(throw back) Saturday morning

Sitting here at work, way to early on a Saturday, I’m reminded of a piece I wrote a copy of years ago, when I was struggling with that post-graduate, job-you-love-some-aspects-of-but- you-feel-doesn’t-work-you-to-your-full-potential experience.  This fist appeared in Illinois State University’s literary journal, Euphemism:

The flip side of a copy

Rachael Stanford

Time moves slowly when you’re a glorified copy wench. As the pale glow of replication illuminates the growing wrinkles adorning my face, the realization slowly sinks in. A train monkey could take my place, not a NASA rocketeering monkey either but a sleep-most-of-the-day in between poo-flinging one.

As the minutes tick to the void, my eyes scan the room. I want to rip down the OSHA poster, burn it to the ground, screaming to my coworkers, “six years, two degrees, honors societies and publications have to amount to more than paper cuts. And sleepless nights slaved away with library crammed house should amount to more than a no-benefits, crap-dollar an hour pay.”  I want to start anew.

A battled scared vet returning to a reformed nation, I find myself longing to be lost in The Wasteland, strung out and strung up in a hotel full of beatniks and hippies hell bent on filling the worlds with flowers.  But the best minds of my generation are wasting away in cheaply pressed suits, long retail hour eyes wearied, as their back breaks with the loans on which their future was built/destroyed.  And my rent is due in a week.

The copy machine spits out my order. As my hands shake, I pick up each warm piece, permeating my skins. But my bones shake as I turn out the light and slowly walk away, each step echoing down the hallway.

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It was the bargain for the summer, and I thought I had it all.

loveIt was a flicker, a slow glint of tinder in an otherwise rainy, overcast May day: I wanted to write.

I had forgotten of course what it was like to live with true heart-break, to be one of the slumberers, stumbling through waking hours, waiting for the respite of sleep, but knowing none would lie in the folly of my mine’s dreams.

Fighting all the time, my one urge to lie still in my bed, to slow my breathing as the cover envelope me, and slowly close my eyes. To be still. To be as close to you.

In short, I miss my father terrible.

I know it’ll be days, maybe even weeks or months before I let the words course through my finger tips to page. The ink makes it real, impossible to smile and pretend that yesterday is today and tomorrow.

Soon enough they’ll be moments where the pressure is off my chest, a mad dash for the light underwater.

And I’ll forget, for a minute or two, the dull ache of my heart.

Then they’ll be another and another until I notice once again the smell of lilacs dancing in my chest and the sun warming my broken bones.

But for now, I wanted to do something. Anything. And that’s enough.

Goodbye 2013 (the last of my two pieces published this year)

One more day until the new year, so I decided to post the other two of my pieces which were accepted in Euphemism. I’m about a month behind on this but as I documented so much in this blog, life has a funny way of getting in the way of my life plans! Enjoy and stay safe this holiday!

After (You’ve Gone)

the heart beats on

life beats
on.

the heart generates
an electrical
signal

its own signal,
animpulse

this,
we can prove
recorded by
an EKG

dots of
your fingertips
painting my
skin red

electrodes
on
chest

it exists

as

I and you,
did, do,

still do

though not us,
rusted, worn, rotten pictures

the impulse leads
to each beat

mix-tape memories stuck
controlling

a we’re-through, salty-tear
smooch stains until
you tear awayas
the signal spreads
across the heart

triggering
muscles to contract
in the correct sequence.

the signal spreads
right to left

a party of dreams
relay-replay.

pushing the blood into…

right to
left

right to
left

your face brushed
mine, smiling

the impulse is
then passed through
to the ventricles

misty, black n white
nightmares

us

causing
the ventricles to
contract.

I throw off my
sheet, ripping at
my skull.

the heart
beats
on.

and my essay:

The flip side of a copy

Time moves slowly when you’re a glorified copy wench. As the pale glow of replication illuminates the growing wrinkles adorning my face, the realization slowly sinks in. A train monkey could take my place, not a NASA rocketeering monkey either but a sleep-most-of-the-day in between poo-flinging one.

As the minutes tick to the void, my eyes scan the room. I want to rip down the OSHA poster, burn it to the ground, screaming to my coworkers, “six years, two degrees, honors societies and publications have to amount to more than paper cuts. And sleepless nights slaved away with library crammed house should amount to more than a no-benefits, crap-dollar an hour pay.”  I want to start anew.

A battled scared vet returning to a reformed nation, I find myself longing to be lost in The Wasteland, strung out and strung up in a hotel full of beatniks and hippies hell bent on filling the worlds with flowers.  But the best minds of my generation are wasting away in cheaply pressed suits, long retail hour eyes wearied, as their back breaks with the loans on which their future was built/destroyed.  And my rent is due in a week.

The copy machine spits out my order. As my hands shake, I pick up each warm piece, permeating my skins. But my bones shake as I turn out the light and slowly walk away, each step echoing down the hallway.

Stages

As I’ve shamelessly mentioned before, I had four pieces recently published in Euphemism.  I won’t lie. I’m happy the piece below was published.  It has lingered with my for the past two years.

I first wrote it the week before my thyroid surgery.  Swelling with emotion, the pieces was bulky, rambling and not that great. I didn’t do anything with it, but I couldn’t scrap it.

Out of surgery and rockin'

A scar of words.

Until a few months ago, I felt removed enough from the piece to do my work justice. I edited and reworked. And while it’s not perfect, I think that its a pretty spiffy piece.

Stages
Rachael Stanford

i

I gazed at you, my neck pillow-propped strained to an awkward, unnatural angle, in that painfully white, sterile room.

Forty-eight tiles: four vertical rows, twelve horizontal.

I tried to breathe as I was serenaded into serenity by the nurses’ chattering. They paused in song to lick their obese blood-red lips as I faded.

You are amazingly beautiful. The shadows and curves of your cells, illuminated by the ultra-sound machine’s soft glow, could hang in the walls of any pretentious, stuffy contemporary art gallery as rich old white men, their fat bellies tucked into overpriced suits, drowning in desperate art students, who gleaned over their clothes for hours until ever iota was painfully mismatched, debate our meaning.

You moved as I to greet the doctor. I wondered if this was the closest I’d ever be to a mother.
His lips mouthed, “there mostly likely is nothing to worry about,” but the flash of fear that invaded the pupils of his cold blue eyes illuminated more than any syllables could.

My heart raced, coursing through my veins, your breakfast.

The irony of my unawareness struck deeply during the next few days. As I waited, you, my one tiny cell, festered, a parasite feeding off of me, slowing depriving my body of nutrients.

I went on.

It was just another Tuesday.

If only….

Random events-the alarm you swore you set that never rings, the falling of that one last screw needed to hold it all together- that you and I can assign meaning to (after the fact) to validate anything. Now, my friends, family, nurses, doctors and strangers, can tell us with a forced smile that everything in this life happens for a reason.

I should be grateful, because God only tests us to make us stronger. Just think how strong I will be after I beat my own body into submission. Not you, though, my precious. You will be dried out, poked, prodded and laid on some microscope lab for a stranger to ogle you in your unabashed nakedness.
Yet, I am not grateful.

The words from the other end of the line, her voice light and airy as if reporting the weather, didn’t register to me at first.

But, you do.

My little one, you are your momma.

You are broken. You cannot thrive or evolve to spread your wings to other parts of my body, but can only grow in your own obesity, like a fat spoiled child given too much birthday cake, until you press against my windpipe, or artery, or some other organ and damn us both with your suicidal tendencies.

ii

I still hoped that you and I wouldn’t part as I waited in the Ax man’s room. This was a bad dream. I only had to roll myself out of bed and let the floor smash against my face. The blood-sweat droplets rolling down my cheeks into my lips will choke me to consciousness.

But as I stared at the wall-painting, a blatantly recognizable reprinting of Americana, the little nondescript boy, his features so amorphous that he could pass as my own, smiling at me, I knew I was awake.

There were options, are options, and always would be options. Too many options: different choices on what part of me to cut out, on how much to cut out, on alternatives that strangers who can type swear cured all.

The choices swirled about the air, a tiny tornado only we could see. I could try them all, dive in and swim around, let their water fill my lungs, but the time on the clock ticks away into your cells. I wonder how long you and I could take it.

“You already know you’re going lose it right.”

We didn’t.

iii

We are alone. You and I and that creepy reprint that bastardized the walls with its assumed art. His eyes followed me as I paced the room. I wanted to rip it down, wanted to scratch it away, paint chip by paint chip, starting with the clear, pure blue eyes of that smiling boy, slowing working my way down his neck, until my bleeding fingernails tear through the canvas and stain the snow-white walls.

I wanted to permeate into the cold walls. I needed the permanence.

I don’t know what you thought, or even if you think. Are you prokaryotic or eukaryotic? Are you a gift from God or the Devil? Are yu a mark of my uniqueness or a mar showing that I’m just another genetic runt that science kept alive?

I desperately want to know.

iv

“If you have to get cancer this is the cancer to get.” The Ax man said.

You are the belle of the ball, my little one. You, nestled in the muzzle of my neck, could surely feel the vibrations of my vocal cords, massaging you with every sob.

My farewell gift.

I could have asked a thousand questions. I should have. But, all I could ask, how long will my scar be?

Only a few inches.

A large tribute considering you’re smaller than a pea.

I know it is of little consolation but your tombstone will be etched into the soft, supple folds of my skin for all to see.

As I slumber, as you slumber, the Ax man will gently cut into my pale skin, peeling it away layer by layer until he rips the beast from me. Until he rips you from me.

v

I love you.

You must know that.

I love you.

Oh yay! I got a guest blog published!

This was a fun an exciting weekend at the comic book festival. It has definately inspired me to look for a graphic designer and work on a comic idea I have had for a while(more details to follow).

But first, I have some fun and  exciting news to share. jumpI have had a guest post published on the Independent Play(w)rights website! It’s titled 5 things I wish I knew before I became a playwright.

It is, if I do say so myself, a good little piece of information that contains some  great tips I had to learn the hard way. If you are just starting out writing plays or even if you are experience, go ahead and give it a read.  You might just learn a thing or two!

Be an Artist

Be an artist. Paint. Write. Play the banjo. Sing in the shower. Whittle figures out of soap.  Write lyrics in bathroom stalls. Do anything and everything that connects you with your creative potential.

Any day is a day for a play

Imagine. Explore. Dream.

Don’t be angry if your parents or teachers try to discourage you. They are worried, worried for you.  Money rules the world in so many way and bleeds into our fears for the one that they love. Adults try to pretend this fear doesn’t exist. But it does.

But they don’t understand. They don’t know what it is like for words to course through your veins and swell your body until a pen realizes it. They haven’t found salvation in a dingy light club with a sweaty rock and roll man screaming as the crowd swells against you.  Or spent all day staring at clouds. Or spent six hours trying to find the right shade of red. They simply are just not wired like you,do not thirst art like water, do not breathe it in like air.

Realize that this beauty is more powerful than any dollar amount, and may never bring you any money. Realize that the late nights and long hours are worth what you are doing for nothing more than the finishing line of a poem. That fame and success do not add to your work. You do not have to be Picasso.   My art, your art, our art will have a rippling effect that no one will fully comprehend. One speck of paint can bring the heavens to weep.

Creation. Taking nothing, taking parts and making a whole is contained within itself, a wonder that mimics the heavens.

Be an artist because the world tells you to become an investment banker but just as the word needs financiers, scientists and doctors, the world needs a soul.

Be an artist because the world sucks. In the darkness, we need your light of hope. We need a voice that screams, “I feel how you feel. You are not alone.” And in the light we need the darkness, an everlasting reminder of the yin and yang of life.

And never apologize for it. Be who you are. And love what you do. Those who understand will never chastise you. And those who don’t, will never understand.

Submissions Wanted (The Manila Envelope)

I was asked by The Manila Envelope to let you know that they are accepting writingsubmissions for their Fall Issue:

“We are looking for new work (poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction and visual art work) to include in our upcoming Fall Issue by the end of September.”

If you would like, you may find more information on their submission page.

Note: There is a submission fee.

On a side note: please feel free to contact me (via email or on a comment) if your magazine is looking for submissions.  I have another page I’m going to blog about later this week that I’m in love with for play-writing opportunities, but I would love to expand and add a page on my blog for ongoing submission opportunities. I want to get my readers as much information on different places to publish to make their search easier.

Call For Submissions

A call for submissions from my friends magazine!

In Vivo: Humanities, Sciences, & Ecologies is now accepting submissions for its inaugural issue. Submissions may be in the form of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, plays, photography, paintings, or drawings. Works accepted for publication will intersect issues of environmental or social justice in some way.

Suggested topics for consideration: preservation, technology, meaningful work, global/localization, cultivation, urban/rural life, science, medicine, health, family: childhood/parenthood, community, literary/cultural theory, consumerism, history, place, boundaries/intersections, cooking & food, education, ecology, and more.

Submissions and queries may be sent to Kristina Gaddy Mulpura at InVivoMagazine@gmail.com. Editorial workshops and materials for classrooms are also available upon request.

Persistence is the name of the game (I guess)

So about a year ago, I submitted a story to an anthology on childhood friends. It was accepted (of course….ok that’s a lie, we writers get rejected a lot.)….and I waited to hear from them.

And waited.

And waited.

Well yesterday, I finally got annoyed enough that I sent a kind though sort of pushy email, asking if/when it was going to be done. This first off, is something, timid little me, is not used to. Not at all.  I hate stirring waters.

I wrote it off, figuring I would never hear from that again, or alternatively, that if I did, they would tell me they either scraped my part of the project or the project itself.

However, I was wrong, within hours, the manager responded to me. And they are bumping my story up (they are releasing some of the stories on the web as a teaser) since I took the time to check in and all!

Yay!

More on this to come.