Denaya Rose

A compilation of poems, stories, ramblings, and thoughts.

Outside.

Free from external stimuli
I can imagine a life outside the soul trap
The flickering concentration
Bony fingers trying to pry into forgotten worlds
A leak from the other side
A stream of inspiration
Of divine origins
Feed my brain and feed my fingers
Before I starve on dull intentions
I’ve heard this all before and so
I nod in agreement
Or roll my eyes in wasted time
Don’t think
Don’t ask
Don’t speak before you think
But don’t think
So don’t speak
In the presence of
These incredulous faces
Wasted on what you know you know
If you knew, you wouldn’t be here
You wouldn’t live a life afraid of where you’ve been
Or where you are in another dimension
The place between last week’s unscheduled meetings
And the walk you never took
For a cold that can leak inside
And freeze the last vein holding you here
Green turns yellow
In oversimplification
Traces of the time spent breaking twigs
To feed the fire you wanted to smother
From me to you
As we find our meanings
In a place that doesn’t exist

Research.

Words are sinking, lonely, hopeful,
Repetitive, I say again,
Forgotten in my drying pen,
Within the books I’ve never read.
Between us, I hold them close.

Thoughts are comfort, ever-present,
Painful moments not a lesson
In strength or any pleasant
Dream. Drifting, so it seems.
Between us, I let them go.

Journal, archive, old collection,
Everything and no direction,
Spaces made for recollection
Of your supposed inheritance.
Between us, this road is slow
And unfriendly to foot travel.

Faceless

I’m uncertain if these moments are mine or yours. If ownership does exist, I claim nothing. Forgetting my own face, not for lack of mirrors or pictures or Zoom calls, but from a disconnect between me, I, and me, you. This is no identity crisis. I am a metaphor.

Fragments.

abstract art artistic autumn

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Are you speaking with intention?
Do you have a secret message?
Are you seeking my attention
To convey some divine lesson?
I’m adding to the noise,
The inconsistent distance between us,
And I know you’ll only see
Yourself in me.
I am a disembodied voice,
I create and I destroy,
I am your forgotten memories,
The fragmented imagery
That wanders through your mind
As you fall asleep,
The moment of clarity
That frightens you to your core,
The dream you won’t remember
When you wake up tomorrow.
I know not what I say,
For my words are not my own,
I pull them from the ether,
And kindly take them home.

Misplaced.

mountain covered with snow

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Is there an absence of me
In the places I’ve been
That I’ll never return to
In this lifetime?

Perhaps, my friend,
Perhaps forgotten

Is there a presence of me
In the faces I’ve worn,
Or do I lose myself
In my own survival?

Both, I think,
Equally unwanted

Am I a question?
Never an answer?
Am I stuck inside
An impossible sound?

Yes, my dear,
Proceed with caution

Poverty Lessons.

I learn to sleep on an air mattress in the one-bedroom apartment I share with my mother. We don’t have any real furniture yet, but we do have a space to call our own. There’s no overbearing or intoxicated male presence to tell us what to do, and for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid to close my eyes at night.

Until school starts, and my new friends want to come over. Until my grade 8 science teacher wants us to model the galaxy using items we “have lying around the house.” She can’t see that I don’t have anything lying around the house. She can’t see that $5 worth of clay will take food out of my mouth.

I learn to create alternate realities. I know better than to believe that talk leads to action. I’ve been handed promise after unfulfilled promise, and I recognize that my father’s brand of achievement lives solely within an imaginary realm. I know his words were always a means of escape. He’ll never finish the house. He’ll keep punching holes in the walls he built.

I learn to hide behind a false image. I convince myself that I’m fitting in. My poverty floats in the shadows, a monster that I conceal with lies and brand names. I buy a new pair of shoes with my babysitting money. Three wasted Saturdays for one fleeting compliment. These shoes make me feel normal until I realize that the very recognition of my normalcy in this moment serves as evidence that I don’t really fit in. My friends don’t have to think this way.

I learn that every mask I wear only leaves me more exposed. If I could boldly accept my position in life, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so awkward in my own skin. It isn’t elegant to clash with unsightly surroundings. I am always falling out of place, wrapped carefully in my own vulnerability. When two delivery men come to bring us free twin mattresses, I want to be invisible. I want to jump in the closet or hide under the coffee table, but I can’t find shelter in this 500 square foot box. The mattresses are cheap and light, and I wonder if they’re made of abandoned cardboard and Styrofoam. I should be happy to leave our inflatable bed behind, but this new charity only serves as a reminder of my inferiority. We are food bank shoppers. I am starving for more.

I learn to hate accepting help. My mom can’t afford Christmas gifts this year, so the radiology department at the local hospital makes a donation. They buy me a new shirt and an MP3 player. When I learn that my friend’s mother is a radiologist at the hospital, I feel ashamed. I tell my friend that I can’t come to her sleepover. Failure meets isolation. I always blame myself.

I learn to run away from past. I shove all of my belongings into a single, pink, cow print suitcase. New country, new life, same pain. Poverty clings to me like an incessant stalker. The cycle continues, and I keep tumbling forward.

I learn to avoid the conversations that reveal my truth. I cringe when my grade 10 English teacher announces that I’m new and asks where I live. The loaded question. I try to use my ignorance to dance around reality. “I just moved here,” I say, “I don’t know my address.” I tense up as the teacher turns to her computer and prepares to strip me of my dignity. I feel naked. I am exposed. She reads my address to the class and I eat my discomfort. This is my secret. It was never hers to tell.

I learn to lie in fear of ridicule. I join the track team because my mother is working late and I don’t want to take the bus after school. I don’t even like running, but I run to hide my truth. This is part of my survival. When the season ends, the whole team chips in to buy a gift for the coach. We are supposed to bring two dollars each. I’m afraid to say that I don’t have two dollars. Who doesn’t have two dollars? So, I tell the captain I forgot to bring the money. Forgetfulness is more forgivable than being poor. “I know everybody else contributed to gift,” I say, “can you just leave my name off the card?”

I learn to part with expectation. There is no comfortable prediction of better days on which to rest my head. I don’t look forward to a real future. I’m not trying to find my way back to better days. I’m trying to claw my way out.

I learn to keep my story safe as my middle-classed college peers play their hand at the poverty game. They talk about collecting couch quarters to buy alcohol for the weekend. It’s trendy and endearing to endure a youthful struggle. It’s not charming that I started college two years late because I didn’t think I belonged here. I know exactly where I’ll be if I stop moving forward. Poverty is an all-encompassing and pervasive pattern. It sinks into the cracks of every aspect of life. It changes the way I think, structures my thought patterns inside a world with no safeguards. The bumpers retract at the bowling alley. My seatbelt unlatches on a busy street.

Distance.

information sign on paper

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I am the original,
And I am a facsimile,
And I am predictable,
An understood anomaly,
A parody of paradox,
The here and now,
The past,
A faded representative
Of things gone right,
At last.
And I am made of memory,
For you define me through
The pictures you retain
Of me,
And paint of my debut.
The words you hear inside
My mind,
Are permanent,
But new,
And I am all of this combined,
Restructured, within you.

Decoded.

scenic view of mountains during dawn

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I don’t expect mutual comprehension, but perhaps feigned clarity, or a hint of resolution inside your inaccurate interpretations. We’re both making noise, though my effort is more potable and I don’t think you’re thirsty. I don’t regret spending the last of my dwindling energy trying to turn these thoughts to things, caught between adjacent truths. We do what we know and I think we’ve been here before. Keep moving. Step back. Identify the weakness but don’t destroy the pain. I just wish I knew where I was supposed to go, what I was supposed to say, and who I was supposed to be. Instead, I seek comfort in confusion and I choose my path with understated purpose, if not for your understanding, then for my internal peace. The problem itself is not a lack of capacity, but a lack of effort, and maybe for good reason. There’s nothing to be gained, only lost, and we are both products of circumstance. Ponder your strengths and let me exist outside of your mind. Leave me here until I’m cold and alone, banging on the door for warmth. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever reach your thoughts, or if I’ll stay here forever, in the outskirts of memory, my face a fading vision you can’t quite place.

Reflections.

flora flowers grass nature

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Here’s my voice. Uninspired, out of reach, elusive. Maybe I can’t tell the good from the bad, the external force from the internal inspiration. All I have is my intention. I stumble through my memories, prying at the locks, trying to compartmentalize my story. These defining moments replay in my mind and grow more distorted with each recollection, each attempt to turn my fractured past into a linear narrative. Consistency triumphs over truth. Perhaps I saw beauty here once, but now I’m stuck outside. Let me in. Let me go. Am I overcorrecting previous criticisms? Am I rejecting responsibility by limiting my effort? Don’t try to be original. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re special. But, don’t place your insecurities under the weight of futile words. All things breathe. All decay.

Intentional.

photo of pink rose on white surface

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Forgive me for my weakness
Forget me for my face
And in the face of angst and doubt
Show that you’re not afraid

I am alive, for now
I presume you’re living too
And in this moment we connect
Under hints of solitude

A lonesome mind in peace
A lonely friend to fear
Together for the purpose of
Intention, though unclear

Fuel, unfiltered, for your frown
Consistently off key
I don’t exist here for your doubt
Nor insecurity

Turn fractured past to structured plot
Give breath to life, portrayed
As mediocrity sets in
Be sure that I’m okay