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It's National Poetry Month!

Poetry was my gateway drug to writing. I wrote shamelessly and fearlessly, with teen-angsty superlatives about things I knew nothing about (love, death: you know, the Big Stuff). I still love poetry and still end up over-writing. But it's wordplay; I just can't get enough.

And since I haven't shared in a while...

Unreliably ever after

From the first bedtime story,

we are taught that we are not the authors of our own tales.

From the moment words begin to fly from our lips,

tentative, at first, spluttering and fluttering their wings

perched on the tip of our tongues to survey the whole wide world,

then dropping from our mouths

only to catch a breeze soaring

then falling

they tumble until they are

stamped out

trampled into the ground

We are snuggled into ruffled beds

pointing out the pretty pictures with chubby fingers

fluffing frilly pillows beneath our heads

we learn to hide behind the very stories

placed upon our princess-pyjama’ed laps…and yet

here is a maiden

who throws down her spindle to pick up a hammer,

the weight of it a comfort in her hand.

We are tucked under the covers,

pinching cheeks into a rosy glow, distracting others

from the blackened corners of our lives

hiding the real stories under blanketed shadows

where it is too dark to see the page…and yet

here is an errant knight

who is secretly a girl and who wields her armour

as protection from pointed prejudice.

We twirl our pigtails and pet our ponies

growing into women with unwanted hair and horses

whose riders don’t stop unless you

are glossy & helpless & mute

as we wait in our castles, endlessly spinning…and yet

here is a princess with brittle braids

who, unwilling to wait, shaves her head and

weaves a rope ladder to climb down from her tower.

We burn our once-upon-a-times

blowing out the match as the wind carries away the ashes of stories

that once pressed us between the pages

the ones that end with right shoe/proper foot, prince with assets & marriage with heirs.

And we learn that after the ever after,

the queens don’t give a feuding fuck about their warring kings

and instead they grow old together in

softening bodies wrinkled with laughter.

We shine a flashlight beneath the blankets,

freshly printed pages reflecting the kaleidoscopic vision

of our new narrative lenses

as we rewrite the endings that came too soon

or not so happily or not at all

The words take shape and peel from the pages

drying the dew from their wings

and flying out in the wide world

to sing a different story of

heroes and explorers and

rebel girls who go to school despite a bullet to the head

who throw down their brooms and pick up a book

and read it to the bitter end.

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