The Crystal Tree

The Crystal Tree by Valerie Parente

There is a plant that sprouts
though not from a seed,
it spawns from a gem.
They call it the crystal tree
and when it is full grown
sparkling prisms it breeds,
dangling from ebony branches,
a quartz and amethyst variety.

All the boys and the girls
like to go crystal picking,
plucking off shiny rocks,
in return a prophecy is given,
reflecting the constellations
that the stars have written.
Each crystal shows a path
specific to all the children.

One day young Elissa
wandered through destiny’s groves.
Eager for some direction
she plucked a droplet the color of rose
and ever since that day
she thought in poetry an prose
making a living through words
recording her conscience in rows.

Sometimes we find guidance
in the depths of nature
discovering ultimate truths
for man is its mirror.
We can sparkle, we can shine
and nothing is dearer
than the clarity of our instincts
and an intuition that is clearer.

– Valerie Parente (11-25-2020)

Intention

Intention by Valerie Parente

He was sick. Nose stuffed. Ears blocked. Miserable on the couch. His only movement came from his fatigued thumb gently scrolling through the phone.

“Open the door” came a text from his close friend.

His eyes burned. He hesitantly typed, “Door’s unlocked”

The floorboards creaked as the girl walked into the loft with a bright smile and a piping hot container clasped between her hands.

“I got you your favorite soup from downtown. Maybe it’ll make you feel better.”

He didn’t get up. He didn’t thank her. “Why did you do that?”

In that split second her eyes shifted from glowing to deeply hurt.

She didn’t shut down. She didn’t back track. She said what needed to be said. “What is wrong with you?” Those piercing words sounded more like they were begging for an answer than asking a simple question.

“I- I just don’t know why you’d waste your time-”

“Don’t pretend you have my best interest in mind,” she snapped. You never would have guessed that this was the same sweet and giddy girl that just came skating into the loft.

He knew he had a problem. He knew this was his problem but his mind was trying so hard to categorize this as her problem. His thoughts cranked away, trying to rationalize the panic coursing through his veins in a way that didn’t pin the blame on him.

The problem wasn’t that she did something nice for him. The problem was that she paid attention to what his favorite soup was. The problem was that she went out of her way to drive to his favorite take-out restaurant and then in another direction to his loft. The problem was that she thought, in her time alone, that doing something for him would be a worthy use of her energy. The problem was that she thought of him.

Before he could translate his thoughts into verbal daggers she called him out.

“How miserable it must be to be you,” she shook her head in disbelief, “How little do you think of yourself that you feel the need to stop or shame anybody for caring about you? Not just doing a nice favor for you… but really caring for you. Understanding you. Just because you don’t see your own value doesn’t mean I have to stop caring. You hate yourself so you project all of that onto me and I am so sick of it.” Her mouth quivered in contrast to how strong and stern her tone was.

He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t figure out a rebuttal fast enough.

“I am NOT your punching bag!” she cried out with a voice so strained you could hear the exhaustion in her vocal chords.

He rubbed his fingertips on his bloodshot eyes up to his temples. Why was he like this? Hurting her feelings was never his intention. His intention… well… what was his intention? He didn’t know.

Her eyes were wet but she didn’t break eye contact. “I’m not going to apologize for having emotions just because you can’t handle your own! I am entitled to feel things when I’m around you. I’m not going to let your self-hatred stop me. I’m sorry but that’s not a war you’re going to win.”

He panicked, “I- I’m sorry-”

“I don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry’!” she was crying now. “I want you to get professional help! I need you to! I need you to be okay! I need you to accept yourself! I need you to take care of yourself! I need you to understand your worth! And in order to get to that point you’re going to need to cry and hurt and feel a whole bunch of uncomfortable feelings and I need you to know that it’s going to get better… and I need you to believe me when I say that! Because if you don’t get to a healthy point then you’re going to lose… and if you can’t handle someone having emotions around you then you’re going to wind up alone.”

Alone.

That.

That was his intention.

A dominating part of him was trying to push people away. Not just any people. The people who care… really care. The people who get inside his head. The closer they were to understanding him when he couldn’t even understand himself meant the harder he needed to push. And she understood him and she got in his head and she saw all his flaws but still cared. That’s why this girl was getting the brunt of his insecurity-spawned and fear-born frustration. An unconscious facet of his brain was trying with full force to wind up alone… because being alone would be easier than handling the emotions that come to the surface when you have a real connection with someone.

– Valerie Parente (4-22-2019)

The Artist, The Muse: A Poetry & Prose Collection

The Artist, The Muse: A Poetry & Prose Collection by Valerie Parente OUT NOW

Buy THE ARTIST, THE MUSE Via Amazon

The Artist, The Muse is what you get when you interweave psychology, creativity, and spirituality into the poetic fabric of a mentally disordered daydreamer’s mind. Valerie Parente artfully hones the craft of written word in this collection of poetry and prose through fantastical metaphors, rhythmic patterns, heartfelt emotions, metaphysical references, and breath-taking epiphanies. Dark daydreams and silver-lining mantras blossom out of the obsessive compulsive writer’s verbal landscape as the artist becomes her own muse.

Includes poetry, prose, and artwork by Valerie Parente.

Table of Contents:

The Artist, The Muse
Conscience of Nonsense
Glitter In The Air
Shy of Me
The Gargoyle Mindset
An Inadequate Reflection
Ink
You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me
Essence
Grandiosity of the Sick
Daydreams Are Shadows
Sanctuary
Hindsight of the Falsehood
Echoes
Idu Ego
The Silver Screen
Realize These Butterflies
The Writer
Natural
The Instinct of Intuition
The Masterpiece Tragedy of Marionette
Egomaniac
Inquiries
Playing with Dolls
Imagination Is Not Free
Validation
I Wish You Well
Bleeding
Paradox Lock
Dreams of Floating
Give & Take
Her Bright Pink Shoes
Why I Apologize
My Heart Thaws
Mars
Sage of Tarkus
Normal
The Creeper
Young Sapling
Scarecrow
she could not master astral projection
Touch the Heart
Creator
To Be Human
Lady Luna and the Light Inside
Tiara
The Answer
Order In Disorder
Trust the Stars
Novelty
Message From The Universe

The Artist, The Muse by Valerie Parente

Sage of Tarkus

Sage of Tarkus by Valerie Parente

The heartaches of war that plagued the land of Segaduses left many civilians absent of faith. Lost. Looking for a reason to live again.

Determined to receive some sort of direction from a beacon of wisdom, a damsel from Segaduses traveled thirty miles by knight and steed to arrive at a cabin deep in the woods of Tarkus, home of the most acclaimed sage in all of the land. She had been on a journey for the past three years, searching for an answer to all of her sorrow. This girl with the mint green eyes convinced herself that the cure to her faithless haze could be found by falling in love. Her journey, for the past three years, was none other than a quest for a beloved hero whom could fill her life with purpose and interpersonal connection.

The gown worn by the damsel of Segaduses billowed like a blossoming tulip as she seated herself across the sage.

“I’ve been expecting you, dear,” the pale old woman stirred her chalice, making a burgundy whirlpool of the most fragrant truth serum. As the aroma wafted into stuffy cottage the damsel’s nostrils were filled and the knowledge she had denied deep in the core of her brain was activated.

With a confident nod the sage pointed to the knight on the stallion, outside of the cabin, whom had brought the Segaduses maiden so far along her journey.

“He is the one,” the strong-minded sage determined. “The man on the stallion is the man you will wed.”

For a fleeting second the damsel’s brow furrowed, then quickly vanished. Suddenly with a panic the enlightened yet shocked girl hastily shook her head, as if to rattle away the wisdom of the perceptive woman before her. “Oh no, no… he can’t be. I’ve known him for three years… he’s, he’s always been there in the background. If he were the one I would have known.”

“Dear,” the sage’s raspy voice lowered to a tender lull, “Knowledge does not require your conscious consent. Sometimes our subconscious knows at first sight, but our mind does not realize that what we felt was knowledge until years have passed.”

It took the frazzled girl a moment to respond. Her mint green eyes shivered as she struggled to make sense of the sage’s wisdom. How could it be? How could she have wanted something so badly but have never realized it was right before her eyes?

Adamant that the sage of Tarkus must have made a mistake, the damsel allowed her stubborn mind to wonder aloud, “But how can he be my hero if he does not have my most coveted traits?”

“Well what are you looking for in a hero, my dear?” the sage asked.

“A hero who has the same interests as I do.”

“So he is a reflection?”

“A hero who loves me unconditionally.”

“So he is a father?”

“A hero who knows how I feel before I say it.”

“So he is omniscient?”

Having given up, the damsel sunk deeper into her seat.

“Dear, what your heartbreak longs for is not a partner. What you are describing is not an equal. You are describing a God.”

Having given up, the Segaduses girl fell deeper into her subconscious, realizing the knowledge her depressed mind had repressed for so long.

"Damsel" by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (11-23-2017)

The Keeper of Time

The Keeper of Time by Valerie Parente

Chronos jolted out of his sleep to what sounded like a crackling firework.

He knew exactly what he was about to see. Only seconds ago was his brain generating a bizarre dream that would predict the day to come. For the past few months, this had been the case- Chronos having precognitive dreams and experiencing a more potent version of déjà vu as the dreams unraveled in the following day’s reality- but Chronos didn’t dare tell anyone this secret. People would think he was a liar. Or worse, sick– only to be rendered incompetent and unfit to teach. He couldn’t afford that.

Chronos ripped off his sheets and hurried to the bedroom window where he saw a burst of silver sparkle amongst the long grass in his yard.

“I knew it,” he gasped between the windowpanes.

Not a second was spared as Chronos bolted out of his room. He didn’t even care to tiptoe out of courtesy not to wake his dying grandfather, the guardian who had given his life to raise Chronos into the mathematician he was today.

Chronos flung open the doors to his lot and ran onto the lawn, still in his boxers and T-shirt. The Canadian summer night was cold, but adrenaline made it near impossible for him to notice.

Determined to prove what he eerily dreamt about the night before, Chronos stumbled to the la femme creature in the middle of his yard. The humanoid born from the stars, whose lavender flesh was sprinkled with silver stardust, sat ever so patiently with her legs crossed.

You”, Chronos barely choked into the bitter 2:30 AM air, “I knew you were coming…”

As the glittery humanoid nodded the moonlight ignited the sparkle of her violet eyes.

“Something…” Chronos faltered on his words, hearing the insecurity fragment his distinct tone, “something strange has been happening to me… and… I think you know what it is.”

The humanoid’s glistening mouth stretched into a smile while her pupils dilated. “I do…”

“What is it?” the young man begged. He was just starting his long coveted career and nearly collapsed at the thought of losing grasp of his aspirations to these increasingly frequent paranormal occurrences of precognitive dreams.

“Chronos,” the celestial being addressed him knowingly. There was an old-friend-like quality in her demeanor that contradicted all Chronos assumed a stranger from the stars would possess. “Do not lose any more sleep than you already have by worrying. You were perfectly made.”

“Perfect?! Everything I thought I knew about the fundamental quantity of time has been tipped over on its head!” Chronos cried out. He wouldn’t have been so brash with this amicable being if he didn’t have such a heavy load of additional stress from playing caretaker to his grandfather, all the while grieving a man who had not yet crossed the threshold into death but was on an imminent way out.

“I know you’re scared, Chronos. But fear is often the result of misunderstanding. Time is a form of perception mankind has long misunderstood. You see with the eyes… You smell with your nose! You hear with your ears! You taste with your tongue! And you feel with your skin!” the female, equally silver-tongued as she was silver-skinned, gleamed in a raw and impassioned voice. All the while her eyes began to smile and brightened, invigorated by the very information she was verbally bestowing onto Chronos. “All sensory receptors, sensory nerves, sensory cells, work with your brain to manipulate a flux of external stimuli into the perceptions we call reality. Your conscious, your remarkable human conscious, has been immaculately designed to interpret life through sequential experiences which have come to form the illusion we understand yet understate as ‘time’?”

Chronos’s head felt light. Determined to come to terms with his worrisome dreaming tendencies, he hardened with assertion. “What are you saying?”

The humanoid took a deep inhale, trying to reel in her excitement, then exhaled. “To be impressed by an existence through the flow of time is the natural way of human beings. Time is no more than a sixth sense.”

Chrono’s throat tightened. He didn’t know what to say. So, naturally, the girl from the stars carried on in her passionate voice.

“You see Chronos, when you are overcome by an ethereal wave of déjà vu or when a precognitive dream merges with your slumber you are really experiencing a neurophysiologic glitch. An error in the programming of your brain! As I have said, you see with the eyes- but that perception makes an impression in that intricate brain! Recalling the future is as much a sensory impairment as blindness!”

This newfound information was too much for Chronos. It targeted a portion of his mind that he had never been honed before. Sure he was a mathematical genius whose was used to thinking in overdrive, but this talk of time concurrent with his anatomy was testing his mental capacity, not because it was intellectually revolutionary or mind-bending, but because it was personal.

Slowly Chronos pieced together this other-worldly being’s words. “So what you are telling me is… I- I am not gifted…” he concluded as he felt the boiling hot tears pool into his vision. “… I am sick.”

“No Chronos,” In one fluid motion the celestial girl rose from her cross-legged position and stood before him. She cupped Chronos’s quivering mandible in her warm hands. Her violet irises softened as her pupils sharpened onto the vulnerable human being before her. “You are deeply blessed! All that has, is, and will occur in this realm can be tuned into with a particular combination of brainpower that you miraculously possess! All that is existential in mankind and the universe itself is accessible to your brain.” The fresh essence of awe in the humanoid’s voice, as if she was also discovering this incredible phenomena for the first time, eased Chronos into a serene state.

Valerie Parente (12-4-16)

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me by Valerie Parente

She does not read for leisure. She reads to study. To learn. To quench a thirst for knowledge, knowledge that constructs her entire outlook of reality. So when she couldn’t find out anything about him… she was lost.
“I want to know who you are, what you are about, what you have been through. But you are way too hard to read. When I’m with you, you refrain your diction. When I’m not with you, there’s no context. I have to use my own imagination to explain the content of your character. You’re giving my mind way too much freedom to play around and cultivate false memories. This isn’t your story any more, it’s mine. Don’t you see what you have done?”
His disposition tightened and his jaw clenched. He was about to apologize when the sudden euphonious plot-twist of her voice took him by surprise.
“You’ve made an author out of me,” she smiled.
Her eyes were fixed onto his with a firm stillness, but the shimmering of her tears created an illusion of movement. Under the influence of emotion her pupils flickered… as if she were reading from left to right.

she reads to study

– Valerie Parente (6-22-16)

Her Bright Pink Shoes

Her Bright Pink Shoes by Valerie Parente

He kept his hood on and hands lodged in the cotton confines of his pockets while maintaining a catatonic stare on the young woman’s feet. Her bright pink shoes were glaringly vibrant against the damp asphalt of the parking lot.
Sick and tired of his optical deviation away from her emotive eyes and onto her pointed toes, the impassioned girl crouched to the pavement and forced herself into his vision. “You,” his good friend affirmed, and the boy didn’t look away, “You are constantly shuffling between pain and fear. When you’re depressed, you don’t care about yourself at all. And when you’re anxious, you care so damn much about your own well-being that you worry yourself sick.”
“Why are you telling me this?” he retaliated through clenched teeth, hoping the aggression in his tone would hide his true desperation for an answer.
“Because!” having captured his full attention she leaped up and stood tall at five feet, “At some point you are going to realize that there is more to you than pain and fear,” she declared, “And you know what? That’s going to confuse the crap outta you. Because you’re not gonna know what to do with yourself.”
And in a fraction of a second, her bright pink shoes scurried away and she was gone.
And he… he didn’t know what to do with himself.

her bright pink shoes

– Valerie Parente (6-22-16)