Love Song for a Black Hole

 

I feel every vibration of every atom in your warm breath

as you sigh into my ear- a humid, ephemeral softness

which takes me away with it.

I inhale and feel the scent of charcoal and a fresh Marlboro

enter my nose and escape through my throat.

 

While I’m still sitting with you on the bed,

I feel the laugh of the girl in the pink house down the street

and a pulsing star seven galaxies away,

desperately holding onto its last bit of life.

One day that will be us.

 

And I’m going to miss you, you know.

Whenever we’re gone,

and you’re a black hole,

and I’m a particle of dust on some particle of a planet,

I’ll still miss you.

 

I’ll whizz around, trying to balance myself,

Frantically shifting charges.

But really that search for equilibrium

will be a search for you.

Somewhere light years away.

 

Do you think we’ll ever meet again?

I think maybe one day,

we’ll both be floating around out there,

and when we collide,

the universe will collapse

 

 

And do you know where we’ll go?

To the same lost place as your sighs and those laughs.

Peonies

White peonies, bouqueted with a silk bow,
are tossed aside, having been discarded like time,
on a gilded vanity and rest now atop
something old. Something new is being read
on the corner chaise through fogged eyes. “My dear please
meet me there…” scrawled hastily in smudged black ink.

A quick knock- a proposal to talk,
black tied and tired, her father enters the emptied suite.
Her vision veiled, she quickly wipes away
the obstruction with an unsteady hand
and glimpses the aisle through the closing door-
an ode to springtime, the walkway adorned
with meticulously spaced red tulips.

Frustrated murmurs become muddied
as the mahogany makes a click.
Like a well-trained hound, her father zeros in
on the note tightly gripped by her left hand
and realizes despite effort to silence the predicted objection
it has, in spite, arrived early and unspoken

on the back of a lavender and cream Save the Date
which is now holding three names instead of two.
Too late, she guards the note behind a mess of
lace and chiffon, but her father shakes his head
and extends an expectant hand, palm up.
Surrendering, the letter is lent with reluctance: something borrowed.

Brows knit over sharp green eyes as they absorb the black.
The hint of a smile begins to erode his stoic expression,
as it blossoms slowly around the mans mouth
and the edges of his eyes. The note is returned
gently as he looks searchingly into something blue.
Satisfied, he points to the clock and exits with the soft grin still on display.

A gape. A laugh. With resolve and resolution, she readies herself,
and unraveling the arrangement, takes the silk bow
from the peonies to tie back her unbridled tresses.

family

in the chilled dampness

of the shadowed up-room,

i sat atop warped boards with you

quite still.

 

i watched your fingers,

marrow-hued and long,

as they stroked framed paper faces

and shook.

 

glass captured phantoms

blurred- melted from wet.

drowned by bedewed, lymphatic ink,

they wept.

 

your same-sogged eyes moved,

focusing on mine,

while a smile rivered your mouth.

a sigh.

Midnight Tableau

Embracing,

two silhouetted figures danced

slowly behind a sheer chartuese curtain.

 

Under the streetlamp,

Lyla sighed listlessly-

her ghostly breath momentarily blurring the scene.

 

The final notes of Debussy’s nocturne

spilled from the second story window

while Lyla continued to stare

 

unblinkingly,

and swayed alone

beneath the pale, unforgiving moon.

Family Ties

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This is my sister eating a ridiculously huge slice of pizza over the summer. We went to Papalino’s for dinner with my dad and had a laugh as per usual, all the while infusing the lighthearted evening with intellectual and often times satirical observations on life, flower boxes, and the absurdness of modernity. We found excessive amusement in a passing pedestrian who, frazzled and red from rigorous exercise, was sporting holed black dress socks protruding stupidly from her New Balance sneakers, a sweaty aerobic jumpsuit she must have stolen from a Buns of Steel set and, the cherry, a Marlboro hanging cinematically from her cracked lips. Gold.

I really like my family. And I know how lucky I am to be able to say that. Our dynamic is that of chaotic fluidity; we’re all certifiably insane, and we fight like the Osbournes, but they’re mine and they’re literally the most fantastic people ever. We’ll fly and fall and feud, but we’ll do it necessarily and we’ll do it knowing we’re but tenacious parts of an unyielding and allegiant whole.

My Top 10 Books

As a passionate bibliophile, it was immensely difficult compiling this list of my top 10 books. What I ended up with is not the most original catalogue of favorites, but hey, the majority of these novels are universally adored for a reason. I’ve decided to omit plays, volumes of poetry, series, and books of short stories from this list, as it would have been literally impossible to decide what to include in such a limited space if I’d been choosing from such a wide variety of literary works. I would have never been able to compare John Updike’s shorts against Tennessee Williams’ plays, or Allen Ginsberg’s poetry to Harry Potter without my brain hemorrhaging. So, for the sake of my mental wellbeing, I’ve decided to feature on this top 10 list, books which are either standalone novels or memoirs.

10. Paper Towns

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Author: John Green

Published: 2009, Speak

Pages: 320

Quote: “It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.”

Blurb: This book gets my number 10 spot for its smart, well-paced plot; clever, relatable, realistically flawed characters; quotable dialogue; and John Green’s incredible ability to articulate the visceral emotions encompassing young adulthood.

9. On the Road

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Author: Jack Kerouac

Published: 1957, Viking Press

Pages: 320 (original published version)/ 416 (original scroll version)

Quote: “They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

Blurb: Jack Kerouac’s largely autobiographical account of his time spent “on the road” during the late 1940′s and early 1950′s is quite literally the book that defined a generation. Kerouac explores the ideas of uniformity, belonging, and purpose in this vibrant and candid staple of the Beat Generation.

8. Franny and Zooey

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Author: J.D. Salinger

Published: 1961, Little, Brown

Pages: 210

Quote: “It’s everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so — I don’t know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you’re conforming just as much only in a different way.”

Blurb: Franny and Zooey originally appeared as two separate novellas published by J.D. Salinger in The New Yorker. The book is one of many stories Salinger tells about his fictional Glass family. Taking  place over the course of two days in the Glass home in Manhattan while Franny is having a nervous breakdown, Salinger is able to create an honest and thought provoking narrative. The book’s themes focus heavily on spirituality,  modernity, and self awareness. The titular characters are so realized, it feels as if you’ve grown up in the Glass family yourself.

7. AtonementImage

Author: Ian McEwan

Published: 2001, Jonathan Cape

Pages: 371

Quote: “It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.”

Blurb: This book broke my heart, and I still adore it. The novel, set in predominately in England during World War II, tells the story of Robbie Turner and Cecilia Tallis, whose lives, and everyone’s around them, are altered when Cecilia’s young sister, Briony, sees something happen between the two of them that she doesn’t fully understand. The book explores the consequences of small actions, lies, and secrecy, with larger themes of forgiveness, guilt, perseverance, and time.

6. The Great Gatsby

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Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published: 1925, Charles Scribner’s Sons

Pages: 218

Quote: “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Blurb: One of the most famous and acclaimed novels in American history, this book flawlessly captures the power of hope and the American dream, as well as the dangers of living in the past, and the dark pitfalls of excess and obsession.

5. The Bell Jar

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Author: Sylvia Plath

Published: 1963, Heinemann

Pages: 288

Quote: “I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.”

Blurb: Sylvia Plath was first an foremost a poet. Her novel is infused with lush imagery and inspired metaphors full of depth and veracity. The novel follows Esther, a young college girl, as she deals with mental illness (namely depression) and coming to terms with her place in life and how this affects the quest to forge her own identity.

4. Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir

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Author: Emma Forrest

Published: 2011, Other Press

Pages: 224

Quote: “Time heals all wounds. And if it doesn’t, you name them something other than wounds and agree to let them stay.”

Blurb: Emma Forrest is an acclaimed young writer who created this memoir as a sort of thank you letter to her late psychiatrist, Dr. R, who passed away in the early 2000′s of cancer. Having not told any of his patients he was terminally ill, he continued seeing them up until the last week of his life. Emma Forrest’s memoir explores her relationship with his man who knew her more completely than anyone else, who she loved dearly, and who taught her more about herself than anyone else ever could. It wasn’t until he was gone that she realize the person she felt closest to, she’d known nothing about at all. Forrest’s memoir reexamines her life after the passing of the most important figure in it, as she learns how to help herself by dealing with her mental illnesses alone, all thanks to Dr. R.

3. A Clockwork Orange

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Author: Anthony Burgess

Published: 1962, Heinemann (UK)

Pages: 176

Quote: “The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”

Blurb: Anthony Burgess is a genius. He uses a young man, Alex DeLarge, his somehow protagonist AND antagonist, as the mode to explore the concept of good and evil, and what it means to be a moral human being. Besides the finesse with which this immense topic is dealt, the most impressive element of this book is the dialect in which it is written. Burgess, who in addition to being a novelist was also a linguist, used Slavic influences to create Nadsat, the register spoken by Alex and the other teenagers in this book.

2. Never Let Me Go

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Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Published: 2005, Faber and Faber

Pages: 288

Quote: “What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”

Blurb: This book was nearly first on my list, but alas my number one is unmovable. This book is a dystopian science fiction novel, but above all, it’s a love story. Not a love story between two people, but a love story between humanity. The main question the book presents is What does it mean to be human? This novel made me think and feel more than any book I’ve ever read. The story centers around Kathy H., a clone, whose purpose is to provide sick members of society with her vital organs before she turns 35, after which she will ‘complete’ (to put it harshly… die). The story is beautifully thought provoking, and though the genre is technically science fiction, it always feels surprisingly real. The themes explored in the book are decidedly existential ones, and even after you’ve finished reading it, it will never let you go.

1. The Catcher in the Rye

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Author: J.D. Salinger

Published: 1951, Little, Brown and Company

Pages: 214

Quote: “Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

Blurb: I’m not entirely sure how I could ever possibly articulate my immense love for this book. I think part of connecting with a book has to do with where you are in life when you discover it. I first read The Cather in the Rye when I was 16, the same age as the novel’s protaganist, Holden Caulfield. It was the first time I read a book and felt like it was speaking directly to me, and the first time I realized I wasn’t the only person to feel a certain way. The themes in this book include alienation, growing up, and “phoniness”. While this book wasn’t the one to make me ponder existentialism (Never Let Me Go) or decode a fictional language (A Clockwork Orange) it was the most powerful, as it reminded me that I am not alone, and as long as I read, I never will be.

Honorable Mentions:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen