2010s · Poetry

First Ride

Not at four or five, but nine—my first ride,
two wheels under, long seat, long handles
reaching out to hold me like how
I’d imagined my first kiss. I pushed
my feet against the pedals—move forward,
stay straight—push down. I was wavering
but I challenged the authority of gravity.
Sidewalk rough and cracked upwards
from the rebellious roots of trees hovering
over, shedding their seeds and leaves.
They dared me to ride under, past
their obstacle course—I did have something
to prove—I needed to win this race.
I held tight to my handles, gripped sharply
onto the balance I found there near
the street. I understood how simple it would be
to gain the respect of nature, though
I was never more than city-child,
born of wire and concrete.

First Published in Drunk Monkeys.

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2010s · Poetry

Pressboard Salvation

I rolled under the church pews,
long rows of orange and brown.
Most don’t question the reckless
abandon of a six-year old.
I could spy under their knees
after the service, grown-ups having
grown-up conversations.
It wasn’t their secrets I sought
but my own secrets squashed down
in the carpet between rows and rows
of tight loops, pushed hard
into the waxy terrain.
Under the pews, the pressboard bellies
gave me ceiling as I studied
the mangled sawdust glued
tight with thick unity.
I’d scratch its skin for weakness,
finger-bit nails hunting splinters
on those bellies achingly smooth.
But I knew where screws broke in.
I dug those edges deep.

First Published in Drunk Monkeys.

2010s · Poetry

Hammer of My Name

My given name, Sarah, in Hebrew means princess.
A concept to which I have never once related.
A captive, a slave, a servant, even a stable girl,
though I’ve never been any of these, are more relevant.
A warrior, a victor, a thief, even a queen holds more meaning.
I am not a delicate girl, set up on a pedestal
in pink taffeta and tiara, helpless to captors,
endlessly in need of rescuing, protecting,
saving from fierce dragons.
I don’t know that girl.
So I choose my own name, Sarah Thursday.
Beyond the obvious, it’s the feel in the mouth.
Say it. You can feel the soft grit on your tongue.
Feel the breath form around the back of your teeth.
No frills, no helpless girl in pink tiaras.
Thursday is the day of Thor, god of thunder,
voice booms across the sky, across black clouds.
Together, I am Princess Thor, the girl who saves herself.
Lets her words of poetry be tiny spears,
lets her voice be her weapon,
sounding heavy across black skies.

First published in All About My Name Poetry Series by Silver Birch Press.

2010s · Poetry

Funeral for Bees

I walk into swarming bees
to taste your honey. I
swallow sweet and sting
and comb alike. The hum
of your buzz and buzz
of your hum sticks golden
in my chest. The queen is
dying. You scratch and
mourn and bury her still
alive. Watch her wings
crush from collapsing
earth. You sing her floral
song with your failing
hands. I follow your
procession. Sway with
the bee-death dance. It’s
the corners of your eyes I
want to kiss now. Lick
every last drop.

First published on velvet-tail.

2010s · Poetry

When the Dam Won’t Break

Sometimes the dam won’t break
Sometimes the breath holding
becomes so automatic, lungs
won’t expand and the oxygen
in your pores becomes painful

Sometimes the clock won’t tick
Sometimes the unrest stops
your soul from unfolding
the heart beats without pumping
your blood, leaving fingers cold

Sometimes one listen isn’t enough
Sometimes the song mustn’t end
the music has more love to give
your ears opening to the sound
makes you weep silently

First published on Hedgerow.

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.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · Recordings

Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover Recordings on Soundcloud

April is National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) in which poets attempt to write 30 poems in 30 days. One of my big goals of 2018 is to really focus on my personal poetry again, so I thought I’d dive into 30/30 this year after a 5 year hiatus. So it hasn’t worked exactly how I meant it to. Instead of writing a new poem every day, I decided to do a poetry focused thing every day. Writing, revising, hosting, featuring, and recording. To celebrate the upcoming release of my new chapbook, Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover, I recorded all 17 poems and posted them on a playlist on Soundcloud. Click here and let me know what you think!

 

2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

Love Letter No. 3: To My Mending Self

You may begin to miss the grieving
the adrenaline heart thrashing in your ribcage
the coughing lungs asking permission to breathe
You may begin to hear all the quiets
humid silence scratching
each day confirming
this is it
this is all it will ever be

You may begin to miss the panic of hope
tangled in his kite strings
miss the fight, the battle, the bruise
miss kissing blood from rope-burned hands
You may begin to sleep through the night
to lack rebuttal
to forget to answer back

You may begin notice
the crevices in your wrists
the uneven scurry
of a black beetle across concrete
notice the sound of lead scraping paper
how it curls to the rub of an eraser
disappears like it was never there
to begin with

First Published in Indiana Voice Journal.

2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

Girl in Flight

I envy the girls
with light filled wings
They fly from breeze to breeze
pouring beams from their teeth
All men audience them
eat their smiles like candy
They breathe in love—
they breathe out love
No man ever
centers their universe

I could not be that girl for you
one with laughing eyelashes
smooth cheeks glossed
for kissing and leaving
kissing and leaving

I am unwinged, gravity locked
in oceans—not sky
teeth for crushing chains
eyes fire-fed
to burn through hurricanes

My love is anchor
my love is whale song
my love is sandpaper grit
galaxies inside pearl
volcanoes under mountain

My love does not breeze—
but tunnels into mantle
burrows into core
You want a girl in flight
laughing eyelashes
but I am unwinged gravity

First published in Indiana Voice Journal.

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.