CAT NAP

I dug my claws into the side of the rocking chair, shifting my weight as I ascended its backside to keep from being thrown off. The cushion at the top was softer than the hard-pressed seat, and my personal favorite place to take a nap. I curled up, carefully balanced so that I wouldn’t fall back over the side, like some long dead camper falling over a cliff. When I finally was comfortable, I could feel my eyes begin to glaze over as the familiar feeling of sleep began to take hold.

Of course, naps are never that simple nowadays. Before my eyes had closed for more than a moment, the whole chair jostled. The big one had taken his seat in the middle—I didn’t understand how he could endure such a hard seat. The whole chair rocked hard, and I had to dig my nails in to keep from being flung over the side. It was clear this resting place wouldn’t do today.

So, like many days, I hopped back down onto the floor. The light thuds of my feet were beginning to sound a lot like those of my older brothers’. The wood planks below me were cool and smooth, and made for great walking. No unexpected catches, like in the shag carpet I was on my way over to. The couch over there was much softer than the remaining chairs, however, and was well worth the trek when the rocking chair was taken.

Two quick jumps and I was up on the arm rest. They put the best padding in the arm rest—it was firm, but not pillowy like the cushions, although it could be more precarious. I could feel the weight of fatigue hit me like a brick, and my eyes closed once again—but not a moment later I heard the terrifying sound of the back door opening, followed swiftly by the eager approach of beasts. They were like titans—they ran on four legs, panting heavily wherever they ran. Luckily the gold one missed me, instead running down the hall to my left after who knows what.

Unfortunately, the darker one was more attentive, and stopped hard in his tracks, then turning to look directly in my eyes. His eyes were a cold, dead black, like a silent murderer out slaughtering in the middle of the night. We shared that brief moment while he realized that I was not another piece of the furniture, where the whole world seems to grow quiet. The big one’s rising became so slow, it was as if he was covered in glue.

But that moment broke quickly, and he and I went from stone still to bolting in a heart beat. There was an open window behind me, just a few feet away, with a high screen. The beast was much faster than me, and it was all I could do to launch myself from the head of the couch to the screen. As I flew through the air, I heard his jaws clamp shut just behind me, just a few inches from my tail. The hairs on my back shivered and stood high. It felt like an eternity while I soared through the air, then dug my claws in to the little holes for support. I scrambled to get myself secured quickly; my feet sliding down before eventually they too were locked. Then I quickly ascended so that I was out of reach. I turned to look down, and saw the beast, sitting with tongue flopping over the side of his teeth. His mouth was open wide, waiting for my strength to run out, and his breaths were deep with excitement.

I thought myself a goner for a moment, as my body began to shake with fatigue, but then came the pounding footsteps of the big one. He grabbed the beast roughly by the neck, and lifted him with such vigor I thought he might tear its head clean off, but the body held tight and pretty soon the beast had turned tail back from where he came, along with the gold one. When I was certain it was safe, I tried to climb down slowly. Halfway down, my leg slipped again, and I went crashing to the floor. I managed to get my feet beneath me at the last moment, and landed on my feet. I looked back at the couch, and felt the disdain for the potential resting place. I felt too much like a meal on a platter there now, so instead I made my way down the hall, to the third door on the right. There was a large space there, where the big one rested at night. I didn’t much care for it—to many different layers of material scattered haphazardly about—but it was soft. I found an empty corner by the window, and laid down. My eyes shut, and I finally got to drift off to sleep.

——

 

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THE RED RIVER

For the past three weeks, traces of red liquid had been found in the clear blue waters of the rivers, growing more solid with each passing day. At first, it was just a whisk, like a droplet falling in a cup, before it disperses and becomes unnoticeable. Then eventually, the water began to darken, from blue, to purple, to a beautiful shade of red wine. When it hit that shade, the water became undrinkable, and we knew we had to find out what was going on.

We began our trek up the river, to see what we could find. A few days later, it morphed into a bright, angry red, like a vicious sunburn. Eventually, we came to a massive forest, and followed the red river in. It was dark, like night, spackled with the occasional beam of sunlight peaking from in between tree branches. It was enough to light they way, but hardly bright. The angry red of the river looked more like smoldering ash in the dark. We began to worry when the sunbeams grew thin and orange—it meant the sun was going down, and all sorts of things could inhabit the forest.

We made camp, set up a fire, and picked roles for the watch. Mine was the last, which I was thankful for. It was easier to sleep through most of the night, and simply stay awake, than it was to sleep for a short three hours, wake up to keep watch, then sleep again. My eyes had glazed over by the time the first beams of sunlight touched down through the trees. It was like a heavenly ascension piercing through the heart of the darkness.

We kept this routine for another two days, marching through treacherous pitfalls and shifting terrain. All the while, we kept along the river, following its unexpected. It was growing wider, which we took to mean we were getting close to its source. A few hours later, the river widened into a lakebed, with a massive red waterfall, which, as it smashed into the lake, created a thin, red mist. The waterfall itself seemed to stretch off into the distance, far above the trees above us.

The unexpected base of the cliff met us as we drew closer, and we began our ascent upward. The way up was full of dangers, but eventually we crossed the upper threshold of the trees. The break of sunlight on our faces was soothing, as a cool glass of water is to a man returned from a desert. We could see the top, not far above the trees, and took the last hundred meters quickly.

When we reached the top, we were awestruck by the sight before us. Lodged in the middle of a massive lake—ten times the size of the one below us—was an enormous heart. It looked almost like a titanic boulder, bigger in size than any we had ever seen, beating fiercely, as though whatever body it had inhabited had been running for miles before.

And it was split in two, held weakly together by tethers at the bottom. From the center of the split sides, it was gushing blood like a fountain, pouring tons into the water around it by the second. The air stank of rot and decay, but the heart showed no signs of weakness. It was incredible to see something so full of life yet so broken. All we could do was stand there still, looking on amazed and frightened.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #51 – LOOSE CHANGE

They told me the girl on the street corner

was a dime a dozen. Which is why,

when we stopped at the red light,

they threw coins at her

before speeding off, laughing

like little pigs, all the way home.

They didn’t see in the rear-view mirror

how she fell to her knees, crying,

scrounging to pick up the loose change.

 

Perhaps that’s why when I saw her

marching down the aisle

at the dirty supermarket

I couldn’t help but ask her

why such a dame would scamper

after a few dozen nickels.

 

And she told me that in life

we all just scrounge for enough change

to make our empty selves feel whole,

even if, in the end, we are just half dollars.

 

It was then I felt a prick,

and I told her, if she wanted,

that I would buy her a drink,

pay a penny for her thoughts,

and we could chat the night away.

 

She agreed with a smile, on the condition

that I wouldn’t be charging any hidden fees

or sticking her backside with my taxes.

 

It was a pro bono night, indeed.

 

The next morning I walked her home,

and we stopped at the same street corner.

She found a penny, heads up.

It’s your lucky day she told me,

handing Abe over to me.

I cupped it in her palm and told her

luck be you, m’lady.

——

 

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TALKIN’ ‘BOUT POETRY

So I made a friend recently (whoa! so hard to imagine, right?) in my time at USC, which isn’t to say that I know them super well, but I really wanted to talk about an interesting conversation we had the other day. They shared with me some of their poetry (like ten poems), and I got to read through it. it was super cool (sorry I can’t show you all, but it’s not mine to reveal).

But I did want to recount the awesome parts. Which aren’t really…well, aren’t really the actual words that matter. I mean, obviously the words of a poem matter, they’re what make a poem poetry…but that isn’t what was important to what we were talking about—it was the discussion. Which is not only where a poem sits in the history of poetry, but also how it affects and influences the reader. For example, I’ll use an aspect of my poem yesterday (because what kind of self-centered author would I be if I didn’t refer to my own work?):

 

“as I hang there suspended, swinging

in the breeze on a nice, thick rope

 

like back in Florida, above the water,

while my father roared with laughter”

 

So those lines, are the last two and first two lines of two different stanzas, and I like to think that they create a nice contrast in perspective. The first two lines, from the end of the first stanza, create the image of a body swinging from a rope…which, lets be honest, sounds like a suicide or a hanging. The break makes the reader pause, and allows (ideally) the brain to process it. Then, the latter two lines contrast the darkness of those lines with the nostalgic image of falling into the water, with a father laughing in the background. This creates a dialogue in the readers head, which I think everyone reacts to differently. Is the narrator actually suicidal, and reflecting how their life went? Are they happy, and just being cynical? Are we just misreading them? Hard to say.

Anywho, I just wanted to pause some questions, because I think poetry reading is one of the most interesting things there is. Let me know your thoughts!

——

 

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FEELING LOST ON THE BEACH

“When did I start walking? I don’t really remember…” my voice trailed off as I looked into the distance. The old man had pulled up along side me just as I noticed the sun was setting. He was a short fellow, but had a certain youthful spring to his step.

“Well, if you don’t remember when you started walking, do you remember why?” The smile hidden inside his beard broke into a laugh. He reminded me of my childhood house cat in that way. He was scruffy, in a well-worn Hawaiian shirt and loose cargo pants, with a deep tan.

“I don’t really remember that either,” I said. I turned my attention to where I was. We were along the beachside, at sunset, walking at the edge of the sand and the sidewalk. The last thing I remembered was tying my shoes in the morning—yet when I looked down to see them, I saw only my bare feet. And had it been this morning?

“Well, you don’t know why you’re here, or how long you’ve been going where you’re going, but you’re still going somewhere. Ain’t that something else? Next thing you’ll tell me, you don’t even remember your name.”

“My name is Adam,” I said.

“Adam is it?” the old man replied. He pulled his beard between his thumb and index finger thoughtfully. “Adam has always been a favorite name of mine. Good strong name.”

“I’m not sure I’d describe myself as a strong man,” the words fell out of my mouth before I had even thought of them.

“Oh,” the man looked at me curiously, “and why is that?” I stared off into the distance again, unsure how to proceed. The relatively flat surface of the beach had turned into an uphill climb as we approached the dunes.

“I’m not sure,” I said finally, “perhaps that’s why I’m walking?” I smiled at him. A look of hesitant concern crossed his face.

“Could be, Adam. It’s no old geezer like me’s business, but I think maybe you’re feeling lost.”

“What gave you that impress—” his tone turned stern, in the way a grandparent’s does when they need to teach a lesson, but without making their grandchildren cry.

“Now don’t go interrupting me, Adam,” he wagged a meaty finger in my face, “I’ve seen boys like you before. Look over their,” he gestured out to the many small silhouettes along the shoreline, watching the sun sinking beneath the ocean. “All those people? They’re going through something just like you. Might be they just got through it; might be that they’re about to run into it.

“But it’s too easy to just walk away from your problems like you’re doing here. Leaving the whole world behind, as if the world did something to you that you didn’t deserve. You’ll keep walking till your feet are blistered, your legs are cramped, your stomach is knotted, and your hair is in tatters. And you’ll still feel lost, because that’s not how we overcome our problems. It’s good to know when and why to walk away, like from some hothead in a bar, but it ain’t no good to just be walking empty headed—letting them bad thoughts cloud your mind and eat away at your soul. You need to stand up, and figure out where you’ve been and, more importantly, where you’re going.”

His hands closed into fists with these last remarks. Then, he put a hand on my shoulder and stopped. I paused and looked up. We were at the top of the sand dunes. The ocean could be seen for miles, and the sun was just a fleeting sliver, before it would wink out for the night entirely. His eyes were full of determination, yet also so full of sadness. Like he knew what I was feeling even better than I did.

“I—” the words wouldn’t come to me. I could feel a tear slipping down my cheek, though I wasn’t sure when it had gotten there.

“That’s alright Adam,” he took his hand off of me, “you’ll figure it out. Just stay here till you do.” And like that, he spun on his heels, and marched off down the hill, while I sat and watched the clouds turn from orange, to pink, to purple, and finally to a deep, empty gray.

——

 

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A WEEK INDOORS

Water ran down the window, as the pouring rain pattered lightly against the side of the house. It was another indoor day for Tim. Monday had been the first, which was exciting for him. It was rare that he got to watch so many movies in one evening. Tuesday was the second, at which point the novelty of a day inside began to wear off. His mother grew more impatient with him, because as he ran out of things to do, he began talking to her more. They didn’t talk often.

On Wednesday, Tim tried to take a walk outside. The rainfall had died down a bit, and he was hoping that he would be able to enjoy the cool air a short while. But as all good plans go, the second he shut the door behind him, the wind picked up, blowing frosted air and icy bullets of water into his face. It felt like an animal was tearing at his skin. That was the last time he would be doing that.

Thursday the power went out. Tim begged to light some candles—he had always like the fire, but when his mother obliged, neither of them could find the matches. His sadness turned to frustration when two in the afternoon rolled around. It looked like midnight outside; the clouds were an impenetrable wall of darkness. It was like the sun itself had been dampened by the rain.

But today was Friday. Fridays were usually spent taking a walk from school to the park, then off for ice cream on the way back home. Tim’s stomach growled as he fantasized about it. He could feel the threads of grass between his toes, and the grit of the soil under that. He could taste the vanilla cone, the sticky sweet sugars finding their way into the cracks of his skin. They would torment him later, but he didn’t care.

It was a lovely thought, but alas it was entirely fabricated. The evening Friday was short, and Tim found his way to bed in the early hours of the night.

——

 

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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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THE SNAKE TOMB

The dream world snapped into existence before me, as if someone had flicked the light switch in a dark room. We were on a mountainside, staring out into the great expanse of the world before us. Ahead, there was a low valley basin, with golden-yellow foliage nearly a mile down. Beyond that, in the distance, there was a line of mountains, green with trees and stained lightly with the early hintings of winter snow.

“What are you dilly-dallying for again!” I heard a voice call to me. It was my cousin, a well cut man by all accounts. His eyes had the shine of adventure in them as we moved through the trees around us. I swallowed my response and moved after him. We were moving north, up the mountain to a small set of caves he had been told about by…something. I realized I had no idea how we had gotten there, or why.

The way up was treacherous. The ground was filled with muddy spots from the rainfall the previous night, and it slid and slipped unexpectedly with each new step. The lack of handholds caused me to constantly be gripping at thin air for balance. Eventually though, we found our way to the top, where there were a group of caves. They looked like three gaping mouths, ready to swallow us whole. We picked the one on the right, which opened the widest. The inside of the cave was blacker than midnight on a starless night, and I felt my own vision fade.

Once again, I awoke in the dream, at our destination, though I found myself alone. The place was a horrific sight. It was a cavern, filled with an industrial pool, which seemed out of place in retrospect, but in the moment the oddity fell to the background. The foreground was filled with an excessive number of snake bodies, as well as snake skins, spread throughout the room. They looked like the remains of a post-apocalyptic world. The bodies were rotting, like spoiled peaches, but the smell itself was far more rank than any fruit could be. I felt my stomach heave as I my eyes drifted along the pool. On one end, there was a massive snake, nearly ten feet long, and equally thick. Its skin looked half eaten, and pus poured from its one remaining eye. The empty socket was filled with the largest spider I had ever seen. It was curled up, but the black body was nearly the size of my head. Its long, spindly legs were pulled tight against its body. Fortunately, it appeared to be content where it was as I moved past it.

Suddenly, I felt the world careen before me as my foot slipped in a puddle of water. I put my hands out to brace my fall, but I plunged through the surface of the pool into the water. I splashed about for a moment, until I broke the surface to come back up for air. I cleared the water from my eyes, and looked ahead of me. Then massive snake was still there, staring off into the distance. Then, ever so slowly, its head began to turn. The sound of bones popping, snapping, and breaking filled the air as it came to look at me. The low hiss emanated from its jaws. The spider still clung there in its eye, which  stifled the red glow that had appeared there. From the other eye, the one covered with the remnants of its skin, pus dripped into the water while the reawakened beast pulled its focus on me.

Its jaws opened, and the stink of decay wafted through the air. My stomach churned. I had smelled death before, but it had never smelled quite so ancient. The beast reared back, then lunged toward me. It happened so fast, yet it appeared to me in slow motion. I could see the scales shift under its weight. The droplets in the air as I desperately scrambled to get away. It massive jaws surrounding my head. Then again, everything went black.

——

 

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TONE IN LITERATURE AND LIFE

From time to time, my father and I talk about a variety of subjects. Anything from alcohol, to weight lifting, to…well, really anything. Yesterday, my dad finished reading Honored Enemy, a book by a (slightly) lesser-known fantasy author: Raymond E. Feist (at least, compared to George R.R. Martin), and we were considering it in comparison to the Game of Thrones series (yeah I know it’s called A Song of Fire and Ice officially, but everyone calls it Game of Thrones). My dad asserted that Feist’s characters were more hopeful, which I thought was an interesting perspective, since at many times throughout his book, they knowingly face and fear certain doom.

To contrast, the characters in Game of Thrones, while often times very dire (I mean, the Stark’s house words are “Winter is Coming,” which is indicative of a fear of death, rather than an enjoyment with life) also hold a sense of hopefulness at various points, it just doesn’t seem hopeful. Think about it. Tyrion is hopeful in his own way—in the sense that he thinks he can overcome pretty much anything with his own wit. Renly is hopeful in a way too. He is very fun loving, and clearly represents some amount of goodness in the world. Vars, in his own way, is hopeful that things can go well, and Littlefinger is hopeful in his own schemes. Though I would categorically say that Game of Thrones is far less hopeful than most books.

Which takes us to the point of this post! Tone! The whole tone of the story frames the perspective it takes. And I like to think of stories as an allegory for life. This one is that the tone you take can change how you look at life. If everything you think is hopeless, then the world will seem that much darker. But if you can look at the things around you, and find some greatness in it, suddenly you might be able to enjoy it a bit more—even in dire straights.

Alright, well I’ll leave it a bit shorter today, but don’t forget that life can be really great, just as books can be really great, even if there are many points where the world seems too big, and the battles you are fighting seem hopeless. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Is life better when we view it as better? Or does the pessimism lead to better successes in happiness?

——

 

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LOVE POEM #33 – OBSESSION

It started out like most loves do,

With cliché thoughts of me and you

Sitting till sunset at the park,

Or laughing at each other’s snark.

But like most loves, it weaved and changed,

Until I’d found myself deranged.

I felt deformed, just like a leper;

And more lonely than Sgt. Pepper.

 

Every morning was such a chore,

And every class was such a bore.

Every moment I yearned for you.

I burned, and churned, and turned for you.

I broke and breaked and failed class.

I choked and ached and scaled glass.

I killed myself just so I’d see

The love that was so dear to me.

 

A love to protect me from my fears,

And warm hands to wipe away my tears.

But what I found was all my yearning

Had simply kept the wheel turning.

And spun you farther than I could see;

Too far to ever come back to me.

 

And so I find myself alone,

Too scared to ever make a home,

Or venture out to see the day

Where all my pains are borne away.

 

And I wonder…did you ever love me?

Or was this just some fantasy.

——

 

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