SPOTLIGHT: Strawberry: poetry by Courtenay S. Gray

Is Anybody Out There?

The tumbleweed comes rolling towards me, and I see its spikes. How would you feel if 1,000 other writers earned $500 for what you’ve been doing for years, and you weren’t one of them? You’d be enraged! If all you do is write, and you see no prizes, no windfalls, and no recognition, it becomes exhausting.
I will stand on my soapbox, and I will ask:
“Why is it never me? When will my work be recognised for its passion and creative quality?”
We are the ghosts who are silenced. We guffaw at the faux positivity from people who have received that recognition you need to survive, and you say:
“How can you possibly know how it feels?”
Death will be the only thing that sees me recognized, and the terrible thing is that I obviously won’t be around to witness it.




A Bath Conversation

When we have a bath, what are we doing? I like to think that along with getting clean; we are also momentarily returning to our possible origins as fish. Perhaps you add some patchouli-scented bath oil or add a glittery bath bomb.
I have fond memories of sitting in the bath hoping that I’d transform into a mermaid, similar to the show H20: Just Add Water. I have always loved swimming, and I used to be good when I was younger. I attended swimming lessons every Thursday evening after school.
Many of us hate the feeling of our shrivelled skin when we get out of the bath. Even just talking about it makes my teeth itch. The act of bathing goes back thousands of years. I wonder if most humans love to have a bath because the small space and warmth make them feel like they are back in the womb…



The Myth of Growth

I do not believe that humans grow. People often comment on their personal growth, but I think that humans are collectors. We collect information over time, but only if we go looking for it. I have known many people over the age of 65 who have minimal knowledge, which adds to the myth that wisdom comes with age.
Those of us in our 20’s or below are treated with dismissal by some of the older generations. This condescension is despite our propensity for broad general knowledge and despite our high intellect. I am the same person I was when I was eight years old due to my inherent nature. I have merely collated knowledge as I have continued to live my life.
Tragic circumstances are not limited to the older generations. Young children have had to take on the role of the parental figure, which gives them a better perspective than a seventy-year-old who has had a primarily tragedy free life. Plants grow via sunlight and water. Humans are kept alive by those things, and we stop growing physically by a certain age.
Humans are sweepers. We are collectors. We pick up the pieces and put them together to form cohesive thought and fully formed ideas. Pick up a blackberry and study its shape. It is a deep purple colour, with tiny prickles. It has finished growing as it is now in the palm of your hand. It continues to collect bacteria, dust, and knowledge. The knowledge of blackberries is a morbid one, for they know that their destiny is human consumption.



The Final Problem

Everything seems so pointless I sit here, and I download my problems onto you. Who do you turn to? Everything repeats itself. We are stuck in this constant loop of downloading our problems onto the next person who will repeat the same process because we are all suffering from this banality. We didn’t choose to exist; we didn’t choose to be.
You’ll check your watch because you have other people to see who are in pain, just like I am. The tapping of your pen on your paper is routine. Those are the assessments you make about those who come to you. You dissect our pain, and you splice it into different branches.
Except, I have death glued to my heart. I said I was through with loving people, and I really meant it. Everything is stagnant. Existence is but a brittle shell, enslaved by the human mind. We’re done.




Cherries

You would sit across from me in just an apron, nothing else. Having spent hours in the kitchen, you’d return to the table with a bowl full of fresh strawberries, single cream and sugar. We would return to our last conversation and add more to its morbid recipe.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were sick?”
Attempting to distract me, you would feed me maraschino cherries. The juice mixes with my tears to form an unusual cocktail. I’d start wailing like a baby, and you’d sing me a lullaby to soothe me. Explaining why you had to leave is not how you expected to spend your last visit.
You collect my tears and the rest of the juice from the jar of cherries and siphon it into a shot glass. Knocking back the dregs of despair, you wipe your mouth and kiss me one last time.



The Saboteur

What happens when you can feel the seed sitting inside your brain, but you cannot get it to grow? You have an idea to write a poem, but none of the words feel right, and the message is lost in translation. You’re usually a beacon of creativity, but sometimes the light continues to dim.
Metaphors about strawberry wine and cotton candy smoke whirl around your pen with a jubilant spirit, but they won’t land on the page. How would a philosopher handle this? Would they go for a smoke and a glass of fine whisky, or would they repeat the routine of writing and erasing for hours?
I have a bundle of ideas that will not unfurl. It’s the writer’s greatest comedic tragedy. I feel as though a saboteur has gagged me with a bloody rag. Without a shred of remorse, the saboteur pistol whips me into submissive silence.



Blue Language

If the world was taught to speak in blue,
My despair would make sense.
A reasonable semblance of a staccato.
A brief pause in time to make peace
with he who will only be known as the
cause of all this chaos.
If I ran across the motorway
and found my place in the world.
Beyond the barriers and balanced on a ledge,
The mirrored gazes of horror from those fools.
Still trying to make it work, still holding onto hope.
My life is a sheet of ice, a cold blade of disaster.
So many questions appear,
But I cannot answer their pitiful cries.
It’s not my responsibility anymore.
I get off the orange bus, covered in sweat.
I take the scrunchie off my wrist,
And I coil it like a snake around my locks.
My reflection tries to tease me,
Showing me visions of mascara burning
Tiger stripes into my skin.
When all hope is lost,
The world goes quiet.
Only when you pull the trigger
do the birds start squawking.
Mourning the loss of another doomed dove.


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