Self-Made

In a home of my own making
Amidst the broken glass of an abandoned Colorado factory
The hollowed-out brambles of a Pennsylvania backwoods
Shared blankets and trash can fires of a New York slum

Sticks and sheets and coffee cans
Huddled under a bridge
Decorated with a showcase of my discoveries

Cobbled together handiwork
Make the best found-item artists proud

With friends of my own making
Fellow travelers and lost boys
Street preacher questioning his book
Cop who turns an eye when I “find” bread

Songs and stories and helping hands
The few who look at me from where they are
And accept the journey to who I am

Cobbled together acquaintances
From the throngs of passersby

Through plans of my own making
Tomorrow’s landing site, today’s art medium
Who to say goodbye to, who to invite along
How to respond to the next insult, what hat to wear

Trails and trials and mangled maps
Close my eyes and point
To who I will be next

Cobbled together dreams
Building a sculptor from the clay

From components handed to me
An upwardly mobile society
A forgotten trade
Poor decisions by someone who once was me

Snips and snails and castaway coins
I pick up where you leave off
Twigs discarded at my threshold

Woven together human
Designs from a graduated cobbler

From leftovers handed to me
I weave art from the twigs

Geometric beauty
A mathematical masterpiece

That no one will see
Until the birds pick through it for food

Rose Tinted Glasses

Deep Blue was just a computer
Red, a Party of incomprehensible thinkers
I only saw yellow in my own fear
The need for everything was green’s solitary use
White was the race I was born into
Black and brown, the ones I was taught to judge

Every color of the rainbow
Useless blotches on a wooden palate
Rubbish dumped to the floor
About to be trodden on when your hand slipped underneath

Caught my sole, robbed my balance and breath
With violets that sank me, drowned me with royalty
Stars that burst orange and gold behind my eyes
Blinding me with shades of colors
I have no meanings for.


Author’s Note: While there are several paintings and artists who inspired this poem, it is more of a reaction to art itself. It can also have other meanings and connotations depending on the readers’ personality, state of mind, emotions, ect. As I have said before in this blog, this is one thing I love about art in general and poetry specifically.

I do, however, want to highlight some of the artists. One of them, Thomas Kinkade, most people have heard of. The others are great, but relatively unknown. Most of them I found by searching sites like Redbubble, fineartamerica, and Etsy.

One thing I love about the WordPress poetry community is that many of the poets seek out and support one another. I think checking out art sites, like the one listed above, shows this same solidarity to fellow artists.Several of my favorite finds from these searches (in alphabetical order) are Larisa Aukon, Megan Duncanson, Johnathan Harris, Devika Keskar, Christopher Pottruff, and Jane Small.

I encourage you to check out some or all of the links above. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments: people who help you trade your rose-tinted glasses for rainbow-saturated ones.

To the Man I Met Yesterday

I apologize for the title
Because, though it refers to you as you choose to be,
It does not take into consideration the complexity
Of a life not lived on the edge, not measured by the boxes
But by the contents, an infinite number of definitions
Which, while better for us as humans, makes more trouble
For writers than it does for casual conversationalists
Because it is nowhere near as hard
To say “Your friend asked me to go to the store, but I
forgot what they wanted” as it is
To write a poem
Titled
“To the biologically female
physiologically transitioned, sociologically male
psychologically comfortable, spiritually
aware, fashionally uninhibited, Patriot-accented
beautiful-hearted, horror-surviving
unapologetic apologist soul
I had the pleasure of glimpsing
yesterday.”

Hypnogogic Jerk

This evening’s lullaby
Everyone’s a critic
X for x’s sake

Sleep with one eye open
Memorize the patterns, sounds in the metal walls
Bang, ba-bang, clank: guard making his rounds
Bang, boom, scuffle: a new resident, learning the way of things
Schiff, bang, thunk: an old hand, giving up
So long as it’s not… Clang, clank, slam
You can still sleep with one eye open

Dream with one hand in the cookie jar
Learn the language of subtext, meaning behind the lies
We really want to work with you: you are good for our reputation
You have a real talent: as long as people keep buying, we’ll keep selling
What’s your vision for this project: we need you to think you matter
So long as it’s not… Let’s try a new direction
You can still dream with one hand in the cookie jar

Create with one foot on the ground
Recognize the warning thoughts, signs you’re losing you
It’s hard to explain: you don’t see all the hard work
I want to be true to my passion: I don’t know what is inside, but it needs to come out
No one knows who I am: I’m not sure I’m showing my true self
So long as it’s not… I deserve to be known
You can still create with one foot on the ground

This morning’s wake up song
Let’s try a new direction
Clang, clank, slam

Note: While I didn’t want to say so before the poem, this piece is a reaction to some great advice about the writing and the creative process that I have picked up from people like Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Chuck Wendig, and Maureen Johnson.

I like to show all my poems to someone who is not a big fan of poetry to get their thoughts. This time, the reaction was “I have a feeling this is depressing but I don’t know why.” I think this is an excellent way to sum up something all artists and creators go through in regard to their own work.

I pointed out that the poem is depressing because it’s about trying to create in a world, a context, that’s not always conducive to creativity. But, I continued, it’s also hopeful. Each scenario has a “So long as it’s not”: a thing that makes it less survivable. The hope of the poem lies in which of these lines is missing from the last verse.

The only one of these “So long as it’s not”s that can truly stop you is an internal one.

It’s something you can control.

Reaction to TSWGO

Chances are you’ve heard of The Fault in Our Stars. The book was #1 on the NYT bestseller list for seven consecutive weeks and the movie grossed over $266 million worldwide. Also, it was advertised practically everywhere in the States.

It’s less likely you’ve read, or even heard of, the book by the girl to whom The Fault in Our Stars is dedicated.

While I love TFIOS and have already written poems about the many things its author, John Green, has done, I wanted to shine a spotlight on the story that in many ways allowed TFIOS to exist- the story of Esther Earl.

This Star Won’t Go Out

I first heard of her in a YouTube video
I know, cliché
More so when it wasn’t even her own

In the video, a man told his story of meeting her
A man who himself inspired hundreds of thousands
Inspired by a teenage girl to write a story
While not being completely hers
Was much less his
And that was the important part

But the story I’m interested is completely hers

Her handwriting, her notes to her parents
Telling them she knew it had to be hard to be them
To have a kid with cancer
And that the truth is icky

Her chats with her internet friends
A group of teenage girls
Who, long after she is gone, help moderate a project
that raises over a million dollars for charity

Her activism
Not for cancer charities
For the Harry Potter Alliance
Books and equality for all

Her hand-drawn smileys
Her declaration of intent
To cut her hair short and anglefied (because that’s a word)
And dye it orange with purple streaks
Her follow-through and attached photographic proof

Her book
Edited together after she died
By her parents
Who included her journals, letters, thoughts from friends
And set up a foundation
Not in her name but in the name of the hope she represented
That this light, this star
Will never go out

Note: Learn more about the book and the foundation here.

Reaction to Chase Holfelder

In the holiday season we are inundated with scores of Christmas carol covers. While I enjoyed listening to them, and have found some truly beautiful ones, it struck me how many of them are essentially the same.

And then I found a video by a YouTuber I discovered about 5 months ago, Chase Holfelder. Chase, besides having a great voice, brings a unique quality to his covers in that he takes songs originally written in major keys and sings them in minor.

This simple change can have some startling effects. This is nowhere more apparent than in this cover of a pop song. I recommend you listen to it, this Christmas carol cover, and this before reading my poem.

Major to Minor

When girls wanting fun
turns from a nerve-scraping
narcissistic
joy ride
into a heart-clenching
haunted
cry for help

When holiday cheer
takes into account
the acknowledgment
of a hard road ahead
without sullying
the season

When patriotism
and the hope
for a better land
are not opposites
but the cry of the same
mournful voice

A simple change creates
beauty that
brings me back
every time my restless soul
needs a soundtrack

Reaction to @Mark_Sheppard’s diabetes.no campaign

When I decided to write a reaction poem about one of my favorite celebrities of the moment, Mark Sheppard, I ran into a problem. I realized that most of what I wanted to say was already in my poem I’m a Fan of a Fan inspired in part by Wil Wheaton.

So, while I still include some personal references to things I admire about him, I decided to shift the focus to the anti-diabetes campaign he is doing with his son called diabetes.no. I encourage anyone reading this to check it out. Not only is it a worthy cause but you also get a cool shirt. Win, win.

diabetes.no

I’ve seen what disease can do to children
And their parents.
Fractured marriages are not uncommon.
Cleanly severed ones are.
I’ll run the risk of double negatives
To tell you I’m in love.
Not with a character, or an idol,
An image, or even a man,
But with the hope
That there is a time
When teaching your nine-year-old
To give the finger
Is good parenting,
When tweeting your ex’s Facebook post
About your split
Shows awe-inspiring respect,
And when declaring you’ve never played a villain
Is still true after 42 episodes
As the King of Hell.
More importantly,
I’m in love with the idea
That building a place
Where kids forced into war
Can meet fellow soldiers,
And stop being soldiers,
Is just as important
As furnishing them with the weapons
They need to fight.