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

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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

Scents and Sensuality

When people think of sexuality, often the mind goes to the overt: provocative clothing, heavily made-up faces, aggressive behavior—I tend to think more of the subtleties. Maybe it’s a sly wink, the feel of silk against skin, or an aroma that is completely intoxicating. Yes, I am talking about scent.

Scent is perhaps one of the most underrated senses, but one that I feel plays most into sensuality. Scent can recall memories, like how the smell of cinnamon reminds me of Sunday brunch as a kid. It can announce your presence in a room (hopefully, again, in a subtle and pleasing way). It can set a tone, give confidence, and make memories-like the summer before college and the best high school friend a girl could ask for, evoked on the rare occasion when I wear Rosewood by Banana Republic.

I bought my first fragrance when I was ten years old. Emboldened by a newly increased allowance and the few inches that I had grown over summer, I started to think of myself as a new woman—one who should smell like one. I still remember the Tommy Girl bottle, a name I recognized among the overwhelming, higher-end eau de parfumes. I bought it partly because of the name, and partly because I could afford the thirty-dollar price tag. I brought it home, proud of my newfound sense of womanhood. But like when I tried on my first training bra, or when the first brackets were glued to my teeth, I felt uncomfortable from the first spritz. It was a grown-up perfume for a little girl. I can count the number of times I used it on one hand, often so overpowered by the scent that I was embarrassed to leave the house without taking a shower first. I had that bottle until recently, still mostly unused, tucked away at my parents’ house along with other mementos of my childhood that I didn’t want, yet couldn’t seem to part with completely.

My next foray into the world of fragrance came at fourteen. My father, who worked in sales before what he now refers to as his “six Saturdays and a Sunday” retirement, brought home some samples from a product expo he had been to. My mother, a devoted user of CK One for as long as I can remember, gave the tiny bottles to me. Most were small vials of the latest celebrity endorsed scents, but one box had three mini spray bottles that caught my eye—a sampling of the Victoria’s Secret line of scents. Gone were the training bras, but unfortunately not the braces. I was stuck in this in-between of childhood and womanhood, so I chose the girlishly named Pink as my new perfume. A potent concoction meant to allure men overpowered my schoolgirl crushes where I blushed at the mention of a boy’s name. Again I was a little girl in an adult world, and the bottle soon began to collect dust among my stuffed animals and softball trophies.

Even though I clearly wasn’t ready for a signature scent at fourteen, I loved (and still do) walking the aisles of the local drugstore, carefully picking out shampoo that smelled like jasmine and soaps that left a hint of rose and peony on my skin. To me, it’s these choices that represent the ultimate sensuality.  The power of allure, and mystery, and innocence that can leave your mark on a situation; to this day, one of the greatest compliments I receive is “You smell great.” (which, coincidentally, happened the day I sat down to write this piece, while standing outside of a doctor’s office waiting with a perfect stranger).

Today, I do have a signature scent. I found it by accident, a gift from a high school friend whom I assume it didn’t suit. It’s classic and chic and makes me feel empowered. If asked, I am happy to share my secret, yet encourage everyone to find their own; it’s a part of finding yourself.

Failing the Mean Girls

When I was in middle school, this group of girls bullied me. They would call my house and hang up, say things to me in the hallways and then finally wrote a terrible letter to me outlining all of these things that were “wrong” with me.

But the funny thing was, no matter how I was upset by the letter (and I read and re-read it many times) I couldn’t get over one thing: the horrible grammar. So, I took out a red pen and did what I do best…I edited their note. The next day at school I handed it back to them and said “I gave this a C. When you’re ready to turn in your next draft, I’ll be happy to take a look at it.” They never bothered me again.

This is what I would say to my younger self: No matter what anyone says, you have unique talents. Believe in them, embrace them, and display them proudly. No one can bring you down unless you allow them to. Your talents, no matter what they may be, are your greatest defense-one that can be handled peacefully and with grace. No matter how hard it may get, continue on with dignity. In the end their names will fade, the pain will dull, but your integrity will get you through. I promise.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

**This essay was written as part of the MTV Voices campaign to speak out about bullying. The article, and their website can be accessed here: http://voices.mtv.co.uk/2012/01/failing-the-mean-girls/

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.