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

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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/

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.

Unveil

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the inaugural unfurling

of cloud-wrung fancy

breathes fresh air into

stale crevices

pockets new askew

add unexpected edges

where before were only curves

dogeared shames + satisfactions

formerly core buried beneath

a socially acceptable surface

now updug + exposed

is it for you

the primal glint of gold

or the lush musk of sex

the clipped courtesy of separation

the romantic savagery of wildfire

the stealthy intimacy of influence

the puissant demand for more

if i were to plunge

into a cave of wild abandon

populated only by your dreams

what would i find?

Bound

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too many words

spill across the air

none of them truly mine

your eyes are far away

the past brands bridges

between perhaps pupils

the lonely power of names

struggle to bind us

their inflatable fortresses

seemingly impenetrable

yet also convenient pawns

to be sacrificed

its easy for humans to forget

skin stripped we’re nothing but

hyper realized animals

cloaked in socially endorsed armor

if the needs of the many

outweigh the few

and individuality

is both loathed + lauded

are we now just

a series of ones?

Legend

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until it all fades

we shall burn our names

into the stars

history lives in us

in leaves and deeds and screams

we are part of a greater story

though we can only see

our chapter

true, sometimes the magic ebbs

twitching words slip restless +

uneasy from loose lips

obstacles lumber lock into place

when you’re the hero

there are no capes, claps or guarantees

just love, pain and bloody kneecaps

but our tiny petty thoughts

our soulstained hopes

our arrogantly beautiful yearnings

to stretch fingertips towards the moon

still count

still mean something

still join

the endless fantastical reality

of the universe

Dedicated to the memory of 9/11 and all those who suffered, never forget. 

Stranger

What am I to you?

a stranger.

a dreamer.

a  curiosity.

Somebody worthy of your time,

or just another shuffled off to the margins.

we never think twice about

those we walk amongst.

we never stop to celebrate each other,

not for any special occasion,

but because of our beautiful potential.

I don’t know you

but I could.

Probe

Dim the lights

and cue the madcap introspection tango

stagger leap across the stage as

we rummage through

the tag sale of our thoughts&history

probe our emotional fault lines with gloves on

glide past the burnt metal tang of failure

the smoky rich umber of nostalgia

dip & inspect the chalk outlines

dotting our sidewalks of sins

as we pick through our offerings.

all too often our biased goggles

spin & sift past the positive pickings,

only to hone in

on the polished, soiled gold of negativity.

Storm

unnamed

Oh so appealing, toothsome weather reports,

offering glossy maps & quick soundbites of devastation

(sandwiched by celeb sightings and cute pets)

hand out sugar-coated, screen tested guilt free passes,

reassure us that the Storm is far away, can’t touch us

and that help is already on the way for those poor, poor people

who will soon experience boundless relief.

But the Storm is missing an eye

there are no pockets of comfort here

no grateful smiles, can-do attitudes or silver linings.

It warps and howls, shreds and conquers

a screaming wheel of fortune

blank blades spinning out to clutch

alone, loved, wealthy, ancient, afraid, corrupt, hopeful souls

all whitewashed in the face of timeless fury

In the end, we’re all victims of the storm

it’s just easier to see an eye

when it’s not looking our way.

Choice

It is too easy to lash out,

to become brittle and unforgiving,

beneath our cockroach shells.

It is too easy to avert our eyes,

to plead indifference and court apathy.

To pay our debts with monopoly money

And slip out between a rock and a hard place.

We must all

dance the broken dance

find love and lose it

discover the beauty of heartbreak,

the betrayal of bonding,

and the transience of permanence.

It is almost impossible to ignore the voices, within and without,

asking what difference one can make,

offering up tied hands as proof of our inability,

saying that we had no choice.

 

But we are not witnesses.

It is choice that defines us

What we choose

is who we are.

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