Monday, April 23, 2012

Catnip and Sea Foam

*disclaimer: this poem not based on totally real events or current feelings. But I like the allusion.

Catnip and Sea Foam

Remember way back when?
When I kinda sorta thought I liked you
And you liked me back but just as friends
And I could see your pain and angst and frustration
But not touch
Touching was not allowed.

You were catnip to my romantic heart.
Brokenly perfect, no confidence a'tall.
We danced and you gave me a rose.
I thought I could fix-- something in you.
Smooth away the creases,
And neaten up those corners.
Belle found her Beast--
Outer beauty hiding a treacherous heart,
To be revealed by that one right girl.
I loved you.
I still do, sometimes.

You loved my voice; I saved you from drowning.
You liked that I liked you, a bit much maybe.
We wrote- and texted-- talked.
I hid my disagreements and jettisoned my ideas to conform.
I pretended to agree, and we were great friends, I thought.
But the other girl came.
The princess, pretty and perfect,
She caught your eye and your mind left me.
She could sing, too.
And you wondered if she was the one who actually could pull you from the deep.
If she was the one who would make you happy?
I lost my voice to walk with you.
But you loved she who sang.
And  I was just seafoam after all. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bring a Friend to Bordertown

Hey James,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! I know I never wanted to go to pen and ink and stamps with these letters, but now I’m glad you insisted on it—computers and technology are really dicey here, even if you can pay in high quality coffee. (Also, thanks for sticking those tea bags in my pack with your letter—tea is frightfully expensive here and I miss it too.)

There’s this meld of life and dreams here, Jam. All those things I used to talk about when we walked around campus; when I pretended we were in Narnia or Middle Earth or just Elsewhere—well, I’ve found elsewhere. And you might actually like it here. It’s so much better than Star Trek! I know I used to debate about the good of technology and Facebook and texting, but I mostly did that to annoy you. Here, there really isn’t all that stuff. People actually talk to one another. They sit on porches and in little cafes and just exist in the same space.  And there’s so much going on! Like how, at Scarborough, they had all the merchant and food stalls and performers and people in costumes—well Border Town is kinda like that but more modern. It’s bookstores and clubs, street musicians and artists and dodgy hot dog sellers and life and vibrancy and color! Words fail me.

History is alive here, in a way it was in England almost, but more so. I’ve been exploring and marveled at the architecture and the sculptures. I would tell Neil and Rachel to come, but they’d have to get to the States first. And that’s really my main aim here. I want you to come to Bordertown. It’s life here. Life in a way we couldn’t find on that stuffy campus. Life like my small town and your city suburb can’t contain. Trains running, people walking and dancing, elves (real elves! I haven’t talked to one yet—they don’t all like people very much. Remember when you used to ask me what I would say if I met a fantastic creature? I still have no idea). The fashion is thrift-store chic, but thrift stores from the beginning of time. You could wear your cap and pocket watch and waistcoat. And just wear them because it’s Monday. And no one would blink twice at your silly toe-shoes (well, except me).
Come to Bordertown.

I know you get it now, living. I know you long for something other than the world we grew up in. But nostalgia doesn’t go anywhere, and it just makes you miss what you never had. Bordertown is different. Different rules. Different life-style. I think it would suit you. I’ll address all our on-going topics of debate when you get here over the free beer at the Dancing Ferret (Look, free beer! I hear it’s good too, even if I don’t drink it. Too bad no one hands out free champagne…)

So come on!

PS I’m thinking about starting a school. Or seeing if there’s one that’ll let me teach
PPS: check out this website! And bring as much coffee as you can carry!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Four Season

(Most of this was my impression as I walked through the exhibit-- forgive any confusing construction. Also, be warned, spoilers ahead.)

I saw this really interesting bit of art in Lincoln. It was two pieces of a four piece story called Autumn and Winter, part of Four Seasons by several local artists. Apparently Spring and Summer are the story of a girl as she is born, grows up, and gets married. Then Autumn comes. Her husband has left and the oak tree which symbolizes their relationship is dead. There is a scene set out and you look at it while radios around set turn on and tell the story. Each corner represents a room in state of disarray with trees growing through them. Leaves are scattered over the ground and cardboard trees grow up through the furniture. A large old car is the center piece. The story told is one of an estranged man and wife and how they have fallen apart. Mr. Penn is a world renown pianist and she is the wife he leaves at home. The card board trees were covered in sheet music.It was the sort of thing to see with someone. I wished you were here.

Winter is next-- a walk trough display with headphones triggered by the first doorway. The first room is a hospital room with eye test charts that tells of an old woman found all at frozen in a park. Fake snow is scattered through the room. Through the doorway, I see a Christmas room, a tree and a table set for two. Also, the instruction say wait but now I'm bored. The head phones just have breathing and winter wind noises.

Next room-- decorated for Christmas with snow everywhere. Fabric chains match that of curtains from the hospital room. Music everywhere. Sheets, fabrics, piano, baby piano. A record player and White Christmas record. A tree decorated with tin foil balls, blue lights, santas, jingle bells, a homemade angel. On the headphones, we here the woman, driven to distraction by a tv news piece about her ex husband. A barometer on the wall is broken. She remembers a Christmas with him, where the day began so perfect and happy but then he abandoned her to write a song. Piano music plays you to the next room as she talks.

The next room represents a park. Benches, astro turf, lightposts. There is picnic on the snowbank and a news stand: man on southbank still playing piano.

The next room is dim, white tulle every where. Four snowshoes with paper cities sit on glowing pedestals.
In each city, a paper penguin plays a piano. Paris. New York. London. Rome. Paper Angels also stand by a christmas tree-- sadly. They are also in the Christmas room. A paper penguin with a paper piano is also on each city-- just like a little penguin decoration from the Christmas room. She tells of finding solace in making and selling snow globes.

Next is a music room. Stands with coffee-stained, marked up music, on pedestals. And in the middle is a small scene-- a piano in a snow bank, broken and filled with snow. Broken instruments litter the ground around. We hear her story, how why she went into the snow in her night gown.

Now a forest made from blue plastic on the walls. Four pedestals hold crafty bits frozen in plastic. Buttons, tape measurers, stamps, and bits. Further in the room is a hospital bed in a stand of pines sparkling with fairy lights. White lilies are on her hospital table and a small radio. A card-- it's the song he began on the Christmas he left. "Finally finished" reads the handwriting. There is a red ball on the bed. And the radio forecasts an early spring.

Spring and summer were good but not at poignant as Autumn and Winter. Sprig is a young girl's garden, embellished with childish fantasies. The bees get together and sing while the mushy peas swap endearments and the stone gnomes argue matrimonially. A pet cemetery is cheerfully dour. Polly's play house has dolls' furniture set up exactly like Autumn and the shed leading to the garden has a tiny version of the hospital room from Winter. Phones and headphones narrate as Polly, the owner, calls radio stations and her neighbors to chat about gardening. One old man, Mr. Penn, apparently plays a sad song in the winter to "remind someone special that she isn't forgotten." it's the song from Winter.

Summer is the most abstract. An iron bedstead is in one corner (like the one from autumn) with a tree of red balls on it. We hear a dream-story: a woman woke up in her iron bed and reached for the little baby at the foot of the bed. She took the baby and began to walk through the woods and before long, the little girl was walking, then running along side her mother. She spotted a red ball and raced after it; as the mother lost site of the little girl, she panicked. She came out of the woods and saw a beach-- a young couple strode along hand and hand in the waves. The lady walks to the edge of the sea and weeps for her lost little girl. Before long, the sun is setting and years have past. The daughter walks to her mother, a vibrant young woman, and the mother realizes she has gray in her own hair. Hand in hand, they walk back through the forest and the daughter helps her mother into the bed and the old woman falls asleep. We heard this same story on the radio in Autumn and Polly chased a red ball through her garden and found a hiding place in her hedges, which is the passage to Summer. The Summer room next has you talk to a fortune teller (via headphones) and hear Pollu (now a young woman) talk about a trip to the beach with her beau where she saw a precious little girl running around an a sad sad old lady on the beach. All he saw were the waves and he heard their song. The next corner is the Christmas scene from Winter-- tree with tinfoil decorations and a large old radio that plays Polly's narration of the Christmas he forgot her for the piano. The piano is in the next corner, surrounded by music stands and scores flying away into the ocean. The last stop of summer is back to the fortune teller, then on to trail lined by tree stumps and littered with leaves...

I wouldn't go into so much detail but this isn't something you can pop down to see in the Dallas Museum of Art. It was crafted for and in Lincoln and already left the Drill Hall. The story is sweet, poignant, and sad. It's all a cycle though and element like the red ball and the Christmas son weave in and out of the separate rooms. It's a bit of a dream, a hint of fairy tale, and wholly mesmerizing.

Friday, October 7, 2011


A waking dream. She is standing in a white room with gold accents. Very pretty, rather French in her home-grown opinion. The mirror in front of her is edged in gold and reflects the white dress back into the white room. Smooth satin white satin encases her-- simply designed and classically cut, the dress is beyond expensive while remaining demure. Pearl buttons run down her back and cap sleeves keep her arms from bare. The shoes are too big, plain white pumps that someone lent her. 

She descends the staircase with difficulty, only just keeping the shoes on. Pause for breath at the door and...enter. The room is small, again in the pretty, delicate, gold-laced style of the dressing room. A back room, more used to meetings than tiny weddings. Four steps take her down the aisle and then she is by him. She doesn't really know why-- she scarcely knows him. But he asked. And she said yes. 

Suddenly the dreamy feeling is gone and she looks around this small room with the plush chairs and sprays of flowers carefully squeezed into the corners. She looks at his two sisters at the front in pink satin tea-dresses and the sober face of the pastor, words droning into the half-awake crowd. Then she runs. 

There is a small white scooter outside-- the getaway car-- and she shakes off the silly shoes while hiking up the simple gown before racing away into the daylight. The scooter takes her away from the posh hotel, straight through the diners on the lawn, and into the streets of the city. Dodging in and out of traffic, riding alongside vendors, then the river, she shakes her hair lose as she goes. No one is coming after her; she races in freedom.

She ponders the day as she goes-- why is she here, marrying this man she barely knows, just because she wants to be married. How ludicrous! How stupid... Colors fly by and people shout but she ignores them all.

Eventually she is stopped by a flight of steps, back at the venue. Tempted to take the bike down the steps and into the perfectly manicured garden, she pauses. She should go in, tell them it's over. He didn't even come after her! for pete's sake... Or she could just go! And be gone. That's what they all think happened anyways. Just go.

The groomsmen are there suddenly, one gripping the bike handles, the other two helping her off. One gives her a bashful grin but there is censure in his face too. 
"He really loves  you, you know. I've never seen him so happy, but now..." She nods, feelings like a dream is overtaking her again. The dress is mussed, she thinks, and my hair is a mess. With the dirty-edged gown trailing on the ground, she descends another staircase, this time the stone cold on her bare feet. He waits there, watching. No smiles-- he isn't really the spontaneous smiler-- but all kinds of angst wait for her in that garden. But he holds out his hand and it's warm and familiar and just right somehow. Neither of them speak but the walk into the garden, hand in hand, as a light breeze pulls away the last of her pin-perfect curls and his shoulders are sloped forward, not a happy man. She leans in, he pulls away and laughs before pulling her close and leading her into a dance in time with the breeze. 

The groomsmen go inside and tell everyone to wait a bit. She is back.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Tip-toeing across this perilous precipice,
Dancing in the farmer's meadow at midnight.
Quick step across the moor and hit every rock right,
Step on the stone just so,
Or sink.
Get caught.
Fall down down down.

Each step one second closer
To the wild wild wind
Whirling and whipping and drawing me in
Each shift a step closer to the dangerous waves that call...

The color of your eyes, those waves;
The dangerous pull you wield, the wind;
The fire that dances and entrances and bites--
Mine own heart,
Bitter betrayer it is.

We two are too too alike--
Longing for the quiet-- and the stars!-- of the deep Texas prairie.
Hopelessly romantic and hopelessly devoted to that one who ne'er turns 'round.
Please turn around.

Temper pulsing, a swift blaze, you flare for the slightest breeze
My father's daughter, I can stand your singe.
Though I may perhaps burn myself.

But your world spins for you,
Only.  King of your universe--
arrogant and proud,
Exclusive and cocky,
Lost and lonely,
Don't really know at all.

But let me dance and draw you out of your world!
Come see the enchantment of this very land.
Rest with me here--
forget those cares that belong to God anyways.
I can remind you of why you matter,
Why you are perfect just as you are
I think so.

Even without those eyes.
Those bright blue eyes,
Mine own tricks turned against me.
Mine own heart turned traitor from sense.
Just because it beats in time with you. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Non-Fiction, First place!

Of Camelot
Caitlin Smith
I fell in love when I was twelve. Not yet sporting the braces and spectacles that mark adolescence, I had every hope in the world of attracting this young Arthur, this boy who seemed the very epitome of Camelot. Growing up, I read fairy tales, watched Disney movies, and convinced myself that life has a happily ever after; my career aspirations moved from being a princess through mere-dreams still softly bubbling and landed in the range of dolphin trainer/glamourous actress/small business owner. And then my prince walked into the classroom. My heart stopped, my eyes fixed on his perfect sixth-grade self, and I felt the universe shift. This was love.
Being the new girl in a school with less than sixty people in the grade means everyone knows your name first. And who you like second. I tried to ask his name discreetly, I tried not to memorize his birthday on the birthday chart, and I tried to not instantly find him in whatever room we both were in. I failed miserably. Still, he was the very essence of a school-girl-worthy crush. Tall and handsome, he towered over the other boys (he even shaved! In sixth grade! He shaved…) He had laughing blue eyes, Matthew-Mcconaughey-curly blonde hair, and an infectious grin. Good at school and better at sports, he was a prince among peers. Alas, Arthur does not love Nimue. Instead he found a Guinevere—willowy, blue-eyed, blonde, and beautiful, as talented an athlete as he and sweet on the side. After three years of sighing, giggling, spying, and convincing my friends to ask him to ask me to dance (ah, the bliss of junior high dances), I picked my weary heart off the ground and turned to other interests.
A squire and a page courted me later, and I learned to ignore the prince and became my own vibrant lady. But one can hardly be distracted by squires and pages when one has loved a prince! And so I set out for college, leaving junior high dreams and high school distractions behind, embarking on a journey to become mistress of my future! To learn, to grow, to forget about boys until I fully reached my potential! (Or if God brought the right one along, of course.) Until I met him.
Merlinus Ambrosius, a towering paragon of perfection in my mental Logres. A scholar and an actor, devoted to the good of mankind with all the wit and cleverness I could ask. Tall, dashing, and brilliant, he began simply as a friend and comrade. Before long, though, I found myself drawn to him—his complete adoration of God, his wisdom, his cleverness, his open laugh, and his dapper air. I languished, living for one more chance to make him laugh, one more day to see the bright green eyes. I was certain this was the epic romance I longed for. No boy-king could add up to the tall, proud figure of my Merlin and what kind of Merlin would he be to not be enamored by his faithful Nimue?
I straightened my hair for him, found cute outfits, and made sure to always bring witty repartee along when I knew he would be about. Dedicated to God, he was the only one to remove his mortar-board hat for the prayer at graduation and my heart completely abondened my chest. He once wore green—just the color of his eyes—specifically because I asked why green was his chosen color. I knew he was the perfect man. And I just knew that deep down he liked me too…
Alas, Merlin learned the last time around. Nimue was not, apparently, the ultimate good for him. Or maybe I am not Nimue. As I reflect upon my two great loves, those that wrenched my heart from me with a mere glance, those whom I dreamt about, languished for, giggled in front of, and generally fell to pieces over when they did not return my passions, I wonder if I was wrong from the beginning. In this grand tale, another woman strides forward, one who is alone and watching, always watching. I think I know how she felt, though perhaps I can find her redemption. What if Morgan were remembered not for her rage and jealousy, not for her utter lonliness, but for another great love? A greater love? Perhaps I can supersede my celestial dreams with a heavenly reality. Then mayhap I can embrace the name I knew to be mine even in the days when I dreamed of being a princess, of wearing floaty dresses and high heels—though I spent more time arranging things behind the scenes.  Can I embrace a destiny entirely of my own? Not tied up to any love other than that Supernatural Force, the Supreme King of the Universe, the most Holy Heavenly being, but submitted to the one highest power? For I am more of Morgan le Fay. Fata Morgana. Morgan, the Fate. And the future awaits.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Two Poems...

I am entering this contest... it involves my poetry. But I have to pick and chose from all my wonderful streams of concious... so help me pick please? (More coming, just rate these three-- first, second, third!) Some of these are old, some new, some shared, some making their debut. If you want to know the story behind, ask and I might tell you.


A smooth pond
Fed by quiet fount.
Pretty lilies stand by just so,
As a light breeze sends
Daisy-clouds skittering across
The pale blue sky which
Turns slowly dark as
Swifter swirls of cumulonimbus gather
And urge on the whipping wind which
Pulls and yanks the frail flowers
Standing by the roiling waves of the fount
The pond swift becoming a cauldron of

How to…

Wait ‘till the day is mysty magical
And stars glint in the solstice light
Walk alone in the dark dancing woods
Amble through the open prairie
When you see the ring
Time moves strangely here.

Take a step
Toe carefully into the ring
Take care not to muss the grass
Trip a stone or crush a
They did dance here
Some seconds ago
Turn slowly—windershins of course
Seconds stop and hours race along.

Some one—thing—will take your hand
Step with it, into Their land.

The wind will catch in your hair
And the stars shine brighter here—
This underground world.
A hall will dazzle your senses.
Look—and see all your eyes can taste
Hear the music that haunts and frenzies
Lilting waterfalls, pipes, drums, storms, and spring
Don’t Dance!
Time twists strangely here.

They will dazzle you with
Their brilliant smiles and
The way They move through air,
The beat pulling Them along.
See those like me and like you
Who caught the rhythm, to never be free
Time stops for no mouse.

Do not touch the drink
Sparkling ambrosia that Midas could not scorn.
Do not! taste the fare
Sweet tarts and dainty bits will hold you
Stronger than iron.

But what wonders that hold underground
Shubert and Mozart collaborate in a corner while
Buddy Holly strums with Elvis.
Selena sings the east while
Behind poets declaim and
Star-bound Van Gogh paints
Those take by the Muse.
Remember the world from whence you come
Of love and warmth, war and fire,
Remind yourself of trees and streams and home
Of a mother’s lullaby, sweet and tame
Recall what Time is…
Close your eyes again.
Turn against the windershins.

And step.

When you return to the world, they will have been looking
A day
A month
A year

They thought you lost.
Not gone of your own accord.
You will not correct them
Nor remember all your self.
Time moves differently here.
It will be forgotten
In a year
A month
A day.

No one will understand.
But you.
And me.
And those other in between.
That there is a gleam in the velvet night
And a sparkling darkness within the dew
That there is a place where Time bends to
Another force—a wilder dance.

You know
And I know
And others in between
Of a place of danger, peril, and desire
And a time that moves strangely here.