A Protest

Change is not back then or in the future or tomorrow, it is always current.

Science talks a lot about how our brains change, and how we can influence how they do so. Few talk about how difficult it is to do that; how it takes constant, conscious effort. The first step is always identifying what needs to change.

For example, instead of immediately responding to #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter, we need to acknowledge that by saying that, we are not listening to hear, but to respond. And if we’re not listening to hear, we are not open to change. And if we don’t respond with #AllLivesMatter, but listen to what posts with #BlackLivesMatter are saying, what might happen?

We might hear the voices that are fighting to be heard.

Why don’t we want that? Because it’s hard.
It’s difficult to not make it about ourselves and our view of the world.

The hashtag BlackLivesMatter is trying to accomplish the same thing that the pink ribbon does for breast cancer. It’s trying to make people see and act on an existing problem.

Each day we should tell ourselves in the morning that we want to listen, and in the evening we should ask ourselves if we heard. We should remind ourselves that listening is not the same as being heard. Listening means we are not heard, but allowing someone else to be heard.

And because right now Black people need to be heard, the rest of this post will be their words, not mine. If you can listen to what I have to say, then you can listen to them too.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Tracy Chapman:

Lyrics:

If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that love can break your heart
When you’re down so low you cannot fall
Would you change?
Would you change?How bad, how good does it need to get
How many losses, how much regret
What chain reaction, what cause and effect?
Makes you turn around?
Makes you try to explain?
Makes you forgive and forget?
Makes you change?
Makes you change?
If you knew that you would be alone
Knowing right, being wrong
Would you change?
Would you change?

If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings a pain that can’t be soothed
Would you change?
Would you change?

How bad, how good does it need to get
How many losses, how much regret
What chain reaction, what cause and effect
Makes you turn around?
Makes you try to explain?
Makes you forgive and forget?
Makes you change?
Makes you change?Are you so upright you can’t be bent
If it comes to blows?
Are you so sure you won’t be crawling
If not for the good why risk falling?
Why risk falling?If everything you think you know
Makes your life unbearable
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you’d broken every rule and vow
And hard times come to bring you down
Would you change?
Would you change?If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you saw the face of God and love?
If you saw the face of God and love?
Would you change?
Would you change?

George Floyd:

I can’t breathe

Killer Mike:

You got a prosecutor that sent your partner to jail, and you know it was bullshit? Put a new prosecutor in there. Now’s your election to do it. You want a different senator that’s more progressive, that puts marijuana through? Now is the time to do that. But it is not time to burn down your own home.

I love and respect you. I hate I don’t have more to say. I hate I can’t fix it in a snap. I hate Atlanta’s not perfect for as good as we are. But, we have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes, because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize, and to properly mobilize.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Ida B. Wells:

The matter came up for judicial investigation, but as might have been expected, the white people concluded it was unnecessary to wait the result of the investigation—that it was preferable to hang [or suffocate] the accused first and try him afterward.

. . .

No maudlin sympathy for criminals is solicited, but we do ask that the law punish all alike. We earnestly desire those that control the forces which make public sentiment to join with us in demand.

George Floyd: 

I can’t breathe

Martin Luther King Jr:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquil drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation [systematic racism] to the unlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality—1963 is not an end but a beginning.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Barack Obama:

It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal”—whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.

This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.

George Floyd:

Please, I can’t breathe.

Doggie Dilemma

You think your dog is trouble? At least yours only has one head!

Put yourself in Hades and Persephone’s sandals for a moment: their dog Cerberus has one-two-three heads.

If you have ever owned two dogs with different eating speeds, you might be familiar with that struggle when the one dog scarfs down its food and then tries to scarf down the other dog’s. It is much, much worse with Cerberus.

The middle head is the one that devours everything in an instant, and it’s nearly impossible (even for a god and goddess) to stop him from stealing food out of the other heads’ bowls, or even straight from their mouths! The middle head has prime real estate for food theft. After all, you might be able to separate two dogs, but you can’t separate Cerberus’ three heads!

The only thing that works is to distract the middle head with play time. Persephone has the most success at this, especially when she has just come back from Earth. Then again, all three heads are so happy to see her, they’re all distracted. So the success rate of this strategy? Is never high.

The other strategy that has some margin of victory is one that Athena suggested. It involves taking a woven basket with the bottom cut out, and jamming it over the Cerberus’ middle head. He doesn’t like it, and will do his best to avoid this, but if they can get it on him, it’s harder for him to steal from the other heads. That being said, the middle has recently learned how to use the edge of the basket to flip food out from the other dogs’ bowls and down his hatch. . . . This invention of course was later adopted by mortals, though they only use it every once in a while, and not every day, twice a day come meal times. Hades and Persephone envy these mortals every day when Cerberus is being particularly difficult, come mealtimes.

The cone isn’t the only invention that has come out of Hades and Persephone’s dog dilemmas. Between the two of them, they can pet all three of Cerberus’ heads at the same time (though of course all three heads are smart enough to realize that there are four hands, and thus all of them want the extra hand on them), but those months when Persephone is gone? Well, let’s just say the Underworld is really the Underworld for Hades.

One day, Hades felt Persephone’s absence especially keenly, and was fed up with patching Cerberus up after the three heads fought over who got pets (the middle head does not have prime real estate when it comes to fight. Whenever it turns to snap back at the left head, the right head has a clear opening, and vice versa.). He arranged to visit Persephone on Earth for a day. On his way back home, Hades came across a mortal who was selling a device called a “backscratcher,” and the god had an idea. To the mortal’s astonishment, Hades bought four back scratchers. He then attached three of them to the fourth.

The three “hands” of the back scratcher were perfectly spaced so that Hades could scratch all three of Cerberus’ heads at the same time. This, at least, was a success. All three heads loved it. The mortals also thought Hades’ invention was a success, though they thought it was meant to scrap leaves off walkways and landscape.

At the end of the day though, Hades and Persephone love Cerberus, just as much as any of us love our own pets, no matter how much trouble they might bring us. And well, at least our pets only have one head!

On Back Burners

This is an official declaration that the series on gender and manliness in epics and Arthurian romance is on hiatus.

(“We figured,” someone from the audience mutters, slouching in their seat. “You haven’t updated it in like, a year, or something.”)

Yes, it has been placed on the back burner, so that the front burners are open for new, exciting ideas.

And that brings us to the problem with the expression.

A typical stove (at least in my experience) only has two back burners. But I have a lot of ideas. At least fifty pots are stacked on top of each other on top of those two back burners. And these ideas are always multiplying, oh look! there’s a couple more now. Why not store some away? Well, they’re all on the back burner because they all cross my mind fairly regularly at some point. The pantry is filled with an infinite number of less-thought-of ideas.

And you know the problem with some of these pots on the back burner? Well, some of them are in fragments, and all these pieces are mixed together. So before I can even move some of these items to the front burners, I need to go on an archaeological excavation and figure out which pieces go where.

 

On Croissants. On Fish.

On Croissants:

Heavenly, divine

the buttery flakes,

the crisp crunch,

the crinkle of the bread as you break it

to reveal fluffy softness

white as a cloud.

You’re floating in air

with every bite,

until the last one

and you’re abruptly

earthbound.

 

On Fish:

Do fish ever look up?

They look to the surface

when food falls.

But do they ever look beyond?

Humans are always looking at the sky.

We’re always wondering what it’d be like to fly.

To go beyond our limits, our boundaries.

It’s exciting, exhilarating.

We try to go faster, further,

but then we come back down.

And we’re earthbound.

And suddenly our eyes

open to the destruction we’ve left in our wake.

Some of us still have eyes only for the sky.

For beyond, for after.

The rest of us can’t look at the sky anymore.

We have eyes only for what has become of our home.

The current is all that matters,

lest it be lost,

and the future with it.

If fish never looked beyond before,

are they now?

Are they seeing the plastic debris

drifting into their homes,

and trying to see beyond,

to find the cause?

If they are looking,

not enough of us are looking back.

We have eyes only for the sky,

and the birds that are still in it.

We care not for the waterbound.

For we dislike our own boundaries.

And if we can learn to fly,

and broaden our possibilities,

then fish can to.

If they don’t,

well,

they have only themselves to blame.

 


 

Lists of prompts and prompt generators are nice, but I’ve always found them pretty useless or disappointing. They almost never surprise me like asking the people around me does. The prompt “croissant” is courtesy of Kaitlin and the prompt “fish” is courtesy of Misha.

I’m always looking for inspiration, so always feel free to send me prompts!

 

Works of Fire

1.

A burst of color fizzles out, the blooming flower fades

I am the smoke skeleton left behind,

to drift along the breeze.

Your eyes, they move to the next bright thing,

darting left and right, and up and down.

But my shape will hold longer,

and I am the more reluctant to leave.

But when I do, I will soon be unrecognizable.

Unseen by eyes that moved on,

now one with the wind and the earth.

Still beautiful, 

ghostlike I linger,

and feed all that is beautiful in the world,

with all that I have left.

 

2.

Watching blossoms bloom 

amidst thunder, fire and smoke

bursting across the sky,

in short-lived but memorable declaration,

I think:

“only humans.”‘

No matter how brief the moment,

we fill the sky with light

and the air with sound,

declaring

“We are here.”

Left to Right and Vertically, This Read : Instructions

3.
everyday
standards
like
writing
format,
will
we
really
descend
into
chaos,
or
will
we
gain
greater
wisdom
or
greater
empathy?
If
only
one
thing
is
certain
it’s
that
most
all
of
us
could
sure
use
some
more
wisdom
and
empathy,
not
the
least
of
all
me.
I
could
also
use
some
more
patience.
So,
I
decided
this
was
worth
a
try.
As
for
my
conclusion,
well,
why
don’t
you
give
this
a
try
yourself?
2.
Basically,
if
you
believe
a
medicine
will
work,
it
will.
If
you
believe
it
won’t,
it
really
won’t.
Thus,
you
must
always
be
open
to
the
possibility
that
it
might
work.
We’re
not
even
open
to
the
possibility
that
maybe
we
should
read
and
write
vertically
or
right
to
left,
so
how
can
we
possibly
be
open
to
others’
experiences
that
are
so
different
from
our
own?
If
we
challenge
our
1.
I’m
told
I’m
meant
to
write
horizontally,
and
from
left
to
right.
But
I
wonder
if
standards
like
this
are
part
of
the
reason
humans
have
so
much
trouble
understanding
those
who
are
different
from
themselves.
Maybe
if
we
all
took
a
moment
to
write
vertically
and
right
to
left,
we’d
be
more
understanding
of
others.
At
the
very
least
we
may
be
more
thoughtful.
You
may
have
heard
of
the
placebo
effect.

 

To Be Made, To Become

I’m turning into a monster.

    my fangs have grown long
    my voice has become a scream,
    or a growl.

I’m growing scales one by one.

          I’m starting to long to bite you
          I’m starting to wonder what you’d look like,
          writhing in a pain I deal with every day.
          I’m starting to wonder what it’d look like,
          if I were the one in power.

The one who says it’s ok.

     that you spend 24/7 in pain.

It’s ok

    that your body has tried the fight, flight, freeze responses,

    and ended up devoting itself to “faint.”

It’s ok

    because because because because

IT’S OK

          it’s ok that you’re in pain
          it’s ok that the world is dying
          it’s ok so many students have debt
          it’s ok we failed during the refugee crisis
          it’s ok we’re detaining people at our borders
          and separating families
          it’s ok to talk about how hot your daughter is
          it’s ok some people have private jets while others starve
          it’s ok to distrust half your country, that it’s torn in half with hate

I’m becoming a monster
against my will.

    My nails have lengthened and sharpened into claws

     that do not let go that do not let go

It was against my will

          but my roars will not be silenced.

     No,

          they will grow and grow, and grow and grow

     until maybe someday

          they can match the power
          of issues swept under,
          of the control you hold over my life

But then would they listen?


No!

    they would not.

          So a monster I will not become.

For to become a monster would be
     to give up what little I have control over:
                              myself.

To become a monster
    would mean to lose my chance to be heard
                    to change things.

So now,

I’ll shed this hideous skin I’ve grown.

           I’ll shear off my horns,
          And my groans I’ll drown.

          A human being I am,
     and a human I’ll stay.

And in doing so,

I’ll have won

          The game that was made without victors.

And I’ll smile in the face of adversary,

          for their greatest weapon
          will have been destroyed:

                         my destruction of myself.

Thinking of You Still.

In my memories, you both are almost always smiling.
Did you really smile that much?
Or have my memories already become
sKeWeD?

If it is that my memory is in error, perhaps it is not entirely an evil thing,
for maybe the remembrance of you both is finally becoming what it should be—
a source of strength.

Or perhaps your smiles are what I most fear losing to forgetfulness (and anger, and grief). But oh! I want to remember every emotion I saw cross your faces, every piece of yourselves I got to see.

But perhaps you both really smiled that much.

I know there were times you were too sad to deal with the world,
but neither of you liked showing that aspect of yourselves.
At least, not to me.
(Ben, I’m pretty sure for you, at least, it was that you never liked anyone at all to see that.)

I remember moments where you didn’t smile of course. Moments you were too sad to. But those are far, far outweighed by images of humor and mischief and joy.

Perhaps it was because you were together, most every time I saw either of you.
Indeed, I know that was part of it.
For I got to know you both equally,
and saw the change in each of you when you were with each other.

You were the sun and moon respectively and both of you glowed.
You brought out the best in each other.

I feel privileged that I got to see your meeting,
and the growing of your mutual love.

I’m finally to a point where a day sometimes passes that I don’t think of you,
but the vast majority of days you both cross my mind at least once.

I know some of what you both went through. I wish I could have helped you more.
But thank you for sharing with me so many of your smiles.
For because my memories of you are filled with them
(and with listening, and with kindness),
when I think of you, you bring me joy,
even though it is still very, very painful.

I truly believe, with what optimism I have, that the two of you are together,
wherever you are,
and that because you’re together, you’re both still smiling.
(At least, this is the only possibility I will accept.)

But still, please do not ask me to smile yet,
for my heart is still too raw.

I am a writer. Always have been, always will be.
The theme of “immortalizing” people through art of all kinds
has been prevalent for centuries.
So while my attempts will never be enough,
only a faint shadow of what was,
I will do what I can.

For too many good people die young, and the world still has great need of them—
still has need of the two of you.

An Episode In Everyday Life . . .

Thwack. . .

“Haaaa!”

        Thud.

(Clack-clack-clack.)

        “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you, you monster. . . .”

Smash.

        “Aha!”

The door creaked open cautiously, letting the wary outsider check up on the suspicious sounding activity. A pause.

Bang!

        Bang, bang, bang.

“Yes! Success!”

        The victor crowed and danced in victory—spinning in a circle before finally spotting the audience and freezing.

“What are you doing?”

“I was just— . . . there was a really big spider. . . .”

“. . . Really?”

Twiddled thumbs.
A sigh.

“Well, here, you forgot this. Again. See you after class.”

Phone returned, the roommate left once again, rolling eyes in exasperation.

        The door shuts.

A pause.

                    Solemn fist pump and whispered

                    “Victory!”

 

Later That Night . . .

. . .
(crickets chirping)
(rustling)
(a groan)

        “What the? Ahhhh! Gagahrawww-Ehhh! H-h-hugge!”

SLAM.

        “I TOLD you they were monsters! Where is it?!”

“There! there, over there! KILL it. Do it now! KILLLLL!!”

        “You won’t get away either! Die like your brother. Gahrawwh!

               H A A A A A A A A ! ”

 

    Cree- – – – – ASH        tinkle, tinkle

SMACK.                       BAM.

                   Thud.

 

“KIILLL.”

“Death to the evil one!”

 

And thus, the battle continues. . . .
Catch us at the next episode!

(No spiders or people
were harmed
in the making
of this production.)

Migraine

There’s a flower in my head and it’s trying to bloom
but the roots are twisted up with my brain stem,
and burrowing into the crevices.

The petals are trying to unfold,
the plant is trying to grow, tall and beautiful,
but my skull is only so big, and it’s long reached the roof.

My head feels like it’ll explode soon,
so this beautiful weed can grow through the hole in my skull.

But instead it keeps trying to bloom
and I’m still locked in suspense.