PUZZLE PIECES

Life is like a puzzle:

The middle pieces always fit together

In unexpected ways—

Though the edges are clearly defined.

They come in all different styles;

Grasslands, city life, and oceans.

Each its own perfect picture

Filled with little invisible cracks.

But the missing pieces

Always are more noticeable

Than those snugly in place.

 

They are

Like a flash of lightning

In the heart of darkness;

Like blood in the water

Of shark infested seas.

 

They may blind those who oppose me

Or they may tear me limb from limb.

But if I lacked those holes, I wouldn’t be

More than a sack of flesh and brittle skin.

 

And to remind me of my strife,

With its missing pieces and all,

I would frame my puzzling life

As a picture on my wall.

——

 

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CAUGHT (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Perseverance

How do you succeed?

Fail at a million things,

Till you win at one.

 

Diseased

The pain in my bones

Is dull compared to the pain

That rots in my heart.

 

Orders

“Women shouldn’t be:

Afraid, angry; too sexy.”

…Because that’s worked out.

 

False Lives

My friends post pictures

Of their glorious nights out,

But tell me they’re sad.

 

Caught

Perhaps the liars

Aren’t all terrible people.

Just those that got caught.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #32 – A LITTLE FANTASY

I have this little fantasy,

Where every morning, you and me

Wake up beneath the unlit skies

With an adventure in our eyes.

 

We pack our bags, and picnic too,

And set out, as the sky turns blue.

We scale up the mountain’s peak

Till we come to the point we seek:

 

The highest point our eyes can see,

Occupied by a lonely tree,

With leaves more green than summer’s grass

And roots more deep than legends past.

 

Up there we waste away our day

Without the need for words to say.

Just cheese and wine and happy thoughts;

Admiration for what we’d wrought.

 

As the sunsets, I see us both,

Sitting beneath the undergrowth

We’re arm in arm, and cheek to cheek,

And I feel the urge to speak.

 

The sudden welling in my throat

Is realer than all I’ve wrote.

And there, beneath that glist’ning view,

I have to whisper “I love you.”

——

 

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SPRINT

Sprint,

Don’t run.

For life is short,

And so is the race.

 

Sprint,

Because

The best meals are taken

By those first place.

 

Sprint,

Because

Death catches those

Who linger behind.

 

Sprint,

Because

Love finds those

Who are the most defined.

 

Sprint,

Because

You can rest

At the end of the day.

 

Sprint,

And you

Can escape

What the haters say.

 

Sprint,

For the thrill

Of the hunt

In your heart.

 

Sprint,

Before age

Saps your hands

Of their art.

 

Sprint,

Until

Once strong bones

Start to ache.

 

And sprint,

Until

Your body

Finally breaks.

——

 

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THE FLOWERS OF SUCCESS

Hello everyone,

 

First of all, for those of you who liked The Discovery of the Skyfish, I wanted to let you know that He will be returning next Monday. I have a few ideas I wanted to run with to put those poems together, but today is for some goal setting and schedule building. It’s been nearly a year since I began writing for this blog (in fact, we are just 23 days away from the anniversary, if I have counted right), which is strictly awesome, and I will talk about that more at a later date.

However, I realized that I, as a blogger, have only sort of kept to some of the ideas I have shared throughout my blogging experience this past year. Specifically, I wanted to discuss the schedule of this blog. Over the past year, I have been carefully tracking the data that WordPress keeps for me, and recognized that Fridays are my most popular days. Whether this is because I cemented love poetry pretty much exclusively for Fridays or not is up for debate, but what I realized is that I am not making this something I can track easily. I write somewhat randomly, which is great (I mean, in the sense that I can claim I am channeling “the Muse”), but it also leaves myself and others uncertain about what the next day entails. Do you have the vaguest idea of what I write about on Mondays? I don’t. Is Tuesday going to be something you want to read? Who knows?

One of the major inspirations for me, as a consistent, five day per week blogger, was YouTube. YouTube, you ask? But aren’t they, like, the enemy of written work? Well, yes and no. The visual medium, and the ease of access to it, has pacified many people, which may be why reading is less “popular” today than fifty years ago. Who knows? What YouTube (or rather, many famous YouTubers) did do right, however, was realize people like consistency. Take a look at the vast majority of popular channels. Consistent views, everyday, because they upload new, interesting content every day. Similarly, if any of you are aware of Twitch, the popular streaming service, then you probably have a knowledge of popular streamers. Those who are the most popular stream daily (excluding a few, who are typically members of the community in other ways).

So what does all this have to do with my writing? Well, everything and nothing really. Any expressive medium is a device that is unique to each individual in the same way that all petals are unique to a flower. Both are used to present ones self to a variety of pollinators. While on the surface they may all appear the same, the slightest detail is enough to distinguish between two different individuals. Video and literary art are simply two different species of flower—one with blue petals, one with red. Both still need water to grow. Put less artfully, I’ve taken the success of posting consistently on YouTube, and applied it to my own work. With this in mind, I’ve decided to solidify my schedule a bit more, in order to make it easier for you, the reader, to have an idea of what to expect. Here it is:

 

Monday – Poem/Short Story

Tuesday – “Serious” Topic Discussion

Wednesday – Poem/Short Story

Thursday – Short story

Friday – Love Poem

 

Look at that. Even in my scheduling I have some room for randomness. I have put serious in quotes, because it’s not really supposed to just be “serious” stuff. It could be the terror of the political spectrum, it could be the puppies I saw down the street the other day. Until next time!

– Cassady

——

 

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GIVING CRITICISM

Hello everyone,

It’s been a little while since I took the time to be a “normal” blog and give those little updates on life that have literally no impact on the world whatsoever (don’t worry, more creative work will be back tomorrow). Which is why I am not going to talk about how I finished all my graduate school applications recently, how stressful it’s been, etc, etc, etc (wait but that’s what you just did Cassady…). Instead, I wanted to talk about something that has not happened to me before. Someone who had been reading my blog asked me for advice. Now, obviously I am a busy person—we all are. But I took the time to check out a bit of their work and give them constructive criticism. Which I like to think I am decent at giving, and I know a lot of people who are not very good at it. So I wanted to discuss it.

One of my good friends is a person who doesn’t know how to give criticism. He will  say things like “that’s bad” or “I don’t like how this looks at all.” And that’s fine if a person is secure with their work, but let’s be honest, how many of us really feel completely secure with our work? Especially when we are just starting off? Probably not that many of us. I know that I, personally, was exceptionally afraid to show people any of my writing when I first began doing it, and even before that, I was afraid to write because I felt like I myself would be doing a bad job. If someone had criticized me like my friend does right away, there’s a good chance I would not have gone forward with my writing.

Certainly, this is “my fault.” No individual should stop someone from achieving his or her dreams. But that’s not reality. Humans value other opinions—it’s the reason we ask people for advice on relationship, even if they have a terrible track record in them. It’s true that the only way to improve is to get criticism, but when we criticize it can be done in a better way. One way I like to do this is through a “compliment sandwich.” Going back to my original scenario, this blogger asked me to take a look at their work in the comments of one of my posts. That takes some guts, but they sounded rather shy about it. So I took a look, and I found a few things. First of all, they had a great basis for their work. Their concepts were really personal and relatable, which is a solid bedrock for writing. That said, they looked like they had rushed through their writing. Which we all do. I do it. Professionals do it. It’s not a big deal. That’s why people hire editors. But it did take away from their overall message, and they need to correct it to make their work as good as they envision it to be. So I pointed out the positives, then the negatives, to reinforce that they were doing good work but that it needed improvement, and then finished up with a reminder of those positives. Not excessively-if that is done, then the person isn’t going to take the criticism seriously. But this does allow for a friendly way to express the needed improvement. If someone, especially a stranger (or an acquaintance that isn’t very close), asks for advice, it means they value the opinion of the person they are asking, and to shoot them down will only cause self-doubt. It makes the matter more personal than it really is.

What do you think? This approach can vary in impact depending on the context of the discussion. Check out this article for some areas where this technique doesn’t work. Do you have any techniques you use to give constructive criticism? Let me know!

——

 

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DEAN’S ORDER

Dean’s Order PT. 1

Venti, decaf, hot

Skinny mocha with no foam

And something for you.

 

Dean’s Order PT. 2

Line is out the door

And the rain is pouring down.

What took you so long?

 

Dean’s Order PT. 3

Since you took so long

I will need you to stay late

To answer the phones.

 

Dean’s Order PT. 4

Go get the mail

They said there was a package

Labeled for my use.

 

Dean’s Order PT. 5

Thank you for your work

But we are letting you go.

Go clean out your desk.

——

 

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THEY LIED TO ME

My teacher lied to me.

They told me that I should work hard,

They told me that I could be anything,

They told me that I would get a job.

 

Instead, I’m stuck here,

Pushing papers, licking stamps,

Anything.

To keep myself off the street.

 

And maybe I don’t deserve a salary

With a six-figure bonus,

Or meals made by Gordon Ramsey,

But I don’t think I should be homeless.

 

My teacher lied to me,

And maybe it wasn’t their fault.

And maybe the world was out to get me

And maybe it was meant to be.

 

But when so many people

Struggle to put food on the table,

And to get a full night’s sleep

Because they have to work.

 

Why lie to me?

 

The gutter knows nothing about hope;

The rain knows nothing about the cold;

But we, we know all of these things

Like we know the dirt on our hands.

 

My teacher lied to me

And told me that I was free

Because, in truth, they were afraid to say

The realities I now live every day.

——

 

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DIGGING DEEPER

Hello everyone,

 

It’s been a while since I wrote a personal discussion of things as opposed to something creative, but here we go for a spin. Just a few days ago I crossed the two hundred post mark on this blog…which I only knew about because WordPress notified me. Anyways, that got me a tad bit excited. I mean, that’s a lot of writing. I usually spend between 30 minutes to an hour on each on, which means I’m somewhere between 100 and 200 hours spent writing openly on the Internet (in all honesty, it’s probably closer to 200, since most of my work takes closer to an hour). In that time, I’ve written poetry, political commentary, short stories, life restructuring, and emotional discussion pieces.

Sometimes, I get asked by people how I write so much—I mean, there’s only so much to talk about, right? Well, yes and no. Firstly, the human condition is infinite. Or, if not infinite, it at least is far longer than what a human could talk about in one lifetime. Seriously, I could write every day of my life and still only scratch the surface of the world. At the same time, it also begs the question: how much is relevant? I mean, do we really need another college student presenting ideas on how World War II was bad when we could go to a source that is more well-known, or even more entertaining? No.

Digging deep to be entertaining, or interesting, or whatever you want to call it, can be difficult. I know I struggle with it. I know people who are professionals that struggle with it. If you have never heard Louis C.K. talk about his life as a stand-up comic, struggling for new material, check out this video. It’s pretty enlightening, even though it’s born out of the passing of another famous comic. The reality is this: 1) we can always get better at what we do. Take Usain Bolt, famous fastest man alive. 2008, breaks the world record for the 100-meter dash, at the Olympics. This guy is set. He’s in history. He’s the greatest ever. Exactly one year later, in 2009, he breaks his own record. 2) to get better, you have to work for it constantly. Usain Bolt is a good example. It’s not like he sat around for a year to break his own record. He probably ran every day. Louis C.K. writing new material constantly to always come up with something unique and different.

This is the reason I write new stuff constantly. But what I have noticed is that it gets hard sometimes. I LOVE writing. I mean like I really, truly enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean every day is easy. Sometimes I don’t know what to write about. Sometimes I sit down at the computer with no clue what is going on. Some days suck. I’ve written things I don’t particularly like. But if you throw darts at a dartboard 200 times, sometimes you’ll hit dead in the center, sometimes you’ll hit that solid midpoint, and sometimes you’ll miss that board entirely. If you never throw the darts, however, then you can never hit the bullseye. And, conveniently, the more you practice, the less misses you will have.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE (IF YOU LIE)

Anything is possible, if you lie.

Most people won’t even bat an eye,

And even when they start to pass you by,

At least they’ll believe that you can fly.
If you lie you can do all sorts of things

Be the president, make the Ring.

You can make all new friends

Who love you up until the end.
But one thing you can’t do is have a heart.

Because lies only break people apart.

Lies might be what make you rich,

But in the end, you’ll be in a ditch.