joanna

You walk down a gently sloping hill towards a field. The sun turns dusty, waist-high grass into gold. Joanna’s singing is unpolished and lovely, leading you forward as if she’s taken you by the arm. Her songs are full of strings. You can’t separate harp from harpist – her voice swings and creaks, studded with notes plucked by deft fingers. Somewhere in the distance, an orchestra swells like the tide.

When you’d first heard her you were startled by how childlike Joanna had sounded, but you know better now. She may sing sweetly, and animals may populate her songs, but her voice belies her wisdom.

One moment you watch a bird fly across a breathy sky – the next, an angel flaps its wings. The universe looms, and you suddenly face the staggering weight of the stars. All the while, Joanna’s harp sings; her voice scratches out high notes.

She offers you one story, a second, a fifth. Hens and horses and lions flicker in and out, half-hidden in the grass and entranced by the light. You could never resist her poetry.

You let her lift you out of your loss and offer you hers in solidarity. Her verses struggle to contain the chaos of life and light and allusion within them, and the music expands to fill the gaping hole between your bones.

Each story bleeds into the next like water. The river she conjures runs against time’s gradient while Joanna’s voice surges and cracks with raw emotion. Ursula splashes her way into the night sky. Ocean waves yawn for a moment, and you glimpse the beautiful remains of a sunken city. You imagine sprawling buildings and solid stone ramparts, marble columns that withstood sea currents and bridges that held fast no matter how much they swung and creaked underwater.

Joanna’s music rings in your ears. It’s steeped in sunshine from above the water’s surface, but you know, deep down, that its light is meant to swallow grief.

Closing your eyes, you remember walking towards a field of dusty gold. As words fail you, a harp sings and creaks and pulls you close, wrapping you with warmth.

~
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Reading List: Waiting & Watching the Future

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee 

lately, energy seems to constantly hum under my skin. my fingers can’t stay still, and something whispers go go go! into my ear. i feel like i’ve stayed patient for a lifetime and i’m on the verge of freedom, about to burst into the air and really live. i guess it’s because i’m young and ready to define the vast, unknown future ahead of me. i want to learn new things, meet new people, and explore new cities. here are five books that i think embody this rush of adrenaline and the accompanying promise of limitless possibilities and dreams, this feeling of inevitable change.

WAITING & WATCHING THE FUTURE: A READING LIST

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt:

I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There’s those kinds of love and then there’s the other kind. The falling kind.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion:

…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt:

“What if you’d never seen the sea before? What if the only thing you’d ever seen was a child’s picture – blue crayon, choppy waves? Would you know the real sea if you only knew the picture? Would you be able to recognize the real thing even if you saw it? You don’t know what Dionysus looks like. We’re talking about God here. God is serious business.”

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara:

Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell:

“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.’”

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro:

I half closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, and maybe even call.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

happy reading! i hope we all enjoy a few more books before 2016 draws to a close.

je te veux

ALTERNATE TITLE: “thoughts of an art thief after stealing ib and her husband”

the first time was on a whim –
that crucial split second where one might choose
to listen to gréco instead of piaf, or take
a right turn and not the road stretched ahead,
only this choice involved a slim pocket knife
and barely detectable flicks of the wrist.

she could feel blood rush to her face,
heat tinging her ashen cheeks.
her hands trembled.
she looked down at her worn shoes,
her wrinkled dress that rustled with every step.
no one knows – no eyes have seen
what i have done.

the second time was out of desire.
she saw intimacy and her fingers itched;
her hands moved on their own, the blade
of her knife gleaming in the dim light
like her smile a few hours later
as she studied the stolen prize
on her bedroom floor.
she admired ib and her lumpy coral sweater.
how comfortable she must have been
lying in bed, pat’s arm looped over her waist,
his veins silvery pink against his skin.
how protected she must have felt, how loved,
under the constant gaze of her father
as he emptied his palette of earthy colors
onto the canvas.

she felt the eyes of everyone she passed.
hard as she tried, guilt remained palpable
in her fingers, her throat, her spine.
she glanced once at her hands and choked
back a scream at the rust-colored paint
dripping between her knuckles.
terrified, she didn’t look again.
she couldn’t stop thinking about the knife
burning in her pocket that day,
the uneven edges of the painting
where she’d removed it from its frame.
she had never felt so cold.

why had she thought she could have ib’s warmth
for her own just by taking it?
now her actions could not be undone,
and the painting sat patiently on her desk at home,
waiting to be found.

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nath

sometimes i am overwhelmed by
how wonderful you are and how
lucky i am to be your friend. it
is hard to pinpoint my favorite
thing about you – i love everything
your laugh your words your passion
your ability to make me feel
we are the only people in the world
existing noisily as i float deeply in love,
words caught in my throat.
bittersweetness nips lightly at our
mouths. when you smile something
warm flutters inside me like a tiny bird.
maybe one day we’ll visit sweden
to talar svenska but for now i’m
glad we’ve gone to coffeehouse
inks lake and the blanton together,
and if a flower bloomed every time i
was happily reminded of you a meadow
would flood all the halls and classrooms at
LASA: petals tumbling out of windows,
buzzing bees washed gold beneath the sun.

oddloop

she opened her mouth to scream.
only flowers came out,
blossoming from her throat

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playlist: garden of poe(tree)

good afternoon, loves! as you might guess from the title, i’ve started a new category (series?) on CITRUSY. this particular post combines two of my favorite things: playlists and poetry.

some people have podcasts, and others have mix tapes. i have playlists.
i use youtube 95% of the time (the other 5% goes to google play music), and i have youtube playlists for everything – years’ worth of soundtracks evoking my highest & lowest points, my moods during autumn or rainy spring days, my nanowrimo novels, every year of high school, and so on. i have music playlists for books i love and for cross country practices, for my favorite composers & musicians and for the days when everything is just a little off. i even have a playlist for college applications (the first song of which is the original pokémon theme song). i feel like i’m creating a new playlist at least once a week.

playlists are a lot like poetry in that they’re able to express feelings i can’t vocalize or only understand intuitively. speaking of poetry – poetry has been one of the few things keeping me together for the past month or so, throwing me a life-line made of carefully structured syntax, raw emotion, and beautiful, sometimes irreverent words. i love how in poetry, every word matters. there’s no bullshit, no filler lines. i love how there are no real rules in poetry, that the guidelines set in place can always be broken.

today, i wanted to share what i listen to when i’m writing and reading poetry, which seems to be all i do in my free time these days.

PLAYLIST: POE(TREE)
1) “je te veux (soprano)” – erik satie
2)「ひこうき雲」 – yumi matsutoya
3) “mr.sandman” – 바버렛츠
4)「完全感覚Dreamer」- one ok rock
5) “l’autre valse d’amélie” – yann tiersen
6) “owarase night” – frederic

to end this post, here’s the opening stanza of arthur o’shaughnessy’s “ode”:

we are the music-makers,
and we are the dreamers of dreams,
wandering by lone sea-breakers,
and sitting by desolate streams;
world-losers and world-forsakers,
on whom the pale moon gleams:
yet we are the movers and shakers
of the world for ever, it seems.

how all things glow

at the still point of the turning world,
the first word that you ever spoke was: light.

beast that i am
i set myself on fire

and my dreams also reconstructed themselves –
all bright light and black wings,
the colored liquid turning gradually lighter, more radiant,
(not to eat, of course, but to examine)

and a silent star-filled heaven turned,
metallic, lucid and bold:

blossoms lingered as if you could smell them eventually
around your soft throat

and it seemed that the whole summer dipped,
illimitable in fragrance and in sound.

~

a/n: this is a cento that i wrote for school. i had a lot of fun with this, especially since i got to spend hours reading books of poetry without feeling guilty about it. 🙂  under the cut is a list of the poems/poetry collections whose lines i ended up using.

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paper places | june + july 2016

summer is now in full swing!

this post is just a montage of the bookish places i’ve been to during june and july. book shops, libraries, and other book-filled places have always been my favorite. as jen campbell puts it, “bookshops are time machines, spaceships, story-makers, secret-keepers, dragon-tamers, dream-catchers, fact-finders, & safe places.” and this, for me, applies to libraries too! i hope the photos of these places fill you with the same bookish love that overwhelmed me when i visited in person.

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bookish thoughts

one of my new year’s resolutions is to express my reactions to the things i’ve read – whether it be through writing reviews on goodreads, verbally recommending books to others, or posting thoughts on this blog – since i’ve never been that great at pinpointing exactly what i liked or disliked about a book. so, two months into 2016, i’m making good on that promise!

last month i read vladimir nabokov’s pnin and loved it. i want to read it again before i give a full review, but in the meantime, i’m going to share my impressions (and show that this blog is still alive and well, haha).

“Pnin slowly walked under the solemn pines. The sky was dying. He did not believe in an autocratic God. He did believe, dimly, in a democracy of ghosts. The souls of the dead, perhaps, formed committees, and these, in continuous session, attended to the destinies of the quick.”

pnin feels more like a string of anecdotes rather than one continuous narrative, and follows a russian academic’s life at an american university. the whimsical diction and lengthy sentences are enchanting, and the story itself is full of ghosts. pnin’s personal history constantly haunts him throughout the novel; he’s followed by hundreds of people who move in and out of a lifetime of moments. the physical structures that exist within pnin are incredibly tangible, too. i watched pnin trying to create his home at waindell college or exploring the pines and felt as though i were the one filling my living space with russian memorabilia and carefully weaving through the ancient, beautiful vestiges within cook’s castle. for me, reading pnin was an immersive (and surprisingly relatable) experience – cruel, hilarious, warm, and nostalgic all at once.

also! here are some books on my ‘to read/finish’ list for march:

the castle, franz kafka – i began reading this last year and have somehow never finished it. i share an on-and-off relationship with this book; i’ve read it in little chunks of narrative since i first started it. k., the protagonist, tries to gain entry into a castle in which mysterious authority figures govern the village below. i want to finish this eventually, but if i remember correctly, k. was still circling hopelessly around the village where i left off last.

fight club, chuck palahniuk – currently reading. it’s been gut-wrenching and atavistic and violent so far, but also brilliantly technical when it comes to minute details. i’m really enjoying it right now, and i hope i can finish this soon!!

the little friend, donna tartt – i’m starting this today! after reading tartt’s the secret history (which i absolutely adored) last summer, i’m super excited to read the little friend, which is set in the american south in the 1970s. right now i’m also reading flannery o’conner’s wise blood for school, so i’m on the lookout for cultural and/or thematic parallels between the two books.

and then there were none, agatha christie – this has been on my ‘want to read’ list for so long, and i was finally able to get a copy of it (along with christie’s the murder of roger ackroyd and the mysterious affair at styles) at a garage sale, of all places! once i finish the little friend and fight club, i’ll probably read this next.

right now school takes up most of my time, and 2016 has been a whirlwind of tests and papers and sleeplessness so far, but i love it all. i’ve already learned and read and written so much in the past two months alone, and there’s still a wealth of knowledge that’s out there for me to absorb as my intellectual self grows. so here’s to a new year of books – of myriads of unread literature – waiting for us all to explore!

placeholder nine

you find the book quite early one morning and laugh at bad puns. too many too little, not enough time, thyme, a clockwork garden, a hot summer’s day with the water shut off and broccoli dying under the sun. environmentalism, what is. what is not is the brief hope that this will last a while longer because this is finite, unstoppable, because now is the time to throw words out and bring colors in. this is when hyphenations like ‘sun-kissed’ and ‘sun-drenched’ and ‘sun-strained’ come to mind, when air grows cool and trees shed seas of flaming leaves at the end of january. every other sentence is a lie, with the rest lifted from a stale repetitive repository. remember bridges. step into the courtyard, careful not to trip over the ledge where your grandfather broke his leg and his heart. everything is stone. cold: the fishes quiver. a motorcycle last used in 2005. remember to keep your chin up when you swim through a rainwatered living room. remember fruit candies, beaded numbers. remember not to cry when the smell of urine hits like starvation. everywhere is water. compared to others, your book tastes like viciously luscious cake. the architecture is the same; so are those tears. sight, a privilege, wanders permanently when lost. someone breaks open a guitar and takes the sounds inside. dancing ensues.
(eventually you’ll learn to love these floating faces. you’ll learn to love your dreams.)