What Am I Made Of The ghosts of hearts unfairly broken haunt me relentlessly my own among their wreckage and the ones still alive they kick down, through the floorboards of my brain and reverberate in the pit of my stomach Ghosts of lovers who loved me too much those I rolled eyes at, and turned away from, to crawl for miles on bloodied knees and claw at the departing feet of those who did not love me enough. Ghosts of the friends I picked apart like the vulture's beak to carrion and become angry when they no longer fed me Ghosts of friends who disappeared into the ether of life and forgot they were my solid ground I think I'm made up of ghosts all vapor and energy nothingness roaming empty of touch devoid of breath but heavy, oh so heavy in soul.
So, last week, I hit a rough patch, and I appreciate all of the kind comments and voices of concern that were raised for my well being and in defense of the human. I wanted to take a moment, before I launch into today’s poetry (brought to you by the amazing NCW Writing Retreat I was able to attend) to reach out and say a few words.
I know all humans aren’t assholes. I also know it’s our job (each human) to try and do our best not to be assholes. To not raise assholes. To forgive those who are being assholes. I know these things. But just like holding a weight constantly can fatigue a muscle and cause injury, holding on to this dark while trying to be light can be draining, so it behooves us all to drop the weight once in a while and call out the asshole-ness when we see it. After all, our job as humans is to try to make it a better world and that sometimes means calling on others to do better by one another.
And now: Poetry:
Breakdown When we break apart to find the core of iron-will within or the soft underbelly of a soul too long denied air Then we will understand the driving nature of our force Lies not in what covers us but what centers us When we give in to the churning burn of a life outside our control the masticating masses of teeth bared in anger and fear Then we will understand that we only control the product of our own mind And we are the owners of sanctuaries or hells within our own creation When we let go of the idea that its our job to dictate the perfections of others to drive their engines to direct the film of their lives and focus instead on what beauty we can leave behind Then we will find the only fragile, and faltering peace a human can own.
It’s been a month-long week. Here’s some poetry that boils it down. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whoever and whatever you’re spending your energy on–I hope it is worthy of your time and love. Take a breath…or seven-hundred.
The Gift of Silence What the silence gave me was the horror of having to sit with my own disasters car-piled up in my head like an apocalypse of trauma each vying for attention on the quiet stage I can’t whack-a-mole them down without ten more sprouting up the what about and the have you forgotten when... I'm the resistant owner of a vice-gripped mind constantly expanding with unsettling pressure What the silence gave me was one full breath, an ocean wave in and out before the panic of being alone in the frayed mess of my life took that air in short, shallow gasps and suffocated my dopamine. What the silence gave me was the truth that I’ve packed it all in too tightly for too long and something must give. But I cannot ‘give’. I was not built to throw away I was not taught to let go. I cannot sit in gifted silence because I cannot stand the sound of my own shit show. Raging its insecurities its expectations like expandable insulation in the cracks of my gray matter. I cannot accept this gift of silence because my thoughts are far too loud.
Good morning. Today’s poetry comes to us from a former and continuing contributor to The Beautiful Stuff’s Poetry Anthology. Ms. Byrne has a knack for gripping the guts with her poetry and, as an almost graduated student at the University of Boulder, she is finding her way with a powerful voice in the world.
Elliana spends her days reading (sometimes for fun…most times for class), daydreaming, and writing. She studies English Lit and dabbles in short stories and poetry when possible. She enjoys life best curled up with a good book and her cat, Gil. You can read her work in last year’s anthology “No Small Things” (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1692331558/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
And now this:
Clean Slate I want to wipe away the grievances of your skin and its heated strokes against mine and darken the unforgiving universes of your eyes that know and do not know me. But the treasonous mind casts wayward glances, over shoulders turned cold and the love and ache of wounds that should be healed over resound in weakening heart beats. The disloyal heart casts out lines and currents that have battled the boards of my ship and sunk it deep, now lies desolate and quiet a tomb on the ocean floor waiting, in vain, for a tug of interest. My dissonant soul vibrates in time to the sound of yours even when the harmonic waves shake my teeth and dislodge my brain and seize my nerve endings and tell me to clean you off close my eyes, turn my back to and cut the lines cover ears and regain what once was me.
Good morning, readers. Today, I’m about to head into my second night of pre-testing for my 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. Odds are at the time this post runs, I will be brain deep in trying to prepare, sore from the previous night’s test, and blinking vacantly over my first cup of coffee. I would offer, to my future self and to all eyes reading this, a heart-felt reminder:
You are capable of things you can’t even imagine. You are brilliant and resilient. Don’t ever stop fighting for yourself and the things you want. Self doubt happens to us all, but it’s an insult to your capacity for achievement. So instead of reacting to challenge with doubt, ask yourself this instead: WHAT IF I CAN?
DO NOT SHRINK YOURSELF TO FIT INTO SMALL EXPECTATIONS.
also… take a nap, whenever you get a chance. You’re only as strong as the rest you give yourself
Good skill to all of you out there, in all of your endeavors.
And now, this:
Not Myself of Late I am long away from the girl I once knew. The embodiment of all that was light and acquiescing Annihilated beneath weighted skies. Mired in confused need, heart floundering in dark embankments. I dig it from the muck; calm it’s fluttering gasps. brush away the silt It’s ok... It’s alright now we know what we have to do. I'd let the world upend me. I let it through the open door An idea, a hush of doubt Embedded into my soil. Tender but steadfast seedling. I forgot myself. Forgotten that its all just shadow Borne from the reflections of hurt. A chemical reaction, unchecked. I was dry underbrush, And it, just a catalytic match. But now I am the fire. I am all heat and nothing less than utter devastation. I don’t need suggestive darkness to know that I am bright.
Good morning! Today’s guest blog comes to us from the incomparable Nina (pronounced 9-uh) Naylor. She will be featured in the “Wilderness of Soul” anthology and I’m excited to share her work here with you. Nina has a beautiful approach to the world, writing, and how we all feel as wordsmiths with regards to calling ourselves ‘real writers’.
Here’s a little bit about her:
Nina Naylor is a writer, poet, and essayist. She wrote her first poem at age 8. She is a member of Northern Colorado Writers and the Academy of American Poets. She has had poems, essays and articles published in organizational publications.
Nina was able to take early retirement and has been focusing on her writing dream. She is currently working on a poetry book, a book of prayers, and a memoir.
The subject of her first poem? A dancing pig!
I spent the last few days fretting about driving down to Denver alone to visit my
granddaughter. The address existed in an area my mind at once equated being outside my
comfort zone. The various degrees of fear rampantly invaded my rational thinking, and my
inner critic flooded my brain with negative outcomes and reasons why I should not go. But this
cannot be the individual I confidently relate to when I envision that person inside me in its
truest form! That woman who embraces all things new and enterprising…who still wants to
experience the exhilaration of adventure – the kind that excites and awakens my soul, that
allows me to explore new cultural diversities in an unbiased demeanor…who wants to see the Divine Light that shines throughout!
This same consternation relates to my internal dance of viewing myself as a writer and
not. To move past the wishing stage and be vulnerable enough in sharing myself with the
world. My writing engulfs me – it lives in my soul and to lay myself open to ridicule, critiques
and rejection seemed incredulous.
Nevertheless, my adventurous soul still burns – aches to be released and my lifelong
dream to write and be published flourishes! Friends and family encouraged my writing
throughout the years, but not until I found the fortitude to believe in myself along with the
willingness of mind, body and spirit did my journey come to fruition. Last year at Christmastime
a dear friend rewarded me with the ultimate gift of support: a poetry book by another woman
who recently found the courage to share her soul along with my friend’s accompanying
sentiment “I’ve been fortunate to hear some of your poems and stories. Now, I want others to
experience the joy of reading them.”
Each year I choose a word to live by and this year my word comes from Debbie Z.
Almstedt’s book Zibu: The Power of Angelic Symbology . My word Rakumi means “clarity of
purpose” and the accompanying affirmation is “I continue to gain clarity as I listen within
knowing the answers unfold with ease.” To fully embrace the adventure and accept myself as a
writer opens opportunities each day by being willing to believe and surround myself with
positive motivations. This entails positive friendships, writers’ groups, reading the genre l like to
write, and sending my work for consideration. I encourage you to seek out what truly fulfills
Just so you know, I still can have doubts, but they don’t last. The night before I found
out two of my poems would in the anthology, I had thought to myself, “who am I to think I can
write?!” Believe in yourself…put yourself out there…be willing.
I like to write acrostic poetry and I will leave you with one using my word for this year.
A nswers and
By the way – the outing with my granddaughter and her boyfriend in Denver? Joyous!!
Good morning! Today’s post comes to us from one of our lovely neighbors to the North. Nathaniel Luscombe is an up and coming writer from Canada who holds a deep love for all sorts of written things. He’s been featured in three anthologies “There is Us”, “Faces to The Sun”, and the sci-fi fantasy collection “Among Other Worlds”. He’s currently working on the release of his first novella along with other writing projects.
In today’s blog he’s exploring the journey he’s taken so far in his love of writing. His insights into the process, the highs and the lows are something we can all relate to. Look forward to his brilliant poetry being featured in this fall’s “Wilderness of Soul” poetry anthology. Enjoy!
Hello writers! I am so excited to be writing to everyone who reads this blog. My name is Nathaniel Luscombe, and I have, as of being let into this anthology, been accepted for publishing four times. Well technically three, but that’s something we’ll talk about a little later on.
My focus for this blog is on writing and the fear of not succeeding. I think anyone who writes has faced fear of not being enough. Writing is such a personal experience. We’re taking our own experiences, thoughts, and ideas out of our minds and putting them down on paper for anyone to read.
That is quite a startling reality.
It’s also an exciting process.
This is my third poetry anthology. I consider myself to be a science fiction and fantasy writer, but somehow poetry always calls my name at some point. My first anthology was There is Us, run by the phenomenal poet SJ Blasko. My second one was Faces to the Sun, also run by her. The thing that drew me into these anthologies was the topics. There is Us was all about COVID-19 and our experiences during those first few months. Faces to the Sun covers topics of mental health. Both of them are, in my opinion, incredibly important anthologies. One of them documents one of the biggest events in recent history, while the other tackles stigma and opens up a conversation.
In March of this year, I was able to publish the anthology that I ran. It was quite the experience, and sometimes I look back with bits of regret and disappointment at how it turned out, but it was an important first step for me. That anthology is Among Other Worlds, and it was split into science fiction and fantasy. It was terrifying to run my own project, but I was able to work with amazing authors. While I made mistakes, it’s still a tangible first step.
Now with all this behind me, and so much hopefully ahead of me, I have to think about what some of my next steps are going to be.
See… being published three times does not mean anything. I am still so full of doubt and fear. Every time someone mentions that they read one of my works, I want to hide under a pillow for fear of them not enjoying it. Writing is the process of baring one’s soul, and there would be nothing worse than rejection from the people around me. That’s why this anthology came in at a perfect time.
Wilderness of Soul is all about vulnerability, raw feelings, and openness. I think that is such an exciting and important theme for a poetry anthology. My prose is always quite light-hearted, following escapades through space or people using their magic to better their world. Poetry is my escape. It’s the darker side of me, where I pour out my feelings and emotions without letting anything hold me back. I truly believe that poetry is the most vulnerable form of writing. It is a window to the soul, a path to the wilderness of soul (heh, see what I did there?)
So in some ways, publishing poetry is a lot more daunting than publishing a story. It’s not as filtered, and it connects directly to who I am. So now we have established the fear portion of writing. It’s a fear that everyone shares, but everyone wants to get over it.
So let’s work on that together. I want to talk about some things that I have come to terms with in my own journey of conquering the fear of sharing my writing.
First, people will enjoy your writing. When I read through my previous anthologies, there are obviously things I enjoy more than others… but I can appreciate and enjoy each piece as its own creation. Each author took a step into the unknown, not knowing whether they would be rejected or not, and it’s up to me as a reader to see what their vision was. So know that you have an audience. You have supporters. You have talent.
Second, let’s look at the logistics of it all. There is so much focus on writing something that will ‘make or break’ you. I disagree with this notion so strongly. The idea that my ‘debut’ is what represents me for the rest of my life is garbage. I am going to continue changing and growing as a person. My talent with writing will grow, my style will change, my ideas will blossom… and my debut will be a beginning, not an ending. You have more than one chance to make your mark. I am only eighteen. I used to pressure myself to become the best writer, thinking I had to be a published writer by the age of 20. I wanted to hit NYT Bestseller lists, go to writing conventions, have a crowd of adoring fans… I know what you’re thinking, “Umm, Nathaniel, that’s a bit unrealistic.” Yeah, it is. It’s unrealistic, but it’s something I felt pushed onto me because of the pressure to become ME by the time I was an adult and remain that person until I died. Obviously, with writing being such a big part of who I am, I thought that I had to have my writing fully developed by that time as well. Take your time, have some fun, and don’t turn your writing into a chore. Get rid of the fear that you only have one shot. I am on my fourth shot. These are not shots, these are opportunities. I am not here to make it big. I’m here to offer my voice for a project I believe in.
My third and final point is watching the advice that you take. I have spent so much of my life taking advice from people I hold no respect for or who know nothing about what I’m doing. Advice is never a bad thing, but how seriously you take it should depend on the person it is coming from. How does this connect to fear? Well the fear of becoming a failure is rooted in people that give you a lot of self-doubt. There is a barrier between healthy confidence and being straight up cocky. I do not think the publishing world is going to bow at me and give me every opportunity I want. I also don’t think my journey is going to be rejectless. I expect a long, rough road… but I am excited and ready to get into it. For a while, I thought that I had no chances because I was listening to people that didn’t have my best interests and weren’t in a position in my life that should’ve allowed them to get to me. You need to realize that everyone has a chance at this. You might end up as a writer, you might not end up as a writer. Either way, at least you tried.
Writing this all out has been so freeing. Call it closure, call it the need to figure out my issues, but this is the most intimate piece of writing I have put out for a while. It’s not as detailed as it could be, but some things are better left inside. I just want to be the one to give you a boost of confidence. Let me encourage you as a writer, because I bet you have an amazing story to tell.
Ladies and Gentleman, I give you an older work of mine for this week, refurbished and reworked. The process of poetry is one of constant motion. If you’re bored (as my children often claim they are in the hot months of summer) I encourage you to find an old work of your own and give it a refresh.
I will only be accepting submissions for a couple more months for The Beautiful Stuff’s 2021 Poetry Anthology. Send me your stuff and we’ll have an awesome little email chat.
Enjoy this little trip up a trail with a broken heart.
Exhale Who knew? (breathe in) This sickening depth of damage you’d leave? (blow it out slow) The hole so deep and wide an ache so subtly gnawing (don’t forget to breathe again…) Good riddance, I’d said (force air in) Don’t let the fucking door hit you (fake bravado exhale) I’m better off. I don’t (Gasp) Need (Pant) You I don’t need you… Air bounces around frantically looks for an exit, erupts from the empty cavern of my chest bursting its way out of my lungs. I don’t need…you (ragged breath) Hold still now. Listen. To the sound of hollowness inside, Was it like this before? Was my heart always a black hole? it beats with the scrape of metal on glass, leaves dry water rings in the bottom of a heat-baked pot. Where is the air? Dizzy Trees whirl The rumble of thunder but no relief of rain The one shoe drop. Your end of the phone dead, weighted silence. Good (shiver) Finally, you’re gone! (breathe, damn it) Finally… Tears trace down dusty length of my neck you’re (Gasp, Gulp, Cough) Gone. Darkness drops and nothing but space grows in the garden of a heart once so carefully tended. I don’t need you. (exhale)
You pry out and
Bend my bones, hack off my hair to
Spend on whores of imagination,
Toil for bread and say,
“Fed!” to hollow eyes and shrunken
Bellies. The sweat of my
Breasts is dry, your new
Words lost to me, clipped
Tongue shorn of old
Speech, I beseech from you some answer, some
Will to less than power in this
Hour of your need.
In my previous guest-poet post on The Beautiful Stuff , I said that “the absorber of a poem
eavesdrops on the speaker’s liminal/threshold experience.” That is, poetry is eavesdropping on
an experience of the speaker unselfconsciously being themselves, unaware of being
Poet and speaker are not necessarily one and the same. The poet creates a glimpse of another
soul’s thought or experience. The craft of poetry is like that of any other fiction, to suspend
disbelief—to so absorb the reader that the reader forgets that they’re “reading/hearing” anything
but rather are sharing in an inner experience that would otherwise be inaccessible.
In short, poetry is a mutually welcomed telepathy.
There’s a creepy factor to that eavesdropping but also a magik. In daily experience, we can’t read each other’s thoughts. Poetry invites us to a “sixth sense,” accessible to anyone.
We don’t need telepathic superpowers (unless, of course, poetry is that superpower).
The voice of “Mother Bend” is not my own. I attempt to telepathically grasp the inner world of
the speaker and reveal it to you. I’m not here going to say who that speaker is. After all, the poem
must speak for itself. I invite you to join in my attempt at telepathy, to widen both our souls. As
you listen/read, I ask you to frame your own questions. You can start with Who is “Mother
Bend”? To whom does she speak? Why is “Mother Bend”?
Enjoy finding out.
Good morning, readers. Today’s poem comes from me. And all my dark, little underbelly areas. I hope you enjoy. Remember that I’m still accepting submissions for the “Wilderness of Soul” Anthology coming out this fall. Email me your name, a short bio, and up to three poems for consideration. Thanks!
And now, this:
Maker’s Hill We t2wo climbed Maker’s Hill In the cold calm Where quiet winds spoke our truth Before we signed our names Straight lines, Blood ink. We t2wo climbed Maker’s Hill Your hand warm in mine Nary a tremor, Showing the branches above The strength of spirit On first steps towards Home Lightning our baggage Before setting off. We t2wo climbed Maker’s Hill For to lay in a sea of damp grass And share the sharp ticket First you, then I. Then we. Listening with fingertips As your pulse beats into the dirt And feeling the fading light As flesh calmly goes cold. We t2wo climbed Maker’s Hill In the breaking heart of dawn The resolution The only thing we’ve ever Been sure of. We t2wo climbed Maker’s Hill We thre3 did not return.