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Poetry Marathon 2017

In 24 hours poets are challenged to write one poem every hour for a total of 24 poems. I’ve been ‘running’ these marathons for four years now, sometimes taking part in as many as four marathons in a single year!

I had never thought of writing a poem an hour before the idea came up on my Facebook feed as an offer to join a poetry marathon. The idea was spawned by Caitlin Jans and her husband who have been evolving and changing their approach every year. After discovering this technique to poetry I soon found other venues to utilize it in. Writing a poem an hour is different from anything else I’ve ever taken part in. It sounds so simple and easy, and yet it isn’t. You wouldn’t believe the number of things that happen in a single 24 hour period. Our mood changes, minor or major disasters strike, life gets busy, the phone rings, company drops by, a friend has a crisis… all of these things affect the poetry that is written in that hour.

A lot of times a snippet of a sentence overheard can spin out into an entire unplanned poem, reading the poem over after the marathon I can’t help but wonder at the human mind (or at least my own mind) and the story it weaves out of the mundane into fanciful worlds of prose.

I’ve written these marathons after finding out in hour 4 that my grandmother died. I’ve written them with internet outages and all manner of ‘events’ that you would swear wouldn’t happen in the average day. It’s an adventure that highlights every minute of the day in question. It’s like the introverts version of Kiefer Sutherland in 24!

I could talk a lot more about this process and the feeling of the alarm going off each hour but I think I’ll write a second blog about that. This post is more about the poems. Below, starting with hour 1 you can find, unedited as they came from me moment by moment the complete list of my poems from the 2017 marathon.

poetry quotes

The End of Dreamland

VCS

 

The End of Dreamland

Faded

A roller coaster plunging

Into the mists of oblivion

Placed by a cruel prankster

Collecting tickets

Laughing at the joke

See the rubes pay the toll

The tolls set to the price

It’s only your soul!

That Dreamland is more nightmare

Than laughter and love

Emaciated skeletons

Dancing through a distorted utopia

A world that never  was

Never would be

Never could be

Thank all the gods above

That soap bubbles irridescent sheens

are

As fragile as the egos gathered

Around the casting couch

of ghouls and gangsters

the denizens of dreamland

the nightmare curse

 

I woke up one day

The dream was over

The sun played off the motes

The broken hopes left behind

The splintered edifices

Made of plaster of paris

Left to rot in the desert

Giant sphinxes

Violet eyed Cleopatras

 

It was all a dream

A lost city

Less real than silicon

More dubious than Atlantis

Or Lemuria

It was all a dream

Now we’re back from dreamland

Reality

Such as it is

Is better than the rotten shrouds

We tried to cover ourselves in

 

Soap bubbles pop

Roller coasters plunge

Dreams finish

Nightmares die

 

Awaken to

Reality

Such as it is

 

Emerald Cut

VCS

 

The pool was was made of turquoise wind

the edges sculpted

an emerald cut tapered up

of perfect teal

Hidden in its high setting

protective mountains

coated in diamond dust

glaciers

that dripped

merciless cold

from the dawn of time

with endless purity

into the vast jewel

leaping high with strange inclusions

jumping fish

living waters

pouring out into the evermore

 

6h Pencils

VCS

 

Hard etched lines

Sketched cruelly by a clan

of reckless hands

Caring about each cut millimeter

tearing through the fleshy layers

of pressed pulp page

and the work of art under the

6h pencils razor lead blades

Threatening to tear the page with each

Jagged

Irregular line

 

Reclaimed page

Futile to think the scribbles

Could ever be removed

The true picture revealed

Happy endings

Are meant to be believed in

Even for what looks like a

Piece of paper that could be tossed

crumpled

into the garbage can

 

No different than the thousands of other pages

lost under similar circumstance

 

No different until it is picked up

By the wind

By hands

But most of all the submission of self

To not resist the reclaiming process

To not tear

As each unkind imprint in alleviated

Understood

Erased

And integrated into the picture

That had been obscured underneath

It is now uncovered

 

Richer in shading

Deeper in layers

Dimensions that defy the eye

No mind conceived this art

The imperfections integrated into the picture

Seamlessly

So naturally

You’d never know

As it is carefully placed into

A complimentary matte

A protected now behind glass

In a place of honor on the wall

That this masterpiece

Hung beside other classic pieces of art

Throughout the ages

Was intended by cruel grown up children

For nothing more

Than violent scribbles

And the refuse bin

Asmodeus

VCS

 

He sat alone

Under the heat of a thousand suns

Under the desert

Where he had been thrown

Hunched with his arms

Hugging his warty, broken legs

He had turned to stone

Buried under dunes of sand

from the long, long ago

 

There had been a mighty king

Who had had a mighty ring

Given to him by the angels themselves

To make a temple to rule the world

And to rule the self

 

Asmodeus had come

He of the stone

Walking like a man

He couldn’t hide his limp

he could only give it to another

For a time and time

To give him the semblance

Of one who was what he liked to call

A hell of a ‘Smooth Operator’

 

‘Let me help you build your temple,’

He said to the King with the furrowed brow

The stones had ceased to fit together

The beams were broken

The edifice falling around him

What was mighty was now dying

 

‘Leave me be, I need no help unless you are a magician!’

The man with the hidden limp

Didn’t bother to answer; because he was no magician

He was a creature of fell magic himself

He did not want the shrewd King to scent his deception

 

With the stolen nimbleness of a hind

He leapt onto cypress pillars

‘Ah ha!’ Asmodeus exclaimed, his eyes twinkling

 

The King thought to himself,

‘His eyes are as bright as the sky over an oasis,

He’s a magician, there is no doubt and my problems are ended!’

 

Asmodeus, his black hair, shining in the sun

Produced a copper wedge

All carbuncled in green barnacles

‘Here’s the problem, a curse was laid on your temple.’

 

He tossed the wedge to the King who dropped it when it burned his hands

and scored a sigil into his index finger.

 

‘Let the building re-commence!’ Ordered the demon Asmodeus

 

And so it was that the demon won the confidence of the king

whose angelic ring could control the world of any spirit

and the canny king didn’t suspect a thing!

 

Asmodeus gave his name as a lie and became the confidant of the king

Who believed him sent from God

Rather than the devil’s plaything

Until one day the king had to go away

And his most prized possession he gave to the one he trusted most

The King of Demons: Asmodeus

 

When the canny king returned to his throne he found it occupied

By the demon man with hair of black and eyes of blue

His ring on his hand, His robes on his shoulders

His wives attending him like he was their beloved

And Asmodeus used his hellish powers to throw the king

a thousand leagues

laughing in glee

and eating the king’s own figs

 

A thousand leagues was not far enough to throw the canny king

Who walked over the blazing sand and through the wastelands

Until he returned to the lands

That had once been under his command

His eyes blazed with glints of red

From the alembic flames he had been tortured in

He walked into his throne room in begger’s rags

But no one stopped him, one look froze them in place

 

Asmodeus had grown fat on the king’s throne

He drooled wine and his eyes drooped with sleepy disconcern

He did not recognize the man before him as the rightful king

Until the man in rags walked to him and sliced off his finger

The only way to get it off the now bloated member

The canny king stamped Asmodeus between the eyes

With the Pentalpha sigil and his demise

 

Now the demon was no longer lord

He was subject and bound as the other hoards

To obey the will of the king

The true son of the true king before him

 

‘Go forth into the desert and dig a tomb in the sand.

Dig until you can dig no more

Then never move again.’

 

The demon staggered from the hall and his

Shroud of glamour fell from the eyes of all

And they shook their heads and rubbed their eyes

As they watched Asmodeus’s tail leave the hall,

his legs limping, his bulk bursting his scaly skin

He walked far into the desert

To dig his own grave

With his taloned hands

At the King’s command

 

And sat and listened to the winds howling above him

until his ears filled with sand

And his lungs along with them

Then he ceased to think or move

And turned to stone

Under the dunes

 

And that was how he was found

more than a thousand years later

By an alchemist who would quickly become greater

Thanks to the power

Of the stone demon

Who whispered wisdom in his ear

Exactly as much as he needed to hear

Until Asmodeus was free once more

 

Plodding and evil

The canny king was gone

His temple long since with him

But between the demons eyes

The burned sigil

And frozen stone joints

Still bite into him.

Tap Dancing on Puddles

VCS

 

He went out the door at noon

He arrived at the pub at two

By three or four he was playing billiards

After seven in the evening

He couldn’t recall

If he’d told his wife

Where he’d been off to

(She tended to get mad at his leaving)

With his blood pumping heat

from his head to his feet

He walked home in the snow

Northern lights overhead casting

Their spelling, singing like crackling glass

Lighting his gaunt face in their green and pink glow

Like a tap dancer he skipped across a puddle of ice

With the grace of Gene Kelley

And now one to see

The voice of a pipe organ

He serenaded the moon

Until he came to the front door

Of his own little home and remembered

That Marjorie hadn’t been told

That he’d been gone since noon

(Or more importantly she hadn’t told him

that she was okay with him coming home

by the light of the north and the moon)

 

The door creaked on its hinges

The house looked deceptively at peace

But he knew that Marjorie would not likely

Have gone to bed so soon

Peering with wide eyes

He took off his crushed fedora from his

Creased working man’s brow

and tossed it into the dark by the couch

 

His breath blew out of him in clouds in the cold

He rubbed his arms for warmth

And cursed in a whisper

As his hat

Like a miracle

Flew back to his hand

 

Marjorie was awake and her message was plain:

He was not welcome here until the ‘morrow

Sweet bottles of sorrow

He closed the door with a prayer

To the God of his fathers

(That he said he didn’t believe in but

he prayed to all the same)

And tap dancing over

The frozen puddles

He went to find a couch

To sleep what was left of the night away

 

Spitballs and Evergreens

VCS

 

Wrapped in torn remnants

Of papers

With names and places

Most of which mean nothing to me

They have stuck to me

Like spitballs

Cast by naughty children

Sitting bored

At the back of math class

Immobilizing me

Pumping me full of immortal resin

My soul pushed and pulled

In a stream of paperwork

I didn’t start

With a zip code written

On my DNA that branded me

Before I was made to order

Like a homunculus with no purpose of my own

Full of amber sap dripping from evergreen trees

Buried under the earth

I ring my bell

I’m still not dead

I’m still not dead

I ring my bell

From my tomb

Encased in my mummy suit

made from ancient scrolls

I never read

I’m still not dead

I ring my bell

My soul is my own

I did not choose to speak

Yet I must

I will not be an Immortal Buddha

And once more I rip off these

scabs of paper and emerge newborn

from the grave you’ve already dug for me

Because I’m still not dead

I walk the earth

I ring my bell

I sing my song

I will not drink the poison

The evergreen is ever dead

But I am not

I’m still not dead

I’m still only just a new born

Ringing my bell

As my cry to the universe.

Perching

VCS

 

I sat on a pole

Held aloft

Under the sweltering sun

Of the rotting waste

Of the battlefield below me

 

I looked out of a telescope

Harangued by flies

Gnawed at by hunger

Smacked in the chest with despair

 

I scan the horizon

Looking for anything that moves

Hoping for rescue

Fearing more attack

From my lofty perch

I can avoid most of the perils

Of the decay of war

But I make a handy target for arrows

Or any muck someone might want to throw

 

There is something coming, I see it moving

Slowly and steadily it comes towards me

I take out my scroll

And my precious bottle of ink

There are plenty of buzzard and crow feathers

With which to make a new quill

 

I sit down

upon my perch

Listening to the sounds of death

and write about the battle

I am the only one to have survived

The trust is mine to tell their story

Survivors guilt makes the ink

Thick with survivors guilt

As I form each letter with great care

On the only scroll I still have

Waiting

The form grows larger

My fate no more sure

Than any other mortal

On my pole overlooking

The charnal pit that holds my family and friends

The Words are Marching

VCS

 

I wrote a hundred thousand words

I tossed them in the air

I wrote them in a coma

I wrote them on the stare

I tried to keep the words down

With chicken soup and ginger ale

But gypsy curses and wandering street light people

Threw my words like cookies

Back out of me and I brayed them

From the steeples

I thought that eventually

They would be picked clean

When I hung around at rookeries

But it was not to be

A million words came marching

And jumped right out of my cerebellum

Not caring a dash about what happened to me

 

Words are thoughtless creatures

Even when used thoughtfully

Marauding little beasts

They have complete control over me

Sometimes they pick my hands up

Even when I’m sleeping

And ghostlike pluck the keyboard

Into unknown symphonies

The words are coming from the rafters

They live in the crannies in the walls

They live in desperate lovers

They make the weak tremble and fall

They make the strong the same if they’re not careful

 

The words are marching out of me

Brazen creatures they! Coming out of my hands, my mouth my eyes

And yet you  make them say to you as you would have them speak

That’s the way they like it

Twisting

Making wind

Tornadoes swooping down on landscapes

Leaving ruin

Or bringing us to brand new worlds

The choice is theirs

It isn’t up to me or you

He Ain’t No Nice Guy

VCS

 

They called him insane, the man of pain

They called him lame

Some just said, ‘You ain’t no nice guy’

But none of that was true,

it was just an angle of the sun

beaming off a diamond

He didn’t ask for accolades

He said, ‘I’m the boy in the box’

They made him the holy ghost

They said he moved through them

They said he spread death on the air

He said, ‘leave me alone’

They said, ‘You ain’t no nice guy’.

 

He didn’t ask to be put in the center ring

He didn’t ever want to have it be a whole big thing

They copied him in every way

They stole his hair and his poetry

They called him a saint and took away his privacy

They called him insane, the man of pain

They called him lame

 

They cut hairs into splinters to make each accusation true

Until they drove him into the arms of madness

That’s where I met him

And I could see why they did what they did to him

With his nose broken

His long hair hanging in his face

I found him on the mens room on the floor

A needle in his arm

He whispered to me, ‘get back, I ain’t no nice guy’

 

I sat beside him on the floor

the tiles were cold, his body radiated heat

the toiled smelled like shit and vomit

‘this ain’t no nice place to be,’ I replied as I sunk down

So our eyes could lock

 

I wondered if I was his hallucination or if I was his

Either way, he stroked my hair away from my eyes

And I felt his fingertips, as soft and real as a spring breeze

 

‘They’re always going to do this to you, you’ll always end up where I am’

I nodded in understanding

Looking at him all I saw the preying mantis from the classroom

And he was the bug caught in her grip

‘So what do we do?’ I asked

He laughed, his laugh echoed and then he stopped because

We both knew how it was

He was mad

 

‘We pray.’

 

He took my hands in his and started to pray

Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I shall fear no evil

He opened his eyes and I opened mine,

We had each dug half moons with our fingertips

Into the other’s hands

His eyes were the only thing in the room that wasn’t

the color of bile or other exudate.

 

When we had prayed and I was still there

He said to me, ‘I shall fear no evil; but it still

smells like shit and I still ain’t no nice guy.’

 

I saw the syringe had fallen from his arm and rolled behind the toilet.

A drop of his blood brightened the room on his forearm.

 

He saw where my gaze had gone and pulled my gaze back to his and said,

‘Ain’t anyone got to be nice to know this ain’t real and we’re both

being eaten by the world. What’s a few painkillers between me and the Lord?’

 

That was the first time I met him, when I fell asleep in class

But it wouldn’t be the last

Call him the Holy Ghost

Call him the Angel of Death

Call him a Poet

Call him a Priest

He doesn’t owe it to anyone to be a nice guy but I rather think that he is.

 

Something New

VCS

 

Darkened hallways

Turn darker still

The last lights of what was

Are dimmed and gone

The wind has stopped

Rustling the leaves

Only evil beasts still caper

Through the bowers of the trees

What is

What was

It is no more

I can’t recall ever working so hard

To get rid of something

That I loved so much

The bitter pain

Gnaws at me of losing the potential

Of the life that was never had

But holding on hurts exponentially in score

And now there is time for something more

Something better

We deserve to have something good

Not poisoned by the ghosts that lived here

Before we were ever born

and the angry spirits that came after

Yet here we linger

On the edge

Of a new adventure

Where it goes

The path that shimmers

Into reality before me

Is all still shrouded in mystery

But what I know

Is that those old halls

are darker and smaller

than ever before

Life has fled these paths

And it is time for something

Entirely new

Just me and you

Butterscotch Sunbeam

VCS

 

In the afternoon

When things get still and slow

I watch a little sunbeam

That escaped into my room

All is quiet and dim

Except for the roar of that

Little drip of sun

And the scent of butterscotch

Running off it’s light

And puddling onto hardwood floors

I don’t know how it got here

Or where its friends are at play

But this little sunbeam

Has fallen my way

It’s as loud as a freight train

In the otherwise dark room

Dimmed for an afternoon nap

After the rising of noon

It shines its spotlight on every spot of dust

And lets me know its noticed

Every bit of muss

Even though it woke me up

With its demand to play

dripping with sweetness

To remind me of the summer day

It’s impossible to do anything

But smile in a wistful way

The sunbeam’s found her friends

And vanished in her play

 

Flip flop

VCS

 

Flip flop

On the table top

This won’t take a minute

You won’t feel a thing

Except for this

It might be hit or miss

 

Flip flop

Lying on the table top

It’s a bit of a miracle

A dash of science

Maybe a placebo

Any way I like it

 

Flip flop

Do the drop

On the table top

It’s magic and a secret

But something says yes

 

Flip flop

Flip flop

A little dab will do you

At least it’s a start

 

Fragrantly

VCS

 

Fragrantly

Wafting through the air

Rosemary cuts an acrid trail

For pungent sage on his way with

Parsley on his arm in her feathered finery

And crisp bouquet

 

Olives pressed

To make sweet oil

That sizzles softly

Around pink salt that came

From the tallest mountains

To my pallet

 

My mouth fills

In anticipation of the

Mingled essences in the air

I am grateful to each living thing

From the beasts who walked

The plants that grew

The herbs that sprung

The olives that clung

And the salts the flew

From the mountain tops

 

Fragrantly and Thankfully

You fill the air

And my tummy

Powering my body

For another day of living

 

Dear Mr. Whippy

VCS

 

Mr. Whippy is ganging up on me

With his gang of thugs

And his alphabets

He hems and hrumphs and I know

He knows how to rap knuckles

With that stick

He keeps telling me

That Diacritacal marks come later

First learn to make the lines

‘But,’ I protest, ‘I fear that

My pronunciation is quite off.’

He sucks in his mustache and his lips disappear

Underneath his disapproving

But very discerning over-lip hair

And when John Dee

Makes his foot notes

In another tongue

I know that Mr. Whippy will translate for me

But with many a disapproving air

At kids these days

Who aren’t taught ancient Greek

And barely read Latin at all

How remiss my classical education

He will groan between making marks in shorthand

(Another dying art! Ah, why don’t they teach

the children shorthand?)

Dear Mr. Whippy, I fear of opening

The door of every room of learning

My brain is only so big

And I haven’t read all the classics

My education is appalling

Why bother to read them at all

If not in their native tongues?

It’s with dragging feet that I carry my notebooks

And my tomes

To Mr. Whippy’s door

And hope he won’t berate me

I fear my head will explode

If I try to learn any more!

Draw Nearer

VCS

 

Sirens wailing, fires blazing

Draw nearer

Evacuation center

Smokey skies are burning

The sun’s on fire

The moon immersed in

A tidal pool of blood

 

Province burning, ‘copters whirling

Draw nearer

Breathe deep and try not to think

Of what could or could not be

It’s just about time

For the hot point in the year

Think carefully

 

Lakes are flooding, so many dying

Water and Air

Fire and Earth

All trade places

Nothing could be done about that perhaps

Not but you or me

But the rest!

We’re all caught up in it

Trees explode like roman candles

What started this?

One cigarette

 

Still too cool to put the flicker out

Instead of flash it out the window

Onto the tinder and broken land

You’re not above it all

No one is safe from any of this

Don’t think anyone is too good to

Be caught in the hell of flames

To lose your home or family

It happens every day

 

Sirens wailing, fires blazing,

Province burning, ‘copters whirling

Lakes are flooding, so many dying

Draw nearer

To a piece of sanity

Authentic

Posted on August 6, 2017 12:09am EDT by Virginia

Authentic
VCS

Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word

The anguish in your voice
Your love in your eyes
The delight of a birch bud
Glowing on your skin
It’s not the same
For frauds
When each lie accumulates in the
Blocks of caution
In their eyes
And being authentic
Hurts the world of betrayals

Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word

I can’t be any other way
I can’t ever change
I can say my truth more kind
I can walk away
I don’t have to be cruel to be true
But I have to be true to each little cell
That pumps life into my body and soul
Because that is my spirit

Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word

And that is me
Authentic in my pain
Watch my tears flow
My heart break and pour out
onto the floor
A thousand times the joy
Of the little things
And the big things too
That overwhelm and make me silent
In appreciation of all the beauty in the world
This is authentic

Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word

Lots of times it hurts
It isn’t always pretty
It is always beautiful
Even when it’s hideous too
The blights are so much darker
The days are brighter too
My passion won’t let me
When my heart screams no no no

Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word
Authentic in my pain
Authentic in my joy
Authentic in my love
It scares the evil away
When you pour your heart out
Every word

Blood and Diamonds

VCS

 

From the heart of our mother’s pain

They speak to us

Of all that’s been and all that is to come

Diamonds

Those bits of carbon

Crushed in the fist of pain

The agony that makes life

The agony that frees

Diamonds sparkling

They say it’s all a scam

The value of the diamond

They say that it’s bad because…

Blood diamonds

 

All diamonds are made of blood

The blood of the earth as she

Is contorted into new forms

 

How funny that we ignore the bloodstains

On the things we use every day

But feel self righteous for avoiding

Sullying our hands

 

Eat the meat but spare the fur

Shun the diamonds but burn the oil seeped in bloody war

Self righteous is a fun horse to ride so high!

 

They say a lot of things about diamonds

Somme I believe to be true

One is that it’s bad luck

To buy your own diamond

Unless it’s to claim the bad luck you’ve already had

And own your pain

 

Diamonds

The gift of a mission accomplished

A new life, things never to be the same

For some a Medal of Honor is bestowed

But for others a diamond better fits

to describe

the hardness of life

that’s given the razor sharp acumen

and strength of those who survive

 

It’s the rainbow of understanding

All the colors embraced in one

Fire in a Carat

Blood diamonds

 

 

Immune to all but the most delicate and skilled touch

Nothing touches the diamonds heart

Or can put out her fire

Sparkle sparkle

I used to say

As we shone the brass away

In a Cinderella life

Now I sparkle another way

Now I’ve earned my medals from lessons learned

Badges of honor

From the only mother

Who loved me most

 

I will wear my diamonds

As I wear my scars

Each a badge of honor

As my mother taught me

 

Hovering There

VCS

 

Before you said I had

To leave this place

I had hoped it would be home

Even though I always knew

That would never be the way

It was meant to be

 

Because I was a foreigner

But you were out of this world

You were hovering there

In the dead of the night

And I was watching you

Thinking

 

This wasn’t at all right

I wished I was a kite

Because you sat below me

I could have caught the breeze

Drifted away through the park

Gotten out of your rank wind

 

But it didn’t happen that way

And you can’t change history

You told me I had to leave

And at first I said, ‘Okay’

But then I thought you’d gone

I came back

 

I shouldn’t have done that

The coming back I mean

The warning turned out to be a doozie

One of them there dooms

They’re all the rage

When the rage is on

And the rage is always on

 

You gotta heed those warnings

Even then it’s not always enough

Even then they still catch you out

Even then they’ll gun for you in the night

 

They tell you to get out

And shine lights in your face

Hovering in the night

Better listen to them

Boys and girls

There’s nothing else to do

 

They’re the ones who own this world

Even though they say they’re foreigners here

We’re just taking up space

While we’re waiting to say goodbye

When they say, ‘byebye’

It’s time to run and hide

Drag you to the velvet underground

They’ll take you for a ride

 

Hovering in the night

And you can’t change history

You told me I had to leave

But I came back

When I knew you were gunning for me

 

I had a cocky grin

I thought this was my world

Turns out it’s just the porch

to the velvet underground

And all the rest is hell

Wouda

VCS

 

Do you know the Wouda’s?

They live most any place

They can be both good or evil

A pleasure or a disgrace

Under the sea they creep like starfish

On land they hide

A secretive race

 

Do you know the Wouda?

You may have mistaken them for

Someone’s hand or a toy

But I assure you they are alive and well

They adapt to any situation

With alacrity and joy

 

Do you know the Wouda?

Not the Coulda, Shoulda or even Buddha?

But in fact the Wouda

Who creeps up in disguise

It is the helping hand you need

When all else seems lost

 

It isn’t a pixie, a gnome or a dwarf

It is the noble Wouda

And if you don’t know about them

I think its time you shoulda

because they’re the helpers we all need

The very special Wouda

I don’t recall

VCS

 

You don’t come to mind much anymore

I don’t recall your face

Your voice

That world has been exorcised

Excised

I am at peace with the clarity of my heart

And with how you vanished along with my own

Reserection

 

You tried to steal everything from me

You didn’t leave me even scraps

I was never angry about that

But I was confused and hurt

Now I have found gratitude

Because I don’t have to thank you

You have nothing to do with the good places

I’ve been at

 

This is a farewell

And it isn’t to only one

There are many of you

Living and dead who tried to take my life

With many justifications

Objectifications

Gratifications of yourselves

 

But now

I’ve forgotten your faces

And your voices

And even the feel of your skin

I don’t remember the way you smelled

Or the exact color of your hair

Or your eyes

I am happy to let those things

Like the rest of my pain

Float away

One the river of life

Turn my face into the new dawn

And feel only love once more

Gimmee
VCS

Copy of a copy of a copy
Spinning into a lack of cogent
Reality
There is no definition
Making out the lines
Has become foggy
More of a guessing game
Than anything advertised

None of us signed on for this
And there is more every day
We need space
We need originality
Instead of tightening ligatures
Of conformity

As the boundaries get tighter and tighter
The lyrics of the songs
Blur into one long litany
Of Gimmee Gimmee Gimmmee
There isn’t enough for everyone
To have everything they want

Not when they don’t want it really
Not anyhow
Once their fingers are on it
It’s tossed to the side
The next illusion chased

All to the litany of gimmee gimmee gimmee
It never gets
It only takes
The dance of the copy machine
All running around
Trying to look, act and talk the same
shaming anyone who dares to stand

gimmee gimmee gimmee
copy copy copy
you won’t ever get what you’re wanting
Not this way
this isn’t what we’re here for
None of us really want this anyway

The dance of nihilism continues
Every single day
Killing the pain with whatever comes
Up the nose, with a pill, in a vein on a VISA card
Gimmee gimmee gimmee
The copies fade more each day

 

 

Three

VCS

 

The hour has come

When it is darkest

And eyelids close

and all grows weary

Each hour is exponential to the last

only two more to go

one, two, three

Three in the morning

and three poems in a row

 

Cordial crushed berries

Fresh off the vine

bright bits of summer

tang like pure wine

your leaves blow in the wind

revealing bounty under each bough

startling glimpses of red

faded to pink

through to

unripe

white

the future harvest that’s waiting

for its day in the sunlight

but for now their are plenty of ripe

handfuls of wine berries

my fingers stain red

thistles sting over eager

grasps

as the plants protect themselves

from the ravages of grazers like myself

gathering leaves to dry

for the panacea of summer health

they will bring to cold winter months

a praise for the berry

an early friend to humanity

and lifelong companion to one and all

 

Bleary eyed I sit a-typing

plagued as every writer before me

has been with the writing

sitting up when sleep beckons

in her ghostly form

her sweet smile curves upward

and I am reminded of the cool

relief of her embrace and how

it feels to sink into

the mistiness of her fragrant form

to refill the need

of the mind

to seek the land

where stories are born

deep in our dreams

we swim the ether and course the waves

to wake in the warm sand of morning

the sun shining in our eyes

the keyboard at hand once again

the stories

the words

pouring forth

fresh baked from that special place

I need to go

As lady sleep is calling calling

I find myself faling falling

In the morning the words will come again

The words sitting in my head

All waiting to pour themselves out

As though they write themselves

Hold me now, sweet lady

I am ready for slumber

no more will I linger in the world

of the real

sweet lady calls me

willing I go

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Able-Bodied People Speaking ABOUT Disabled People

Dis(abled) Embodiment

By Derek Newman-Stille

Far too frequently, able-bodied people feel that they have a place to talk about disabled people. They use different justifications for this act of narrating our bodies to us, but the bottom line is always the same. There is an assumption that our bodies are open to public debate, that we are resigned to expertiseism about our bodies not only by medical practitioners, but anyone who feels that they have a stake in narrating us.
I see this most commonly when it comes to medical practitioners, whose power to narrate our bodies is so strong that we have to depend on their assessment of our bodies to get access to basic accommodations. Our own narration of our bodies is never considered enough to guarantee that we will acquire everything we need. In university I observed this with the accommodation letters that I was forced to bring to…

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A Tragic Comedy: Chapter 18

Chapter 18: Not the North!

“Curses!” Shouted Susan MacThreatful, pounding her hand on the keyboard. “You told me her spirit was broken! This isn’t the FaceBook post of a broken spirit?”

In the darkness outside of the circle of light from her computer screen yellow eyes blinked fearfully. None of the minions dared to step forward. She turned to them, her voice a quavering hiss, “Unit 8, you will answer for this or face the consequences.”

Still no one stepped forward.

“Answer me!” Her coifed hair had come undone from her tantrum and sweaty strands stuck to her red, bloated face.

One of the figures was pushed forward by the others, he presented her with a clipboard with papers and pictures on it, “You can see from the records, we’ve done nothing to help her. Her will to live should be ebbing by now, we’ve run the numbers again and again… there’s no way anyone could continue to fight us. All we’ve given her is a heating pad. We’ve made sure to be months late paying for her medication…”

“Why are you paying for any medication at all?” She demanded. He bent down lower in front of her, his yellow eyes unable to meet her black ones.

“The courts… they forced us… we agreed…”

Her voice was quiet now and the room trembled, “and the heating pad?”

“You… you told us to allow that… as an insult… to show that we wouldn’t do anything for her no matter what doctors and occupational therapists said. It’s standard procedure to show them that they won’t get even a tiny percentage of the help they require…”

“What did you say?” Her voice was at full volume again, at the door there was a jam up of minions as the shadowy figures tried to force their way out the door.

“I, um, I said that you told us…”

“No. The last thing you said. Repeat that.”

“I said, ‘to show them that they won’t get even a tiny percentage of the help they require…’.”

“REQUIRE? You said require?! No one requires anything ever. Everyone is a liar and a faker. That’s standard IBIC protocol. I have it here in the papers, see, it says right here, ‘she’s a faker and a liar and she won’t get one cent from us.’”

“But you were the one who told me to write that, I’m not sure that it’ll stand up in court, Mistress MacThreatful…”

“Everything I say is real. Why don’t you understand that? We are a crown corporation and I won’t get a new BMW and you won’t get paid anything if the bottom line isn’t tucked up nice and small. Our job is to withhold money and to find a reason to do so. Now this woman Is going all over the place talking about our methods, exposing us, forming unions with other people who have been… what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Intimidated? Abused?” He ventured. He looked around at the rest of Unit 8 for support only to see that they had all escaped out the door. He was alone with MacThreatful. A lump of pain in his throat made it impossible for him to offer more suggestions.

“No! You idiot! Treated perfectly fairly! So someone gets run over by a car, what does that really mean? Sure, they could be injured, but I think any movie goer will attest to the fact that people get run over by cars every day…”
“In the movies,” added the last remainder of Unit 8.

“It doesn’t matter where they get runover. This is what I’m trying to explain to you. You keep getting confused by bringing in what is reality and what is fiction. You need to realize that whatever we write down is reality and whatever we think is how much someone is injured is how much they’re injured.”

She attempted to smooth down her hair only to find it was flattened from her angry sweat to her forehead. Her expensive highlights were the color of old dishwater in the glow of the computer screen. A smiling face of a red-head looked back at her proudly, mockingly, thought MacThreatful. She ground her teeth, her work blazer fell to the floor beside her, her tight blouse was stained with rings of sweat.

The spokesman for Unit 8 was anxious to placate MacThreatful, “We’re doing all we can. We’ve printed up her author page and proven that she’s still writing. And look at her, she’s smiling… how can anyone who has been run over by a car be smiling?”

MacThreatful smiled gratefully for the validation, “Exactly. This brings me back to my earlier point. If she was actually run over,”

”Which will be hard to disprove with the hospital reports and because we already paid for the repairs of the cab driver’s hood where something the size and shape of a person left a considerable dent…”

 

“Oh, shut up.” She snapped.

“Of course, Mistress… may I go then?”

MacThreatful leaned back in her leather chair, the springs creaked mournfully under her. She rested her arms on the arm rests. She had earned those arm rests. She had earned the black leather that her sweat had soaked into by making sure that things like this never happened. She considered the face looking back at her from the screen.

“Discover what has left her spirit unbroken. Discover a tactic that will silence her and make her settle for whatever we will give her.  Most of all… you will SHUT HER UP. And almost as important, you will have a report on each aspect of this case on my desk in ten business days… or else. Also check into that dead boy’s family and see if they’re still whining to the newspapers about us not paying for their brats funeral.”

“Please, may I go?”

“In a hurt to go screw around by the watercooler, are you?”

“No, I’m in a hurry to secure the bottom line and file reports about the bottom line until we can bury enough things in paperwork so that no one will dare to argue with you or any of our other magnificent lawyers or other specialists ever again,” he attested fervently.

She eyed him up, she wished more than anything for a cigarette. She settled for taking out a second nicotine patch and tore it out of the package, letting the leader from Unit 8 worry while she did so. Worry. It was the sweetest taste in the world. Sweeter than that first breath of a cigarette, sweeter than a vodka martini with lunch, in fact, the only thing sweeter was the smell of desperation.

She savoured his worry, desperation and fear for the future while she wiped off a patch of her neck so that it had enough sweat off of it to put the patch back on, “Go then. Scurry forth and find me answers. If you don’t… I’ll send you up North myself.”

“No! Not up North!”

She relished his despair, “Yes, I’ll send you up North to personally get eyes on the ground, maybe that will clear some of this up.”

“But… it’s cold up there and there are few amenities!” He wailed.

“I have your identification number, get out of here. Do your job for once. And by that, I mean make sure that nothing happens for anyone that could possibly do them any good.”

“Of course, Mistress.”

He crept out, walking backwards, not out of respect but out of fear. MacThreatful was known to throw things at the back of people’s heads for a laugh when she was in a humor. He whimpered when he saw her reach for her Starbucks mug but she only flipped open the top and swiveled her chair back to the screen. He heard her angry slurping as he slunk out the door. It was going to be dogfood for dinner again tonight for Unit 8, they had displeased the gods of IBIC and no one would see pay until a lack of progress was made.

He scampered down the fluorescent lit hallway, the gray industrial carpet muffled the sound of his too-tight shoes. His only hope now was that someone had left something in the break room. Even a Danish with that nasty custard would do. They had to get this resolved fast.

 

Stay Tuned for Chapter 19: Nobody Like IBIC

This is a fanciful and fictional story. Any resemblance to any one living or dead is purely coincidental as is any connection to any corporation, public or private.

Being Derivative and Writing

When I wrote my first kid’s movie I was told: write it like a it’s a Harry Potter knock off. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to make something the same as what had already been done and ride off of someone else’s popularity. I didn’t write it like a Harry Potter knock off. Instead I wrote a kids movie about Nordic magic based off of a short story I had already worked on.

The script was handed over to Hollywood Producers who promptly sent me around 300 pages of notes on what to change; most of them were ways to make it more like a sexy (but still geared for children) Harry Potter movie. I wasn’t happy with the changes and backed away from the film industry but not away from writing.

This is a clear cut case of something that is derivative in design. The thing that I found sad about the order to make a clone was that the Executive Producer had wanted to make a kids movie since long before Harry Potter came out and he had idea of his own that he also stipulated be put in place in the script (I didn’t mind writing those in since it was a made to order piece of writing). Instead of pursuing his own vision or allowing me to pursue mine the result was a series of mangled half measures.

poe-boy

Is it parody or is it fan fiction? Know what you’re doing and you can be as creative as you want… but make sure you know what your own punchline is. 

This had been a conscious choice on behalf of the Producers and it was there to service the bottom line. I get it, making a movie is expensive and certain things have to be taken into account, but I believe that ideas must be strong enough to stand on their own in order to truly be successful. Consciously deciding to model a work and be the next, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, or the next,’Harry Potter’, or the next ‘Hunger Games’, isn’t going to get you very far. It might result in making a few bucks as you ride on the coattails of those that go before you, but is that really the only reason you want to be a writer? Really?

If it is, and I happen to pick up your book, chances are that I’ll probably toss it to the side and never pick it up again. Derivative is boring. Making a conscious, mercenary decision to be derivative is boring and sad.

A more insidious form of being derivative comes in the form of subconscious plagiarism. This is a sneaky one and I’ve learned from reading through slush piles that even if I’m not familiar with a movie/book or most often of all a video game that a plot and characters are hacked from, that these sorts of insertions follow a pattern. I like to believe the best of people and I’m not sure if I’m right or not, but I think that these really are accidental inclusions instead of actual plagiarism. Certainly the writers when asked about it seem shocked and dismayed. The more cynical part of myself wonders how much of that is an act and how much they damn well knew that they didn’t have an original idea and hoped that no one would notice the similarities.

I am generally of the belief that they are subconscious transgressions. Sometimes people even come up with an idea that they haven’t been exposed to before that exists already because there are limited permutations to the human experience and they are bound to overlap.

This is where the matter of being derivative becomes a dicey one. The first two examples, deliberately being derivative and subconsciously or consciously stealing another person’s world/ideas/characters are clearly wrong. I put subconscious theft into the wrong category because I believe that people should be aware enough of what they are doing to realize where their inspirations and influences come from. I also believe that we should respect the boundaries of those inspirations. It’s okay to be inspired, it’s not okay to steal.

But where is the line between inspiration and theft?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. An overheard conversation in a coffee shop can become the basis for an entire novel. Is this theft? No, because the author has taken something out of context and made it their own. A character in a movie can inspire someone to base their own life after virtues or even vices that they admire in that character. In the same way, an author can create a new character that contains elements of what they admire in another’s creation.

The common factor here is that they are making it their own. An example of how not to do this: I was reading a story. It was an interesting premise, I liked it. The style was awkward, the characters were stilted and the whole thing felt surreal and incomplete.

Awkward and stilted didn’t raise any red flags for me but surreal and incomplete did. I put in a few key terms from the story into Google and voila! I got the complete plot outline for the video game ‘Halo’. I also knew that this particular author was an avid video game player and she had mentioned playing Halo to me on several occasions. I myself have never played it. I didn’t know the plot, the premise or the characters but I did know the smell of someone writing in an incomplete world that was not their own.

The story was rejected, of course. I didn’t give the author detailed reasons for why their story was rejected, they got a standard form letter: Thank you very much, blah, blah, blah… Because I didn’t know if they knew how derivative their story was. This person had played Halo for untold hours, had it become so much a part of their internal landscape that they thought it was something of their own design? Is it part of my job to send snarky letters to writers telling them how their idea has already been done?

No. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that is my job for anyone but myself. I have to be aware of my own influences and how closely they border on other people’s creations. That isn’t my own editor’s job to tell me because we are supposed to be adults. Professionals who can see these boundaries for themselves.

Another example of this sort of derivative writing comes from people who watch or read historical fiction and confuse it for reality. A good example of this comes from the sequel to the movie ‘300’. I recently received a query from someone who wanted to write about the life of Artemisia 1 of Caria. The disturbing thing about their query was that their idea of her life was based off of the movie version of her rather than of the actual history of the real life historical figure. History had already drifted with the movie, which often happens. History is a subjective thing to begin with and it’s okay to take a bit of creative license. I find it an affront however, when an author doesn’t do their own research and relies on the research of secondary sources that have already taken liberties. At this point it goes from creative license to deriving a false reality.

If an altered fictional character inspires you I strongly suggest that you create a new character and don’t make aspirations to the idea that what you are doing is historical fiction. People who write historical fiction look at primary sources, they do a great deal of research before they start mucking about in history. Don’t steal that.

Someone or perhaps someones, said that at some point, everything is derivative. It’s true, there are parallels to be found in nearly any ‘original’ idea to other stories or events. The job an author of fiction has is of making those ideas their own. Endless, fading carbon copies, each more smudged and hard to read than the last does not make for good reading.

This is a way to track how derivative you are: sit down and make a list of all the media that you enjoy. Video games, movies, cartoons, songs, books- everything. Write down what inspired you as a child. Write down what frightened you as a child. Write down the same for you now.

Now comes the hard part. Identify what aspects of your inspirations are what truly inspired you. Now look at your own work, how close are the two? What are the essential difference between your creation and your sources of inspiration?

If you can’t find more differences than similarities then you have a derivative piece of writing and you might as well throw it out. Or hide it and rewrite it from scratch. Only save the original to compare how your rewrite changed from your derivative writing. Is it enough?

carry-on-being-stupid

Or don’t ask yourself these questions. Just know, you will be mocked. 

Ask yourself the hard questions about why you took it in the first place. What do you covet about the work you have taken? To my experience it is often because people are too big of fans of what they are writing about. It goes back to that inner landscape and how you ‘grew’ it from the time you were a little child until the time you sat down to write your first pages. This grows deeply psychological. Most people who write from an plagiarized inner landscape feel that those people and worlds are more real than anything else they could come up with. Sometimes they find them more real than the places and people in their real life.

Deep psychoanalysis of your own writing shows you where the gaps are in your logic. It shows you what you don’t want to face and what you obsess with. If you don’t take off the blinders and face your world anyone who reads your writing is going to notice it for you. They are going to point out failures in logic, similarities to other worlds/characters. Sometimes readers can be cruel and find connections to characters or worlds that you might not have even been exposed to. Sometimes it’s okay to have these similarities.

The important thing to take away from it is your own awareness of where your work is derivative and become conscious of when you choose to combine elements of your sources of inspiration. It’s a wonderful thing to be inspired and a dastardly thing to plagiarize and a very thin line that rides between the two.

StarkLight Press Safer Pedestrian Initiative

StarkLight Press

Keeping those who walk on urban streets safe is an important issue for those of us at StarkLight Press.

14894612_677835702384824_1591627698_o This high visibility tape display is available at 7-11 on 8th St. in Dawson Creek.

Following our editor-in-chief’s pedestrian vs. taxicab throwdown last July, we have taken a local step in Dawson Creek, B.C. to try to make sure that sort of traffic accident doesn’t happen to anyone else.

We have donated sticky reflective tape strips (and safety pins, if one doesn’t favor attaching it with adhesive to their clothing) to local businesses that are open late and all night. As much as we’d like to StarkLight Press cannot hold the drivers who cause mayhem on city streets accountable… but we can try to keep pedestrians safer through visibility.

While we thoroughly recommend that everyone carry a high-visibility safety vest to use when they walk, or at least wrist and ankle…

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