This piece was written for a class on poetry writing, and it’s the only thing I wrote for that class that I actually like. As an exercise in ekphrastic poetry, we were given postcards with works of art on them to inspire us; I can’t find the exact one I had, but mine looked very similar to the top image. Artist Ernest Lawson did many paintings of the area around Inwood.
I wrote this piece almost all at once very quickly, while sitting in the music building on campus. I might have been waiting for a flute lesson or rehearsal. It’s actually a song, which is true of many of my poems. I had been struggling in the poetry class for a while (I found the prof pretentious, and all the other students were lit majors), but once I started writing it as a song, this one just seemed to click for me.
When I met with the prof to revise this poem (which was the only thing I wrote that he remotely liked, either), he made some suggestions and I dutifully made corrections and handed it in. Then I published the original in the literary magazine, because the corrections ruined the rhythm of the song.
I ended up with a B in the class, which hurt my GPA. It’s the only college course I regret taking. I honestly haven’t written much poetry since.
If I were to publish this again today, I’d rearrange some of the stanzas, swapping the 2nd halves of the choruses so it ends with “You wonder why you’re lonely here…” instead of “They tell you…” and also swapping the second verse stanzas so “Let me see those bright eyes” comes first.
I wrote this on my bed listening to the rain in high school. “Llueve” in the title means “it rains” in Spanish, a language I studied throughout my entire school career.
It’s a pretty simple poem, more feeling than words. I don’t think it will surprise anyone that my high school poetry was heavily inspired by favorite poets are e.e. cummings and William Carlos Williams.
Once upon a time, back in my school days, I was on the staff of two literary magazines. I recently came across my copies of Perception (high school) and Confiscated (university) that I kept, so I decided to scan and share some.
Snippets from submissions on the front cover
The final quote from Battle Royale on the back cover
My involvement in these magazines was, at least at first, due to being dragged in the wake of the mad-genius creative tempest of two friends.
These two seemed to exist in a different reality, just slightly off from my own; it was a world I could see, could put my hand through the barrier, but dared not step into fully lest I start to come apart in the chaos. They introduced me to Rufus Wainwright and The Chronicles of Amber and Cowboy Bebop, and their idea of a party was eating ramen while watching Battle Royale, preferably followed by a paper simulation of the game using our own high school class as characters. They broke into abandoned buildings at night just to sit on the roof.
And they wrote. Even in high school, they wrote beautiful things that still stick with me to this day.
They put weird quotes on the back of every issue.
The three of us were in AP US History together.
These magazines are mainly a product of their creative energies. They did all the organization, design, and promotion. We published pretty much everything that was submitted (couldn’t afford to be picky) and our staff hand-stapled each copy of Perception to save printing costs.
We used a similar concept when we started this magazine at university.
I submitted some of my own work, both poetry and prose, for many of the issues; even back then I wrote under the name “Mei-Mei.” I’ll be sharing some of that poetry as well in the future.