Home:Memoirs of an Exchange Student.

The cabin was old and so was the couple that lived in it. “Grandpa,” and, “Grandma”, I called them. Like the cabin, they were a beautiful type of old. The type of old that is cluttered with memories and filled with love. The type of old that creaks slightly in the strong wind, not out of weakness but to acknowledge an old friend.The kind of old that feels strong and safe and warm.

The cabin sat on a hill, in a little grove, at the end of a little road that ended in a beautiful, maroon, covered bridge at the other end. There was another road that met this one right in front of the cabin. This other road cut straight through a pond at some point along it’s course. I remember because I had never seen a road that cut through a pond before.

It was the middle of my first winter when we went to see Grandma and Grandpa. The rivers flowed cold beneath the ice and the pine trees looked almost like klansmen with their pointy tips covered under all of that snow. I was excited. Grandma knew how much I liked chocolate milk.

We were in Charlie’s truck, the world’s most ironic truck. It had started out pink but he had changed the color to a dark grey when he got it. You could still see the pink on the edges of the doors whenever you opened them.

We got to the cabin late in the afternoon. I still remember the scent as we walked in, past Grandpa’s work space. It smelled like wood and varnish and hard, honest labor. It smelled wholesome.

Grandma came downstairs to meet us, even though we told her not to. She was short, with a slightly plump, circular face, ruddy cheeks and curly white hair. She wore a cream sweater and blue jeans. I had often thought that she looked a bit like Santa’s wife. She looked how sitting next to a warm fire with a steaming mug of hot cocoa filled with marshmallows would look if you turned the feeling into a person. She looked like she would keep the world outside the door and the warmth inside it.

Grandpa, on the other hand, he looked like he had been what a child would conjure up to keep the monsters at bay at night. He didn’t look tall and strong at the time but you could tell that he had been. He walked how the wind blows through a fog. He seemed to cut the air as he moved through it. His voice was gruff but also soft. It was the kind of voice that seemed not to be used much but to be used to great effect when it was. It was the kind of voice that I imagined could change your life with a single sentence.

I loved them both. My Grandma and my Grandpa. I knew that I couldn’t permanently make them mine. I knew that I had only borrowed them from my host family for the year within which I would live in the USA but I loved them. I loved their little cabin. I loved their little guestroom where I had sat in the old rocking chair and read Celtic mythology while listening to Passenger on my IPod. I loved the endless supply of chocolate milk and the fact that I barely even cared about it when it was compared to the family around it. I loved the biting chill of the winter on my skin as I walked across the pond and I loved the promise of warmth that stood in the little grove at the end of that road. I loved home. I only wish it could’ve lasted longer.



An absolutely beautiful piece…y’all need to see this 🙂

Midnight Muse

Where do we go from here, love,

Sitting at the center of the crossroads of our fate,

I know that you see the sun the bubbles inside me,

And that the light that I emanate blinds you,

But why does it frighten you so when you are bursting with brilliant miracles,

We could become fire,

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Her name was Fatuma.’Fatma’ to everyone else though. She hated it when people put emphasis on the, ‘u’. She said it made her feel, “rural”. I never quite understood why that was such a bad thing. Fatma was beautiful. She was the type of beautiful that didn’t know it was beautiful.

Ironically, her beauty was rural. The kind of beauty that seemed most fit for being watched walking to the river, earthen pot on her head, waist wrapped in a leso with some pithy saying printed onto the back. Maybe rural is the wrong word. She looked majestic. She was a true African beauty who didn’t need any of the trappings of modern life to accentuate her looks.

Her beauty was raw, it radiated from her like the heat of the african soil in the middle of the day, rising to warm your soul. Yes, “raw”, and, “majestic”, are the right words to describe her.

Her skin was light. Her lips were full, red and permanently pouting pleasantly. Her eyes were large and white with the irises standing out like
two dark moons in milky, white seas. Her nose was small, petite even. I had often caught myself staring at it and wondering how it managed to keep her alive. Her frame was small but her body seemed to flow rather than move when she walked. Each curve was a wave washing over you with each step. I envied her beauty.

His name was Ali. He saw Fatma on the beach one sunny afternoon. He was tall, with dark, sun-kissed skin, sharp features and a smile that seemed to ripple out of his very soul. Ali dedicated himself to the pursuit of Fatma. He seemed to value her beyond the possible limits of human desire and theirs was a love of giddy, adrenaline-filled moments.

Here, they were running between the rides at the show ground during Eid wondering which one to try first. There, they were walking on the beach as the sun set behind the waves that seemed to provide the background music for this scene of their little movie. Now, they were melting into each other as the music in the club picked up pace.We were all so sure that he loved her. Until, that is, we were all so sure that he loved Lisa.

The child that Fatma carried was named Ali, after his father. Fatma had spent the first few years of her child’s life hating his father. She hated him for the morning sickness.She hated him for the aching, swollen feet.She hated him for the cravings and the long nights spent worrying about the child’s future. She hated him for the labour pain and she hated him for the women in the neighbourhood who talked about her behind her back. Most of all, she hated him for his silence and for leaving her like that.

This all changed as the child grew older. I remember watching how each day, she seemed happier than the day before. I remember watching her play with the child and how, every once in a while, she would stop and stare deep into his eyes and smile wistfully as if remembering the sound of the waves. I wasn’t surprised when
she told me that she had forgiven Ali for his betrayal of her. After all, how could she hate him when her son had his eyes?

The man that Fatma married was called Joseph. He, too, learned forgiveness.He forgave the child for looking so much like his father and for the way that Fatma looked at him. He forgave the child for reminding him that he would always be second to Ali.


This Night.

This night,

It sounds like the waves,

Crashing against the rocks,

And you,

A lighthouse,

Cutting through the storm,

To bring my ship,

Safely home.

This night,

It feels like the cold,

Like going from,


To snowstorm,

And you,


Like a flask of brandy,

keeping me warm.

This night,

It doesn’t look like much,

Like the inside of a cowl,

At a hanging,

And you,

The well-placed noose,

That brings me quietly,

To sleep,

Hanging onto you tight,

Until my grip gets loose.


Heaven, I Guess.

“I had to do it Joey,”he said out of the blue.

I watched him run his hand absentmindedly along the edge of the bunk bed that we shared.

” Do what,Harry?” I asked.

“They’re making me out to be a monster but I’m no monster,Joey! I had to do it! She deserved mercy!”

The bed creaked lightly as he shifted his weight so that he could face me on the bunk below him.

“Have you ever wondered where people go after they die?”

The sadness in his voice felt cold, like a draft blowing through an old, burned-out house

“I don’t know,”I replied,”heaven,I guess.”

He laid back down,turning his eyes towards the blank grayness of the ceiling and sighing. I waited to hear what he would say next. He had drawn me in.

“My wife,she believed that the dead linger on earth,” he said at last,”said she could feel them,all around her,as if they’d never died.”

He went silent. The wind blew the curtain against the cell door.

“You have a son,don’t you Joey? I’ve seen the picture you keep in your shirt’s front pocket”

“Yes,I do Harry,” I answered,”his name is Maddox. He turns four in May.”

He sighed again. I could see the tears in his eyes.

“You had a son,didn’t you?” I asked.

He turned to look away,his back heaving with the effort of holding back sobs. I couldn’t stop, I had too many questions.

“Is that why you did it,Harry? Because of your son? Did she hurt your boy?”

He turned sharply and leaned over to face me,rage apparent in his eyes.

“Lillian was a good woman! She would never hurt Tyler! When he died,she took it worse than anyone at first but what happened after,that’s why I did it.”

His voice was unsteady. I finally understood him.

“She couldn’t let go,could she?”

His eyes narrowed and his gaze shifted erratically before settling back on me. It was as if he was looking through me, straight into the past,reliving all of it.

“She sang him lullabies Joey! Long after we buried him! She talked to him constantly,as if he was in her arms the whole time. She wouldn’t go to work,she wouldn’t eat,she barely slept! I tried to tell her that he was gone but all she kept saying was that he was only, ‘regrettably intimate’, with death…so one day,when she was leaning over his crib,pretending to rock him to sleep,I took my revolver out of the cupboard and put a bullet in the back of her head,where her skull and spine meet, so she wouldn’t feel a thing. I gave her mercy.”

He went quiet again,his eyes focused on mine,searching them for something. I could not tell what. It was either judgement or justification. All I knew was that I could give him neither.

“You know what the worst part is?” He asked suddenly,”the worst part is that now,I can feel them too,both of them.”


The Price of Warmth.

We stood before the mirror, she and I.Passenger sang quietly in the back ground. The white walls seemed unusually bright, unusually pure. She was doing her makeup. Long, black curls of hair seemed to almost trickle down her slightly wet back. She had a beautiful back. It reminded me of a river. Strong in certain places. Gentle in certain places. Curved beautifully in certain places. It seemed to pour gently out of her neck and into her waist.

She shifted slightly. I wondered if she knew I was staring. I shifted my gaze away. She sneezed. It was a cute sneeze.

“Damn foundation, ” she said under her breath.

I loved it when she swore. It thrilled me. I shifted my gaze back to her. She was putting her mascara on.

“Funny, isn’t it? All of this work, just for people like you to notice
me?” She laughed.

I didn’t answer. I was trying to figure out why it hadn’t felt like much of a joke. I could hear the faint ticking of the clock over the music.

She stepped away from the mirror and past me. I could smell her scent on the air. I held my breath.

I watched the crop top slip over her shoulders and back. I wanted to speak but I was afraid that my
voice would come out hoarse if I did.

The jeans came next. I wondered why she hadn’t completely dried herself off before putting her clothes on.

“Your clothes must be wet. Take them off and get under the covers. You can put them back on when they’re dry.” I wished the voice in my throat had as much courage as the one in my head.

She was sitting on the edge of
the bed now. One of her shoes was on. I leaned against the bedside table.

“You’re very sweet, you know that?” She whispered absentmindedly.

I still couldn’t speak.Images and song lyrics were flashing through my head. A lakeside gazebo in a little town in New England. A white dress with a low-cut back. Her back flowing into that dress. Her hair flowing over her back. Song lyrics like, “Forever seems like a long time but nothing seems like a long time when I’m with you” playing in the background.

The bed creaked as she got up. I wondered if, in a different life, she would have stayed for breakfast.

She was at the door now. I could hear her saying something about a fun night. I didn’t care much what she was saying just then. I was too busy trying to figure out why it felt like I was having a mild heart attack.Why every breath
made me feel like I was about to collapse into myself.

“So this is the price we pay to feel warmth, huh?” I thought.

The door shut. I sat on the edge of the bed and stared into the mirror. My chest heaved. I picked up my phone. The messages were still open. I keyed in the message to her.

“Yeah…last night was fun. What are your plans for next Saturday?” I tried to wink like the
emoji but I was afraid. I hadn’t cried in years.

I hit send. The bed was still warm where she had lain.



I am the sea,

Teeming with life and yet so quiet,

So still inside,

I envelop everything,

Yet rarely does anything,

Break my surface from beneath,

I am emptiness,

Enveloped in fullness,

I am darkness that swallows light that swallows dark,

I am the snake that eats itself yet never stops growing,

I am he that owes the gods his sorrows,

I am infinite,

And yet I die a little more each day.



Shared Soul.

I want to die, nestled in my lover’s arms. Seated on a bench, tinted orange in the glow of the setting sun, breathing raspingly through once strong lungs. I want words. Slow, satisfied words. Words said in the tone of one who has lived in a world within a world, a pocket dimension where only she and I and our dreams existed. I want her to say these words to me as I die. I want to hear them. To feel them. To breath the sweet quintessence of a shared soul. Finally, I want to die. Nestled within her arms, with her nestled within my heart. Peaceful. Well-lived. Well-died.


The Caverns Dim.

In life,

We learn,

How best,

To burn,

In death,

We learn,

How best to fill an urn,

In youth,

We learn,

How to breathe with the midday sun,

In love,

We learn,

How deep our caverns really run,

We learn where we echo,

With the sound of our lover’s stream,

Where sudden drops,

Are ringed with cracks,

From sudden screams,

And mostly,

How to be led,

As we enter,

The caverns dim.





Last night I was the moon,

I shone bright on the happy lovers,

I felt their happiness,

I felt their love,

they gazed into me,

and I gave them joy.

I also shone on the broken,

I felt their loneliness,

I felt their pain,

they gazed into me,

and I gave them the slightest spark of hope,

not knowing whether there was any,

but here I am after all,

shining bright on this dark night.

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And So He Jumped.

And so he jumped. But not because he wanted the sorrow to end. He could not have cared any less about the sorrow. It was a rain cloud on a stormy day that no one could do anything about. No one ever committed suicide over rain clouds. They simply waited for them to pass. No, he had more unusual reasons for choosing this day to die. He jumped in order to feel the air rushing past him. He jumped so he could spread his wings and let them catch the air and lift him up. He jumped because he wanted to fly and because he was afraid that he wouldn’t. He understood that it made little sense, considering the certainty of his demise, but as the ground drew closer, he realized that the lack of sense was what he most craved. It was liberating. It was breathtaking. It was spectacular. To jump simply because one wanted to jump, what a novel idea. Where were they now? All of those years spent learning that round pegs fit into round holes no matter how much he wanted to put them in the square ones? They were nowhere to be found. He had lost them at some point along the descent like frail, old plumage falling off of his wings to the ground below. He could see it. The change washing over him. The stripping back of all the layers that life had thrust upon him. He was a noble phoenix and the air was his rebirth. He could see no reason why anyone would willingly be held captive by the sensibilities of man. The impact never came. At least, not to him.


Disclaimer- I do not advocate suicide. I was simply trying to view rebirth from a different perspectives and in all of its forms. I was envisioning the struggle of any person who takes a leap of any form in order to bring change to their lives, the risk that is generally associated with this and perhaps, the possible outcome.


Image courtesy of red-of-rose-art-c-s


African Queen.

She carried herself beautifully. You saw it in the movement of her hands, moving through the air to gesture, as if underwater. At times, you could almost hear the waves rushing past you. You saw it in the way she smiled, calmly, like an oracle staring past the haze of this existence to gaze boldly upon whatever secrets the gods chose to hide. Her smile gutted you, tearing you apart and cleansing you before putting you back together again renewed. You saw it in the way she dressed, how each outfit felt carefully planned and yet, equally carefree, almost boldly reckless. As if showing the freedom within her soul yet daring you to try not to get lost on the surface. She dressed like the sirens sang and looked like the sea they swam in, alluring enough on the surface but promising depths that no man has ever known before. She was beautiful. She was beyond beauty. She was beauty itself bound to the earth and given its color, with the sky trapped within her eyes and the heavens locked within her mind. She was an African Queen.


Image courtesy of @art_by_leoart


Cupid Mourning Sin.

The script has been written,

Let the play begin.

I say, “hello”,

You whisper,

“How have you been?”


Cupid mourning sin,

Placid words,

Written in acid,

Upon my skin,

“Been good”,

I blink,

You wait to win,

“Me too”,

I blink,

The lights go dim,

Eyelids pull back,

It seems,

I’m stuck in the dark,

With teams,

Of demons on the attack,

Our seams,


But sadly,

My Queen,

I choose to be prey,

So win,


So I may rest,

Within the fertile garden that beats within your breast,

Let man show penance,

As his beasts,


A hasty retreat,

From your place,

Of honor,

On the throne,

Inside his chest.

Image courtesy of The Louvre.