Remembrance

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towers, forts, pillars

we took refuge in our

symbols of strength

money and might

two of our favorite keys

draped across the mantle of the world

until the day came

when lives slipped away

like too-fine sand

our symbols stripped bare

and burned from the inside

grief-spilled faces

could only watch in disbelief

a planet stutter-stops

while

fear & hate

are met with honor & love

and yet

the horror remains

a subdued scar

scraping at the surface of civility

reminding us all

that nothing is invulnerable

so everything should be cherished

Image Credit: Culture Travel Reflections http://nicoletteorlemans.com/2012/09/

Dedicated to all heroes, humans and hearts

so gracelessly ripped away

on this most tragic of days

Never forget

Both

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are we oceans or stars?

earth or fire?

clouds or crowns?

sigh skipping breeze

or bold, blustering monsoon?

on the surface

we are urged to

divide,

 divide again

until all that’s left

are labels + shelves

but i say

i’ll be demon and angel both

my flaws are also my strengths

my pain also my joy

so i refuse to choose

i accept my

contrast-checkered coat of arms.

shapeless shades

of red rimmed judgment

no longer shackle me to

the tainted well of my inhibitions

+ deserted back alleys of doubts

now

i stand free

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.

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.

White Helmets

An original poem by Nicole Edry

 Dedicated to all the lives lost + devastated by the ongoing Syria conflict

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look away

there’s nothing to see here

the conflict in Syria

is just one more

socially strained segment

soaked in fluff

+ presented as news

not a ruthless brute force ripping away

life, bones, blood + hope

from people

whose only crime

is daring to live

and even more despicably,

wanting to do so

with souls that are free

but since we already have ours

we can’t be bothered

to care

so we change the TV

to something

easier + shinier

Turn Your Head.

You Are A Witness,

Not A Bystander.

tear away

the gilded guilt-ridden

blinders of complicity

+ the suavely polished mask

of cultured indifference

we have played this game already.

pretended not to know

when they were rounded up in camps,

driven down in the streets,

shot quietly in the woods

in the name of progress

we can no longer don the

artificial rose glasses

of willful ignorance

the entire world is exposed,

connected

+ the bravery of a few

is not enough

to redeem

the silent cowardice of many

Lines

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i’m getting tired of

halves mights + maybes

punch drunk promises

noncommittal sympathy smiles

i need to excise + emerge

out

from under our

label loving lacquered jungle

protest against our sanctified addiction

to coloring inside the lines

with cautious crayons

but the verdant verde grass

beckoning across the picket fence

isn’t any better

seeing as i can’t slake my disgust

with our slick lust of lip service

+ empty gestures

it’s too easy to find excuses

for why not

instead of emerging from our

brilliant little boxes

to just be

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?

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.

 

We

The unfulfilled ostrich sticks her neck into the sand

predictably, willingly, desperately.

The unlamented rat scurries deeper into the hole

outcast, excess, scapegoat.

The unloved housewife sinks deeper into her bottles

refugee, adrift, enabler.

The uncanny elephant is careful not to remember too much

Heartbroken, defiant, confused.

The unheeded prophet sheds the dry tears of Cassandra

dismissed, repudiated, frightening.

 

Cowering before We,

as they are tumble swept through the cracks in society,

*No lifelines or news reporters or midnight princes arrive*

 

We, the creeping destroyers of our own home, our earth, our roots.

We, the shuddering lovers of power and sex and glory.

We, ecstatic WarDens of an unnaturally preserved future.

We, the slumlords of

Tinseltown-WallStreet-Deceptions-Shitcreeks

DMZs&MP3s&FallenTrees&Hierarchies

Blackwaters-Crimescenes-Fearmongerers-Bigotry

Landfills&Celebrities&Oildrills&RPGs

Moguls&99ers&Totals&Liars.

 

We, who will lose everything.

We, who can still choose love. 

Wish

How long until wishing wells are faded
And gloriously entrenched in cracked cultures?
The seams of which have been melded
Cohesively together in the name of progress.

What, really are we losing?

In one moment, a thousand
Suspended crossings of wants
Intersect with needs consequences realities
Stats and hopes and demands and prayers

Now those slippery striating ideas
Were previously released joyously
Shining and untamed,
They always used to wriggle out of reach
While you secretly hoped that somewhere

A wand would wave
A number will be called
A great love will be born
The crescendo of music swells

In a dreamscape outside time
that is slowly dying.

Where Fairy tales aren’t manufactured
By politically correct committees
Now, some voices protest
The erosion of wonder

Do we live in an age without sages?

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