Six Tips

Six tips for writers! (Scroll down to second blurb.)



En tus ojos yo veo un grande cielo

Sólo uno de los razones porque te quiero

Pero tú no das ni una mirada a mí

Y por eso no ves como muero por tí

Y todos mis sueños están pesadillas

Porque no puedo amarte como tu querías

Tú buscas a alguien quien te hará volar

No lo puedo hacer, sólo tengo amor a dar.

Stab Wounds and Bloodstains

Stabbed in the back, but I bleed out in front

Escaped the prison fortress to fall victim in the hunt

And all the people all around, they all just stop to stare,

Point their fingers, start to laugh. They’re laughing, everywhere

And there I stand, but on display, an “example” to those who’d dare

To defy their justice, escape their prison; I’m a tactic meant to scare

A bloodhound’s nose they used against me, to keep me locked away

But I broke free of their foul confines to become unwitting prey

And now I stand upon this stage of ridicule and hell-bent shame

Gagged and silenced to accept their fury in sharp-edged shards of blame

And each shard which they throw my way draws blood for all to see

They may now have the upper hand, but I swear one day I’ll be free

Before Saying No

“So you want to go to college?”

Father Simon leered at me from across the desk, his gray t-shirt stretched around the frayed seams. “But you’re a girl. None of the other girls in your class want to go to college.”

“I do.”

“Wouldn’t you rather get married? Take care of your husband, have a few babies.”

“I don’t want to be married.” I grinned, still happily oblivious to the peril of my situation. “I want to be a surgeon, and cut into people’s tummies to take their insides out!” From my inside blazer pocket, I produced my prized red-and-white-striped Number Two pencil and began to mimic the television scene I’d memorised years ago.

“I need O positive glitter in here, stat! Aye, aye, Doctor Barbie, right away!” The pencil danced in the air, miming in scene. “Nurse! Do we have IV access? IV access confirmed! Starting the transfusion now! Transfusion started, Doctor Barbie!”

Father Simon regarded me in a strange way, a way I’d never been looked at before. At least, not while in a room alone with him. I interpreted his gaze as solemnity, though, and stuffed my pencil back in its pocket.

“Cassie,” he said, finally, in a voice so gentle I could barely believe it came from the same man who’d once given me lines for ‘looking too hard at a leaf’. “You know that college is expensive, right?”

“I’ll work!” I said, firmly. “I can get job in a bank! Or in a clothing store! Or in an Arby’s!” A lightbulb turned on. “Ooh, maybe I could do all three!”

Father Simon shook his head.” Those jobs won’t make nearly enough money. Here, I’ll do you a favour. Would you believe that there is one job which could not only pay your way through college, but also medical school?”

I shook my head. Even my naïve, ten-year-old brain could grasp the exorbitant costs of my plan. “Mama said that I would need loans for that.”

“In other circumstances, she would be right. But I can think of one job perfect for a clever little girl like you, a job that would make even more money than you could ever imagine.” Father Simon pushed his chair back, and stood up. “Do you wear a bra?”

“A bra? Oh, yes. It’s got polka dots on it.” Mama had bought me my first training bra just the week before, saying it was time I ‘got used to wearing one’, especially before I ‘needed the padding and wire’. The straps were uncomfortable, but they were elasticated, and, since ‘big girls’ wore them, I bore the burden without complaint. “Do you mean that I should work in a bra shop, Father Simon?”

Father Simon smiled, deep crow’s feet wrinkling by his eyes. “No, not a bra shop, not any sort of shop, actually. This is a special kind of job, and only the smartest of girls can do it.”

“What about boys?” My younger brother, James, was quite fond of playing pretend, and I was hopeful that this was a game I could teach him too, if it paid as good money as Father Simon said.

“Sadly not. This is a very special job just for girls. Girls maybe a few years older than you, perhaps, but a very, very good way to get through college.” Father Simon began to unbutton his shirt. “It’s called stripping.”

I eyed him warily. Something in his voice had made me think that, perhaps, this wasn’t the sort of job Mama had been thinking of when she said I could get one when I turned sixteen. “What do I have to do?”

“You have to take your clothes off, in a very special sort of way.” Father Simon slipped his grey t-shirt off slowly, exposing knobbly, arthritic shoulders which creaked every time they moved. He then moved onto his yellow-stained muscle shirt, taking it off so slowly I began to wonder if he were all right.

“Are you hurt, Father Simon? You seem to be moving very slowly.”

“That’s the key, Cassie. You have to do it very slowly. The more slowly you do it, the better paid you’ll get. And you have to look at the people just like this, good eye contact, roll your shoulders, swing your hips…”

I thought that Father Simon looked like a fool, with his pasty stomach, grey chest hairs, and wasted biceps, dancing like one of the bad girls’ on TV, but all jokes flew out the window when he turned to me.

“All right, Cassie. Your turn. Just like I did.”

My hand flew to my blazer pocket, clutching my trusty pencil. “You mean, roll my shoulders?”

“No. Take off your shirt. Blazer first, shirt second, but leave your bra on for now.”

Father Simon towered over me by at least two feet, and I had to crane my neck until it hurt to see his face. “Can’t I just skip to the dancing part? I like dancing.”

“It doesn’t work as well if you don’t take your clothes off first.” Realising he must have been frightening me, Father Simon resumed his seat. “Come on, I’ll help you. Blazer first. There, good girl. Now your shirt. I’ll unclasp your bra afterwards.”

Halfway through my shirt buttons, I stepped back. “I don’t like this. It feels wrong.”

“Nonsense, Cassie. Don’t you want to make money?”

“Yes, but Mama said I shouldn’t take my clothes off in front of anyone without her.”

Father Simon leant back in his chair, considering this. “But wouldn’t your mother be happy if you made a lot of money? You could buy her something nice.”

I looked down at my half-buttoned shirt. “I guess you’re right.”

“Now, why don’t you show me that lovely bra your mother bought for you? No, no, come a bit closer. What lovely polka dots! Do you mind if I feel them?”

Before he could reach out to me, though, Father Simon’s classroom telephone rang. Cursing, he stood up to answer it, motioning to me to stay still.

“Father Simon here. Yes. Yes. Oh, really? No, I haven’t seen Cassandra. Nope, no idea where she is. Oh, the mother wants to talk to me? Ooh, no, it’s not a good time. No, really not a…no, no! I’m not…oh…oh…” Father Simon dropped the phone as the classroom door swung open. In walked Principal Walkers, Mama, Papa, and James.

“Father Simon,” said Principal Walkers, “Mrs Henderson is here to discuss Cassandra’s…oh, Jesus Christ, Cassandra. Jesus Christ. JESUS CHRIST!”

I gave Mama a small wave, mistaking everyone’s shock for confusion. “Mama! Look! Father Simon is showing me a new way to make money! It’s called stripping!”

Even now, I can’t determine whose face was whiter: Father Simon, who was relieved of both his teaching and clerical duties by the end of the day; Principal Walkers, who eventually asked for a transfer to an all-boys school in Maine; or Mama, who’d walked in the classroom to speak with Father Simon about my math scores only to find her only daughter topless, and laughing. It took James and me many years to decipher the situation, and even more before we understood the gravity, but one peculiar remnant remains, even to this day.

I’ve always had quite a fondness for polka-dot bras.

Love on the Rocks

Pour another glass of your bittersweet love

And I’ll take another sip, trying not to get drunk

Your kiss tastes so bitter, dried out for too long

But, when I’m intoxicated, nothing ever seems wrong

And I might crave another, but one drink’s enough

You deliver what I want, though I’m poisoned by your touch

Every drop of you’s toxic, but I hold onto it still

Because every poor choice is inebriated thrill

And even though I’ll wake up full of pain and regret

I’ll  return for more drink the very next chance I get

Burning Down the House

They tell me look pretty, smile big, and turn heads

but I’d rather read books and move mountains, instead

But the world has no use for us, eyeglasses-girls

Math? Politics? Science? Replace those with beach-curls

And pose for the camera, for audiences, for men

Though they taunt you with power, you’ll never beat them

You keep quiet, smile wide, and take all their hits

Because showing your pain would mean admitting you quit

Your stamina hides in shadows. This, we all know,

Girls are never equal, no matter where they might go

They always “lack” speed, strength, loudness, and skill

They’re not confident or charismatic, and possess no self-will

They’re trophies for walls, and hang off the arms

Of accomplished gentleman, pretty poster-girl dolls

But I was never a doll made to turn men’s heads

I’m the Devil incarnate. I cause trouble, instead.

I break glass houses with a single, sharp glance

And they lock me away with no second chance

And they beat me senseless, because I’m “just a girl”

Too big for my skirts, too small for this world

I just don’t make sense, a man’s heart, a girl’s face

I’m some sort of freak, an egregious mistake

And I have the bruises they left me with, too,

The marks, a reminder to follow their rules

But I am not broken, and I will not bend!

I’ll fight (we’ll all fight!) until that bittersweet end

So don’t turn your back. You never know when we’ll burst.

I’ll be at my best when you’re at your worst

And I WILL BE someone, not yours to tell what to do

I’m not “just a girl”, and, one day, you’ll know it, too

Thunder Formed

He knocked on Death’s door, a bouquet in his hand

Hoping for a glimpse of that feared nether-land

To see the face of a loved one, just one last smile

But he hoped in vain. Death’s house is exile.

And so, Death grinned before slamming the door

Leaving red petals strewn all over the floor

“What a mess,” Death thought, before grabbing a broom,

And, within a few moments, he’d cleaned up the room

He dumped the petals outside, to blow out with the wind

But the man stood there watching, angry with this sin

He’d spent two years walking, braving wind, sun, and rain

With the hope that he would gain some relief to his pain

One good-bye is all he asked for, and yet that was denied

He was too angry to be sad, too furious to cry

Yet he had to release his anger some in way

So he threw his head back, and screamed all his anger away

And he ran back to Earth, fury high on the wind

Embracing a new life far sweeter than sin

Even now you can hear him screaming his pain

After every crash of lightning, beating through the rain

Newfound Hope

When I awoke on New Year’s Day

I found some Hope, all tucked away

It looked so cosy, sleeping there,

I was sure I’d caught it unawares

But still it roused and shook my hand

And I was glad to find it did understand

How welcome it was to my heavy heart

A heart the Old Year had torn clean apart

What a pleasant way to start the year:

Hand-in-hand with Hope, full of joy and cheer