On Leaving Bullet Journal

When something doesn’t feel like it serves your mental health anymore, it’s time to quit it. Right? When I was teenager and well into my twenties, I carried coins in my pocket. There was no intention of buying anything with them. And besides, snack and soda machines all cost more than a few measly coins anyway. I carried them because the textures brought me to a state of calm whenever the anxiety crept up on me. Feeling the ridges of a quarter or a dime, and the smoothness of a penny or a nickel was meditative. 

I wish I could say I remember the last time I carried coins purposefully. My pockets remain empty these days save for a pen or my earbud case. Sometimes I do carry a fidget cube; although, more times than not that fidget cube is in my hand as I run my thumb over the various doodads and textures it offers. 

In 2018, I decided to start using Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal method to feel more in control of my thoughts, my life, and my tasks. I went all out with it, opting to buy the official bullet journal by LEUCHTTRUM1917 and graduating to the 2nd edition a few years later. (Hot take: the original version was miles better than the 2nd edition, and, if it hadn’t cost more, I would have stuck with that version.) And you know that nothing LEUCHTTRUM1917 makes is cheap, but it’s well worth it.  

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Writing Poetry Is Hard

The ideas came from nowhere or, at least, that is how it seemed at the time. I could sit in my bedroom, mulling about or watching TV or reading a book or doing homework or whatever and this string of words would just come to me so I’d scramble to get a sheet of paper and a pen and write them down before they floated away. Before that – before my twenties – I forced myself to write. Every day. A new poem/song that my imaginary band in high school would play one day (did I ever mention that story?), so maybe that’s where the talent stems from. Re-reading old poems I wrote as a teenager (yes, I still have those beat up composition journals tucked away in my closet), they followed the same rhyme schemes taught in classrooms. I wasn’t writing sonnets, but ABAB CDCD and so on type schemes.

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Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon


Rating: 5 out of 5.

What Is It About?

When do you call time of death on a marriage?

Oliver Park is a young recovering drug addict. His older husband, Nathan, is a prominent trauma surgeon. And yet somehow they have managed to create a perfect illusion of marriage. And illusion that’s beginning to crack when Nathan suspects Oliver of cheating. 

Oliver knows that Nathan’s ever watchful eye is always following him. He knows that he shouldn’t be going to places like Haus. He knows he shouldn’t be going into a private room with a strange man. But things go wrong quickly in Haus, and Oliver barely makes it out with his life. 

Faced with bruises on his neck and a stalker on his tail, Oliver watches as the secrets begin to pile between him and Nathan. And as he struggles to keep it together, a ghost from his past enters his life. Just who can he trust and how long can he go weaving his lies? 

Continue reading “Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon”
Personal · Poetry Break

“Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?”

by Guillermo Corona

Faces in the crowd
cast in shadow. Lone
light shining upon an
open mic. Nerves gathered,
sweat glistening on anxious brow–
we come together not to bury,
but to praise this noble art. 

Tea-stained pages, rimmed with coffee
mark the passage of time
from home cook meals to library
meeting rooms to a new wave–
una nueva onda, a night of readings
with friends and family
y familias.

We are grandmothers y abuelas,
compadres and instant friends.
¿Si no hablamos ahora, who will?
We are the voices of generations
new and long since past,
whispers and echoes both, 
cracking on an open mic.

Somos amadores, we are coffee drinkers,
dunking pan dulce in our cups
while trading words and waxing poetic
philosophies like it was going out of style. 

Memory is a funny thing, ain’t it? I was sitting at my desk the other day when one just wiggled into the space between thoughts. It’s one of the last nights I hung around with the “coffee love guy.”

We both attended one of Amado’s Nueva Onda Poetry readings at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. He had recited – upon popular request – the poem in question, “Coffee Love.” I don’t know what it was about that poem that was a crowd pleaser, but those of us who knew the man knew him for that poem. It’s the only one that stuck in my memory, though I’m sure he read others.

“Whatever happened to that guy?” I wondered before pushing the thought aside, trying to focus on my work.

Memories, however, won’t be ignore.

The question hung in my head until I wrote down what would later be the title of this poem – “Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?” – into my bullet journal. I scribbled a few lines, trying to remember the conversation we had. Nothing stuck.

I tried writing a poem about loss – and I did – but I didn’t want to just focus on losing people. I wanted to remember someone, or rather the feelings I had two decades ago when I first took the stage at Amado’s little cafe and read for the first time.

And when I had those bare bones laid out, I started filling them in. Mixing in the words into English and Spanish – my broken Spanish. I flipped back to the page I wrote down my question and thought, “Now that’s a title I could use.”

I still haven’t answered my question, though. And maybe it will remain a mystery. I might bump into him one day, or maybe that last night was our last conversation. But if you’re reading this, man, how’s it been?

Poetry Break

“The Dog You Feed”

by Emma Bolden

from South Writ Large
The 9:00 news spills the blood
of my sisters, my brothers, spills
the blood by which we are all fleshed

and familied. How long, I worry, until
the wound is mine, because I don’t
love right, look right, because I don’t

speak right, truth right, because my
country has bricked and mortared
a room for me and I can’t find a way

to walk through its door. Sometimes
it feels as if barking up the branches
of my lungs are two dogs, one who

whimpers, sweet, who listens not with ears
but with a heart ready to hold and to hurt,
to care, to give, forgive. The other

dog howls at my enemy’s throat, wants
them to speak the tart language of blood,
wants the fang and drain to be justice, as if

I have the right to harm because I hurt.
How many times can a cheek turn if the other
cheek is pressed against the wall?

And if there is a God above us, among
us, if there is a God within this illusion
of cloud, cry and bone, this is what makes him

God: that he could number in love each
finger on these two hands even before
they have chosen which dog to feed.
Poetry Break

“anti poetica”

by Danez Smith

who cares how long i’ve spent with my poems—those shit psalms those rats of my soul—head first thru the window me at their ankles demanding substance, revelation, sudden gravity—shamed of my leafless, drug shanked brain—this grey popper worn hell—that dark dull circle i try to conquer beauty & the state from within. i’m not revolutionary i’m regular. nothing radical in being the enemy of america, the country of enemies. we find our laughter between the horror. stop asking me to explain having a body & a mind & a heart—their harmonies, their plots to murder each other. i’ve lived long in a low solstice—wife of a pipe & the blue lit plain—leo trash—saved by occasional dick & the knowledge of my mother, friends i confess my pocked seasons only after their caul. arachnid moods—self-cornered—text back weak—i haven’t been much lately—the dark season lasted years, swallowing seasons, collecting itself in my shallows like a motor-sheered fish. where did the poems go? what is their trouble? what kind of water is i?