Dream Variations

Dream Variations

by Langston Hughes

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

I often wonder whether I know the true meaning of freedom when I’m encased in whiteness, when others’ first impressions of me neither reflects my culture nor who I am. But I think that, though Hughes was most likely referring to the sorrowful plight of the African-American, the poem might very well refer to me as well.

There have been so many times when all I’ve wanted to do is scream. The stress and the overwhelming desire to give up becomes so strong that I feel like I’m bursting from the inside out, like I’m filled with helium and, if I’m not held to the ground, I will somehow fly off in the far distance and return deflated and alone. “To fling my arms wide…” That’s what I’d rather do; to dance and whirl somewhere between sanity and madness, until the whiteness of hospital walls and sedating pills are done. Then, and only then, can the cool of night, that time when everyone sleeps and only I remain restless, come on gently as I fill page after page of writing the darkness that threatens to escape into society’s rigid, pale world.

“That is my dream!” To be able to give it all up (“fling my arms wide”) and face my responsibilities, my duties, the constricting expectations of functioning citizenship, and dance and whirl in their faces until all I do is write, write, write away my life, my sadness, my joys, my soul… then finally “rest at pale evening,” that place between doing and done, where night comes tenderly and I can finally understand the meaning of true freedom… “Black like me.”


Enchanted Words

Enchanted Words

A man’s words are manifestly more seductive than the awkward actions taken in the game of seduction. Flowers and chocolates are not as persuasive, and gifts are only a measure of what can be afforded rather than what can be surrendered. I’d rather have your heart than your money and your tongue than your gifts.

Perhaps it’s because I am a wordsmith and as such I know the power of words and the weight they hold on the soul like an anchor that holds down a vessel even as the ocean continues to swirl around us. Like metal that is melted in fire to mold, words set aflame something inside me that is capable of forging me into anything it wants with your stolen kisses and timid touches, and the words you immortalize in your writing.

But words can also take from me what I don’t want to give, bending me to its spellbinding will even as I fight to keep control of my own words, to make them vague enough for you to keep guessing but powerful enough to enchant you like the minx sorceress I’ve become. But your words are slippery and unpredictable where mine are made of stone, casting me into the dangerous waters of your puerility and watching me sink to the bottom where your words anchor me down to your soul and my words sink their fangs into your soft neck.

** Photo by Reiz (http://reizdrawing.deviantart.com/art/Enchantress-626821931)

Love is an Echo

Love is an Echo

In order for an echo to be heard, a sound needs to be made.  The sound of love is oftentimes the most prevalent sound that lasts long into the echo.  But love is not always the sweet sound of wind chimes singing in the breeze or waterfalls cascading in the distance.  Sometimes love is the sound of sobbing in the dark or the heart-wrenching silence of wanting someone you can’t have and watching her from a distance.  Those sounds last well into the years until the echo is all that is remembered and the original sound has long since faded.

Some try to petrify the echo in time with deposits of tears and hopeful yearning, reaching back into the past to capture something that had never been there.  But ultimately, an echo is just an illusory craving for something heard only by the bearer of the echo as it perennially resonates in his head until he believes that somehow she too can hear his heart beat against his chest with the sounds of a love she never knew existed.

And when the echo evanesces, the clamorous ringing of loss becomes its replacement so that instead of feeling the sting of unrequited love anymore, he hurts for a love he could no longer remember having forgotten.


Unrequited Love” by Pichu

** Featured image by Zeiva (http://zeiva.deviantart.com/art/Echo-33587678)


One night, when fate had separated us and I knew I was losing you slowly, a fireball visited me in the darkness and woke me from my sleep. Having awoken, I could no longer see it, but felt you writhing inside me like a Dantean character clawing his way out. I held on to my aching chest as if heart-stricken, my beating pounding for the two of us, and collapsed upon the floor on my knees, gulping the breaths you were gasping for. The tears streamed down uninvited as my head warred against the idea that you suffered, that pain engulfed in a backdraft. My soul struggled to understand the sudden loss of yours emptying out like disgorged victuals on an irreverent altar of oblation; I, your sacrifice on a pedestal, and you the profane priest that held a knife across my throat. So I cried out to the God that hears even the desolate whispers of His beloved sinners, but not for me; I murmured your name over and over again like an ancient incantation in another tongue, the image of your burning flesh impressed upon me so that the pain of losing you over and over again would escape in the repetition like blisters forming upon my skin. And, in the end, I collapsed, exhausted and afraid that my intercession had not reached the inner sanctum of Heaven where angels gather to worship and convey messages from His people, that your own guardian angel had abandoned you in the darkness of your room where you fervently prayed like a virtuous saint, longing for the hankering of a second chance.


“Angel Underground” by Michael Reineke


Two pellucid pearls were placed in the palms of my hands, each serving a divine purpose, both proof that God’s unwavering love cannot be unveiled by mere human experience. Each pearl came with a choice that had to be made: one of true love and the other of falling in love, both destined for me, neither of which could interfere with the other. And so I chose the shinier pearl of loving and being loved, and brandished it around my neck, to cherish closest to my soul, two flames burning in the same hearth, where I could be reminded that unconditional, pure love exists even in a fallen world. I placed the other pearl of falling in love upon the ring finger of my left hand, nestled close to the palm as a testament that romance and love sometimes intertwine to blossom the mingling of two hearts and meld them into one.

But humanity, in its brokenness and sinful nature, was not meant to hold such loves for their fate is one destined for righteous holiness or holy condemnation. Perfect love on Earth only had only come once, and the gifting of pearls had become so rare in its benefaction that only few had received such blessing. But too late did I realize that I had been among the blessed few because I had taken for granted the pearls that had adorned me for years, and, in doing so, I had forgotten their divine appointments to show me God’s love in its purest forms. My soul burned for the attentions of the heart, and my heart yearned only for fealty, but all I wanted was to appease my aching, troubled mind with the distractions of the flesh, and so God, in His infinite wisdom, stripped me of the pearls, leaving only the husk of a charm and the monotony of an overused band, both still with me, but devoid of the purity that had bound them to me.

And so somewhere between the storms and tsunamis, between losing all hope and drowning in misery, I lost God’s message and the beauty of His pearls, for it was never meant for me to hoard or to abuse; it was meant to remind me of His timeless love. The pearls, with their exclusive purposes in my life, the gifts within them shining forth the purity of God’s love to humanity, were meant to remind me of His love during the times they would not complement my heart and soul, when my mind would wage war against both heart and soul, and bury me in the burning pyres of depression.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten the way pearls feel in the palms of my hands when they are so lovingly entrusted to me.



Epistolary Reflection

To a Younger Me,

Don’t be fooled by obsequious cliches that wrap sultry fingers around your values and choke the life out of them while delivering hollow kisses like blows bundled in shiny wrapping paper that only conceal the decay within.  Don’t give ear to siren calls whose voices offer a knowledge not their own while luring you to the unholy penitence of contrition, surrounding you in the treacherous cliffs of cloaked deceit and the falling rocks of duplicity that rise from an ocean of mesmeric beguiling and subtle trickery.

Don’t fall prey to the beauty of the senses that entice the sensuality of your being, stealing your sweet innocence in the murky fringes of your inner esthetics and heightening an experience not meant to be yours.  You do have a sixth sense found in the brushstrokes of everything you write that, sadly, you will not discover until it’s too late and the pills have already sedated your awareness.

Don’t love frivolously or blindly for not everyone deserves to explore the depths of your beating heart nor exploit the vastness of its expanse; love with eyes wide open and palm-side up, not to receive what others have to proffer since their offerings are not always balms for the soul, but to give freely without losing sight of those whom you love the most and of who you are to just you.

Let the sun shine bright in your eyes where it can penetrate the closed lids of your own fears, but savor those moments of shade when darkness pays you a visit in a chariot of clouds and your words spill hopelessly upon my page.  Though your future holds very few oases in the deserts of your life, drink deep of the purity of the hidden waters that moisten your swollen tongue, gives voice to your scorched soul, and braces you for the woman I am today.  epistle


I was young then when my mother was a social smoker and my father a jovial alcoholic. They called me Karina because it was short for Karen, though it really wasn’t. The first time I saw past their plastic smiles, I was bleeding all over newspapers in the backseat of my father’s car, having fallen – or been thrown off – the bed at two-years-old, too young to understand their fighting, but not too young for the sudden awareness of the counterfeit faces they now wore; and I quickly realized that the deep gash on my leg had not been the only part of me bleeding.

Tell it to my future self when the heart bleeds deeper than a wound, and the wound cannot heal itself for when the heart breaks it leaves fragments of shrapnel embedded in the soul like the bullet my father still has in his leg from a trip to El Salvador and can no longer remove because he waited too long to see a doctor (did I wait too long to love you?). I learned early on that the ocean does not want to swallow me up; that life on shore had already successfully done that; that crab-hunting had become a customary bullying that I had enjoyed for longer than I had stayed, where pain was most forgotten when I inflicted it instead of garnered it in my bones.

Love was a golden word that looked more like bronze corroded by time rather than a shiny band around my finger. It was no more a halo that sealed my faith than it had become a dagger under the breast, where my heart pumped too close to its blade, and so silenced itself to stealth mode, evading the enemy within. Not that my family did not love, but simply that they had been bruised one too many times under the skin where no one could see the contusions that branded them with family members’ names so that their own reactions to love was abrasive and swollen much like being welted with my father’s belt, the one with his name branded onto the leather strap and beaten into my skin.

Having lost my voice within a sleeping bag that had time-capsuled abuse, I found it lingering in the halls of my high school that first friendless year. It was casually perusing through the pages of my experience where I first fell in love with words and they bookmarked me, where they became a reflection of my emotions, echoing in the journals that still hide between my mattress and the box spring, seeping into my dreams like ink onto parchment to remind me that my heart still beats in my chest though no one hears it, that despite the invisibility that followed me in the shadows of disillusionment and struggle, I was still alive, blood pumping through my veins with such vigor that cutting them only made them breathe life into another’s soul.

That was when my wanton affairs began, novels shamelessly dancing naked in my head even as I read them to no one; poems struggling to escape the shackles of poverty and the Welfare system that wrapped its stubby fingers around my throat but could not strangle the words within, an underground railroad having been carefully built to escape the master in a labyrinth of other people’s words, other people’s dreams; love letters left unmailed to a lover unknown but who would come to me decades later in another chapter with no name. I had cheated life by fighting back and he despised being cuckolded by one so young so he bound me in the chains of conformity and pietism, numbing the poet I had become, but not killing her for God had made him promise to not lay a finger on my soul. But somewhere in the expanse that had become my small world, something died and left a fetal corpse in my womb, calcifying it there forever until the weight of it brought me into a darkness from which I never really recovered.

And so the pills filled the cracks in the sidewalk, grouting me until I lay flat under everyone’s feet, pretty but unstable like rotting wood under a platform made of marble. Years of psychotherapy and experimenting with new drugs fused into my being like too many mixed drinks at Donnalee’s party when I had to be carried down the stairs and taken home in a dream I can’t remember, though I do recall being sober for a year after that. I had lost a battle with Fate, and she stitched a new dress for me made out of my own synthetic synapses and the heartstrings that had once played music for the Muses, a blue one that wrapped around me so tight my breath came in shallow puffs, a Victorian queen in modern-day America. And as the poems within my rib cage threatened to implode, I heard the whispers of requited love hovering near my ears where the buzzing of self-doubt tried to drown it away in a cynical grave of despair, but only managed to make it swell until it filled my head with confidence like monarch butterflies until the poetry burst forth in cascades of beautiful knowledge mingled with experience, once again filling the sponges of my dried soul.

So I wrote, and I wrote until my heart bled on each line, until each word was bloated with emotion and I trembled with desire, until I convinced myself that my words, though unread, held the golden love I’d always yearned, the truth I always sought, the acceptance I thought I needed. I wrote until I was loved with such radiance I could not see it at first, but felt it all around me in wind-swept chasm, penetrating my beliefs with such honesty I knew I was being seen through the blinded eyes of a seer, who told me that my destiny was to know that I am loved but never to own it as mine. And I dared, I tread through the unknown like a Joan of Arc into battle, wielding the double-edged sword that cut with words and lay open the rawness of my heart, my soul, my deeds. For it was that brilliant love that helped me see beauty even in the darkness of a world not my home, and that told of secrets whispered only to me, to tell no one and everyone at once.

On Wearing Masks

Masks unveil the hidden, for if one needs to wear a mask, it means there is something to hide. But if the mask is a good one, others never suspect that the mask is, in fact, not my face.  They have seen it so much, though, and so often that they have come to believe it is not simply a mask that I wear in order to protect my secrets and insecurities, my opinions and maladies, but they believe that it is who I actually am.  But I know it is not, and sometimes the illusion of mask becomes so heavy in its deception that it is harder to hold up with only a strap. And I can feel it slipping ever so slowly, the holes for my eyes covering my lids, making it harder to see clearly; my mouth now distorted so that my grin looks more like a smirk or a sardonic leer; my hands shaking to readjust it even as others watch with dismay or amusement (I’m still uncertain of what they actually see).

And if I only wore one mask, it would not be surprising  that the mask would become aged and begin falling apart with cracks like wrinkles suddenly touching the edge of existence.  Where once there were cheeky colors and ballsy retorts upon an intriguing calavera mask, now there is only the inevitable fading like a relinquishing submission to expected conjectures that only lead to spiritual death.  Ah, if there were only one mask.  But there are too many interchanging masks for me to keep up with, one for each watchful faction of spectator just waiting to see the sinful face of reality, the pallid one that conceals what makes me the most vulnerable like a washed up crab along the shores of oblivion, glaring into the sun of others while slowly shriveling up and dying.

Even crabs hide behind shells, and so even I hide behind the masks that you have papier-mâchéd onto my face.

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the Gap

Many who know me know that I absolutely hate clichés. They are verbal excuses to not think beyond the obvious and, instead, to rely on hollow phrases that have been told way too often to hold any true meaning. Clichés are like air-filled balloons that, despite how high they may go, will always be empty on the inside and will always lose their buoyancy. They are designed to not delve under the cracking surface to witness the wild tempest and ride the dangerous waves of a broken friend.

The worst clichés are religious ones, the ones that quote out of context in order to offer vacant reassurances and false hope (but for whom?). These clichés are more dangerous because they usurp the beauty of the truth and warp it into the speaker’s own selfish fears of having to “stand in the gap.” Which makes me ask: what does “standing in the gap” really mean? Is it only about praying for one another? Or it is walking the walk with someone else who needs some hand-holding until she is strong enough to walk alone and, perhaps, able to hold someone else’s hand? And I wonder: who will stand in the gap and hold the hand of a needy friend through the darkness of her days when she struggles in the waiting and suffers alone?




When I was younger, I was afraid of crazy, maniacal killers that lurked under my bed rather than the iconic monsters that lived in my closet.  It turns out that I was wrong.  There is so much more to lose in a closet than under a bed because those secrets hidden between the floorboards will catch up to me no matter how long they’ve been buried.  Those pesky little skeletons can only stay still for so long before squirming back into my life and wreaking havoc where stability had once reigned.  And when they’ve escaped their intended confinement, everyone living in the house is suddenly affected and confronted with the fear of pretenses and dismissals, affirmations and judgments.

But how was I supposed to know that these skeletons could lay so dormant, obediently repressed in the darkest corner of the closet where I’d forgotten all about them,  only to rise up with the vengeance of having been scorned and hidden away for far too long?  And who am I to rage against the pain of having lost and gained, only to lose again? No one but a specter with skeletons in her closet.

Bone Church, Czech Republic