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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Exile


unfamiliar Deja vu 

reverbs like a wraith boomerang

surfacing from untapped depths 

i haven’t been here before

this time 

this place

this person

so why does recognition lurk

hesitantly by blurred borders?

why do i feel 

i have made this choice 

before? 

exiled within my own skin 

i exist like an 

unstrung Rumpelstiltskin

cursed with memory loss

certain there is something

i must recognize

to reclaim my essence

Shape

Sunset over Washington Terrace

it used to be

OK shoe,

Drop

take a bite out of this bliss

because

in the

 whirling swirling

spiral cycles of life,

beats change as often as

frantic fiddles in the hands of mercurial masters

but

but

somehow things are different,

now

maybe i

am different now

perhaps power

dances under my fingertips

instead of making me it’s reluctant puppet

Can Poetry Change the World?

I was asked this recently as part of an ongoing discussion. I think it is a very important question, because ultimately all forms of human expression should be embraced for their impact.

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Where would we be without art? No matter what the forum, it needs to be recognized as more than just creative license. It is actually something that can inspire healing, build communities + save lives.

In my opinion, poetry is nothing more than a snapshot of our souls. Anytime we let ourselves be vulnerable, we invite fear but also inspire confidence. I often write about incredibly raw subjects, from the point of view (as immortalized by Freddie Mercury) of “is this the world we created?”

Hearing that my words touched someone’s heart, and knowing that there will be ripples continuing to spread and possibly effect change… it may be a small thing, true. But a lot of the world’s actions are shaped by small things.

So my long answer is: Yes. I do think that poetry can inspire positive change, as long as we let it happen organically as an extension of our own experiences instead of trying to force it or color inside the lines.

The Ripening (Revisited)

This is a poem I wrote a long, long time ago– but it still holds true today. A little bit for all of us, maybe? 

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i miss the me
that doesn’t exist yet.

the me that doesn’t ever feel
hollow or tarnished,
but new-minted
brassy with happiness.

i can feel her roots,
burrowed too deep
for conscious thought or recognition.

outside the cocoon,
a spirit adrift,
circling warily around my potential

idly watching
the twisted not-quite-right person
struggle to bloom.

Tattered

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it’s a rare, strange thing

to find solace in absolute misfortune.

to knit a cozy tattered blanket

from the dire-dyed weave of

trials + tribulations

+ continuously dance

dangerously close to the

fiendishly yellow blazing fire

that appears to be burning down

all carefully constructed options

+ turning hope into

just another carrot

on the endless

stick and treadmill of life.

there’s something almost beautiful

in this surrender

to the universe.

it’s what makes us mortal

what makes us

love so deeply

want so badly

climb so recklessly

peak so sublimely

plummet so devastatingly

break so hole heartfully.

it’s what makes us all

secretly believe in

superheroes,

+ even more secretly,

believe that we are one

just waiting for

a moment of discovery

or an unknown trigger

yielding transformation.

so i’ll take my ashes,

my ratty, badluck blanket,

flip my demons the bird,

+ add it all to my

world warrior shield

made from kryptonite

until flaws marry strengths

and i stand complete

Footprint

we are 

eons of depth compressd

into a single soul

hammer hewn humanity

brilliantly savage

stumblingly optimistic

fashioning hope into blinders

+ chaos cantering down

what our heartwish says

is the right path

sometimes ignoring

the beings on our shoulders

not angels or demons,

those overly delineated knights of

the black + white,

but our mortality miasma, 

hungerlovehurtjoy

memories, pains + lessons

whispering words of explosive caution

that shadow spotlights our tracks

and sometimes listening;

to shape the world

in a thousand 

unthinkably beautiful horrific 

ways

until we recede

and our footprint

joins all the others

Future

To me, the topic of Student Loans is not an issue. An issue implies something that has 2 sides, both fully debatable. An issue sounds like the mild younger cousin of a problem, or the grandchild of controversy. The harsh reality is that student loans have turned us into a generation of Atlases unable to shrug. Like all too many of my peers, I am a young professional with over $50,000 in student loan debts.

Having struggled for years to get into a good school like my alma mater, I was willing to accept substantial student loans in order to do so. As my parents both have low incomes and personal debt, I knew I wouldn’t have them as a safety net. I realized that it was a risk, but I had faith that I’d be able to handle it when the time came, and that I’d have help.  I was wrong.

The fact is, as a 2009 college graduate I emerged into a world with the worst economy since the Great Depression. A world where I’m competing with equally desperate peers as well as people 20+ years my senior with endless experience. We watched door after door slam in our faces, and still received those horrifying pieces of paper every month telling us what we owed society. We, who are supposed to be your future. We, who have the power to shape the world. We, who have the same right as every generation before us to pursue our dreams.

That right no longer applies. We don’t have the luxury of dreams any more. What we have is bad credit, and judgments, and no exceptions. It’s a vicious cycle that I simply do not understand: We cannot get a job without a college degree, can’t get a college degree without student loans, can’t pay off loans without a job, but can’t get a job with bad credit. Those who hold our debts hound us constantly, warning us of the consequences of noncompliance. As if we had a choice.

In pop culture, the image of a failed college graduate is usually some deadbeat kid living out of their home basement on their parent’s charity. On the surface, I look nothing like that. I live in an apartment with a peer, have a full-time job, and a solid resume featuring Yale and ABC. I’ve worked 30-80 hours a week since graduation, (and that’s with severe fibromyalgia) but it’s never enough. The truth is, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t feel young.

So maybe instead of ignoring the elephant in the room and reaping private profits at the expense of dreams, the people responsible should listen. We’re tired of being punished, not just with negative credit scores, but also legal ramifications, wage garnishment…the list goes on. Higher education institutions, Congress and our government, banks, loan holders & credit bureaus, and everyone who turns a blind eye: you are all responsible. I cannot say it any more clearly than this: We are supposed to be the future, the next generations to shepherd the world, and you’ve placed a ticking time bomb around our necks.

 

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.

Shutdown

its always easier

to sympathize from a distance.

erect walls & hang a vacation sign on the knob

build a security barrier

out of partisans&phrases

delay opportunity & much needed relief

with the cheerful grin

of a semi-mournful newly enriched golddiging widow

you cannot know

what it is

to exist in a bubble of uncertainty

afraid as much of the present

as the imminently explosive future

you cannot know

what it is

to see your jobs,

your dreams

wrenched away with

closed doors and turgid explanations

you cannot know

what it is

to watch loved ones suffer

and slip away

because their barcode

wasn’t luxe& gold

-Our government is shutdown-

Well, its people are not.

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