How to be an Expert at Life.

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Praise imperfections.
Ask questions.

Don’t fear the answers.
Do fear snakes, toads,
and Donald Trump’s hair.

Adore books, animals,
weaknesses, the broken,
and growing older.

Find a love to orbit around.
Have a constellation seeking brain.
A heart that star gazes.

Don’t trip on what’s been
gone for years.

Walk hand in hand with today.

The one seemly not
telling the truth is
the one you should
listen to the hardest.

Pay attention to your
conscience, make
sure it’s really yours.

Know there’s beauty;
in words. The ones
you use and the ones
you leave out.

Read the classics.
Brighten to artistry
Don’t be afraid to improvise.

Listen to jazz while
drinking iced coffee.

Don’t admire yourself
too much, this can
lead to disaster.

There are two types
of people in the world,
be neither of them.

Know sometime what
seems useless is
full of meaning.

Learn how to bend,
not break.

Lose yourself to love,
to madness.
Always carry a suitcase
full of mischief.
A passport of adventure.

Don’t forget to add a dash of moonlight.
Season the nights with heat.

Create the scene.
Live it.

Lose your shoes and inhibitions.

Split the wishbone.

Know nothing important
comes with a manual.

Just because your
spirit is tangled,
doesn’t mean your
soul has to be tied in a knot.

Be full of vigor,
meaningful chit chat
and chocolate. Lots
of chocolate!

Know there is holiness in the missteps.
Grace in the fumbles.

Remain unfinished.
Be the light.

-Tosha Michelle

Ode to Grass Stains and Wildberries

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We create our own joy.
Come roll around with me
in the grass til our
clothes are stained.
Til the clouds turn violet.

Let’s eat ice cream under
the stars and hold each other
until the restlessness dissipates.
Tonight let’s not battle the hardwood floors,
the laundry chute, or the dishes.

Let’s defy gravity, monotony,
the drudgery of life.
Throw away the map.
Let’s find another way.
Eat the wild berries.
Live on the breeze.
Amp up the brightness of
the moon.
Who cares if the universe
complains?

Let’s create a language
that fits us, in a land
of pine cones and sage.
Red dress on the ground
where desire stays.

Nouns infused with passion
tongue, earlobes, necks..
Shuttering hands, quivering bodies.
The sentences of ourselves.
Infinitives, unearthing new verbs
and their allure.

Upgrading our love
to a window seat in first
class.

Rethinking how.
Reordering now.

-Tosha Michelle

Erasable Scent of Yesterday

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She finally realized it
wasn’t him she missed
but her old ideas of him.
Molded by the absent
years. The feelings lost,
and reshaped in her head,
so many times, that they
became something that
didn’t exist. Emotions.
so foreign they felt
familiar.

Standing on reality’s
shore, her back turn
to the mountains.
No longer between
the future and the past.
The desire to move
ahead, stronger than
the desire to recreate

Freedom replaces fright.
That which is gone, is
now gone completely.
The sun swelled, and
disappears.
She slips away on
the stars, leaving
confetti in her wake,
and the erasable
scent of yesterday.

-Tosha Michelle

Lost Lines

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This is my elegy for those lost lines of poetry.
The ones that died in my mind,
when I was in the store, out on the town
or walking in the park.
Those times when pen and paper chose to stay
home and take a nap. My usually
fruitful memory-barren.

Go, little poem off to the land of word limbo,
out into nothingness.
The braids of forgotten syntax and out of sync time
will guide you. You’ll forever dwell with untold
stories, names unrecalled, and dreams unremembered.
What if and
what never was will comfort you.

I’ll mourn for you as I sit at my desk
staring at the unfulfilled pages, lonely,
for lines that came and died suddenly.
Erased between here and there.
Sentences that turned into ashes,
leaving only the residue of punctuation
and a memory of the moment
just before I forgot to remember.

-Tosha Michelle

IstonicĀ 


Sometimes, I feel like I’m a chapter
from a long forgotten red bound book,
sitting on the nightstand, lost amoung
the newest must read novels.
Other times, i feel like a Whitman poem,
beloved and well read.

Tonight I just have a broken feel.
I raise a glass of regret to memories
that burn, drink to dreams lost, and
loves that failed. Malaise in my bones.
Nostalgia my hydrophobia.

Here’s to:
the nights that turned sour, yet somehow never eroded the palatableness of a half full glass.
I still believe in the soothing cadence
of a soft voice calling my name,
that’s there’s still a double shot
of swoon being poured into a sturdy
pitcher just for me.

I can almost hear the seductive clang of ice, the jazz of a tenor sax who’s notes decant silk sheets, and that drunk dazed look from phenylalanine released, I sway to the knowledge that love is
so much more than that.

Sometimes just a melancholy riff,
a glass knocked over.
Still there’s sweetness left to savor.
The music only dormat to those
who refuse to listen.

-Tosha Michelle

Photo courtesy of yours unruly

The Next Big Thing

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Big ideas are everywhere,
from religion to capitalism.
There’s always someone
trying to sell us something.
I’m burnt out on the peddling.
I just want to be left on the
side of the road while I still
have a little sanity.
Let nature stand for all I believe in.
As for faith, I’ll leave that to the sun.

We all die in the end,
the good, the bad,
the blissfully indifferent.
It doesn’t matter how well
you sing the hymn,
or if you know the slogan
by memory.

Life is freshly pressed and
the creases only hold for so long.
I’d like to believe in
the lottery, mail in rebates,
and a free trip to Hawaii.

In my crisis of faith,
I have moments where I wonder
if we all just fade to dust.
Our molecules scattered
in the wind.
Left with nothing but our
collective darkness,
where there are no charge
off or loopholes.

All I know for certain
is I know nothing.
Oh to have the wisdom of Solomon.
I look for assurance
in the clouds.
Punching the fog.
I fall back on my upbringing.
close my eyes and
pray for grace.

-Tosha Michelle

Unsustainable

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That fall he carried his notepad everywhere.
And on those crisp evenings,
I felt him shape and merge
words with paper.
Above us an inky sky,
and I longed to be nothing
but the syntax and nuances
taking form in his mind.

I rest my head on his shoulder,
watching the swaying of his pen.
I become one with the shuddering lines,
that won’t be still.
They reach out and caress my heart.
Stalling my breath.
Touching me here and here.
For a moment, I’m what he shapes.
What he imagines.
I glimmer in edges of the dark lines,
until the words splinter from me

The lines, like the writer,
elusive as the stray wind.

-Tosha Michelle

The Poem That Wanted to be a Rock Anthem

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I wish this poem was a rock song.
Metaphors on bass
and alluring alliteration on keyboard.
Pumping out an electrifying beat.
Dressed in red lips and tattoos.

I wish this poem was a rock song.
One you could bang your head to.
Groupies hanging out backstage
with the word band,
hoping to get a glimpse
of the rock God
of verse.

I wish this poem was a rock song,
the kind you crank up
to deafening levels.
One that spoke
of anarchy and rebellion.
Wild and unholy.
Flesh stirring.
A shivering kind of thing.

The type of song, you listen to
again and again.
Years from now,
you would take it out
and jam to its nostalgic
beat.

I wish this poem was a rock song,
but sometimes you have to sing
the song you know best.
The poet decides to write
a song of herself.
Worried notes that sing
to the solitaires and forlorn.
Their melancholy movement
withholding nothing.
The tea soaked lyrics resonant
in ash and dust.
Drinking up the low pitch
hum of rain.

I wish this poem was a rock song,
but the blues
peel from me instead.
The spirit that I know
best.

-Tosha Michelle

Thin Mints and Unsent Letters

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Sharing one of my older poems 
Love is often on a street
that only runs one way.
In the space between
stop and go. You think
if you stand still long
enough, he’s bound
to bump into you.

You wait with your
defibrillator.
Doing painful logic
inside your head.
Charting your feelings
in an equation that
never adds up. No
wonder you never got
far in math.

You call out, and he
spits back a thousand
different tragedies.
The shaman in your
right ear says
“WTF, let it go”.
The leprechaun in
your left ear says
“Don’t stop now”.

You climb out of
the pothole you’ve
fallen into, saved by
a rope with a noose
on it.

You’re still alone.
Heart in the gutter.
You pick it up, dust
it off. The wilted
roses blowing
across the road.

You place one foot in
front of the other, only
to find you are on a
moving sidewalk
going nowhere.

You jump off and
hail a cab. In the
distance you hear
a steel guitar, and
what sounds
like a fight song.

You look for clues
and chess pieces
in your purse.
Trying to unriddle
the endnote.

You wind up at a
street carnival,
in a form fitting
black dress, high
heels and garters.

You look up and find
unsent letters in the sky.
Folding the stars into
tokens, you stupidly
hope for another chance
to win that bear.

-Tosha Michelle

The Grudge

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I watered the grudge with a
fervent devotion of a priest
giving communion. I watered
it with the determination of
a drunk on his fourth glass
of gin. The destructive
clockwork of a not so
righteous self.

The cactus in my heart
erupting. I watered it everyday
with a can of venom. My hands
blistering over from the hate.
The fluid and its dark nutrients
taking root, until the petals
bloomed over and clotted my
brain, until there was nothing
left but arid air, laced with
regret, and the silence of
time wasted. The stale
taste of a garden grown
on the wreckage of malice
Gone. The long reign of
bitterness. The tight reign
of hurt feelings. The shards
of anger, shaken from my
eyes. I finally see the sterile
landscape clearly.

How the realization stings.

-Tosha Michelle