Poem: “Filter Bubble”

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Remote loss of control.

I wrote this at like midnight yesterday and barely edited it, so it’s pretty much stream-of-consciousness. In other words, I don’t really care if it’s “good” or not–but hopefully you get the character and scenario I was going for!  After all, there’s someone like this in all of us; I’m just hoping more than ever now we haven’t reached the day when it’ll finally catch up to us.

Filter Bubble

I

close my blinds, but keep

the TV plugged in—Blu-Ray, DVD, and a whole shelf

of everything else nothing.

 

I want

eyes wide

to constructed conflicts, fixed

in a box and hours.

Lock the door, click-chunk.

Internet on, just for antisocial media.

 

I want the

recycled-wrapper packaging of processed pastries

and dried fruit firmly in my mouth.

Rations made with passion, the blurred

line between food and feed toed

in a bottle or bowl.

Enough to last all is just good sense.

 

I want the end

to this book, this game, this song.

Dominos of closure, set up back

when war was a faint feint

and clean freedom a wistful given.

The ceiling holds

so many speckles, spectacles to study,

and it isn’t chipping yet.

 

I want the end of

squabbling, coddling, empty group photos

and meaningless memes.

I never had much use

for those streets anyway.

Never walked barefoot in that public grass,

sung from the spire of those tired-brick buildings.

Nothing ventured, everything gained.

 

I want the end of the

things that want it so bad.

Everyone divides, holds heads high, and then denies

they’ve become what they budded from.

Sometimes I feel

like I’m the only one who knows this

has all happened before,

and then sometimes I feel like an adult.

Now I feel an armchair, a growing glare

from behind tight drapes.

The sirens rise, and I

put on my headphones.

I can feel it in my bones, but every other sense

is senseless.

So out I tune, as I always have,

oblivious to the lunatics’ plan

to make the common keen and call

for undeserved rulers’ fall.

 

I want the end of the world

to be a surprise.

If I don’t hear it, no-one dies.

Poem: “First, World”

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So, little over a month to the day since my last post! Couple of factors there: getting a sense of a good work/life balance with the new job, taking a breather from story-writing to just study the craft (finally finished Joseph Cambell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces!), and… well, who am I kidding, that Netflix queue isn’t going to empty itself.

With poems in particular, though, I realized that–for better or worse–I’d hit a dry spell of personal ponderings to get off my chest. On one hand, I wanted to keep to the “Poem of the Week” goal I’d set in the Spring, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to sit around wondering and worrying just so I’d have something meaningful to write about on schedule. But when fresh doubts, deliberations, and stirring turns of phrase arise naturally over time? Well, I’d certainly rather serve them than let them stew.

It’s in that initial mindset of wanting to take a break and figure things out (how and what, exactly, is always the question) that I slowly composed this poem. I’m feeling better than when I wrote my last handful, personally and professionally. But, am I feeling content? Well…

 

First, World

I need a breather, a lever

to clearly crank between work and play.

Extra time in space.

The news is tightening, see:

word spreads like wine stains

of longer hours, shorter deadlines, higher expectations.

Dark, aged anxieties redden White naiveté.

 

So I need a scene

that stays in the director’s cut, unbundled.

Scifi conventions by weekend.

Mangled, NSFW memes in my phone’s feeds.

Dark, droning ambient music to massage the ears

over dishwashing and staring down a hollow closet.

Secretly, I’d like having part of me that makes my colleagues uncomfortable,

an edge to sand by day and sharpen by night.

I mean, the moral turpentine of eye contact and shaky small talk

can burn as well as cleanse,

and the scars aren’t far from madness, in a vacuum.

 
And I need a reason to pay attention

on schedule, with minimum interest.

Like a kid to cod liver oil, I to others’ identities.

It’s humorous and horrifying to see

how high I can climb without knowing

or caring who’s right

alongside me.

But my fear of looking stupid is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just once, I want two-way understanding in a conversation

instead of this tin-can-and-string bonding

between flitted grins and the absence of a face-to-face disgrace

(If something was wrong, they’d tell me).

Responsibility respawns ability

to be concerned, concerted, and make aces out of jokers—

when the fact is I can’t tell poker from solitaire.

 

Because my default is deprecation:

self-, else-, just for the sake of it—

an optimist’s façade, casting over

what luck! the shadow of oh fuck.

If doubt is universal, then mine’s infinitely expanding:

A demanding unhanding of double-edged words

from the same fist that clutches, unbudging,

every off-the-cuff criticism or compliment.

Damn wrist, trembling—figurative caffeine from within,

and I’ve blinked maybe five times today.

I need weaning off the sense of winning

when I intend to succeed and do.

That’s baseline, basically.

 

And so I need the curvature of my life,

a hidden horizon—a point past which no sight goes.

Certain uncertainty.

With every year, another throughline grows:

pallid strands, like taut dental floss, stretch into the yon,

today to tombstone.

I need that chance, that could-still-be and there’s-hope-yet,

to pat my back like an autumn sunbeam, assuaging

ailing ambitions in thinning air.

Because either way—a 401k and vacant trophy case

or canned beans over Hollywood contracts—

the captain goes down with the shit

he keeps onboard, and mine’s not hitting port any time soon.

A hoard of hoary motivations and vague concepts, outlines

sketched in the cobwebbed corners of a mind palace

long since repo’d by the state?

Not inaccurate,

but also not positive.

I’d say I didn’t come this far by being a downer,

but then I never pulled out a history book

for rulers to measure the distance.

 

Maybe it’s privilege

to shelve a dream and still smile at night,

to keep a whole ‘nother life on the back burner.

It can wait, most days. It’ll have to.

 

But first, world, I need the hours

to know what’s ours and what’s just mine—

how to tell when time’s running out

or just getting its second wind to lap back ‘round.

Everything I do, it’s to check off a list

that exists half in my heart and half on a Word doc.

‘Cause otherwise, with pen in breast pocket,

timesheet in tow,

and notepad gathering coffee stains,

we’ll just have to wait and see

which gets deleted first.

 

Poem of the Week: “See, I Can Do It Too”

This poem sat on my computer in various scraps for years. It started out bitter and detached but became inspirational… I think.

Maybe it’s still scraps. But I feel like it works.

See I Can Do it 2

See, I Can Do It Too

 

Beauty is a cold war

 

of cold creams and old dreams.

We’re in an arms race of allurement,

knee-deep in Vaseline and expectations,

dangling a lit match and whispering

you get indifferent first.

 

So no self-effacing, a selfie facing

those well-strung masks.

We can adopt Comedy, poise paralytic:

every post a pick-me-up,

every Snap a sell,

thumbs covering

the drunken nights and irreverent fetishes

so no one can confuse our appearance with our images.

Or, Tragic, revel in dishevelment,

photos filtered but cigarettes not,

for sadness the brand: Preaching peak minimum,

swaddled in ripped jeans, flannel,

and hashtag security blankets

knit in pocket supercomputers.

But either way,

 

fame is cheap.

 

Inflation does that.

It takes lots of work

to be concertedly ignored, or stir guilt

when glossed over.

Caked in Adobe clay, some wait

for the reblog of a lifetime,

the intentional accident,

the headshot launched, Voyager-like,

that’ll unlock their day job,

riding a stream of unconsciousness.

 

And the hope grows but flickers:

batting at shadows, Plato’s Allegory

of the gravely misjudged chances.

Freak flags lower to half mast.

 

But if the internet’s a big sweets machine,

I’d rather be a cake than a cog.

When it comes to popularity, I’m ashamed

to say I’m shameless—Better hell in the Top 40

than heaven with Pitchfork.

So I follow

models, vloggers, icons, artists,

and tell myself I’m a conscientious objectifier:

ready to Like unto others

as they Heart unto me.

 

But at the end of the day,

you’re still only ones and zeroes in my screens,

if not for minds then behinds,

set to amuse on the pot or the bus,

or when my desktop’s froze up,

en route to real life.

Pitch a show, rock a suit, tell a joke—

it’s all been done before,

there’s just quicker memes and more greenscreens now.

And it goes to show how

 

love is contagious,

 

not airborne.

The admiration to spur a fan page rampage;

to call a dox or charity drive with equal ease;

to lob a line or look into a crowd and have catchphrases

echo back at you like grenades full of validation.

And every comments section squabble, an exercise

in mutually assured instruction:

Pity or competition.

Learn your place or take his.

 

I’ve stared at UFOs less spellbound

than those accounts.

Beauty? Fame? Love?

What’s it take,

what strand to grasp

to untie this Gordian knot

or simply cut and run?

I could be you if I wanted to

the sloth’s refrain.

But the truth remains:

 

Bodies can be airbrushed,

voices autotuned,

words ghostwritten,

fashion provided,

and pasts smoothed over.

 

You’re known?

Good for you.

Address to the electric ether

or a mirror, depending

on my motivation.

Because I tell myself

 

it’s all about who you know.

 

Which means it’s all about who

you have the luck to be born of

 

or, just maybe,

the courage to call.