Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.



“I messed up again, didn’t I?”

We sat on a grassy island, wrapped by a cold stream.

Keith stretched his legs until his heels almost skimmed the water. “Yeah, a little.”

I drew my legs up to my chest, wrapping my arms around my knees. “I keep taking it out on every one else, and when I’m not, I’m at my own throat.”

He smiled that lazy smile, rolling over onto his back and propping his head up with the palm of his hand. “You know there’s only one person who can judge you. You don’t keep having to weigh your own sins and kindness against one another.”

I rested my face against my forearms, nose tucked into the space of my left elbow. “I haven’t heard Him in a long time. All he does is reach down to earth and pull me away from disaster. Then He’s gone. I’m still without any answer to where I’m supposed to go.”

Keith reached out and wrapped his hand around my golden brown braid. He stroked it down until it ended at the small of my back. “You’re standing in front of yourself.”

The affection only pushed me towards a quiet weeping, tear drops dusting the fine blonde hairs on my arms. “I can’t see beyond myself.”

“Bingo, kiddo. You know you can. Maybe one day you won’t need me anymore. Maybe you won’t need any of us anymore.”

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Pearl touched her fan to her mouth, allowing each fold to pass over her lips. “Well, there’s no helping it then.”

Jasmine scrunched her fingers into her dress and leveled her gaze forward. “I wish there was something I could do.”

The fan snapped shut and touched Pearl’s throat, her smile indulging. “I don’t. This is how you’re meant to be.”

Jasmine felt her cheeks burning and worried the fabric in her hands, “I wish you had warned me about how love is. You gave me so many books with knights, princesses and pleasant endings. Each of them contained a little piece of a dream I wanted.”

Pearl arched her brows and eased back into her chair, folding one long length of her leg over the other. “My dear, there’s nothing I could have taught you about love outside of fiction and fairy tales. You talk to me like I should have warned you, prepared you, or given you instructions on how to experience it.”

“You should have! Maybe then, I wouldn’t have-” she holds a gloved hand just under her mouth, preparing to cover it at any moment. “If I had known I would have run away.”

Pearl closed her eyes.

Jasmine felt a sob building in her throat and swallowed it with a painful grimace. “Now I’m consumed. All I think about is the moment I see him again. I cannot even pin my hair without thinking of how he …”

“Unpinned it.” Pearl finishes.

Jasmine put both hands over her face, her fingers tight together as she covered her eyes, feeling her own breath rolling back against her cheeks. “Please don’t say such vulgar things.”

The chair creaked as Pearl took leave of it, kneeling in front of Jasmine. She began to smooth the wrinkles from the gauzy fabric. “You won’t think of it that way, in time. You’ll learn to appreciate those feelings, regardless of how they seem to have your heart in rough seas.”

Tears ran down Jasmine’s face until they stopped and soaked into her covered palms. “I don’t know what to do next.”

Pearl laid her head against the girl’s trembling knees, “That’s how you know it’s right.”


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An unsteady light flickered overhead, giving the illusion that the room’s shadows skirted towards her. Her naked feet were icy cold from the tiled floor. The old radiator was covered in a thick blanket of dust. But it didn’t stop her from peeling her shirt upward. It joined the lump of her jacket near her ankles.

In her mouth was pandora’s box, a miniature sliver of a coffin beneath her tongue.

It was all honey when she was untouched. She did so much good. But that didn’t matter now, not in this lonely bathroom. For as much good as she did, the bad always found her. She didn’t know how to do bad. So the box opened and swallowed the vile. The tiger would always eat her, for she was too fearful to crush even an ant in her flight. The coffin swelled when the bad men came.

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It’s Amazing

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She sits on the edge of the table, her toes pointed downward. “It’s funny.” her head rolls back, “It’s sad.” now her tongue is touching her left canine. “It’s important.”

With considerable grace she slides from the table, her heels arching high into the air. “They hate you for your strength. Your unpredictability. Everything that you can do and undo. You don’t disappear well. Every box you outgrow.”

Now her fingers slide against calloused palms. “They resent your courage when they cannot move. They fear you because you are fearless.”

Carefully she pushed forward, tipping weight between two bodies. One slid forward. One slid back. “And here you want to shed your wings? You’re mad. Will you cut your talons and file your teeth? You can change everything ahead of you, you can conquer the universe.”

She felt resistance now, knowing that she could never break that balance. So instead, she fell forward into a chest that rose and fell ever so evenly. “Don’t let them tar and feather you. Don’t let their hateful labels stick. No one that loves you would want to push you to the ground. No one that cares for you would cut you just to see you bleed.”

“Run as hard and as fast as you can into the light. Let the water split beneath your feet and leave a hot mist behind you so they can never see where you go. Stop looking at them, their eyes are ivy around your feet. Don’t give up. You’re good. Please don’t ever give up.”

Water cut her across the face as she fell backward, shielding her eyes as the splash scattered blue gems. She felt a great wake in the air and stared over her shoulder.

“Keep moving, dear one, I’ve passed the torch to you.”


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Mary pushed her hands down on Luke’s head, squeezing her fingertips down in a drum-like rhythm. “Come on! We’ve got to get closer, I want to see the fireworks go over the bridge.”

“Oof.” He adjusted his balance and shuffled through the tightly packed audience. “Quit grabbing my hair.”

Mary grinned wildly and squeezed her legs until her heels nipped in at his ribs, “Ya!”

Luke pursed his lips and drew them to the left. “I am not a horse.”

“You’re right. You’re more like a bull. Charge!” she rocked with impatience, the movement jarring her short hair along her jaw.

He gripped her calves and edged closer still to the railing. Luke took the annoyed stares of the jostled in stride. A crazy woman was driving him, what could he do?

Mary released his hair and drew deeply of the night air, the delightful smell of spent fireworks heavy in the July heat. “Oh wow. We’re gonna be able to see everything.” when Luke didn’t answer, she continued on. “I’ve always wanted to see this. The last time we were in the back of a truck, remember? It was so weird. We were all crushed together but ..”

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“I can’t get it.” Keith groaned, his body bending so far over his drafting table that weight pressed dangerously on Ikea Territory.

Dessie, the sulky room-mate, flicked a spent butt at a clay ashtray. Another miss. It only added to the dozens of other misses. For all practical purposes, her ashtray was the entire planet earth. She dug her tongue into the gap between her teeth, mumbling around the awkward twist of her tongue. “Of courf you can.”


Dessie spit free the food lucky enough not to get ground to digestible quality against those nicotine stained choppers. “Can’t. You can’t.”

Keith snapped back around and pretended to focus on the spread of notes on his desk. Lyrics, poems, stories and letters. The summary of a man’s desperation.

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“It’s that time of the sunset again.” she murmured, staring at the orange sky over the rim of her glasses.

Her companion sunk deeper into the half egg-shell chair, “Why can’t you just say how you feel?”

She smiled, an ivory flash showing between two fingers that framed her lips in a horizontal peace sign. “But that is how I feel.”

“You’re a human being, not a time of day. Though with how weird you are, I’m starting to doubt the former part of my observation.”

The hundred year old seat bottom creaked beneath her as she rose to her feet and then stretched onto the balls of her feet. “That’s how I got here you know.” Two fingers came up and tapped on the shallow dent of her right temple.


She closed one eye, grinned, and arched her thumb to resemble the hammer of a gun.



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Beautiful boys have a way of making even the ugly things they do bearable by the adorable symmetry of their smile.

My science teacher had a fondness for injured wildlife — all but bunnies that is, and if you have any familiarity with trying to save baby wild rabbits, you’d know why.  A student had brought in an injured barn owl that my teacher had taken great pains to bring to full health.  I remember peeking over the tattered rim of the cardboard box, smelling the pungent scraps of trashed blankets that how now become its bedding.  It was a beautiful animal, but I was at the age where I still refused to be star struck by even the simplest of pleasures in life.

When it came time to release the owl, our class trooped out across the soccer field and around the newly steam-rolled tennis courts.  The outskirts of my campus led deep into the woods, and there honestly wasn’t a better spot to release the animal that the students could appreciate it without having to buss’em out to the wild yonder.  Frankly, we were already there.

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When most children are palm wet with excitement at penning their own name and learning to corral their jerky little movements into BIG BLOCK LETTERS – I really hated it.

Hello, have a piece of me.

It seemed to say.

I hate personalizing things.  I break into a cold sweat at personal gifts.  I’m not an ancient egyptian reborn, I assure you, but for awhile I did not think I could handle the fingers and toes of my well intentioned friends.

I left most of my journals unsigned, more than a fair lot of my poems untitled, and arguably all of them hidden for the duration of the rash that came after creation.  I made and then itched and was absolutely not well enough to deal with the repercussions to my big ol’ mouth.  

I can tell you one thing, writing the poem about the bloodied all-seeing Jesus on the cross who is severely disappointed in you and YOU and YOU was something my sixth grade teacher caught the rash on.  Maybe it was about the gore.  Or even the tender care given to the way gore-flesh flutters in a healthy downward stream of blood like watercress.  Either way, it was bad news.

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What cruelty we bring, coming into another’s home and claiming it undone. When the hammer comes down and catches the back of my spine, having each bone scream pain to the next, I am frozen.

I becomes her, and soot sweeps beneath brutishly short nails.

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