TRACING (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Pairs

I see in their eyes

the starlight after midnight

twinkling shyly.

 

Star Gazing

I lie in the dark

on a still blanket of grass

gazing at Venus.

 

Midnight Noises

The rustling night

entices my frightened dog

with howls far away.

 

Tracing

Slowly, I trace you

against the canvas of sheets

under the shadows.

 

Mirrored Sunrise

I witnessed the dawn

as a sunset upside-down

when you were with me.

——

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DIVING BOARD (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Window Thoughts

Staring through the pane

to see a magical world

beyond the sunset.

 

Christmas Town

Carols and cocoa

waft over the merry streets

while children go by.

 

Goodbye Balloon

Goodbye my red friend.

I found you on a park bench

trying to fly free.

 

Growth

Towering above

is the bud we planted, back

when I could still see.

 

Diving Board

Close your eyes, breathe in,

open your arms to the sky,

and savor the fall.

——

 

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DEPARTURE

I was out on a walk through the city when my mind shifted between the membranes of existence. I had been looking at the crowds, breathing the air—both the fresh and the foul—and letting the tail ends of the trees brush through my fingers, just like any other person. Then, I was outside myself, looking down on everything else. Not as a god, but a hopeless observer. My body was still moving below; still enjoying the views and smiling at passers by, and I could feel it’s every movement and ache within myself. But my eyes had left this world. I was out over the clouds, looking down at my own personal globe of reality.

I turned the vision, and saw the whole mass of people on earth. For months, I followed them around, growing further and further from my body each day. It wasn’t long before I lost connection to it altogether, and had to track it down myself, instead of just feeling its movements. By that time, I was beginning to grow bored with my new world. Being an observer is hard.

The people below don’t even think about what they are doing. They go about their days, listening to iPods, working mindlessly, and ignoring nearly everyone else. Many of these people go home, look up to the sky, and hope for something to change, but never take the first step to do so. The more they talked, the less I listened. They weren’t all like this, some brave souls tried to explain the problems to the youth, but too often it was too late for them too. Eventually, I found myself more interested in the flowers and the trees than people.

I could follow the roots, below the ground, and watch as they sucked the water from the dirt. I could track the petals as the fluttered through the sky. I would try to console the wilting plants, neglected by their owners, before they washed away into the earth and became part of the collective again, but the truth is they never heard me. I could dive down with the fishes, and see in the dark. The bottom of the ocean is more quiet than the biggest caves. The creatures down there don’t move so fast. They drift, like wood on the surface, wherever the unseen current would take them.

I could even slip between the rocks, and watch the long conversations they had. One day, while I was listening to them, I felt a tug at my soul. First it was light, like a child pulling blankets in the night, but then it began to pull harder, and I felt myself flying through the world. Faster and faster, until I couldn’t even see where we were going. I tried to dig in, to grasp at my globe, but the force pulled me along. Then, as quickly as it started, it all stopped again. I awoke with a start, in my bed, as if from a nightmare. It was dark in my room. I moved to the doorway without even thinking, and flicked the light switch. I was home again. I was back in my body. My heart began to race. I didn’t want to go back. It was so boring here. I climbed back into bed, hoping to escape in the sanctuary of dreams, and fell asleep.

——

 

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CAR TALK

“Do you ever look at the wolves and wonder how they got those shaggy gray coats?” I said to my friend as we looked out the car window. There was a pair of wolves pacing by not three hundred feet away.

“Do you ever wonder if you could shut the fuck up?” He took another huff from the piece and passed it back to me. We had been sitting in the smoky haze of the car for a good hour, blazing out of our minds. I took the piece and the lighter in hand, fumbling to get it going. When I finally did, I inhaled deeply. The smoke filled my lungs. I held it there for a minute, like a dragon holding fire in its chest, before exhaling. The world was already growing fuzzy around the edges—possibly from the fatigue. I had been up all day, out in the sun.

“But really,” I coughed out, “look at how those two walk together. They’ve probably known each other their whole life.”

“Yeah, I’ve known you my whole life, what’s your point?”

“Well just that, like, they seem to walk without worrying. We never get to do that. Even here, if some police came knocking on our windows, we’d be in a bit of a mess.”

“Shut the fuck up, you’re gonna ruin my high,” he said, then followed up with laughter, “do you think maybe they snuck away from their pack to do drugs, like us?”

“What, like they see some mushroom out with the pack earlier in the day, then double back to go eat them and howl at the moon at night?” I grinned back at him, “More likely they’re a couple teens sneaking off for a romp in the woods.”

He turned to look at me with mock seriousness on his face. “Wolves are always in the woods. How can they sneak off?”

“That’s fair. Alright, so maybe that was mistress wolf, and she’s stolen away at midnight to go cheat on her husband.”

“Was it a boy and a girl? I didn’t get a good look at them before they disappeared” He asked, looking back out at the trees in the vain hopes that he might be able to catch a glimpse.

“I dunno dude, I’m just making conversation.” I said, shrugging.

“How come you and conversation never leave me alone while I’m enjoying my drugs?” He quickly reclined his chair and closed his eyes. He meant it as a joke, but I took the point that we should take a pause. It was getting quite late, and he was just as tired as I was, if not more.

We sat in the silence for a few minutes, listening to the world outside and wobbling in our seats, until eventually he rocked himself back to an upright position, and started the car. He pulled away, and we drove home in silence.

——

 

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DREAM LOOP

Today’s dream (or rather, last night’s dream) plays with something of normalcy, which is something that seems to occur regularly in my dreams, which is perhaps why I’ve struggled to remember them for so many years. Here it is:

 

I woke up, for the first time, or perhaps the millionth, gasping for breath. My room was dark, but the beam of light peaking out between my window curtains signaled to me that it was well into the morning. I took a brief look around, when suddenly the door burst in and my father was there, spewing some nonsense about getting out of bed and doing my chores. I couldn’t really make it out, but his tone of voice was clear enough. I sprung to my feet, threw a pair of shorts on, pulled a shirt over my head and walked through the door…

…then sat up gasping for breath again, again, for what felt like the first time, but may have been the millionth. At the time, I had no memory of what happened prior, just as many fail to remember their dreams moments after waking. This time there was a scratching at the door, likely from one of our cats. They would occasionally scratch, asking for food—or occasionally freedom. I opened the door, and saw Twilight, our black cat, staring up at me with great green eyes. I walked her to the door to let her out front, the pitter-patter of her feet were as light as snowflakes falling. I twisted the nob, watched her exit, then figured I’d grab myself a quick bite to break my fast. I took two quick steps to the fridge, opened the door

and again was gasping for air in my bed.

 

But this was where the dream ended. My eyes opened, and the world felt that slight twinge of real that distinguishes it from even the most vivid dreams. What does it mean? I don’t really know. I could be, very obviously, that my life is literally on repeat. Day in and day out things are too similar to really be distinguished. The repetition of gasping could very well be indicative of choking, as if I am dying by doing this. Or, it could mean nothing, and this is just some weird thing my brain decided to project, and I just happened to remember it. Who knows? Let me know what dreams you’ve had that stood out to you in the comments below!

 

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BARN FIRE DREAMS

For the past while I have been recording my dreams, either in a mental log or on actual paper, and you may have notice I’ve been talking about dreams a lot over the past few weeks. That’s because I wanted to change up my Tuesday slot, because I’m struggling more and more not to be redundant with my concepts. I mean, you can skin a cat multiple ways…but at the end of it, all you’ve done is a bunch of skin cats. And it really isn’t in my interest to have people saying something like “Yeah I get it” when I talk about my ideas. So, instead, let me describe a short dream to you that I had the other day:

 

The world began with the light from a rotting wooden roof. Sunbeams looked down on me from the rectangular holes of missing roof tiles, and the interior of the barn had grown over with moss and various other plants. But the hay was still comfortable—at least, as I realized my arm was trapped beneath a woman, it had been for the half the night we had slept. I didn’t know her name, but she look familiar, like the friend of a friend. As I rubbed my eyes and rose, stumbling, I saw that the place really was run down. The walls looked like they might give out any time, and the color of the wood was so grey with rot that it scarcely looked a color at all.

And then I was outside, almost more suddenly than my mind could keep pace with. The air was fresh like the morning after a heavy rain, though the ground gave no hint that there had been so much as a drop recently. There were a great many trees around us, though there were other small cabins mixed in as well. It looked like a world stuck out of time to my mind’s eye, yet my body felt perfectly at home.

Until, of course, a young woman rounded the corner and ran up to me. Her hair was a vibrant red, and when she approached me it was clear she had been running for a great long while.

“Fire,” She gasped, pointing back the way she came, “help.” Without a moment’s hesitation, we were off running again. I can’t say how long we ran for, nor how I got my hands on a massive hose, but there we were, spraying down the side of another barn. Everything was going according to plan, until the faint cries of “help” rose up through the barn window, and we realized someone was inside. I handed the youth the hose, and ran toward the half open door. The heat inside singed my face, but I continued inward. It was as though the world itself had been immersed in flame. The Earth, the walls, and the roof all burned heavily. Even the faint view of the light seen from the shattered window in the loft looked redder than it had outside.

I looked around, and saw a pair of children standing at the center of the room, paralyzed with fear. It looked like they had found the only place without fire, though the circle around them was growing ever smaller. There was no way to get to them, save through the flames. Somehow, I found an area where the fire was less fierce, and took a few quick steps across the flames to them. I scooped them up in my arms, then looked for the door. In all the movement I had lost my bearings. It seemed so much farther than before.

Wood crashed around us as the roof began to shatter, shooting sparks through the air. The flames fed on the fallen wood like wolves on their prey, and grew all the fiercer. There would be no making it back to the door the way I had came. I looked around for another way to cross, but there was none. The flames crept closer, so close the children had to huddle against me tight. My mind raced, until it came to me that I’d have to toss them. They might break an arm in the landing, but it was better than being burned alive.

I did it one at a time. The boy went through first. His body soared over the tips of the flames, which in that moment looked more like the finger of Hell. He crashed through the door, rolling a few times before struggling to his feet. The girl was next. She was heavier than he was, and the tips of her skirt caught fire as she passed over the wall before us, but in landing she rolled and they were put out. The wall of fire screamed before me, enraged I had taken it’s prey from it. There was a huge crack, and I saw the ceiling finally give way. Then everything went dark.

 

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A JOB WELL ENJOYED

Hello there!

I haven’t talked directly with my readers in a while, and speaking that I am writing this 16 minutes before it is supposed to go up, and I had no idea what to talk about, today seems like a good day to do that. And it is a great day to be talking directly with you all. We (mainly my father and I) just finished the major portion of our front yard redesign.

Which makes me want to talk about work from a personal perspective. While I was watering the grass we put in today, I was thinking about how a botanist (probably) loves plants, but may not actually enjoy the tedious aspects of the job; like cutting the rectangular grass so that it matches the rounded edges of the space in which it is being placed. Or maybe doing the mathematics to make sure you don’t over order grass.

Similarly, a teacher may love teaching, but in the remodeling of their room, they may find that it is less than enjoyable. I mean, there is a reason people look down on the mundane jobs of the world, like janitors, trash collectors, and day laborers. Their jobs have no room for passion really. They have little control, and the work they do is always terrible (not the quality of the work they do, but the requirements put on them).

Which is to say that our default nature is that we don’t inherently enjoy the mundane tasks of life. Which I guess is obvious, but at the same time, people talk about making the best of things. How do you make the best of something that you are programed not to like?

I honestly don’t know the answer, but I thought it would be an interesting question to pose. Let me know what you think!

 

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USC PUBLISHING WORKSHOP!

Oy vey! It’s been a long Monday (Monday? Cassady it’s Tuesday. And it’s only 3:00 PM). Shut up I’m sleepy (just kidding I love you). I’m writing this on Monday at roughly 9:00 PM, since it appears that I have a few hours every night to myself, which means I should HOPEFULLY be able to keep up the blog. Though we are expected to be starting various projects for the workshop I am at (oh yeah, I’m at a publishing workshop at USC right now, hosted by the LARB), so it is quite possible that I will be busy with that at some point. Regardless, I am settling in well, though I do have some stories to tell you. We had two speakers today (yesterday), one was Richard Nash, who is a famous entrepreneur, and the other was Henry Jenkins, who has done quite a lot of work in the various multimedia industries (you can click on their names to learn a bit more about them and their work). Both talked about a lot of interesting things, which I might share at some point, but it is a lot to talk about in this short period of time that we have.

What I found interesting was the stark difference between the two speakers. Nash, who started our day off (after a long three hour introduction to the workshop), was lively and upbeat. He had a PowerPoint that was not your general “oh cool, another PowerPoint,” but rather a meaningful addition to his presentation. He spoke with charisma, and carried that general “TED talk” kind of air about him. In some ways, it felt more like a performance than just a presentation. To contrast this, Jenkins spoke really quietly and deliberately. Every…word…carried…some…heavy…weight…on…it’s…shoulders. Though he didn’t speak slowly, necessarily. It just felt like he was trying to slug through a dense forest, where Nash seemed to be surfing a clear wave.

That being said, both speakers were very intelligent in their areas. At first, I thought Nash was the more interesting of the two, but the more I think about it the more I come back to the ideas Jenkins brought up and find myself wondering.

OK, secondary side tangent, much less related to my academic experience. I am staying in the USC dorms, and they are quite nice. But it is four people split between two rooms, and somehow all three of my roommates (housemates?) are women. Not that I have a problem with it. It just seemed a little bit odd to me that the planners would do that. Then again, I think there are only something like 9 or 10 males out of the 55 people attending, so it’s possible I am just the odd man out. Does it seem weird to you? I certainly like my roommates, and fortunately I believe I am a genuinely respectful guy…but they couldn’t know that for sure.

Regardless, I am having a wonderful time at USC, and the campus is lovely. Look forward to haikus tomorrow!

——

 

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GREETINGS TO THE SUN

Water trickled down through Stephen’s short brown hair. He could feel the droplets twisting and turning through the maze of his hairline, before eventually finding their way to his forehead. The soft, refreshing air chilled the water as it danced along his face, carefully falling between the groove of his nose and his right eye. He could feel everything around him. The wind brushed through the grass, humming its afternoon greeting, while the leaves of the trees turned about on their descent to the ground; even the roaring of the river in the distance, where the trickle of water had branched off of, could be faintly heard.

Many mornings went like this for Stephen. He would wake early, and spend the early part of the day staring out into space, until the world around him seemed to morph into something that was outside of the usual. His imagination became a guiding force for his mind, and eventually those quiet hums would turn into an opera of music, and the trickle of water would become the medicine beyond human creation. The massive fields of grass before him would spin before him, faster and faster until suddenly everything became a wild green color, and distance and time seemed to flow as one together.

Today, Stephen was focused on the sun. At first, his eyes had burned with pain, but as the water coated him, he felt cooled. He had closed his eyes, yet behind his eyelids he kept careful track of where the sun was. The supreme being road his chariot across the sky, and the more he focused on it, the more Stephen could make out the hooves beating against the unseen road. They galloped through the sky with vigor, and he could hear their breath heaving in and out as the pulled faster.

Eventually, as he focused, he could hear the breath of a man along with them. He sounded like purity itself. His breath was like a long drink of water after a trip through the desert, or the first drops of dew falling from a crisp spring morning. Stephen felt his own body relax at the sound. Then, unexpectedly, his concentration broke as he heard a voice.

“We have a visitor,” a voice more sweet and light than honey called out to him. Stephen’s eyes snapped open. Only he was not seeing through his eyes anymore. It was like his body had fled, and he was looking through the sky itself

“Hello,” the voice said with a calm strength, “it has been far too long since I was given the chance to speak to anyone. Who might you be?” Stephen felt his voice catch in his throat.

“Ah, unable to speak, is it? Not many get the chance to meet me anymore. Not many look hard enough. Look around you.” The great man had been shielded by light, but the outward gesture of his arm was clear enough. Stephen turned, and saw the world from a different perspective then.

It was so small, so tiny, and yet unending in its size. Through the clouds he saw the trees, the river, and even the tops of the cold mountains. They all looked so small; so beautiful.

“It has been a long time since someone saw the world as you see it now. Perhaps you can learn from it. It seems like such a big world out there, and yet to us it is all connected.” Stephen felt his stomach tighten, and his vision blurred.

“It seems your moments hear are to be brief today. But I look forward to seeing you again.” Then with a rush, Stephen felt his body travel through the air, and suddenly he was gasping for air. The trickle of water had dampened his cloths, and the sun was growing low in the sky. How long had he been gone?

——

 

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CLICHE POST-GRAD FAMILY THANK YOU NOTE

Graduation just passed, and this weekend I had a million things to talk about. Planning. Hard work. Hating the morning. Good food. Family. Stress. Over eating. And so on…yet somehow today my mind has pulled a blank. Probably because I was up until nearly 3:00 am giving life (relationship) advice to a good friend of mine, and I am now understandably sleepy. But I’m sure as I am typing, something will come to me.

Speak of the devil, and you will be rewarded in kind. Let’s talk about family. Family is a great and terrible thing. Somehow they are always there for you, yet also removed from your being (at least, this is true for me). Don’t get me wrong—I love my family. In fact, I think deep down, I would fall into the “family before country” group. Though, the caveat to this would be that this doesn’t apply to ALL members of my family. I don’t know my second cousin once removed who lives in wherever of wherever. I honestly don’t think I would jeopardize my life success over them. My mother, brother, sister, father, aunt, and/or immediate cousins though? Yeah probably. Actually not probably—definitely. Those are the people who keep up with and care about me, and I care about them.

Which is like…duh, Cassady. Of course you would care about your mother. Who doesn’t? I mean maybe it is a bit obvious, but at the same time I am not as sold. Perhaps it is due to the stresses of my life, which have been in many ways caused by certain family members, and I have seen people that I once would have placed on a pedestal fall into the depths of contempt. I also have family members that aren’t technically related to me by blood, yet they mean more to me than the biological grandparents on my mother’s side that I never knew. I have family whose image and ideology has influenced me long after their death. In part, I attribute the success of my life to their life lessons.

But again, like…duh Cassady. Of course you are shaped by your family and their teachings. You ranted about this when you talked about religious upbringings. Eh. Yeah. I suppose so. But what exactly is life without a little thankfulness. I don’t currently believe in an afterlife, which is perhaps my nihilism seeping through. But I do believe in life after death. I’ll explain quickly, since this post is getting a bit longer than I’d like. After we die, I don’t see much reason for us to actually have much going on after. If you disagree, that’s fine. It just doesn’t make much sense to me in the traditional sense, since if we have life after death, why shouldn’t the cat, or the dog, or the dolphin. What makes us so special? Because we claimed it? That sounds like vanity.

Regardless though, we can live after death through things. Images are a common one, but those don’t really impart the idea of life. Through our family we can live on, in the sense that our ideas will continue to flourish and develop. Thoughts we once had will find their way into the minds of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and so on. Heirlooms seem to carry a similar quality, which is what makes them so…irreplaceable. You know what I mean? Let me know what you think! Is your family that important to you?

——

 

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