words are foreplay for the soul

Archive for the ‘Write Like You Mean It’ Category

November 9th, 2017 by Akua

My Broken Brain, Part Two

My brain has a new curfew. It’s not allowed to make words past 7 pm. This is to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings between me and my beloved, who keeps telling me I don’t make sense when in fact I know I am making perfect sense. We cannot both be right. My brain must abdicate and I must learn to live with it. But this is a hard, hard thing for some one who grew up thinking that to be Right was to be Good, and to be Good meant being worthy of being alive.

Ergo, to give up being Right feels a little like death. Or the imminent prospect of death, to come perhaps with a swift silent blow in the darkness as I sleep, or with a yawning bathtub drain that opens to swallow me into wet darkness while I shower away my dreams, or perhaps as a knife-beaked silver bird emerging from my morning’s egg to carve my throat into scarlet ribbons.

Some days the words do not come. I sit in stifled silence, my brain no longer on speaking terms with my mouth. My mouth, hungry thing that it is, demands words! But my brain does not obey. Or, if it does, it metes them out slowly, slyly, doling them out like precious jewels. Except these jewels are all mixed up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter in the summer swelter.

And the Queen must have her crown.

Communication is a funny thing. “It’s the one hundred percent responsibility of the speaker,” he says, “to make sure they are understood.” But he also says, “If you don’t understand what someone says, it’s your one hundred percent responsibility to make sure you do.”

Surely they both can’t be right. [Yes they can! And stop calling me Shirley!]

And the band marches on.


July 14th, 2012 by Akua



I can see everything from up here.

You would think that three inches doesn’t make much of a difference, but you’re wrong. It makes all the difference.

It starts with corn. Ever been in a cornfield? I always thought the ears were up high, higher than my head, but no. It’s the tassels that are high. The ears grow along the stalk, like cocoons stuck to a pole.

Corn always reminded me of teeth.

But it’s the tassels I am thinking about now. Being up high like this, I can see them for what they are. They’re sex! Come here, they say. Come and get me! I have no idea how corn plants go from tassels to ears, but there you go.

Up here everything is quiet. Read the rest of this entry »

July 10th, 2012 by Akua



I really thought this would be different.

I remember where she started. Two eyes, a dot for a nose, and a chalky curved line smile. Suddenly I am blinded by bright hotness from above. Glittering bluewhitebright, and I can’t even close my eyes to get away from it.

You probably don’t know this, but it’s nearly impossible to draw a perfectly round circle. It took her 27 tries to get this. All that smeared-finger rubbing, spit wiping me away and then gritty chalk bringing me back into being. I would shudder right now, thinking about it, but as I hardly have shoulders I can’t.

Everyone says this, and I know it’s trite, but: I hate my hair. It hurts. Your hair probably doesn’t hurt, does it? Spikes driven into your roundish skull? I thought not. No, your hair lies there, softly, awaiting caresses. Mine is — what? — Brillo? A bed of nails? No one will ever caress it. Read the rest of this entry »

July 5th, 2012 by Akua



I should have known my new job was going to get me in trouble, but the pay was really good and I really thought I could make it through the six month probationary period to get health benefits, because we all know that anyone is way more marriageable once they have the bennies, and I already have the PERFECT to-die-for wedding dress picked out even thought I’m not actually, you know, dating anyone.

So anyway, every morning I’d get my usual skinny vanilla venti soy latte and sit at the bus stop trying not to pick at my fingernails. I’m trying to grow them out, honest, and even though my therapist says it’s not exactly  OCD, I can Google like anyone else, thank you. I really thought that the gloves were going to help me with that, covering up the bleeding red sides of my fingers where I chew the skin off. I had no idea that newly made rubber gloves (oh — maybe you didn’t know this? But rubber gloves aren’t even rubber? They’re made of latex, same thing as condoms. Who knew?) actually sting when you put them on, all hot and melty from the balloon things that they dry on. Read the rest of this entry »

July 2nd, 2012 by Akua



Really, the only reason I wear four-inch heels? It’s the kitty litter. On the floor. All crunchy. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Okay. True story. Once I had this thing on my foot. A mole. It was there for, like, ever. And then something happened to it. Maybe it was all the tanning beds, I don’t know. But the damn thing changed! Grew a face! Okay, I knew you wouldn’t believe me. Look at you. You have your I-don’t-believe-it-face on. I can tell what you’re thinking. But listen. This happened, right?

So the mole. The face. Remember? Well, the thing got bigger. And bigger. Pretty soon I couldn’t wear shoes. I had these Crocs? You know, the plastic shoes with holes? Yeah, I had some. And that was okay for a while. I’d just stay home and pet the cat, anyway. I mean, I had a goddamn FACE on the side of my foot, right? What else could I do? Read the rest of this entry »

June 28th, 2012 by Akua

Hand of god


I’ve often idly wondered what would happen if a gigantic hand  reached down out of the clouds above Seattle and pulled the Space Needle up from its roots. Sometimes when we’re standing overlooking I-5 and Lake Union below, Queen Anne across the lake spread out like a tawdry wench, I think about giant hands.

“There would be mass chaos,” my soulmate says. “Anarchy. Screaming. Martial law.”

I can’t really imagine the aftermath of a giant hand reaching down out of the clouds. I think of it as a mystical thing. Magic. Like the boom-boom-boom sound I heard from my front yard when I was 3, convinced there was a giant on its way to my house to eat me. I hid under my bed for hours and no one ever came looking for me. But a giant hand? That feels friendly somehow. Comforting. I think people would feel better if they thought there really was some guy up there in the clouds looking after us, even if he did take away the Space Needle. Read the rest of this entry »

June 27th, 2012 by Akua


I should have known it was over when I began marking the sheets.  My side and his side.  Sleep never came on a pillowcase impregnated with his odor; I could feel his essence creeping into my pores, into my psyche, turning me into him in some awful alchemy.  Forgetting whose pillowcase was whose after laundering, I’d lay awake all night trying not to breathe him into me, swearing to find a way out, hating myself for my oversensitivity. After the third year you could see how his mothball smell had crystallized into a dark smear on the pillowcase.  When I left, I let him keep the sheets.

June 27th, 2012 by Akua



Hot sand crunched underfoot. Hotfoot shrieky tiptoes onto cool blankets and beach towels. Warm salty water, buoyant waves. Somewhere there’s a fire, a smoky-warm cloud wafting across the sand. Maybe the lottery wasn’t real, wasn’t going to happen, wasn’t going to take its tithing tenth in just over an hour.

The war machine waited, waited with hungry mouth and tail, waited for its food, waited just off shore while the food played at being unconcerned, unnoticing, festive beachgoers playing and sunning at the seaside.

Mothers slathered sunscreen onto reddening shoulders. Kids dug sandy trowels deeper into cool wet holes. Fathers dug quarters out of pockets for sweet cold treats. Read the rest of this entry »

June 24th, 2012 by Akua

Blue balloon


Some things are fleeting. Her voice was ragged from the lack of oxygen. Her thoughts flew, rising until they too thinned like the wisps of cloud above her.

The crowd in the square far below dwindled into dots of color. The moving dots arranged and rearranged, tiny puzzles pixelating. Pointillism, she thought, and arranged the dots again to suit her. Now they were a giraffe. Now a house with comforting smoke rising from its brick chimney. Now a giant mouth reaching towards her.

She shuddered and rose higher, looking now over the cathedral’s roof. Below, the dots shifted again and a cry rose from the crowd, a thin piercing wail that froze her cold. Read the rest of this entry »

March 23rd, 2011 by Akua


Humility. It is from the Latin humilitas, which may be translated as “humble,” but also as “low,” “from the earth,” or “humid,” since it derives in turn from humus (earth).  Wikipedia says it is a virtue, since it is connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.

I sang yesterday for a woman who lay dying. I sang with three other women who all sing their heartsongs, and as I sang I looked out at the sparkling blue-gray bay beyond, hearing our voices lift to carry the breath of one whose breaths can be counted now, so slowly. As I sang I thought of humility. Lift me up, I sang in silent supplication while my lips sang other words. Lift me up. Let me be your instrument.

Words like those do not come to me often, or easily. I have come so far in owning my wants, my desires, and here I was asking to release them into the breath-space beyond me. Humility. Releasing my desires into the larger space around me. Releasing my hold, my death grip, on creating my What Comes Next. Slipping into the warm current that will carry me into the tides of tomorrow and tomorrow. I felt my body, my heart, relax as I still sang, still looked with love and wonder and gratitude at the wild white hair scrawled across the pillow above the slight bent form curled into a u-shape, and the soft careworn faces lifted in song around me. Read the rest of this entry »