WE ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE

I have always been interested in why it is that we like to see obscure, strange, and often grotesque images. Think about it. Have you ever seen a picture (or video) in which you had a strong guttural reaction to look away, but at the same time felt you had to keep looking? I mean, there is a cliché aspect to it when people say “I couldn’t look away,” but that was born out of something very real.

I have never been a big believer in any reality to mythology, but the stories are something that I have always found to be entertaining. Cyclopes’, gods, frost giants…they all add this sense of awe and wonder to an otherwise kind of boring life. I mean, think of all the times you have sat in front of a movie screen, and watched an action-type movie. Or a horror movie. Horror movies are a great example of something that gets the blood flowing (pun intended). I just watched the original “Stephen King’s It” this weekend, and Tim Curry as Pennywise was really quite a show. I mean, the movie has a real…cheesy 80’s vibe to it nowadays (which I guess it technically a 90’s vibe, since it released in 1990, but still). There is a reason “It” is getting a remake, and that’s because the unknown and the unreal is entertaining! And it looks SO SCARY in the trailer (which, if you somehow haven’t seen yet, you should go click that link and do).

Of course, if we’re not careful, I’ll derail this conversation into a movie critique post (though if you would want me to do that sometime in the future, let me know. I’m down for anything), since that is what we love about It. Not the plot twist at the very end about how its all a…oh wait some of you may not have seen it. But we love Pennywise. The creepy clown that fuels our adrenaline (and our nightmares). Back in the day, that was why people told scary stories around the campfire, or snuck up on unsuspecting friends to give them a frighten. It makes people feel alive to have their heart racing and their breath caught at the back of their throat. Not just lounging around, listening to repeated Louis C.K. albums all afternoon and evening (which I may or may not have done a few times before). And sure, maybe too much of that would cause a heart attack or something, but every once in a while is good for you. Exercise those reflexes, get used to the adrenaline rush, and maybe you’ll float too. 😉

What do you think? Do you like that rush of adrenaline? Is it something we should avoid? Let me know!

——

 

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LOVE POEM #41 – THE STORY OF ALEXIA

When electricity made love rigid,

And enslaved men in their lusty livings,

The world itself seemed to grow frigid,

As nature was filled with such misgivings.

 

Time itself had grown old, aged, and weary;

The bolts of Zeus no longer cracked the sky;

Hades realm had been filled entirely,

And Poseidon’s sea kingdom had gone dry.

 

The great Zephyrus had breathed his last breath,

And Boreas ruled in the winter lands.

It seemed to me Eros had met his death,

And Aphrodite raped by evils hands.

 

But then came the spark, that flash of hot red,

That burned away the technology,

And we watched as the wicked turned and fled

Like a lost story in mythology.

 

They called her Rekka; Fira; Hestia,

And all sorts of other fiery names,

But by birth her name was Alexia

And the real fire was in her brains.

 

She found the fuel to burn down the kings,

Who had slaughtered the people she loved most.

And her vengeance gave revolution wings

Till the fire had spread from coast to coast.

 

And I tell you this tale so you know

That true love can defeat the greatest foe.

——

 

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NATURE’S FURY

I saw a single blooming flower on the tree. Against the dense, green foliage riddled with long, thick leaves, the delicate white of the flower stood out like the first star in the night sky. The flower itself was enormous—nearly the size of a cantaloupe, with majestic petals, curling their way out to greet the sunlight. Yet it had not completely unfolded into its maturity. The purity of the original bulb shape was still perceptible to the attentive eye.

I saw this lone flower blooming, and knew I had to have it. It was off the ground, out of my reach, and the tree appeared to be an arduous climb. But the craving in my gut pulled me up to the task. I moved to the base of the trunk. The bark of the tree was rough and protective, like a father. It was also quite sturdy, and as my nimble fingers curved themselves into nooks and crannies, I found that the shoulder like branches of the tree were stronger than I had initially expected. I darted up, from branch to branch, with such rhythm that I felt like Tarzan himself.

The last few branches were the most perilous. Near the top of the tree, the branches thinned and swayed, and beneath my weight a few began to snap. I glanced as they fell away, while my arms grabbed for new holds on the tree. Eventually though, I found my way to the flower. She was beautiful, pure, and perfect. There was no flower quite like it—no flower that I had battled so valiantly for. I knew she would love me as I loved her. My hands, trembling, reached out and cupped the base, where she connected with the tree, and carefully plucked her away.

The whole tree seemed to shake for a moment, and the flower quivered, curling slightly back in on herself. Then everything was still. The descent was much easier, fortunately, and I carefully shielded my flower from the stray branches and leaves as I passed through them. They felt like tiny hands, pulling, scratching, and seizing my clothes. I shook them away as I moved. I reached the ground, and broke into a great, boyish smile. I took the flower home; watered it, and gave it sunlight.

But would you believe how she repaid me? The bitch wilted, unbloomed, before my very eyes. The vibrant pure white, which seemed to cleft through the surrounding, faded into a smoky fog, and then further into a dead, blackened husk. Every morning, I awoke, and saw her with disgust. Such beauty; why couldn’t she have been mine? And yet, I felt in the pit of my stomach something more terrifying, though I had no idea as to what it was.

Until, of course, the dried petals finally began to fall. Then, I was shocked, to hear the roar of the forest, like thunder, calling to me. The great tree, which had grown since I had stolen her from it, had taken up its roots and marched on my home. All my structures—the walls, the roof, and the floors—were ripped apart by this incarnation. The wrath of Nature itself stood on my doorstep. Roots and vines tore it apart, until I stood, naked, before the behemoth himself. The vines snapped and slithered around me, wrapping around my arms and legs, and I was pulled into the air.

I hung there, limp, for what seemed like an eternity, while the vines snaked around my neck. Then they paused, and a vine lifted my chin. Before my eyes, he held her. She looked solemn, limp, and peaceful, but utterly dead nonetheless. In a rush of pain, I felt both my legs snap. I cried out, but there was no help for me.

Then, it all stopped. I was dropped on the ground with a thud, and the tree went away. My legs sprawled lifelessly beneath me, but I had been shown mercy. My watered eyes looked out around me, and I saw the tree disappear behind the hills. I slumped to sleep, as my eyes grew more and more blurry, and as they shuttered closed, I saw a single, pure white petal, before me. Mocking me.

——

 

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A LETTER FROM MY FORMER SELF

I received a letter from myself the other day. My high school biology teacher had my entire class write a letter to ourselves for our last assignment as seniors back then, which she then mailed out during these last few weeks of college (Yay! I’m graduating). Reading (or I guess technically rereading) that letter left me with a lot of mixed feelings. At the time I wrote it, I didn’t really know where life was taking me. I knew I was going to Cal Poly Pomona, though it was not my first choice of schools, and I knew I was in love with my (now ex) girlfriend. That was about it. I didn’t know I was going to be interested in writing. I didn’t know I would be working two jobs. I didn’t know that the grass really is greener from a distance than it is up close.

But all that aside, here we are today. I once again have no idea where I am going, or what I am doing. In some ways I have even less of a grasp on reality than I did then. Yet I know a lot more today than I did four years ago. I find it curious that, for all this reminiscing, the problems of my life are completely different. In that letter, I wrote about my love interest, my issues with my relationships, and my certainty of my own greatness. Today, I would write about the monotony of daily activities, the debilitating incapability that my generation faces, and the omnipresent desire (and impossibility) of being an individual in an ever-growing social world.

I recently watched an interview with Morgan Freeman, where he was asked if race plays a role in succeeding in one’s dreams in the present. He said no, which I found interesting, because in a way he is correct. It is true that, if you really try hard enough, eventually something is going to work. But at the same time, I’ve been at this blogging thing for a year, and I have only found minor success. Of course, I am a straight, white male. But to say race has no role in success is a bit unfair, don’t you agree? I mean, he said “we are proof” that race is not a major role player, which to me seems a little short sighted. There are only so many roles in Hollywood available, much like how there are only so many spaces available on a basketball team. To say someone can be a part of that miniscule percent of successful black actors “if they try hard enough” seems like a bit of a load to me. We can’t have 3 billion fulltime actors. It simply wouldn’t be sustainable. We would starve to death.

But success does seem like it is within all of our grasps if we can redefine success for ourselves. Perhaps success isn’t being famous, or accruing a fortune, but instead perhaps it is simply being happy with life. And while for many of us, that seems like it isn’t somewhere we are at currently, it is somewhere that we can strive to get to. Ok. Hopefully this somewhat sappy story has helped you in some way (I’m sure it has been a nice form of therapy for me somehow). Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

——

 

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QUALITY ON THE ROAD

OK, so today I’m going to talk about Quality a bit. If you didn’t hear, Robert M. Pirsig, the author of one of my favorite books, died yesterday. His book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, has been one of the most inspiring books for me as a human being, and I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already read it.

But to honor Pirsig’s classic book-and really his struggle in general, I wanted to talk about Quality for my discussion today. Since readers my not have read his book, I’ll do a quick overview of the concept. Quality is something we all know, but also have trouble defining. When someone says “that’s a real quality piece of artwork” we know what they mean, but if we try to go much further than that, things get fuzzy. Sure, it might be the colors, it might be the style, or it might be the references within the artwork itself that make it quality work. Or maybe it’s the story the picture tells; or maybe it’s all of these things put together. But if you go searching, there’s no doubt that someone out there will find the painting disagreeable. Thus, quality is entirely up to opinion, and so defining it becomes something nearly impossible. Simply saying that “quality is quality” isn’t nearly satisfying for our human minds, but that’s pretty much what it is.

Pirsig gets into talking about how quality could be seen as goodness, and the level of how “good” something is (good as in well done, rather than good as in positive). But sometimes something is a quality piece of work because it is not “good.” Think of something by Jackson Polluck, or Picasso. Definitely not necessarily “good” work by the “quality standards” that had been set prior to them, but still clearly quality artwork was produced by them. They revolutionized aspects of art entirely. Lets go even further, and look at children’s paintings. Are they quality pieces of work? Why and/or why not? Because they don’t make it to the hallways of an art exhibit?

These are the kinds of questions that Pirsig asked in his books, on a much more massive scale. He went against the grain in a time where going against the grain could and often did lead to electro-shock “therapy,” and in doing so, he revolutionized an entire generation of thought. Which is wonderful! What do you think? Have you even heard of him? Is quality so obscure? Let me know your thoughts!

——

 

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LEADEN FISTS

Time seemed to stop

As my arms turned to lead.

 

It started with the nails,

Little slats that faded

Blue to purple to black.

 

Then it crept into my fingers.

It seeped along the cracks

In my rusted skin

Till it had covered

Every inch of my hands.

 

It looked beautiful,

Like a spider’s web

Glistening in the morning sun.

A fitting comparison,

For like a spider

It trapped me.

 

The blood in my fingers slowed,

And my hands were colored sickly.

My knuckles locked; curled,

Like I had been consumed

By fear.

The web of patterns

Along my hands

Darkened,

Like a pure bowl of water

Tainted with a splash of black paint.

 

By the time it traveled down my wrists

It was too late to stop.

I watched, horror struck,

As it crawled up my forearms.

Like some primeval force,

Hell bent on my destruction.

 

My heart raced,

Like a gazelle caught between two lions.

But as it crossed my elbows,

It slowed

And stopped.

A stiffness consumed me,

And it hardened inside me.

I could feel every bone,

Every blood vessel,

Every ligament and tendon

Turn to stone.

Then my hands were silent,

Empty,

Dead.

 

Tears poured from my eyes,

Onto the solid rock of my hands,

Yet their cool, salty dew

Went unfelt on my new arms.

They pulled me to my knees—

As the predator pulls its prey to the ground,

Hungry for another kill.

 

I hung there for longer than I know,

Limp; filled with pity.

Till finally I stood.

My body ached,

And felt ten times its weight.

The arms felt foreign,

As the swung lifelessly about.

Yet still, I walked on.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #35 – THE PALE MOON RISE

The sick stench of rot

Permeates from my soul,

Like the spilled glass of juice

Across the tiles this morning.

It seeps into every crevasse,

Every wooden frame,

Until it’s made a home in my life.

 

Of course, life isn’t always this way.

There are sunny days;

Laughing friends;

Happy thoughts.

 

But come the pale moon rise,

I’ll find myself shielded

Inside my room.

My fortress of solitude,

Impregnable,

But lonely.

 

Is it really a surprise

That my sheets are stained

With the faded remnants of blood;

Grown so old

That they look like the brown sores

From a festering spider bite?

 

And the knife hangs

From my desk table,

As a reminder of my sins;

Past,

And future.

 

The quiet piano music,

Sullen and defiant,

Reminds me there’s so much to live for,

Yet I cannot grasp it.

 

I sit there. Empty

Like a void,

Silent, quiet, and irrelevant.

 

And I just

And I just

And I just…

 

I just don’t want to be alone.

 

Not again,

Not anymore.

The ruthless onslaught

Of the rain’s downpour

Hammers my heart

Into the ground,

But I know

She’ll never come around.

——

 

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A YEAR IN THE BOOKS

Hello everyone,

 

Today is a good Tuesday for a discussion. It’s cold out, I’m at work on spring break…just a perfect day. Wait…that’s not perfect at all! Then again, nothing can really put a damper on my mood today, because today we (I?) are celebrating one year of blogging! Technically, cassadyblog turns one year old on this coming Thursday, March twenty-third, but as discussions are on Tuesdays, it seemed most appropriate to put this “year in review” segment today.

As you may or may not have noticed, I started out writing this blog pretty exclusively as a discussion of my ideas. I’ve talked a decent amount on just about everything—politics, gender, race, global warming…the list goes on. But then things took an interesting turn as I started trying some creative writing here and there. I realized I adored it—specifically, I really liked poetry. It called to me. The rhythm was like a siren calling out to a sailor—beautiful and irresistible.

Likewise, writing short snippets of stories is something I took up after a few attempts at it. I realized that writing short stories was something that let me focus on really getting into the nitty-gritty detail of things—which is something that sonnets and such often are forced to leave a bit more broad. I mean, how does one fit the details of scenery, complexities of dialogue, and development of character into one-hundred forty syllables? It’s pretty hard—I mean, isn’t that why Shakespeare wrote plays too?

Anyways, I wanted to do a couple things with this post. First of all, I wanted to thank all of you for reading. I had a friend recently check out what I had written, and she was kind enough to tell me how much she liked it. I don’t write for people—I do it because I enjoy it. That being said, I can’t pretend like there haven’t been days where I wanted to bail entirely. There are always doubts, misgivings, and fears about a project, but the happiness, the smiles, and the support are all things that have kept me going when I’ve felt like quitting. So thank you.

The second thing I wanted to do with this post was provide a list of my top 5 pieces of work for the past year. I know, based on WordPress statistics, what everyone likes most of my work, but none of you know the works that I have liked the most. With that in mind, here is a list (with links) to my top 5 favorite works from this past year of writing (and of course, I ranked them because who doesn’t love ranking things?):

 

#5 – Views from the Coop

 

This is one of a few haikus I wrote, and has been followed by several after it that I’ve enjoyed very much. But somehow, relating chickens to people is something that I have found an everlasting appreciation for, ever since I wrote it.

 

#4 – Stand Up Citizen

 

This was the poem that actually sparked my desire to continue writing poetry. It was the third original poem I posted on my blog, but the first born from personal experience and real, current emotions. I can still see myself, on the rooftops of L.A., sitting and waiting in disbelief and anger. In retrospect it’s a little…well, it could be better, and, like my emotions at the time, it’s a little rough around the edges, but I like it just the same.

 

#3 – An Eternity in an Instant

 

Similar to Stand Up Citizen, this was one of the first short stories I wrote. After a thought experiment of smiling at everyone I saw, I recognized that the people that smiled back were often people I would never see again, and that moment between us was so meaningful, yet completely intangible. It has been a memorable experience for me in my writing, despite how short it was.

 

#2 – A Stroke of Red Ink

 

I have a soft spot for haikus alright?! Though this is a poem made up of several. I think A Stroke of Red Ink is probably the most interesting poem I have written so far. It has aspects of cultural differences with both the language difference in some actual French words, and the abuse of the black girl (and the character’s inability to help her). It has powerful imagery with the lake of red ink swallowing the dreamer, and it has allusions to other aspects of literature—all of which is juxtaposed with a certain irony.

 

#1 – Camouflage

 

Do you ever unintentionally make a rhyme, and it sticks with you for…like months? That’s what the last two lines of this poem have been for me. I’ll be standing in the shower, or walking through the halls, and BOOM “why is it that you / Hide behind that suit of red, white, and blue?” hits me like a bullet. I wrote it in December, after the results of the election had finally sunk in, and the hypocrisies of various nationalistic characters began to show their ugly faces. The “I Want You” poster kept popping into my mind, and I decided to write a poem applying that image to our current political climate.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Where would I be without a myriad of honorable mentions? Many of these I think about regularly—things I could have done better, turning points in my life, and so on. I encourage you to check them all out, though if you have read this far, I’m sure there is no need for me to tell you that.

 

A Choice

Tweedle-Dee-Do

Off Ramps

Chapters

I Wrote You a Poem

The Morning After

Visitors of the Mind

Train Stop

Harnessed Lightning

Connecting Hillary’s Two Faces

——

 

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THE FLIGHT OF THE SKYFISH

Now, we find the skyfish has taken hold.

His once clouded scales have come alive

In a shimmering rainbow, bright and bold,

And he swims in the sky for all to see.

 

I watch as all the voices around me

Light up like they had just seen a lover.

There are festivals for miles to see

Each with their own, new, succulent delights,

And the children run with their skyfish kites.

I wonder how many have read my books?

Has the pen been overcome by websites,

Who stole His words and used them as their own?

 

For this is not the world I was shown.

He gave me words to make the truth shine through—

To bring eyes to the magic paths He’d flown

Yet in the stead of my books I see blogs.

No one reads the words I’d carefully logged.

Still, I hear His voice calling out to me,

Over the screeches of the demagogues,

Like the low hum of thunder on the wind.

 

He flies out to find all those who have sinned,

To drown the ranks of rot and filth and lust.

He purges their ranks until they have binned

The infectious bacteria of life.

A man proclaims love to his brand new wife

But his eyes drift to his secretary.

She, herself, took an oath against the knife

To join her blood in with His covenant.

Though we see the truth that has come of it:

That the weakness of man poisons His sea.

 

Yet still He calls to me from the big blue;

I wonder if pride has blinded Him too?

——

 

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SPEECHLESS

I awoke in the middle of the night with my throat burning. The pins in at the back of my throat were nearly as uncomfortable as the hot breath that exhumed from my mouth. It tasted like a corpse. I rose and found my way to the sink, splashed some water on my face. I cupped my hand beneath the running water, and used it as a makeshift glass. The soft, cool sips of water provided a short respite from the fire in my throat, but it was quickly overwhelmed. Exasperated, I opened my mouth to chastise my image in the mirror, but as I finished drawing a breath in, I found myself unable to speak. It was as if the words had been caught behind the layer of spikes, each word popping like a balloon before it could fly from my mouth.

Panic welled up inside my throat. My eyes bulged as I struggled to articulate the slightest of noises. I turned away from the mirror to look at the bathtub. This must be a dream, I thought, Or rather, a nightmare. I gagged on the unseen forces. My hands trembled, and my chest heaved. My vision blurred. The strength of my body failed, and I tumbled to the floor.

When I awoke again, the room was still dark. I had been returned to my bed, though my memory of this was gone. My throat no longer burned, yet I still could not speak. It was as if the heat had consumed my power to speak. The room was eerily silent. I rose, and the once creaky floor of the room bore no noise. I flicked the light of the bathroom on. Strange. Who turned out the light? The words echoed in the cavern of my mind. I turned the water on, then froze as I realized I could not hear the water running. I flicked the light switch back and forth. There was no noise. I felt the heaving setting in again.

My ears began to burn. I looked in the mirror and saw them turning crimson, like the color my boss turned the more he yelled. I turned to the bath, and threw the water on. A silent rush flooded out, filling the tub. I thrust my head under the stream of water, not bothering to wait for it to fill. As with the sips of water I took earlier, it provided a brief moment of freedom, but eventually even the water could not contain the pain. In a rage, my body whirled about wildly. I had been overcome by instinct—the instinct to free oneself from pain. I saw my image in the mirror. My ears had grown redder than I could have possibly imagined. I turned to the towel rack by the toilet, and tore it from the wall. My eyes filled with rage at my own image, and I swung the towel rack at it. The mirror splintered, cracks lining it’s being, before exploding into hundreds of thousands of pieces. It was all in silence. I felt my body growing weak again, like before. I scampered toward my bed, ignoring the glass on the floor as it dug into my feet, but just as I reached the doorway to the room, my legs dissolved from under me. I pulled at the rug with my hands, inching my way toward the bed, but they, too, grew weak. My vision turned weary again, and I was out.

Again I awoke in darkness. It was so black I could not see even the sheets before me. I rose, and stumbled again toward the bathroom, feeling the walls for assistance. As I found the doorway, it crossed my mind that the glass was likely still on the floor. I turned away from the bathroom, and instead felt my way to the door to the rest of my home. I found the doorknob, but found the door inoperable. I was trapped. I tried to control myself. Why was it so dark? My eyes should have adjusted by now. I paused. I was afraid. They had taken my voice, they had taken my hearing, were they now, too, about to take my sight? I walked to the lamp that stood by my bedside, and hesitantly felt for the chain. I pulled the chain, no doubt flooding the room with light. But my vision remained dark. I felt for the light bulb. Were the electricity out, it would remain cool. I placed my hand on it, and found it warm. My heart sunk. Why is this happening to me? I thought. Tears fell from my face, and I brushed them away. I crawled into my bed, awaiting the pain that I had come to know so well, but instead, I merely felt myself lose my strength again, and my consciousness faded.

——

 

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