Half a Woman

First time

like a foal on wobbly legs

I slipped a kiss

to one with a masculina’s countenance

and girlish wiles.

Your lips are warmer

than I imagined.

…are they as warm as your breasts?

***

Well.

That escalated quickly.

***

Yes, yes,

but if they press onto me,

they’ll stick fast like

childhood memories of my

favorite history class

and a man presses his DNA

and seed

and all of his grievances and conquests

into a woman’s body.

***

So come, come quickly,

while yours are still full of love and life

and our souls can blossom during every sunrise

after they’re caressed as though they’re mine.

Unless —

unless they’re actually mine.

And the you I think I know

doesn’t exist

outside of cheap machismo scams.

Hah! I can never really tell.

To All The Little Big Things In Love

To what do I owe a kiss but with a kiss?

*

Till when does it manifest into a consciousness

That all my perceived notions of love…real?

*

See, when you speak of what could be,

You stroke the rim of my quaking heart

As my head swims with a nervous euphoria.

*

Of that I dream

As I look there at the house across me

And wonder, how many generations

Achieved the apex of love before me.

Note to self: you don’t peak at sweet 18

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Age 18 was not good.

I didn’t have a driver’s license, a job, or any direction for what I wanted to be.

My fashion sense was atrocious. Refer to this video for proof.

I struggled in my classes.

I was lonely, and I hung out with people I didn’t even want to hang out with because I was so desperate for friends.

My mental health and relationship with my mother weren’t exactly top notch. I was so stuck in my head that I lost sleep and scruples infatuating over someone I couldn’t have for a multitude of reasons. All other assumptions about them came from my head instead of first-hand knowledge, which I didn’t have, about said person.

I did things for the sake of doing instead of doing what I actually enjoyed. My lowest point was taking down notes verbatim of someone else’s notes on some writing blog and reposting onto my own, thinking that such overscrupulosity would me me one step closer to success. Whatever that meant.

Nothing ever came fast enough, which piled on even more resentment because 18 was supposed to be my “prime time” for achieving my personal goals. Except I hardly had any “personal goals” in the first place.

I cried a lot, even in college. Not knowing what exactly I was crying about made me cry more.

Finding my potential wasn’t easy.

Sometimes I’m still a little lost. I’m fairly career driven so that puts all the more pressure to find out exactly what I enjoy doing. Sometimes it’s multiple things at once. Sometimes it’s something that I don’t have the work ethic or the experience for yet or I’m unsure how to start, or if I do I can’t get there soon enough.

But if I could tell myself 18 year old me one thing, it’s that self-discovery, while not immediate, isn’t nigh out of reach.

Wait a couple of years. See where you end up. And sometimes it takes a couple boring 18 year old phases to figure that out.

And when out of steam, curl your hair like the 1950s leading ladies did. I do, even though I dislike almost everything else that’s vintage. If nothing else, at least I became better at that.

Girl, girl

You have something that I have

but I need and don’t want.

I draw from the wisdom of tradition

and yet long for the skeleton in my closet to…appear.

and still I long for a guaranteed chastity.

and here, here you are.

me:

some you don’t want.

and something I do but don’t need.

***

What is a neurotic to do but

sit down

like the little prince she thinks she is

who kneeled into the grass

to cry

and cry

and cry

until she no longer

has reason to

and the journey

that she mapped for her lifeline

is now gone?

***

Never mind that our golden locks flayed into

the laughing wind.

Up the twinkling stars.

Where are the essentials of female beauty, now,

when you lose sight of it?

Inner Yuugen: An Origin Story

O little peanut! You were so small and uncertain. You don’t know it yet, but many good things will happen to you. Your understanding of the world will expand with each poem you craft. Your life will still not be void of questions but neither will it be void of meaning like you feared.

And then you’ll get hot and get a good haircut. But in the meantime please stop hunching so much. It doesn’t suit you.

***

Inner Yuugen: A Poem Blog has an origin story.

I was in 7th grade, goofing off in one of the back rooms with my friends during morning time’s Easter church service. The whiteboard had a poem written by one of our mutual acquaintances, Sofia Guseva, who visited earlier. It was a cute little poem stanza about Easter. “Christ is risen” and something like that. I don’t remember the exact words, but Sofia made them rhyme, and I thought it turned out pretty cleverly. I too wanted to replicate Sofia’s art form.

Usually when I have to think up of ideas, I take a long time. This time, though — everything clicked.

Within the next ten minutes, I wrote down my own version, a three stanza poem, about Easter. Presumptuously, I incorporated my crush Thomas into one of the stanzas just so that I could spark some conversation and reactions from my other buddies. Ksenia, my childhood friend and self-ascribed Thomas-hater, squawked and erased Thomas’s name from the board. But when she wasn’t looking, I wrote it back again with even greater vigor. I didn’t admit it — no girl in the Russian Orthodox parish wanted to admit they loved that bad boy — but writing his name was my subtle way of confessing newfound preadolescent love towards him.

Shortly after my neighbor friends and I worked on a play in our backyard. The play involved reading some poems about animals. So my friends compose theirs, and I jotted mine down, about a wolf. My friends read my poem and remarked, “Your poem is really good!”

I actually liked it, too. Imagine — it was my adolescent years, and the identity crises hit hard, so I rarely liked anything. I was talentless, shy, insecure, confused, neurotic and a little sheltered. So it was a little bit of a relief to hear my friends and family say, after they read my poem, “I think she’s actually got talent!” A far cry of my dad previously telling one of his clients, during a conversation with her, that while my sister had mathematical and artistic inclinations, he had no idea what I, the elder daughter, was good at.

I got a little pamphlet and wrote down more poetry ideas until I decided to make my mark on the world and founded Inner Yuugen at 17. Now that I’m turning 22, that means I will have written for 10 years already.

At my 8th grade graduation, I had to recite a poem about graduation (duh) in front of my peers and the parents in the big auditorium. I was such a shy little peanut, scared to death of everything including boys and love and sex and math and teenagers and God and my own intrusive thoughts and my mother when she proselytized about politics and life.

“H-Hi everyone, my name is Tiffany. I will be reciting a- a poem.” Pause. “I made it up.”

Some chuckles from the audience.

I recited the poem, for sure. Even though I never had a bona fide case of stage fright, I was incurably shy, and I hated that shyness and I hated that I blushed so hard on stage after I was done even when the whole auditorium exploded with cheers and whistles. Even when some of the teachers and parents themselves came over to congratulate me.

I had a complex growing up: that I was a painfully average kid who will never be good at anything.

They call it being a “square” today, actually. But I digress.

When I saw the other kids doing sports or extracurriculars and working on their talents, I wanted the same thing. My family had neither the time nor the money to put my sister and me into extracurriculars long-term.

Ksenia was involved in 5 extracurriculars at the same time at one point. “Hey, your friend’s having a soccer match tomorrow, wanna go visit her?” my dad once said. I replied no, but if I was in better in touch with my feelings, you could’ve heard the resentment in my voice, that my dad cared about some friend’s soccer match when I could’ve been the one exerting my energy onto the playing field. Just typical old “why can’t I have what my friend’s having” drama. You get the point.

When I was nine, I dreamed of learning the violin. Mum said, “Forget it,” she said. True, I was tone deaf.

Dad, who used to be a Russian dancer, tried to put my sister and me into a ballet class for the summer. I, a 12 year old, ended up in a beginner level class with 5 year olds for classmates. Don’t even ask me how that happened.

When high school freshman year came around, I finally had enough time to try something new. So I went for volleyball. Didn’t make the team.

I switched to cross country instead. I was …semi-good, if you can call it that. Out of most races that I ran with my sparse team, I would usually end up smack down in the middle of the competition.

But I wanted more. I wanted to be better than the status quo. That brought my pride down a notch when track and field season came and due to sickness I ended up virtually last in one of the races. My poor parents, having to endure my subsequent sobs about not being “good enough.”

Then sophomore year came, and so did Pre Cal and Trig, and I didn’t have any time to do sports. I slugged through an identity crisis throughout high school and the beginning of college until I read, “Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff and stopped hating myself just for not knowing who I was and not knowing what my life’s meaning was.

But the book also reminded me that as far as I’d come, one thing didn’t abdandon me.

Poetry.

Poetry didn’t judge me when I felt talentless, because I didn’t need to feel talented in order to enjoy what I did.

Poetry didn’t hold me up to any standards because I already liked what I wrote. I could express myself exactly how I wanted. And best of all, my audience liked it too.

When I figured that out, suddenly it didn’t matter that I sucked at everything else because discovering poetry was like discovering myself.

One more anecdote. I was at a local track and field team. Everyone there was an award-winning champion who got into nationals and first place and blah blah blah. I.e everyone left me on the dust in 100 degree heat in the warm-weathered East Bay. And I cried to my mother on the way home that I wasn’t good at anything, not even the sport I loved.

“But these kids will never have one thing you have,” mom insisted as she drove me home. “And that is your ability to write poetry.”

Of course, I didn’t believe poetry meant a damn thing when you could be winning championships and scholarships as a runner. However, my need for self-expression and beauty always, inevitably, brought me back to the pamphlet. Almost like a prayer to a higher power. I wish I knew not to neglect this part of me that felt so second nature. So interesting, considering that I left the faith I while ago.

Besides, self compassion taught me that I don’t have to be great at everything. You can just be good enough, even if you’re not talented. For example, something happened to test my mental strength. I’d just recorded a video of myself performing an intermediate tap dance routine. When I saw it I almost wanted to cry.

It took me months, goddamn frickin’ months to actually learn the routine. And I came out of it stiff, stilted, and more out of sync with the music than I realized. And the taps weren’t the cleanest.

I practiced so hard. Why couldn’t I be good enough?

After much introspection, I realized why.

Maybe I wasn’t good enough for myself. But for my sister, and my dad, and other fellow tap dancers out there, maybe I am good enough.

So how does that differ from my poetry? After all, ask the many poet societies and organizations who rejected my poetry submissions — why do I not feel as insecure with my poetry as I do with tap dancing?

Oh sure, I’m not a professional, and I have a lot to learn and more poetry to read and be inspired by. But I compare my poetry with my own development. It never mattered to me what the poet organizations were looking for. I went my own direction. I wrote whatever I wanted and I was satisfied with it.

And believe me, since I willingly practiced without overthinking my creativity, I got better.

Within time, I started out from writing corny little glurges to the more mature topics, to the nuanced and benign, and the simplest of things. I don’t try to make my poetry toooo complex. I want my readers to understand my poetry.

Also, poetry does not and should not hinge on heavily tangible, rhetorical, and controversial topics like politics. Okay, yeah, politics is fine, as long as it isn’t a PR for activism, in which case, it’s not poetry but propaganda. But my poetry is a prayer, a meditation, a focus on the essential, as the fox from The Little Prince says.

Inner Yuugen is the story of how I see the world as an aesthete and a poet, like a dog that hears the dog whistle when others can’t. But its backstory is built on the back of an insecure girl who has found at least some expedient meaning in her life thanks to…poetry.

I think I can live now, thanks.

Stay tuned for my next poem.

On Ubiquitous Lane

The turkeys jogged down the morning turf

Puffy chests, neckties shining in the sunlight gold;

I laughed at the prideful sight — then, oh, I too ran,

Outran the biting, lingering cold.

*

My pansy poodle has some fenced-in playdates —

The smiling pitfulls, goading all to race.

Your barks were tambourines to mine ears;

Too bad the highlight of your ennui is just a passing face.

*

The neighboring hens performed breakfast time’s chicken dance

While their husband gave a resounding crow

Oh, he flirted, flitted and flapped with me, too,

But I told him off with a firm, resounding: no.

*

I found a secret garden in one’s private lair;

I took a photograph to rejuvinate the soul —

Or chase me away, I’m young and dumb.

I hope, at least, that my captor is lovably droll.

*

Or next time let it be someone like me

So afterwards I can kiss the windy summer air

In reverance to our company’s happychance addition,

For I’ve been waiting a long, long time, dear.

*

Ubiquitousness — seeps from the treaded soil to the misty air,

From happy weeds to the wandering trail home.

If you need me, find me hither-ho,

For I sing the song of youth where lovers roam.

The Feeding

My head nestled between two soft spots

to assure your confidence;

then, I nuzzled forth

so,

slowly —

to alight on your bosom

before suckling on

the centerfold of the rolling mass.

So sweet.

So succulent,

while my paw kneaded the other warming breast

like a kitten adrift in creamy sustenance

that abided under the ivory-white swell.

***

With nary a hesitation

to my voyeuristic delight,

porcelain torso blossomed with fiery splotches.

Sudden,

suddenly again —

I felt your twists and twitches

riding out the ebb and flow

in a heated, hypnotic rhythm.

Heaving,

breathing.

More ragged with my every tribute

shooting through your majestic muscles

under my body, sans the barriers between.

***

I too wanted to partake in the nocturnal party

for the first time in your ennui evenings.

So you reached in,

then in —

again.

Like a scrambling mosquito.

To prick me hard and true

worth a thousand embraces to my lonely dendrites.

Envious.

Lusty.

To rouse up mine own folly juices

and partake in the same pleasure throes —

I let you know after I bit just a little harder.

***

My blood pressure dropped hence

to the temperature of your body

and mingled with your rising sweat.

Faster —

and faster,

as your slender fingers conducted a syrupy melody

and our nerves lit up in sync

to each other’s delicious fantasies.

My god,

so beautiful

to observe my ecstasy etched into your face

and to sap your body of all its natural vigor

while my own prepares itself for the covenant.

***

And finally, ah, finally after prolongation,

I lovingly teased your pleasure-factor out,

ready to put the finishing touches on my handiwork.

Ah! you,

likewise.

In a final utterance like the breath of life

and limbs wound ’round each other in an ephemeral grip,

the pinnacle of pleasure lit up into overdrive…

it exploded,

the culmination.

And all the love that gushed from our hearts

tattooed onto each other’s flesh

before lapsing into a slumber to wake anew.

***

The following wake-up call ensures that

more bounds of tenderness, from you,

will nurture me into the crux of another day.

You’ll stay

even if you leave —

You’re marked, darling, and I claimed you first.

The morning kisses were indeed deep

like a draught out of the spring stream.

Now,

any minute

I’ll cry out for milk in a nestling plea;

and you’ll roll over to press me to your bare breast

and purr in a self-assured voice, “Would you like some more?”

The Culling

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I skinned off your hide

And tossed away the entrails

After which I drained the blood

And all the stains the leftover entails.

*

You, living art, like a sanitized indemnity

By the making of my own verity;

I pick what I love, discard the rest —

What I pack onto myself, my soul won’t attest.

*

The language that you speak,

Your beady gaze so bleak;

The clothes that you wear,

A spiffy countenance so dear.

*

Hair that hides your horrors,

Your jawline quite intent;

I lie to myself to myself to endlessly

I wonder, then, to what extent?

A Different Type of Jubilee

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Moments that meant something

Even when I thought they didn’t — then.

A practice in mindfulness never endeavored,

Only memories as evidenced by my trusty pen.

And I know limerence flitted somewhere in my mind

So painful but oh look, how I’ll respond in kind!

***

I lunged through early morning shadow woods

High on life, or as the hicks say, “tripping on acid.”

And that’s with nary a wink or shuteye or sleep

My revolutionary ideas — none too placid.

A scheme! A scheme! On how to confess a lover

‘Tis my breadth of life, ’tis my ultimate fodder.

***

And when I bantered with my friend into the night

The cards and psychedelic music meant — game on!

And sometimes in my absurdist state

I’d stare at her ceiling and catch whereupon,

A whiff of the air that for once isn’t home

But in someone else’s where my soul will roam.

***

So, right…that staring contest with the ceiling?

I did that too, in days lovelorn’d.

Till I remembered there existed a world outside me

While I lie and lay, sat and scorned.

All these unprecedented jubilees — what is the scope of their power?

But they’re all I have, and they I revisit in my darkest hour.

Live a little, lie a lot

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I prefer reminiscing the peak of dawn,

the scene of myself lying all limp and lanky

after all my energy I transferred

into your lips.

Spent. Unlike the superficial beauty

that I keep alive in my perfume bottle and complexion

to seduce my equally dashing counterpart.

***

Body of a man.

Face of a woman.

***

Him? Her? My understanding is blurred

while I’m still drunk on life and nihlism.

I like your big hands, though,

a cheap mimicry of the real package.

Old wisdom told me that

ya ain’t good for me, bubs-!

ever since I dubbed you the ultimate

Generator of Dreams.

But what happens when dreams become a reality?

***

“Stay,” I sobbed into an imaginary breastcoat

after you smothered me so hard my head swam

in a narcotic pool of my own making.

“Exist. Even if just.

Else I’ll wither.

Lie to me so hard you fail me

gracefully.”