Inside Out

Outward toward the outside
Toward that other
I am pulled by you
By light
By eyes that linger
By songs of laughter
Rushing up and out until
I slam face-first into the glass shell
The one I almost forgot
I can see outside
The world spinning by in streaks of blue, white, yellow, green
My hands splayed, nose pressed to the cold, slippery glass
Longing for something Real, something Out There
Something other-than-me
Perhaps to get out
I must first go in
Inwardly to my insides
Winding down the winding staircase
Spiraling
Down down down
Into the darkness
Creeping still into the shadows
Nothing but the sound of breath
Bare feet brushing on a cold dirt floor
Until I hear the thrumming
Faint and far away
Or do I feel it
In my soles
The blackness presses and
I lay me down
My hands splayed, my ear pressed to the hard earth
I listen
To the beating, yes, the beating of a heart
Foreign yet familiar as my own hands
Her heart – my heart – packed away, piece by piece, day by day, year by year
Deep inside this packed-earth shell
The one I almost forgot
The one that keeps me here
Neither in nor out
But somewhere in between
Aching always to be free

© Nichole Q Perreault

Written for my poetry group in response to the following prompt: choose a book, turn to page 29, pick 10 words that appeal to you, use at least seven of them in a poem. 

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Grief at the Sidewalk’s End

I wrote the following poem as part of a poetry group assignment. It was my first time attending and I was quite nervous, but everyone was lovely (and talented!). The prompt was titled “Borrowed” and we were to use a line from another poem as part of our poem. I must admit, when I started with Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, I did not expect to go in this direction – it’s a bit dark for Shel Silverstein hahahaha. But isn’t that the point of the sidewalk’s end? Anything can happen. Oh wait…that’s another Silverstein poem…

Grief at the Sidewalk’s End
A poem beginning with a line from Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
A darkened river wends
  Undaunted

There is a look as he turns his head
Squints toward truth, but we pretend
  Fainthearted

There is a dread and its claws ascend
Gut, chest, throat, soul-flesh rends
  Departed

There is a time when the sunlight bends
Her warm, blood-red amends
  Unwanted

There is a hand where his hand had been
Too slight to comprehend
  Truth haunts me

There is a pit where my dreams descend
Hope, joy, and light offend
  The darkness

There is Peace to my soul, attends
Understanding transcends
  The Cross bones

I’ve stood at the place where the sidewalk ends
Where breath suspends

© Nichole Q. Perreault

 

Suspended | Poetry Under a Bridge

This summer, we discovered that we could walk under the northern end of the Golden Gate bridge. The area is basically a construction zone (retrofitting the bridge for earthquake durability) so not many people venture down there. Standing with my family beneath the bridge, the thunderous sound of cars and trucks barreling over our heads, nothing but a chainlink fence to stop us from falling… it was all kind of terrifying but, you know, in an exhilarating sort of way. Later that night, as I scrolled through my photos, I thought this one captured the magnificence and desolation, glory and isolation, of that place…and of my heart…which in the end became a poem. (To my friends who already saw this on social media a few weeks ago: sorry for the repeat, just getting round to posting on my blog now.)

Taken with my iPhone 6 beneath the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

Suspended 

Under a bridge
With the weight of a thousand worlds rolling over me
Tires banging
Engines rumbling
The earth beneath us cold and crumbling
I hide
Finding comfort in the fear
Of a forgotten place
Neglected
Unadorned, the loneliness of hearts reflected
Like eyes
That can’t unsee the desolation
Of the days
The suffocation of her blazing fire
Here
Behind the chains
Looking out at what I cannot cross
Feels an awful lot
Like home

©Nichole Q Perreault

Creation 

Photo by Mike Petrucci (Public Domain)


My heart is in my eyes, like a periscope

reaching up from deep inside my chest, 

feeling everything I see. 

But not seeing everything I feel, 

I choke and sputter, 

searching for a picture, 

a story to settle the waves. 

Fumbling, my fingers 

cannot draw the dream,

cannot sculpt the scene

and so I paint with words. 

Paint a landscape 

with letters in black and white,

lines and curves 

that you speak to life 

with your heart-voice,

your mind-voice, 

your silent voice only you can hear. 

And your soul’s ear 

hears my unsung song, 

melting words like wax, into colors 

that splash across the canvas 

of your mind. 

You color in my landscape with you. 

So that together, 

you and I, 

we create this something.

This one thing.

Together. 

We paint a world.

© Nichole Q Perreault 

Moments That Never Meet

There’s the drip drop of water
From the faucet
Dripping slipping unceasing
Onto
Tired
Porcelain
Stained yellow with time

There’s the drip drop of years
And words, and years of words
Dripping like echoes
Echoes
Echoes
Echoes
Hollow, haunting

And the drip drop of days
That linger in the slanting sunlight
Dripping like yawning, middle-aged men
Slow
Slow
Slow
Beneath an open window

There’s the drip drop of hours
And waiting, and hours of waiting
Dripping like the ticking of a clock
One
After
Another
Into a his veins

And the drip drop of moments
Moments that never meet
Dripping like singular tears
One
One
One
Slipping unnoticed into the drain

In the Rubble of Broken Hearts

Even writing hurts. This thing I sometimes love more than life…hurts.

I want to stop. To put it off. To wait until I can write about things that sparkle and bring light to your eyes. I want to wait until I can make you smile, make you laugh, make you remember why we’re even friends.

I don’t want to hurt. And I don’t want to be the girl who’s always hurting. And I don’t want to be the girl you roll your eyes at because she just. Won’t. Stop. Complaining.

I want God to give me shiny, happy words. Because I want to be shiny and happy.

But He’s called me to this: the right now…the ugly and real…the what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

And some days, I hate it. Today is one of those days…

In my last post, I referenced Isaiah 54:10:

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has compassion on you. (NIV)

That was just a few short weeks ago and even then, I couldn’t possibly imagine how much He’d be willing to shake, how much He’d be willing to remove.

My world’s a small world. And I have taken things like love and friendship and kindness and peace for granted.

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Out of Darkness, Light | A Christmas Poem

Tough year to find time, energy and inspiration for a Christmas post. So I am resharing last year’s. I hope it blesses you. Merry Christmas!

Out of Darkness, Light

We walk in darkness
Stumbling, feet slipping
Grasping for something, anything to keep from falling

We scrape our hands on broken branches
Our knees on stony paths
In trying to save ourselves, we are wounded

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Broken Glass 

photo by Nichole Q Perreault

She strings the lights
more gold than white
A moment of peace, warmth
Broken by angry words
With teeth that eat at her soul

She sings, dances to anything but
Christmas music
The artificial pine needles scraping
Her hands ’til they bleed
She welcomes this pain
That hurts less on the outside

She rests awash in the glow of
One thousand one hundred lights
And thinks she understands why people
Cut, carve, slice into their skin
To let the inside out

She types on her phone
Silent, edgeless words
Knowing she won’t let him have that
She won’t pick up the shards he spits
Won’t let them become the broken glass that maims her

She did it once
Before
A long time ago
She still has the scar
He can’t have another

She breathes
In the late-night solitude
Breathes
One breath at a time
Beneath a thousand lights
And one silver star

© Nichole Q Perreault 

All That I Am (If We Were Having Coffee…)

Cup of Tea (Because I actually don't drink coffee) | Photo by Nichole Q Perreault

Cup of Tea (Because I actually don’t drink coffee) | Photo by Nichole Q Perreault

If we were having coffee right now
I would be laughing
or crying
or ranting.
It depends on which me shows up. 

If default-Nichole showed up, I would tell you about how I busy I am, how I love my job and my family and my friends and creating things and fleshing out ideas. How my girls are becoming beautiful women and my dearest friends. How my husband, somehow, all at once, drives me absolutely nuts and yet amazes me with his undeserved love and loyalty. I would tell you that lately, God speaks to my heart in ways so deep they can hardly be searched out and formed into words. And I would listen. I would listen to you and laugh with you and love you.

If grieving-Nichole showed up, I would tell you through tears that I don’t know how to do this thing we call life anymore. That I hate what God has done to our family. I would tell you that I still startle upon remembering that my baby brother is gone. Dead and gone from this world forever. I would remind you that in the last five years we’ve lost six family members and two beloved dogs. I would tell you that my girls are growing up and leaving me and I am crushed. That their going – even the prospect of their going – feels like having the air sucked out of my lungs, like my heart and body are drying out, shriveling like dead leaves. I would tell you that I am alone. And I am lost.

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She Swallows the Stars

Bare knees in damp, midnight grass
She leans her head over the creek
Her reflection just a shadow, rippling
Framed by dancing starlight
For a moment, she forgets
Her sandpaper throat
Dipping her hand in the cold water
She forms a leaky bowl with fingers, palm
Carrying liquid silver to her lips
She swallows the stars

© Nichole Q. Perreault

Inspired by the German word, gurfa: the amount of water that can be held in one hand. Found in the book, Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World, by Ella Frances Sanders.