Monday, September 21, 2020

Resolve (a Poem)

Slipping slowly like
red wine leaking through
fingers that wish to hold it.
Each tiny sip masquerades
as tumbling blood hitting
the floor in dual splatters:
Weakness and temptation

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Fallacy of Objective Reviews

A journalist reviews a video game unfavorably and gets blasted for an "unfair" review. The people disagreeing with her in the comments say she's wrong because one of the main twists was "cool" and not "dull" like she claimed. They call her tasteless and uncultured. One of them even writes the managing editor in the hope that she's fired.
Reviews are opinions. Opinions can be based on fact, but it doesn't magically alter them into truth. I don't know when we stopped teaching this in school, but I feel the world is worse for it (especially in the age of the Internet).

Saying your opinion is factual because it's based on a fact doesn't mean you're factually correct. You may have a well-informed opinion. You might be knowledgeable in a certain subject. No one is a robot, though.

Everyone has their preferences and dislikes. Where some people will tank a review score because they hate excessive profanity, another person won't be bothered by it. You might like the misunderstanding subplot in romance novels, but I absolutely abhor it. A more detailed review might save some people who also hate profanity or the misunderstanding trope a disappointing read, but their agreement also doesn't invalidate someone else's opinion.

The world needs people who have all different tastes, joys, and passions. We need people who can see problems in integrity while others see grace in design. Different views are good because they help keep this world well-rounded. Different backgrounds cultivate different points of view. In other words: It takes all kinds of kinds.
End note:  This is discussing reviews and not bigotry. Thinking you're superior to someone solely based on your skin color, gender, or other variation isn't merely an opinion but another type of (harmful) fallacy.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Stranded Two Miles from Home

"I'm sorry ma'am, but there's nothing I can do. We stop running at two o'clock."

I grip the receiver tighter, as though physical pressure will change the dispatcher's mind. My mask is starting to puff outward with each breath. Brandon stands beside our cart of groceries with a look of worry.

"The driver who dropped us off said he's on duty until four!" I reply.
"He's out of town on another run," the dispatcher says.

I do not ask why the driver is picking people up out of town at 3:15 if they stop at two.

"We would've been done well before now if the bus wasn't an hour late picking us up."
"What? Well, there's no one in town to get you."
"Listen, I'm in a wheelchair with a cart full of groceries two miles from home during a pandemic. It's been storming on and off all day." I look towards where the doors are located as though I can see the fickle July sky from Wal-Mart's service center.

I know I'm not going to get anywhere. As the dispatcher resumes his nothing-I-can-do speech, I slam the phone back into the cradle so I don't scream and draw attention.

Then, I do something I dread and call the accessible van service in our town. They abhor having bags in their vehicles (something they chastised me for in the past). Not sure how they expect crips to go grocery shopping...
When I told the receptionist at the van company I needed a ride home, she said it would be no problem. I mentioned my bags. She became silent and went to check with someone. She came back on the line and said I needed to clear it with my insurance team because it was considered an "emergency trip". I was given a toll-free number for my team. The number wouldn't go through.

At this point, I'm nearly hyperventilating. I call my brother in a panic and ask him to take Brandon home with our food so it doesn't spoil. I wait for their return, and Brandon and I make our way home on foot.

The storms stay away long enough to walk back to our apartment. The sidewalks are rough (and we have to take detours because of construction), so my pain-infused body has compounded agony. But, we make it. I need almost a week to recover.
I email my case manager at the insurance company a couple days after the incident. She says there is no need for extra authorization because I'm already on the books with the accessible van service. I was lied to because they didn't want to take me (probably my bags) home.

I already can't leave my town unless it's for medical appointments due to lack of money, limited transportation, and chronic pain. Now, I'm almost too scared to go anywhere or shop for anything I can't manage from just my wheelchair. Brandon wants to try again late next month, but I'm not so sure (even with assurance from my case manager that it will be different). If this were to happen in winter, we'd have to stay at a hotel near the store because the sidewalks would be impassable in my wheelchair.

End note:  An accessible van costs $30,000-$50,000.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Mental Lorica: Episode Two

The second episode of Mental Lorica is here! I read pieces that aren't previously published and, though I'm still uncertain about the selections, I hope you enjoy it. My nervousness hasn't subsided yet...
Publications from the last couple months:

Night Music Journal (two poems)
Suddenly, And Without Warning (flash fiction)
The Furious Gazelle (one poem) *Finalist

Monday, July 27, 2020

Review: G.A.S. #3

Notes before starting:

1.  There are brief mentions of child abuse, rape/murder, and alcohol. Nothing graphic or prolonged.

2. The word "gypsy" is used as "free spirit' and not as a slur. Often, the name is shortened to its abbreviation as not to offend.

3.  I belong to the Facebook group, but I rarely post my own work. I'm more of an audience member.

4.  I may misinterpret meanings of certain pieces. I apologize in advance.
G.A.S. which stands for Gypsy Art Show has had many forms over the years and is the creation of poet/artist Belinda Subraman. It currently exists as a presentation showcase and Facebook group for creative folks. The presentations, though a newer project, are packed with content; the current video is no exception—the transitions are seamless, the audio balancing is great, and the selection is as eclectic as ever.

The first thing we're treated to is a short interview between Belinda and actress/artist Leslie Silva. Silva is a graduate of Juilliard and speaks passionately about her art as a celebration of Black women, aging, and internal divinity. Near the end of the interview, it switches to her art until the interview concludes. Her images are vibrant and powerful.

David Trudel reads two poems afterward. The first poem is called "Sepia Toned" and takes on wildfires caused by climate change. It is image-rich and held my attention throughout. His second poem, "Backseat Windows" takes a look at child abuse through the eyes of an adult with a safe childhood; it was an interesting piece, but it didn't grab me as much as his first poem. The recitation was smooth.

Mel Clarkston and James Clarkston take the viewers through a musical and artistic journey as Mel provides the artwork over James' two instrumental numbers. The music reminds me of Flamenco with the first song being longer and brighter than the second. The visual art adds (instead of distracts) from the music, and the second song has a music video experience attached. It was a lovely segment that felt utterly harmonious.

Donna Snyder's poem is a gut punch... a wake-up call. It takes on climate change, the police state, ICE, and more. It asks you to see what is actively happening and not just passively move through this current age. It's well-constructed, even beautiful, but the poem is a roaring beast.

Darlina Marie treats us to a hypnotic, contemporary belly dance. The music is a good accompaniment. The performance is grace.

Henry Stanton's poems are recited with his charcoal drawings on screen. His work is about connections, who we are to the world and each other, and how beauty comes into those connections. Both his visual art and poems portray the same message. The works are chosen well.

Paul Brookes takes us through COVID-19 in his poem:  The ways we try to keep safe, what is taken in our safety, how people react to the change and loss. It's depicted with accuracy and acute attention. Note:  I'm American, so I had to go back and listen more than once because I'm not accustomed to his accent.

Tac TheMac does a walk-dance to a piece of music that reminds me of trance-mix. It's a brief segment that is joyful and fun.

Bart Solarczyk shares five short poems on gratefulness, loss, and friendship. I could feel every emotion he wrote about, and I almost cried when he talked about losing his wife (a fresh loss). It ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the show for me. One poem hits especially hard (quite a feat in brevity).

The Twisted Hams' rock song, "What Makes You Think" is a fun, catchy tune with a chorus I can't erase from my mind. There were points where I felt the lead singer was drowned out by the instruments, but it doesn't take away from the fact that it's really cool. Instead of having visual art to the song, we're treated to the group's low-budget music video that helps viewers see their personality.

Lawrence Barrett (an Army veteran) reads a poem I didn't understand the meaning of when I heard it. At first, I almost thought it was fetishistic. Then, I listened once more. The piece (from what I interpret) is about longing for a land you miss, yet never want to see again... like an ex-lover. There is a layer of sensuality to this piece even I didn't miss the first time through. Note:  I'm probably incorrect.

The show's finale is a segment that takes everything good about G.A.S. and combines it. I won't spoil it for you, but music, poetry, and art come together to form a lovely conclusion.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Shatter Me - Free Write

Writing exercise:  Write a poem or flash fiction piece inspired by a song. You can only write during the song. You can't repeat or restart it.

"Shatter Me" by Lindsey Stirling and featuring Lzzy Hale:

Glass slippers on ballerinas. We wait for the leaping,
a startled deer across the stage. Spotlight catches against
the sides, etches the feet on display. The sound, lone applause
or breaking. Did you see the girl on the left wince? Is there
blood soaking the curtain? Will the men lift them up in dueted pairs
or will they dance together, yet alone with waterproof mascara?
If you've seen the video, you'll think this rough piece was inspired by the video as much as the song. Maybe. I just wrote and tried not to overthink.

I did this exercise four times with different songs. I only remember two of them (I didn't jot down the titles). The one free write I did while listening to "Burning House" by Cam was good enough to polish and submit places. One of the other pieces is really strange, so I wish I recalled what prompted it.

Have you ever tried this? How did it turn out?