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.

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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

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.
17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Oceans Once Receded

I was a desert woman
who learned to live on cactus boys
learned to run at night and sleep all day
knowing the burn of sky and sand

Then you came with your oceans
rivers, lakes, and waterfalls
I dove in, eyes closed
hoping you’d teach me to swim
hoping to learn your whale songs

I threw away my land shoes
swam under the stars
let my skin pucker in your waves
my desert plants were drowning
I let them bloat and drift away

Then your tsunami receded
first sudden, then steady and slow
I stood naked in your mud bed
for weeks with dripping hair,
dripping hands refused to dry

I learned to pray to wet earth
give thanks for saltwater baths
learned to hear your voice
in the night bird songs

Until even the mud left
took its soft clay from between my toes
the caked earth in my hair
began to dry and crumble
desert wind wiped all traces
of salt from my cheeks

I push myself back into desert shade
live in the evening light
I can never return to cactus fruit
when I’ve fed on fields of phytoplankton
I’ve lost the taste for prickly boys
so I may wither for a while

Until at the edge of some moment
in the pale space between sun and moon
I might hear the sound
of water rushing

First Published in Element(ary) My Dears.

2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say Run

Get out, get out
and into the world
a woman like me
would tie your hands with ropes
and hang them from her hips

Get out while you can
and let the wind carry you
a woman like me
would climb from under your boots
and into your pockets
lay you down heavy on her bed
just to rise above you

Get out and wander
be a wild bird
a woman like me
would clip your song feathers
and stuff them in her mouth
just to have your voice
seeping from her ears

Get out and make no promises
don’t even say you won’t
a woman like me
hangs on open window sills
burns her eyes on the driveway’s end
holds all your words
like collected seashells
in her cupped hands

Get out and go far
take no existing path
a woman like me
would strip you naked
press you inside of her
memorize the turn in your face
in the dim light
she’d reach in and pull
all the strength you have left

Get out
She’ll want to cut rings
from the center of your eyes
and string them like beads
around her neck

Get out
She’ll envy the breath in your lungs

Get out
She’ll put a straw to your mouth

Get out
She’ll want you empty

Get out
She’ll drain you cold as death
just so she can pour her blood
into your veins

First published in Indiana Voice Journal.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say My House Is Now a Park

I stand on cinderblock walls barefoot
holding my hands out
over the edge.
He says he gave me his eyes
so I close them, walk brick to brick.
My heels, calloused, a line of infection
is growing. If it reaches my heart,
I will die at age seven.
I count to ten, then one hundred seventy.
South of me is demolition, a chain
of commune houses sunken into grass.
It is always so tall here.
The pain in my foot is muffled, a woman
held captive, screaming silent.
I toe-to-toe down the cinder line
towards our junkyard neighbor.
We built a fort into bamboo soldiers.
When we leave here, we will forget how
we need to burn everything still standing.
This place will not be for children, but
black tar parking lot.
That way, it won’t have to remember us.
Remember my seven-year-old hands digging
nails from my feet. A tree house
of death threats can die here or
lie buried under asphalt.

First published in In-Flight Literary Magazine.

2010s · Poetry

Paint

I am wet paint
shine on the edges
round with anticipation

I am smear
brush stroked
dragged up and across
the pores of daylight

I am gradient
my density spread
transient as lost family

I am blend
black father
blue mother
my purple sister
always yellow brother
red child unborn

I am gel thick
squeezed from tubes
swirled and diluted
still knowing my name

I am image
landscape and portrait
abstract or Dutch photographic

I am frame
wood carved and gilded
mat-less and bare skin
open to the elements
dust and finger oil
sunlight, loving sunlight
brings permanency

I am dab and dribble
splattered and flick
I am classic Nuevo
I am rainbow and cloud
I am brush desire

First published in In-Flight Literary Magazine.

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

Yellow

I am seven
yellow-blonde girl
with missing teeth
wearing someone else’s clothes
I smile for the camera
I don’t remember
where I am
there are so many rooms
so many stops
I am never there long enough
to know if I will miss it

I keep following my mother
my brother, too, in the car
we drive for days and months
I forget the names
of all my teachers
just shadows of school yards
they say I need glasses
I have too many absences
I think this is normal
don’t all children hold secrets
like packs of gum
at the bottom of their pockets

I love my mother
I believe her implicitly
I walk in my sleep
in every different house
to find her
I am empty without her
so we keep our clothes in bags
and in the car
they are my sister’s clothes
or someone else who outgrew them

she cuts my hair short
to get rid of the lice
it’s up past my ears
I cry like a widow
yellow-blonde hair
corpses lying under my chair
I can go back to school now
the fourth one this year

twenty years later
I will return here
it will be so much smaller
the rooms will have moved
and ghosts of yellow-blonde hair
will wander in the shadows
of school yards

First Published in Elsewhere Lit.

2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

My Friends Who Write Poetry

Our words swing from threads
across our chest. They pull,
unraveling thin lines into
a soft jagged mess.
Some of you fight it,
snip those frays clean,
tuck in all the evidence.
Some dig fingers deep
wearing fringe coats
long into summer nights.
I know a poet when I see
your words dangling,
dragging, spilling like
sloppy rainbows
out from our pockets.

First published in Uno Kudo.