2010s · Poetry

Silver Brick Road

for Aly

If optimism is floral, you
are flourishing blooms
exploding pollen that instead
of making eyes water and itch,
eyes are forced to sparkle
and mouths from their corners
turn upward. Flowers with glitter
pollen residue rubbing on your
cheeks and your shirt and
your shoes. He said you really are
as you seem, all forceful
optimism endless like fields
of red poppies across silver brick
roads. You sing a song to calm
the giants from their castle clouds,
they lay at your feet to hear
your lullaby. Love, love, love—
girl, you are as you seem.

First published in Hedgerow.

Events · Feature Readings

Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover Chapbook Release

Arroyo Seco Press presents Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover Chapbook Release party! 17 poems written by Sarah Thursday with lovingly crafted, paper-cut art for each poem by Alyssandra Nighswonger.
Sunday, April 29th from 4 to 6 pm at Viento Y Agua Coffeehouse, 4007 E. 4th St., Long Beach, CA. There will be guest poets, art, and books! Details TBA.
More about the collaborators:
Sarah Thursday was born, in part, from inspiration found in her collaborator, Alyssandra Nighswonger. After six years of friendship and artistic crushing, this dream project has come to life. In addition to writing poetry, Sarah founded Sadie Girl Press to help publish local and emerging poets and artists. She ran a poetry website called CadenceCollective.net, co-hosted a monthly reading with G. Murray Thomas, but still wants to find new ways to bring poetry and art into her community. She has been published in many fine journals and anthologies and received a 2017 Best of the Net nomination. Her first full-length poetry collection, All the Tiny Anchors, and her other chapbooks and CDs are available at SadieGirlPress.com. Find and follow her to learn more on SarahThursday.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Alyssandra Nighswonger is a multi-media artist and adventure-lover from Long Beach, CA. This project was a swan dive into the heart and a journey in itself. The thing that Alyssandra admires the most about her friend Sarah is the way she takes her own personal challenges and creates an alchemy of the heart with her raw and fearlessly beautiful poetry. For Alyssandra, who can be a lot more timid with exposing the darker side of her emotions in her music and art and tends to hide meaning behind whimsy on the regular, this collaboration was a thematic challenge. It led to creating deeper layers in the illustrations, opening them up to being cut apart, and exposing that even the cutest wolf has a shadow, which developed this work into a papercut escapade. You can explore several of her musical projects and adventures at talesofalyssandra.com or follow her instagram @alyssssandra.
2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Death by Rust

rust was the death of us
oxygen and iron
weather and time

hundreds of holes
have been patched
and painted over

restorations aren’t made
of well-meanings
but of follow-throughs
and time-committed

we were not
the timeless classic
we set out to be

admit it
we’ve both been driving
other cars for years

our weakened frame became
overgrown by weeds
and nesting birds
while rust spread
under the belly of us

First published in Cadence Collective.

2010s · 2014 · Poetry · Publications · The Unnamed Algorithm

January 1991

In the bathroom of that old theater
is where it started for us.
You stood by the sink
and we met eyes through the mirror.
I had cut my hair short,
dyed my blond hair black.
You were so heavy metal
with your endless platinum hair
and black suede boots with fringe
that made me resist you.
But I kept hearing rumors
that you liked my favorite bands
like The Cure and even Scattered Few.
You were my age
and the same height as me,
we were both on the threshold
of becoming women,
of defining our future selves.
Back in nineteen ninety-one
we’d come for the same reason
to hear the bands pour their hearts out
to bare their souls on the stage.
You must have understood it
the need to feel it raw
the bloody heart pulsing.
I looked through the mirror at you
in that bathroom in January,
the decade still fresh and undefined.
We talked about the band
the way we always would.
You smiled with uncertainty,
I smiled back in my arrogance.

Originally published on Cadence Collective

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Once we were angry youth…

Once we were angry youth
shaved heads and colored hair
When I saw you were tragic
I adhered to you
So many secrets to keep
so much truth to grasp
We made honest promises
and everything we felt
it was sacred
Velvet capes and monkey boots
it was The Cure and L.S.U.
Music sang so many things
we knew them all by heart
We sat against the stereo
volume up high
as if to absorb it
inhale its passion
the truth of it all
was in guitar strings
and piano keys
I was anchored to you
in the hurricane of our youth
We outlasted the storm
and the years became memories
and miles grew between us
You and I got regular haircuts
and wore practical shoes
Always and always
I swore to keep us tied
I’d be that solid girl
who cleaned up after
those natural disasters
But the tides have changed
and it’s you who set sail
you pulled up the anchor
and I am untethered
The current and our priorities
the list of things we hold as true
are no longer matched
Faithful wife of twenty years
I am still living alone
Mother of teenagers
I am the mother of none
Woman of the God
I no longer believe in
I know it was only loyalty
that tied us still
You hardly listen to music
and the song in my heart
is the saddest melody
I release you-though you’ve been gone
We are no longer angry youth
Will you return on another tide
Will time rise and fall
like the ocean waves
Will the anchors never sink
in the same deep waters
I am drifting out far
I know I can swim
But you were the only one
who knew the beginning and the end
long letters in pen and phone calls
salsa and bookstores at midnight
long drives to nowhere for the sake
of the songs on the stereo
and the promises and the secrets
we have none left to keep

3-3-13
Originally appeared on Jackie & Tanya’s Friendship Blog, 3-14-13

2000s · Poetry · Unanchored

Disconnected

There will be no funeral.
No ritual ceremony to close this story.
I loved you. I did.
I swear it over sacred things.
It’s dying. Suffocated and left to starve.
This precious fragile entity is a waif of a memory.
It waits to leave this life,
Hardly holding breath.
I used to feed her. Bring her fruits.
Bring her grains and sustenance.
There will be no funeral.
No condolences. No sympathetic cards.
We will die quietly. You will not visit.
You will not see this as a God sent gift.
You will hold to principles and assumptions.
You will allow time to consume us.
Time will erode what we fail to nourish.
It will die of suffocation.
I am suffocating. I am wilting.
You will walk on by. You will go.
To your priorities. To your well planned life.
I weep and mourn for death.
There will be no funeral.
You pruned this off your burden.
This will not be certified. Just gone.
I don’t know what your love means.

5-29-05
Originally published in We All Bleed the Same, 10-3-13