THE INVADER

Take your broken heart

Make it into art;

Make your mind smart

Before things fall apart.

 

Lest you become an Okonkwo.

The greatest man of his tribe,

Yet he was brought low

Through the faults in his pride.

 

I don’t know what it is

That makes good people,

And I don’t know how his

Would follow a man so evil.

 

Except for that the invader

Is rarely held to his word.

He will claim to be the savior

Of an unsuspecting herd.

 

He’ll take them

And break them,

And batter and shake them,

 

He’ll blame them

And shame them,

And in the end enslave them

 

Until they are bruised

And broken

 

But at least he got his profit

At least he got a dollar off it,

At least he’s willing to speak his mind,

At least he isn’t expected to be kind.

 

And a hush falls over the crowd,

Now he has his chance.

He raises his hands and screams “Unite!”

And, defeated, they bow to his plans.

——

 

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THE DICTATOR

A silence wafted over the crowd,

As the man raised his arm to the sky.

“My people,” he bellowed into the mic,

“It is our time. The time to take our place!”

The silence burst into a rupture of applause.

I turned to my father,

Who had began to walk away, and asked,

“Where is our place?”

He paused, and turned back to me.

He knelt, and smiled a tired smile at me.

He put a hand on my shoulder,

And an arm across his chest.

“Our place is, and always will be, together.”

 

His voice was like a pebble

In an ocean of people.

And like a pebble,

the ripples of his words

Carried a silence through the crowd,

 

Until a circle of eyes landed on us.

There was a pause,

Then the man’s voice called out to us.

“What is it?”

His voice was filled with contempt.

The people edged closer to us,

And my father stood up.

“My friends,” my father called out.

He pointed to the man on the balcony,

“Do not let this man

Steal the fire of your mind!

We have lived for each other!

Not as the fists of one man!”

 

The crowd turned back to the man

With expectant eyes.

They seemed unsure what to do.

The man brought his fist to his chest

And said,

“Do you not see what I have brought you!

Do you not see the respect we have gained?

A respect that this man,”

He pointed at my father

“Abandoned for personal gain.”

 

The people turned back to my father,

With eyes full of hate.

He glanced at me, and mouthed

“Go.”

I backed away into crowd

And my father was pushed out of sight.

 

I didn’t know then

That his tired smile

Would be my last sight of him.

 

A voice in the East rallied the crowd,

And they charged at him.

They buried him in a rage.

Then I turned back to the man

Far up on the balcony,

And I could see a faint smile.

A smile that said he had won.

CAMOUFLAGE

I implore you to ask yourself, Uncle,

What it means to be an American.

Is it to stand in the face of trouble,

And tell the rest of the world “I can.”

Is it to protect the poor and helpless

Against the blades of all the enemies?

Or is it to protect corporate interests,

And sell the rich their path to amnesty?

If we are to be one voice, united,

Why do you exile those you oppose?

Isn’t that making us more divided?

Why is it good people that you depose?

If we are free, Sam, why is it that you

Hide behind that suit of red, white, and blue?

SPOKEN FOR

I’m feeling a little uncomfortable,

Because all these people speaking for me

Some how made it impossible to see

That I am not totally vulnerable.

Such good intentioned people gone awry,

Thinking I have been done great injustice.

They speak like Antony and Augustus,

Before they made Rome’s democracy die.

They speak for me, yet they do not speak true.

They know nothing about my heritage,

And still they presume to know my baggage;

That the Killing Fields were in plain view.

All they have done is assert their own self,

And further clouded who I really am,

The truth is, they don’t really give a damn,

They argue to cure their personal health.

*Quick note, I don’t own this image, but it’s super cool. I couldn’t find the artist to credit them, but if you know, please let me know so I can.

THE LAST GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

Alright, so, the third and final debate is out of the way and we get to discuss it. Now, hopefully things have digested in your stomach a little bit, and not given you too much indigestion, because talking about last night it certainly a curiosity. I’ll try to touch on both candidates today as quickly and succinctly as possible in my short time.

Ok, so let’s get down to it. Today I’d like to start on the left, with Hillary Clinton. She did a pretty good job as usual. Now, I know there are a lot of people that don’t like her, but it’s pretty hard to argue with how prepared she is for these speeches. I mean, her closing statement was pretty indicative of that—it was made up on the fly and sounded like it had been prepared two weeks in advance. That’s pretty hard to do, even for a professional improve actor. Especially when staying in line with policy. She was composed, firm, and stuck to positions that were backed up with evidence. The Wikileaks refutation she made, in which she pointed out that numerous US intelligence agencies have linked these leaks to direct hacks by the Russian government to sway the campaign trail is a great example. Another great use of factual evidence was in the comparisons between the two candidate’s tax plans, in which she cited several bipartisan economists as having backed her plan as the more likely one to create jobs and promote income for people.

Of course, not everything about her is perfect. She interrupted Trump more than I would have liked her to, because to me it seems to put things “in his court,” so to speak, but that doesn’t mean by any means she was a weak. Her interruptions seemed to knock Trump a little off balance at first, because she had been polite to him the first two debates. She was also very forceful in negating his position on abortion, where she didn’t challenge his obscene statements about “day before” abortions, and indeed asserted herself as not only a person well aligned with women’s healthcare, but also the struggles that women go through daily.

I know I am left leaning, but Hillary’s debate last night was phenomenal, even for a “normal” debate. Much less one where she had to juggle a guy who does not play by fair rules. And that’s, unfortunately I think for Republicans, what happened with Donald Trump. Trump’s debate was a weird one. He started out…well, worse than his second debate, but still less “off the charts” than we have come to expect. That being said, there was a turning point, and I think it’s because Hillary got under his skin. I mean, telling a candidate she does not deserve to vote? A vote that is a protected right? Day-before abortions? Now, regardless of your position on abortions, abortion does not happen the day before a child is supposed to be born, even in late pregnancies. And if it does happen as late in the term as Trump claims, it’s not called an abortion, because the procedure is different. It’s a C-section, or induced labor. And it’s done because there is a problem with the child. It might surprise you, but nature isn’t perfect. There are a number of babies that develop without brains, or that die in the womb. And if they aren’t taken out, the mother will die too.

None of this is fun or fair. There’s no “I got out of it.” And this is how Trump has built his campaign, and I think (I hope) that this will be why he fails. His debate last night because a microcosm for all the problems he has created. A lack of respect for citizens, a lack of respect for people in need, a lack of respect for people who have done good, and a lack of respect for people who do not bow to him. He’s acted like a dictator in this election, and in all honesty, the bullying, the lack of emotional control, and the whining are all indicative of this. Democracy is a hard thing. And it does not come without faults or compromise. And the only way to usurp that is to defy it—which is exactly what Trump has done.

This is dangerous to the America we aspire to be, even if we are not there yet. Let me know what you think. Is it unfair to say this about Trump? Why?

WRITING GOOD PROSE

Hello everyone,
Monday has arrived and my mind is percolating with things to talk about. Mostly because in class we are jumping around the book The Basic Kafka, which are works by a man named Kafka, many published after his death. I am intrigued because Kafka writes pretty short stories to get across important messages. And by pretty short, I don’t just mean 10 page stories, he’ll write a quick 300 word tale about a guy and his interaction with a police officer, and you can find so much meaning in it.

So today I wanted to talk about writing, because I realize most people on here have blogs of their own that they write for creatively. Now, I’m not the greatest at executing prose myself, but I am very good at identifying the trends of good writing. I’ve talked a bit about writing poetry, now let’s talk about writing good prose. For those lost a little bit because I don’t talk about this stuff much, prose is what you find in a regular book. Think “A Game of Thrones.” Which, in fact, is a great starting point.

A Game of Thrones is a simple story made great by complex characters. What does this tell us? Well, that characters are important. Archetypes do not exist clearly, everything is “real.” This means, good characters have flaws in addition to accomplishments, not all of which are character flaws. Some can be physical attributes. Good stories have several of these characters, because it makes things unpredictable, but not in a way that makes the reader feel like they were played.

The other notable aspect of good prose is meaning and parallelism to that meaning. To continue my Game of Thrones example, the character Ned Stark begins the story as a heroic authority figure, executing a criminal despite the criminal just doing what he felt was best. This is juxtaposed at the end of the story (spoilers!) when Ned Stark is executed. This creates a “full circle” sort of feeling in the reader, where the fall from grace is completed. This can take non-circular forms, but many good novels have them.

And then there is meaning. Meaning can be done in many words or in few words. Kafka does it in few words typically, where he creates a scenario people can identify with, then intercepts the scenario with a character made to represent something. Like a policeman scoffing at a lost citizen asking for directions. Try something like this in your writing, and you may find more success. Does that sound doable? Let me know what you think!

PASSING THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK

Hello everyone,
Today I’ve been wandering around my thoughts uncertain what to talk about. So why not talk about that? I’m sure I’m not the only person who sometimes feels caught up in their own thoughts too much. For example, I sometimes question myself when deciding a topic for the blog, because it’s one I’ve talked about a lot. Look at how often I’ve discussed politics somewhat directly. That’s quite a bit. I talk even more about gender issues.

It can be really hard to not repeat myself. Or worse, feel like I am repeating myself. I mean, I can circularly talk all day about how women are mistreated, and how that mistreatment leads to the internalization of misogyny, and how that becomes a cycle of inequality. But that becomes stagnant over time. This happens in all kinds of writing. Just a few hours ago I was trying to come up with a premise for my next love poem. Obviously I (typically) write from my own perspective. I’m a heterosexual male. So in my poetry I often glorify (or demonize) female characters. But that sometimes feels worn out. Like seriously, how many poems have you heard about a guy who loves a girl.

To over come this I do one of two things. First, I’ll try to write about something else. Something not remotely related to the subject or style. Non-fiction prose is often a good way to do this for me. I mean, it’s what I do most of the time on my blog. The second way to break your writer’s block is to write the same thing differently. For example, since I am having some trouble writing from my normal perspective of a love poem, maybe I should try a different one. Maybe I should try writing from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, or from a homosexual person. Maybe I shouldn’t write about romantic love, but another kind of love. Like the love of a sibling, or a friend.

Of course, this can be difficult. Writing from the perspective of a homosexual male can create other problems. Say my “perspective” is latently bigoted. Say some stereotype I have about homosexual males slips through unintentionally. Say I use a perspective I believe to be true, but is not completely accurate. Suddenly I may ostracize someone. Of course, this can happen from my normal perspective as well, but to me that is more understandable, because the misunderstanding of someone outside a specific in group is more comprehensible than someone making an error and trying to play it off as real. Neither are acceptable, but one is simply a lack of knowledge and can be corrected, while the other is bigoted.

Anywho, writer’s block is difficult, especially with work you plan to publish. That said, I hope these methods I have may assist you! Try one out and let me know what you think! Or if you have any ways to break through the wall, tell me so I can try them!

THE STATE OF THE UNION

Hello everyone,
Let’s talk about the United States of America. I’ve been learning about other countries and how they interact recently. For example, Germany has a recycling program that is vastly superior to ours, and in doing so, uses much less energy. Denmark has a social system in place that allows them luxuries that many family’s in America do not get. So why, then, is America called the greatest country on Earth?

Rhetoric. Rhetoric is used to control and manipulate people, and the US is very good at it. I mean, it’s in the name of the country. “United,” a word meaning to come together, often seen as being against an enemy. Our country is one that impresses the idea that we are forever together, and speaking against that is against the country. Which is ironic, since our laws say otherwise (see responses to Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem). But this rhetoric is repeated throughout the nation to do a specific thing. It keeps people quite. It keeps people unquestioning. And it overshadows real problems.

I strongly dislike Donald Trump, but he’s right in saying that America is not great. Of course, he’s wrong in asserting it was ever great if he believes it used to be great compared to today, and he’s wrong about why America isn’t great, but our union is not really that united. We are divided over so many issues. Healthcare. Welfare. Child abuse. Domestic disputes. Foreign entanglements. Business arrangements. Abortion. Climate change. The list goes on. And the problem is that there is a division in our thought processes. Now, surely everyone thinks differently. I doubt all Germans appreciate or see a need for recycling. But they realize it’s importance for unity.

Too many people do not realize that we are not a United States if we cannot find true unity. And the people in power aren’t the people who want it to be found. I don’t mean the president, but the lawmakers, and the businessmen and women who sponsor them. People like Donald Trump, who blame other people aspiring toward the idea of “the American Dream” for crimes they have not committed. To find unity, we have to find common ground based not in feelings, but in facts. Concrete data, where we can see the problems with our world and fix them. And then find pride in fixing those problems. World War II is a good example of this, because it brought everyone together under one banner. But it shouldn’t take a war to look for positive common ground. Unity should not come strictly in the face of death. It should be found in things as simple as “let’s find a way to get rid of this trash.”

What do you think? Is that impossible? Our nation is much larger than the European ones mentioned, does that make this goal unobtainable? Let me know!

THE SECOND GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

Did anyone get a chance to watch the debate last night? Oh. You don’t like politics? Well that’s too bad. I mean it’s not like these people are vying for being the most powerful individual on the planet or anything…but I can understand not liking politics with how this political season has been going. I mean seriously, we’ve got a bully that’s managed to push his way into the race because he’s rallied the people who feel mistreated with strong-arm lingo that makes them feel good. Which is ironic, since these people talk about how “feel good” statements are such a problem.

Regardless of my distaste for Donald Trump, which there is quite a bit of, he was one of the participants of the debate last night. And I wish there was a way for me to appear bipartisan for this debate, but there just isn’t. Hillary did a great job on this election. She was prepared, she responded well to questions—sure, she wasn’t always on point with every single answer, because that’s how politicians answer questions, but she was able to both negate Donald Trump while also asserting her own ideas.

For example, let’s take when Donald Trump said she’s been wasting 30 years of public service. Which is depressing to have heard, but her response was perfect. She responded with the work she has put in over time, and how she has been able to find a common ground and compromise—something that we all no Donald Trump is incapable of. And if you think he is capable of it, before you start typing your comment, I want you to imagine that every few words you type, the computer added a random word or ten. That doesn’t make for good compromises to happen—that would just frustrate the hell out of you. That’s what Donald Trump did.

Now, you may think that being uncompromising is a good thing in a leader, because it displays power. But really, it’s dangerous. Even if you didn’t like the Iran Deal, it did protect our citizens more than a threat would. Threatening people who have or may have Nuclear Arms is absolutely insane. Why? Because we all bleed the same. The United States may be the most powerful country on Earth, but if it were bombed with Nuclear Weapons, it’s citizens would die the same as any other country. Which is something we need to come to terms with, since if Trump were elected president, I have no doubt the rest of the world would be on high alert.

But let’s step back and look at policy for a moment. Although policy was nearly devoid from the debate, one policy Donald brought up was to appoint someone to look into Hillary’s email scandal and get her sent to jail. Since apparently her multitude of hearing and investigations over various other issues were not enough to make conclusions. Including one done by the FBI. Anyway, locking up political opponents sounds like a very dangerous and slippery slope to be taking lightly. Even joking about the assassination of political opponents (a “joke” that is still very possibly something that was meant in earnest) is a frightening line to be treading. It’s reckless, and in all honesty, it feel like something that our president should not be doing. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Am I being unfair? Let me know in the comments below! Oh, and by the way, WordPress has asked me to subtly ask everyone to vote…so…I’m going to not be so subtle. Go vote!

THE FIRST GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

What an interesting time we live in! Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debating for the candidacy. I feel like if you went back 20 years, this would be hard to believe. I mean really, Donald Trump? That liberal minded-wait, what? He’s a Republican? Wasn’t he pro LGBTQ and pro-choice for a while? Didn’t he say on camera that we had to increase wages? You’re telling me he’s not saying those things anymore? What happened?

And then there’s Hillary Clinton. 20 years ago, she was aspiring toward politics and her husband was coming up on his own election as president. And here we are. Of course, not everything about Hillary’s career has been great-people knock her for her use of a server in emails, and she has changed positions on several policies over the course of history. She backed NAFTA, which according to many experts has been a major failure. She also initially backed the TPP movement.

That being said, on the debate stage last night, we saw two very different people. At least, that’s how it started. Hillary was focused, expressive, and composed. Trump started out this way too. He even had some good argumentation in regard to trade. His points about taxation of companies matches tariffs that the United States has done in the past. However, as the debate wore on, it became clear that experience outmatched explosiveness.

Trump’s emotional bravado was shut down by Hillary’s hard use of factual information. She presented policy after policy with enough detail to be legitimate, yet not so much that it was hard to comprehend. Constant interruptions by Trump made him look more a child bully than a man ready to run the country.

Regardless of your political opinion, it’s hard to believe Trump was ready for the scale of the debate last night. I mean, the guy turned to calling Hillary’s argument “all words” at one point. Can’t the same be said about his own speech? What does he really get done? Hillary’s composure was undeniable, which was incredible. Sure, sometimes she sounded a bit mechanical, but I’d take a woman who was practiced and firm enough over this character that struggled to stay on topic. And of course, Hillary was not always on topic either-that’s a classic political fault of every president. But her ability to bring things back and eventually come around to the question at hand was unparalleled by her opponent.

Trump’s answer to a race question, purposely pointed at Black Lives Matter movements and police struggles, was turned into a foreign policy answer about eliminating ISIS, and an attack on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s “weakness” in this area. Is this really the person we want running our country? One who “agrees with Hillary” about unification, and yet presses divisive rhetoric and avoids relatively simple questions about racial injustice?

All this in mind, I would say that Hillary pretty clearly won the debate last night. If you didn’t watch it, I highly recommend checking it out. It was surprisingly easy to watch, which was not something I can say about all debates. What do you think? Did Hillary win? Is my analysis fair? Let me know!