SWARMS

Watching the people flock

To the Los Angeles food vendor

Is like watching the cockroaches

Swarming across the stairs.

The sizzling morsels,

Greedily devoured by

Greasy fingers and hungry mouths,

Are like crumbs for starving pests.

Oh, there are polite ones,

To be certain. They drift by

At a distance, with calm aloofness.

But the pack is like a mob,

And would turn on you

In a heartbeat, if it served them.

The screech of brakes

And the roar of horns;

Deafening to the average ear,

Remind me of our own insignificance.

That we are, at the heart of us,

Just another swarm of insects

Infesting the cracks in the world.

Our world, as we claimed it.

Though we have yet

To claim responsibility for it.

Oh hey I’m on vacation and can’t copy my normal stuff here.

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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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GRANDEUR (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

I Did

“I should, I could, I…”

How long will you tell these lies?

How long till “I did.”

 

Wasted Journey

Five thousand miles

And all I have to show are

Hunger pains and scars.

 

Grandeur

Do not be afraid

Of your first steps in success.

Fear taking your last.

 

The Nightmare

The nightmare whispers

Through the crack in the closet.

“Sleep, dream, and be freed.”

 

Background

You loved another

So I showed my love for you

Through restrained silence.

——

 

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NOTHINGNESS

What is the value

Of nothing?

 

Think of that empty space

Between your hollow doorway

And the angry, outside world.

Nothingness has saved you.

 

Think of the silence that rests

Between your last words

And their first thoughts.

In those moments, the air

Feels heavier than the ocean

As its waves break against your back.

And yet it is lighter

Than the gentlest breeze.

 

Because the unknown is full of surprises,

And nothingness

Is the most unknown thing of all.

 

Nothing begets value.

For something to have worth

People must know what it means

To be worthless.

 

We fight, and burn, and bleed

Our whole lives away

So that we can be something.

Because to be nothing

Is to be worthless.

 

But I see the world

Through a different lens.

To be nothing is to be…

 

To be…

 

To be…

 

To be originality.

 

To be nothing is to be

The name that hides

In the corners of every room.

 

To be nothing is to be

The darkness in between

The shadow and the man.

 

To be nothing is to be

The blank page before

The writer begins their story.

 

To be nothing is to be

The catalyst of revolution

Tens years before the ideas

Spring into the philosopher’s mind.

 

To be nothing is to be great.

Because there is nothing

That can compare to it.

——

 

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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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STRAWBERRY FIELDS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry fields

Hold the fruits of nostalgia

In the summer sun.

 

Blood Spilled

In the red sun rise

Nobody is left unscathed.

Even the clouds bleed.

 

Imagine

Take a moment and

Let your imagination

Make an end to the

 

Battlegrounds

Scale the wall and

Win the war. Build a door and

Never fight again.

 

Frail

The thin, aging lines

In my heavy, swollen hands

Torment youthful thoughts.

——

 

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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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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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CANDY (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Adult Content

Being sexual

Is inherently adult

Yet’s called immature.

 

Candy

If you are sticky

And I am sweet, then we both

Will just end up sick.

 

Sight and Mind

We dream in color,

Yet after we are awake

We see black and white.

 

Phantom Pains

My arm is gone, and

Though the pain is now long past

My fingers still ache.

 

Humble

Our humility

Should not force us to a state

Of passivity.

——

 

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THE KEYHOLE (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Ancestry

The tree was standing

Long before we came to be

And will be after.

 

Government

For all our titles

We still don’t seem to know who

Is really in charge.

 

The End of Atlas

And he broke his back

After he put all that weight

On tired shoulders.

 

The Keyhole

Look through the keyhole.

But not too close, because it

Might be looking back.

 

Entropy

Now, pull the alarm

And watch as all their order

Turns into chaos.

——

 

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