The HyperTexts

Anaïs Vionet

Anaïs Vionet is a sixteen-year-old high school student with a very promising future as a poet and writer. This is her first publication by a literary journal, but surely not her last.



From a Distance

Oh, absent one, I miss you.
Darling, an empty place awaits you.
Thrushes chirp their dissatisfaction in the garden
As I doze with boredom.
I send my well wishes from a distance.

Oh, absent one, my digital phantom,
You're here when I call but not here.
I brush my hair with discontent;
I eat bitter, lonely meals to stay alive.
I send my love from a distance.  



Half baked

I am half-finished, feckless, unauthorized, ineligible, incompetent, inadequate and unempowered.



Desires

I'm like a Vulcan when you aren't around—logical, distant, evaluating you like a product with my friends. The consumer with a lifetime of buying.
But near you I am a prisoner of some consciousness independent of thought, like a fever or the dreamer, with the merest semblance of control.
You are light and loose, hair like Spanish moss and skin like cedar resin, all laughter and agonizing beauty. The way you lean across the table I can only think of kissing you.
I'm sure at times it must show, like a red stain on a white dress or some inconvenient erection.
You have some license on me, a key to a place in me I keep hidden and close; you fit some interior template of desire.
What good is freedom if I can't tell you!!?
Oh, the ragged vagaries of love's games. A thousand emotions and I am deserted to silence by some rule of thumb—by a faltering consumer confidence or some feeling of inward nakedness—when all I want in the world is an open kiss or to give you an intimate scented something ...



The Age of Hate...

Ok, I'm not paid to think (like the TV shouting heads), I have no real voice (vote), and certainly no credentials—but I'm as invested in America as any high-school citizen can be—I've pledged allegiance 3,000 times (hhmmm ... do they doubt our loyalty?) and when it comes to loving America I'd have to say my classmates and I are at the center of the spell.
I'm afraid we're growing up in the age of hate ... the age of phony outrage where each position large or small is high noon and violence is afoot even when policing ordinary citizens.
We won't address the multitude of old problems in this new age ... we'll just unleash a marquetry of half truths to dispute the proven until unreasoned arguments reach their paranoid fullness. The real world is alarming enough—let's just push that away and ignore it—and while we're at it let's slut shame the poor, the old, the sick, the unemployed, the hungry and the hand of mercy.
I realize America was never one moral atom bonded for the better—but those anvils that forged us appear neglected or forsaken. I'm afraid what's happening now, what we're seeing and hearing now, is a symphony of erosion—that by the time I have any say at all, the middle class will be gone—America turned slum—where even the voice of despair will be termed traitor. We'll only be able to see our greatness in museum souvenir shops where nothing is affordable and everything is made elsewhere.



Trump's Coronavirus Call to Arms

Mar-a-Lago's in disorder—and deeply in debt.
The virus is draining my palace—but it's not dead yet.
My buddies at Fox—those sweet purveyors of lies—
will stir up the gullible and suggest they rise
to claim their birthright—to die for a cause!
(They'll have to invent one because I'm at a loss.)
But get back out there spending—get back on the roads.
Let's give this disease the deaths that it's owed.
My money's more important than peasants and fools.
The doctors and experts can't make all the rules!
Follow me quickly—oh reason bereft—
yes, follow me boldly and meet my friend—DEATH.



Dueler's Thrust

What's the scariest book you ever read? ... Some Stephen King book like Salem's Lot or The Shining? For me it's Kate Millett's Sexual Politics ... Oh, man ... Now THAT will scare you to death if you're female. I discovered a man, overheard at my church, who actually believes his sex is a sign of power and of superiority. WHY am I so startled? Some childish trust not yet scrubbed off?—Or worse yet, some belief, not yet strangled, in a better world? See, stupid me, I thought this bill had been paid, by sufferance, by real people like Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie Catt and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ... by entire generations who ran through those tangled woods emerging cut and bruised ... if at all. What is it like for HIM? I see him eying us, his little inferiors who bleed with the moon, with secret, catlike distaste ... regarding female opinions as slightly impure ... then, with calm, Godlike grace, granting females the forms of servant to assume. Can I, can we, be forced to accept this inheritance? I don't know ... All I know is that this prejudice, so strangely without substance, strikes me like a dueler's lucky thrust, robbing me of attendant rights and wit ... springing a tender trap of doubt in the future and abandoning me to stammering.  



I've got an idea

I've got an idea. If you aren't getting what you want, bully me.
If I'm slow in understanding, bully me.
If I'm not playing your every note, bully me.
If you're older, bully me.
If you're smarter, bully me.
If my efforts aren't poetic, bully me.
My identity is just cosmetic, bully me.
What the fuck are you waiting for?
I'm yours to condemn or bless, so bully me.
If you don't think I'm doing my best, bully me.
If your every need is not addressed, bully me.
If I'm not getting undressed, bully me.
I'll probably fold if really pressed, so bully me.
If you're not suitably impressed, bully me.
You're just like all the fucking rest, bully me.
See what it will fucking get you—bully me.



Asymptotic

I am simply at my worst these days.
Wild and unpredictable emotions rush on me—it's a place where the layers of control and composure are very thin.
This school year has been an endless working, always desperate, collection of days.
Each passing week seemed to unmask some flaw in me—like peeling a rotten onion.
Emotionally, spiritually, I droop like a hanged man.
It's not the work. I survive practice and academic battles as if by some brand of magic.
No, it's more.
I have lost my goal. Like biblical engineers raising the tower of Babel on the plain of Sennaar, I am struck by a lack of focus—my direction, my original plan, seems shallow; I stand purposefully gelded.
It's worse because I'm somehow SO much less than whom I want to BE.
Like an asymptotic curve I constantly miss my ideal. I am hunted, internally, by my own inner voice, that ruthless, pitiless, seeker of perfection—it lurks like the prowling wolf in a stalk bent walk—sifting my every thought, my every action for flaws—until like the wing-weary hunted prey I could almost welcome the killer's warmth for sweet silence.
In a mood somewhere between cowardly and courageous I finally approached my Mom.
In a speech from the scaffold I told her of my black, tight, treacherous spiral—of my doubts about EVERYTHING.
I expected the worst—a disappointment, in less than cryptic, ciphered messages, a slow sharpening of her claws on me for my ENDLESS shortcomings.
Instead I got miracles.
As if rigid constellations had shifted—an atmosphere of freedom earned—and at least for that moment, the mom who used to sing me awake in the mornings as a girl—and a delicious summer of rest.


Something new

My mom's passionate about Newton's second law of thermodynamics.
She uses a "mom" version which can be stated as:
"Daughters tend toward disorder if not managed."
If I'm nothing else, I'm vigorously, meticulously managed—like a tiger that must be turned judiciously from one situation to another lest a foot be forfeit.
"You're too young for"... is more than a formulate, it's a knife-like rule-tool, to dampen upheaval, banish trespassers, and put the "new" under glass—just out of reach. It's forever primed, there in the parenting tool-belt and can be thrown with the gunfighter's liquid, skillful ease.
So when I say I'm into something "new," I mean I've tiptoed into that Tartarus where you find the scandalous, like short skirts and Internet pornography.
The "new" is prima-facie proscribed until it's proven cold, safe and harmless—then blessed—like an old Disney movie.
Our impromptu confinement—in suspending the world—has allowed me unaccounted moments to sample and measure how this "new" might fit into my life.
So it is—now—that I wake up every morning—ready for crime—and I live but a hairsbreadth from punishment—yes, I've discovered one of God's greatest gifts and seductions—coffee.
After about a week, my brother, while I'm reading the news, transparently focuses my mom's attention on the cup by my iPad, by glancing, slowly with his eyes. My mom is fleetingly lost, then she alights:
"You're too young for coffee," she says.
I look up and groan.
Then, as she moves to collect the now-banned item, I send a sisterly glower to my brother who stands blithely and innocently sipping from his cup.



The Spell

You're gone.
But the screen protectors you got me on eBay arrived today—a month late—as if delayed on purpose to fill the void of you. As if you begged from magicians some charmed water, some magic root or incantation to flood me with memories.
There are rules in this world. Non-biblical "Thou shalt nots"—that get people, friends and lovers—tossed from the garden. Wickedness is its own reward—congratulations, you earned it—but…
I have no moly to protect me from your charms—even now. Everyday things just seem to take me back—to us—and my heart breaks—I miss you so.



The Competition

I pound the pillow, curse the clock and mock injunctions to rest.
The sun finally rises and its rays fall slantwise through the curtains as I dry my hair.
A meal, like a forced dose, we soak ourselves in wasted, nervous time.
Finally! We arrive at the competition.
Tension is here and tireless pressure.
The players waiting stiff as straw, tongues playing over dry lips.
Teachers and coaches unapologetic in their pallor.
Music drifts behind us and occasionally gasps as imperfections play like daring circus tricks.
The sparkling prodigy returns disappointed, grimace of a smile, stricken, he stares away as we search for words, oh! clumsy, unrepairable prince!
Suddenly, it's time and I wonder why we are hurrying, feeling weak, momentarily frightened to go there.
On this stage in this great, hushed hall, enormity suddenly dawns with mass enough to crush me.
At last I sit before this odd Steinway music machine—my dearest mechanical friend.
A tremble resisted—the reward of mortal afternoons—endless practices' fruit.
Eyes closed I prepare my best self—pushing all fear, all doubt, to the margins—and begin.
I hope, to recreate, one note at a time, Chopin's ancient impact—with hands flying, like tethered birds, I hammer out his timeless melody explosions, his streams of crazily exact math-exam fiery semiquaver motions—then, almost suddenly, I'm done.
I stand, joyously, nearly crying. The world hasn't ended.



Images in the dark

My father died when I was seven.
Like a girl in a museum I'm drawn to his pictures—those inadequate reproductions hypnotize me.
What can pictures give? Coal-blue eyes, a knowing look. They exist, for me, like Cassandra of Troy, full of endless secrets that can never be told.
A snowy, ice slickened, twilight-blue rush hour parade—hundreds of grimy cars rushing, rushing ... somewhere.
Why do the details I can't remember haunt me so?
A flash of light, the tearing of metal like the screaming of dogs in a reeling, devouring dance of energy.
The nuclear family detonating with death inches away.
Everyone was asking, "What do you remember?" "I don't know," I said.
Sometimes, as I fall asleep, memories of him—which I hold dear—come to me like the ghosts of departed friends. Image after image in the embracing dark.
Why is it the further away you get, the more I need you?
Those images and that voice are strangely silent in the morning as I'm, once again, awakened to a world I'd rather reassemble.

The HyperTexts