Anaïs Vionet is a sixteen-year-old high school student with a very promising
future as a poet and writer.
This is her first publication by a literary journal, but surely not her last.
If you like her poetry, Anaïs also has a very entertaining and amusing Battygirl Cave
fan fiction page where she takes on evildoers between classes.
In addition to being a poet, student and part-time superhero, Anaïs is also
who has participated in four major competitions, two of them international, finishing
second each time. She claims to be "the second-best pianist in any room." Her other
interests include martial arts (first degree black belt and first Dan instructor), graphics,
HTML, web page design, lampooning our president, and playing on her high school's
varsity Frisbee Golf team. Oh, and satisfying the cravings of her pizza addiction!
Art by Anaïs Vionet
From a Distance
Oh, absent one, I miss you.
Darling, an empty place awaits you.
Thrushes chirp their dissatisfaction in the garden
As I doze with boredom.
I send my well wishes from a distance.
Oh, absent one, my digital phantom,
You're here when I call but not here.
I brush my hair with discontent;
I eat bitter, lonely meals to stay alive.
I send my love from a distance.
screech like fingernails across
a schoolroom chalkboard.
No marked card - dealt from
the bottom of the deck - will
ever unlock my heart.
Avoid the overt
- sly Valmont, the skittish game
is wise to advances.
I am half-finished, feckless, unauthorized, ineligible, incompetent, inadequate and unempowered.
I'm like a Vulcan when you aren't around—logical, distant, evaluating you like a product with my friends. The consumer with a lifetime of buying.
But near you I am a prisoner of some consciousness independent of thought, like a fever or the dreamer, with the merest semblance of control.
You are light and loose, hair like Spanish moss and skin like cedar resin, all laughter and agonizing beauty. The way you lean across the table I can only think of kissing you.
I'm sure at times it must show, like a red stain on a white dress or some inconvenient erection.
You have some license on me, a key to a place in me I keep hidden and close; you fit some interior template of desire.
What good is freedom if I can't tell you!!?
Oh, the ragged vagaries of love's games. A thousand emotions and I am deserted to silence by some rule of thumb—by a faltering consumer confidence or some feeling of inward nakedness—when all I want in the world is an open kiss or to give you an intimate scented something ...
I snuck into the party with an ID I hastily made
and stumbled, out of step, into the poetry parade.
In this beautiful country club, I'm surrounded by my betters.
I wave my kindergarten rhymes to show the men of letters.
In the echo of the learned men who came this way before me
I hear the patterned minuets, that if followed, lead to glory.
I chafe in those traveled ruts and I long for something varied
and I hope to spark a unique verse, between school and the cemetery.
I've heard an isolated girl, bantering in the mirror
I've passed the disenchanted, in the empty hallway
I've seen the angry girl reflected in the toaster
I've noticed the crazy girl, crying in the shower
I've enjoyed the whispers of the poet talking to herself
Her latest performance had the largest audience yet
the flowers were captivated but the cat left unimpressed
The Wind and the Birds
I have to say, this isolation doesn't appear to be affecting me at all.
I was thinking ... The wind must come from somewhere.
Do the trees make the wind with their ceaseless moving around?
"KKKeeeeepp STILL!!" I shriek at the trees from my bedroom window but they pretend not to hear.
Science says trees can talk to each other over some secret, underground, filament-like network—so I know the bastards are listening.
And I don't know about this new generation of birds—these tearless, happy birds that chirp just to be fashionable.
They annoy me when they pretend to be unaware of the value of silence.
"Shut UP!" I scream at a speckled bird who stares down at me like I'm insignificant.
"Yeah, the woolly mammoths ignored us too," I remind it.
I give it the two-fingered, back and forth "Yeah, I'm watching you" gesture.
Then it just chirps right past me, as if I don't exist. Aaarrrgghhh!
So I give it the bird.
The Age of Hate...
Ok, I'm not paid to think (like the TV shouting heads), I have no real voice (vote), and certainly no credentials—but I'm as invested in America as any high-school citizen can be—I've pledged allegiance 3,000 times (hhmmm ... do they doubt our loyalty?) and when it comes to loving America I'd have to say my classmates and I are at the center of the spell.
I'm afraid we're growing up in the age of hate ... the age of phony outrage where each position large or small is high noon and violence is afoot even when policing ordinary citizens.
We won't address the multitude of old problems in this new age ... we'll just unleash a marquetry of half truths to dispute the proven until unreasoned arguments reach their paranoid fullness. The real world is alarming enough—let's just push that away and ignore it—and while we're at it let's slut shame the poor, the old, the sick, the unemployed, the hungry and the hand of mercy.
I realize America was never one moral atom bonded for the better—but those anvils that forged us appear neglected or forsaken. I'm afraid what's happening now, what we're seeing and hearing now, is a symphony of erosion—that by the time I have any say at all, the middle class will be gone—America turned slum—where even the voice of despair will be termed traitor. We'll only be able to see our greatness in museum souvenir shops where nothing is affordable and everything is made elsewhere.
love doesn't dash, it loiters
with repeated movements like music
and beautifully crude endearments
love doesn't dash, it lingers
with rhythms like dance
and boastfully rude aphorisms
so dally with me, my love
lollygag, lounge and in a while
we'll share breaths and mess about
Nowadays I wake up hoping for the unpredictable—the novel.
When I open my eyes the angel of death isn't out to get me.
Then—I remember—we're at war and practicing subterfuge—
that measured trade-off between safety and despair.
So I move to my patterned routines—I dust my unused lips.
I check the level of my virtuous thoughts—hhmm ... getting low.
And I prepare the clever inventions that allow us to simulate life.
What's the scariest book you ever read? ... Some Stephen King book like Salem's Lot or The Shining? For me it's Kate Millett's Sexual Politics ... Oh, man ... Now THAT will scare you to death if you're female. I discovered a man, overheard at my church, who actually believes his sex is a sign of power and of superiority. WHY am I so startled? Some childish trust not yet scrubbed off?—Or worse yet, some belief, not yet strangled, in a better world? See, stupid me, I thought this bill had been paid, by sufferance, by real people like Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie Catt and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ... by entire generations who ran through those tangled woods emerging cut and bruised ... if at all. What is it like for HIM? I see him eying us, his little inferiors who bleed with the moon, with secret, catlike distaste ... regarding female opinions as slightly impure ... then, with calm, Godlike grace, granting females the forms of servant to assume. Can I, can we, be forced to accept this inheritance? I don't know ... All I know is that this prejudice, so strangely without substance, strikes me like a dueler's lucky thrust, robbing me of attendant rights and wit ... springing a tender trap of doubt in the future and abandoning me to stammering.
I've got an idea
I've got an idea. If you aren't getting what you want, bully me.
If I'm slow in understanding, bully me.
If I'm not playing your every note, bully me.
If you're older, bully me.
If you're smarter, bully me.
If my efforts aren't poetic, bully me.
My identity is just cosmetic, bully me.
What the fuck are you waiting for?
I'm yours to condemn or bless, so bully me.
If you don't think I'm doing my best, bully me.
If your every need is not addressed, bully me.
If I'm not getting undressed, bully me.
I'll probably fold if really pressed, so bully me.
If you're not suitably impressed, bully me.
You're just like all the fucking rest, bully me.
See what it will fucking get you—bully me.
I am simply at my worst these days.
Wild and unpredictable emotions rush on me—it's a place where the layers of control and composure are very thin.
This school year has been an endless working, always desperate, collection of days.
Each passing week seemed to unmask some flaw in me—like peeling a rotten onion.
Emotionally, spiritually, I droop like a hanged man.
It's not the work. I survive practice and academic battles as if by some brand of magic.
No, it's more.
I have lost my goal. Like biblical engineers raising the tower of Babel on the plain of Sennaar, I am struck by a lack of focus—my direction, my original plan, seems shallow; I stand purposefully gelded.
It's worse because I'm somehow SO much less than whom I want to BE.
Like an asymptotic curve I constantly miss my ideal. I am hunted, internally, by my own inner voice, that ruthless, pitiless, seeker of perfection—it lurks like the prowling wolf in a stalk bent walk—sifting my every thought, my every action for flaws—until like the wing-weary hunted prey I could almost welcome the killer's warmth for sweet silence.
In a mood somewhere between cowardly and courageous I finally approached my Mom.
In a speech from the scaffold I told her of my black, tight, treacherous spiral—of my doubts about EVERYTHING.
I expected the worst—a disappointment, in less than cryptic, ciphered messages, a slow sharpening of her claws on me for my ENDLESS shortcomings.
Instead I got miracles.
As if rigid constellations had shifted—an atmosphere of freedom earned—and at least for that moment, the mom who used to sing me awake in the mornings as a girl—and a delicious summer of rest.
ado to salt
I‘m embittered by isolation like Ado turned to salt
but outside, the flowers are dueling for attention.
I am mortared in this seclusion as Catullus rendered stone
yet outdoors, trees bask and frolic in the sun.
I'm locked in place, punished, like I'd smiled at Medusa
yet the squirrels go about their gatherings as birds forage.
I am gently constrained, but freedom nips at the air and invites memory.
My mom's passionate about Newton's second law of thermodynamics.
She uses a "mom" version which can be stated as:
"Daughters tend toward disorder if not managed."
If I'm nothing else, I'm vigorously, meticulously managed—like a tiger that must be turned judiciously from one situation to another lest a foot be forfeit.
"You're too young for"... is more than a formulate, it's a knife-like rule-tool, to dampen upheaval, banish trespassers, and put the "new" under glass—just out of reach. It's forever primed, there in the parenting tool-belt and can be thrown with the gunfighter's liquid, skillful ease.
So when I say I'm into something "new," I mean I've tiptoed into that Tartarus where you find the scandalous, like short skirts and Internet pornography.
The "new" is prima-facie proscribed until it's proven cold, safe and harmless—then blessed—like an old Disney movie.
Our impromptu confinement—in suspending the world—has allowed me unaccounted moments to sample and measure how this "new" might fit into my life.
So it is—now—that I wake up every morning—ready for crime—and I live but a hairsbreadth from punishment—yes, I've discovered one of God's greatest gifts and seductions—coffee.
After about a week, my brother, while I'm reading the news, transparently focuses my mom's attention on the cup by my iPad, by glancing, slowly with his eyes. My mom is fleetingly lost, then she alights:
"You're too young for coffee," she says.
I look up and groan.
Then, as she moves to collect the now-banned item, I send a sisterly glower to my brother who stands blithely and innocently sipping from his cup.
But the screen protectors you got me on eBay arrived today—a month late—as if delayed on purpose to fill the void of you. As if you begged from magicians some charmed water, some magic root or incantation to flood me with memories.
There are rules in this world. Non-biblical "Thou shalt nots"—that get people, friends and lovers—tossed from the garden. Wickedness is its own reward—congratulations, you earned it—but…
I have no moly to protect me from your charms—even now. Everyday things just seem to take me back—to us—and my heart breaks—I miss you so.
I pound the pillow, curse the clock and mock injunctions to rest.
The sun finally rises and its rays fall slantwise through the curtains as I dry my hair.
A meal, like a forced dose, we soak ourselves in wasted, nervous time.
Finally! We arrive at the competition.
Tension is here and tireless pressure.
The players waiting stiff as straw, tongues playing over dry lips.
Teachers and coaches unapologetic in their pallor.
Music drifts behind us and occasionally gasps as imperfections play like daring circus tricks.
The sparkling prodigy returns disappointed, grimace of a smile, stricken, he stares away as we search for words, oh! clumsy, unrepairable prince!
Suddenly, it's time and I wonder why we are hurrying, feeling weak, momentarily frightened to go there.
On this stage in this great, hushed hall, enormity suddenly dawns with mass enough to crush me.
At last I sit before this odd Steinway music machine—my dearest mechanical friend.
A tremble resisted—the reward of mortal afternoons—endless practices' fruit.
Eyes closed I prepare my best self—pushing all fear, all doubt, to the margins—and begin.
I hope, to recreate, one note at a time, Chopin's ancient impact—with hands flying, like tethered birds, I hammer out his timeless melody explosions, his streams of crazily exact math-exam fiery semiquaver motions—then, almost suddenly, I'm done.
I stand, joyously, nearly crying. The world hasn't ended.
You don't own me—I'm not your atometon
a gadget, an app, with a selection of options.
Sit this way, stand up strait, fix your hair
a doll-like disaster—in need of repair.
You rule my world—but I'm not a slave;
You can't prescribe every way I behave.
You make some good points—I try—and I listen
but it's hard to exist under klieg light inspection.
Maybe you think I'm your other daughter;
I have bad news—I'm a later model.
An idea strikes me that I'd like to proffer:
swallow the pill of free will, Doctor.
Trapped—like Napoleon on Elba, cursing himself 300 straight nights.
There's no escape from MY desolate coast—so I longingly wait nights.
The moon comes and goes on restless, disenchanted, chaste nights.
Will I be an old maid before the next—dear and playful—date night?
Images in the dark
My father died when I was seven.
Like a girl in a museum I'm drawn to his pictures—those inadequate reproductions hypnotize me.
What can pictures give? Coal-blue eyes, a knowing look. They exist, for me, like Cassandra of Troy, full of endless secrets that can never be told.
A snowy, ice slickened, twilight-blue rush hour parade—hundreds of grimy cars rushing, rushing ... somewhere.
Why do the details I can't remember haunt me so?
A flash of light, the tearing of metal like the screaming of dogs in a reeling, devouring dance of energy.
The nuclear family detonating with death inches away.
Everyone was asking, "What do you remember?" "I don't know," I said.
Sometimes, as I fall asleep, memories of him—which I hold dear—come to me like the ghosts of departed friends. Image after image in the embracing dark.
Why is it the further away you get, the more I need you?
Those images and that voice are strangely silent in the morning as I'm, once again, awakened to a world I'd rather reassemble.
I'm love's iPad ready for an embrace.
Steve Jobs got credit for the touch interface
But mine's up and running with all the updates
I'm love's police regulating the pace:
"You took that curve a little fast—this isn't a race."
I'm love's surveyor drawing the lines:
"The pilgrims want to explore a new area this time."
I'm love's conductor—whew—hear the engine whine:
"A tourist wants the tunnel—he's ready and primed."
I'm love's waitress:
"Sir, that's not on the menu."
Love's entrepreneur hosting the venue.
I'm love's umpire right there in your face…
"Sorry pal, but you're out at second base!"
Trump's Coronavirus Call to Arms
Mar-a-Lago's in disorder—and deeply in debt.
The virus is draining my palace—but it's not dead yet.
My buddies at Fox—those sweet purveyors of lies—
will stir up the gullible and suggest they rise
to claim their birthright—to die for a cause!
(They'll have to invent one because I'm at a loss.)
But get back out there spending—get back on the roads.
Let's give this disease the deaths that it's owed.
My money's more important than peasants and fools.
The doctors and experts can't make all the rules!
Follow me quickly—oh reason bereft—
yes, follow me boldly and meet my friend—DEATH.
When did "people deserve to live" become a controversial thought?
When did wearing a mask to protect your health become so overwrought?
When did the idea of protecting your kids become an afterthought?
When did counting the dead become a Presidential political plot?
We're so far down the Trump-rabbit-hole that common sense is skewed.
We really have to get rid of that FU#KH3@D—if you'll excuse me being rude.
The virus will fade in the summer heat.
It's Trump's hoax folks—it's a joke folks.
Drink your Lysol and get back on the street.
Look, it's a hoax folks—it's a joke folks.
We can trade those masks in for some caskets.
Yes, it's a hoax folks—you'll be ok folks.
Send your kids to school—some will die, but that's cool.
This is no hoax folks—some kids will die folks.
Or they'll bring the virus right back to you.
Safety's a joke folks—do the republican choke folks.
The average bill for ICU care—is 20K folks.
Chump change folks—just pay the man, folks.
One Hundred and Fifty Thousand dead.
But vote for Trump folks—if you're alive then folks.
Anais also has a very entertaining and amusing Battygirl Cave page that you won't want to miss.