For Screaming Out Loud

As a writer, I am pedantic about language.  There are certain words, certain phrases that I deem ‘cliche’ or just plain horrendous.  Even more horrendous is when they appear in myown writing.

One of my greatest and most pedantic pet hates is the word ‘scream’.  I have never once used the sentence ‘such and such screamed’ in any writing work to date.  It makes me flinch when people use it.  Describing screams is alright – the screams of the murdered girl, the scream of the baby rabbit, the girl screamed loudly – they’re all fine.  But when it’s used after dialogue, for some reason I despise it.

This all comes to mind because I was just writing a murder scene.  My favourite murder scene, actually.  There are a few, but this girl gets the best death out of everyone.  She’s sitting in a bathroom when a guy (the murderer) comes to the door, where her boyfriend is sitting like one of those suit-of-armour things they have in old houses.  He wants to talk to her, but can only do it from inside the bathroom, not outside.  The boyfriend’s smart and doesn’t want to let him in, but the girl totally falls for it and soon the murderer’s inside, has kicked the door shut (and jammed it) and has taken a knife out of the pocket of his blazer (big pockets, those blazers have).  At this point, my character was about to scream.  But then I thought ‘scream’?  Maria would never scream.  She’s too up herself to scream!’

To me, screaming is for the weak.  It’s for the damsels in distress who scream the names of their lovers when the evil bastard holds a knife to their throat, or for three-year-olds having tantrums.  They are about the only places where the word ‘scream’ belongs.

It DOES NOT describe manly men being put through a lot of pain.  I’m sure there’s another word out there to describe said situation (I don’t know what it is, but then again, I’ve never written, and probably never will write, a situation like that).

It DOES NOT describe unmanly men being put through any sort of uncomfortable trial at all.

(Let me just get one thing straight here: MEN DON’T SCREAM.)

It DOES NOT describe strong women no matter what situation they’re in.

The word ‘scream’ is a word denoting hysteria, wildness and babies.  If your character is NONE of those things, please DO NOT use the word scream.

And for your information, Maria cried out when the knife entered her stomach, puncturing a lung which then filled up with blood, making her drown and choke for breath until she finally died with her boyfriend sobbing by her side.  If that isn’t a manly scene, I don’t know what is.

(I hope the sarcasm was noted)

Sometimes it Surprises Me.

We smile now.

Yes, that sleepy, grumpy,

Hormonal group.

The ones that called this place

Jesus Camp and

That Bloody Retreat.

Those small smiles mean so much.

It is the picture of



And sadness because

It can only last

Another semester.

And quietly,

In the jukebox of my mind,

A slow, haunting and

Long lost tuen comes

To the foreground:

‘Sometimes, it causes me to tremble,


The song is actually a hymn that we always have someone sing for our Easter liturgy at school.  That’s about the only line of it that I enjoy.


I wrote this with a particular person in mind.

We are pedantic teenagers.

Our problems are

Everyone else’s, and everyone else’s

Problems, not our concern.

We take but do not give back,

We leave no reason for our actions.

We cry, we laugh, we tease,

We torment.

But we love as well.

Pt. 2

Uncomfortable behind our facades,

Of quiet and lipstick and

Makeup and blush,

Of overly wide smiles and

Boisterous laughter.

Sometimes the cracks show

Only a little.

Graduating Class

Written on and about the last day of retreat.

Over one-hundred people

Sit, stand and walk in this room.

Soon we will be individuals,

On different journeys,

Different paths to become

Different people.

No longer a collective group, we will miss

The indistinction

Of childhood.

The End of a Retreat

On the final night of retreat, I saw something that I knew I could not describe with a photo, only with words.  This is, above all, my favourite poem from retreat.

If I walk out of my dormitory,

My stomach warm and full of

Chamomile tea,

All I see are two empty chairs

And the scraps

Of papers once important.

The circle once filled with people

Is empty and silent.

My cup hangs from my hand as I

Slowly pace and hear

The ghosts of a

Graduating class.

Dedicated to the graduating class of 2011.

Creation Walk

This was written after the ‘Creation Walk’ that I did on the second day of the retreat.

I could see ghosts.

They were but fleeting images

Of times both past

And future.

Children nestled on the undergrowth,

Covered with the shade of trees.

Old man trees crooned and groaned

As we walked through

The copse of the woods.

On top of the mountain

Where the ground gave way

To the yawning hills below,

The view was flooded with ghosts,

Crawling to and fro

And waiting for us to find them with

Baited breath.

On Top of the Hill

Another retreat poem.  I banned myself from writing anything depressing, so this was all that I could come up with in those three days.

The soft caresses of the breeze

Playfully toss my hair.

The hills fall below me

And the pine trees bristle indignantly

As the breeze

Tickles their chins.

My hands grasp the pine needles,

The litter

Of the undergrowth.

And for the first time in months

I breathe deeply.

This was written on top of the largest hill in the retreat area.  It was a difficult walk to get up there, but it was worth every minute of it.


What Words Can Only Describe

Wrote this on school retreat at the top of a mountain at sunset.  My camera had just ran out of battery, so I thought I’d better use another means to remember what I saw.

We are far away from the city,

From the droning of cars and

Smouldering of human emotions.

With the cries of those behind us

And silence all that lays ahead,

We watch teh sun nestle

Behind the far mountains.

Its final peeping rays cast lines of light onto

The bent wheat heads

As the bird bids all goodnight

And the frog croaks contently.

We see the hills rolling beneath us,

Hear the birds trilling softly,

Smell the wet, woody forest scent

And know that we are home.

As the violet-grey shapes of clouds

Close across the horizon like

Lines of frowns on a forehead,

I look back and think

Maybe there is a God.

But then I decided later that there wasn’t one, so it was all in vain, pretty much.