Finding expression

A big part of writing, for me, has always been about having a way to express myself. I’m a pretty outspoken person when it comes to my opinions and thoughts, but getting me to discuss feelings — especially ones of hurt, anger, resentment, sadness, anything negative — can frequently feel like playing tug of war with your dog. All that effort to drag it out of me, and as soon as I give it up, I want to take it back.

I was in a Situation (yes, capital S) a few years ago that I refuse to refer to as a relationship. My involvement with this person only spanned about four months, but my physical, emotional, and psychological well-being took much longer to snap back — and there are days where I feel that it hasn’t, not completely. The occasional nightmare is the least of it; the bigger issues stem from my inability to trust in anyone (which wasn’t strong prior to the Situation, and only got worse following it), and my unwillingness to share things about myself. Some of these traits are simply learned caution; others lean heavily towards paranoia. I’m self-aware, though — I do acknowledge that these traits are not particularly healthy or normal.

I so very rarely want to discuss this Situation. There isn’t another person on earth who has heard the full extent of it, partly because I can’t express myself and partly because there isn’t really any way to explain it.

Once I started writing this, however, I felt like I could discuss people and events in less direct ways; the average reader would just see it as a piece, and not necessarily a piece of me, written down for the word to review and criticize.

This is still probably both my most personal and most vulnerable piece I’ve ever crafted. The last lines were the first to write themselves. After writing it, I felt like I had let go part of something that I’ve been carrying around with me, and I could finally take a breath. There’s something so freeing about leaving the past in the past, where it belongs.

do it – you won’t

My body was your artwork, my skin your canvas
you cut me and colored me as you saw fit
Purple handprints in a web of tattoos
webs, like all the lies you used to sew yourself together
Bloody ribbons of shredded flesh,
thirty howling lashes for betrayal
Shadows of your teeth pressed into my neck,
bruises blooming like dark petals
through cracks on shattered walls

And I’m back to That Night
the night you never said goodbye
Your knives thrown into the backseat
because you needed your scarred fingers
It smells metallic and your scarlet hands seem
black under blue moonlight
From the beads of dark blood in a sharp thin line
across my collarbone where
and you taught me never to say it again –

– hands on my throat
you were fury, you were outrage
howDAREyou howDAREyou howDAREyou –

I couldn’t see through the fog
just a breath away from vanishing
until lights flashed on the rearview mirror
your hands gripping the neck you said you loved so much
but those lights flickered, blue-white blue-white
a siren screamed for me to draw breath
and all at once there was no one there
from a murderous shadow to nothing but smoke

They asked why I was gasping for air,
alone in the dark with blood on my collar
There was no way to explain
that you were burning me to the ground

you were ruinous chaos,
and I was dying for your art



My first attempt

I was driving to work one morning and for no reason in particular, I was thinking about the ocean. As a girl who grew up by the water and had ready access to beaches, they played a pretty significant role in my memories and thoughts.

As someone who has spent a lot of time watching the water (day, night, morning, evening, calms, storms), I knew from experience that waves are like snowflakes: no two are identical. The idea of each wave representing a different memory struck me really powerfully, and during my commute to work one morning, I had constructed most of this poem in my mind. It touches, very briefly, on some memories I wasn’t very comfortable exploring yet.

The support of friends and the overwhelming response I received to this poem is the ONLY reason I continued to write poetry after this day; I expected it to be my first and last attempt. It just shows you how impactful your comments on someone else’s work can be.

Original text is below.


bare toes on rough rock, every wave higher
in a moment I will disappear
white foam curling over stone
a dance through time, each wave a memory
overlapping and spinning together
seconds out of a year, subtle moments until
the ocean has swallowed you
one piece at a time — peace comes in time

sometimes they’re gentle, a handshake or smile
others crash into you, fists into teeth
some arrive silently,
a touch – a wink – a hug
a few break so loud it bruises,
knives and bourbon and blood

the wind to whisper and the sun to sing
soft sand and sharp shells
elation and devastation coexisting in salt

no one sees high tide coming
until they’re drowning in it

but this time I refuse to sink


A word on poetry

Before posting some of my recent work, I feel like I must defend myself.

I am not a poet. I know absolutely nothing about poetry. I really wasn’t a fan of poetry at all until recently, because I still had it in my head that poetry was a bunch of rhyming nonsense.

Since discovering berlin-artparasites, however (and if you like poetry and/or original artwork, check out their page on facebook), I realized more and more that poetry can be anything; it can take any form, be written in any style, come from any emotion, and it certainly doesn’t need to rhyme.

Upon seeing some of the truly breathtaking (and that’s a word I use sparingly) works of poetry and art on their site, I felt inspired to write a few pieces of my own. Out of nowhere, I felt like some knot of anxiety I’d been carrying around for years had suddenly been untied, and I could write about events and feelings and people in ways that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to.

There are some things, I think, that are too tough to talk about openly — at least until enough time as passed that it isn’t such an open wound. And poetry, to me, is becoming a way for me to talk about and think through some things that I always shied away from exploring before.

Anything signed Coki or CokiKay on this site is my original writing.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde

In which I begin my journey…..

The meaning behind the title of this first post (of many more to come) is twofold: I am beginning both a real-world adventure and a virtual one simultaneously, using one to document the other.

I’m Coki, an old nickname from the years I spent as the stage manager for a theatre company. The nickname grew on me and I now consider it almost an alter ego, or rather a specific facet of my personality — the creative, artistic, musical, inspired part of me.

My inspiration for this site, as life would have it, is twofold as well; five days from now, I am leaving on a seventeen-day road trip with my very favorite travel companion, my sister, K. I tend to express myself through art, poetry, photographs, music — any creative medium that allows me to define my experiences. I’m certain that I’ll be using all of those methods, and others, to document my third journey around the United States and life afterwards.

I’m preparing for this trip right on the heels of finishing another (albeit smaller) virtual challenge, which had an unexpected impact on me: the #100happydays challenge. If you’re not familiar, #100happydays is an open-to-anyone challenge, issued to users of any social media sites (be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), to post one thing every day that brings them joy. It can be something as small as a short line at Starbucks or making it to work without traffic, all the way up to photos of your wedding or a new baby — the point is to seek out at least one joyful thing that happens to you every day, for 100 days in a row.

This challenge had a really deep impact on how I view things, and how I plan to try and view them in the future. It makes you pay more attention to the positives in your day, because you have this challenge in the back of your mind all the time. Even on days when it felt like nothing was going right (and there were several during my challenge), you know that you have to post something happy — you start reviewing your day in your head, trying to think of something to post, and the most amazing thing about it is that there was always something positive I could say. There was a day I felt so stressed that I cried in the bathroom at work; yet by the end of the day I had found something positive, turned my day around, and kept on smiling.

The combination of this challenge, and the trip I’m about to take, have made me feel this wonderful, almost overwhelming sense of inspiration. I’ve been singing and writing and feeling this creative flow that I haven’t in so long, and rather than assume it’s a temporary mood change, I want to encourage this energy and make myself do something with it.

Therefore, I am committing to this creative project — documenting things that inspire me and bring me joy. I want a place to share my inspirations — thoughts, quotes, poetry, photographs, art, anything that comes to mind — and gather them together in this one place, a place I can return to when inspiration is thin on the ground.

I’m calling this place of mine The Illumination of Joy, and I hope the things that make me happy and provide inspiration to me will inspire others as well.

“People who hover in doorways are coming from nowhere and are headed nowhere.” -Shonda Rhimes