Poem: “Sacred”

I could warn you that this poem contains languageimages (5)

But every poem does.

Don’t be fooled by the peach fuzz:

I swear like a sailor,

Still scarred like a failure.

The sacred won’t always do,

But the profane sounds perfect.

 

Because sometimes life stinks like shiitake mushrooms.

Sometimes, you fudge up.

Guillotine’s pressed against your neck.

Everything’s darned to heck.

Everyone you know is a bloody boat-licker,

Lick-spittled, tarnated butt-kicker.

 

Language shapes thoughts which forms actions

Which reflect reactions, cause gee wiz

Ain’t those rules just Cheez n’ Crackers?

Egad! The moral pressures of Catholic school

Have us screaming in the streets, wondering

What the Dickens we should say

In polite company, in a polite way,

Around the dinner table.

 

Sometimes, we’re not able to express ourselves

But by thundering blasted obscenities

At the top of our lungs.

Confound it, I’m done with the doggone bull-hockey!

Nothing you can say will shock me.

Just tell me your stories and your truth,

And it won’t matter what buggered words you use.

 

Advertisements

when the sea mangles my soul

When the sea mangles my soul

when I study its current nightly

I want to write poems

but the lines remain water-logged

watered-down versions of the truth, like the imprint of a wave

wet on the sand

long after the sea has retreated.

The memory of an idea persists

the feeling you’re missing something important

something painful as a missing tooth

I want to write poems

but all I can put down is the feeling that something important happened

that a portal opened and through it came a mental message-in-the-bottle

scribbled on the back of a receipt in a language I can’t read.

When the sea mangles my soul, I try to write poetry

but it never turns out right.

Guest Post: The Beauty of Stories

{Guest Poster Kendall Driscoll is a fellow writer and poet. Aside from kicking literary ass, she enjoys mastering every single instrument known to man, most notably the violin, flute, and piccolo. But seriously– you should see her play the Pic solo in “You Can Call Me Al.” It’s awesome. She will be attending Furman University in the Fall to study Music Education.

She wrote this post on her own blog not long ago, and I am re-posting it here with different pictures. Enjoy her words and check out her new blog at http://kendalldriscoll.weebly.com/}

Once upon a time, society valued the skill of storytelling. Mothers and fathers read to their young children every night before bedtime. Friends would boast to one another about who could tell the tale of the day’s road trip better. Writers were seen as the heroes of the era for they brought adventure to our boring afternoons and created an escape from our troubled lives.

Source: http://newauthors.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/little-book-of-magic/

Once upon a time, storytelling wasn’t a dying art.

Sometimes, it’s sad to see what society deems as “worth it” these days. Today’s society seems to value technology to the extreme. Every day we’re surrounded by iPhones, kindles, and ever-evolutionizing gaming systems. We love the sleek look of today’s technology, the hours of entertainment obtainable from these devices, and the compact nature of these devices that allow the user to take it wherever he or she wants. But whatever happened to entertainment that didn’t involve plugging yourself into a machine?

Once upon a time, people told stories for entertainment. People read these stories, thought up their own stories, and even wrote them down to create a storybook. Stories take a reader to another world and while that world may be realistic or just pure fantasy, stories have purpose and meaning. As readers, we all can learn something new and even something deeply profound if only we continue to keep these stories alive by reading.

Sure, I enjoy having a kindle that has a library of books I can easily access any time I want, but surely it never will replace the love I have for reading an actual “book book.” I mean, isn’t it a beautiful thing to pull your favorite book from the shelf and just enjoy the aesthetic value of a real book–its dog-earred pages, its papery feel as you turn the page, its bookish smell that’s no longer the “new book smell” but now it has acclimated and acquired the familiar scent of home.

Have you ever missed being read to? You know the time when a teacher would pull out his highlighted and written-in copy of Flannery

Source: http://www.thedctraveler.com/2006/10/books-on-the-hilland-what-seems-like-everywhere-else/

O’Connor’s short stories and he would read aloud to the class? It’s a beautiful sight to see a class of wild and crazy high school English students settle down and listen intently to the story being told. The reader of the story is not monotone, but rather he enjoys making every voice in the dialogue different and unique. It’s entertaining and dramatic with every pause, every crescendo and decrescendo in the reader’s voice, and every staccato syllable added in for the effect of a good performance.

Once upon a time, writers were acknowledged by people with utmost respect, not as people without “real jobs.” By no means is writing an easy job. Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word was “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Think of some of the great writers in history: Jane Austen, Homer, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens…the list can go on forever! Writers influence people’s views of the world by telling a story of some sort.

Stories are everywhere! A story serves as an excuse for the kid who forgot to do his homework the night before. A story serves as the ice breaker for a girl on her very first date as she drives off in a car with the shy boy who sat next to her in English class. A story keeps memories alive and the dead alive in our hearts as we remember with reverence who they were. Stories touch our hearts, our minds, and our souls. They can distract us, inform us, entertain us, liberate us, berate us, comfort us, and save us. Stories make a difference in the world in which we live.

Once upon a time, I realized how important stories are to the world around us. Keep stories alive. Always.

lingua franca of silence

language should be unnecessary, toxic even,

bile dripping off our tongues.

what is the purpose of an artifice like language,

a combination of sounds strung syntactically into

what we call sentences and falsely believe

hold meaning that no one will ever misinterpret.

I was born without a voice.

to not speak as a child is to be labeled as shy,

pinned like a butterfly to the sidewalk pavement

while others draw your outline in chalk.

you try to call out, but there is a silence that follows,

as if there is a cloud clogging your throat.

if mis-communication is all words can offer,

then why even attempt to make sense with them?

why not saddle elephants like spoons brimming with leather coffee?

there are professors who will stand before you

lifting lofty words to the heavens

building temples out of blocks of dictionaries

pontificating their conjectures sans plebeian verbiage

but in the end, saying nothing.

each attempt to elucidate a notion implodes,

the listener waiting eagerly for the speaker to finish

so he too can show what words he knows.

saying absolutely nothing, meaning nothing, signifying nothing.

there is a confusion less telling than silence

and that is the noise of trying to say something

because there is pain in attempting to describe humans

(even the taste of pineapple)

in words

that seem to fail, always fail.

in fact, there is only one language

which each person understands and that

is silence.

Check Out My Newest Spoken Word Piece “Knockout”

Over the past two weeks, I’ve performed this one poem at about five different venues. Tonight, I have just arrived back from an open mic at Cafe Chartier in Lexington, SC. The video below is from last night’s performance at Sit-a-Spell Cafe in Augusta, GA. It is a fairly new piece called “Knockout” first performed at the Black Box Coffee House Show at the Aiken Community Theatre. Enjoy and leave your thoughts below. Tis the season of poetry readings and great thought.

An Elegy of Consciousness

The strangest thing is to be alive. Or to be conscious. Especially to the fact that, right now, you’re alive. And that your body will keep pumping blood through your heart down miles of thin veins that dangle like the fragile yarn of the Fate’s within your living carcass. One day, your body will die. Unless you do not die, which might be possible. It has yet to be proven that either you or I (unless either of us are zombie or ghost) can die. When someone proves us wrong, it won’t even matter.

But being conscious does not simply mean being awake, yet it means exactly that. Not simply entering into daytime out of deep REM cycles, because even waking, we sleep. Our minds are passive rather than active. We spend a lot of time watching cat videos on YouTube, passively processing information we might possibly forget. That’s why it is strange to finally take deep breaths and truly consider your existence. To ask, what is my purpose here? Why am I alive right now? How am I alive right now? What will happen next? Or most importantly, what will happen when this body of mine crumbles to dust?

Even overweight and overly hairy, I’m not too fond of the idea of my body deteriorating underground, the diet of worms. But we must face the truth of death; we all must. Death is the only disease no doctor can cure. So, if we’re not dead, why are we not alive? Why do we drool while living droll lives? Why do we stare so often at nothingness so that we forget ourselves, forget we even exist?

It is strange to be human, strange to be anything at all. If we were simpler animals, then the existence from moment-t0-moment would make sense, acting on whims and fulfilling basic needs. Yet we are capable of higher faculties, able to wield our minds like razor-sharp swords. We are intelligent with powerful, breath-taking bodies. What our brains do without us even trying, that is incredible in itself. But with application, what our brains can comprehend, explain in words, calculate– those things are worthy of some consideration.

I have undertaken this notion for some time now. To truly consider what it means to be alive, to experience everything as novel and incredible. Even getting a tooth pulled can be a worthy experience. Edgar Allen Poe, as we can see from his gruesome stories, was obsessed with sensation. He once suggested that any prisoner being beheaded should take heart that he is experiencing what not many are able to experience. But it is difficult to think about pain as good, as useful, but even pain is a teacher. For anyone to truly understand himself, he must experience grief, heartbreak, and ultimately death.

He must stand at the abyss of eternity, looking into the dark, uncertain depths. He must teeter forever at the edge, since we can never prove eternity exists or does not since we will never reach the end. And if we do, those who might could have gloated will not be able to.

It is difficult to imagine ceasing to exist while it is also difficult to imagine existing forever. And at least as humans, we can take solace in knowing we were made into being, that we have some origin. When we consider God, who has no origin or end, our minds fail to come to terms with these things. Yet these are the unsettling, fascinating thoughts that make us lie perfectly still in our beds just before sleeping. Those overwhelming questions that can leave you weeping in confusion, that can blast the breath from your lungs with their pure incomprehensibility.

The best we can do, perhaps, is concentrate and appreciate the present as we often do not do. I do not suggest you forgo the past or eschew anxiety for the future, but perhaps to live as we are now with eyes open. Notice what happens around you. Consider who you are and who you want to be. Compare everything you do, each trivial action, to those visions. Often, they collide because we do not live with the constant consideration of our own core beliefs. We stuff them down our own throats for the sake of personal benefit, laziness, and selfishness.

But one of the only ways we will learn to consider others, to consider our own actual beliefs, is not to live so sleepy, where we must consume energy from aluminum cans. You are a body brimming with energy if only you breathe, if only you use it. If only you begin to truly pay attention to the fact you’re even alive.

Come Out for the Coffee House Performance at Aiken Community Playhouse

Friday will be a quarterly Coffeehouse showcase at the Aiken County Playhouse. Featured will be The Company and Broadway Bound groups performing songs and some dance numbers. Try to come out and support the ACP. Tickets are $10.

I will also be performing some poems. As open mic season heats back up (for me, this is the summer because of the extreme lack of scholarly responsibilities), I will be amping up my poetry game. Firstly, I’m going to write new material. I’ve been using the same poems for a while now, churning out a new one now and then. But I’ve got to write more original pieces to share this summer. Also, I will be refining my craft, which means rehearsing pieces more often and memorizing them better. This is partly because I honestly want to perform better and partly because I want to win some poetry slams this summer.

So, this Friday, for ten dollars, you can see some amazing singers, amazing dancers, and one comic poet. Sounds like a plan? You betcha!

As an added bonus, I’d like to share some pictures of me performing poetry and of me at poetry events. Just looking at these gets me revved up for this summer’s festivities!

Performing at Sit-a-Spell last summer
Mahogany Lounge Poetry Slam
Performance at Arts in the Heart of Augusta
I’ve been performing at Sit-a-Spell since it first opened! I will be returning toward the end of this month!
Open mic sign up list at Cafe Rio Blanca.
Possibly the first time I used my Nook to read a poem off of.
During a poetry reading of “Sapiosexual”
1st Place in the Aiken County Language Arts Festival– poetry
A performance in my very own living room. Pretty cool tattoo, right?
Posing with Michael and BET/Defjam poet Jon Goode
One of my shorter poems converted into picture form by one of my friends.

Check out my poetry this Friday downtown at the Aiken Community Playhouse in the Black Box! To see videos of past performances, check the sidebar called “POETRY.”

The Importance of Carrying a Notebook

Two days ago, I blogged about the importance of paper. How writers, more specifically I, feel about paper and its uses for writers and within society. What about the notebook? With the innovation of the IPad and tote-worthy tablets, haven’t physical paper notebooks become a thing of a past for writers? I would contest no because I write in notebooks every day. Yesterday, I bought a new one.

Newest notebook, small enough to fit in my pocket.
As you can see, I've already christened the white paper with a new poem as of last night.

When I first got the Nook tablet, I figured that I would no longer need a notebook. There’s an app called Fliq notes where I can type in reminders to myself. Of course, I cannot do so at school. And perhaps I cannot do so quick enough when the Nook is turned off. Just pushing onscreen buttons is a hassle which takes longer than writing down the note would be. So while Fliq notes is great, I do not use it to record lines of poems I think up.

Sitting in class and you think up a paragraph for a short story you’ve been working on. Here is a place to write it.

Personally, writing in journals gives me a sort of connection to the writers of the past. Ernest Hemingway wrote in notebooks before typing up his stories. Like those writers, I can practice thinking slowly about a story instead of rattling it out too quickly. Perhaps with more time, I will be able to write something more eloquent and less fraught with spelling mistakes.

When later, I must type up the draft of a story, I am allowed to again revise the story giving me an even better story than I started off with. It’s less obnoxious as well than carrying around an IPad or laptop wherever I go. Recently, I’ve created a rule for myself. I must only buy notebooks that fit in my pocket. That way, I can carry it whenever I am going out, and in the middle of the street, if I hear something brilliant or am struck suddenly with an idea, I can write it down.

I’ve filled an entire shoe box (and more) full of notebooks, both ornate and plain. This is a collection I’ve kept since about the ninth grade. Each notebook is completely filled with words. Stories, poems, and thoughts.

I realize, that is rather a lot of words inside of those notebooks. I even included my Nook, which can served as a note-keeper too.

Here are some of my favorites:

I bought this notebook in Germany two years ago. It has musical notation on the cover and inside to one of Chopin’s most famous pieces.

Here is a better look at the cover.

This next notebook was the one I bought during Black Friday, though it was decidedly not on sale. It is actually the larger version of my newest notebook.

This next notebooks is another definite favorite for two reasons. First off, it is small with rounded edges, also thin. Making it very easy to carry in my pocket wherever I go. Though my newer notebook is smaller, it is thicker, which can be irksome at times. Also, this poem was the last bought during my trip to Alabama three weeks ago. It is already filled with stories and poems.

Lastly, my utmost favorite notebook. My uncle bought this notebook for me in Karlsruhe at which point I stopped transcribing my adventures in marble notebooks and began in this. In fact, the journal entries and sketches in this notebook were the inspiration for my poem “The Savage Summer.” The cover design and spin held together by strings, the entire poem is just… a work of art. See for yourself.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing these and learning about my own notebooks. Do you hold notebooks dear to you as well? If so, share your stories in the comment section below. Tell me about what sort of notebooks you own and how you use them. Until next time, Ciao.

On Paper

What is so important about paper? Why do writers make such a big deal about pen and paper if it’s the words that really affect people? But paper, perhaps, is something we need if we’re to write anything useful. Not that we can’t all exchange electronic files. Why keep paper around? Paper books, paper magazines, paper newspapers? What’s the point? I’m not sure I can answer that, though I suppose since I posed a hypothetical question, I should at least try to answer it.

Paper comes in packs, shrink-wrapped in flimsy plastic, packed as reams in boxes, sold conveniently by our local Dunder-Mifflin branches. We receive such paper blank and white as the Mumford and Sons song would suggest. In the beginning, they’re not much. Very thin slices of trees, perhaps, but nothing more. Perhaps merely potential.

Potential to be origami-folded into anything, perhaps. Airplanes and hats, cranes, and place mats. Cups and boats, Santa Claus and cutthroats. Well, maybe not anything, but even a seasoned paper-airplane pilot might be surprised by the variations with which paper can be folded.

Or will this paper be written on, as supposedly intended, with words that are supposedly a language and not made-up symbols? Not so much like a spelling test from a 3rd grader or an essay on how ancient sewage systems worked or several games of Hangman.

Instead, the black page is a nuclear warhead. The lines are fuses waiting to be lit. The ink leaks from a pen light as frozen smoke. The words warp within a forge, beaten by savage hammer blows until they can be discerned as something more than raw metal, untempered language. Not just a nebulous form but something sharp and useful, potentially even deadly. Words must become more than their origin, which in the sense of languages, are as discernible as embryos in the womb. Not just in the sense that animals cannot be told apart, but neither humans either. No, these words are merely potential in the beginning just as the white page is merely potential, though able to explode given the right ignition.

The words spill out like plutonium. We handle pens, or rather should, with rubber gloves. Even the antiquated words threaten to explode like aged, unstable dynamite. The new-fangled words look pristine but contain many edges on which to cut yourself, as unseen as a firewall. So, you write and write, and bleed, and that blood becomes words. And those words transform the paper into something much more.

Once your weapon is assembled, leave it in public as if in an act of literary terrorism against boredom and indifference and wasted trees.

Evolution of Writing (Part 3): Who Is, and Who is Not, a writer?

As much as the art of writing has changed over generations, so has the perception of the writer. Let us crank up the Dolorian again to travel back and look at how the common people viewed writers over the ages and how writers viewed themselves. Could the persona of “writer” have changed that much from the dawn of time?

Speaking strictly in cavemen terms, writers were pretty progressive. They used symbolic language to communicate stories that we have read millions of years later. Such brilliant narratives as: I found mammoth, I made spear, I kill mammoth, and I eat mammoth. From the invention of fire to the first use of clubs, cavemen scholars documented their primeval progress on cave walls. Even before words existed, man possessed an innate need to tell stories, which we surely have not outgrown today.

Once language, written and spoken, was formalized, writers of stories became better well-known. They were the wise men of their day, scholars and preachers and philosophers. These were storytellers who could actually read and write. Playwrights such as Socrates, philosophers such as Plato, scientists too: all these were celebritites because of their skill at the written word.

And yet in the recent past, writers have been viewed not as elite people but lowlife bums too lazy to get jobs. They sit at home collecting unemployment checks while writing about their drug addict lives. We can see the writer crouched over a rusty typewriter, tripping on Benzedrine, chain-smoking, and naked.

The Beatniks of the fifties inspired this attitude towards writers. They were poor people trying to connect with a mystic way of life through drugs. Rather than tell legends, they wrote about their own lives. But they were also glamorized as enlightened and hedonistic. Living life to the fullest. Though sometimes pretentious and overly “ironic” by today’s standards.

While some writers are scene as wild like these, others are seen as recluses.

Think of Salinger or Pynchon. While some are poor, others are rich.

There once was a time when writing was the past time of wealthy aristocrats. Famously, in 1818, Lord Byron challenged his visitors at Lake Geneva to write a gruesome story. Each took turns trying to scare the wits out of the others. One such story that came of this was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Some writers speak as nobles, others for the common man. During the Industrial Revolution, portraits of the common man came into vogue. People saw working conditions from a working class man’s perspective. We saw inside of factories, the evils of corporations run wild with greed, and the daily strife of living in poverty.

Then there are the Romantics, writing expressively about their emotions, about their torments and loves and loss and horrors. Then come the realists who take scientific views and incorporate them into stories. They are intellectuals writing factually about things that will make them look smarter if the right professors read the books.

 The war-torn writers write about how battles scarred them, about their emotions being drained. About the absence of a meaning to life. About horror and blood and brutal, pointless violence. These men we viewed as lost souls, writing as emotional release. Penning those feelings that were pent up for years after wars.

We have seen writers in a variety of ways for so long: as highly influential literati, as common men spinning common tales, as the Lost Generation, and as hipsters telling stories ironically.

Today, these perceptions have all meshed so that there is no one perception of “writer.” The only true thing tying us together is our burn to write, our need to tell stories. We cannot clearly define ourselves any longer. We are novelists, vocalists, bloggers, and poets. We are idealists, realists, poor, young, old, wealthy, calm, and angry.

There are no literary periods anymore. All we have to offer are words, trying to describe our own human condition. Perhaps the public sees us in a myriad ways.

But in truth, we are only humans struggling to articulate our own inability to articulate our struggles.