Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moving Day (Last So(SO)PP Poem of the Year!)

Fall isn't here yet, but I'm already feeling its Halloween-tinged breeze blowing through my bones. The urge to watch horror movies and do spooky things is increasing by the day, and aside from implying that my body will be 50% pumpkin from now 'til December, all this means that it's time for me to wrap up my summer poetry project: the Summer of (Sometimes Otaku) Persona Poetry.

I've had an amazingly productive summer, but I'm feeling like it's time to transition to other things. I'll still be writing of course, but I want to open myself up to the other muses that come with the season. Read some (and by some I mean more than will ever be possible), write some horror, just break out of the structure I've been holding myself to all summer.

So, with all that said, I thank you for following me on my nerdventures these past few months. Thanks for reading and responding, and I promise the coming months will have plenty more to enjoy (just of a different color...and appendage-count...).

With no further ado, I give you the last poem of So(SO)PP: 'Moving Day', a poem paying ode to my absolute favorite comic book pair, momentarily brought to life in the '90s with an MTV cartoon called 'The Maxx'...Maxx and Julie Winters.

Moving Day 

Julie's collection of dead ferns rustles in the box between my claws.
Her car is a menagerie of pots and wrong-size snowshoes,
folds of mildewy cardboard that shout how she can't throw anything away
but me.

She calls today moving day,
talks about leaving the way some people mention breakfast,
tries to smile a solace wide and white, like some dream
I can feel drifting further from my fingertips,
and I just hope it every bit as much a mask as the jutting ivory of mine.
Because there's no hiding the way my hook-clawed grip screams
where I stay silent, leaves lacerations usually reserved for isz
in these cardboard-colored goodbyes.
Because, what is there for me without Julie?
The city was always a sticky-wet miasma of violence and pee-smell,
but at least I had Julie!
She, the lighthouse of a Leopard Queen
giving me someone to fight for, someone to ply every claw
and corded muscle for…
But without her, without this strength-clad huntress, what's left?
She's leaving and taking my world with her.
She's leaving.
I would have loped our Outback's dicant-scattered plains until my bones
shone a toothy tombstone from the dirt at the trunk of her throne,
would have popped every rapist, mugger, or isz,
plunged my claws into the lava in their bellies just to know Julie was safe.
But she's leaving,
my white-hot sun withdrawing behind air whales
and ecliptic mountains of steel, retreating with the beam-like fingers
whose warmth always reminded me who I was, filled
this mask and suit with something more
than the grimy, headlit alley screeching underneath my dreams.
What is there for me without Julie?

There are no more boxes to load, the stoop
exhumed like a nightmare from 'neath the only things keeping her here,
my Leopard Queen…Julie, the only place I've ever felt free,
promising I will be freer without her.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The God Who Stared into Darkness

My break from So(SO)PP continues this week, as the poem for today is a response to the ongoing ISIS news coming out of Iraq. A quick Google search can tell you more than I ever could.

It gets me thinking about our whole history of cruelty, injustice, and sin (to call it what it is), and how that registers in the grand scheme of our relationship with God. Gets me thinking.

The God Who Stared into Darkness

Iraq busies itself with the canine pastime of chewing off its limbs,
preferring its faith-made proponents of peace
as pixels grislying YouTube.

The blood that must have baked like heliotrope and glass,
something in it reminds me of the garden
whose loss we grieved with murder,

and the God who stared into darkness and loved the thing
it gave Him the urge to birth before breath,
or soil, or light.

In that darkness, this God knew every tendril it would weave
through the life poised on the tip of His tongue:
every sharpened rock and jawbone, every

chambered round no more free of Cain's fratricidal thumbprint
than that morning star of a precedent our hands
were all-too-glad to inherit.

Before any holocaustic Auschwitz or Levant-possessing successor,
before any injustice paid for in the pain and mosaic
immortalizing Golgotha,

this God loved the idea of us enough to endure the infinite
forms of heartbreak we'd most certainly return Him.
What unfathomable joy, then,

are we capable of creating? Our very existence is proof of the promise
God saw in the shapeless rags given light
and soil and breath.

The rivers that ululate to Heaven with tongues of bloodstone and ash
are more famished now than when spouted
from Abel's prostrate sorrow,

but the promise that saw the sculpt of hand and face is not
our burden to keep, but our hope, our reminder
that eventually the tunnel

so easily forgotten for a gun
will shed its lachrymose trappings and we, free at last
of this sulfur-rich darkness, will know fully what was always promised.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

After His Exeunt (for Robin Williams)

There are some people who find their way into our personal lives, regardless of whether or not we actually know them. Through their work, they become a part of our lives and feel like family. Robin Williams was one of those people.

I don't doubt we all have a Robin Williams story, some unique way he transcended the medium he worked through and became a mentor, a swashbuckling reason to have at least one happy thought, or just a friend with the vast and cosmic power to make you laugh at any given moment.

As passionate and bright as his legacy was and will be, the darkness that ultimately consumed him is something we all are having a justifiably difficult time processing. There is a powerlessness in watching people we care about battle mental illness. What can we do when all we can do is love and encourage, knowing all the while that it does nothing to actually heal their suffering? What is left for those who want nothing so much as to give back the love and beauty they've been given, but are powerless to actually do so, to break the darkness our loved ones are born into?

These questions led me to this week's poem. Not a persona poem, not anything nerdy (well,'ll have to be versed in Whovian, though...), not even anything terribly helpful. We are left in Robin Williams' wake with questions and hurt. I have questions. I need to understand.

After His Exeunt
~for Robin~ 

I'm reminded of Van Gogh.
Specifically, the pond-eyed dreamer
who dripped sunflowers from his fingertips,
who left footsteps so bright the soil drank them like daybreak,
but lived inside too thick a thundercloud to notice the eyes
made gaping constellations by his handiwork.

I'm reminded of the lesson
his life implied about depression,
the way no doctor or lover could ungather
the midnight that settled the pall of its folds on his shoulders.
How neither heartfelt appreciation or praise were equipped
to reciprocate the beauty he gave away so freely.

I'm reminded of Van Gogh,
but not by the casket-heavy emptiness
your noose ballooned underneath my throat.
Familiar enough this ache, but more the crushing uselessness
that leaves loving hands as helpful as two hooks, my mouth
a hollowed lamp, pried in vain for a magic word.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To Fratley

Sorry for not getting this week's So(SO)PP contribution posted yesterday. I know I usually am pretty good about sticking to my self-imposed deadlines, but I've been having a tough time translating all there was to say for this one. So, one day late, but no less toiled over, here is this week's poem, inspired by Final Fantasy IX's 'star-crossed' dragon knights, if you will: Freya and Sir Fratley.

Freya, hailing from the highly gothic Burmecia in addition to her classically romantic feelings for Sir Fratley, gave me an impression she would lean toward the romantic branch of poetry (of the Shakespearean or Byronic persuasion, primarily) which more than anything steered the course of this poem. I hope you enjoy it, and even more I hope it inspires you to go give Final Fantasy IX a(nother) play-through. The game has powerful stories, cute characters, and moogles. Moogles are probably the best part...

Anyway, enjoy!

To Fratley 

There are places that change with the wind: peaks
equally swathed and unshawled of Gaia's peregrine mists;
boughs through which the seasons can still breathe their caprice
in a flourish of scarlet and gold, as happy to be so clad
as to be made mere gnarl and bone.
My heart is no such place.
Too long Burmecia has poured its consistence over me,
this engine under my breast absorbing the lesson
in its steadfast rainfall, unwilling to adopt a life to be lived
without you, deprived of the Reisian breath and countenance
long-cloistered in my slumber. Your fog-obscured contours
are still so present in my dreams, yet for five years
they've burdened my waking with your sun-dashed apparition,
casting sorrow over the shadow
I know stretches one body too thin.
what wont to wander stole the oath from your tongue,
banished the shape of my name from your lips?
Our lives have dug too deeply into each other's to start anew;
our story too long for revision, but one I'd not delay to tell
if 'twould return your heart to its home beneath my cheek.
If you but asked,
I would claw you a bas-relief of our joined silhouette,
etch my armor with every rainswept eve spent in each other's arms,
each pallid sunrise glinting against our wearied spears.
If the swell your cerulean gaze still triggers in my chest
could be carved in either word or image, I would adorn all of Burmecia
in such veined decorum as to pale the shifting trees
and return your eyes from the shrouded mountains
to the cup of my outstretched palms, irretrievable heart
from a time when we were all we needed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Eren's Ghost

This week's contribution to So(SO)PP - Summer of (Sometimes Otaku) Persona Poems comes from an anime that completely reshaped what the word 'titan' could mean. Thinking of Cronos? Not anymore. Now a titan is a 30 meter pot-belly with knobby legs and a businessman's haircut. Oh, and an unrelenting desire to eat people. Terrifying, right?

So, yes, this week's poem comes from Attack on Titan. There's a lot of clever nuance in its story, and some elements prime for extraction and that fantastic microcosmic application I love about poetry. I saw a lot of truth buried in Eren Jaeger's internal struggle. I wanted to take that and use it to illuminate some realities about how we can hate things in the world/in others, and the complexities that arise when we find those things in ourselves.

Anyway, enough spoilers! On with the poem!

Eren's Ghost 

We all have ghosts.
Whether stemming from soil
or the spaces behind our eyes,
we all have something to run from.
Mine: a broken wall,
a seethe-toed battering ram
splashing every scrap of gambrel and glade
in red,
shambling towers of knob and flesh and idiotic grin
spilling across the panorama
pinned to the pitch of my eyelids.
I'm haunted,
but by so much more than the titans
who crumble our gods with their footsteps, pluck us
like grain grown only for the scythes of their shadows,
and make chin-sluicing rivulets of our blood.
This asphyxiant gouge in my chest
still chokes on the thought of my mother,
with no despair or helplessness
like the blearing silhouette of hers
vanishing into a titan's,
but even deeper, my grief.
Most ghosts settle their shawls upon us
and let fear do the rest, but mine
bubble their terror from inside me.
I have more than enough reason to hate
the sateless gullets always lumbering outside the walls
clawing to cull our herd,
but the way this hate reconstitutes my bones
into all-too-familiar monstrosities,
retethers my tendons
and rewraps muscle over knuckled seethe and steam,
how true can hate be
when your own flesh secrets its grotesquery?
There is something in me that looks, and feels,
less like the human swinging the sword
and more the things our swords are swung against,
but how? How?!
The horizon-toothed bastard that soundtracks my sleep
with the screams of the woman who raised me,
how can there be room in my ribcage
for anything but disgust?
I have never hated more completely,
never burned with a more all-consuming heat
and yet: the throatward teeth
my revulsion exchanges for my lips;
the hands once too small to save my mother
suddenly vast, a long-suffered burden
finally birthed in their aching limbs.
I am not a titan.
There are too many ghosts in me howling for titanicide
for even my exploding bones to make me one of them.
My body may contort into a likeness
still scarring my dreams with its horror,
my hate disgustedly vented through a monster's unhinged jaw,
but I am not a titan.
For Mikasa, for Armin…for my mother,
I am and will be so much more.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ode on a Trampled Cabbage

Today's entry in my Summer of (Otaku) Persona Poetry stems from Avatar: The Last Airbender's favorite no-luck/no-respect/no-cabbages merchant, Mr. Cabbage Guy. Did the title give it away?

For this poem, I thought it would be fun and strangely appropriate to have the cabbage merchant write an overly passionate and reverential ode to his favorite (and most cursed) vegetable. In doing so, I wrote an ode to cabbage after John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn". Mine is nowhere near as long, but the rhyme scheme is the same, and  I feel there is a similar gravity to the tone too. Of course, the object of said ode makes this poem more than a little ridiculous.


Ode on a Trampled Cabbage
~after John Keats' 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'~ 

Oh! You laureate of leafy wing,
   xylem-lined crown your crispened globe
swathing like walls clothe our dear Ba Sing
   Se, though yours the greener robe.
Blessed, your dressings' velvet and snap,
   praised when placed 'twixt tooth and tongue,
when left unmet, the arrowed storm
   whose bent has seen your glory flung
on mishap after windswept hap,
   left for weather and slug to deform.

Cabbage, the curse your verdant crown
   repeatedly casting from cart to earth,
what divine will trails you town by town
   and spurs disaster toward the worth
enveloped in your glossy folds?-
   now, as ere, a tatter-wrapped king
usurped by element-handed savages.
   Why hates the avatar such a heavenly thing?
And what monstrous author pins your gold
   to the fringe of terror's airbent– MY CABBAGES!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Lie Between Us

Hello and welcome back for another week of nerd-lovin' persona poetry in my ever-renamed Summer of Persona Poetry/Otaku Persona Poems series.

Today's poem comes from 2013's standout PS3 game (and personally the best damn video game I've ever played) The Last of Us. There is so much remarkable authenticity, realism and emotion in the story of Joel and Ellie, I couldn't write this series of poems without turning an eye in their direction. The game, if you haven't played it, is a transforming experience. I know, "it's just a game", but y'all...for real, there is an unprecedented courage and power in The Last of Us, and anyone who loves an immersive gaming experience with as much narrative punch as gaming pleasure owes it to themselves to play this. It's game of the year (or Game of the generation for more than a few) for a reason.

Anyway, all that aside, it's time for a poem, ya think? Here is 'The Lie Between Us'...

The Lie Between Us 

You're not my daughter…
The words hissed against my tongue
more spore than the fungi
I grip pistol and pipe to protect you from.
2,000 miles of unpeopled decay,
of you and me
defending the softest parts of each other
from the teeth sprouting out of these ruins,
and it was me who ended up hurting you.
I'm sorry, Ellie.
I tried to lie a knife over this tether between us,
because I'm not strong enough to face the truth
I've found in yours,
in your eyes, the grey-green spark
that I can't look at without arms remembering
the night they played a bloody cradle, my Sarah
melting from between my fingers like sand.

You're not my daughter…
Truth is,
there's more of my daughter in you than I can bear.
Time is supposed to heal all wounds,
but if there's an amount of time that'll heal this wound,
20 years ain't it.
Every gunshot and clicker-bark is another tragedy,
a promise to steal you from me like Sarah…or like Tess,
the gloss-eyed goodbye my chest still thinks a dagger
when I wake mumbling the syllable to darkness and dust.
My heart is a bear trap,
and I'm afraid of what will happen when I let you in.
We've wound our way through wilderness and quarantine zone,
seen suburban dens empty their fungoid cabals after us,
split-faced and gnashing at our throats.
At your throat.
How many times can I get there quick enough, Ellie?
My dreams unload slow-motion scenes
of the thousand different ways I could fail you,
and I'm terrified of being with you long enough
for one to come true.

You're not my daughter...
All these months it's been you and me,
            and however flint-edged and desperate, no bluff can mask
what you've already discovered under my callous.
            Baltimore or Boulder, there's no lie in the way
            hands grabbing at you make an angry god of me,
            no mistaking this savage-knuckled wrath
for anything other than fatherhood.
you may not share my flesh, but damned if this heart
doesn't beat and break by yours as if you did.
The pride I try to hide from you, this smirk-betrayed swell
at the spirit coloring your voice with ivy's resilience
and sunup's warmth, this
is a pride fathers reserve for their daughters.
No lie can untwine what's already been bound:
Ellie, my heart is yours.
And whatever this path may hold, whatever
infection-ravaged landscape the coming winter
deems to spring on us, this one thing
will never be more or less true than it is right now:
you are my daughter, the baby girl
need would have me stampede through Hell for,
plunge into every nest of rot and gunshot for
with napalm on my fingertips, bombs croaking
from the mace-strapped pack on my back,
my arms, a waiting cradle needing nothing
but your weight between them.