Olivia Folmar Ard

Short Stories & Poetry

January 13, 2016 was important for me. On that day, I, for the first time in my life, began taking a creative writing workshop class. Several of my friends, family members, and readers were surprised to learn this. Many of them said, “But you’ve already written two books! Don’t you already know how to write creatively?” 

Well, yes and no. Yes, I am now quite comfortable with my abilities as a full-length fiction writer, but I would not (and probably will never) call myself an expert. There is always something new to learn, and I am an eager lifelong student.  

The course I took focused mostly on short fiction and poetry, two forms that legitimately terrified me. While I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories and poems, I have not been inspired to write either in several years. I was skeptical about what I would be able to produce for the class, but nevertheless I soldiered on.  

The results of our various writing exercises, discussions, and assignments comprise most of what you will find in this short, sweet read. Despite my initial misgivings, I was pleasantly surprised with the work I produced over those four short months, and after a few more rounds of editing, I have decided to share them with you.  

I must warn you, these are nothing like the work I’ve shared before. If you’re looking for a companion piece to my novels, you will not find it here. But if you’re interested in traveling with me as we take short, compelling glimpses into the lives of those on the margins, you will enjoy reading this quick foray as much as I did writing it.

 

Love is Not Just

Just Africa, just astrophysics, just atomic warfare—
Just friends. 
You say these words as if emotions were clay, 
malleable, adjustable,  
but you are not a “just friend.”  
The sight of my just friends doesn’t  
change my chemical makeup, 
doesn’t turn my knees to gelatin,  
my stomach to fire, 
my brain to dust.  

Their names are not a python,
their silence not poisonous caffeine. 
I do not toss and turn to the point of destruction
over words and intentions of just friends. 
When just friends tell me we’re just friends, 
I don’t feel like I’ve grabbed a live wire, 
tripped over a landmine,  
held fast to a hand grenade. 

You forget about the coffee cups,  
the conversations and confessions. 
You are not a just anything.