Love Haiku #12
Spume kisses on toes—
He drew me out to sea the
summer the sun froze.
Love Haiku #12
Spume kisses on toes—
He drew me out to sea the
summer the sun froze.
Kiss me with urgency
the way you did before
your foot slipped from
the sleet-slick bridge
and turbulent ocean
waves swallowed your
lungs. Your lips feel
like ice on my tongue.
I stare into your eyes—
my mirror behind you—
see myself licking air.
Fright Night Fridays: Every Friday night, dare to venture into something spooky, something paranormal, something suspenseful, something that would surely give you a fright. Are you brave enough to stick around?
Originally published April 17, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge. A version of this poem will appear in Chapter One of the novella, when Jessica looks at another “option” from Whitmore on her blind date with Bruce. 😉
A poem by Jessica Ryan
Relationships are optional.
You cannot mandate my marriage
to cure your loneliness, and I
do not need your love
to make my life complete.
I’ve kissed more boys
than I can count
and have loved less.
My feelings intensify and
fade like the seasons.
Do not mention marriage in the summer
and never children in the snow.
Laugh at my jokes and I’ll
pretend your confessions of
undying infatuation don’t amuse me.
I do not require the world,
only a small park bench outside where
the wood can rot; the paint can chip.
Sit next to me and hold my hand.
Ask of nothing; demand even less.
If mandates spew from your lips,
eliminating my free will, I’ll add you
to my list of boys I’ve kissed
and never loved.
This poem, originally published April 16, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge, received a major revision last month (see “Chivalry is Dead”). The revision will be in the novella as part of Chapter 2. In fact all of Chapter 2 will see some significant changes from the A to Z Challenge. While I didn’t break the original challenge up into chapters, G is for Girlfriend Whisperer, I is for Insecure, J is for Jealous, and this post are all part of Chapter 2. When I finish the novella, you’ll see how much they’ve changed. 😉
While I did revise the poem, I still enjoy reading the original. It describes Whitmore and his “priorities” so well! I hope you enjoy it too. 🙂
Jessica stared into her blurred reflection as the steam filled the bathroom and condensation accumulated on the mirror. She thought about something that Alex once told her:
“It’s the ‘nice guys’ you have to watch out for. They think that because they don’t curse, or drink, or smoke, or do drugs, or beat you, or cheat, or do whatever, they deserve special privileges. And when they don’t get those special privileges, when they don’t get the girl, when they don’t get the mind-blowing sex from the beautiful damsel that misogynist TV promised them, they go nuts. Whitmore is a ‘nice guy,’ and he’s going nuts right now because you won’t give him what he wants.”
Whitmore wasn’t a nice guy. He wouldn’t be so cruel as to make a woman feel guilty for not loving him. She did care for him in the beginning, but it was so hard to fall in love with a man who tried to make her become his personal savior, who would die if she weren’t near. Why put her under so much pressure? Why give her so much control? Why have his life and happiness so dependent on whether she loves him back?
“Nice guys always finish last,” Whitmore had told her when they were still getting to know each other. They were on their third date and had arrived to the movie theater half an hour early. Jessica had suggested they play in the small arcade in the lobby while they waited. Because that was the type of woman she was. She liked to dive back into her childhood whenever she could. She wanted to race, shoot hoops, play air hockey, battle in Mortal Kombat, swing her hips and jump on arrows while Dance Dance Revolution played “It’s Raining Men.” Whitmore was too serious. After she beaten him in a motorcycle race through the streets of Los Angeles, he wanted to talk about why all his past relationships failed.
“I think it’s because we go for the wrong kinds of women. The ones who can’t see how lucky they are. They’d rather chase the dirt they’ve been with most of their lives than cherish the good thing they have in us.”
Jessica turned around and unplugged the tub drain for the second time that night. At this rate, she would never take her bath, but she needed to write how she was feeling while it was still fresh on her mind. Maybe a poem could assuage her torment better than a hot, bubble bath.
Last in the Race
A poem by Jessica Ryan
And keeps running.
But there’s never a finish line.
Never a blond, busty babe
Waving a checkered flag,
Indicating he’s won.
And why should there be?
Why should he expect the
Congratulatory kiss from
A woman who’s last love interest
Was his reciprocal?
A 6’5 delinquent who
Blanketed himself in tattoos,
Wore his hat cocked to the side,
Held his pants up by the crotch
Because he didn’t believe in belts,
Had a drawer full of wife beaters,
And become one himself.
Runs towards his unattainable dream girl
At the end of the tunnel.
A woman he believes he can
Save from all the heartbreaking, abusive
Cheaters of the world.
His heart driven only by
the smile on her face.
Until he realizes heartbreak and abuse
Are what she craves.
She jerks her hand away
When he leans to kiss it.
She speaks of feminism
When he opens doors,
Guides her through.
Chivalry is dead.
Chivalry is an excuse for men
To treat us as objects.
She breaks into hives
When he sends her daisies.
Why ask me what I want all the time?
Stop being so nice.
I can’t stand a Yes Man!
He runs blindly,
Chasing after an angel
With a devil’s attitude,
Not realizing her independence
Will drive him away,
Too desperate to have
Her lustful appearances
Strike jealousy in the hearts
Of the boys back home
Whose definitions for beauty
And booty are the same, and
Intelligence is of no relation.
He competes against able-bodied men
Who can hoist their conceited winnings
Above their heads
His only trophy is an hourglass.
Each grain of sand
Falling to the base,
Counting the hours, minutes, seconds
He runs in a race he’ll never finish.
Originally published April 9, 2017, this poem was written by Whitmore and dedicated to Jessica. If you read the prequel post, “Love Poetry,” you know that “Heaven’s Angel” was edited down to just four lines:
When the sun sets, I still have light
Because your moon brightens my nights.
My precious angel descended from Heaven above,
saved me from the heartache of unrequited love.
Since Whitmore actually proposes before the novella starts, these lines will appear in the novella in a flashback memory.
When I thought God
Had abandoned me,
Left me to wallow in pity,
My body in darkness.
I had no pulse,
Until an angel
Descended from heaven.
She kissed me with lips
Red as apples.
She resuscitated me
With her magnetic touch.
She shocked my skin with
The electricity of her love.
Fresh blood raced to my heart
As she breathed her divine
Oxygen into my lungs.
And I arose.
Living and breathing
In the silk-clothed bosom
Of heaven’s angel.
May she never again
Let me plummet
To the hellish grave
Of love unrequited.
It’s your eyes that I remember.
Thick lashes that curl toward heaven,
that kiss the delicate skin
of your cheeks—like a breeze—
when you blink. Your eyes that hold
sadness and light. Loneliness and
hope unconfined. Gaze into mine
and see the lifetimes forgotten, see
our souls swaying together on stage
to the low rumbling threads on the
string bass. Your eyes are a defiant
love poem; they wince at visions
of settling. One man cannot possess
them—they shift with the tides
of the sea, patterned to the moon
phase. Break these chains of idolized
attachment. Open your eyes. Illuminate
my deathlike night. I can never claim
ownership, only the desire to see
your eyes smile one last time.
Today is the last Wednesday in June, which means this Saturday I will begin my journey to completing my novella, Love Poetry, for Camp NaNoWriMo!
Every Wednesday, I’ve been posting a poem that will serve as an introduction to a new chapter. Seeing that we’ve come to the end of my planning sessions, this poem will open the final chapter of Love Poetry, in which Jessica and . . . well, I won’t ruin it for you, just know that it is quite different from how my A to Z Challenge ended in 2015.
If you haven’t noticed, every poem is written by a character in the story— Jessica, Whitmore, and Bruce, the three parts to our love triangle. Can you guess who the poet is for this one?
If you missed the previous poems, check them out below:
Stay tuned for a post explaining what will happen with the blog next month while I’m away camping. I promise you’ll be in for a treat!
Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust—flutter in the
wind blown by my lust.
Every Wednesday in June, I’ve been writing love poetry for my Camp NaNoWriMo novella, Love Poetry. Each poem will serve as an epigraph to the chapter it introduces.
If you read my 2015 A to Z Challenge, you already know what happens to Whitmore. However, looking back at those posts, I don’t think Jessica really had enough time to process the events before she was back with Bruce. Yoga may help relieve some tension, but let’s be serious, one session is not going to help you get over that kind of guilt that fast.
So I’ve added a new chapter in which Jessica goes to Whitmore’s funeral to try to deal with her grief over his death and her guilt for wanting to be with Bruce.
This poem was initially longer, much longer, but then I found myself trying to rhyme and stick to a meter, and it just got really cheesy reeeally fast. Then I realized the only part I felt strongly about was the repetition of ashes, dust, and lust. And wouldn’t you know, those stanzas were seventeen syllables! The perfect haiku!
So I cut everything else out, which was basically meaningless babble, and kept the lines that conveyed the most emotion with the strongest imagery.
Sometimes shorter is better.
So what do you think? Should I keep it like this, or do you want to see the longer, cornier (and still unfinished) version? Personally, I think it says all it needs to say in just three lines.
Your love is like jazz music,
like the sultry Eartha Kitt
fitted in leather cat suit,
stretched across the piano,
purring into the mic.
Peel back my dress like the
delicate skin of a grape,
off my shoulders, slipping
down my waist and over my
hips; reveal succulent flesh
underneath, supple, ready to
burst under your prodding.
My hips wind against you
like a ticking clock to the
rhythm of your tongue rolling
off the roof of your mouth,
so close behind my ear naked.
Oooh . . . don’t kiss me—
Yes . . . please kiss me—
My neck elongated,
graceful, like a gazelle;
your lips right there.
No—Yes. Make up my mind.
You over him. Whisper me
sweet wine to flood my
trepidation in red. Spontaneity
over consistency. A fluttered
heartbeat bounces to the
spinning trumpet, and
I wanna be evil with you,
I’m sick of being his angel,
I wanna be your devil—
Oooh . . . Bruce—let’s do it.
So, I think Wednesdays in June will be dedicated to love poetry from Love Poetry, my Camp NaNoWriMo novella I’ll be writing next month! This poem introduces the chapter where Jessica and Bruce reeeally get to know each other… 😉
If you want to learn more about Love Poetry, check out my 2015 A to Z Challenge. Eventually I’ll have all these posts together in one location.
Chivalry is dead.
Chivalry is an excuse
for men to treat women
as objects. And objects
are breakable— Like
this dish; like this
crystal Princess House
mug, and that one and
that one; like this
picture frame; like
this mahogany armchair,
an heirloom passed down
the generations, an
antique no more when
split in two. Objects
are replaceable. Swipe
a card and buy five
more. Women are fickle.
Men are here to stay.
Leave he won’t; give
up for another’s claim—
never. Inadequacy will
drive a nice guy bad.
And he’s sick of
running, wants to
finish this race on top.
I’m bringing back my 2015 A-Z Challenge novella this July! In my June Agenda post, I announced that I will be rewriting Love Poetry for Camp NaNoWriMo. Now it’s time to plan! I’ve sketched out a plot; some things are the same, but a lot has changed. I still plan on incorporating poetry in the novella, most likely in the form of an epigraph before each chapter.
This poem is a revision of my poem, “Last in the Race,” posted for N is for Nice Guys. In this particular chapter, Whitmore throws a hissy fit in Jessica’s apartment when he suspects her of cheating. A bit different from what I wrote in the A to Z Challenge, but a scene I have explored in the past. So are you ready for Camp NaNoWriMo? I know I am! Looking forward to finally finishing this story. 🙂
He was cute—kind of short, and a little shy, but cute. He handed her a red plastic cup filled with spiked Hawaiian punch and invited her out onto the patio, away from the crowd. It was thirty-eight degrees outside, and an inch of snow dusted the wood floor of the porch, but Jessica followed him outside, without a jacket or sleeves, to escape the noise of the housewarming party. Two more guests had arrived, and her ears were beginning to ring from the twenty separate conversations going on around her, topped by a woman she had yet to identify, who had a hyena’s cackle for a laugh.
Jessica exhaled in relief, watched the steam of her breath dance and swirl above her head in the frigid air. She flung her arms over the banister and laid her face into the damp snow. “Ahhh, peace and quiet,” she said.
“You know, I read somewhere that thick, fluffy snow can actually absorb sound. Something about how the ice crystals in the snowflakes are made up. That’s why it always seems so quiet after a fresh snowfall,” he was babbling. It was adorable how nervous he was.
“What are you, a nerd or something?” Jessica joked.
He stretched out his hand. “Whitmore.” When Jessica only raised an eyebrow, he added, “Ok, I guess the name kind of confirms it.”
Jessica smiled—he has a sense of humor. “Sorry,” she said, “It’s just—that’s not what I heard inside.”
“I can’t imagine what you heard inside. If you could even hear anything at all. By the way, that woman with the obnoxiously loud laugh…”
“Oh my god, who is that?”
“Tonia. She’s the one in the red dress and has long curly hair. She’s my roommate’s girlfriend. That’s who I came with.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry you have to deal with that!” Jessica giggled and took at sip from her cup. Whitmore put his arm over her shoulder, pulled her into him in a bear-like side hug, and laughed into her ear. She wasn’t sure if her actions has invited him in for the close physical contact, but she didn’t push him away either. She settled in against his hip, and they turned toward the closed patio doors and watched the party silently continue inside, everyone’s lips moving but no sound coming out. It was calming.
“So how do you know the new homeowners?” Whitmore asked.
Jessica shrugged. She couldn’t say she knew anyone at the party. She’d come with Alex, but Alex ditched her the second they walked in to go mingle with Rebecca and her guests. Rebecca was purely Alex’s friend. They grew up together, were BFFs in high school, and followed each other to Queens University in Charlotte, where the three of them had attended college. Jessica never liked Rebecca, but she put up with her for Alex’s sake. Truth be told, Jessica thought Rebecca was a sneaky, unapologetic slut, and she stole Jessica’s boyfriend freshman year, the same guy she’d just bought this grandiose, three-story house with, patio, spacious back yard, and five-foot deep swimming pool included.
“Old friends,” Jessica finally answered, but if Whitmore had asked Rebecca’s fiancé, Jonathan, he probably would have said he didn’t know Jessica at all, having forgotten their four expensive dates together as broke college students to the African American Art Museum and Discovery Place in uptown, Scarowinds, and the movie theatre at Concord Mills, where they watched Wolfman and Jessica spent most of the time hiding behind Jonathan’s shoulder. He’d even forgotten their drunken make-out session on Alex’s futon. Jessica couldn’t get out of there fast enough, embarrassment written all over her face. Whitmore had swooped in just in the nick of time to save her.
“I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you are a very beautiful woman.”
It sounded awkward coming out of his mouth, as if he struggled to find the right words, but Jessica accepted the compliment, since most men couldn’t respectfully talk to a woman anyway—“Aye, sexy!” and “You bad!” being their common cat calls, as if that would merit them seven digits.
Would he ask her for her phone number next? She could only expect it.
“So do you live nearby?” he said instead.
“In these uppity ‘burbs?” Jessica rolled her neck sarcastically. “No, I live closer to town.”
They were quiet for several moments. Whitmore bounced his leg, shaking Jessica with him. She was attracted to his shyness—it was a relief from all the entitled men she was used to, who assumed they could con her out of sex without bothering to get to know her or even pursue a relationship. Still, she wished he would just ask her out already, before they missed their window of opportunity. Eventually someone would notice they were missing.
Inside she spotted Alex walking toward the doors. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “Where the hell have you been?” They were caught. Whitmore must have seen her too, because he stiffened and quickly removed his arm from around her. Jessica couldn’t help but chuckle; he really was a gentleman. She turned to face him, and his eyes revealed a hint of apprehension.
“Relax,” she purred. She placed her palm on the center of his chest and felt his heart racing.
“Beautiful woman make me nervous,” he said.
“That’s obvious.” She leaned in closer to him, put her lips to his ear. “Find me before you leave,” she said, and swiftly turned around and rejoined Alex, and the noise, and the party. She took one last look over her shoulder. Whitmore remained on the patio. He kept his eyes on his feet, but she noticed a smile slowly creep across his face. She had him. She only hoped he would muster the courage to seek her out after the party. She would gladly write her number down on his palm, slip it into his pocket before anyone saw them.
It is Short Story A Day May, and all this week the prompts are geared toward novelists! Today’s prompt asks us to imagine the first meeting between our protagonist and a secondary character. I chose Jessica and Whitmore, because, well, at one point he was a likeable guy, right? Jessica did chose to date him afterall. Unfortunately, when you give a mouse a cookie…
This week of SSAD prompts has really inspired me to bring my first novella, “Love Poetry,” back to life. I’ll talk more in depth about my plans for the story in a later post, but if you want to learn more about the characters, Whitmore, Jessica, Alex, and Bruce, check out my 2015 A to Z novella…