My first piece of published work was in my high school literary magazine and it was the following poem:
Tearing them apart
Each word piercing
Each silence threatening
Their precious love sacrificed
To bring him happiness
New danger never dreamed of
New threats never heard
At least it's not us
Tearing us apart
Each word brings horror
Each silence shaking our bodies
Our precious love destroyed
To bring him joy
New terror never imagined
New life abandoned
With no purpose but to teach me
What I was foolish to never learn.
It's funny to read that poem now, so many years later and wonder, "What the hell was that about, anyway?" Many of the poems I wrote early on were pretty abstract and rather angsty. I was a rather serious high schooler. In fact, my nickname was "Dead Serious."'
I continued writing poetry in college and when I was a sophomore I had two poems published in the college literary arts magazine. The first was a lighter poem for me and on this cold and wet and gray day, it makes me wish for the days I know are yet to come.
Breath of Spring
Just breathing in the air itself is intoxicating today. So let me breathe it in deep,
Let me take breaths so full
I become dizzy with delight.
I am dizzy with something.
Maybe it's the blue sky, that pale blue that
stretches and stretches
beyond the limits of horizon
and into the dimension of we.
You are my daffodil friend.
I say it's you dancing dizzily around me in your daffodil style all
dancing your dance of colors,
a stretching rainbow
across this great expanse of sky
and into imaginary lands.
In the spring of my junior year, I was contacted by a student taking a music composition class asking if she could use the other poem that had been published during my sophomore year. It was probably one of the most flattering things that had ever been said about my writing. How could I say no? That April I went to the recital where the composition students had their work performed. What I didn't know until that night, was that a second student had also chosen that same poem. The only difference was that person hadn't asked. It was hard to know whether to be flattered or offended by the lack of permission. Either way, it was still an incredibly surreal moment to hear my words sung by a stranger.
there was conflict in the sky
I was in the middle of it all.
Blue and white lay out on the left.
Black and gray covering the right.
Me, standing in between, awaiting the battle cry.
And it came.
with birds as they flew flew flew from the trees
into the very air that seemed to call for something,
that seemed to echo something,
something is coming soon,
And it came.
My senior year, I also had two poems published in the literary arts magazine. I was the editor so there may have been a slight bias. One of the poems was something I had written in response to the adaptation of my poem the year before. I have the vague memory of walking out of the recital hall that night and needing some time to myself. I went to one of my favorite places to sit outside, alone in the dark, and I let my thoughts wander as I tried to process what the experience meant to me.
connected only by the wind
I just don't understand
why my words
for your song
how did you find my voice
I thought it was gone
abandoned on some mountain
with a pair of wool socks
from that time I had
to leave in such a hurry
I am speechless
where words once were
there are tears
that won't fall
in my eyes
shadowing my vision
making me question
in that undefined space
between what was
and what is
it is there that you seem to sing.
To conclude this tour of Jessica's Poetry: From High School to Beyond, I will leave you with one of my more recent poems that I've been working on since one amazing night at the Aladdin Theater after seeing Josh Ritter perform his (then) new song Thin Blue Flame before it was released on an album.
I wanted you to know what it felt like
the first time I heard Thin Blue Flame
as the rest of the band seemed to disappear
from the Aladdin's stage into the depths of the darkness.
You stood on the very edge of the stage,
closed your eyes and opened up your voice,
lulling us down a plank into the wide open sea
leaving us to sink or to swim.
Wolves circled in anticipation.
Goosebumps rose from my skin
as tears welled slowly, then rolled
as a restless crowd grew still,
caught in the hypnotic snare, the rhythm consuming.
There are few moments in this life
that transcend all boundaries of time, of space,
those moments which become part of an eternal strand,
threaded, perpetual, true, and definite.
This moment was one of them.
I thought you should know.
|The sheet music for my song.|