You know me the best
yet you relentlessly work against my best interests.
I want to talk, get to know you better,
but there’s a wall between us;
Human, actor, character. Human, actor, character-
Rule number 1: Don’t break character.
Accompanied with every deep inhale of breath, there is a guttural moan that claws it’s way up-
through the unconscious exhale of air from my diaphragm,
through the scraping gates of my voice box opening and closing,
and through the resonating vibrations of my buzzing vocal folds.
Your fingers are latched onto the flesh of my neck,
forcing the sound of rebirth to spill out of my pale lips.
Rule number 2: Project your voice.
The entirety of my body feels numb
in a state of drugged euphoria.
I want to look away from your piercing gaze
as it paralyzes me on the spot.
They are filled with so much intensity
that my head begins to ache-
about to collapse
beneath your eye-opening scrutiny.
Rule number 3: Maintain eye contact.
I reached out to grab your hand, but grab the handle of a cabinet instead.
I followed your demands of taking out
the makeup remover-
I did it all.
I took a swig of whisky with a handful of medication.
I shaved my skin a little too deep.
I chopped my hair into uneven, rough, bristles of a brush.
and I let the leftover residue of mascara stain the skin of cheeks.
Rule number 4: Accept all offers.
I shivered as though I had been bathed in a tub of blood, warm, yet chilling,
as I stared at the openly palpitating heart in the curved shape of my hand;
red fluid flowing through the lines and crevices of my palm
which resembled veins and arteries.
Look at what you made me do,
mercilessly exposing my soul for all to see.
The faint pumping of blood echoed a continuous thump
into the cochlea of my ears.
Rule number 5: No meaningless silence on stage.
I need, I want. I need, I want.
I didn’t need you, I didn’t want you.
I needed safety and wanted tenderness.
You offered me neither, and so
I became human,
I hid my heart away in the comfort of my embrace,
I screamed from my throat,
I let the lingering atmosphere become uncomfortably quiet,
I denied your presence,
I tore my eyes away from yours.
I broke all the rules,
I no longer yearned to be you-
my reflection in the mirror.
Rule number 6: Find your truth.
8 thoughts on “Rule Number…”
How have you been hiding from this class for so long; I am so sad yet happy that you joined the class in your last year of high school. You have so much talent and potential and I cannot wait to see what you do with it. To see how it develops, grows, and becomes something that you’re proud of too. This poem was amazing, I loved every aspect of it! The last lines “I no longer yearned to be you-/my reflection in the mirror.” had me in shock as the entire time my tiny heart had been romanticizing the poem and didn’t consider how horribly we treat ourselves. The self depreciation and loathing became so evident to me here, wow, I am just in awe of you! I love how you weaved the idea of facade and acting through the piece as not only was that very clever but it resonated really well with me. I gained a bit more insight into the soul of Faith today and I am already aching for more.
As far as improvements go I would perhaps keep the last stanza together as oppose to dividing it into one stanza and a couplet to maintain consistency. Although, to counter my point, was there a sense of intention behind that?
Once again, a great piece! ‘Twas an absolute joy to read.
My thought process on writing the last stanza separately was that the stanza before it didn’t make sense in regards to the rule that I stated, however, re-reading it now, I realize that it does work! I definitely see what you mean by mentioning consistency; it doesn’t make much sense to have that last stanza split off because all the other stanzas have “Rule number…” at the end of each of them. It’d be weird to have a single stanza that didn’t have a rule at the end of it.
Your reaction is one that I wanted to happen- romanticizing. My first thoughts on how to add to this piece was to actually base it around romance and ideals, but the idea of self-reflection wouldn’t go away from my mind, so I HAD to write about it and get it all out.
Thank you for your wise words and for believing in me!
Oh. My. Gosh.
I think with every blog post I fall more and more in love with your writing. I am utterly speechless at the your ability to compact your thoughts with simplicity, however, still delivering a absolute brilliant piece with delightful imagery. I’d like to start off with how you ended every stanza with a rule. Typically, one would think a rule or title is brought upon the reader first, and then the details are introduced. This was not the case with this piece and what can I say, you really defined the rules. When you use this method, you captivate the audience by slowly revealing the context, leading us to want more; the last line to every stanza (every “rule”) is like a breath of relief, but then starting with the next stanza, the cycle starts again. It’s like ecstasy. In addition, the stanzas were neither too short or too long – it wasn’t choppy nor did it allow me to loose focus. The imagery: I LOVE to use a lot of imagery in my writing because it is how I can express my thoughts the best, and what you did in this piece is like a slice of Heaven for me. To read another writer that uses such intriguing use of this leaves me with no words as to how happy it makes me – honestly I just LOVE it.
I think adding either a separate introduction or conclusion just explaining your poem would give it more depth – this would give the reader a better understanding of the purpose or context!
Once again amazing work. 🙂
Right after writing this, I, too, had thought of adding a conclusion, but in the end, I decided to just leave it. Reading your comment has now changed my mind, I think that adding an explanation at the end of the piece will provide some background knowledge on what was going on in my head, and how I got the idea of writing this.
I am elated at the fact that we both love imagery! I am not always good at it, but I always try to find ways to incorporate it into my writing. I am also so glad that you enjoyed this piece.
Thank you for your kind words <3
OMIGOSH. I really felt this piece. Drama kid to drama kid, it was SO cool to see you take actual “rules of the stage” and explore what happens when an individual takes them to heart and tries to live their life by them instead of just applying them to acting. This was such an interesting concept, and I feel it worked very well for you – you’ve created something unique and engaging, not to mention that it’s incredibly well-written.
Your imagery was just captivating. The way you phrase things is incredible, and the well-crafted horror of it all is so very mesmerizing.
I thought that your repetition of the word ‘I’ throughout was a powerful choice. It really reinforced how the narrator’s pain was all-consuming, leaving her unable to take in anything outside of herself. The repetition of ‘I’ almost felt like a heartbeat, getting faster and faster as the second last stanza approached. Really clever – this built the tension toward an emotional climax quite well. And I loved how it was only at this climax that you broke the pattern of each stanza being written about a certain rule. What I found interesting was that this stanza – the only one not confined by a rule – was so much more constrained in its repetitive structure, while all the others – each governed by a strict rule – felt like they were pulsing with a wild, confined chaos. Such an interesting paradox! I’m curious; was it intentional?
As something for you to work on, I would have liked to see the stanzas open with what rule you were describing instead of closing with it (or you could do both). As a reader, I was in awe but a tiny bit confused until I reached the end of the stanza, where everything came together with the one-line explanation of the rule. Opening the stanza by stating what the rule was would have helped me to go into each one with a better idea of what you were exploring.
Overall, this was an incredible piece. Wow, Faith! I hope you know how amazing you are. I’m so glad you decided to join AP English because your voice is one of such importance. Thank you so much for this poem. It really is excellent! 🙂
I understand your suggestion of adding the rules at the beginning of each stanza, however, my initial intention was to puzzle the reader by not giving away the rule too soon, and rather, put out some context(?) based around it before it is revealed.
I am wowed at your analysis on this piece. You were on point when you mentioned my gradual, repetitive usage of “I” until the climax reached. You are also right about my intention of keeping the first couple of stanzas in a chaotic sort of state before I secured a tighter stanza structure.
Thank you for commenting!
This is incredible writing. I loved reading this piece as it grasped me and twisted me and enticed me to read on. What an enchanting way to express yourself in writing, and with rules of theatre. Beautiful. Bravo!
Dear Ibukun, Judy, ZIyana, and Ms. Orchard,
I am deeply humbled and honoured by all of your comments- I also appreciate both the positive and to work on feedback. I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude knowing that this piece has been seen by others; thank you so much!