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Lit Up

A collection of poems

· poetry

Sweet surrender — oh my heart it bursts open with jubilee, songs flow from my heart and consume the space around me; solid yellow liquid air orbits between the walls, light, bouncing off the sill of the window, the glass of the window, the wood frame containing its shape; light, like the bliss amounting in my soul, light, like the wonder seeping out from my squinted eyes, awe, displayed on my face — oh what sweet surrender.


Semicolon, the pause between connected thoughts, the lingering shape before the continuation; breaking the ground, preparing the soil for planting.


I found my voice today, it jumped from my second-story mouth — a suitcase packed with the dirty laundry of unspoken words — and ran down the street with my confidence. I chased it through mute conversations and wordless fights to the edge of the lips of the woman with the stone eyes, it tried to claw its way down her throat so she might hear all the things I couldn’t say.

My jaw has been locked, my neck has been stiff with the agony of feeling trapped inside any conversation — my voice, often nearby taunting me, words pulling on my heart, me, stuffing them back down for sake of feeling intrusive and incompetent. For a while, it dissipated all together.

I looked under my pillow, in the pages of the book with turned-down corners and coffee stains and ruffled covers, I looked to see if it was drowning in my glass of water, locked in the cage of their words, trapped behind a closet door in my mind, and then I found it; sitting on a piano key, on a violin string, I found it splashing color on cardboard canvas and making scraps into masterpieces, I found it when I turned rubble into beauty.

My voice is not complacent, it doesn’t like to be silenced, my voice does better when I cry out; my voice roars with dignity in truth, in grace, in boldness, un-reined — Its a little rough at times, it likes jagged edges and unequal shapes because making things beautiful is a super power; it speaks with pens and paintburshes and music, it sings through people, it dances in the street.

I found my voice today,

it never ran away, it was inside me all along.


Upended sidewalk concrete broken in hammer-sized chunks across the path; roots buried under concrete pull nutrients from a barren surface; your eyes, roots, plunging deep and breaking the ground around them — life cannot be told where to grow.


Stranger in the coffee shop, I hear his voice echo through the heavy silence of people sitting alone together. Joyful, I can hear it in the ring of his words, the way they rise and fall like bells, or music.

Closer, I am drawn to it, like a moth to a candle burning in the dark, closer, “Hi, how’re you?”

I spark conversation;

the strangers eyes are light, light oozes from his face, light in his smile, light in his body; bells, he speaks of his work, we talk of buildings and re-forestation plans, bells, the sound lifts the dreary detachment of the space around us.

His joy confuses the girl at the counter with the brooding expression; she is dark, but he is pure light.


Smoke, envelopes the glacier air around her face as she breathes in the medicine sitting poised between her two fingers; her hand quivers slightly as the smoke circulates between her teeth; endorphins consumer her body in warmth, she fades into the sweet abyss of addiction.


Her tattoo is that of a monster; I thought I saw a glimpse of red running down her upper arm.

She never smiles, her eyes are dark, her posture is low as if bags of sand weight upon her shoulders; insecurity wraps her like a cloak.

If she were to smile, it would break open her face as the sunrise breaks the night, if she were to smile, this room would smile with her —

my smile is untied, my smile is free; shall I smile for her, pretending to pull open the curtain-fall of her mouth with my own lips —

until my smile spreads to her, breaking the rods that hold her mouth in valley lines, I will smile, till the dark girl with the monster tattoo breaks like the morning sky.



Run with fervent ambition

towards the wake of the vision set before your eyes.


The smallest flicker, became a ragging fire.


Wood, battered, caressed, smoothed and molded to a perfect rectangle measuring 2ft by 3ft. Lines are etched into its surface, lines from the marrow of the trees core, lines that tell a story of time, of growth.

These lines are glued together, brought alongside one another by the hands of one who never heard their story; I wonder if those trees too grew up intertwined, I wonder if they saw the same things.

Now they sit here in the form of a table, pushed together with force, bought and sold for a price, glazed and bolted to the wood floor of another tree, perhaps with a different story.

I’m sitting in a forest made by human hands, all of the foliage stripped away, all of the life now a still object beneath my paper.


All the darkness and all of the light, they don’t intermingle, they collide.


By Riah Raine

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