I posted a poetry book on my website that can be read for free 😄

I finally got around to making an author website! I worked on it for several hours, so I’m quite proud of it haha. I also posted a poetry chapbook that can be read for free. Check it out here:

http://ashleylillybooks.weebly.com/read.html

The book is available as a PDF and it can also be read on Figment. Thanks for your support 💗 Hope you’re all having a super wonderful day. xo

In My Dreams_cover photo.png

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#poetry

 

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Things of the Heart

[I wrote this story a few years ago. While my writing has evolved quite a bit since then, this continues to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve done.]

           I stood in front of the Lindherst Concert House, where my name was up in lights. It said in big, shining letters, “Tonight, Cindy Kale, Live Performance: The Hottest Ticket in Town.” So, this is what it feels like to see your dreams come true, I thought. I stood outside in the cloak of night as strangers passed me by in the street. I wondered, would any of them see my show tonight? Would any of them see the mountains I’d climbed, the desperation, the hard work, and the tears that led me to this very moment? When they heard me, would they remember my voice, or would it only be another insignificant moment in their memory bank, stored away only to be forgotten? I shook the thoughts away as I held my coat closed over my chest, took a breath of the cool night air, and made my way into the building for my sound check.

            My heals clicked softly as I walked across the stage. I sang my “do re mi’s” and my “mi fa sol’s” as the sound guy cued me and the stage lights gleamed into my eyes. Then, I sang the first few bars of my opening song. “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re miles away…”

            “Okay, you’re good.” The sound guy told me. I smiled a charming smile and thanked him for his time, and then let the owner of the fine establishment show me to my dressing room. I took in the sight of the white walls, the mirrors lined with lights, and the neat display of make-up brushes paired with eyeliner and face powder. There was a table with bottled water, flowers and fruit, and beside that was the clothing rack that contained all of my costumes. I scanned the rack for the blue, glittery, strapless dress that I’d be wearing for my show tonight. When I spotted it, my heart leaped in my chest, and that’s when it all began to feel real. I was performing tonight, and people were coming from all over town to see me. I looked back at the manager to see that a golden plaque hung from the dressing room door, and engraved on it was my name: “Cindy S. Kale.”

            “You’ll be on in forty-five minutes, Miss Kale.” The manager told me. I thanked him and he went on his way, closing the door behind him. I pulled out a stool and sat down in front of a mirror, and looked back at the painted smile and pretty red curls that stared back at me. My lips have learned to smile on command, but my blue eyes couldn’t lie, and they told me the whole, sad-hearted truth. I made myself busy with placing my make-up in front of me. I pulled out all of my brushes, shadow,  highlight, and lipstick; my make-up sponges, powder, mascara, and eyeliner. Then, just as the pressure began to build, I let the tears fall, cool and salty, down my cheeks, just missing the corners of my quivering lips. I felt a lot of things in that moment.

            I felt the things I knew I should feel: the excitement, the fulfillment, the sense of joy and achievement. But mostly, I felt empty, because there was someone I missed. Someone I left behind in pursuit of this life. And even though I knew I was about to embrace the stage lights and the audience and the piano keys, I knew there was another love I wished to embrace. Someone who I ran away from, someone who I was afraid to love in return, someone I pushed away when I needed to let the music in. And I knew that he hated me for it. I knew that he wouldn’t come to my show, even though all I wanted was to see him there, sitting in the front row, hearing me sing, that way, I would know that we weren’t completely lost. That way, I wouldn’t feel forgotten.

            I wiped the tears away with my hands. I dabbed my face with a cloth and began applying my eye makeup. I applied my shadow and blush, my lipstick and my false lashes. I applied powder and smacked my lips together, and then smiled, my blue eyes bright this time with the adrenaline of getting ready to perform.

            “Break a leg,” he said. My memory brought me back to a time when my love was still with me. We stood outside of Coffee and Jazz, a hole in the wall café in a secluded location. It had an open-mic night and the best cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. I was there to sing, and he was there to watch me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and held my hands in his.

            “You’re going to watch me sing, aren’t you Brian?” I’d asked him. Light snow flurries had begun to fall, and I watched his sweater collect the glimmering crystals.

            “Are you kidding? I’ll be in the front row, cheering you on. And afterwards, I’ll take you out to celebrate, anywhere you want to go,” he told me. I told him that sounded wonderful and he gave me a gentle kiss for luck. He walked me inside, and later that evening, I got up on stage and I sang. Brian kept his word, and he sat right there, in the front row. It didn’t matter that there weren’t many other people there. I was really only singing to him, anyway.

            “You’re on in five minutes Miss Kale.” The manager called through the door, pulling me out of my memory. A tinge of sadness was left behind as I realized it would be only that, a memory. I slipped out of my jeans and into my dress and my heals. Shimmering, dolled up, and pretty as a sunset, I took one last look in the mirror.

            “I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream,” I told myself. The manager knocked on my door and I opened it up, my smile easy and natural, and my body energized. I told him I was ready to go on, and he led me to my entrance onto the stage. He walked out to greet the audience and to introduce me, and I felt my heart pounding, accompanied by sweaty palms.

            “Ladies and gentleman, now, the moment you have all been waiting for. I present to you, Miss Cindy Kale, the hottest ticket in town.” The audience clapped as I walked out, showered by the love of their applause. The piano keys started playing on cue, and I started singing my song. I didn’t need to do much of an acting job. The feelings I needed were already there.

            “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re—“ And I stopped. I couldn’t continue. Confused, the piano keys dwindled to silence, and all I could do was stare. I knew it was unprofessional, but I couldn’t help it. I only did it because I saw a familiar face sitting in the front row. When I saw Brian, I was caught off guard, and all I wanted was to step off the stage and into his arms. I wanted to touch his face, to see if he was real. I wanted to say his name. But instead, I remembered where I was, and decided to sing another song.

            “Sorry about that, but if you all don’t mind, I’d uh, I’d like to start off with something a little different.” I cued the piano man to switch to song number three, and when he was there, he gave me the okay.

            “This song is for all of the couples out there tonight. This song is for anyone who’s ever been in love.” The piano came back to life and I started to sing.

            “You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You told me, that’s how I knew that you loved me…You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You loved me, that’s how I knew you were mine…” When I finished my number, everyone whistled and clapped, but the only person I saw was Brian. He clapped in his calm, yet enthusiastic way, and when I smiled he winked at me. I did the rest of my show, just as I had rehearsed.

            And I don’t know if everyone thought it was great, and I don’t know if everyone really believed that I was the hottest ticket in town. But it didn’t matter, because Brian did. And he told me so after the show when he presented me with a kiss and a bouquet of roses. I gave him apologies and he gave me forgetfulness. He asked if he could take me to dinner, and I said yes in a thousand languages. A lot of people came to see me sing that night, and that was a dream come true. But being there with Brian, with his roses and his kisses, for the first time that night, my dream felt complete. For the first time, my heart lacked nothing, and I truly believed that I could spread my wings and fly.

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#fiction

 

Open Door

Sometimes a door is opened

The lock is broken, it waits for you

But you’re just not sure if you

Want to go through it. So you

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Stay still. Hoping that an answer

Will fall to you the way snow falls

From the sky. Blessing you with a

Blanket of confidence. But that

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Doesn’t happen. Instead, you breathe

You look at the door and wonder, what

Will happen if I go through? What will

Happen if I don’t? Where else would I go?

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You make your choice and explore what

Is beyond the door, the way Lucy goes

Through the wardrobe to Narnia. Perhaps

Finding something great, or terrible, or both.

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#poetry

Why I Need Feminism

It’s no secret that feminists are often trolled on the internet. If someone discusses women’s issues, there will be an unhappy person in the comments section equipped with insults and bigotry. There are entire blogs dedicated to disliking those who speak up for gender equality, and I just always think, don’t you have anything better to do? We each have the capacity to add something good to this world, whether it’s advanced technology or a silly drawing. A voice is special, it’s a gift, it should be used well.

Not everything I post or say or share is sunshine and rainbows, but come on people. Who has time to put so much energy into being negative?! Anywayz, I wanted to make this post because I’ve seen people post comments on other sites that basically suggest they think women’s issues aren’t real or that they basically shouldn’t be talked about, or they just say mean things to vloggers or bloggers who usually want to make the world better.

I’m not the first person to make a list like this, and I certainly won’t be the last. It’s not original, but talking about these things still matters. Here’s why I need feminism:

  1. Because every time I walk down the street I have to be aware of the fact that my gender alone makes me vulnerable to potentially dangerous people.
  2. Because several of my female friends in college carried protective items around campus, such as a self-defense flashlight or rape whistle. And those were considered normal, if not necessary precautions to take.
  3. Because victims of rape are still asked what they were wearing
  4. Because many women dislike being catcalled, feel uncomfortable and even unsafe because of it, and that dislike is pretty much always ignored
  5. Because women in other parts of the world, who I may never meet, are not safe in their own homes, communities, or countries.
  6. Because sexism still exists in STEM fields, and there are still people who say discouraging things to girls who are interested in science and tech
  7. Because trans women are given a hard time for wanting to use the restroom (seriously, can we move past this already?)
  8. Because trans women of color experience high rates of discrimination, violence and murder.
  9. Because television and magazines are filled with ads that sexualize the female body in order to sell anything from perfume to candy.
  10. Because if I ever have a son, and if he wants to play with dolls, I’m going to let him. And I’m going to be judged for it.
  11. Because women who don’t want to marry or have children are judged for it.
  12. Because having a vagina puts a variety of social pressures on me, from wearing “girly” clothes, to shaving my legs, to being told to smile, to a variety of things that have nothing to do with having a vagina.

The list goes on. People are often criticized for being vocal about women’s issues. But I also think that if you’re being criticized, especially when it is accompanied by ignorance and bigotry, you are probably doing something right.

There’s a lot of negativity out there. I hope you add something good to the world today. Because you have gifts to share with others, and you matter.

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#MyThoughts

A Love Letter To Bisexual Women

A beating heart, and a head full of

Dreams. You are spectacular. You are

Radiant. You are summer rain and

Fresh flowers that bloom in a garden

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That is full of possibilities. I know it’s

Hard at times. That maybe it took longer

Than you would have liked to live

Your truth because you thought you had

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To hide behind the lie of being straight

Or maybe loving a man has made you

Feel like you didn’t quite fit in in queer

Spaces while still not quite fitting in

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In straight spaces and so you’ve felt like

You fit in nowhere. Living on an island

Where there’s no one around who understands

How your identity has shaped you, how

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Getting to a place of self-acceptance has

Caused you to hurt and grow and break

And mend. It has made your world bigger

Maybe you still have a preference and know

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That your orientation is still valid. Maybe you’ve

Heard someone suggest that people like you

Are greedy, confused, or lying. Or you’ve heard

A woman say she would never date a bisexual

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Because she wanted to be with someone who

Wouldn’t cheat on her. Maybe the stereotypes

Have made you wonder if coming out is a

Mistake, even as you drowned in the anxiety

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Of hiding who you are from people who

Were supposed to love you. Love should

Not cause anyone this much hurt. If no

One’s told you lately, you should know

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You aren’t broken. You are brave with an

Endless capacity to be kind and strong

And filled with light. That you’ve learned

To appreciate your ability to fall in love

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With a sense of humor or a smile or

Just the right person’s presence. You

Find the beauty in it. Even in a world

That may misunderstand you, you exist

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Without hiding. And that is remarkable

Maybe there are times when you’re not

Sure of what you want, or times when

You’re still figuring yourself out, and

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That’s okay. Don’t carry around the

Burden of the myth that your whole

Life must be planned out. Let it go

And it will drift away like feathers in

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The wind and the sun will come out to

Remind you that you’re doing just fine

Maybe you’re still afraid when you meet

Someone new because you’re not sure

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If they will accept you. And if no one’s told

You lately, fear is not a sign of weakness

It is the prerequisite of courage. You have

A lion’s heart. You have wings because you

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Have set yourself free to be your best self

Truthful and unshaken. My darling, if I

Could take your hands I’d open your eyes

To the stars and I’d say, look. They shine

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For someone as lovely and beautiful as you

I know it’s hard at times, but you handle it

So well. You are the wild flowers that bloom

In the field. Different, untamed, and fearless.

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#poetry

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

You are wonderful.

I know you are trying the best that you can

And that you have come a long way in your life

You have fallen and picked yourself back up

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Tried something new and persevered,

Even when you worried about what others

Might think of you. And that even with all

The things you have overcome, there are things

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That are hard for you, even in this very moment

There are things that scare you, even if you

Know you don’t need to be afraid. There are things

That worry you that may be beyond your control

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And maybe you’re looking at someone else and

Feeling bad, because it seems like they have

Everything figured out while you are struggling

Maybe you’ve forgotten how beautiful, magical,

.

And important you are. Perhaps you need someone

To remind you. I want you to know that you’re not

Alone. There have been moments this year where

You laughed, times where you looked up that

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The blue sky painted with sunset clouds and

Thought, “Wow, that’s so beautiful. This moment

Is so good.” You have danced, sang, drank tea,

Talked to someone you love, dreamed, saw a dream

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Come true, listened to your favorite song. I hope

That today in the midst of challenges you have

Many moments that are good. I don’t know what

You’re going through these days, but trust me

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And trust your past self when you are told this

Too shall pass. Whatever is bother you, whether

It’s anxiety, depression, a struggling relationship,

Addiction, a job that isn’t going well, a friend you

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Don’t know how to help, or feeling unsatisfied

With where you are in life, take a moment to

Breathe. Just breathe. You’re going to get through

This because you’re a fighter, and you’re brave,

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And because no one can be you like you can

You are a once in a lifetime miracle with gifts

And beauty and ideas and kindness and a sense

Of humor to offer to world. Life is a climb and

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There are so many others climbing along side

Of you. So be brave, do good things, add something

Beautiful to the world. Don’t give up. I’m rooting

For you. Above all, have hope, and be kind to yourself.

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Sincerely,

Ashley

Hold On To Yourself

Hold on to yourself, to who you

Are. To your heart, to your spirit,

To your dreams. No one can take

Away your truth. You always have the

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Ability to create your own sunshine

So hold on to it. Keep it in your

Pocket. Use one hand to help others

And let the other shine a light for your path.

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#poetry