The Empty Spores

I had to write a poem based off of a mentor poem– using the same themes, structure, rhyme schemes, etc–  for a writing class. I chose TS Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” as my mentor poem, and came up with this. A huge thanks to my cousin Courtney for help with the ballet terms.

For T.S. Eliot and Courtney

“The Empty Spores”

I.

We are the empty spores

We are the barren spores

Floating incessantly

Seedless, impotent, wreathed in fruitless labor. Oh!

Our songs fall silent in the draft, when

The inheritances we have left

Are stillborn roots and phantom limbs

That like ballerinas caught in death’s dance

Fret upon a stage without song or chance

And pirouette eternally in the wind

 

Motion without direction, canvas without paint

Imprisoned nomads, cause without effect;

 

They who have tip-toed through

Their final bows behind death’s closed curtains

View us—if we can be seen—not as ghosts

Of Evergreens that could have been, but only

As the empty spores

The barren spores.

 

II.

Arabesques we dare not imitate

In death’s sky-lit auditorium

Burden our bodies not:

There, the spirals reveal

Tangled prisms scrawled upon infinite blue

There, are frail hands, pale upturned palms

Reaching for calcium in Heaven’s glow

Beggars pleading the stars for alms

Til they are fractured by Silent Disease

And their bones ground into snow.

 

Let us not be players

In death’s sky-lit auditorium

Let us keep

Our perfunctory shells

Sap-covered puffballs and flaking tumbleweeds

In the air

Always following the wind’s command

Never settling–

 

Not drifting unto the stage

In the cobalt auditorium

 

III.

This is the specter’s ballroom

This is the castle in the sky

Here the piano’s melodies

Are played, here they sing

A caveat that upon Apollo’s wings doth fly

Neath the glimmer of Heaven’s glow.

 

Is this our fate

In death’s lofty auditorium

Drifting, we two whom

Timelessly when at last the sands have fallen

Peer through clouds of stained glass

And see no reflection is left to pass

Realizing then we’ll never bloom.

 

IV.

We see no arabesques

There are no arabesques here

In this river of fading light

In this diminishing stream

This ceasing chasm of extinguished glow.

 

In this final act upon the stage

We do our waltz

And stay in motion

Treading currents of wind that pull us in

 

Drowned, unless

We manage an arabesque

With fathomless grace, tiny dancers

Hold fast in the undertow

Of death’s sky-lit auditorium

The pose only

Of infertile spores.

 

V.

Row, row, row your boat

Against the gravity

Mindlessly, mindlessly, mindlessly, mindlessly–

Life’s not what it seems.

 

Between the aspiration

And the result

Between inertia

And the end

Falls the process

For ours is the Light.

Between the demand

And the supply

Between the ingredient

And the product

Falls the process

The zephyr, it is forever.

Between the stimulus

And the reaction

Between the potential

And the actualization

Between the capacity

And the load

Falls the process

For ours is the Light.

For ours is,

The zephyr is,

Ours is the

 

This is how the ballet ends

This is how the ballet ends

This is how the ballet ends

Not with a curtsey but a fall.

“Daniel”…

In light of the tragedy in Baltimore in August 2012, I have written a song lyric. It is about a brave 17-year old named Daniel Borowy who was recently the victim of a random act of violence. I used it as the centerpiece for a multi-genre piece, and it won the Marjorie McLaughlin Folendorf award in 2013. Thankfully, he lived and appears to have recovered well, but that’s really just a silver lining. People, we need to wake up. We need to take action to make things better and be more positive. We are a country, we are brothers and sisters, and we do not need to be hurting eachother. I know people often claim we have crossed the line of “going too far” (especially in light of the incident in Aurora,CO), since messed up things happen every day, but this should be the final straw. I literally wept when I read his story, and if you haven’t looked it up, please take the time to do so and send positive thoughts his way. In case you haven’t caught on from my other lyric posts, the italicized portion is the chorus.

“Daniel”

Danny boy, so full of joy

The wonder in his eyes

Came to school, feelin’ cool

Never knowing the surprise

That lay ahead, when he left his bed

To start another year

Of class, as he walked on past

Some stranger, a drinking peer.

Down the halls, he saw the walls

Littered with welcomes and bulletins

Humming a tune, to the lunch room

He went to meet his friends.

He took his seat, with the lunch meat

And milk upon his tray

If the label’s words were mockingbirds,

Maybe they could have tried to say:

Get up dear son, you’ve got to run

You’ve got to get away

Some careless words amongst the herds

Will ruin this perfect day.

 

A boy in need, a rotten seed

Will spoil the whole bunch

He’s lost his way, oh please get away

He wants more than your lunch.

 

Sittin’ there, his demeanor fair,

He waved and mouthed, “Hi.”

His closest friend on the other end

Never thought to say good-bye.

C’mon I mean, they were seventeen

The world held so much more

But then I guess, when minds get messed

Some things are too loud to ignore.

Then the stranger, the lone ranger

Reeking of vodka and blind hate with

Courage made of fire-water, led a lamb to the slaughter.

He chose Daniel’s fate.

With a bang Baltimore rang

Echoing a horrid fact

A boy with Down’s Syndrome began to foam,

A slug put through his back.

Get up dear son, you’ve got to run

You’ve got to get away

Some careless words amongst the herds

Will ruin this perfect day.

 

A boy in need, a rotten seed

Will spoil the whole bunch

He’s lost his way, oh please get away

He wants more than your lunch.

 

Hateful words can sting, and here’s the thing

Though they do not hurt like lead

If they can linger, then just a finger

Can leave a whole world dead.

This does not excuse the abuse

For actions speak the loudest but

If we wear the mask, then I must ask

Who is left the proudest?

When we refuse to see with empathy

How our actions affect our brothers

And our prospective friends find bitter ends

In the hands of their weeping mothers.

Dan, if you only can, stay awake my man

You will fight the good fight

You will live and grow, do not go

Gentle into that good night.

Yeah again, when the light pulls you in

You need to fight even harder

You’re a symbol of our need to rise above

We don’t need another martyr.

Keep Your Head Up…

Seeing as I’ve been told that my writing would be well-suited for the rap/spoken word type of genre, I’ve decided to pursue that option lyrically in this post (for fun).

“Keep Your Head Up”

A thin dividing line

Constantly moving between

A world that exists in truth

And a world that remains unseen

A stained-glass reputation spreads,

Bleeding its hands clean of

A word that becomes an act and

Separates sacred from obscene.

A stone cast at a shadow

That turns man into machine

A faith that becomes a law

And judges a hopeless teen

A cause that births the rebel

Makes the end outweigh the mean

A cry that rings out for change

But lacks the heart to intervene.

You’re so much better than you know.

You’re a garden that’s waiting to grow

You’re a well that’s wishing to overflow

You’re free, you hold the key, if you could only see

You reap what you sow.

An artist tracing a cavern wall

Confuses genius with stealth

A ceaseless whisper paints

A fractured image of itself

A billion scattered reflections reveal

A portrait of American health

A heavy crown made for giants

Draped upon the shoulders of an elf

A dead puppeteer manipulates

The same string from which he hung himself

A heartstring dangling from

A figurine upon a shelf

A dance of death, a circular orbit

Around a universe of wealth.

A copper lady turns green and rots

She refused to liberate herself.

You’re so much better than you know.

You’re a garden that’s waiting to grow

You’re a well that’s wishing to overflow

You’re free, you hold the key, if you could only see

You reap what you sow

“Flight 175”

I was assigned to write a free-verse poem about Sept 11th, and this is what I wrote.

“Flight 175”

I.

United Airlines, Flight 175

Economy-Class, cost me $1250;

Arm and a limb, thought I’d

Have to sell my soul just to get back home.

 

Leather seats will make the

Sweat feel stickier, thank God for

Those little air vents—cooling my flushed face.

They come as a relief, since I hate flying.

It makes me feel claustrophobic

Flying, like sardines packed

Into the bill of a hungry Boeing Pelican.

[well actually, a Boeing 757]

 

A quick survey shows a wide array

Of faces, some old, some young

Some excited, some weary.

 

I see a woman across from me

Bose noise cancelling headphones in place

As she sits soundly asleep.

Suddenly a man jumps from his seat.

Walks briskly towards the bathroom.

Probably sick from the food.

 

My eyes dart to the side, growing impatient

It’s going to be great to get back to LA

Business trips really take their toll.

I see the platform of clouds surrounding us

Like a glass floor that we glide across effortlessly

Above a safe place, above reality

Friction only a sound on a smooth flight,

I can’t help thinking about my family

And how I’d take my daughters skating silently,

Happily over this permeable pond of precipitation

If only I could see them–

When a sound, the bathroom door crashing open

Averts my gaze.

 

He is wearing trenchcoat. He has a knife.

My god, what does he want?

Another man with similar attire also rises now

He, carrying a sharpened drill.

Two more rise, looking just as angry.

They move and speak quickly, their feet

Heavy like hooves,

Beneath the weight of the horsemen four.

I am not a religious man, but

I close my eyes and I pray.

Another comes in and addresses the frightened passengers.

Beelzebub, no doubt.

 

II.

His English is broken, so it is difficult to understand.

From what I can make out, things do not look good for me.

Plane left around 8:15, it is 8:30 now.

I wonder how long it will take for us to land if we do.

I should be left alone, hopefully.

I didn’t do anything to them, and

My face is too average to catch their eye.

Maybe if I slink down in my chair a little they won’t notice me.

 

A large man stands up

Bullrushes the one with the drill.

The point catches him in the forehead, and

Kills him on impact.

Blood spills onto the carpet floors and begins to puddle and coagulate.

Screaming ensues. Then a few more stabbings just to get their point across.

 

I picture the Dutch slaughtering Africans in the Congo,

And the native victims severed heads on fence posts and doorknobs

And a voice inside repeats like a broken record,

“The horror. The horrorthehorror the…”

And the horsemen dance like children around her head.

While a globe spins over a rotisserie pit

Its ink running into the sea of fire beneath.

Forever doomed to poison the mouths it feeds.

 

III.

I check my cell-phone. No reception.

It is 8:50. Beelzebub is in the cockpit.

We’ve been gathering speed for a while now.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will die.

I cried for a little, but now I’m too devastated even for that.

I keep thinking of my girls, my wife. Who will love them

When I am gone?

We are tilting now, nose-diving I’m sure.

 

I sit and think of the last time I ever saw them.

How the little one awoke in the middle of the night

Afraid of the monsters under her bed.

And I came in and pet her head, and she asked me to sing to her

 

Twinkle twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are

Up above the world so high…”

And she fell asleep.

If only I could have sang to her the truth.

That we are the monsters in this world

Gnashing our teeth at one another because

We too are afraid of the dark, too afraid of each other,

And when we bite our enemies, we will find

We’ve really only eaten ourselves.

 

I look to the woman on my right.

Amazingly, she’s still asleep, headphones intact.

My first thought is, those are some damn good headphones.

My second is how lucky she must be,

To forever be stuck in that dream,

And never have to wake up to the nightmare.

My last is regret for that second thought

For though in this my dying hour

These recurring thoughts of panic

And sorrow and longing are heavy,

They’re a burden I am glad to have bourn

Cause I’d rather spend every remaining ounce of energy

Remembering those I have loved and cherished

Than leave any to waste on the things I never had.

 

9:05. I look one last time at my cell phone’s wallpaper:

My daughter, my wife, and I at Disneyland.

I see a large building with many glass windows.

The sound of wind against the metal wings grows louder,

I sing to calm myself: “Twinkle twinkle…”

IV.

Impact. We break like a boulder

First through that glass floor

Then through more glass.

I see debris.

I see ashes and dust.

I see black Cadillacs.

Black flowers. Everyone dressed in black.

There is a plume of black smoke,

Then, cough, nothing but black.

I have descended.

I look up and see my reflection in a glass ceiling

It smiles at me as it opens

And I arrived at home.

 

I told the moon and the stars my story,

And they asked which was better,

A head in the clouds or an ear to the ground?

I thought of my scared daughter as I pondered,

 

“When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

 

Then the traveler in the dark

Thanks you for your tiny spark;

He could not see which way to go,

If you did not twinkle so.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

 

In the dark blue sky you keep,

While you thro’ my window peep,

And you never shut your eye,

Till the sun is in the sky,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!”

 

 

 

“The Locket”

RIP KP 1998-2009 I still miss ya buddy…  ❤

“The Locket”

 

Clench my fists, to protect the memory like a locket

That carries your heart vicariously through my struggles.

Don’t you know they belong to us both?

For when I am caught in the undertow, your kindness

Is what brings me safely to the surface

And I see your smiling face, never disappointed.

 

Little brother your eyes are gleaming, reflecting

The sand beneath your toes

And we tread the water and jump into the ocean

indifferent to where it goes.

 

Time is short and fleeting, but a ripple in the pond

That gently carries consciousness like lily pads.

Don’t you know that we’re all lost?

And when I saw you for the last time on that table

With serenity in your eyes, you kissed my cheek

As unafraid you found your way and said you’d wait for me.

 

Little brother, sleep with your eyes open

Welcoming the Earth as your new home-

The freest permanent arrangement

Where your child’s soul may roam.

 

 

Now I fight my way, memories all I have to fend off

Reason and judgment which haunt me so

Don’t you know the struggle? No?

Perhaps it’s too much to ask that you come back,

In fact it’s downright insane, nevermind.

I’ll just forgive you for leaving me behind.

 

Little brother, oh dear prince

I’ll spread your ashes off the coast

And of all the things you taught me

I’ll remember love the most

And when the waves take me away

I’ll know the path I never chose

Because we’ll float the same hand in hand

Indifferent to where it goes.