat
under heavy spray.
From a set of word magnets stuck to a piece of metal, found at a yard sale.
Jan 2014 · 530
The Road to Hell
natalie Jan 2014
“The Road to Hell”

I am surrounded by blank pages.
With scorn, they mock my inability
to fill their gluttonous gullets.
Notebooks, journals, and diaries jeer
with disgust and desire; even the
looseleaf paper stares longingly
at the collection of pens and pencils
I have amassed, a stinging tribute
to my stayed hand. Each time the
moleskin is opened, he gasps,
hopeful, only to be crushed as I
jot a quick note, perhaps a phone
number, or a few names. The foreign
beauty with the hand-pressed paper
has not once been opened, and lusts
to be used — as a post-it, a sketchbook,
or kindling, she does not discriminate.
Each celebration of a birthday — be it
mine or Jesus Christ’s — is merely an
excuse for more lonely pages to join
the ranks, collecting dust and growing
feeble. A mysterious hand pain is
merely a convenient excuse, for the
truth is that I have never been a
consistent writer — not on paper, at
least. My fingers are suited to typing,
and the keyboard assuredly gloats
daily to the lonely paper of her
usefulness; Microsoft Word of the
multitude of poems, short stories,
essays, papers, musings, and
assorted writings he has fabricated.
Indeed, if the road to Hell is paved
with good intentions, then I shall
descend in a carriage of blank paper.
Dec 2013 · 560
Basic Training
natalie Dec 2013
As the day of your departure draws near,
I find my patience growing.

I sit in traffic, lending no thought
to the gas gauge or the electronic clock.
I enter interminable Christmas lines
caring little for the aching soles of my feet.
I slide between the polyester sheets of my bed
each evening, knowing the sun will rise in a
few hours, a beauteous and grim reminder
that time passes subjectively and without my
approval. I perform menial tasks—spreading
peanut butter thick on toast, holding
one-sided conversations with dogs, smoking
too many Marlboros at once, brushing my
teeth with unimaginable fervor, gulping
glass after glass of your orange juice—as
exercises in futility, ignoring the little
cloud that hovers over my shoulder.

In a few days, you will fly south with
the migrating birds and I will be left
alone in this house—the oldest daughter,
and the last to leave. I want to beg you not
to go, to cry on your tall, broad shoulders,
or at least spend every moment basking
in your beautiful presence, which I have
habitually taken for granted. Instead,
I smile, reiterate my ceaseless love,
and tell you how proud you make me—
that your courage and strength defines you.
Nov 2013 · 1.1k
GWAR At The Crocodile Rock
natalie Nov 2013
CLICK!*

Inky black pervades the humid club
as sticky bodies, swathed in white,
dig and **** at each other,
vying for an inch or a foot or a mile.
For those few stygian seconds
the heaving throng is silent,
fervent excitement and suspense
pulsating through the sweaty mass
like a coveted contagion,
until the stage lights come up,
a blinding spectacle of whites and
violets, daring the crowd to blink,
lest we miss the anticipated entrance.

Finally, the group arrives,
a ghastly spectacle of half-naked flesh
framed with vicious horns and alien body
armor—metallic spikes, blades, and skulls.
They grab their ancient instruments,
introduce themselves as the Scumdogs of
the Universe, and unleash a torrent
of notes so loud, clashing, and violent
that my eardrums cry aloud in protest.
The notes pulsate through the bar,
a cloudburst of liquid metal that
engulfs every heaving body.

Immediately, the waxen sea erupts
into a storm, thrashing and writing
in a heated frenzy so fevered and
chaotic that an uninformed observer
might believe he was witnessing a
a mass seizure—or a barbaric ****.
While the music assaults my chest
cavity, little circles open up amongst
the heaving mob, and people of all
shapes and sizes run in vicious circles,
limbs thrown about haphazardly,
tempestuous bruise-makers.
The temperature in the club rises,
as does the stench of cheap beer
and unadulterated body odor,
but suddenly, the melody ceases.

A greasy, ****** fellow joins the band,
and gives a self-righteous speech before
the first lambs are brought to slaughter.
Caricatures of political figures, more than
seven feet tall, stumble onto the dais—
forced into a faux boxing ring.
The throng howls like a pack
of bloodthirsty wolves as the entertainers
sever counterfeit limbs, purposefully
sending a shower of red cornstarch
over our hungry, eager faces.
In the midst of the flailing crowd
I am pushed closer to the stage,
and am bathed in this homage
to human nature, this gladiatorial
spectacle. It is a fight to the death,
and culminates in a beheading,
which unleashes a deluge of
costume blood into the congregation
with such force that I can taste
its sickly sweet satire in my mouth.
Nov 2013 · 1.6k
Was Blind, But Now I See
natalie Nov 2013
I. Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound

Dear Jesus
I’d pray while curled up
late at night, in my twin bed—
Thank You for my salvation.
Thank You for leaving your Father,
and enduring such cruel betrayal,
and dying such a wicked death at the
hands of Your own people on the cross

and so on, and so forth.
Thank you for my family,
for my Mom and my Dad,
for Madelyn and Josh,
because, even though we don’t
always get along, we love each other.
And thank You for my dog, Max.
He really is the best!

This is where I’d smile,
picturing the happy, chubby Beagle,
gray fur just starting to creep in.
Thank You for our house, and our cars,
and our church, and Pastor Amsbaugh,
and my friends Ashley, Danny, Amanda,
Jonathan, Laura, Alexa, and Josh

et cetera, et cetera.
Thank you for all of your blessings.
There are too many to count, Jesus.
I pray for Grandmom and Granddad Parrish,
please watch over their health, because they
need Your healing touch, and please,
please, please, save Granddad,
before it’s too late.
I also pray for Grandmom and Granddad Spicer—
even though they’re healthy,
they need to get saved too.
Heaven won’t be the same without them.
I ask You to help me with school,
help me to study hard and get
good grades, and to be a good student
for Mom, and to always honor You.
In Your name, Amen.

Then I would ***** the lights,
and stare at the ceiling,
sometimes for hours,
hoping my thoughts,
my prayers,
broke through the layers
of paint and plaster and wood,
made it all the way to Heaven,
to Jesus,
who’d be sitting in His throne,
listening so intently,
just waiting to answer each
and every request.


II. That Saved A Wretch Like Me

The first time I got saved, I was four,
too young to understand the implications
of raising my hand and following my
Sunday school teacher’s repeat-after-me,
rinse and repeat prayer.
I lived my childhood as the good little
Christian my parents needed me to be,
following the Ten Commandments,
attending church three times a week,
even trying to enjoy the dull services,
the endless sitting and standing,
the same hymns every week—
but I was no different than that prayer
nearly a decade before,
just going through the motions.
At twelve, after an evangelist spewed
fire and brimstone for an hour,
my Mary Janes were trembling,
and I prayed again, hoping this time,
maybe, I would feel that peace
that passeth all understanding.
But still, I was lonely and searching—
my salvation was hollow, useless.
So, at fifteen, while tucked away at a
summer camp in the Appalachians
I prayed again, begging,
This is the last time, God.
I’m trying, but You’ve got to help me
.
The bitterness at my abandonment
rose in my heart like the pretty balloon that
a child has grasped onto so tightly all
afternoon, but their fingers grow tired
after a long day in the heat, and
so the helium carries it up, up, up,
into the atmosphere,
into to the sun.


III.  I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Found

I was seventeen, staring at my grandfather’s
lifeless body; he was clutching a decaying
photograph of my grandmother,
who had died only two years
before in this same bedroom.
He could have been in a deep sleep,
but then the old, rotted windows
would have been rattling from his snores.
I thought of the last prayer I ever said—
God, he’s dying. Just take him to Heaven. Please.
But God was never listening, was He?
Nov 2013 · 1.4k
Blood and Chocolate
natalie Nov 2013
Each flick of your strong forefinger
unleashes another surge—
BANGBANGBANGBANG!—
and the explosive percussion is mirrored
by the rapid battering of your heart,
the backbeat of a silent jihad.
The air is thick with the echoing
screams of the shoppers as they
scatter between tall, unsteady racks
of clothing, hair dye and toothpaste,
hiding beneath circular tables in cafés,
sliding flat on their traitorous stomachs
to cower under dusty old cars.
The fear in this place is tangible—
You can smell it, taste it, see it all about you—
it causes your blood to sing.

You enter a market with your comrades,
and as you have done in every other store,
you fire your weapon into the air—
BANGBANGBANGBANG!—
sure to clip the quickly dispersing mass of
people shrinking behind a dusty
cigarette display, and you are pleased
by the sight of two men hitting
the ground with a dull thud. Their
blood pools as a warning, a tribute.
Then you announce loudly, confidently
that you are only here for the non-Muslims—
the Americans and the Kenyans—
that everybody else need only be a hostage,
not a martyr for a cause that does not
concern them; children will be spared.
You disband to interrogate the fearful
and to root out the traitors,
to determine who will live and
and who is doomed to perish—
you have become a ruler of this shopping
mall, reduced to its shivering bones.
You can see the cowed lies etched into
the lines of their faithless faces,
and with another flick of your finger,
you send them to face Allah without
even the slightest hint of hesitation.

In a far corner of the market sits a
meat counter, where locals buy their
****** flesh, both clean and unclean,
You sneak behind and discover
a woman dressed in black,
her milky face a thin veil of calm,
hands clasping those of her two young
children, a small boy and a willowy girl.
The boy’s green shirt professes
his love for New York City.
All three stare at you in petrified silence,
and for a few moments, you just gaze
straight into the woman’s wide eyes.
“You said children would not be
harmed?” the mother asks softly,
each word flowing sharply through her
accent which cannot be American,
and she stands suddenly. This action
is quite startling, you remember later—
you are already on edge, your
finger still on the trigger, and
somehow a bullet lands in her thigh.
The mother is screaming, pulling her
daughter close as the blood pours forth,
an accidental fountain, but her fingers
cannot reach the boy, who is standing,
walking over to you, so close you could
tear him to shreds, his body would
be Swiss cheese—unidentifiable.
“You are a bad man,” the boy says,
narrowing his tiny green eyes into
excruciating slivers and pointing at you,
“let us go.”

Her screams ring in your ears,
a cacophony of terror,
and your heartbeat slows to a clop
as the boy’s finger remains pointed at
your heaving chest, an honest accusation.
“Come!” you screech, waving
your rifle in the air like a toy.
At the front of the market, the mother
can barely walk, so she loads her children
into a cold, shining metal trolley.
You see an array of candies, and grab
two chocolate bars, handing one to each.
“Please forgive me,” you hear yourself
saying, “we are not monsters.”
The girl is crying, clutching her candy,
but the boy just stares through you.
“You must convert to Islam,”
you tell the desperate mother, who is
loading an injured boy into the cart.
“We are not monsters. We are not monsters.”
She does not speak, she only pushes the
trolley, limping slowly.
“You must convert to Islam. You must convert.”
You help the woman maneuver the
cart through the bodies strewn across
the pale tiles of the shopping mall,
and with every repetition of gunfire—
BANGBANGBANGBANG!—
you reassure yourself, and the woman,
“We are not monsters. Please forgive me.”
She stops again to pick up a different child,
though this one is screaming in French
for her mother and must be forced.
“You must convert to Islam.
Please forgive me.”
As you reach tall, glass double doors,
you pause, knowing you must stay behind.
The brilliance of the sun blots their
figures out of your vision, so you simply yell,
“Please forgive me!”
Nov 2013 · 710
James
natalie Nov 2013
The irony of having funerals
in churches with immense chapels
is that they can hold a congregation,
and the viewing line looks half a
mile or longer, perhaps to eternity.
The closer my family gets to the
polished box, surrounded with
flora and photos and an American
flag, the harder my stomach knots.
I can’t quite remember the last
time I saw your face—not including
the card I’m crushing in my hand,
and that terribly beautiful video—
and you’ll know, they’ll all know,
that I’ve forgotten its features,
the gentle curve of your jaw,
the purple puff under your eyes,
the tiny scar above your left eyebrow,
even the dusty freckles on your cheeks.
My fraudulent tears could be spotted
from space and everyone will know.

But I have this memory, it’s been
haunting me—no, you’ve been
haunting me, following me.
I was just a kid, maybe seven, so
you would have been fourteen,
and I was playing in those Fisher Price
skates that strap over your sneakers,
and we were in the church
parking lot, trying to skate faster;
I was always wanting to move
faster, faster, faster back then.
You had a new bike, and a soft
spot for the younger children,
so we found a long tree branch,
and you towed me around like
some sort of first-grade caboose,
until I lost my grip and flew
careening onto the pavement,
scraping my knee open—
a gaping mess of blood and flesh.
As we snuck in the back door of
the church, and dug through
the outdated first aid kit,
you begged me not
to tell our mothers what had
happened, and I was just trying
not to bleed on my favorite shoes,
so when, after cleaning me up, you
gave me his favorite model, a Captain
America action figure, I couldn’t
help but smile through my snotty
tears. “Don’t worry,” you said,
“You probably won’t have a scar,
and now you have an awesome toy!”

I’m turning this scene over and over
as we come up to the casket—
you had friends your own age, but
you always seemed to make time
for me and my siblings, the runts—
until, for the last time, I see your face.
It is serene and sallow, too quiet, too still;
your eyes have been closed, chin tucked
against your uniform, and I notice
the insignia on your cold shoulder—
Sergeant First Class, US Army—
and for some reason, that brings
forth a flood of tears so vicious
and relentless, I can’t control myself,
so I just stand in front of your corpse,
heaving, wracked with violent sobs.

After a few minutes
of this humiliating display,
somebody tries to push me along,
so I put on my best crazy lady face
and hiss like a cornered cat,
planted firmly, a weeping statue.
The hand is removed,
and I cry until I am
dry heaving, the chapel spinning.
I place a hand on the coffin,
hoping you don’t mind that I’m
causing such a scene,
reach into my pocket and search
until I find the figurine, placing
the old Captain America toy in
the crook of your elbow.
Nov 2013 · 422
Lucy (a villanelle)
natalie Nov 2013
Our hearts beat mighty with body’s delight,
With those colorful little squares we ate,
And the colors danced on the walls all night.

The carpet glowed in gold and purple light,
The couches breathed softly under our weight,
Our hearts beat mighty with body’s delight.

The notes of the music were slim and slight,
We swayed primeval with an awkward gait,
And the colors danced on the walls all night.

The bedroom wall so pristine, so white,
Begged us to please come and to create.
Our hearts beat mighty with body’s delight.

Inspired, we drew our spirits’ insight,
So our lines swirled and dissolved into fate,
And the colors danced on the walls all night.

The images twirled into daylight,
While our frames continued to oscillate,
Our hearts beat mighty with body’s delight,
And the colors danced on the walls all night.
natalie Nov 2013
Like bladed birds of steel they glide and wing,
Across the ice without any dismay,
Fearing no hard body check or cold swing.

They circle the net in frozen ballet,
Flitting about like puck-handling mice,
Tenacity drips from each ounce of their play.

They dazzle with grace all over the ice,
With a jump, a spin, and a pirouette,
Always ready to pay a high price.

They give it all ‘till they’re soaked through with sweat.
We watch with joy from our perch high above.
Our yells, their chirping—it’s quite a duet!

These men change the game with the drop of a glove,
And so, bloodthirsty, we give them our love.
Nov 2013 · 767
Quasar (a sonnet - sort of)
natalie Nov 2013
You were a beacon in the cloudy sky,
A little gorging, ravenous black hole.
You devoured us all until we died,
Stripping us down to our trembling souls.
Though your smile shines dazzlingly bright,
Your friendship was little more than a ruse
To bring us closer to your burning light.
Who could stand for such cold, heartless abuse?
Yet I could not bear to be separate
From such a supermassive part of me,
So I dove headfirst—it was too late.
You ate the crumbs of my love gleefully.
You danced from your perch in the glinting night,
And I hoped none else would repeat my blight.
Apr 2013 · 440
in the shadows
natalie Apr 2013
she stands calmly in the shadows,
while the mirror, her vile enemy, scoffs
from the crowd of beautiful people.
they laugh and sing and dance together,
swaying carelessly with the summer breeze.
their sweet smiles bubble within her and
their softly whispered songs are
the aching longings of her soul.
the vivacity of their happiness only
magnifies the melancholy within her.
even those who call her friend seem
to shine more brightly than she ever will,
and the temporary relief their presence
yields only feeds the venomous snake
once their ways have parted.
her wholehearted efforts only seem to amplify
the effervescence with which they shine.
and when finally approached, her confidence
wavers and shrinks like a new cotton shirt,
and once again, she falls into the shadows.
cast no blame, for self-doubt is the
only train of thought she's ever known--
a vicious cycle that repeats and repeats,
chipping away at what little glow is left
within her.
Apr 2013 · 893
the map
natalie Apr 2013
i sit in my room, staring at the wall.
photographs of all shapes and sizes
and colors form an intricate and
irresistable road map for my eyes.
they scan and scrutinize the wall;
each picture draws a colorful and
fragmented memory--
the top of the ferris wheel at six
flags with the ernie to my bert,
sticky and hot, but so happy;
driving through the neighborhoods
while bass-pounding mirror-wriggling
music assaulted our ears and the hot
summer wind whistled through us;
that aching, all-consuming grin i
just could not erase after misha let
me sing a verse with him;
over a decade of confusion and
consternation about a god who
always seemed to be too busy to
answer the sincerest prayers of
a naive and innocent child;
the heart-startling jolt of
awakening to screams and cries
for countless miserable mornings;
the bitter tears spilled so often at the
realization that assuming the best
of others often leads to nasty scars.

the pictures are tacked to the wall,
an exotic map of my adolescence.
the items overlap and intertwine,
they are all connected and dependent.
Apr 2013 · 562
heart broken
natalie Apr 2013
he dances circles around you.
her body sways with the music
that always plays inside her head,
and she sees only her universe.
her actions are thoughtless, cruel,
and poignantly painful.

the words push their way out of
my mouth clumsily, not uncommon,
and i hope dearly that you cannot
see that they are merely a shell,
completely empty inside; they
offer momentary solace, the
knowledge that you are not the
first, and nor will you ever be the last,
person to feel like this way,
but they could never begin to slow
the hurricane of emotion raging
deep inside of your sad soul.

i feel your ache resonate within me
and i offer a friendly hug.
i cannot fix your pain.
i can only be the ears you need to
talk to, and the shoulder you need
to cry on, and the friend to help
you move on with your life.
Apr 2013 · 580
unstuck
natalie Apr 2013
the cliff seems higher than infinity,
and i stand on the edge, trembling.
my toes are supported by gravity
alone, and my face is raw with
the whipping of the ice-cold wind.
i cannot see the end of the drop
below me, which sparks my
terror and brings to it a
wild and vicious life.

the uncertainty is suffocating,
i can feel it burn my lungs.
call it foolishness, call it faith.

i step over the edge,
and plunge downward.
Jan 2013 · 562
a reaction
natalie Jan 2013
the worldwide battle,
drowned in the blood of
all races and stained with
the spittle of darkness,
had reached its last breath;
as the two unlikeliest of
heroes climbed into the liquid
fire, the bravest of them all
stood against the horde of
the last evil one.
after centuries, the king was
crowned, and the people
were freed, at last, from the
fear of the black land.
some of our heroes adventured
on to their green holes and
blooming forests and sparkling
caves, whole but seeing
the world anew.
but the rest were left
transformed, present in body
and flesh but wandering of mind.
those few gathered at the harbor
and left their tale at the docks,
marking the beginning of a new
age for their loyal companions,
another extraordinary story
never to be told.

in those concluding moments,
the last words printed so delicately,
i felt a part of my soul leave
from the harbor also.
the cessation of a story is sometimes
a wonderful and beautiful passage,
but my eyes wept the tears of
a bittersweet end to the first epic
that moved my heart to swelling delight.
as the perfectly sculpted vessel sailed
with poise into the golden sunset,
i felt another sunset within myself,
not gold but blue and purple.
it was the culmination of a fantastic
journey, and dusk fell upon me.
Dec 2012 · 2.3k
Then
natalie Dec 2012
A lifetime has passed
since then.

I sat for hours on
that fetid bus,
excitement knotted in
my belly like a nest
of twisting snakes,
until we arrived and
nestled in the mountains,
South and West.

Our cabin was on the fringe,
just as I was, back then.
I spread my bed and
settled down,
made myself a temporary
home.

Days passed with but
little consequence--
rock walls
and
human foosball
and
oversized
jawbreakers
and
a giant swing;
corn dogs in the
sand of the
volleyball courts
and ice cream on
the balcony
at the overlook.

We hiked uphill
to find a waterfall
as utopian as
my foolish faith,
and there we
basked under the
Carolina sun

I climbed
and slipped
until I found a
perch behind
the roar.
I can still feel the
goosebumps
upon my pale
adolescent skin.

When I grew bored,
I scaled to
the top and
jumped
feet first.
Oct 2012 · 1.0k
mold
natalie Oct 2012
they were a gift,
unwanted, the first
of their kind,
a lonely reminder.
they needed life,
water and a vase,
maybe a jug or jar.

so they sat there,
on the dresser,
wrapped in plastic,
bound in ugly rubber--
condemned, like me.
they did not rot,
not as i had hoped.
instead, the petals
browned under the
artificial light,
wrinkled and shriveled.

i let them fester the
way my heart does,
but, as if in spite,
they did not dry up.
they stole moisture--
though i cannot
imagine how--
and from their death
emerged life.
life in the form of
a fuzzy white fungus.
Sep 2012 · 3.4k
the giant red tic-tac
natalie Sep 2012
the thick september dusk is wrapped
in clouds of barbie pink, topped with a
royal crest of rich purple and swirls
of orange creamsicle, slowly fading
into a smoky gray slate.
the air is cooled, complemented by a
crisp breeze that loosens the dying leaves
from their precarious perches atop the
firm pennsylvania maples.
together, we walk through the thick of
the forest, guided only by the skeleton of
an old railroad track, bending and twisting.
our sense of adventure has led us away from
the tiny park, past the dilapidated basketball
courts, and onto the former highway of a
belching beast, forgotten and replaced by
its sleek and faster baby brother, SEPTA.
our rusty path is lined with dying weeds,
turned from ***** green to dull brown by
the creeping chill and the burning sun.

conversation passes between us, topics
that have since slipped my mind because
they are as unimportant as the napkins
we threw in the trash an hour beforehand.
at first, i am on autopilot; we discourse, but
my answers are not considered.
my eyes are glued upon the rise and fall
of my black sneakers, white laces turned
boring brown, and the dust they kick up
with each and every footstep.
moments pass as hours, when suddenly i am
compelled to stop.
when i first lift my eyeballs, the world
spins and bends and loses focus--
maybe those were not just mushrooms
on my pizza? but no, just an illusion.
when i regain my eyesight, i can view
a family of deer--the proud father on
guard and adorned with a crown of antlers,
a skittish mother watching with careful
observation, and three children, halfway
grown; when i realize how long i have
been staring and that you must be long
gone, i look up, but there you stand,
closely regarding the family as i was.
and when i follow your gaze, they
are gone, vanished.

without speaking, we both silently agree
that we must research the disappearing
deer, so we begin to climb downward.
the bank is steep, but lined with thick
branches, dying grips and stepping stones.
we make our way down and find
the river sprawling in front of us like
a lazy snake making its way home, to the
bright point slowly sinking into the horizon.
an impossibly big maple sits on the levee,
and giant roots make wonderful benches,
so we sit ourselves among the beautifully
colored ground of late fronds, and i light
a cigarette, my own slow death.
the delaware tributary gurgles around us,
and for those few minutes, we are totally
silent; i can taste the death in my mouth,
but i do not wash it away--i must remember.

after the moment has passed, we ascend the
***** and resume our trek along the pathway.
"what is that!?" you ask suddenly.
i follow your pointing finger and at first,
i only see the never-ending tail of power lines.
but i look further, and i see something odd--
a non-sequitor, a cluster of red in the trees.
"i can't tell," i reply. "it's too far."
"it's unnatural. we must investigate."
again, we let our feet carry us along, but
now we have a destination.
"i wonder what i could be," i say aloud.
"it must be a tic-tac," you answer.
my brow furrows and i question you with
amusement. "a tic-tac?"
"yes! doesn't it look like a tic-tac?"
i examine the clump, and see it is oblong.
"the shape is right," i say slowly. "maybe
it is a cinnamon tic-tac."
"exactly," you reply. "it is a giant red tic-
tac, just sitting here in the trees!"
"i wonder what it is waiting for?"
"another giant, a giant person," you
speculate. "yes," i continue, "it must
be waiting for somebody with a big enough
mouth to come along and slurp it up."
as our feet draw us closer, the clump gets larger
and larger, and its definition begins to wane.
"a giant tic-tac, right here under our noses,"
you say. "what are the odds?"

after what seems like an eternity, we are finally
close enough to examine it fully--surprise!
it is only a thicket turned red by its annual death.
Sep 2012 · 402
[untitled]
natalie Sep 2012
it is a sultry dance we share;
your feet lead, mine follow.
your smile is charming as
always, but i cannot perceive
the words on the tip of
your tongue, nor will you
put them to flight.
you are perpetually at an
arm's length; our fingertips
seem to touch sometimes,
but you never let me close
enough for an embrace.
so i will wait in the wings,
and perhaps some day
i will be more than your
consolation prize.
Aug 2012 · 534
accidental
natalie Aug 2012
it was not much--
just a photograph
no story
no explanation
no context--
overexposed, dull
a nearly empty room
a plain white frame
a smattering of studio lights
perhaps she is leaving
packing her life into
carefully categorized boxes
or maybe she is
just beginning to let
her roots expand,
drink freedom, independence



this heart was accidental,
she said with a crooked smirk,
pointing at the wall


most hearts are,
he replied
Aug 2012 · 645
on a chronic ailment
natalie Aug 2012
no longer a true human being, not really
a tangled web of hurt and anger and
confusion and physical pain and
depression and fear
lost, useless, paralyzed
doped like a drunken dog
doped with careless disregard
a bundle of nerves held together with
tissue paper, tearing slowly
the pressure increases steadily daily
it squishes my brain and
squashes my heart, already close to broken
slipping hands scrape and beg for a tether
they used to be strong, steady
now they are willowy, cracked
barely there
there is no back-up; there is no safety net
just me, tearing at the seams
ready to implode
a dying star inhaling
its last breath
ready to disappear

nothing left
just a small, glowing ball of matter
the remnants of my soul
Jul 2012 · 1.4k
the sandals
natalie Jul 2012
i wonder what it is about you
that makes me so **** crazy?
i only wanted my sandals,
but you wouldn't let me be civil.
so i snarked, and you snapped.

now,
i can only wish i'd never asked.
an entire lifetime, irrelevant;
the years i invested,
the patience i threw at you,
the second chances i gave,
the forgiveness i offered,
everything,
all squashed because of sandals.

i only wanted my shoes back;
you wanted to abuse me again,
you wicked little bully.
i only asked for a little understanding;
you slammed the door in my face,
you ungrateful little ****.


six years ago,
i could not have imagined
my life without you in it.

today,
i cannot imagine my life
without the pain you
cause me daily.

and now,
i must let it go.
now i am
spread too thin,
tearing the seam,
pulled to breaking;
i am tired.

our friendship was
just a game to you,
and now,
it is your move.
Jul 2012 · 788
paralyzed
natalie Jul 2012
feet glued to concrete
limbs shaking wildly
pulse has tripled
i cannot move

terror surrounds
jaws locked
anguish cries out
i am surrounded
the perfect storm

anger swirls menacingly
doubt trembles in fear
loathe strikes electric
i cannot focus
my eyes have blurred
was that a smile
or a bullet?

i am lost
narcotic-induced
incapacitation
nebulous days
followed only by
tenebrous nights
with evil thoughts

i am the afflicted
a victim
my emblem exposed
naked, they see me
for the child i am

their tears have dried up
just empty words remain
i am alone now
stranded with shaky hands
and too many orange bottles
the words will not come
they, too, have left me

so i sit
and i cry
but nobody hears
nobody cares
my salty tears slip
down my cheeks
and sizzle away
into nothing

how fitting
Jun 2012 · 521
need
natalie Jun 2012
as a child
i wanted
everything
the best toys
the coolest clothing
another pet
tastier food
more play time
less school time
no chores
more allowance
my own room
brighter sunshine
the stars at my fingertips
more more more
RIGHT NOW!

now
i need
only
love
and i want
only
health
and
happiness

but the things
i need
and desire
are like grains
of sand slipping
through my
fingers
Jun 2012 · 581
the turnpike
natalie Jun 2012
i always knew
there was more beneath,
but you hid behind
your mask, indifferent,
laughing sarcastically.
but in the car that night,
your facade slipped.

you were quite drunk,
but so honest i almost
did not know how to react;
you revealed to me a
part of yourself,
that dark, terrified part of
you, and you held it in
shivering hands, extended
over the emergency brake
like an olive branch.

it was this night i first
realized you are much
smarter than you let on,
and that this man you
pretend to be is a disguise.
if you never open yourself
again, you will never be hurt
again; but you will never know
true friendship, true love,
trust.

so i took this part of you
and i locked it away in
my soul, and there it will
forever remain.
our secret,
our understanding.
Jun 2012 · 791
david
natalie Jun 2012
memories are only fragments,
flashes of color, a vagrant scent,
even a song or a story;
but i cling to these fragments,
the shadows of a good man.

your voice,
soft and hoarse, but so powerful,
like a breeze, gentle as a
feather at first, but of fickle
and increasing ferocity,
gradually intensifying
until my hairs are splayed like
flailing limbs and the trees bend
like dark green pipe cleaners.
your voice always calmed
me, the way you told stories.
i felt the characters alive within
my soul, burning and existing
like fiery candles,
and i saw their adventures
in my minds' eye, so vivid.

your books,
everywhere always.
older than you were,
which was ancient to my tiny
child's memory;
you cared for them like you
cared for us, tender, firm,
and just perfect.
you gave that love to my
mother, and through her, me.

your claw of a hand,
always curled in disbelief,
always squeezing and trying.
you used your good hand,
the untouched hand,
to write in that block print.
i still have a card, buried
somewhere deep in the
underground of my cave,
my prized possession.

your creativity,
always finding ways to
entertain our wandering minds.
flashlight tag,
so simple, but so enthralling.
you always let me win.

your face,
ever-smiling, even at
her musty, ruined funeral.
you always found a way
to say the perfect thing,
a way to make me laugh
through tears, crack a
grin through my blind,
child's anger.

your funeral,
so cold; my salty tears
left icicles on my heaving cheeks;
the wind stung and made
me want to yell "GO AWAY!"
just your favorite people there,
crowded around a grave impossibly
tiny, and i wondered how
you survived without her for so long.
i remember that feeling,
that burning in my throat--
sometimes i still feel it--
and i remember the poem
he read for us, so simple but so
******* true.
i cried for days and weeks,
but today,
i choose to remember your beauty.
May 2012 · 780
despair
natalie May 2012
once, there was a little girl
who was so many things.
she loved books, because
they helped her imagine,
and she loved music,
because it resonated.
she took pictures with
her mother's old cameras,
and she laughed constantly.
her hair was bright and blonde,
her eyes green and hopeful.
she had a beautiful family,
she believed in god with
all of her soul,
and she cared for so many
people, so many things.
this little girl was healthy,
but more importantly,
she was happy.
utterly, totally, completely happy.

but when adolescence came
and her changes began,
something terrible happened.
everything that made that little
girl happy was robbed from her,
and she found herself naked,
stripped of all naivete,
wondering what had happened.

this little girl grew up.
she saw the ugliness all around
her, and she could not help
but reflect and absorb it.
the ugliness made her cry,
nearly every day, and
it broke her heart.

now, this little girl is dead.
in her place stands an android.
this imposter looks nearly the same;
the features seem right,
though the hair is much darker,
and the eyes are the same color.
but it is just a shell.
the smiles are false and the
laughter is merely a habit.

she works,
she sleeps,
she dreams,
she lusts,
she *****,
she drinks,
she eats,
she gets high,
she dances,
she even cries.

but of all those things,
only one is sincere.
this girl is a fraud,
a charlatan.
she is not real,
not anymore.
she is not.
Apr 2012 · 1.7k
decapitation
natalie Apr 2012
mass chaos,
violence,
anger,
brotherhood.

it starts
like a fire,
slow,
smoldering.
the noise is
unbelievable;
it echoes
through our
skulls
and makes
our bodies
rattle and
ring with
its invasive
presence.
we stand,
heads moving
in time,
and we
enjoy.

we.

they stand
together in
front of us,
elevated,
worshipped.

but soon,
the leader
uses his
slurred,
raucous
cries to
welcome
the
ferocious
spectacle.
the hurling
masses,
we oblige.

the crowd
opens,
and with
no regard,
limbs fly
about like
blades on a
helicopter;
heads
shake and
roll,
and we
throw
ourselves
into the pit
of trembling
appendages.
bodies collide,
sweat glistens,
and we laugh,
together.

we ****
without
*******,
we share
without
conversation,
we injure
without
ambition.
our barbarism
is ******,
and we have
no concern.
Apr 2012 · 681
was
natalie Apr 2012
was
she was
beautiful and
affectionate,
zany and
hysterical.

her life
was a
tribute to
spontaneity
and
amusement;
to loving
the hell out
of everybody
and everything
because
life
is simply
too short
to squander.

she lived
with so much
electricity
that her
fervor was
infectious to
all those
close enough
to catch a
spark.

her death
was an
earthquake;
a shudder
ran through,
and we
were all
left,
devastated
and
confused.

it will be
two years
far too soon;
two years
since a
magnificent
light was
extinguished.

but her life
is a daily
reminder.
a reminder
to live,
to love,
to cry,
to explore,
to laugh,
to wonder,
to write,
to savor.
Mar 2012 · 1.3k
pitter patter
natalie Mar 2012
the air bites at my nose
like an icy mosquito,
and raindrops plop onto
the roof and the giant
green, car-shaped tarp.
beads adorn the pointed
branches of the conifer
like tiny, fleeting noses;
they leap from their
makeshift perches into
the frosty darkness
of the garden below,
joining their brethren,
already pooling together.
Mar 2012 · 621
a friendship
natalie Mar 2012
with you,
it was a black hole.
i wavered at the edge,
white-knuckled and shy.

you took all the praise i could
give, and you took it with
a malevolent smile.
you gorged on it.

it was unnatural,
this desire i had to
love you;
a desire to be the
friend i'd never had.

so i loved.
you were a sister,
my confidant.
i trusted you
with my soul.

like a ***** on
her knees, you
lapped it up thirstily.

and like a ***** on
her knees, you
spat it into the mud.

i gave so much love,
to you, my friend, that
i had none left for myself.
Mar 2012 · 4.6k
logic and emotion
natalie Mar 2012
mind stands solemnly in the middle,
with logic and emotion on either side
like devoted sentinels guarding a queen.

"don't think about it,"
emotion says, batting her long lashes.
"just do what feels right
and follow your heart."

"but sometimes,"
logic interjects with his sharp eyebrow cocked,
"what feels right will
hurt us in the long run."

"do you want to try, and know, and fail?"
emotion asks with suprisingly honest conviction.
"or do you want to spend the rest of your
life wondering what could have been?"

"would you rather open your heart,"
logic counters thoughtfully and quickly,
"and have a part of it stolen?
or would you rather protect it all?"

as mind wavers in the middle,
she feels herself rip in two.

half of herself stands upright,
stiffly held under logic's watchful eye.
the other half melts into emotion's warm embrace.

her heart aches and she feels sick.
the idea of following logic's advice
would mean to ignore emotion's advice--
and to follow emotion's advice would
mean ignoring the advice of logic.

she looks back and forth pleadingly.
logic's cadaverous stare seems to tell
mind that only logic will solve this problem.
but emotion smiles softly, and her eyes say
that this way, though it may cause pain,
will be the most rewarding.

"neither choice is the right one,"
mind says finally,
with a little bit of logic and
a little bit of emotion.
"but i must choose now, for soon i will
not be able to make a choice at all.

"then whose advice will you follow?"
emotion questions carefully.
"will you open your heart to love?"

"or will you listen to me and protect
yourself from unnecessary pain?"
logic asks, eyebrow cocked again.

"perhaps you are correct, logic,
and i would do well to seal off my
heart and never let anybody in."

at these words, logic smirks knowingly,
but mind continues anyway.

"as for me, i think i would rather
feel true, burning love and have to
live with the scars than to be
lonely, bitter, angry, and old
and die without ever knowing
how to love myself and somebody else."

emotion does not gloat;
she simply nods softly,
encouraging mind to continue.

"after all, is life not a journey of risks?
how could we ever find peace and
contentment without enduring a
few bad decisions and learning from them?"
Mar 2012 · 810
the dragon
natalie Mar 2012
my heart is pulled to breaking,
and my mind cannot stop swirling,
but your mouth just won't stop screaming,
and my soul can't make it stop.

you tell me that i'm greedy,
you tell me that i'm ugly,
you tell me that stupid,
and you tell me that i'm fat.
you say you hate my guts and
that you wish i would just die,
and your words tattoo upon my
heart a lingering memory scar.

my rage is boiling deep inside,
and the steam will cloud my eyes.
i cannot think straight,
i cannot even breathe,
and now you have gone too far.

the levee breaks, and my anger
is vomited up so quickly i do not
understand the words i speak.
i have to clasp my hands and
shove them into my pockets,
for i fear, of their own will,
they'll break your neck.

someone, please, tell me
how to slay the dragon;
how does one lowly mortal
raise their hands to stop
a hurricane?

the battle wages longer as
i now participate,
and the dragon only grows stronger
as i shrink and shrink and shrink.

and as the glass shatters,
i shatter.
my very own heart,
tattered and battered,
breaks into dust, so
fine and lucid the world
does not even notice.

and then, the bravehearted
prince drops her at the feet
of the dragon-keepers.
they look at her, and they
look at me, cold and dry and sad.
they say we both must pay the
price to atone for our crimes.

and now, i just sit.
i sit and think and cry.
alone and dark and helpless,
i wish i could just die.
i suddenly feel fat,
and ugly, and stupid, and greedy.
her words become my truth as
i sob into my pillow; i wonder
who i have become.

i look into the mirror,
and to my own chagrin,
the pores upon my face have
turned into shiny scales.
my tongue is slowly forking,
and my nostrils billow smoke.
i want to smash the mirror
and tell it 'stop this joke!'
but i cannot change the truth
and i cannot change the past;
the mirror only shows me what
he sees with his own three eyes.

i have become the demon,
and i am now possessed,
for the very dragon i failed to
slay now claws inside my chest.
Mar 2012 · 791
metamorphosis
natalie Mar 2012
i used to say:

"i will not inflate my own expectations.
i will not get my hopes up high.
i will expect to receive only nothing.
if something beautiful happens, then
i will simply be pleasantly suprised and
i will enjoy every last fleeting second.
if something too ugly happens, then
i will treat it with little more emotional
diress than the loss of a toothbrush.
if i do not set my heart on any one thing,
then i will never be heartbroken.

"i will live my life through a filter, a veil;
i will live my life behind a solid wall,
and i will bide my time."

now i say:

"i will expect to recieve only nothing, but
i will cup the promise of something
beatiful within my own trembling hands.
i will guard my precious pumping heart,
but i will not put it away behind lock and key.
i will take cautious steps through life, but
i will still walk the path underneath my feet.
i will laugh heartily, and i will cry miserably.
i will end friendships, and begin new ones in their stead.
i will acknowledge every single breath, and
i will count each one as a precious gem.

"i will step from behind my filter, my veil;
i will open my heart to life,
and i will live."
Mar 2012 · 571
choices
natalie Mar 2012
each day,
or afternoon,
as a fresh start
flutters at my eyelids,
my mind begins to race,
and i am presented
with a choice--
split right down
the middle of my
consciousness.

one half of me,
growling and snarling,
sees only the bad.
he hears the demons
in my home.
he wears my insecurities
as his own.
he watches the fears
i replay, they increase.
he encourages my sadness,
becomes my self-loathe.
and as his arms encapture
my own soul,
i feel the melancholy
press down,
overwhelming me
as i surrender.

the other half,
shy but bright,
sees only the good.
she is the soundwaves
that always wash away
my tears.
she shows me the
first days of autumn.
she laughs at the bad,
and shows me the
overwhelming good;
waits for me to come
to her,
and then embraces
my soul lovingly.

as these two halves
battle in my brain,
i must choose--
to be happy,
or to be sad.

the sun rises,
and the sun sets.
Mar 2012 · 509
to choose
natalie Mar 2012
the tree of life,
her branches heavy
with tantalizing fruit,
stands solidly in the
garden.
she mirrors my
unfaltering gaze,
and she begs me
to choose.
but each fruit is so
ripe and so unique
that i cannot bear
to pick only one,
and leave the others
to rot.
Mar 2012 · 644
a poisonous cycle
natalie Mar 2012
you are my booming clap of thunder during summer rain,
my inconvenient papercut placed conspicuously on a knuckle;
my stringent alcohol spilled into a pulsing, gaping wound,
and my burning bee sting on a painfully humid afternoon.
your ugly fangs spew venom more toxic than any poison,
and you hiss and growl and spit dauntingly.
with words so harsh and grating they are impossible to ignore,
you raise your head, poised for attack, and you shreik and wail
until the sound echoes throughout my whole being,
shaking me from the core and eliciting curious emotions.
my feeble defence is no match for your well-trained
and perfectly executed attack, and i crumble.
it's a poisonous cycle, inevitable and futil, that drains
every ounce of moral fiber and happiness from my soul.
suddenly, my fingers entrap your small little throat,
and they squeeze as hard as they possibly can,
until the blood bursts into your eyes.
it's only a dream, but my fingers can't help but remember...
Mar 2012 · 1.2k
moonbeam
natalie Mar 2012
the black night is stiflingly humid, eliciting
a glistening sheen of beaded sweat on the
tanned faces of any being who dares to
enter the boiling summer evening.
a thick smattering of clouds create a
downy blanket, the foreground to
hundreds of intermittent stars and
the round, glowing face of the full moon.
i seat myself on the stair closest to the ground,
and as it is passed around between us four,
i light one long, chemical cigarette and place
it carefully between my lips, cracked
by the harsh rays of the summer sun.
jagged, angular faces grin and laugh
at us, formed by the gaps and holes in
the beautiful, intricate cloud cover.

suddenly, a summer breeze softer than
than the winged seeds of a dandelion
caresses frizzy hairs and cools the dew
drops upon our moist foreheads.
a split-second shift in the clouds creates
the most resplendent sight my eyeballs have
ever encountered in their twenty-one years.
like an imposing rock formation, or the
billows of smoke from a great forest fire,
the fluffed gray structures have aligned
themselves with the radiant orb in the sky,
and her face casts beams of light through
them, projecting long, fragile arms of
brilliance through the dull backyard.

with our four faces stretched upward as
far as our craning necks will allow, we
absorb the sublime, pure moonlight.
i lock this picture in my mind, certain
that this moment, trapped in infinity like
a mosquito trapped in amber, could be
the refreshing breeze or the hurried gulp
of ice-cold oxygen imperative to survival.
as she shines her vibrant headlight through
the cloudy fog, i breathe slowly and allow my
cigarette to extinguish itself, and i think that
this must be how it feels to really, truly be alive.
Mar 2012 · 1.2k
sprung!
natalie Mar 2012
with a soft touch and a blushing smile,
vibrant green creeps into the landscape.
the longsuffering trees,
whose limbs have long been heavy with snow,
finally stretch their arms into the warm air
as suggestive buds speckle their gnarled fingers.
the clouds swell with life, and the sun
glows stronger than ever before.
as their spidery roots drink voraciously
from the moist dirt, smirking daisies and
blooming tulips unfurl their alluring petals
and bask in the glorious yellow light.
the firm, unyielding ground is teeming
and bustling with a myriad of fauna,
unsteadily rubbing the remnants of slumber
from their bleary, squinting eyes.
the flat, chilly silence of winter
has been quelled by the lilting robin’s song.
and as the very earth herself wakens
from this melancholy hibernation,
i let go, and float down that euphoric wave called life.
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