Maya Krattli – A Collection of Poems (2022)

anxiety:

an all-consuming

kinetic energy

flowing,

filling,

freezing,

everything.

I slowly disintegrate

while life spectates.

A drive forward,

and a push back.

Paralysis-

an accurate analysis,

as I fall into the abyss. 

 

decision, a haiku (or two):

too long self-doubt and 

fear have been my king and queen.

now they are exiled.

 

too long I’ve toil’d ‘neath

anxiety’s tyranny.

bring the guillotine.

 

beginnings:

Gazing out the airplane’s pigeonholed window,

murkied by my labored breaths,

I say a sweet goodbye 

to a rapidly fading North Carolina,

patchwork roads in quilted cities – 

the doll house hidden beneath the clouds.

My accidental home,

one of transitions

and memories to be cherished.

One of long-awaited beginnings,

but sorrowful endings, too.

Flip the calendar back ten months,

as we always long to do, and

see a couple lovingly embrace,

with bated breath, before

he is shipped across vibrant seas

to a desert land.

See an envelope that remains

waxed shut, unopened

in the basement.

See a father who flies 

cross-country

because a daughter

should never have to spend the holidays

alone.

See, through the ultrasound,

a grainy, miraculous

start.

with a pulsating heart.

Months of holding breath and hands,

rides to the hospital and 

phone calls where words

are enveloped in a thousand meanings.

Weeks of bed-rest without the latter,

and “good mornings” without the former.

Days of stroking taut skin,

and letting feelings sink in.

An afternoon

playing gin rummy

in a waiting room,

while an anxiously waiting womb

prepares its kin

to meet the world.

Hours of labor

that pass as agonizingly slow minutes.

Now, a sudden push,

a hormone rush,

and an earth-shattering cry

as seconds later,

I take my

first breath. 

 

how? (a nonet):

how do you know you truly love her?

an act of fate or conscious choice?

is it written in the stars?

sung like a lullaby?

do you know when you

stare into her

soulful eyes?

what is 

love?

 

Dawn:

I wake up to a world holding 

its breath.

The sun tiptoes across the skyline,

a gentle awakening from a peaceful dream

to a nascent day.

I wake up in the morning

with the birds

outside my window

in the cherry tree

before the alarm clock

marks the safe passage of the

crescent moon

beneath the horizon,

so I begin my safe passage

to the snooze button,

and back to my cocoon of blankets,

trying to catch the fleeting moments of stillness 

where the birds sing of dawn. 

 

Ode to My Backyard:

The sun gazes down on a well-loved yard,

While children’s delighted squeals echo between fences.

By no cloud is the pacific blue sky marred,

And we are purely ourselves, no public pretenses.

 

Parents gaze lovingly from the creaking wooden swing,

As their little ones are enveloped in a fantastical world,

Where adventure is queen, imagination king,

And, with the scrapping of chalk on concrete, dreams are unfurl’d.

 

I gaze curiously at the damp ground,

A universe of beetles and worms unto itself.

In this suburban nature scene, my passion is found,

Habitats for caterpillars that turn to butterflies on my shelf.

 

My brother gazes daringly into my eyes,

A new game or challenge on the tip of his tongue.

He is a constant playmate in this backyard paradise.

We race and scream ‘till there is nothing left in our lungs.

 

You are our perfect Friday afternoon

Pockets of sunshine in the dewy grass,

Ideal for games of tag that end too soon,

Sand racing through our childhood’s hourglass.

 

The landscape changes, but the memory never fades.

The feeling of sunlit warmth shining with a soothing grace,

The colorful bubble balanced delicately on grass blades,

And a beaming smile upon my skyward, freckled face.

 

Laugh Lines:

How peculiar is it that

everyone has a distinct laugh

a fingerprint mark on the world of comedy,

patterns ingrained in mirth’s fabric

a range as diverse as the Amazon

from lilting smiles

to polite chuckles

and full-throttle snorts?

Why did we stop laughing?

mask our crow’s feet with concealer,

puse our lips till the quivering

upward grin

was linear.

Why is laughter ephemeral nowadays?

as a child each chuckle

is eternal.

a solitary, stupid joke

leaves you breathless 

for a week, and 

your glasses are ever as

rosy as your flushed cheeks.

when did we turn our backs

to the light we used to beam at,

the gleam in our eye,

and grimace in the shadows

while the sun turned to a jealous,

nebulous amalgamation of 

radiation?

when did lists usurp

witticisms and whimsy?

how did today’s individual sorrow

supplant the communal joy of tomorrow?

breathlessness and pangs in the chest

are anxiety’s jurisdiction now,

no longer tinged by laughter’s warmest

hue.

we are drained of all

humor’s color

‘till a heated flight of fancy

curls our pursed lips

once more. 

 

turquoise:

swimmer

diving into

water so blue the sky

blanches at its aquamarine 

mirror.

 

mud:

diver

wading into

seas so murky I’m caught

in an undulating marine

sandstorm.

 

when I grow up:

aren’t we already grown up?

adults.

captured

from the evening of our youth.

responsible 

for a myriad of futures.

working in the sun,

liberated by the night.

already exposed

to society’s shameful underbelly – 

homelessness, climate change, poverty – 

aren’t we already expected to resolve this for posterity?

in some instances

we are too naive, need to avert our gazes

from the blinding, corrupting influences of 

pop culture,

but we are never too innocent 

to smell the desperation on the streets,

highlighted by sunlit contours or

hidden in the shadows.

never too innocent to watch the twenty-four hour news –

don’t you know only catastrophe sells?

please, take away our violent video games,

but leave the school shooting playing,

an insurrection raging.

helplessness is so much more terrifying

than any R-rating.

 

in short, I am much too preoccupied

to concentrate on your arcane “grow up”

I have plans, regardless of you:

fields to pursue,

adventures to seek what is true

but who has time for such discussion

when all is focused on graduation

and the day-to-day

leaves us 

*yawn*

dreading the

dawn?

 

Mentor:

I love how

you grasp words

from the tip

 

of my tongue

forever

miles ahead

 

yet close so

I can walk

beside you.

 

“Promise me

you’ll stay right

here, with me.”

 

“I will, ‘till 

you must leave 

me behind.”

 

Noise: 

This generation refuses to be quiet,

rejects the toxic repression

of “normal,”

embraces the “unprecedented.”

A gift, but a burden as well.

Swapping ignorance for awareness brings a fresh hell.

Ice caps melting,

Innocents dying,

starving,

thirsting,

begging

for 

justice.

Everyone is aware

of everyone else’s nightmares.

A blessing in disguise,

in an optimist’s eyes;

now we can fix it. 

How to solve this daunting task?

a pessimist asks.

Only now,

we are silent.

 

Treadmills: 

Pacing.

murmurs in the hallway

Running.

collisions with the concrete

Racing.

pounds in my chest, deafening

A constant state of flux and movement

Birth to death an incessant battle

Pacing, running, racing. Where?

 

Our hearts are ticking clocks

We are born with a drive, a consciousness

Tunnel vision aimed decisively 

Or is that just me?

 

Knees buckling, steps unsteady

But on a screeching treadmill

stopping means falling

falling means pain, and time to recover

time I do not have.

 

Do you ever feel guilty for changing the calendar

Another month’s passed you by

Without any earth-shattering achievement?

Do you ever find yourself asking why

you have the resources but lack the talent?

 

I stop

I fall

You judge me.

 

Scars on my forehead and cuts on my wrist

I stumble forward.

Mowed down by a truckload of goals; I put them in drive.

 

Do you ever feel like Atlas

Holding up the sky?

A dramatic irony, fates underlined.

When did dawn escape us?

 

Absorbed:

Each of us

is caught up in a web of our

own anxieties,

far too preoccupied

by pimples that become mountains 

under our calloused fingertips

and

embarrassing faux pas,

in our minds, social felonies.

Far too preoccupied,

indeed,

to notice everyone else’s

insecurities.

 

Period Talk:

Blood, red and viscous in my veins

Seeping through my cotton clothes

I cross my legs.

Do you notice?

 

Doubled over in the hallway,

inching toward the bathroom,

 

Only to discover I’m out of supplies

Rushing to the front office, she meets my eyes

“Can I have the marker bag, please?” I ask.

She catches my drift, passes me Tampax

under the counter

like an illicit transfer.

When did blood become taboo?

 

If a soldier bleeds out on a battlefield,

they are lauded.

We are warriors too.

 

Yet no, this cyclical blood is different

Our shameful, tainted, hidden secret,

every month,

unworthy

of acknowledgement.

If every woman is bleeding once a month

for three, five, seven days,

one tenth of the people I’m hiding from

are hiding too.

 

It separates me, a sticky isolation.

Is blood really thicker than water?

 

Did you know some women live in shacks

once a month,

so the men stay pure?

As if the driving force of life

is a curse.

Did you know that the only blood

that brings life rather than destroys it,

is also the one we can’t talk about?

 

I guess I should be grateful for tampons.

 

Did you just cringe?

That’s what I thought – 

It’s still taboo for you too. 

 

the belle’s villanelle:

Beauty is an age-old precept.

Are you symmetrical, slender, quiet?

What an arcane, repressive concept.

 

Though you fight, you too conform and accept.

Tie a pretty bow to gag your internal riot.

Beauty is an age-old precept.

 

You stood, a stick-figure in a crowd of twigs, and wept

In pain, sucking in your nonexistent gut.

What an arcane, repressive concept.

 

Stock still for the judges, who are adept

At treating your figure like a marionette.

Beauty is an age-old precept.

 

Weakened and afraid, you feel inept,

Felled by the ax of this pacifying diet.

What an arcane, repressive concept.

 

You rise, unleash that raging spirit too long swept

                                          defiant,

                                       e

                                     s

                                    i

Underneath the rug. R, 

of beauty’s age-old precept.

What an arcane, repressive concept.

 

Chameleon’s Sonnet:

From the moment we wake to the sunset,

The world is awash in vivacious hues.

Retinas process sky blue, blood scarlet.

But how to process the palette of you?

 

You’re a social chameleon, you flit,

between a vast, endless array of cliques.

Changing your hair, tone, smile, laugh, outfit,

Your kaleidoscope heart waits for a click.

 

Identity camouflaged to hide from,

Popular predators as you climb,

The social ladder, seeking to affirm,

Someone else’s idea of youth’s prime.

 

Forging new personalities in fire,

Hardened scales conceal the you I desire.

 

Misogyny:

Mao once said

women hold up half the sky.

Picture all of mankind,

jointly grimacing in backbreaking labor;

pain knifing through taut muscles like a saber.

Feet planted firmly against the earth,

arms trembling, wills bowed against its girth.

Men on dry land, soaked solely in sweat

whilst we, caught between a hurricane

and the depths below—slimy and wet—

are drowning. As sand slides, our feet slip

into the tumultuous sea

our only hope is equality.

 

Screaming Ghazal:

Trapped. The air in my lungs meets demise in my throat, the thoughts,

 I nurtured die all alone. Why aren’t you letting me scream?

 

You knotted my vocal cords in a coerced friendship bracelet 

a woven prison to prevent me from setting free screams. 

 

No voice to resist, no boats to keep afloat this river 

of tears, I submit to your will, forfeiting these screams. 

 

You gamble on my codependency, taking risks you 

know I’ll quietly accept. You should’ve been betting she screams. 

 

My mind has been reduced to an echo chamber, where, can 

be heard these reverberating, upsetting three screams. 

 

One – I’m here for a purpose you deliberately ignore,

instead you use me as a debased pet-thing, with wee screams. 

 

Two – silence is nothing but an obstacle, listening

merely one form of change. Words are the fitting keys to screams.

 

Three – loud and powerful but shaky nonetheless – afraid.

How much longer will you be setting fees to scream?

 

I’m so tired of muffled voices ringing in my head, a

coherent concerto I’m sick of forgetting. Please, scream! 

 

Fibonacci:

Fear

lies

in wait

in weary

souls trampled by life

maybe you should be afraid of me.

 

You

lie

in wait

for me, to

smile and say “okay”

doesn’t matter if I mean it.

 

You

are

built on

a fortress

of my lies; one truth

would utterly shatter you.

 

Metamorphosis:

At night I close my eyes

and am a fiery phoenix

rising from the ashes of 

humanity.

 

Gazing upon the wreckage from the skies,

wings pounding

heart beating

never before so free

 

Nose dive into a spider’s web of lies,

suddenly trapped, terrified.

As a fly, I cry out,

pitifully.

 

Relief washes over me with the tides.

I dive towards the depths,

as a melancholic whale,

Moaning in the seas.

 

But the emptiness is drowned out by sighs

nay, roars, from an enraged sea lion

ire is a fire that brings desire

to act passionately.

 

I shed my disguise

as volcanic steams thrust me to shore

I emerge as HUMAN – flawed and emotional

Unabashed, I embrace this body,

this beauty.

 

A Leap of Faith:

You hold your porcelain doll gingerly.

Her lovely, puckered cheeks make you dizzy.

The thought of shattered pieces on the floor,

leaves you weak and sickly;

her fragility you abhor.

 

As the cherry tree outside flowers and dies, years pass,

but she is forever your figure of glass,

and clay, a stunning, painted reflection.

Unbeknownst to you, she dreams of falling fast;

She is tired of perfection.

 

Destruction is a new beginning in her mind,

where she can reconfigure herself in a way she designed,

that is wholly unrecognizable

in your picture of humankind.

You do not find this at all advisable.

 

While she wants her sun to shine through,

her uneven cracks in a roughened, ruddy hue,

you want her to stay your little doll.

One day, she finally admits to you,

Her desire to run, jump, leap, and fall.

 

You realize your selfishness has stunted her growth.

With a palpitating heart and an altruism you loath,

With clammy hands and pallid face,

You let go of your baby and break your oath,

Forsaking this decades-long embrace.

 

You couldn’t bear to watch your beloved child,

                          lept,

As she jumped,        f

e

   l

     l, 

        and smil’d.

A myriad of fragments began to shatter,

As she lost her complexion, ever so mild.

The pieces were sharp in your chest, like a dagger.

 

You forgave her blunders, 

Her tears you brushed away,

But now you must always wonder,

Is my baby girl okay?

 

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