Suitcase Full of Poems; Everything and Nothing at All

Submitted for Contest #47 in response to: Suitcase in hand, you head to the station.... view prompt

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Kincade looks at your homework from across the desk, trying to see what you have scribbled down this time; what manic poetry psycho babble you managed to catch on paper today. You are wearing your deeply velvet blazer and you smell like a bonfire. There are still ashes on your pants and your lips are tinted with cold night air. Here you are sitting across the table from each other and looking over the English homework. Except you’re not really looking at the homework. You are still writing your poem. You set your hand to the pen again and keep writing, trying not to notice Kincade’s quiet gaze following the writing across the page. You’re not writing for them. You’re writing for you, but no one seems to want to understand that. You’ve been working on the poems  for a while, see, and tonight’s the last chance to get them to the train. Kincade told you not to leave so soon, and as much as you’d love to stay, you know you can’t. You know you can’t stay a minute longer. You shut your notebook and nod across the table. 

“I should be going now.” Kincade has always had the nicest gray eyes. You don’t look at them now as you stand to leave, collecting your things. You nod at them and they stand to take your hands in a goodbye; hopefully not the last one, but you stuff your hands into the pockets of your deeply velvet blazer and shake your head. “No time for that now, Kinnie.” You smile fadingly and Kincade frowns, lips dipping over cookie crumbed teeth. You both were, after all, just eating cookies a few hours ago, when things were semi right in the world. You didn’t have to leave all those hours ago, because your train was leaving hours from then, but you know what they say, that time flies when you’re having fun. 

“Call me when you get to the station, please?” Kincade asks you, now starting to clean up the kitchen table from the cookie and homework breakout session of the century. 

“Yeah,” you really do want to say goodbye properly but your hands stay in your pockets, “Yeah, I will.” You walk briskly to the door and leave before you can change your mind, or before Kinnie makes more cookies and you have to stay to help finish them off. Again. The suitcase rolls against the gravel of the sidewalk as you go. There are hundreds of poems in there, not to mention idea scraps and pieces of story you dreamed up a long time ago. Some of them are about the weather, some of them are about you, some of them are about weasels, burritos, traveling, or knee length socks but most of them are about your friend… your best friend Kincade. They have no clue that everything goes back to them; back to them and their nice gray eyes and calm skin and warm, smells perpetually of cookie dough house. It’s just high school, and you’re just friends, but also you’re in love and that means you can’t stop writing for Kennie, about Kinnie, to Kinnie and around Kinnie. It’s madness but you wouldn’t want to stop it from happening. Last night at the bonfire you leaned over and took their hand in yours and you stayed so still you fell asleep and the smoke and ash from the fire licked at your proverbial heels and when you woke up you smelled like barbecued bratwurst. You walk to the train station because it’s honestly not even that far away. When you get there, you sit down on a bench and open the suitcase and pick up one of your poems; one of your favorite poems. You wrote it after Kinnie said not to tell anyone that they’d been around your house so much often. You got slightly offended at that, but you understood later that there were differences between you that not everyone would understand. Sometimes you aren’t sure you understand them either. You uncurl the folded edges and straighten the sheet against your legs, reading the faded handwriting. There’s your signature at the bottom of the page too, and a stain in the top left corner from where Kincade spilled a burrito on the page while reading the poem for the first time. You remember how they laughed when they got to the end of the poem; smiling at you and kicking your legs under the table and saying, “Fine, if you’re going to be all moody and write emo poetry, I guess you can tell the whole WORLD what you think.”

And you said, “What is it, exactly, that I think?”

Kincade gave you a cookie from home and didn’t answer, but you knew the answer all along. You thought you were in love, and now as you read this poem again, you aren’t even sure if what you were thinking was true at all. You hope it was, you really do, but what’s on your mind now isn’t love or Kinnie or cookies at all. It’s just getting on this train and leaving for the city where hopefully someone will read your poems; want to publish them somewhere important. You wait a few more minutes that seem like hours and then you hear the train rumbling to a stop. You stand up and you get on the train; the conductor takes your ticket and you sit down. The person in the seat next to you smells like lavender and she looks like a bird would if a bird was a small girl who smelled like lavender and wore wire frame glasses. She doesn’t talk to you as you ride, so you get your suitcase out and you read another poem; one you wrote for a friend of yours after he told you he felt locked up and isolated from the world. You love the rhythm of the poem and as you read it now you can hear the voice of your friend saying each and every word you wrote. It’s a good poem, you think, but it makes you miss your friend. It reads: 

I am an angel

I am a dear

I am a rutabaga 

I have no fear.

I am from heaven

I am from above

I am a duckling

And I am a dove.

I am sweet

So very serene

I am a curtain cord

Pull and scream.

I am a delight to see

A wonder to behold

I am the best of all

If truth be told.

I am light as a feather

But still as a rock 

I’ll throw the pebbles 

And you bring the clock. 

Tick tock tick tick tock.

I am brash 

And beautiful too

I am ROYALTY

What are you?

Are you a worm 

Slinking in the skyline?

Are you a fiend

Stealing all of MY shine?

Or are you a damsel

Kind and pure and meek

Are you a golden goose

Just the one I seek?

I am an oven

Warm and so coaled 

Marry me,

A king like me,

To have and to hold

And to never grow old

Lying in bathtubs and closets of mold

Skirts of satin fold and

In the sun,

Flowers don’t grow cold. 

I am an angel

Reads a poster on my wall

I am the best

Says the one beside my bed

I am wonderful 

Whispers my dog to me

I am courageous 

And that is how I go to sleep. 

Perhaps one day I’ll be a fish

Or then I’ll learn to fly

I rather would like to see a cloud

Before I settle down and die. 

Locked up in a castle 

I am the lonely prince

Locked above in tower

I call to you, see thence. 

For if you see value in my eyes

Despite my naive features

You could see my bleeding heart

And all my friends; the woodland creatures.

They brush my hair 

And tie my shoes

They do the bills 

They pay my dues 

And sing to me sweetly all the days through

Saying how I am an angel

I am a dear

I am a rutabaga 

And I have no fear.

No fear of my future

That’s a thing of days gone by

No fear about tomorrow

What good is it to cry? 

Instead I look to my posters

Beside my bed

And on the wall

I read the words they say

And then I stand up tall. 

I reassure myself through poetry 

I pat my sad eyes dry,

I sit and sing a new song

And owe it to myself to try. 

One day a girl will find me

Sitting here like a soldier on a shelf

One day a princess will arrive

And I will not have to help myself

She will have hair 

Like wild snarls 

Hanging down past her broad shoulders

Set up high in her horse 

And I will fawn from the balcony

Watching her pass by my home

I will shout her victories 

And fetch my finest comb.

I’ll flat my hair

And scrub my ears

I’ll soak my toes

And to many cheers

Slip off the balcony

Be caught by a maiden free

Together we’ll live so happily

Just the lonely boy

And his girl; a queen. 

You fold the poem back up and press your head against the cool pane of the glass as the train rams forward, forward, forward into the night. A while later, you hear your phone ring. You decide to pick up even though it’s almost one in the morning and you don’t want to wake up the girl next to you. It’s Kinnie on the phone and you say hello. 

“High school isn’t over yet.”

“No, it’s not. What of it?” You’ve both been through this talk before time and time again. 

“So why don’t you finish the year here? With me? What’s in the city for you that’s not at home?” 

“Kinnie…” You’re whispering. You don’t want to wake anyone up. 

“Don’t Kinnie me. I don’t want you to leave. I don’t know why you’re in such a rush to get away. I know you love your poetry, but maybe…”

“Maybe what?”

“Maybe you loved me more. That’s all.”

You lean back against the seat and sigh. “Kinnie, you don’t know the half of it. Do you know what most of my poems are about? You. So of course I love you.” You realize now it is true and you do love Kincade. “Of course I do.” 

There’s silence on the other end. “Then why didn’t you say goodbye?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. I thought it would be too sad.”

“No, it’s more sad to sit around my house and wonder why you stormed out of my house like you were on fire instead of…” 

You feel the train leap forward on the tracks. It’s not a good leap. 

“Kinnie, can you wait just  a second? I think there’s something wrong with the train.”

The train’s horn squeals like a stepped on rat and there’s more leaping, more skidding, and then a final, terrible lurch before everything comes to a stop in front of you. It seems time has frozen, and the only thing you can hear is Kincade saying your name over and over and over again. But you? You’re weightless. You are ephemeral and you are on the ground and you’re rolling with everyone else on the train because something has thrown you off course and still the only thing you can hear is your name. But you don’t say goodbye. You see the suitcase filled with poems; all those paper and pen pieces of your heart and soul, crack open and you close your eyes for the last time seeing a snowstorm of your work. Was it worth it, you ask yourself, to leave all that I had for something I maybe could get? 

With a shock of cold air, you wake up to a ringing phone and your mom is sitting on the edge of her mattress across the room, barely just waking up like you are. You aren’t dead, and that makes you smile. You glance at thep phone. It’s none other than the infamous Kincade. You answer and press the phone close to your chest once in gratitude before you speak, but when you do, you don’t mince words for a minute. Sometimes a good and shocking dream, it seems, is all you need to wake up. There will always be time for the city later, you know. :D

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14 comments

Praveen Jagwani
09:43 Jun 21, 2020

Cheeky of you Rhonda, to insert the poem there :)) I like the whimsical mood you set in the story and I enjoyed the ride with my bag of poems. In fact one of your phrases has given me a story idea too :) Thanks. Question: Why is Kincade referenced as They instead of He or She ?

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Rhondalise Mitza
14:03 Jun 21, 2020

Well, since it was in second person and people reading it like different people I didn’t want to say he or she and lock that down. It wasn’t that Kincade doesn’t have a specific gender, it was just I wanted the reader to be able to picture them better in their heads, if that makes sense... but thank you so much for reading and yes, my poem sneaking has gone next level. 😂💕

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Rhondalise Mitza
03:43 Jun 21, 2020

Yes, no, maybe so? :) Because I have to say, it's not my favorite.

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22:03 Jun 27, 2020

Wow, Rhonda. Again with the poems I love so much. I especially love this one and how it means so much to me. I also read you got published in two blogs and I'm happy for you! Keep it up!

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Rhondalise Mitza
23:21 Jun 27, 2020

Thank you so much for reading! Mind sharing why the poem resonated with you so much? It's okay if not, I'm just curious. :)

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00:54 Jun 28, 2020

I meant how much it means to me(as the reader). The trait you gave me in the story is that I love my poems so much, and having my poem with me and reading it while in the train was something really nice. I'm sorry I sound like this, haha. I just tend to put myself in the shoes of the character whenever I'm reading this second person stories. So I liked how much the poem meant to me.

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Rhondalise Mitza
00:59 Jun 28, 2020

OHHH, okay! Gotcha. That's super cool though! :D

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23:36 Jun 25, 2020

More poems!!! Fun fact: I just got published in a recent poetry contest and I won first place! :)))) Sincerely, A.

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Rhondalise Mitza
00:34 Jun 26, 2020

Massive congratulations!!! I got published in two blogs this week. 😁

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00:57 Jun 26, 2020

Oooh, which ones? -A.

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Rhondalise Mitza
01:07 Jun 26, 2020

They’re both church blogs; one is a bilingual blog my mom works for and the other is a newsletter for a national prayer line. The poem is the one I wrote for the Black lives matter prompts. I’m pretty sure you read that one.

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Rhondalise Mitza
01:08 Jun 26, 2020

Where’s your poem?

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22:03 Jun 27, 2020

Congratulations!!!

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Rhondalise Mitza
23:21 Jun 27, 2020

Thank you!

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