Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Have you Ever Missed Someone's Voice by Andrea Fekete

Have you ever missed
a voice, one you knew
as intimately
as the sound
of your own breathing
in the cold?

What torture
for those
of us gifted a close
ear for music,
most especially.

Why must I forget
language sometimes?
Staring at a spoon,
for example,
naming it fork
to the gentle chuckles
of dinner guests

while, tragically, knowing
by heart
the voice of someone
who has died

or someone else who feels
just as gone.

Have you ever missed
the voice of someone
you loved more
deeply than yourself

someone absent
due to blameless misfortune  
or deliberate cruelty?

Have you ever
found listening
to the professor's lecture
the neighbor's good morning
the officer's question

an impossibility?

Watching their mouths
speak, recognizing the words
but unable to really
hear as your heart

and your sharp ear
intrudes recreating the voice
you miss in your mind

each vowel
every consonant
every intonation
in every syllable

every hard 'r' or
soft 's'.

I can even hear how
every word I know
in the English language
would sound in his mouth
between his teeth.

Why must I also
recall, deftly, the timbre
of every small noise
he made that said
Me too
I'm sorry
It'll be all right
You look gorgeous
I adore you

instead of storing
more practical things
like where is north
or what is 35 divided by 4?

The Spanish word for restroom.
Where I put my keys
or
how to forget
a voice I possibly
may have loved
above all other sounds.



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Everything is in the Milky Way, Even Us by Andrea Fekete

"EVERYTHING IS IN THE MILKY WAY, EVEN US." -said in conversation, Ace Boggess to Andrea Fekete

With what should we fill
the Milky Way? Us.
Let's clutter
it like a child's toy-box
dumping in all our
memories
both sacred
and stupid like

my mediocre college
poetry filled
with overzealous
admissions of love
addressed to some dimwitted
guy I probably didn’t                   
(but thought I did).

I'll throw in memories                                  
of that time
I nearly died,
the time I was sure you                              
would kill yourself
but you didn’t.

All our tragedies, real ones                      
and the between-our-ears
ones. Our ridiculous
obsessions
we used as bridges
between

the space separating
who we fancied
ourselves to be and who
we really were.

We'll have to make our own
record or they'll be
nothing
left of us, see.
We are not

painted on Sistine
ceiling, not us.
We are not             
woolly mammoths
staring nobly
from a block of ice
or New Grange’s
mystery swirl-carvings.

If we were recorded
at all we'd be more like
fern fossils passed

around 10th-grade biology
fumbled by sweaty
hands of bored
teenagers with no
reverence for time,
for life or death.

No, there won't be a record
of us at all. Instead
we will end up in galaxy.
Just imagine!

After we are dead                                        
our atoms release quietly into soft
sky
sky

mere dust traveling, airy
mother-of-pearl clouds

our stories inside
deaths of comets
bursting as new stars

and somewhere the words
to the old wild songs
we once performed
so (over) seriously
we’ll still sing them,
out there.

We will always be,
my old friend, yes, even us
       
even when we are not.

A previous version of this poem appeared in the journal In Between Hangovers (June 2016)
This poem has been heavily revised.




Photo: Asheville sky. Andrea Fekete March 2019


Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Wrong Dress: A Sort of Cinderella-Story Nightmare

Everyone who knows me knows I live for wearing dresses.

That’s an overstatement but I find a lot of happiness in the "right" dress for an occasion or for just being a tiny bit "extra" going to the grocery store.

Usually, it’s the latter. I don't attend nearly enough "occasions" so I'll flounce into the coffee shop in a polka-dotted dress or you might see me at Walmart wearing cherries. Whatever.


Funeral Parade. September 15, 2018

It makes me happy. I feel like a canvas and what I choose to wear is the art.

I've noticed plenty of women in my (very) small city do this. I love it.

If I’m not feeling well, I throw on a dress and I’m instantly transformed into someone carefree enough to be concerned with frivolities like cute shoes, prints, and meditating over which shade of green doesn't make me look like I have the flu. I become lighter, freer.

That is a thing by the way, the looking like I have the flu. Green does it, mostly.

Fashion is an endless hallway of doors. There are infinite possibilities, all possibilities existing at once and picking that dress or those earrings is choosing which door, which possibility you will call into reality.

And how could you feel suffocated or trapped if you're creating reality?

Like Scarlett O'Hara said, "When I put on a new bonnet, all the figures I ever knew just go slap out of my head."

She was racist but she had style.

Victor Fleming hired God to design her wardrobe.

People look (usually women) and exclaim, "OH MY GOD! I LOVE YOUR DRESS!" I get to reply, "Girl, $20 on Amazon" or "$30 at such and such consignment."

All women who worship at the altar of fashion know the best part is sharing how cheap you got it and...finding one with POCKETS.

When my dress has pockets, I'm suddenly a pretty princess who can carry must-haves like lipstick, a mirror, maybe tissues or you know, Doritos.

 THIS ONE HAS POCKETS!

Summer 2018
I've been having some WEIRD dreams lately. Last night I had a strange dream about fitting in, artistic expression, and about romantic relationships too.

About DRESSES. Dresses symbolize much to me, mostly ideas and feelings related to independence.

Before I went to bed last night I saw a drawing that tickled me and put it on my author page on Facebook. It was pretty funny.

Drawing by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (debbieohi.com)

That drawing is me. She's not focusing on getting a prince. She wants more practical wishes granted.

However, I want the party dress AND the book contract.

I just don't need a set of stairs to lose my shoes. I mean, they're suede and they'll get ruined if it rains or something, so I'd better keep them on.

Lately, to help these feelings of failure dissipate, I've returned to my natural state, one of close attention to details that matter only to me: my body, my girlfriends, my new novel, and my poetry.

Plus, we have a book coming out the end of April.

Art is the only thing that can never hurt you, will never leave you, and will always respect you because well, you made it. Plus, it's the only thing that’s ever truly yours.

Unless someone steals ideas from your blog and then it’s theirs.

This does happen to me. I SEE YOU PEOPLE.

But I digress.

Photo Credit: Sam Sarcone, summer 2018
I'm singing here. I'm not mad. That's just my resting bitch face.

I’m pretty sure I had that dream due to my recent feelings of failure. I’ve been lugging around those feelings with me recently.

Those feelings are not light.

Those of us with realistic views of ourselves- meaning anyone without Sociopath or psychopathic personalities- sometimes get that feeling at times, the feeling we have failed or fearing we will.

In my dream, I was invited to prom. I very much wanted to go with him.

I wanted to meet up with my friends and dance, too. I couldn’t wait to see all the other girls’ dresses and show them mine.

Dorito-pockets, betch. 

It sounds silly but this innocuous dream turned into an unexpected nightmare.

I didn't have much time. I was running behind and rushing like mad which in real life stresses me almost to tears.

I hurried through a long, almost hallway-like walk-in closet filled with dresses. I tried on one after another after another.

Strangely, I couldn't see what I was trying on until I stood before the full-length mirror.

I quickly tossed the "wrong" dresses to the side, leaving them crumpled on the floor. Each dress was either so big it would hang off me or so small it looked ridiculous.

But the most frustrating ones were the dresses which fit but were inappropriate for prom. They were way too casual or resembled a costume from Cirque Du Soleil,

Aside: I've never gotten to see it live but if I did I'd wear THE COOLEST DRESS. My birthday is in June, y'all. Just saying.

I didn’t want to wear the zebra dress with the ears and zebra tail hanging from the back. I mean WHAT was that even doing in my closet?
           The above dress is black with some stripes but does not have a zebra tail or ears.

Sometimes I’d find a prom-like skirt with no matching top. Infuriating! Well, really they were more like costumes for a science fiction novel but they were closer to "prom-like" than the camo hoodie and zebra getup.

You can’t really match a formal skirt with a camouflage hoodie. You could but I wouldn’t.

None of them were "me."

I cried to my mom, who was trying to help, "All the other girls will be in gowns, not dresses with zebra tails and hoodies."

I tried on dozens of dresses as I watched the minutes fly past.

"I’ll never make it. I’ll miss it," I lamented. I cried tears. Then, I realized I wasn’t going to get to go. It was too late. Time had run out.

I’m fairly certain this dream was about not being able to be with the people I wished to be with, (the party) an inability to fulfill some role, either personal or professional, because I couldn’t find the right "dress."

Or maybe it wasn't the dresses were "wrong" maybe it was my not being the right shape and size that was the problem. Hmm.

I'm sure "dress" in my subconscious mind is some kind of Jungian metaphor for the manner in which we present ourselves to the world, our sense of self-actualization, self-expression, and our ability to connect with others.

Photo Credit: Dreama Pritt. Barboursville Art Gallery. June 2018. Me connecting with others.

Maybe theses dream dresses were my way of seeking the perfect way to "be" in the world, the way to "be" more myself and I just couldn't find a way to do it.

All my friends and my boyfriend were gathered at a party and I couldn't go. I wouldn't have "fit." All these dresses that didn't "work" surely belonged to others. They definitely weren't for me.

Feeling I couldn't go was almost like not being invited at all. Alanis Morriesette and I both really hate that.
Taylor Books, June 2017

I wouldn’t be understood. What I communicated wouldn’t be authentically me.

I wanted to be a pretty princess with Dorito-pockets NOT a zebra or a weirdo in an intergalactic skirt and a camo hoodie.

I didn’t show up looking ridiculous but worse, I didn’t get to be there at all. But apparently even when asleep, I cope the same way I do in waking life.

The final time I looked in the mirror I had on tights with an ankle-length blue-jean skirt, brown boots, and a blue button-up top.

My expression suggested I smelled a cow pasture and I said, "I don’t look like I’m going to prom! I look like I’m headed to the * * * * * DMV!"

Well, at least even in bad dreams I’m still sort of funny.

My subconscious is telling me: You can't go to prom. Maybe go take care of some practical errands....like renewing your license.

Maybe one of these days I'll be in the perfect "dress" and I'll get to "show up" anywhere I'd like to metaphorically be.

For now? I'm writing and being with my girlfriends who keep me sane (mostly).

And I wear a beautiful dress as often as I can.

Now where’s that fairy godmother? I have more than one favor to ask.



Photo Credit: Rose Winland, circa 2017







ANDREA FEKETE is a native West Virginian and granddaughter to Mexican and Hungarian immigrant coal miners. She is author of the historical fiction novel of the coal mine wars, Waters Run Wild (Guest Room Press, 2018). She has one poetry chapbook, I Held a Morning (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poetry and fiction appear in such publications as Chiron Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Kentucky Review, The Montucky Review, The Smithville Journal, The Adirondack Review, ABZ, and in anthologies such as Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction & Poetry from West Virginia (WVU Press, 2017) among others. In 2016, she was awarded a Fellowship by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. An excerpt from her newest unpublished novel Native Trees was a finalist in Still: The Journal’s 2019 Fiction contest. She earned her MFA in creative writing from West Virginia Wesleyan college and an MA in English from Marshall University. For over a decade she has taught English and writing to college students. She co-edited the anthology Feminine Rising with Lara Lillibridge. (Cynren Press, 2019).

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Messages Vanishing in Thin Air: On Failing Spectacularly

I'm a failure as an author....depending on who you ask.

I want to talk about failing and why I'm fine with it. Maybe it'll inspire you to fail spectacularly also.

In the eyes of the literary marketplace I am. My novels make pennies although the internet makes it look like maybe I'm making some money, maybe even like I'm making a living with my writing.

Don't believe the internet.

Why do I keep writing if I'm not a bestseller or if I can't at least support myself with my work?

Shouldn't I be out there trying to do that? Shouldn't I be writing the super entertaining stuff I know the public will be more likely to buy? Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray, for example.

Mystery novels. Thrillers.

Yes, I should write commercial fiction if I want to succeed financially. I've failed by their standards. By my own standards I succeed. Mostly.

I have a condition that makes it difficult for me to articulate precisely when relating emotionally to others.

Since I was a kid, I've not been able to share my thoughts and feelings in a satisfying way, in a way that does justice to what I'm perceiving, observing, feeling.

Conversational language (even essays like this) rarely feel adequate in communicating what I mean exactly how I mean it.

I just can't seem to get it across. I can't verbalize just right.

When trying to connect with others, I usually feel like I'm the only one in the room relying on sign language. My messages are lost in the air in my seemingly meaningless gestures.

This feels pretty isolating.

It's a problem.

Because of my condition I talk too much and too fast sometimes. I have concentration issues. Attention difficulties.

I can seem like a bit of a ditz who just doesn't listen, who just doesn't get people. But when I write fiction and poetry,  I'm accessing a different part of the brain than when I'm speaking.

And apparently this part of my brain is in better working order, sharper even.

When I write poetry but most especially literary fiction- my most practiced area- I can demonstrate to others I listen and understand them on a much deeper level than they think.

Writing fiction allows me to prove "I see you" and allows me to be seen. Or at least that's how I feel when I've written something that makes someone cry.

That has happened at a few precious readings. I never felt more connected. Suddenly, everyone in the room knew my "sign language."

Because I want to understand, I pay close attention to the minute stories of others and the details of my own.

There are ways to understand the self and others in every small detail of our lives.

Author Clarissa Pinkola Estes asserts every moment of our lives are short stories. She says even the drive to work is a story.

Your shoes, too and how you walk.

All the small pieces make up a clear picture of you. The time it takes you to shower and care for your body, the way you brushed your hair before bed.

The song you hummed most of the day.

Who we are is revealed within the quiet, unnoticed parts of our lives, the things we don't even notice about ourselves and moments we don't record. (that's an artist's job)

Moments like what you had for breakfast and how you kissed your partner before you left for work in the morning.

Or intrusive memories of the one you wish you still could. What happens in those three or thirty seconds that person is in your mind.

Your days and every hour of your nights hold hundreds of stories. I want to tell people about their stories, the ones they don't record and easily forget.

Have you ever read a poem that described the hours and seconds during periods of grief, which pass painfully and infuriatingly slow like storm-clouds in the dark?

We're all familiar with those seconds we pray would pass quickly so we can get somewhere else (or to someone), literally or figuratively, where we might find peace.

I don't want to write (or read) a halfhearted novel someone wrote in a few short months that fails to linger on the stories within every hour.

One of my favorite authors, William Faulkner, won the Nobel in Literature. Nobel winners receive their prizes “for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”

Authors do not win the Nobel by selling millions of books or appearing with Oprah. They do not win because their novels are turned into blockbuster films.

They do not necessarily have readers lined up outside the local bookstores. They may but it isn't a requirement.

Faulkner believed he was fated to remain permanently unpublished. He was a sort of failure but only in the literary marketplace which had no home for his strange fiction.

Believing he'd remain a "failure" and unpublished, he made no concessions to please others. He wrote from his gut he said.

He writes from that place in the body where the intolerable, painful seconds are felt most keenly. Aren't we our most vulnerable, our basest selves during these sorts of tender, private moments?

If I am going to “fail” as an author - and I am fairly certain I’m going to fail – I would prefer to fail going down in flames striving to write from my gut as Faulkner did rather than going down in flames striving to write the next Twilight.

I'll never be Faulkner. But you'll "see me" and the people I love who read my work? They'll know I see them, too.

Isn't that all we really want anyway? To understand and be understood.




ANDREA FEKETE is a native West Virginian and granddaughter to Mexican and Hungarian immigrant coal miners. She is author of the historical fiction novel of the coal mine wars, Waters Run Wild (Guest Room Press, 2018). She has one poetry chapbook, I Held a Morning (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poetry and fiction appear in such publications as Chiron Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Kentucky Review, The Montucky Review, The Smithville Journal, The Adirondack Review, ABZ, and in anthologies such as Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction & Poetry from West Virginia (WVU Press, 2017) among others. In 2016, she was awarded a Fellowship by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. An excerpt from her newest unpublished novel Native Trees was a finalist in Still: The Journal’s 2019 Fiction contest. She earned her MFA in creative writing from West Virginia Wesleyan college and an MA in English from Marshall University. For over a decade she has taught English and writing to college students. She co-curated the anthology Feminine Rising with Lara Lillibridge. (Cynren Press, April 2019).














Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Poem: Buffalo Creek Flood Gravestones Speak

GRAVESTONES IN BUFFALO CREEK, WEST VIRGINIA MARKED FEBRUARY 26, 1972

go silently unvisited mostly.

Us kids
knew about the Flood, the one the coal
company made but told the papers
was an Act of God.

That freezing dark February morning
black water-wall rumbled
through the valley,
people still sleeping, snoring,
waking to the crash of trees
snapping.

What was the final sound?

We played in graveyards as kids.
As teenagers we smoked
cigarettes, leaning against trees
in the middle of the silence
unafraid of ghosts.

BELOVED HUSBAND BELOVED MOTHER DAUGHTER
SON and the little ones ASLEEP WITH THE ANGELS.
February 26 February      26 February26 February 26

small lambs of stone lambs
sleeping on the small ones: February 26.

We couldn’t imagine
their prayers, know
their faces
but we knew it was a sin to walk
on the swells of dirt.

First published in The Chiron Review (with slight edits)




(Pictured: Katelyn Fekete seated on the hillside above Buffalo Creek in her home of Man,WV. Photo credit: Taryn Conn)





ANDREA FEKETE is a native West Virginian and granddaughter to Mexican and Hungarian immigrant coal miners. She is author of the historical fiction novel of the coal mine wars, Waters Run Wild (Guest Room Press, 2018). She has one poetry chapbook, I Held a Morning (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poetry and fiction appear in such publications as Chiron Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Kentucky Review, The Montucky Review, The Smithville Journal, The Adirondack Review, ABZ, and in anthologies such as Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction & Poetry from West Virginia (WVU Press, 2017) among others. In 2016, she was awarded a Fellowship by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. An excerpt from her newest unpublished novel Native Trees was a finalist in Still: The Journal’s 2019 Fiction contest. She earned her MFA in creative writing from West Virginia Wesleyan college and an MA in English from Marshall University. For over a decade she has taught English and writing to college students. She co-edited the anthology Feminine Rising with Lara Lillibridge. (Cynren Press, 2019).

Monday, February 18, 2019

Why Do Men

 I can’t count the hours women 
friends sat across the kitchen 
table from me with injured hearts 
on sleepless midnights,
maybe 3 AM, 
ice clinking in glasses of Jack
of Jack or untouched 
orange juice by yellow 
light of noon through curtains 
framing spring she cannot 
notice despite its light,
her lunch untouched, 
bread cooling, crusting over 
growing old like her tears, her hope  stretched like too-dry dough.
Ready to snap. 

Each time, every time, at some 
point she asks 
why are men so (fill in the blank)?



This question should always end with a period. It is no question. 
They, he is not a question mark.

The answer is nothing 
and everything at once 
lies in why does rain 
shines like blades in a certain 
light after dark. 

Why funeral processions 
never go unnoticed, even by
newlyweds passing 
touched momentarily 
but quietly certain 
that end could never touch them

certain there is always another
chance, another day ahead.

Answer is found in 
why children laugh only seconds 
after a busted knee and we
just never can quite recover.

Why dark coaxes us to sleep
when hearts are light 
and whispers another sort of
message when they are broken,

And why we can’t read it. 
So we ask our friends. Why men. 
Why men. 
Why.
All I wanted was more of him.

I hold her hand without the answer.
How do I tell her
there’s no one answer. 
Not only that but it won’t soothe her.

And all I can do is pour another glass. 

The Kiss 

I want to say
100 things to him
and nothing
at once.

Maybe my friends are right.
Don’t move.
Don’t speak.
Say no words.

Make him find them.
Make him
remember his hands
under my shirt
fingers across my
chest, breath
against my
neck.

Tell him no, no, no
I’d rather go blind
than break.

A mountain of a man.
Like all of the real ones.
What can a sweet
woman do
to make those rocks
fall?

Isn’t that what he does
when he loves her?

No, no
I’d rather say
100 things and
nothing at once
because
he will not
hear me.

Only feel me.
But he is not
within my reach.

I would rather go blind because 

he does not 

See me. 

Marc Chagall "The Kiss"