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Work in Progress

The poems on this page have not yet been published and are still being fine-tuned, but many have been read publicly. Criticisms and suggestions are welcome–no, more than that: The desire for feedback is one of the reasons I launched this blog. So don’t hold back. Post a comment or email me with your thoughts.


That flutter in my stomach
was not butterflies
but light-hungry moths
drawn to densely shaded globes
in Gypsy Den windows:
mic in one corner,
crowd of intent ghosts
lifting frothy mugs to their lips,
waiting for me
to open mine,
release my first shaky line,
and decide whether to dub it poetry
or mere words.

Passing their test
brought fleeting respite,
lulled beating wings into hibernation
until the next reading.

And now
as I cup my own steaming brew,
watch exposed insects
threaten to knock
open-mic virgins off stage,
I feel my muddle of Gypsy moths
sense growing light,
begin to wake from dormancy,
return me to my debut.

—Julie Laing

———

It never was a fairytale.

I’m too independent
To play Cinderella
And you certainly were no Prince Charming.
But I lost something
More precious than a diamond
As ordinary as a slipper
As fragile as glass.

Love slipped from my fingers like silk
Falling in a soft heap
At feet frozen in place
By the knowledge that nothing is perfect
Because I know this
Is a less than perfect world
And you could not remain a soulmate
Once you lost your soul.

I once thought it
Was a fairytale.
Ours was a story of true love
On display in a front-page photo
But it could not end
“Happily ever after.”

To Luthien
You said, “I will stay
With you until death do us part.”
I did not know that on this one point
You would keep your word:
I would face the world alone.

They say that knights
Armor blazing bright
Are supposed to just gallop off
To rescue the damsel in distress.
And ride off you did
Leaving me behind—distressed.

I suppose that like any girl
I craved the fairytale
But now that you are Romeo
I love life too much to play Juliet.
So I take a breath
Spill that vial of poison
And I swing bare feet down to the ground
To stand on my own.

—Julie Laing

———

It has happened.
The crashing waves
no longer drown out my screams.
The sea is calm
and I am silent
as you stand facing me
unblinking, unaffected
perhaps even uncaring.
(Yes, that is how it seems.)
We still share the same space.
You could still reach for my fingers
and clasp my hand.
But knowing you will not do so
has drawn a thin line in the sand
perpendicular to our previous path
along the foam’s edge.
It’s no deeper than a furrow,
with soft sides that roll inward
curved
so that we could slide down them,
still meet in the center,
falling into each other like children
tumbling into a heap after a pillow fight.
But you stand straight
move your foot inches forward
and smudge out the line with your toe,
asking me to step back,
give ground,
always asking for more.

But now I know
am now sure
of only one thing:
I have already given too much.
And you force me to grasp
all I have left
firmly,
to hold that smooth, narrow,
curved piece of driftwood,
hold on to it tightly
as I reach down
and draw that line
deeper into the sand:
through the dry layer
with its soft sides
into the wet hardpan—
colder, darker—
carving defined walls
as you keep pressing for more.
I am protecting all I have left
Separating it from you as I must.
How deep will you force me to go?
How much of a chasm must I make
for you to realize
you have left me no choice?
I must pivot and walk away
whether you stand and watch me go
or turn and do the same.
Because you will never again
reach for my hand,
never stand straight for me
so that I may lean on you
as we set off together
leaving only parallel tracks in the sand.

—Julie Laing

It never was a fairytale.

I’m too independent

To play Cinderella

And you certainly were no Prince Charming.

But I lost something

More precious than a diamond

As ordinary as a slipper

As fragile as glass.

Love slipped from my fingers like silk

Falling in a soft heap

At feet frozen in place

By the knowledge that nothing is perfect

Because I know this

Is a less than perfect world

And you could not remain a soulmate

Once you lost your soul.

I once thought it

Was a fairytale.

Ours was a story of true love

On display in a front-page photo

But it could not end

“Happily ever after.”

To Luthien

You said, “I will stay

With you until death do us part.”

I did not know that on this one point

You would keep your word:

I would face the world alone.

They say that knights

Armor blazing bright

Are supposed to just gallop off

To rescue the damsel in distress.

And ride off you did

Leaving me behind—distressed.

I suppose that like any girl

I craved the fairytale

But now that you are Romeo

I love life too much to play Juliet.

So I take a breath

Spill that vial of poison

And I swing bare feet down to the ground

To stand on my own.

—Julie Laing

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