Exhale

part of me yet seeks to be

still.

exhale

without soulclawing for air

in a pain-murmuring body

holding itself hostage.

daily, i hunt armistice,

for tenuous relief

from this sisyphean shell,

forever roiling with

ebbs + echoes

of bonerooted pain-

newly validated

by nodding white coats.

the nightmare breathes inside my skin

i feel it

before my eyelids even flutter open

it whispers me awake

an agony anthem

gleefully unraveling

the sandman’s lullaby

in its midnight playground

disease has burned its brand on me

its spiderweb suffering

deepwoven into fickle DNA

seeking mastery with a conqueror’s fist

yet i

like many others

am so much more than the pain i carry

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Friend

where there is darkness, you seek hope

where there is division, you spark unity

where there is pain, you share strength

you may be an inspiration to others

but that doesn’t neon blaze from your forehead

it’s not a badge you can flash merrily

or a “get out of jail free” card to chase away demons

sometimes you can’t look your reflection in the eyes

sometimes you despair of ever being a whole self,

of ever being more than a fragmented series of shatter shard moments

sometimes, it feels like you’re drowning in a riot of unsteady emotions

so when you forget

when you’ve lost sight of

your many splendored shades + shadows

radiating through with each blink

i will walk alongside

and remind you

Potential

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Prospects stir within me

peeking through the murk

of disarming doubts

and missed opportunities

to eye tomorrow speculatively

They venture forward

brushing aside

clinging fragments of fear

trailing shreds of futures

from restless dreams

shedding past selves

and stowing their baggage

in the corner

My possibilities

jockey for position

as they thrum restlessly

at the starting line of my soul

waiting to gallop off

and be chosen

as the one

who could change everything

Letters

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lines drip bald-faced

down a seemingly empty page

after a daring jailbreak

from an unfiltered unconscious

angels & angles

demons & dreams

crisscrossing

while memories insidiously

waltz their way

around the edges

masquerading as mothballs

dipping & clinging

to paper particles

how can an incurious vowel

here

a crooning consonant curve

there

possibly hope to convey the bottomless

endless spectacles everywhere unfurling

/a riot of humanity throughout history/

what scribe or scholar

could tame the beast

with the sideline stroke of a pen?

not i, said the fly.

still,

what better way

to grasp for the moon?

Crowd

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a blanket of hurry

muffles the impatient horde

coloring the sidewalk

with a reverse rainbow of humanity

intimate strangers

breathing the same air

searching for spectacles

lost in a million million thoughts

a panoply of psyches

people at their worst,

unkind, self-involved, abrupt

ignoring

groping hands reach for benediction

averted eyes pretend not to see

those tarnished by the brush of “not enough”

but also the quiet moments of kindness

that have redeemed us since

before we could walk, grunting politely

at others in nearby caves

millenia later, we still strive for refuge

seeking sanctuary among the teeming masses

the blissful solace of losing yourself

in a sea of people

the wonder of crossing eyes,

skimming through briefly bare surfaces

more than connection

joined vulnerabilities

with someone you may never see again,

and can be utterly free with

*Image courtesy of this amazing new artist and blogger I just discovered: http://myscribbledsecretnotebooks.com/tag/painting-of-kerouac/

Strive

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i don’t recognize this smile

winking behind uncharted waters

buoyed, backlit

by joy and expectation

used to be, could only see

floor free depths of drowning

currents concaving + flexing

not even bothering to beckon

sandprints

venturing far, far away from

chartered courses

into unanticipated undersea caves of

human emotion

bristling bone carapaces teeming with

squirmy sentiment

lit only mildly with

blue burning deathless torches of apathy

but cobalt hues and gray questions

no longer surround me, striving to

fulfill the commands

of their rock bottom masters

i learned to be

unstoppable force and swaying reed

give both the respect they deserve

and, flung free,

flourish

What I Learned From Death

A great man died last week. His name was Sir Terry Pratchett, and he was my favorite author. The man inspired me to start writing and not worry about following the style of others. He understands people better than anyone else I’ve ever come across.

He was also, in my completely unbiased opinion, the greatest philosopher of our age.

A British satirical author who wrote a bestselling fantasy series, many would look at his whimsical covers and dismiss what’s inside as fluff. And that would be a critical error– I’ve learned more about human nature between those pages than from anything else.

He sees people as we should be seen, and his words would help heal the rifts in our society if we would only heed them. He faces our ugliest reflection in the mirror and emerges undaunted, with a hilarious little anecdote to top it all off. His impact on this world is immeasurable. To me, he is a great Influencer, and his lessons transcend personal and professional to apply to all walks of life.

What can we learn from Terry? It’s nearly impossible to boil it down, as his words range from hilarious to poignant to provocative to devastating. Although he was far too clever to implicate anyone or anything by name, he used fantasy as a backdrop to highlight real-world problems, cultures and ways we’re our own worst enemy.

His mind-bogglingly brilliant book The Hogfather is a loving, brutal treatise on who we are and who we can become. The titular namesake is essentially a more primitive Santa Claus who explores the not always rosy power of humanity, and society without any sugarcoating.

On Education: “Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.”

On Fairy Tales, and How They Should Really Be Read: “And then Jack chopped down what was the world’s last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement, and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant’s children didn’t have a daddy anymore. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after, without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done…which proves that you can be excused for just about anything if you are a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions.”

On our Pop Culture Portrayal of Kids: “Real children do not go hoppity skip unless they are on drugs.”

On Man vs. Machine: “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” 

On Changing the World: “The phrase ‘Someone ought to do something’ was not, by itself, a helpful one. People who used it never added the rider ‘and that someone is me’.” 

On the Power of Belief: (excerpt, a conversation between Death and his granddaughter)

“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THENSHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

So why am I sharing it here, on this forum? Believe me, I thought long and hard about it. I have other accounts, other social media sites that on the surface seem more suitable. But really, I think that’s the whole point.

Dig beneath the surface. Don’t go through life basing everything on assumptions, because then you’ll lose. Rose-colored glasses are equally as dangerous as tunnel vision.

Embrace the unknown, open your arms to the unusual. Don’t just stay in the herd when you see another break away from the pack. Find the humor in life, but don’t shy away from the bad.

True evolution lies in a willingness to look at our own flaws and change. This is as true of leaders, CEOs, celebrities, influencers and all the big guns as it is of any Average Joe.

Saying “be the change you wan’t to see in the world” isn’t enough if you’re not willing to stray outside your comfort zone. So listen to Terry, look in an unexpected direction, and you may find your own muse.

Perhaps

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different possibilities

laugh + skip across yellow brick roads

creating forever memories

with a thousand thousand

stripped down nows

seeds of unhatched dreams

nearly seeds

nudge for change,

slowly percolating between heartbeats.

i can feel their maybe roots

buried deep down in the

nooks + crannies of knees,

unruffled + exquisitely expectant

waiting to guide curious feet

to an unknown destination

such a brief, sublime beginning

to ripple through me, far beyond me

into the universe

helping the world spin

into a next chapter of questions

as bold new words dance across the stars

Hang

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the broken days

we all dread them.

on an oversalted afternoon,

the wheel spins + another

pain-leashed leviathan

weighs anchor in an unlucky soul.

sometimes we just borrow them

then step right back into the sun

others hang in our heart,

like Hamlet’s crooked star,

turning every bend in the road

into a promise, then a question,

and finally, a shrug.

and yet,

your humanity is what makes you beautiful

your mortality is what lets you feel so fiercely

your conscience can still change the world

don’t let nature’s pencil trace

bitter furrowed eyebrows + wasted moments

upon age softened skin

instead, simply revel in the fact that

you are loved

 

Dedicated to my Tía, and the almost absurd amount of strong, courageous, powerful, kind and wonderful women in my life. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be who I am without you! 

Ripple

Dedicated to Anthony Brown, and all those whose lights were snuffed out far too soon. Let’s honor their memory by reaching for hope instead of hate. 

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i wish you’d

use your heel

to scuff out

the line in the sand

between us

instead of

scoring it

deeper

i wish i

could shift

your horizons

free your eyes from

their entrenched tunnels

is it fear, power

or hate

that makes

us all obsess

over each other

our sins

crimes

mistakes

don’t you see

at the end

of all things

nothing will divide us

life, joy, hope, pain, sorrow

are born from us all

no matter what our

wallets or wisdoms

we are all equal

we are one

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