Updated: Sep 2
By Elizabeth Gracen:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café Emerging Poets Series features the work of newbie poets from around the world, celebrating creative expression through poetry. This week, we share the work of Juliet Lauren.
Juliet Lauren is an award-winning writer, emerging poet, and aspiring author. Recently she has had work published by the Pine Hills Review, Doghouse Press, and High Shelf Press. She wonders where the butterflies go when it rains. For more on her work, visit her website.
We reached out to Juliet to ask about her influences and inspirations.
EG: How did you come to poetry? Why do you write?
JL: I write because it’s my favorite medicine. I write because if I don’t, I get withdrawal. I feel shaky and nervous when I don’t. I write for all the girls I’ve loved in rehab and hospitals. I want poetry designed for them, and I’ll die trying to do that. I write to tell certain people to come home. I write because it’s all I’m supposed to do. I write because art is my soulmate. I write so I can make money off it so I can have the financial freedom to write all day. Every spare thought goes to art. I write because I do not create poetry, I am poetry.
EG: What do you hope that people will come away with from reading your work?
JL: My writing almost always has simultaneous themes of love and mental health. I want people who read my work to feel less alone with these subjects. I quite shamelessly express my struggles with life, anorexia, bipolar [disorder], depression, substance abuse, borderline, and other heavy subjects through my work. I do this partially because when I put my demons to the page, they’re less in my head, but I mainly vocalize these problems so other people don’t have to. I aim to be a comforting yet unapologetic voice to pain. I try to walk carefully along the lines of beautifying yet not romanticizing big problems to give a respectful, realistic voice. In other words, I make puppet shows out of the skeletons in my closet so, at the very least, I hope people are entertained.
This poem is about love that accepts zits, snot, washed-out skin, brown teeth, and bad breath. It’s about how love accepts what society doesn’t. And sometimes when that love and acceptance becomes so great, it translates to even more love and acceptance through the creation of a being by two bodies becoming one. Also, the title is a sexual innuendo, and it was inspired by Ocean Vuong, who was inspired by Ancient Greek ideology.
Two Bodies Trying to Become One.
Vomit in one hand steering wheel in the other. I try to make you cry but you love me. I wake up myself. I wake up the girl who’s traumatized by a state. I wake up the girl who went downtown with the whole town.
Most thoughts shattered and wet. And yet you look at me like I’m a beatific vision.
You make love to me with morning breath fresh zits from sleep glasses and greasy tangled hair and I’m royalty until I look in the mirror. Embarrassed until I'm bursting with the purity of you.
I wake up and you push coffee and breakfast into my lap. Pet me like a cat. Kiss me like we’re both kids. I try to find myself when I’m full. Sometimes I see my whole life flash through your warm happy eyes.
My baby blonde head of curls and my ballet classes
all repeated through her. And she will be half of me and half of you. She will bleed love because she will be raised by parents that are soulmates. And I can’t imagine anything I’d want to cherish, worship, and protect more. It’d be so merciful if I can’t ever love myself, I get to give a little girl a chance. Ever since we met all we do is try to make our two bodies become one.
This poem was born from running errands and commuting in the Florida suburbs. I captured my perception and observations of the ordinary because sometimes the golden light of heaven shines through the cracks of the stratosphere when you pay attention.
War Generals and Buddhists
Bitcoin is up 4000 dollars since last time I checked and that’s good for some people. And the orange truck drivers seem to be doing their jobs. And my Amazon package was delivered 3 days early. The sky is chalk and glass. I’ve driven down this road in my sleep. Those men are still homeless. The school board is still hiring. Bus drivers and janitors. I just noticed those nice apartments today, though. I can’t tell if she’s 19 or 32. She’s angry on the phone and driving behind me smoking a joint. It wasn’t hard to tell. It was papery and loose. The lines in her face hard with an exasperated edge. The next car in my rear view is a couple laughing. In the middle of telling a story. Love reverberating off them. Martin Luther King's dream come true these two. And my nails are stained blue. And there’s a blood home leaving my body. The mosquitos this spring were released by the government so I heard.
But the birds' songs are still faithful. On my street, there’s nothing more suburban than the pastor’s buttcrack.
And the cat is asleep on the porch. Missed calls from mother. The air in the house tastes like it won’t just be chocolate and wine to help me sleep much longer. We know the love is not everything. The love is perfect. The love is a lifetime. The love is not money. The love is not health. And in the driveway the sunlight is just right.
And there you go again mistaking your own heartbeat as the footsteps
of your angry father. Realizing there’s no part of you that you can cut
because there’s no place of you that isn’t kissed. Missed. Worshipped. God Himself would get a bullet in the throat if He touched me wrong.
Yet there you go again writing instead of googling suicide. Screams between stanzas. If I went inside, my veins would be; emerald green, electric blue,
ruby scarlet, seashell magenta, violet topaz, sunburst mandarin pumping blood
that is on fire. Cells of sand dollars and wildflowers. Coral and stardust. Ladybugs and lemons. Azaleas and airplane windows. Home. A home is an intention of love. Home is limitless as long as you’ve respected all the subconscious minds that allows it to be so.
I can’t count the birthday candles, wishing wells, shooting stars, puffy dandelions, asked prayers, and fallen eyelashes, anymore. But I still keep sweeping up the piles of broken wishbones and coffee spoons. Please. God, is it the title? I can change it. Rearrange it. God, I like your bathroom floor. It’s where we have my panic attacks. It’s where you run around like a preschool teacher unlatching razors from fists with half fingers.
I’m not a homewrecker. In my head there are war generals and Buddhists arguing.
Constantly. My scars itch when I say a mistake. Every person has some version of money, minutes, and choices.
When we open our eyes we are given so much. It is fair even though it’s not what we deserve. Minutes, money, choices make spiritual, emotional, physical treasure.
Leaves falling. Buildings burning. Children playing. Bees on flowers.
The click of a gun. The cat stepping on a pie on the windowsill. It makes up a planet. It makes up a person.
I wrote the first draft of this poem in the bath on my phone. Hardly any situations stop me from getting the words out of my head and into stanzas or dialogue. I won’t allow it. I didn’t have any particular inspiration for this besides the setting where I wrote it and the awareness of being naked and alone. That’s what I used to create this piece.
Do I really love my body?
Do I really love my body if the only thing that makes me happy is its bruises. The straight line of brown spots I connected with an elliptical orbit of sharpie. Make the middle one Jupiter, I think.
Do I really love my body if my bipolar borderline mind
can’t see the space between bones and obesity. And all of the generosity the spiritual being puts into the breaking of the bread.
The paradox of Ana. It hurts. It hurts! IT HURTS.
Do I really love my body if my favorite parts of it are art I’ve paid to stain me. Do I really love it when my stomach noises sound like applause. Why do I only recognize myself in the mirror with makeup on.
Why do I only recognize my skin when electric fingertips are stroking it.
Do I really love my expiration date.
My blood that will spoil like milk. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder yet we all value beauty and therefore we all have beauty standards. We all wear our silks and furs and dark lipsticks in our living rooms.
Feeling everything with our Androids. Hating ourselves deeply but yet we can’t think of anyone we
understand more. We’re all passion aliens and art robots and right now I need to be unscrewed and oiled but with this body, it’s called
Do I really love the thing that so many people see fit to use
when I have no say or say no. Or when I love him but my eyes are still shut or my liver isn't working but I love him.
They say don’t meet your heroes but they said that before coffee so I didn’t listen and with a bathtub and some scissors, I went swimming. I cut deep until sparkles and smoothed over lavender body wash onto the red faucet of my wrists until it blurred greasy. I held my nose and swam naked skyward. To look God in the face and ask him what the hell is going on.
He looked like Elvis if Elvis was holy and lit an ancient cigar
and said I gave you all free will. I wasn’t sure if it was the beams of pearlescent from the holy
place or if there was a tear in his left eye. He sat me on his lap and stitched my wrists himself with a
spare angel’s harp string. He brought me a mango cut like a
rose and hibiscus tea and asked if I took my pills.
I said I’m trying to again. I fell asleep as he kissed my cheek. And I woke up in a bathtub full of bleach wondering if I loved
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