Archive for the ‘Creative Writing’ Category

Setting: Sweater Weather

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Click here to view the embedded video.

Chase walked up and over the sandy hill and made his way to the shoreline. He had lived here his whole life—he’d practically been baptized in salt water—but, to be honest, he wasn’t a fan of the beach. The sand between his toes, the spray of the sea, the burning sun, it didn’t delight him the way it seemed to delight all the tourists who swarmed here every summer. Chase looked back at the weather-beaten boardwalk, the one Gemma made him take a million pictures of. Closed down shacks and tourist shops haunted the horizon. Chase let the wind seep into his sweater and bite at his skin. He let his eyes follow the dirty blonde sand until the beach hooked around. At the edge he could see the stacks of the old power plant, just as bare and left-behind as the boardwalk.

He listened to the crash of the waves behind him and the screeching gulls overhead. They reminded him of flying rats. They circled above begging for a scrap of anything and if you took pity on them, decided it wouldn’t be so bad to feed these mongrels then they took everything.

The foam rushed toward his feet and he stepped back; that’s when he spotted the ridges of a shell, half buried in the wet sand. His fingers reached for the worn shell and let the freezing water wash away the debris. Holding it he pictured Gemma here, laughing at the heart he had drawn in the sand, teasing him about his “artwork”. He clenched his fist around the pink shell and hissed as the edges broke skin. It hadn’t seemed that sharp. He threw the shell back into the sea and watched it fall, watched it sink back into the ocean.

Indirect Characterization-Compulsions

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

He grabbed the keys, heavy with the myriad of chains she kept on the loop, from her hand and ran to the driver’s seat. He jumped up and down on the pavement with the nervous energy of a five year old.

“I’m driving.”

“My car,” Gemma replied.

“Yeah but you’re a maniac and you don’t know where you’re going.”

She rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything. They got in the car and he pulled off the coastal highway. Chase could feel the silence stretching between them. Usually he never stopped talking-she would always listen-but today the only subject that came to mind started with I love you. He felt like he was going to just hurl the words all over her. He turned on the radio to quiet the words that had become a chant in his head. He groaned when he heard a cowboy crooning about his guns and trucks.

“Don’t they ever get tired of singing about inanimate objects?”

“Don’t start with me, Reggae mahn.” She said in a horrible Jamaican accent.

He laughed. It was only one CD, but she would never let him live Sounds of the Island down. He listened to her sing along, still amazed that she always knew every note and every line; she kept the beat with her feet on the dashboard. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her curling her hair around one finger, a habit she’d had as long as he had known her. The setting sun glinted off her red-brown hair as she mechanically twirled it, let it go, and reached up to grab another piece.

Direct Method Characterization: Jebus

Monday, October 21st, 2013

“God dammit, Gemma!” He ran his hands through his blonde hair and pulled at the carefully gelled strands, as if he could force the words out that way.

“I love you. Not like a brother or a friend. I am in love with you.” He laughed resentfully, “You tell everyone we’re just friends, but that hasn’t been true for me in a really long time. Jebus, I think you’re the only one who still stubbornly clings to that idea.”

“Oh, Jebus.”

He smiled at me then. “The patron saint of morning after’s isn’t gonna help you with this one, Gem.”

“Don’t tell me what Jebus is or is not capable of. I made him up. As far as I’m concerned I can invoke him at any point.” I curled my legs underneath me and nestled against the arm of the couch. I heard Chase sit back down and I lifted my eyes from the couch pattern. I stared at this stupid, stubborn boy: feet firmly planted on the ground, head in his hands, small smile forming on his lips.

“Wasn’t that the night I decided 33 shots was a good idea?”

“I tried to say Jesus when you told me how much you were drinking, but I was drunk too so I said Jebus instead.”

“And that’s the only thing I remember from that night.”

“Oh, Jebus how did this happen?”

“Jebus, help us through this difficult time.”

“We’re very strange people.”

He slid off the couch and crouched in front of me. His hands held onto my shoulders like manacles. “Gem, we could be good.” Hope was painted over his face, but all I could think of was how his hands were restraining me. And still he promised me, “I would never leave you.”

I kissed him then, a thank you and a goodbye. A testament to the broken-down person that I was.

Gemma Dunleavy

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

My name is Gemma Dunleavy and I am a mess.


It sounds like I’m introducing myself to an AA group. Is there an AA equivalent for people who are just plain terrible at life? I would go to that meeting, if only to see that there are people a little more broken than I am. Even my exterior says worn and ragged.


My long coppery-brown hair is almost always piled on top of my head or braided and lying against my side—if I’m feeling really lazy it’s hidden under one of my twenty plus baseball caps. I’m short, too short, which is why I’ll find any excuse to wear my cowboy boots. I would wear actual heels if I didn’t feel like a Barbie wearing them, or if I could walk in them. My blue eyes and freckles stand out sharply against my pale skin. It’s not so bad in the summer though. I’ve got my dad’s tanning gene, but my mom’s everything else. People tell me we could be twins.


I love tacky sweaters, but don’t tell my Grandma or I’ll never be able to take her clothes again. I’m obsessed with Ben & Jerry’s. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried every flavor they’ve come out with. Americone Dream is the flavor of the month; Steven Colbert is a genius on so many levels. My feet are always cold. Seriously, in 90 degree weather you’ll see me in fuzzy neon socks. I want to travel the world, but for now I’ll just settle for all 50 United States. Baby steps.


I hate bacon, but I will devour the Canadian variety. My best friend, Chase, says this makes me un-American, even though I like apple pie and freedom and everything. That’s the other thing about me. My best friend is in love with me and he thinks it’s this big secret. I spend a lot of time worrying he’s going to someday tell me. You see I’m incredibly scared everyone will leave me eventually. I usually leave before this happens.


It’s Dark In Here

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Come to Your Senses

b. Go into a closet, close the door, let your eyes adjust, then, take notes on what you hear, touch, and smell. Turn your notes into a poem.


Soft cloth swats my face,

I have too much stuff.

Fingers grope at the dress that struck me,

it clings to my skin,

the hanger rings against the metal rod,

it clatters and with it falls the

stubborn fabric.


Stagnant air,

I inhale cotton and age.


Dust settles on my tongue,

when was the last time I…

a muffled thud, air hisses through my grimace,

sharp pain travels up my foot as

the little-used shoe rack attacks my toes.


My limbs protest the overcrowded space,

the curved way my back has fitted itself into the corner.

Time to get out of this damn closet. 




The Moment

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

“We both laugh and run and the moment is so thick around me that I feel like dropping into it to let it carry me…. For now just let us run. We run straight through the laughter of this night.”

            I Am the Messenger, Markus Zusak


The suburbs sleep as we make our escape,

the silent houses stand unaware of

the moon’s concert:

Cicada’s sing to their mates,

the swings cry out their metallic melody,

as we propel them back and forth.

Directing their notes with our flip-flopped feet,

we harmonize with this summer song.


The black sky, scattered with light, laps at my sun-soaked skin,

washing me with the sticky sweetness of this heavy night.


I am

wholly human;

my greedy senses gulp

every thing I am offered tonight.

Overwhelmed but entirely satisfied.


Our laughter threads through my consciousness,

in, out, out and in.

Like a tattoo needle

this feeling pokes at me until,

smiling I let it in, relishing

the taste of joy,

a little bittersweet.


Life is not perfect.

The morning sun will blind my view of the night.

I wish I could take it, hold it, forever,

like a picture, captured and printed on glossy paper,

sitting in a frame it becomes tangible.


One moment –

The abandoned book waves at me

from the backseat,

The wind turns its pages over and

I recall its poignant words:

the laughter of this night


a time worn memory,

and the instant when

I gladly drowned in my happiness.


Saturday, April 13th, 2013

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters… 

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”


Before there was color,

there was darkness. And

then rays of yellow, gold,

the light’s time separated by a glowing orb of silver.


The horizon parted the roiling

waters, hemmed in by the newly

christened land. Green peppered

the landscape, flourishing.


Time began.


Fish swam through the liquid

salt, birds flew along the blue backdrop,

animals strolled the earth

looking for their mate.


And one surrounded by this fresh world,

without his pair. But,

there was an apple tree.

A Book’s Cover

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English writer whose books of romance and courtship have earned her a place as one of the most famous novelists of her time. Her novels are known for their wit, realism, and biting social commentary. Austen was never married.


Tomorrow I will curtsy at them,

Smiles and petticoats I will don,

masking the acerbic tongue and

sharp mind

from those who whisper:

old maid.


Tonight I mock them within these pages.

Weave my wit into an arch remark,

cast my hopes with each marriage plot,

bestow these characters with bits of myself,

and forget

the disappointment of the day.


Snuff out the light,

shuffle to the four poster bed,

arrange myself on the white counterpane,

careful not to wake my sister.


Dreams of Darcy float through my head:

I compose his surprising steps to love

and Elizabeth’s crumbling prejudice,

save them for the next time

I can sit down to my desk.


Ink, quill, parchment.

Another line, a sigh, a happy ending.

Another pair happily united,

the only moment I open the cover

and reveal my contents.

Soothing Touch

Friday, April 5th, 2013


Write a love with harsh-sounding words or a poem of attack with sweet or gentle sounds.


Your words caress my ears.

The cheerful tone clouds the message,

masking it.

They tiptoe, these words, into my head,

whispering sweetly to Wernicke,

let me in, let me in.


Your fingers drape themselves around my neck

hugging my windpipe.

They embrace until

my breath parts with my lungs,

inviting a troupe of black dots to dance across my vision.


Your feet twirl away.

I sink,

the floor welcomes my body.

Things I Remember

Monday, April 1st, 2013

I don’t know why paper made me cry.


Lay my head on the table,

cheek, nose pressed against the coarse, white sheet.

Breathe in the ink, the pulp, the puzzle piece memories.

Is it strange to say the scent reminds me of you?

Your familiar cologne of age and wood, sun and sweat,

that clinging nicotine

comes off the page.

I would run into you at the end of the day, bury

my face in your torn sweatshirt, inhale.

You covered me with your arms, press your grin

into my curls, laughing.

Day after day,

the paper smell wrapped itself around you and me.


We were happy,

I think.


Each year steals a bit of you from my mind,

till I am left with a poor outline.

What remains was made by Picasso’s brush:

fractured, fragmented, fictitious,

it is a cubist’s dream,

but I am no artist.


Your portrait I paint with cluttered impressions:

piles of pancakes,

a mustachioed smile.

Laughter and light,

waves and carnival screams,

a soccer ball, the blur of black and white

as it meets the net, your yell from the sidelines;

a happy cry, daddy, I layer onto my

paper mache creation.


Pictures recall your rust-red skin, the suns tattoo, or

a symbol of the too great effort

your fatal heart made,

and your work worn hands, marked

by the hammer and nails of your day;

the eyes you gave me,

teardrop, Mom says.

The fuzz of hair that meant you were not bald, yet.


He loved you,

they say.

You were his little girl,

they say.

So much of you is supplied

by them.


Eight year olds don’t hoard away memories,

when they were supposed to have a lifetime.