Poncy Poetry Thursday: Zed

I promised some poetry this week, and I am happy to deliver!

Now, this piece is not new or even recent; I wrote it seven years ago. But it is relevant to where I am these days, as it is about New Zealand (which will be obvious to anyone who reads the first two lines, or who knows me at all). I count my time in that country as some of the best experiences of my life (and a few of the worst, maybe, but I chalk it all up to the good, because I learned and I GREW). I have been back in my home country for oh, almost twelve years now? And the ache for New Zealand is as strong as it ever was. I miss it like you’d miss a person – a lover who has left you, or a family member who has passed away. Sometimes the longing for my “second home” is so strong I feel it as an actual physical pain.

East Cape, New Zealand – my favorite place on the planet.

I knew for practically a decade that I wanted to write Aroha. But I needed time, lots and lots of time, to formulate my thoughts and come to terms with who and what it would be about. It had to marinate, and I let my thoughts sit in their own juices for a very long time. During that period of reflection, I occasionally wrote other things, such as this poem. I don’t think it’ll win any awards any time soon, but it reflects my thoughts and feelings on an era of my life gone by, and definitely paved the way for the two books I would one day write.


Poncy Poetry Thursday: On Drinking Tea

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Poetry and Prose are probably the two writing forms that I’ve been at the longest, but see the least light of day. People just don’t read poetry anymore, not with any great ferocity. We can all quote our favorite poet (shout out to T.S. Eliot!) and a few of Shakespeare’s more prominent works, but we don’t rush to buy the newest book of poetry and devour it like mad things. I was lucky enough to see one of my sheroes, Alice Walker, give a talk at the Morton Theatre last year, and afterward, she gave the entire audience a copy of one of her books of poetry. Since then, I’ve been inspired to try and write more of it – to revisit that part of my mind and delve into an artform I hadn’t really explored fully since high school.

I plan to devote Thursdays on this blog to poetry. Mine, mostly, but maybe others’, too. It may not be every week. It may be sporadic. But the best poetry thrives on spontaneity and taking the reader by surprise.

The loss of David Bowie back in January floored me. It sounds silly, but he was and is my artistic touchstone. We all have that one artist who just breaks through and shines a light on us, and he’s been that artist for me since I was very young. I was so devastated when he died that I haven’t even brought myself to write about it. For me, this is a very odd thing. I can write essays about Dwight Yoakam concerts and create sexy heroes out of thin air for my fiction, but I find myself tongue tied when it comes to my muse with the two different colored eyes. It’s just too hard. That, or I haven’t found my footing among the words yet.

You’ll find I talk about music almost as much as writing. To me, they are forever intertwined.

This poem, written after Bowie’s death, is the closest thing I’ve gotten to it. Go easy on me – I haven’t flexed these muscles in a while.


On Drinking Tea

 I pour myself another cuppa
(a thing I now do)

I think on steeping.

To concentrate yourself, to become an essence,
an elixir
more powerful when more palatable, is that right?
I never knew. Your charm lies in your taste
your brew.

cups and cups
we serve ourselves up,
we wait for someone’s licking lips
for them to say,
“It’s good.”

I’ve spent years
looking ahead, waiting for the taste
to improve. To become sweet.
For all my looking-forward-tos,
I woke one day groggy, undressed, undone
(I knew in my sleep)
that looking forward
wasted all my past.

The brew was bitter.
It could not last.

In short, I was afraid.
(See what I did there?
What an imposter.
Poser, inspired phony,
never the one to inspire.)
Tea can be very lonely.

I told myself bitter things like that,
bit down on the bad taste.
Sipped on my pain.
Drank until I bloated,
drank until I hated.
Drank to cry, or split, or die.

Self-indulgence dances a tightrope
puffy little harlequin, it is, dressed and unrepressed,
At any time could float down
and crack its head on the floor
of despair.

But enough about me.
You – you were a mime.
Lips unnaturally red, curved lines,
you made art out of your skin,
(your life and death, your everything).

But about tea –
people like you, and people like me.
The steeping of delicate earl grey into a royal blue glass cup,
dainty and sparkling
(vs clotting begging to bleed into cracked ceramic, every ugly mug from every Grandma’s 70s kitchen the sight of so much repression and ugly self expression)
My memories always at a window.
The hurts – no, the interruptions –
stunting. They stunt.
My head is so loud. Was so loud.
crying, screaming,
having bitten off my lips,
Crusted-over voice like day old bread.
But even if I could,
I wouldn’t talk.

(a weak brew
sings no songs)
I never knew,
you stood behind me the whole time.
Your hand gentle, elegant, graceful
the paint so fine (you made your hands art)
you held my knotted shoulders, my seized neck.
And loved me.
“Give me yourself, if you will,”
you said in an invisible voice,
disguised as a whiskey and cigarette croon.
“And I will give you something that tastes better.”

My head is still loud.
Louder all the time.
And those years have gone, awash with dust, with grime.
You’ve run dry. My tears have not.
But we’ll always have a window in front of us somewhere,
won’t we?

I’ll pour another cuppa tea,
but a piss-poor substitute,
(no substitute at all, you see)
It will be.

Copyright 2016 Lillah Lawson




Tangerine Robin (an excerpt)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I’m planning to share a lot more about Aroha and its sequel in the coming weeks, but since it’s a lazy Sunday for me today, I decided to post just a little snippet of something I’m working on. It’s an “on the side” piece, part of a larger compilation that I bounce to and from whenever I feel like it.

This story is – as of right now – the first in a series, which will be in my book “About a Girl” (working title). It’s called “Tangerine Robin” and I owe a whole lot of different, wholly unconnected but unique people thanks for inspiring it. This snippet is really just a teaser, but I hope you enjoy.




Hello friends, fans, and party people! I’m Lillah, and I’m glad you’re here. I’m a writer, blogger and author. All of those things mean pretty much the same thing, but because I write in various different styles, I make the distinction. A little background:

I have been writing my entire life, and that’s not really an exaggeration. As an eight year old, I wrote rhyming poems and fairy tales that I scrawled out in messy pencil on notebook paper. As an adolescent, I had a ‘zine, which I dutifully typed out on my Brother typewriter on neon paper, with badly photocopied pictures and contributions from my friends. I called it “The Monthly Friend” – can you believe I thought that was incredibly clever? As a teenager, I wrote angsty poems by the dozen and clipped them carefully into notebooks and diaries, interspersed with quotes written in gold pen, art and photos of people I found pretty. In my twenties, I wrote a lot of articles and essays, some of which got acclaim, and many of which were published in various places (MSNBC, Flagpole, etc). I had a weekly column at a feminist magazine for a number of years. During this time, I also wrote professionally for an insurance company and an iPhone app company, respectively. I gotta tell you, not ALL writing jobs are fun and fulfilling. Soul crushing stuff, for real. I’ve had a number of blogs over the years: some political, some silly – one was even all about food (I really like food).

I love to write. I’ll write anything. Short stories, fiction, poems, prose, non-fiction, blog posts, ad copy – you name it, I write it. Anything from song lyrics to letters to people I love, to think pieces. You got it, dude.

I guess I just have a lot to say. I always have.

While I’ve technically written four books now, I’ve only published one. Aroha was a work of love that took a year to write but ten years to conceive of. I self-published for a variety of reasons, and I plan to talk about that journey and those reasons in a later blog post. Aroha was a big step for me, not only as a writer, but personally. I thank those of you who have read it and given me feedback, because that feedback has been as much a part of my journey as writing the book.

I am currently working on its sequel, which is due out later this year, as well as a book of short stories. I’m writing poetry and essays in between, as always, because I wear many hats (I mean this quite literally, as well as figuratively). I don’t know when to stop, and my attention span can be short. My next blog post is an open letter to a musician that I admire, and it’s about music and how inspiration can come from that and many other places. You’ll see a lot of that in this blog and in my work.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope I can entertain you and that you enjoy my writing.

Kia Ora,

Lillah Lawson