Harbor

A life without breath is unable to fill the cracks
left by the impact—
stone against bone.
Forgiveness is easy, acceptance is
unavailable.

Glide through a clear, suspicious sky.
Past naïve dirt groves and
submarine streets, where
saline speeches cease to
matter.

Stumble through kerosene
kisses left by lovers
drowning with honor
and regret.

Picture pin-ups laid
across swollen steel, sliding
past olive branches, and seaweed, and
Aloha.

Tip-toe the line
separating dizzy from dismal.
Wonder
if you are the man you thought you would be.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Why

I want to know why:

1) I love avocados
2) I always instinctively go the wrong direction when there are two or more options
3) I like vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, but hate chocolate ice cream
4) I get uncomfortable watching TV shows like American Idol, where people humiliate themselves, yet other people find it entertaining
5) I order sandwiches/wraps/salads with tomatoes, but always wind up picking them out
6) I am normally confident and outgoing, but am shy in class
7) I always have a class that runs during the same time as the office hours of the professor/TA from whom I need the most help 8) I have coordination when it comes to dance, but not when it comes to sports
9) I’m tired all the time, even after I have just slept
10) I crack my neck when I’m nervous or anxious

I always always go in the wrong direction. No matter how much time I spend planning out my travels, I somehow manage to head in the opposite direction of where I originally intended to go. Getting off the Metro is the worst. By the time I make my way to the street level and stare at my two choices, my mind is flustered trying to quickly decide which path to take. I wouldn’t want to be perceived as a tourist, now would I? My brain does a little dance with itself, timed to the rhythm of my heart, which beats faster as the uncertainty grows. It’s a quick-step rather than a waltz, fast-paced and all over the place. Sometimes I’ll embark on the route that I genuinely believe is correct. Other times, I’ll go the opposite way of what I instinctively choose, hoping that I can essentially trick myself into ultimately going the right way. Still, no matter which method of misguided reasoning I use, I always wind up 3 blocks and 20 minutes late (this is including the times that I leave extremely early to avoid the inevitable lateness.) I guess I can’t really complain; the extra walking allows for my love of avocados and vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup to continue unashamedly.

Perspective

I was slowly walking down the street. Very slowly. The ice from the previous snowy days was slick with anticipation of my demise. I will not fall, I.will.not.fall. I said to myself over and over, frantically willing balance. Staring continuously at my feet, I failed to notice the man walking behind me until he was close enough for me to feel his breath on my neck, its warmth amplified by my flavorless-popsicle-like condition. My chest grew tight with fear and crisp breaths. I wanted to run away, quicken my step and somehow reach safety. I silently cursed my caffeine withdrawal and my penchant for fancy coffee drinks that fueled my one AM trek to Starbucks. Just as my heart began to reach a deafening decibel, the silence was broken by two icy words. “Excuse me.”

***********
You are making your way down the street like an errant Weeble, unsteady on your feet. How many times will you wobble before you fall down? You walk slowly, arms outstretched, with your eyes glued to the ice, as if you can stare it into melted submission. You’ve made it a few feet before you notice that you are not alone. A man is walking in your path, coming up closely from behind. You panic and immediately begin questioning why you couldn’t just make coffee at home. You just had to have a fancy white peppermint mocha in the Starbucks cup that fits perfectly into your right hand. At one in the morning. You’re such a non-caffeinated idiot. Before you can berate yourself any further, the man passes swiftly by. You think you hear him say something, but all you can really hear is your heart beating in your ears.
**************

She made her way down the street holding up the legs of her penguin print pajama pants. As she took another step with her left foot, she slid a few inches, suddenly forgetting her need for dry ankles, spreading her arms like she was priming for a rough landing. The ice patch stretched the length of the sidewalk, slippery remnants of the frigid weather from the days before. She was making her way to Starbucks for a fancy pick-me-up drink that would fuel the procrastination-induced frantic night of homework ahead. Behind her, a taxi driver was walking back to his cab, clutching his half-full 7-11 cup of coffee tightly in his hands. The roads had been hard to navigate the last few days, and he had to work overtime to make up for the lost fares. He passed the girl, eager to get out of the cold, saying a quick “Excuse me.” as he passed by.

Twenty Seconds

“Keys?“
“Keys.”
“Phone? Wallet?”
“Phone, wallet.”
The routine was performed flawlessly,
choreographed over the past twenty years.
His words echoed hers throughout the hallowed halls,
bouncing off the empty frames hanging loosely on the walls.

You can have the paintings, but I’ll be damned if you get the frames.

As he stepped outside, the cold air slapped him
hard across the cheek.
He brought his hand to his face, trying to ease the pain.

It was unforgiving, spreading
outward until it consumed
his entire body.
Numbly
he walked away from his house, and
his life, without
looking back.

Cycles

I.
Remember your first date.
The marina, the cheesy band and strands
of Christmas lights in July.
Breathe in the salty air that made your lungs sting.
But you didn’t tell him.
Let the warmth of the setting sun wash over you.

II.

Ask him who she is.
Throw his things out the window.
Wish that you lived higher than the second floor.
Smile as you walk over to the liquor cabinet
and grab his 40-year-old Scotch.
The one his father bought when he married his mother.
The one he worships.
The one he was saving until his son was born.
Take a giant gulp;
let the burn slide down to your toes.

III.

Run into your high school boyfriend as you are heading out.
Immediately see the gold bound over his left finger.
Hide your own hands, pale and naked.
Make small talk.
He has a blonde wife, two kids, a dog and a picket fence.
You have a phone bill and an empty apartment.

IV.

Question everything.
Maybe if you had tried harder.
You could have tried harder.
Promise to try harder.
You’ll be better.
You’ll be nicer, and sweeter, and cook more.
You’ll be more fun.
More spontaneous.
You’ll let go of the little things and throw caution to the wind.
You’ll do whatever he wants.
Try to make it work.

V.

Eat ice cream.
A lot of ice cream.
First chocolate caramel ripple.
Then mint mocha chip.
Call in sick.
You feel sick.
Lay in bed all day, wondering what went wrong.
You know what went wrong.
“You grew apart, the chemistry wasn’t right, it’s not you, it’s him.”
You’re pathetic.
Cry until your sides heave so much they ache.
Wonder, does this count as exercise?
Count as one glass becomes one bottle becomes three.
Let the sour liquid drain down to your heart,
numbing its laborious beats.
Everything is hazy.

VI.

Gather everything he has ever given you into a 16 x 12 box.
The books, old t-shirts, CDs. Keep Elvis Costello.
You are surprised that 6 years can fit into such a small space.
Push the box to the corner by the door.
Write in big bold sharpie your stuff.
Let the ink seep into your skin.
Watch it darken the tips with smudged imperfection.
Place your key, a key, on the counter gently.
Find home again.

(Only) Seeing Red

A generation sits
devoid of inspiration
to put words to page:
page turner—turning point—point blank range.

Shots fired.

She should be beautiful.
Coca-cola red explodes, like a shaken bottle flowing,
with syllables following
the curve of her body.

Eyes close to a clown’s nose open
on a sugar-coated, color-coded, overloaded
mess.
Distress!

A toro to its cape;
a planned escape.
The hero dies.
Lucy cries,

“Ricky, this is it.”

Glenna Lynne Schubert

**This poem was published in the Fall 2009 issue of Wooden Teeth, The George Washignton University Literay Magazine. You can find out more information on their website here: http://studentorgs.gwu.edu/woodenteeth