as I gaze upon this ghost town
we created, I can’t help but wonder,
what was it all for? did we hope someday
to build a metropolis, but stopped halfway?
did we forget to invite people in,
did we lose ourselves
in the planning of it all?
looking back on the blueprints
I see now that we wanted too much
too soon. I spent so long
looking ahead that I forgot to consider
what we would do if it failed,
forced to live in our burning town,
which crackles quietly, crumbles gently
and collapses upon itself. smells less like
arson and more like missed opportunities,
more like those times I could have held you
and begged you to stay, or when you could have
comforted me when I needed you most.
and yet, in spite of everything,
I don’t think I could go back and do it all again.
that is what you want: you want a fresh slate,
but I don’t have the energy to build temporary houses
from straw and mud and everything breakable.
in spite of everything,
I do not feel regret. it isn’t what we wanted,
but I am grateful for this pile of ashes
and broken dreams. it cushions us
as we lay motionless, together yet
so far apart.
I dont know where my heart is
I be the first to say I didnt try
Why would I ?
we were a happy ending
not meant for forever
we werent diseny
we were sally and jack
to lovely dead things
claspEd to each other for life
maybe that’s why we didn’t work
i tried to be the butterfly you needed
you became a capitallar
and drew away from me
you made me feel small
i held my bones in my arms
I scooped out my soul
and wrote every line for you
it’s my greatest shame why I stopped writing here
I longed for your mouth to scoop up my words
you longed for the world to love you
you were my world
you stopped acting like you loved me
maybe that’s why I started to belive you were looking for home in other places
I blame myself for why maybe you didn’t want to make banana foster with me
your Appetite grew small
but her was instabible
you brought the damn supplies to tear my whole world
I regret straying onto to your page
their I found my other half
I don’t know where we broke specfically
but my heart will
you can compass
the names of all the girls
who fell in love with boy behind the words
it’s eaiser to blame somebody than to aceapt the truth
you were broken way before you met me
you thought my love could healed you
I will never forget how you told me I was your inspriation
I just needed your love
I like a child
handed you my arms
hoping you would keep me safe
you said A million things
they replay in my head like a record player
i rember you wrote me a poem called Carmel
maybe it’s all the little things you said and did that makes it hard to stop loving you
cause sometimes when were broken
we bled on People who never hurt us
you slash through my existence
kept remiding me as tears came down my face your strong
little did you know
those were tears for you
not for the situations I endured
your a runner baby
you keep your jays by edge of the bed
don’t hear from you for months
I prepared your funeral
I wrote a euglogy
sometimes i wonder am I ghost in your life
sometimes I feel like you can’t see me
i often wonder does The world know I was once yours
do you flip over that page
when they reach the libary of cages around your chest
Or do you keep a page folded
visting me only in my dreams
I stopped asking you to be somebody
my mind left
but my heart stayed
my mine is wrapped in this puzzle
you say you didn’t cheat
you say it louder
as if , you can change the volume of your voice will make me aceapted
that white boys with piercing blues eyes who write mysterious poetry don’t break black girls heart
go ahead and slit my throat
with your words
I stick a middle finger down my throat
trying to fuck out every trace of you
pulling out the pain
so I no longer remember all your sweet sayings
i Dumped pennies in a well
wishing we could work out
don’t say you miss me
if you stay gone
my heart is heavy
I can’t sleep
i know I should let you stay gone
I like dog gnaw on my bone
hoping I can bite you out of my marrow
your spreading inside me like a cancer
dont take my heart
put it back in place
they warNed about boys with dark brown hair and a chipped tooth smile
like their nervous
Maybe I should have been better
I could have put more soul in my heart
maybe I could add a little salt to my ink then You see my wounds
maybe I could add rose in my name
maybe you would see how delicate I am
what did all those girls have to offer
was it their skinny waistline
and mystery eyes
and gregarious laughter
as if they couldnt see
you We’re mine
you told me she wasn’t that pretty she has crazy eyes
as if that would make me feel better
I know when you lied you strained
cause deep down you know my heart is a raspberry pulp
i started to pull away
cause felt the smallness call to me
my body became to consume its self
and maybe that’s what regret or lust tasted like
your back again
you didn’t pay a vist
maybe that’s when I realized
you were right I was too much for you
and maybe you were right when you said you have nothing for me
for I learned from you what staravation tasted like
hear we go again
my heart stuck in spaghetti
i convace one more time
trace my lips against yours
just to feel the last bit of human on your teeth
yet in spite of everything
hear I stand
with my head between my legs
shaking and crying
cause your saying
let’s be friends
in spite of everything
I don’t know how to your friend
I don’t know how to not want to climb on top of you
and run my hands through your hair
its a sin
in spite of everything
we start over
how many times can u write
me and you ?
dont you belive in the universe
we are a bad omen
we gotta stop doing us
and yet in the spite of everything
i wave hi I am Tyla
maybe if their wasn’t two many midnights up smiling at us
maybe we finally close
i am sick of wanting more
but I need more
I need more of you
so why don’t you just love me this time right
I Still Can Sing
My shoes are scuffed and dirty.
My hair is cut unruly.
My truck is old and beaten,
its brakes have started squeakin’.
I spilled some soda on my jeans,
and I forgot to eat my greens.
Things are getting out of hand--
dishes piling higher, and
yet, in spite of everything,
I have found I still can sing!
In the car with windows down,
or in my house while dancing ’round
the mess I then can start to clean,
once I recalled, I still can sing.
Wild Island Woman
I knew she was bad news the first time I laid eyes on her. There she was in the little reggae haunt in the islands, whirling and swirling, drawing all eyes to her bounteous rounded body, lost in her own world with eyes closed in the heat of the moment. She never stopped dancing, virtually thrusting her body out for all to see, going from man to man in her frenzy. It wasn’t that she was beautiful since her face was slightly off kilter, her body was lusher than the slender norm and she didn’t create the impression that she belonged to the real earth. She had all the earmarks of being slightly disoriented as if she were not of this world but the cosmos was of her, trying valiantly to please her.
I was mesmerized as I watched her white teeth with their slight overbite, latched wantonly onto her sensuous full red pouted lips, promising rapture. Her coffee with cream skin took the spotlight in the dimly lit bar as I realized that she was an amalgam of many races making it difficult to determine her heritage. Green slanted flirtatious eyes showed glints of yellows and browns. Wild curly hair with auburn flecks floated around her, hanging to her waist. Globular breasts peeped from her blouse that was only partially buttoned, having come undone as her spirit kicked its heels to the sound of the band.
I was so drawn to her fire that I knew that I had to have her in my life even when a little nagging murmur at the back of my skull warned me to ignore her magnetism. And yet in spite of everything, the pull of her hypnotic embodiment was too much to resist as I strolled in what I hoped was a nonchalant manner toward her, trying to disguise my eagerness to become one with her.
She turned her voluptuous body toward me and said that she had felt the charisma of my presence from her vantage point but that there were a few things I had to give the green light to if I wanted to play the game with her. “You cannot tame me for I am like a wild bird. I am my own person and come and go as I please,” she mouthed in her animalistic manner.
Against my better judgment, I reluctantly agreed to her terms. She grabbed my hand, led me to her motorcycle parked outside the bar and we roared off into the dark and promising night. As we entered her cozy little apartment above a noisy restaurant, I was enveloped so fully by her aura that outside sounds ceased completely as we gave ourselves to each other with complete abandon.
She threw her clothes off where they landed on the brightly hued carpet. I grabbed her naked body and began caressing and savoring every inch of her charms before unzipping my pants and throwing her onto the rug where we ravished and consumed, crested and fell, over and over, until we were sweating and exhausted. Falling asleep for a little while, we awoke to blooming urgency, the like of which I had never known. This desperate need continued through the balance of the night before we fell into a deep slumber. I awakened with the knowledge that I could never be without her again.
In the month ahead, our climatic passion continued but I woefully noticed that she would absent herself from me from time to time. “I need my space,” she said, “you don’t control me.” For a while, I accepted what she was willing to give me because I was so engrossed in the gifts she was bestowing upon me as I became needy. I had to have her and if that took sacrifices on my part, so be it. I ignored the fact that I was becoming less of a man. When she snatched herself away from me, images of her filled my existence as I became more and more dependent on her benevolent donations. I tried to avoid seeing her casting her glances at other men, negating my suspicions as to what she was doing in her absences.
A few days later, she tore off on her motorcycle leaving me alone to wander down to the soft comfort of the beach, where I daydreamed about her bounty. Returning a little early from my soothing sojourn, I was shocked to hear moans and groans coming from her abode. Flinging open the hurt door of my love, I was confronted by her and another man in our promised bed.
Embarrassment was absent in her demeanor as she said, “I never promised you that I would be faithful. Would you like to join in?”
Devastated, I limped sorrowfully out of our little love nest, catching the next plane to leave the islands of my dreams and jetted back to the emptiness of my life on the mainland. Try as I might, I could not put my little island maiden out of my mind. When I returned to the islands to seek her out once again, she was gone as was my yearning soul. I never saw her again.
The Will to Fly
Within my life, I have nearly died a total of twenty times. The first time was when I was born. The doctor's heard no heartbeat, but luckily, my mother was far enough along in her pregnancy to be induced. I was birthed with my umbilical cord tied tight around my neck. I was airless for around five minutes. To this day, the doctors are surprised I have no brain damage.
The second and third…. and fourth time I nearly died I was around the age of six. Well, five and six to be exact. I was a bit of a daredevil of a child, and I always had a dream to one day grow wings and fly. Most people would have learned not to jump off buildings the first time they break a leg. It took me three attempts, multiple broken bones, a few skull fractures, and my parents blocking off all access to the roof to get me to stop. The fifth time I nearly died; I attempted to fly was from the tree in my childhood home's backyard. That tree was cut down within the week after that attempt.
The sixth and seventh times, I was eight years old. I was riding my bike in the streets near my home. Normally, this would be safe, but the daredevil in me always wanted to ride out in front of cars as much as possible. I was hit twice before my parents sold my bike and tried to get me to play video games or do anything else instead. They just wanted me to stop endangering myself.
The eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh times were all car crashes. I was ten in the first, eleven in the second, and I was seventeen in the last two. My grandparents weren't always the best drivers, and as they started getting older, their reflexes weren't the same. My parents took away their licenses fairly fast after I nearly died from internal bleeding in the second car crash. Little did they know I would actually die in my first car crash, but I came back to life after a minute. Honestly, I don't really remember my second accident all that well.
The last nine times I nearly died. I was training for my job as a stunt double. I was always the man they called when they needed someone to do an extremely dangerous stunt. I was the only one willing enough to make it look realistic, and everyone in the industry knew that I had no fear of dying, just a fear of not being able to do what I love. And I truly loved the feeling of flying through the air, no matter the consequences.
And yet, in spite of everything, my heart's still beating. I'm still breathing, and the doctor's are even questioning how I can even still be alive. The people at my job are encouraging me to quit, or to do anything else. But honestly, I still haven't truly lost my death wish. I still want to fly, and no one is going to stop me until I get what I want.
The Last Word
In the Land of the Plenty
Philosophies and essays,
debates and discussion,
free and illimitable thoughts
mutely rest within covers
bound in leather.
They sit beside
thought provoking theses
and classical myths.
Drama through the ages
share space with
Theories and treatises,
Theorems and corollaries,
self-help, facts and fiction
on daily-dusted library shelves.
On coffee tables rest glossy magazines
of architecture and culture popular.
Poems and prose,
religion and science
music and art.
from neanderthal grunts,
and ancient scrolls.
many lost others preserved.
Woodblocks to metal,
metal to silicon...
From Gutenberg press to Gutenberg font,
we have traveled afar.
Digital data churn, ensuring continuity.
Yes, we have words.
Words in foreign tongues
and in translated works
request a conversation.
Words on cultures or legends
exist within covers,
they invite you to open,
in their consent to share.
Words, words, and words
spill out of a never ending
They invite, seek, find, and include.
Magical with or without magic,
words promise, they transport,
they wish to transform
in their infinite abundance.
On the face
no exclusion of
And yet in spite of everything,
is not deficient in defining itself
It’s found in infinite dictionaries
synonymously synching in
Scarcity doesn’t even lack habitat.
But Cannot Comprehend
And yet, in spite of everything,
You love me, with all your heart and soul
This I understand
But cannot comprehend.
I hurt you with my carelessness.
In spite of this
Your eyes meet mine
With devotion still unbent
This I understand
But cannot comprehend.
My soul could burst with gratitude
I say I’m always yours
Yet still I fly to other worlds
Deserting you, unmeant.
In spite of this
You love me still
Though I cannot repent.
This I understand
But cannot comprehend
How you love me ’til the end.
Fairy Tale Ending
The knife slammed down, sending a spray of blood onto the maids apron. She cursed under her breath, cleaning its edge with her rag.
“ASH!” The shrill voice made her flinch, and she hastened her pace, bringing the knife down again and again with a practiced hand. “AAASH! Where is the chicken? I needed it FIVE MINUTES AGO!”
“Sorry Ana! I’m coming,” Ash called back, hoisting the bloody poultry into her arms as she made her way to the stove.
“You weren’t daydreaming again, were you?” Ana chided, mincing onions for the soup.
“It’s not daydreaming. It’s training,” Ash whispered, but she ensured that nobody heard her. “Of course not!” she said, louder.
“Good. You know how much Dri hates it when you space out.” Ash flinched involuntarily, her fingers brushing the scar that ran from her eyelid to her chin. Last year, when she was lost in her head, Dri had taken a fire poker and run it down her face to “teach her a lesson.” As irritating as Ana could be sometimes, Dri invoked genuine fear in Ash. It was just the three of them, girls barely out of their teenage years, kitchen maids for the palace staff. And, though Ash disliked her company, they were the only family she had ever known. Ana and Dri were sisters and held their place in the palace because their father was the head chef. Ash was just a girl of the streets who had happened to be at the right place at the right time when the chef was looking for some extra help in the kitchens. As grateful as she was to have a roof over her head, Ash couldn’t help but hope she was destined for more.
The tap-tap-click of footsteps that haunted Ash’s nightmares echoed down the narrow staircase leading to the kitchens, and Ash stirred the stock pot with renewed vigor.
“Darling sisters! Dinner is going well, I presume?” Dri flounced into the room, her shoulders wrapped in a scarf that looked oddly familiar to Ash.
“Is that…” she started, but was cut off by a venomous look from Dri.
“Ugh. You’re too nosy… but if you must know, this is the queen’s finest scarf for parties!” Ash groaned inwardly, knowing all too well how Dri’s knack for stirring up chaos would be blamed on her if the scarf wasn’t returned soon. Ana piped up from beside her, a fragile voice wavering in the dusty air.
“B-but, the kingdom isn’t having any parties for at least another month”
“Oh, sweet sister, that’s only what the nobility wants you to think!” Dri’s impish sneer deepened, her eyes glittering with a cold malice. “As I’m sure you know, the darling prince is of age to be married.” Ava froze, hope written plainly across her face. Dri continued, sounding as haughty as ever. “Tomorrow night the palace will host a lavish party in hopes of finding the prince a worthy suitor. Surely the queen will not notice a few lovely kitchen girls amidst the swirling gowns and festivities!” Ava was practically bouncing up and down now, her eyes shining like those of a child.
“This is it, Dri! All we have to do is show the prince how worthy we are of the throne, and we will never have to work again,” Ava giggled, twirling in a circle. The two of them were breathless with excitement, filled with hope at the thought of escaping their own pitiful lives, but Ash was silent. “What’s up with you, Ash? This is the best news of our entire lives!” Ava squealed, grinning. Ash bit her lip, struggling to meet Ava’s hopeful eyes.
“Ava, this is great. It really is. I’m happy for you… but do you really think the prince would choose a kitchen girl over nobility? They have been trained their entire lives to rule a kingdom. It’s not that I think you wouldn’t be a good ruler, I’m sure you would be amazing, but he is not going to choose you.” Ash choked out the words, hating the way Ava’s face crumpled with each invisible blow. She disliked uttering such things, but tried to convince herself that it was for the best. Ava would be devastated when her dreams of being a princess didn’t work out. At least now she wouldn’t be surprised.
“Don’t listen to her, Ava,” Dri spit, venom lacing her tone. Dri grabbed her sister roughly by the arm, yanking her towards the laundry room. “We are going to the ball. Now, lets get dresses.” Ava looked back towards Ash one last time, eyes brimming with tears, an expression of utter betrayal on her face. And then, she was gone, into the depths of the castle. Ash felt her eyes begin to water, but blinked quickly before tears could fall. She was stronger than her tears. She pawned the soup off onto another maid, and slipped out of the kitchen door, disappearing into the night air. Ava may not understand, and Dri may not want to, but she had no desire to become a princess. She was not qualified for the position, nor did she wish to be. Her passions lay… elsewhere.
The whine of metal scraping along metal echoed from the courtyard far before Ash turned the corner. The sound itself was unpleasant, but its cause left currents for excitement racing down her spine. Just before she rounded the corner Ash pulled her helmets vizor over her face, bouncing on the balls of her feet. The other soldiers nodded to her, well accustomed to her late night visits.
When Ash had first come to the palace she would slip out the back door often, anxious for some time to herself. It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon the King’s Guard training, and was instantly captivated. She would watch them train for hours from behind the hedges that surrounded the courtyard, mimicking their swift movements with her clumsy arms. It wasn’t long before they found her, but the fierce knights she was so fearful of had no need to punish a curious child. She became a kind of pet project for them, a few tips here, a sparring match there. In five years her nightly visits had left thick calluses on her once soft fingers and her mind filled with swordplay. She would never be that sweet, innocent little girl again, and perhaps that was for the better.
Ash staggered her feet in a familiar stance as she drew her blade from the sheath at her hip, filling her lungs with the smoky night air before releasing her breath quickly, lunging forwards at her opponent and twisting back, her dance lit only by moonlight. A minute passed, maybe two, but before long the blade of her sword kissed the soft skin of his neck, pressing firmly against his windpipe.
“Say it,” Ash whispered, her voice deadly. “Say. It.”
“Fiiiine,” the man across from her whined pathetically. “Uncle.”
“Yes! Take that,” Ash grinned, sheathing her sword.
“Aww. You’re no fun anymore,” the knight complained good naturedly, climbing to his feet. “So, when are you going to join the guard? We all know you’re qualified.”
“We’ve had this conversation before,” Ash muttered. “You can only join the guard if the commander approves it, and that will never happen.
“Ah. Daddy dearest dosen’t want his illegitimate daughter to become a coworker?” The knight questioned, nodding towards the gaurd’s bunkhouse. That’s gotta stink. Well, I best be going. See you tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Ash grumbled, wrapping her hands in cloth padding before walking to a training dummy. She began warming up, letting her fists slam against the leather casing of the bag.
She was so intent upon the movements that she almost missed the feather light sound of unfamiliar footsteps on the courtyard behind her. Almost. She pivoted, drawing her sword as she took in the figure standing behind her, black robes rendering them almost invisible in the darkness. She hesitated, willing him to speak, but all was silent. Then, his blade was snaking through the air, glinting in the moonlight as it was thrust towards her chest. Ash blocked it inches before it met her flesh, aghast at the nerve of this new stranger.
He parried her blows effortlessly, writhing in the darkness like mist. Impossible to capture. Ash stumbled backwards, drawing air into her lungs. This was no longer a playful spar. She would die here, in this courtyard, if her guard slipped for even a moment. Her attacks became quicker, the blade coming alive in her hands. She couldn’t help but feel like her entire life had come down to this moment. They circled one another around the courtyard, hunters poised to strike. Then, she saw her moment. For a fraction of a second he glanced backwards, sizing up the courtyard, and she was upon him, knocking his sword aside with the very motion she had done hundreds of times previously. It clattered against the marble, the sound carrying a note of finality.
“Mask. Off,” she hissed between labored breaths, holding the tip of her sword to his chin. He slowly lifted the black fabric, hands shaking, though he was trying hard to hide it. He cast the material aside, and it was as if time itself had frozen. Ash’s mind raced, trying desperately to comprehend the man in front of her. She sank to one knee, forehead resting against the cool cobblestones. “My prince. I’m sorry,” she whispered, knowing all too well that her life was now in his hands. To raise a hand against the next ruler of the kingdom, let alone a sword, was a crime punishable by death. How could she have ever made a mistake this grand?
“Don’t apologize. After all, my identity was unbeknownst to you. Please, rise,” he said softly, retrieving his mask from the floor. “Anyone capable of beating me in a duel undoubtedly is worthy of a place on the royal guard.”
“I’m honored, sir. Truly. But my father… “ Ash started, lapsing into silence when her fathers cruel face flashed across her mind.
“Ahh, yes. I overheard your conversation with the knight earlier. I cannot promise you a fairy tale ending, as such things are creatures of fantasy, but I can assure you this much. In spite of everything, you have no need of my protection. The world is a frightening place, but the fire in your eyes is just as terrifying. It is the look of someone who will burn anything in her way on the road to success. Welcome to the Royal Guard, but know that your story doesn’t end here. Darling, this is only the beginning.