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wasteland poems

ashley noel hennefer


Copyright Š 2010 by Ashley Noel Hennefer Book design by A. N. Hennefer Cover design by A.N. Hennefer All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Hennefer, Ashley Wasteland: Poems / Ashley Hennefer Printed by Published by Desert Underground: Independent Publishing and Media 4

Table of Content Quite Impossible - 8 Phoenix Rising - 11 Denial - 12 Hidden Places - 13 Eclipse - 15 Bloom - 16 Kara’s Poem - 18 The Desert - 20 Lyrical - 21 Tide - 22 Pieces - 23 Dreamed - 24 Across the Sky - 26 Starstruck - 28 Icarus - 30 World on a String - 32 Urban Exodus - 34 Personification - 36 Captivity - 39 Broken - 40 Margo - 41 The Harvest - 42 Chaos - 43





Quite Impossible I like to pretend there is rain on my window when I go to sleep at night. and that the reflection of moonlight is a combination of stars and the shine of the words and papers I left scattered on my floor. every now and then I forget who I am and I start to long for nights of loneliness of nostalgia and then I remember that those things are the reason that I’m still awake. people take sleep for granted but I, I just like to dream. and even though I have trained myself to let my mind wander anywhere anytime I like my creativity best when I’m buried beneath layers of blankets and books. I spend weekends dancing lyrical in my room along to music with loud guitars and lyrics that make me hurt. and I hear voices sing about things I understand oh, god, do I understand. sometimes I like to pretend that I am in the song 8

that I am the chord the strum the beat of the drum. that I am the rhythm the rhyme the lyrics, the time. the songs give me something to get lost in. and when my mind refuses to speak in anything but poetry I must abide or my mind will refuse to speak at all. and I sometimes hit the rock wall beside the stairs out of frustration at the fact that I’m fluent in prose and such a terrible failure in poetry. but this is my sonnet. my soliloquy. a work without a point. these are my words and they have been washed and are being hung to dry so they can be re-used in the case that I should run out of things to say. but since I have the ability to imagine raindrops 9

and create rose gardens and make myself smile with the possibility of a new story running out of things to say seems quite impossible.


Phoenix Rising a broken bottle, a letter, never sent an empty nest once thrived with life but the birds now fly the phoenix soars, igniting the sky with freedom and passion but the rain will come too soon we rise up with every intention of falling from the thorns of a cactus is where a wildflower grows; and ashes are just remnants of a fire that once burned.


Denial you are apathetic and passionless but once you loved (me) in your stories I am the girl who left you high & dry but it was you who left me heaving & shaking now we talk platonically over cups of coffee we ignore all of the whispers and brushes of hands and you want her and I love him but still we can’t let go of the glances we are exchanging across the table now when you are denying yourself of love, I will be the memories that make your bones ache but love, I would never let you run too far from me 12

Hidden Places there are hidden places on my body, places where the smallest of secrets are kept. you pass over these places, unaware when your arms sweep over me pausing only to linger at your favorite spots. fingertips drowning in the ocean of my hair strands of tangled seaweed pulling at your hands legs draped over the plains and hills of my hips and back toes entwined in the deserts at the balls of my feet if my face is a map of the world, my body will be our atlas and where you go I go there are secrets locked inside of my chest and though only God


has the key, you can make the latch break free – my heart unfolds only for you.


Eclipse there is a tide in my veins a deep moving current – my heart skips a beat but it goes unnoticed apart through sheets, together by lips you have crawled inside of me but it still isn’t close enough in moonlight awash in white – our skin is the same color the purest expression of our love and this eclipse will reveal the shadows of who we really are


Bloom I found you in a garden, your veins stretched throughout your body, pulsing through your arms and wrists, embedded into the ground roots buried deep in dry soil there were lilies in my hair, distracting wandering eyes from the dirt on my face from all of the digging I found nothing I looked too hard yet you reached your hands out, like wilting autumn leaves ready to break away from the routine of sunlight and bees and watching the hours change from day to night with no conclusion I turned away, toward ambitious sunflowers and blooming orchids but your eyes opened like a flower, lashes like petals, stunning and dangerous like an oleander, colors of jacaranda and hyacinth 16

I could say that I found you stumbled over your long roots, pushing through the ground in an attempt of a trap but I was captured by the sweetness of your voice at night, the scent of your hair in the morning and flowers pick themselves they choose who receives you chose your lover and my place is now with you and our garden has yet to blossom


Kara’s Poem wine spills onto her I Love Lucy sheets, staining the threads a deeper mahogany she is buried in a book about beauty and God speaks to her but his whispers are silent outside clouds drift quietly under a full drunk moona garden blooms under her fingers but she is oblivious (the lilies imitate her loveliness but the oleanders capture her bite) and beneath the stems she holds a camera and a pen like they are the only things that let her speak (I read her thoughts like I need water but her poems are thick like wine and smooth like oil and we could drown if we are not careful – or if we are too much) 18

outside there isn’t really a garden but weeds of almosts&nevers grow as if flooded by a river a voice calls – she looks up & her heart sails away.


The Desert I dream of dancing for rain, under it, letting it soak into the fabric tied around my body in ripples that look like waves somewhere in my thoughts I am spinning cloths of sand the roots of trees unravel and somewhere in my journey I have become the weaver I was born in the ocean but now I thrive in the desert where there were only rocks now live seeds and the vines of my soul are wrapping themselves around your heart I can dance the sun into the day dance the rain into the drought dance the river into the sea under the stars, I will sing love back into you I will bring life back into you.


Lyrical I’m appealing to the subtlest sounds in this song: not the beat, for once, but perhaps the most delicate plucking of a string a gentle press of a piano key And things I never heard before are now ringing in my ears – and I never before noticed the subtle facets of your beauty: skin, slender hands, eyes, slope of your back into your legs, perfect ears … and every touch leaves me reeling There’s a depth that I’m beginning to fall into – I could write you a million songs and even the most fulfilling of melodies, the most frantic of beats, the most fluid of lyrics, would barely skim the surface.


Tide a river runs through us emptying into a sea of something much deeper than we know how to explain. the tides sway in, and crawl away each grain of sand is a star a universe beneath my feet we are creating a rhythm you are the pacing of my steps, the rising of my chest, and the fall ten fingers, two hands two bodies, one mind one heart – we are one I am all of you and you are everything in me dissolving in hands, eroding in kisses, drowning in love‌ we rock to the rhythm of the ocean


Pieces I have been shattered by falling from too high a place I’ve been cracked in half by strong hands I once trusted to keep me whole I’ve been left bleeding by a shotgun wound of words I’ve been beaten, bruised scarred, used I’ve been broken – but the pieces always fit so beautifully back together.


Dreamed I dreamed of the sea the air, salty and sweet and your body, pressed against mine smooth and firm and soft and oh, how I wanted you, oh I could feel the crevices of our curves molding together like sea foam and algae while starfish and seahorses swam around our feet the waves folded over themselves as we drowned from the kisses in our mouths and the sirens sang. I dreamed of the city the sky, fading and blue and we drove, fast and reckless the hills sparkled with tiny houses and paper lanterns and when we waved, your palms caught the light and oh, how I wanted you, oh I could see your hands, silhouetted against the evening sky imagined them in my hair, on my back fingers entwined and my heart raced and we crashed from the heat between our bodies and the streetlights glowed. 24

I dreamed of the desert the earth, dry and dark and we ran, hand in hand my skirt flowing around us like a Nevada breeze secrets in the sagebrush illuminated your voice and oh, how I wanted you, oh I could hear whispers of insects and snakes as they crawled around our bare legs as we ran free and liberated and we danced barefoot under the black moonlit sky and we fell when the earth pulsed and shook from our footsteps and the stars shone. In my dreams we swam and drove and ran drowned, crashed, fell but we still tasted salt, captured light, danced for the moon and everywhere we were I could feel your body and hold your hand and hear your voice and if you only knew how much I loved you when I dreamed 25

Beside me, you slept in silence and I awoke, with the words already tumbling out of my mouth.


Across the Sky under the sky the water leaves us breathless and dizzy the pressure of the depth pulls our mouths together and I am pushing breath into you as I am drowning into you above the sea the birds envy the way our pale limbs are tangled around each other and though we cannot see we can hear their muffled singing and they are jealous of our bodies but we are jealous of their wings across the universe our star-crossed souls collided in a sea of planets and we flew through the solar system, weightless and full we danced until a comet struck us and the collision shook us into motion and we fell into the deepest ocean and now we float when we’d rather fly my eyes are always to the skies 27

you said, it doesn’t matter if we have scales or wings our love is beyond the boundaries of our beings but we can choose to sink or soar – and life is nothing without wanting something more we surface into air, clean and bright all I’ve ever wanted was to fly and the birds are now in view trailing colors of grey and blue and their wings flap to the sound of a song, as if on cue and they sing –

“across the sky, I will love you.”


Starstruck I hate you but I love you and I’m crying out your name It rolls off my tongue like rain from a gutter – something once light and pure – knotting itself in my throat, in my stomach I’m hurting at your memory, tossing pebbles at broken windows You once got lost in my eyes. The same way the desert sky devoured your being, taking you wholly, purely I was innocence to you, a spark of something new I wanted you for your mind, all of its hidden openness I wanted you for that kiss on my front porch where you took me wholly, purely I belong in strangers’ hearts A line in a newspaper, a card in a mailbox I belonged in yours, when you were unafraid but now you, too, are a stranger 29

and I wonder who you are and who you used to be I’m writing you from across the country Sending you dreams of entwined fingers, moonlight kisses, being nothing and how being nothing was once how we were everything We were once star-crossed lovers – literally. I was your bright light and you were the sun in my world and we were once so far away from darkness. I hate you but I love you and your name resides in my mouth every hour of the day and I blow kisses to the wind hoping someday you’ll see the brightest light in the desert sky I shine upon you with hope, with life, with love – always, always with love.


Icarus Oh, Icarus Oh, what a clichĂŠ to revel in his flight Oh, but he failed, he failed! Crashed, burned Like a teenager in the whirlwind of rebellion The tabloids in history books blamed his father The pride of Daedalus should have protected his son! But Icarus knew Anyone who tries to fly can see how much there is to lose The poets thrived, inspired by his desire And he flew higher, higher, higher Oh, those wings Made by man, made by bare hands Melted by the sun Or maybe, they fell apart from the passion in his body from the heat in his skin 31

from his overwhelming need to be free Escape is a journey Captivity, prohibiting There’s beauty in failure, freedom in death And flying and falling are just two different ways to see the world


World on a String Spinning quickly, delicately on an unseen limb A thread, thin, strong in my fingers If I pull we will all come undone I feel but I don’t speak I hear but I can’t see Stars falling into oceans Bodies buried in the land Static on the television Particles personify pain, fear, awe I can’t give them what they need, only empathy A hunger I’m trying to understand but that scraping feeling in my stomach is such a different need to be fulfilled Empty words pierce deeper than bullets A broken promise takes its time, burning the whole way through I hold it carelessly, like it doesn’t weigh more than I can hold like it doesn’t hurt to touch 33

What if I let it go? Let it drop into the depths of infinity – eternity – the endless universe Where would it go? Cease to exist? Could we ever really be nothing or just not be? My body collapses with the heaviness of inevitable pain and the extreme dependence of those who are begging more from me and I can’t give, refuse to see, don’t know how to change everything and I don’t know how only one small – delicate – hopeful girl can sway the fate of the world Everything I touch unravels.


Urban Exodus I feel love in every step I make and There’s a song I’m humming to The tune of my hands swinging and I’m daydreaming of the beginning of time Angel, I can see the lights of the city and They sure are pretty when they reflect In your eyes and they make my heart pound With each new step and My hips sway and I wonder What you mean when you say We’re never where we Want to be but who We are is here and what we are Is now and these urban streets cry Out to the thoughts of humanity Inside of my head but I walk on. And ahead of me there’s a light shining And above me there’s rain falling and I feel the numbness and the heat and I run fast with hands buried deep In my pockets and I close My eyes. Open them and I see the sea and You are here with me and we are Dancing just like we always said we Would and we’ve found our souls in The most unlikely of stories and we Are alive in the strangest of places but 35

We are strangers only to the nonbelievers and On this jagged coastline here We are. We are made of sand and stone And this ocean crashes with Flesh and bone and there are Hands wrapped around my neck but The only one I feel is the one Wrapped around my heart and it Beats so strongly when you Are inside of it.


Personification I. love is a siren.

the tide that pushes ships into rocky coves and its song lingers over the bloated hands of sailors - that sweet intangible voice -

II. love is a man.

a pillowcase of stolen tears masked by an outside downpour– torrential rain running off of your sculpted shoulders into your strong and weary hands and it slips through the fingers that recently held her head above your pillow - the overwhelming rough ache of tenderness 37

III. love is a dead wildflower hidden in the back pocket of my cutoff jean skirt where it brushes against my hips & thighs. Petals crushed and hidden sweet scent of blossoming pollen will fill our combined breaths. I am ready to weave a wreath of leaves inside your mouth - the planting of seeds in the heart of my surroundings a woman. IV. love is a pile of used books on the kitchen counter, toppling over into your daughter’s glass of orange juice and your husband’s business meeting minutes. Williams’ and Eliot’s plums and cats are pulling you into their whimsical pages and suddenly Peter Gabriel’s sweet voice is filling your ears and you can feel young hands reach under your shirt - the butterflies of memories fluttering in your throat a sacrifice. 38

V. love is her blue tulle dress bouncing over her slender strong legs as she twirls and pirouettes in the center of the stage – in the darkness you aim the spotlight on to her perfect form and her violet eyes catch the light and your heart - the delicate ballet that twists your wrist until it breaks a labyrinth. VI. love is the encompassing obsidian darkness pierced by sunlit stars. From the dry earthen atlas grow twisted roots and cacti that survive off of water deep in the core of the earth. from these gnarled weeds & vines, flowers bloom - the fulfillment and emptiness of the open sky a desert. 39

Captivity In your cell I am locked shadowed by filtered grey light The sad song of surrender is mourned from down the hall The low murmurs of unexpected lovers Push, Hush! Hands cuffed above my head Cold metal on flesh Warm lips on skin The sweet shivers from an unwanted caress This dark grotesque love that we possess


Broken I would graffiti love letters on the window of your apartment Shatter the glass with my impatient, shaky hands until it rained down on your sleeping form like words pouring from a splintered book I would tear your stockings to your thigh just to hear you sigh connect the dots with the freckles on your face and kiss your neck until the skin was raw I would love you so much that we would both sweat and hurt from the effort and, with you, I could never hold back Because love can cut through skin if you want it to And love will tear you apart if you let it And love will break you and beat you if you do not control it But making love to you hard is never so good as when I know that we could wind up broken 41

Margo The sky is grey but perhaps someday your heart will be filled with the fire-lit gold of fall You sew leaves to trees, with threads of shoelaces from a worn pair of Converses You fluff clouds by hand, feathers from a torn down blanket caught in your hair You pour your tears into the sea, filling the empty earthen bowl with water meant for growing lilacs (Never have I known a girl so mixed-up in her plaid knee-highs, dissolving into the smoke of her own imagination) When the strings inside you break, tie up the loose ends with love – Perhaps someday your creations will carry you away


The Harvest The stalks rose high, and for once something threatened your height Behind your face the moon was swollen and nearly full – blood raced in the veins stretching through my back and legs A golden sea of wheat, muted grey, holding sway in the wind of the West But even in the beauty of that night and in the pain of the release of our two uncovered torsos, all I can rememeber is how you kept your socks on.


Chaos someday we will collapse into our bones, out of our shells (out of ourselves) desert vines will creep over our hands and pull us down, and we will have to go under into the sea, and the blue will overwhelm the red fading from our body and the blue will shine from the inside out someday we will be a pile of ashes being swept carelessly into the wind, with the other dust of dreams that lived- and died unless the stars have a different story to unfold for you unless you let your knees become bruised it is in you. the chaos will eventually surround you




about the author

Ashley Noel Hennefer lives in Reno, Nevada and is a

graduate student in literacy studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Hennefer is the founder and editor

of Wildflower Magazine and the director of Desert Underground: Independent Publishing and Media. She is

currently at work on a short story anthology, Untamed, an espionage novel Tracked, and a webcomic, Arcadie on Fire.

For updates on new books, publications and projects, visit

Other works by Ashley Noel Hennefer:

Unraveled: Short Stories about the Girl Inside Solace in Solitude: Light and Landscapes (with Emily Clark and Kelly Gesick)



Wasteland: Poems by Ashley Noel Hennefer