Eight

When I was ten-years-old, I met
then President William Jefferson Clinton—Bill, for short.
Frosty cheeked and underdressed, I stood waiting outside
an airline hanger, South Korea, of all places.
Bomber jacket and relaxed grin, I was enthralled.
Quick handshake sent tingles of warmth, outer-body experience.
Mother said, “Wash your hands.” Pretended naiveté.
My first sexual experience said in later years.

The first time I had my heart broken
I wasn’t in love. At least I think.
Yet the pain! Oh the wretched, debilitating pain!
All that time wasted. I’d kick myself today
if that feat were humanly possible, of course.
All the clichés are true: time, space, perspective.
I hate them instinctively: hurry up and wait.
The old man in the sea had patience.

I’m not the story you want to hear—
white, middle-class nuclear family, two kids and all.
But an identity? Now that’s the tricky part.
White: the absence of color, the blandest taste,
produces power and fear—but I’m absent, remember?
Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder,
not harder or smaller, tighter—oh how I lament!
I grew up in a cardboard box; repeat.

My first kiss was a short, comical relief.
Five years since Bill; I, still holding on,
finally realized he’d moved on (to my dismay!)
It was sweet and genuine. He was eighteen
and told me he loved me. I reciprocate
not knowing what it meant, honestly not caring.
I once tried counting all I’d kissed. de-press-ing;
didn’t feel until twenty (boy I didn’t love).

Dreams are liars. You can’t just walk away
from mental prison fueled by fatigue, desire, Ambien.
Came to me the first time I ever
talked to Eddie. We’d just met. Mutual friend—
something sparked an undistinguishable flame, his & mine.
Kindred or kindling, charged by kind, inquisitive eyes.
There is beauty in a stranger knowing secrets>
Human to human—until we are all ashes.

The couches are not as comfy as television
depicts. Just a room, Kleenex at the ready.
Ten years seems longer, when it’s only twice.
Three “lost” as if I’d simply misplaced them.
Trauma and textbook, 2009 was a bad year.
Grief in waves, peaks and valleys. Mostly peaks—
the hidden mind, once opened, cannot be closed.
Boy! What I have gained! A new life.

The first time I saw my Father cry
we were standing on a grassy patch where
we had once been before. Hugged so tight,
in front of tourists, marble, and granite: monuments
to great men. Before me stood a great
man. Pulled up by bootstraps and ethics, things
long thought forgotten: stockboy to Bigshot—my
American dream. The past, an obstacle, if allowed.

After school I’d explore the forest, uninhibited, fearless
behind the YMCA, my older brother 100 yds away.
The world an oyster, I the shiny pearl.
Secret caverns hidden from view; gushing waterfalls
I never cried, the scrapes and bruises perfunctory.
I wish I could remember more, my youth.
But I merely catch glimpses of blurred figures.
Except fruit-flavored Mentos, a smell sickeningly sweet.

Atoms

You once told me,
quite defeated—
“I look at rocks.”
Human history started by a single grain.

Face flushed, I retreat
into myself—
turtle without its shell
A single grain seeps through weathered scales.

Near misses and stars mingle
ignore the signs; it would be too easy
to be happy
with a single grain.

Count rings of a tree,
lines on a face
tell a time we’re too afraid of—
wasting a single grain.

A spark, a continuous flame
flickers and wavers and hovers-
doesn’t extinguish an unfed hunger
for a single grain.

Business casual covers,
mortgages bind,
losing sight of a tiny,
single grain.

I will tell you someday,
quite proudly—
“I look at rocks.”
and marvel at every single grain.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Fortune

Ascend the stairs, trembling-
quietly.
Follow the cues in silent obedience.
You’ve never believed,
So why now?

Dimly lit wrinkles
show every earned line.
Wallpaper soaked with smoke
and secrets.
Is it time?

Sweaty palms, skeptical-
hopeful.
A curtain of beads clink in calling.
We can tempt fate
But can we change it?

A long life
some vague list of common attributes,
of your rights and
wrongs, decide:
What happens next?

Signs, stars, chances-
they will all align
in your favor,
of course.
Is this how it works?

Pay the price;
more than you thought.
But hey, it’s a bargain
to know the future.
Do we really know anything?

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Brooklyn

I.

You are my near miss
-a cruel joke penned by Mr. Allen
leaving more questions than answers.

II.

A walk in the shadows
does nothing to conceal
a dream within a dream
we regress, in the end, all of us.

III.

Pointed toes and straight arms
poised for perfection
years of bloodied soles
wince with each phantom step.

IV.

Melodies without a hook
is that why we are stuck?
seen a hundred times
in the darkest parts of Instinct.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Bruise

Even before the blast
the Blow hit hard
a tidal wave of expected pain
leaves only silence
with sore bones
and broken capillaries
the pigment bleeds
like ink through ash and flesh
time passes in
discoloration
first black then purple then yellow
a Change of seasons
leaves a forever reminder
a soft spot under hard cement
the sky has never looked so blue.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Eras

They call us Millennials
and screenagers
not pioneers
or visionaries.

They say that we’re fickle
and vain
not wishful
or meticulous.

They cry us restless
and wasteful
not ambitious
or quick-witted.

They know we did not create the steam engine
or the cotton gin
but we are constantly moving
connecting; Growing.

They use iPods, Flip Cams,
and YouTube and Facebook
children of the baby boomers
we are blasting through.

They understand we’ve seen war
and disaster and death and divorce
like those before us
aren’t we all the same in the end?

They neglect to notice we’re whimsical for a white picket fence
and 2.5 children
who we will one day look
with shaking heads.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Bright

Etched gold gemstone
circle green aquamarine
solid hand band
covered finger lingers.

Raven haired glare
open mic light
parted lipped quip
spotlight stage aged.

Crowd silence violent
cracked clinked drink
smile drawn yawn
Final year fear.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

Mute

To sing like a nightingale,
sultry and sweet,
I’d give every chord in my throat,
every step from my feet

Soleless and slowly,
I would weep,
as the strums of my guitar,
make my Father believe

In rhythm and chances,
encounters and beats,
melodic notes to accompany,
my everyday feats

Each note would spread,
out from within me,
ankles to toes to elbows to nose,
body set free

Every nerve, every tendon,
tingling with heat,
throughout my entirety,
a starfish laid across a beach

If I had a choice, I’d raise up my voice,
decibels beyond defeat,
echoing from ear to ear,
raising bodies from seats

To sing like a nightingale,
sultry and sweet,
I’d give every second,
until again we could meet.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

More Than Words

I sit trying to find the words to describe how I am feeling. Words have always been my pals, my childhood companions that dared to dream with me, and aided in mending my broken hearts. Yet here I am, grasping for eloquence, for the “right thing” to say.

I’ve read the words of my peers, whose hopes are similar to mine—that their gifts with prose will somehow change who they are. Shield them. Define them. But it all feels so empty. The lines are aesthetically pleasing, thoughtful, and well composed yet they lack something. They lack heart.

Heart is something that cannot be gained by beaded bracelets or an affinity for the obscure. Trying to be special, to be different is a defeat in and of itself, isn’t it? How do we move past all the layers we add to ourselves and reveal the rawest flesh? No pretense. I’ve sat here today trying to figure out what that actually means. My love of old movies and peppermint patties and my unfailing belief that everyone should have a theme song just isn’t it. Sure, these are factors that contribute to my personality, but what about my soul? What about the cosmic imprint that will outlast any word that I could ever muster. So instead I try desperately to remember the experiences. The smell of my island, the feeling of laughter as it barrels out of me, in an uncontrollable fit of living.

As I try in vain to express an emotion, to expel the discomfort that has taken over my every conscious thought, I fail. No, tonight words are not my friend. They are reminders of my shortcomings, of my limitations, of my humanity. But they are all I have.

More Than Words

The smell of holiday ham in September
prepared with the movements of memory
and diabetic hands
fills my ungrateful teenage soul.

My oily fingertips fish for quarters
in large, dusty jars that hold pieces
of time that existed before me,
thinking pennies weren’t worth the effort.

My tongue is unsatisfied
with the Pepsi products offered.
I prefer Coke.
I prefer air-conditioning.

The crackle of an old T.V.
chronicles the ecstatic contestants
collecting their treasures
But I was the real winner.

This is how I look today—
A dull ache with no discernable origin,
waves of confusion, and wanderlust strike
all meaning from whispered syllables.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”
As if I simply misplaced him.

Hula

Salt wind weaves through
knowing tides;
heels pound sandcastle pavement,
rhythm piercing
bone and
marrow.

Nature crowns
knight lovers;
dove lace draped
across an unmade
bed.

Sky weeps
crimson beads, molten
ancestral sketches,
desperate
to preserve antiquity.