Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tres Poemas

When I Say She Means the World to Me

She has been my starry night 
since before paint speckled her 
with unnamed constellations, 
before my hand spread a galaxy across her cheek. 
Before I left her silhouette
in the fresh wet white on the wall behind her,
there she was, sparkling in my sky.

Somewhere beneath the sun and his mistress moon,
I came to know her, heard her part 
in the Earth's subtle song and danced her to it.
I came to know her in the geologic time we spent 
learning how our bodies could be celestial.

Even now, my every dawn rises to a world of her
full of the wishes I've made on every star of her
and a hundred thousand thousand scenes
of what has, what is and might have been,
and a million more of maybes.

Her stars are older now, but their light
no less the guide by which I set my course
and no matter how far away in distance, speed, or time,
I point my bow toward her horizon and sail gladly into her sunset.
She has been my starry night,
my evening and my morning star,
the sun, the moon, the world itself,
my art, my muse, my song, my dance,
and still I'd give her every all of me
to make of her my universe.

The Fall

Last night, 
a fire burned through Camelot.
Its embers and ashes
cloud the smoky air of Her court
while breath rattles with a cough
in the tight confines of Her chest.
His Queen, and mine,
holds her palms to the last flames for warmth
and shivers in the chill its dying leaves behind.
There was no arson here.
Even a well-tended fire
sometimes escape's its hearth,
burns hot and fast
and takes her world with it.
And I, the stalwart knight,
can but watch the ash settle in her hair,
like some callous snowfall
painting her grey 
except for the trails
washed clean by her tears.


Seasons have come and gone in this dance of ours.
We have known winters, mi querida, yet through them all
this fierce, tiny stove of mine burned brightly for you
and warmed me through the silent fall of snow.

Even that same snow, beyond the bounds of metaphor,
which I already loved, I love still more
for the holes our frozen fingers left
as they crafted the snowballs we flung at each other
and for its tingling as it fell and melted on our noses
as we walked across the blanket
its sifting left across the land.

You have always been this way for me, 
memories tied inexorably to the joys in my life.
I can no longer tell where one begins and the other ends.
You are sweet peach wine and nearly the depth of red.
You are dance, the music and the movement.
You are tango, the lessons I teach.
You are white paint, the painting of kitchens,
that one movie about love in a French Vineyard
and the couch where we sat to watch it.
You are puppies and holiday parties,
long nights talking just to have a few more seconds together,
our eyelids heavy with the weight of sleep.
You are the scent of desire, unsated.
You are my songs, the chords coaxed from my guitar.
You are Spanish, even as it stumbles from my tongue.

Each word, each image, each drop of the Mnemosyne
fuel for the cheery blaze that staves off the lonely cold,
you are the fire, my heart the stove.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I am simply writing to write. That, at the moment, is the sole purpose. I don’t have anything burbling deep down in the center of my soul, no geyser under pressure ready to explode. I have not sat down for lunch at Parnassus and eaten the fruit of epiphany.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I am writing to spin the hands of the clock a little faster. Letter by letter, I press my foot harder on the accelerator of time and hope that when I look up again, I will be saved by the bell.

Alas, this uninspired word-vomit has the horsepower of a V4 manual going up a hill. It goes from 0-35mph in forever flat. The second hand has decided to tick by in geologic time, the rumble of the slow train going by my office nothing more than shifting of the tectonic plates of my boredom.

So I go on, imagining myself brave enough to run out through the field of snow between me and the track and jump on that train. I’ll take a ride to wherever it’s going and pick up from wherever that is. If I didn’t freeze to death, I’d just call it a fugue and blame it on the monotony of the senseless teasing of the seconds. 

I suppose I could delve into the work that lies before me. Not the work of corporations and desks and endless inane advertisements waiting to be proofread to ensure the half-literate masses won’t miss a period, but the work of my. . . well, my work. My creation, the Frankenstein romance that I’ve patched together from the quilted panels of my imagination, fantasies, and experience.

That isn’t to say that my novel is some reunion of the monster and his bride. I apologize for the misleading metaphor. The genre is, purely and simply, romance. I have done away with my morals altogether and sold out. If Nicholas Sparks paved the road in good intentions, it his footsteps I follow in. My cold, cold heart feels no remorse, however. Let the world shudder in my passing.

I have new scenes to write, which means work, then more work once this revision is completed. Even more than the practice I need writing, I definitely need the practice revising and working. It’s much, much easier to spew incoherent thoughts onto a page and shove a Mack truck’s worth of metaphors in between the nouns. I am quite excited about one scene I intend to add. It’s purely based upon one of my favorite memories which involved painting my house and painting the friend helping me. It was a great scene when I lived it, and it fits perfectly into what I’m trying to build in this part of the story. Said friend is the only one of my Alpha readers who bothered to give me notes, and I haven’t told her yet that I’m writing that scene into the book, so I think she’ll be pleasantly surprised when the time comes for her to read it again.

The process is going to take much longer than I intended, and I am considering a change to the ending. I will probably provide both to a couple readers and keep the one they like. After all, it’s the reader who has to like your book. What the author likes or not means absolutely nothing once it’s out of his or her hands. Especially if there’s an intent to make a living. Though I do believe it’s possible to have both, I’m not some soulless monster spinning straw into gold in return for your firstborn child. Well, probably not.

Originally I had planned to publish on Valentine’s, but I don’t think that I will do the book enough justice if I go that route. I refuse to be one of those author’s self-publishing unedited garbage into the world. I will give you my finely spun gold, (shit, maybe I am Rumplestiltskin), for the low price of your firstborn $1.99 so that you can’t help but tell all of your female friends that they MUST go out and buy this rare mineral of a novel for this ridiculously cheap price. What a steal! (It’s on sale.)

On a side note, how are gold and diamonds rare when they’re slid on the fingers and pierced through the ears of every woman in the nation?

When my novel is finally good enough in the less strict opinions of other people, I will publish it to Kindle and let you know. I hope that you will be so kind as to give it a try after listening to me blab about it for months. Then tell your girlfriends. Together, we will turn lead into silver into gold into platinum! Bwahahaha. Oh, right.

Of course, if you’re the overly practical type and dislike Nicholas Sparkesque romance or prefer reading literature, please don’t feel obligated. It’s a terrible, terrible thing I’m doing to the world and if you prefer to keep your hands clean, by all means, do so. ;)

Oh, and when the movie comes out, be sure to see that too. Ha ha. Can’t hit what you don’t aim for.

On another tack, pun intended, I mentioned to a friend this morning that life is like sailing. Your course is never really charted in a straight line. You have the harbor you left from and the harbor you’re headed toward. The wind won’t let you travel from point A to B without interruptions, however. There will be storms and calms and even on the most ideal day, you still have to cross the straight line at diagonals to keep your sails full. Sometimes you’ll find yourself off course entirely. Tack again and head back. Assuming you don’t just wander randomly across the seas of life. There’s always a new shore somewhere. The thought always reminds me of Dave Matthew’s ‘You & Me’. “We’re gonna ride the blue all the way til the end of the world.”

I’d like to leave this monologue with a quote from Neil Gaiman that I dredged out of my archives yesterday. It’s from Anansi Boys. Too true.

"It is a small world. You do not have to live in it particularly long to learn that for yourself. There is a theory that, in the whole world, there are only five hundred real people (the cast, as it were; all the rest of the people in the world, the theory suggests, are extras) and what is more, they all know each other. And it’s true, or true as far as it does. In reality the world is made of thousands upon thousands of groups of about five hundred people, all of whom will spend their lives bumping into each other, trying to avoid each other, and discovering each other in the same unlikely teashop in Vancouver. There is an unavoidability to this process. It’s not even coincidence. It’s just the way the world works, with no regard for individuals or propriety."

And a thousand words, (most of them mine), goodnight.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Answering Her Questions

In response to a couple tricksy questions. ;)

Role models. Heroes. There were few topics I disliked more growing up and it has always been one of American society’s favorites. It may a favorite of society in general, what is it but a microcosm of religion’s macrocosm? Celebrity worship, hero worship, the very words we learn to describe such things are evidence enough.

If I failed to explain it, one of my favorite phrases might give you the impression that I have a role model. I frequently tell people that if I can be half the man my dad is, I will have lived a successful life. I admire him, and love him more than I have words for. I can’t honestly write well about the depths of those emotions without tears coming unbidden to my eyes. It’s too intense for me.

But he isn’t my role model.

I don’t want to be my dad. He’s a different person. He’s a retired helicopter maintenance officer who spent 22 years in the military and is skilled in all kinds of mechanical and technical things. That’s not who I am. I live in my head, in words, books, music, dance. We have a lot in common, but I have a firm desire to be Morgan, which is hard enough, without wanting to be Don.

I have my own life to live, my own mistakes to make, experiences to have. I admire his version of a Renaissance Man, but I simply have different values. Power systems, backwoods living, guns, and power tools just don’t excite me. They’re useful, but those are his joys, not mine. He’s an incredible person, but I have to be my own kind of incredible person. I can’t be anyone else. I wouldn’t want to be.

The closest I get, I suppose, is seeing what some people achieved and saying, “I want that.” Someone recently described the light of my romanticism as a candle standing vigil over a grave. My response? If I am a candle, someone set me too close a tapestry and I will burn the world with a fire like that Shakespeare and Neruda. Shakespeare talks about immortality, a lot. In a way, he achieved it. I want that. I don’t want to be emulate Shakespeare, however. I have my own voice, and want to achieve my goals in my own right. I will accept that there are people who influence me. My parents, Shakespeare, Neruda, Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, Rob Thomas, Lifehouse.

I see role models with my long time metaphor of fishing with a bucket. If I want to, as we Americans say, “Be like Mike,” then I am scooping up the part of Michael Jordan I admire, and everything that comes with it. I carry the burden of all it means to be like Mike to me. Personally, it’s enough to carry what it means to be me, most of the time. But I am strong enough for the latter. What I need for self-nourishment is the fish. I make my cast, hook what I admire, catch it with a net and let the water and all the weight remain where it is. I take that tiny piece that fulfills my idea of who I want to be, and make it so.

The distinction between the two is quite fine, I admit, but there definitely is one. Since I was very young I have never wanted to be anyone but myself. A better, more interesting, more educated, more tolerant, loving, kind, accepting, confident, strong version of myself, but myself. I always want to be a better person today than I was yesterday. But a role model? No. I don’t want anyone else’s role. I’m satisfied to play my own.

The other questions are a little harder to discuss. I don’t normally like to talk about my depression in public. It’s even more private to me than sex is, and more embarrassing. I see it as a weakness and while I think it’s important to allow yourself to be open and through that openness, vulnerable, I don’t really like showing weakness. I tend to do so more when I am emotionally distraught, or through poetry, but rarely in conversation.

Chronic depression is the official diagnosis I was given by the psychiatrist I went to during the year I spent working on my Master’s degree, a degree I did not complete. We met periodically and I started seeing a counselor regularly. It was therapeutic, but when she received a job opportunity in another state, I stopped going. I didn’t want to start all over and I am much more comfortable sharing my emotional concerns with a woman than with the gentleman they assigned me to next. The psychiatrist prescribed a drug called citalopram, which, as he warned, caused sleeplessness and stomach aches. I took it from the time he prescribed it until I quit my Master’s program, got a job teaching ESL, and left for Japan.

More than anything else, my depression severely affects my motivation. My final paper for my graduate level study of Le Morte D’Arthur took me ages to write. I would literally spend 15 minutes writing and 45 laying on my bed trying to work up the motivation to do so again. Refusing to recognize my problem severely limited my ability to function and honestly, I believe it one of the contributing reasons my undergraduate studies took five years instead of the three and a half I could have potentially managed. In spite of it all, I don’t really regret the time spent, as there are people extremely important to me that I never would have met or spent time with had life gone that route, and I likely never would have taught dance to the degree I have. The darkest clouds have their silver linings, I suppose, if we want to be cliché.

I briefly put myself back on medication while I was finishing my year in Japan. It had the same side effects and the trip to visit an English-speaking doctor was two hours on the local train each way. When I came home from Japan, I stopped the medication again. I was tired of the discomfort it caused. I did yoga every day for a month straight, and felt much, much better.

While I still have depressive episodes, and indeed, you still do even when medicated because it’s just part of being human, I remain unmedicated to this day. There are times when I consider finding a counselor again, but have yet to make that effort. The discovery of Zen Soup, One Minute Wisdom, studying the field of Positive Psychology, and exercise gave me tools to help deal with it on my own. I don’t practice them enough, but I’ve learned much about myself in the years since I was diagnosed.
Most of the time my depression is barely an issue these days. I can identify it by unbidden, unwanted dark thoughts about the value of life, or my life. Sometimes it comes on unexpectedly strong, as it did when I had what I called a minor breakdown earlier this year. I hold a lot of stress and tension in my body, and had a trigger set off a lot of it all at once. I took a day and a half off work just to deal with it. It’s not my favorite part of who I am, but I can deal with it these days, and no matter how dark my thoughts may get, I’ll never take it out on myself or other people. The river flows ever onward. I will flow with it, feed Rome, my brighter wolf, be grateful and chase the things that make me happy. Creating, writing, playing guitar, songwriting, poetry, learning foreign languages, dancing, self-improvement. . . I will flourish.

The most difficult part for me is that I am not very good at connecting my intellect and my emotions. That continues to be a work and practice for me. When I can achieve that balance, I will be better still. In the meantime, life goes on.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Two Poems


I'd like to love you
there are parts of me I don't think we've met yet
and I would love to explore with you
the dark gods you draw out of the forest of my soul.

At thirty,
I am still no David, nothing so finished,
nor any work as pensive as Rodin's.
I remain rough, unchiseled,
and what an adventure it would be
to see what shape I take beneath your hands.

I would be fascinated to discover
how you would paint me with your fingertips
and what kind of situation I could rise to
forged in your fire, your clever quips
and your sun-hot temper.

I would rather melt in your anger
than be steel in the grip of any other.

I'd like to love you
there are parts of you I don't think we've met yet
and though in ways I know you better
than any of your lovers ever have or will
I would love to explore with you
who you are, who you've been,
and who you are becoming.

After all this time
I still treasure you as though you were words.
I have read and written so much of you
and I want our story to be more than a fiction based in truth,
more than just graffiti on the walls of your heart;
your poet and protagonist, not some vandal in the night.

I want to know you
with the full force of a kitten's curiosity;
dive into the depths of you from the stratosphere;
feel you rush through me, the adrenaline in my veins.

I want to fill myself
with the joy of your discovery,
sate my love for learning by making maps of you
with the care of a cartographer
and measure our satisfaction in the same meter
in which Aristotle weighed a life


Who knew that in this day and age
we could still find courtly love?
When you need me, I'll be there,
your knight in shining error.
I'm a little bruised and my armor rather tarnished.
I've tilted at a few windmills in my time.
What can I say? They looked like dragons,
but I wouldn't think twice to break a lance
on a few more vanes for you.

My sword's been in its sheath a while
and my shield's a little battered.
My heraldry's a Rorschach rampant,
but I'll let you decide
whether it is hare, dormouse, or hatter.

Yet no matter the stains upon my tunic,
the holes in my mail or the pot on my head,
if you'll tie your favor on my arm
I'll be the Lancelot to your Guenevere,
the Tristan to your Isolde.
If Camelot went down in flames tonight,
six hundred years from now
they'd still tell stories of how I was yours
for I will always be
your knight in shining error.

Even if I fail you, if the windmill, err, the dragon wins
and fate unhorses me again
I'll get back on and take up my quest once more.
I may do the wrong right thing,
or do all the wrongs things right
but I'll save chivalry from it's dying breath
and keep its banner flying
while I charge headlong with your name on my lips
into my next hopeless song.