My Journey: The Odd Side of 1999

My Journey: The Odd Side of 1999

I am odd, I’ll never claim that I am not. One of the things that people, particularly my husband, think is the most odd about me is that I love cheesy disaster movies. I blame my dad for this one. If he didn’t like watching them, then I wouldn’t have started watching them with him. I also blame my dad for my love of Science Fiction movies and both of my parents for my love of reading. I’m fairly certain that they do not mind being blamed for those things. One of the earliest memories that I have of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles came not from reading the book or seeing it referenced in a movie. It is of an anthology of Science Fiction stories that my dad had on audio tape. These stories were narrated by two of my favorite Star Trek actors. The Ray Bradbury works on that anthology included “There Will Come Soft Rains” and it has stuck with me more than any other single work. These two poems were in part inspired by that story and in part by other works of Science Fiction on page and screen.

1999/The Blast
Tires screeching, fear binding.
Heat searing, light blinding.
Everyone now scared, now dead.
Burning light flashed first orange, then red.
Last one died seconds after the first.
All of the consequences, this one is worst.
Sadness gropes the rest of the nation,
The government cowers in humiliation.

To me I always thought that “There Will Come Soft Rains” was about an accidental bombing. It wasn’t until much later, when I was able to read the whole anthology that Bradbury wrote about Mars, that I realized it was about war. But, when I was 15, I didn’t understand that human nature is more about war than about accidents. Of course, the odd side of a writer is that we imagine scenarios for almost every circumstance. This means that I put myself in stories to see how it would feel to be there and how it would feel to live that live. This also means that sometimes the habit backfires on me and I end up with nightmares.

1999/Nuclear Blast
Light, the beginning
Flooding over all
Into each and every soul
Into the cracks in every wall
Then comes the realization
That all you knew is gone
You are left alone
But you must continue on
Out into the light you step
To see the destruction of your world
Not caring now what comes to pass
Human pride eternally muraled
You are now the last
The only one to continue
The only one to remember the past
The only one to see the final death of the human race

I would watch random, rerun, episodes of The Twilight Zone growing up and was told a lot about episodes I’d never seen. The one that terrified me the most was about the survivor of the end of the world who finally had time to read, only to have his glasses break. I don’t know why, but that has been more my version of Purgatory than anything else I have seen, heard, or read over the years. As odd as it may seem, that episode convinced me that I would rather die in an apocalypse than be one of only a handful to survive it.

Different styles of writing embrace different traits. For example, the fact that I am odd translates very well into my Fiction writing and the fact that I am edgy translates well into my poetry. In 1999 I was still experimenting with what worked well and where. The Journey towards that goal is far from over, but I am getting there and learning about myself along the way.

Trigger Project: Gas Pumps

Trigger Project: Gas Pumps

11/29/16/Gas Pumps

16 and white-knuckled
Behind the wheel
Trying to will my hands to not jerk
To follow the argument in my head
How big a Boom, do you think?
There are people gassing up
Fuck ‘em, I want to explode
Forget about it, there’s got to be a shut-off like in that movie
The Stand, I love that movie, we should watch it.
Bet we’re faster, it’s coming up on the right.
That movie is old, probably better shut-off technology now
We’d miss school and out friends would be sad
You Fucking MISSED It! What the Hell, it was our Chance!
Are we sure B even exists? Or A or K? What if all our friends are just illusions? Seriously, do we know?

30+ and white-knuckled
Behind the wheel
Trying to will my hands to not jerk
To follow the argument in my head
Sometimes the argument in my backseat is louder
Sometimes the Boy distracts the voices with questions
Sometimes the Girl distracts them with songs
But they are still there
The Anarchist
The Molly Mormon
The Nihilist
All of Us
Just waiting
For the momentary lapse

My Journey: 1998 Holiday Poems

My Journey: 1998 Holiday Poems

Going through some books and paperwork in storage and I found a whole page of poetry about holidays that had stowed away in a yearbook. There were three 1998 holiday poems on the page, including one of my favorites. I’m glad that I was able to find more from this year that were happy and fun.

1998/Halloween Night
It’s Halloween night
And the moon is bright
The skeletons dance
By the eerie light
The witches’ brew
Is a wicked stew
One drip, one drop
One sip, one slop
POOF…no you
Stay in bed
Cover your head
Don’t go out on this scary night
And watch the ghosts and goblins take flight
It’s Halloween night
And the moon is bright
The skeletons dance
By the eerie light

This was one of my favorite poems, it won me an award in a small church contest, and I love the cadence. Halloween has long been my favorite holiday because of the ability to dress up and have fun.

1998/Spring
Spring is the time
For rhythm and rhyme
In the art of love

Not all of my happier themed poems are cliché, but this one is a bit trite. I didn’t dive too deep for my 1998 holiday poems, but they do show that I wasn’t all doom and gloom.

1998/Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day, in every way
Is a perfect holiday
With cream pies, family ties
And food that is a feast for my eyes.
I hardly remember
That in one warm November,
The Pilgrims knelt to pray.
Thanksgiving Day, in every way,
Is a perfect holiday!

I think that I was trying too hard to copy the success of the Halloween poem with this one, and it really shows. I copied the cadence and even the rhyming scheme; but, I tried to bring poignancy into a short poem with a fun feel.

In all, I’d say that my 1998 Holiday poems, like most of my poetry from that year, could use a good revision to bring it closer to the person who I am today. It’s been nineteen years and I have grown and changed quite a bit in that time. Not all of the changes are for the better, I am much more jaded than I would like, but the changes in my writing style were hard won and I think I’ll keep them.

Bad Day

Bad Day

With depression some days are better than others. Some days I can get out of bed and function like I am supposed to. I do my chores, go to work, smile, laugh, play with the kids. Some days are worse than others though. Some days it takes everything I have just to roll over enough to check the time, let alone get up and let the demands start. It’s the days in between that I try to focus on. When I can actually write on those bad days it makes me feel better, and it can sometimes be my best work.

06/23/14/Bad Day
Depression, pulling at me
A weight around my neck
As I struggle to tread water

Life, thick and viscous
Not flowing so much as oozing
As time flies by

Hours, dragging and pulling smoke
Into my lazy haze
Before the days drift away in a cloud

Lists, piling ever higher
The refuse of my days
Left over and rotting

Sleep, heavy but fleeting
Dream of better things
All the what-ifs

Joy, orange and conical
Held on a stick
For this stubborn ass

Work, slipping away
The backwards conveyor
Somehow speeding up

Hope, hidden and quiet
I got lost on the count
Too long a lead and it’s gone

Playing With Extended Metaphors and Bouncy Balls

Playing With Extended Metaphors and Bouncy Balls

It has been quite the struggle to find a way of structuring my days so that I can get things done and not feel too guilty about what got left behind. I constantly feel like I’m being told what my priorities should be and it drives me nuts. I started by gathering up all of the papers representing things that I need to do in a day. The instruction sheet for my work articles, the list of cleaning that I need to do, a list of organizational ideas, and more. I even wrote down my exercise plan so I wouldn’t forget to do that in a day. I then paper clipped all of these pages together and started working on the top one. When that one got frustrating or I lost focus, I would move on to the next piece of paper. That’s where the bouncy balls come in. The first couple of days I felt like I couldn’t do a task for more than about five minutes before bouncing to the next one. I was a bouncy ball, because I am not as awesome as Tigger, or a bubble getting ready to pop.

05/19/14/Ball
I am a ball
Small and hard,
Bouncing, rebounding, and crashing
Through the house
And my daily lists
Not enough force to
Knock stuff off
But enough to push them
Closer to the edge

Big and orange,
I dribble my way through
Work, paperwork, chores
Launching toward the basket
Of crafts and writing
Just to bounce off the rim
And land in the hands of the opposition

Oblong and brown,
Tucked under one arm I make
My way down the field of
Organization and cleaning
Shouldering through the tasks that
Try to drag me down
Tripping over kids
And landing a yard short

White and stitched,
Held then pitched,
Flying fast into the cleaning mitt
Met with a crafting bat
And sent over the line
Foul ball, no bases and no outs
Yet

Black and white
I graze the grass as I fly
From foot to foot down the field
Stopped long enough to aim for the next task
Working to cleaning
Cleaning to kids
Kids to paperwork
Then bounced off of the pole
And sent back across the field

Why can’t I be a golf ball
Small and dimpled,
Struck with long drives towards my goals
And then gently prodded towards the finish
Getting 18 holes in
Before lunch
Despite sand traps and water hazards
To finish my day under par?

The paperclip started annoying me so I eventually wrote a list of categories and things that I need to do in each one so I can keep bouncing. I don’t think that I can stop bouncing at this point. Doing my rotation ensures that at everything that I need to do gets looked at each day. Even if it didn’t get done, it got looked at and maybe worked on. Then when people ask what I did in a day I can list off each category instead of saying “I worked and took care of kids” and hearing that I should have cleaned.
One of my favorite literary devices is the extended metaphor and you can see them a lot in my poetry. Knowing me, this is because someone once told me that I was a genius for using one in a poem. Most of my poetry can be called extended metaphor poems without stretching the definition too much. For me the difficult part is knowing when to stop. In this poem I used bouncy balls, basketballs, footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, and golf balls. I could have kept going with other sports balls or with balls of yarn, rubber bands, balled up clothing, or many more. But I decided to stop before it got too annoying and, I really do hope that you’ve had a ball reading this.

My Journey: 1998 The Angst Continues

My Journey: 1998 The Angst Continues

I’m not going to lie here, this entry was very difficult for me to write and I really thought about giving this project up because of it. I went through thousands of pieces of paper containing hundreds of poems, stories, and ideas in trying to find more of my poetry from this year. I was really trying to find something happy in this sea of sad. I could not find anything. The closest that I found was the poem “Smiley” which starts out almost silly and then seems as though I’m starting to lose touch with reality. I finally told myself that I was fifteen, it was the end of my Freshman year and the beginning of my Sophomore year of high school, and I was so full of teenage angst that it was coming out of my ears.

1998/Smiley
A smiley is a special thing
My smiley is the only one
Waiting for me to come back
Begging me to have fun
And come away from the Eternal Black
If you knew the real reason
I always wear my smiley
You’d cry too for a season
As I wonder “Why Me?”
Sometimes I know my smiley
Is the only one who truly cares
The only one to stand by me
When I want to slip away unawares
My smiley’s never critical
Never teasing or making fun
Never calling me a radical
Or saying I’m the crazy one
Smiley is my only true friend
Convincing me to endure to the end
Who thought two dots and a line
Could turn away the gun

Dramatic and crazy, just like me. I’ve moved away from the angst and as the years went on I focused those feelings on more existential questions. You can see that in this next poem. I was still focused on the fact that those around me are oblivious to my plight, and still thinking that if they knew how awesome I was that things would be different. I’ll eventually learn that all the popularity in the world won’t cure depression, but not for a decade.

1998/How I Feel
They can’t know how I feel,
When they crush me under heel,
They don’t know how I cry,
Every time that they lie.
I can’t be me,
Because they can’t see,
“Different is good,”
As everyone should.
Sometimes I give into distress,
Needing a friend to break the depress.
Many come bearing a smile,
But few will go the extra mile.
I wish everyone could see,
The strange uniqueness that is me.
How can they do that they do?
Constantly teasing me and you?

Eventually I started having days where even just jotting down a couple of lines about the sinking feeling in my soul was enough to get through the day. Some of the shorter poetry throughout the years that I have been writing are my most poignant, and yet they are almost flukes as I tend to run at the mouth a bit.

1998/Cried
Today I have cried
Bitter tears of a sad life
I hurt more and more

There didn’t seem to be an end in sight to the things that I was feeling and it really seemed like no one could possibly understand what I was going through. I kept thinking that if I could just find the right combination of words that people would listen and everything would be fixed. These poems are all I can find from the year 1998, the other years are much more prolific and have a better variety of different moods of poems. I still struggled with teenage angst, and sometimes I think I still do even though I haven’t been a teenager for a very long time.

Captain Stone and the Crew of The Stormrise Pt. 2

Captain Stone and the Crew of The Stormrise Pt. 2

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Stone loved the soft melody of Pepper’s voice, these days he didn’t even notice when she switched from English to her native tongue, the Song of the Wisps. It always helped him fall asleep, helped the stress of the day melt away. When they met, he was already too old for bedtime stories, but the others weren’t and so he participated. Now, he wouldn’t know how to sleep without them.

“Ross took one look at the ship and engines and started making a list of supplies he would need to just get started.” Her voice picked up again so Stone tuned back into the story, mildly interested in how else this author interpreted his life story in their fiction.

*             *             *

Stone’s heel clicked against the deck plates outside of his berth once again, barely two hours since he had guided Ross around the ship. He turned to the boy and handed him a few credit chips for parts and started towards the bazaar himself to get food for the galley. He didn’t notice Ross disappear into the crowd, but the look of joy on the kid’s face when he saw The Stormrise made Stone trust him to return with the required parts.

What he didn’t know, however, was where he was going to get the funds to stock the galley. Stone had been bouncing between ships for the last several years as a mercenary and trying to save up for a ship of his own. The capture of his last ship at a different stop accelerated his plans, however, so he didn’t quite have enough. Stone put on the charming smile that got him a deep discount on The Stormrise purchase and strutted through the station.

By the time that Stone had made it to the market, his past as a cutpurse had come in handy several times. Not many unaffiliated stations used anything other than hard currency, but too many visitors were unused to the weight and how to carry it. Stone, for instance, had a series of pockets throughout his armored chest piece and pants as well as a ceramic blade in each boot. Anyone watching him walk and shop would be hard pressed to see where he kept his money.

The first table he came to in the bazaar had something that greatly interested him, but instead of something to purchase it was a Wisp. She (presumably a “she”) was probably about five feet tall with pale, mint green skin. Her leaves were folded back along her head like hair and her lavender petals brushed the floor like a tulip shaped skirt. She was shopping for a wrap, the one on her torso matched her skin, but she was looking at more vibrant patterns at the table.

“This one matches your petals.” Stone said, handing her a wrap that she wouldn’t have been able to see from her side of the table.

“Thank you,” She blushed and nodded, taking the wrap from him and looking at the price tag. Wisp expressions were hard to read, but Stone sensed that she was disappointed.

“My treat.” He insisted, handing credits to the proprietor and draping the wrap around her shoulders. “I would love to have the company as I shop for ship’s rations.”

The Wisp grew darker in what Stone could only describe as a blush and thanked him again, taking his offered arm.

“My name is Stone, Captain Stone.” He said. “What is yours.”

“Unpronounceable to humans.” She laughed. “I keep meaning to take a—how do you say, “nipped-name”—to use, but I cannot think of one.”

“Well, may I call you My Lady for now?”

She seemed to blush again and nodded.

Stone passed up several tables of spices and food oddities before the Wisp stopped and pulled him to a halt as well.

“Do you know how to cook?” She asked him.

“No idea.” He smiled and she mimicked the motion. “I was just going to get dehydrated meals for the crew.”

She paled and shook her head. “That is a horrible thing to do to your crew, your cook should fire you.”

Stone laughed. “I don’t have a cook yet, would you like the job?”

The Wisp shook her head again. “I am a medic, but I do know a little cooking. I will show you some things in exchange for the wrap.”

“Excellent trade!” Stone exclaimed, letting her turn him around to the tables that they had passed.

By the time that Stone and the Wisp had returned to the ship, Stone had purchased a hover cart to carry all of their purchases and managed to have more credits than he had before he hired Ross that morning.

“Captain,” They heard Ross’s voice float around the corner as they entered the berth. “I managed to get everything on the list, but I had to haggle pretty strongly so it might not all work.”

“I am sure that you will figure it out after dinner.” Stone called to him, “Come help us stow all of this food.”

“Us?” Ross asked, popping from behind some crates left by The Stormrise’s last owner. “Oh!”

“Ross, this is our new friend with the unpronounceable name, she will be manning the galley until we can find a cook.”

“I am a medic, and I haven’t accepted your job offer yet.” The Wisp said.

“Nice to meet you.” Ross said, sticking his hand out awkwardly.

“And you.” She said formally, shaking his hand with an equal awkwardness.

“Excellent!” Stone said, clapping his hands together. “Let’s get to work.”

The two men got to work storing everything according to her instructions as the Wisp started cooking. Once the food was put away, Ross went back to his parts with a promise to be called when the food was done.

Stone stepped behind the Wisp and put his arms around her, leaning his head against her hair. It was softer than it looked, the leaves covered with a soft fuzz. She smelled like peppermint.

“You are what Earth women call ‘a sly one’, are you not?” The Wisp asked with a curious lilt to her voice.

Stone laughed. “I have been called that before, yes.”

“Wisps and humans are not sexually compatible.”

“I know.” He replied, settling around her more comfortably. “I will admit curiosity, but I just really like holding beautiful women. Besides, you smell like peppermint.”

“I do not know what peppermint is.” The Wisp replied. “I have been studying human biology for some time now and I believe that there are safe ways to satisfy your curiosity if you would care to experiment later.”

“Now who’s the sly one?”

“You, or you would not have approached me in the bazaar.” The Wisp tuned to look at him and lifted up to briefly press her lipless mouth against his. Stone’s lips tingled from the brief touch and the area of her face where his lips had touched were slightly blue now.

“Definitely peppermint.” Stone breathed.

“Then that will be my name.”

*             *             *

Pepper stopped reading when she heard Stone’s breathing pattern change and felt his head grow heavier on her lap. He was asleep now. She briefly wondered how much of that last bit he had actually heard and how much of it would follow him to his dreams. She stayed still, enjoying this contact for as long as she could, but eventually he rolled to his stomach and off her lap.

Pepper slipped off Stone’s pillow and brushed her mouth against his cheek in a kiss before pulling the covers over his shoulders. Her room was accessed through a ceiling ladder from Stone’s room, right up against the radiation shielding from the engine. It was warm there and the lights made it almost feel like home as she curled in a ball and shifted her leaves and petals to the rays to sleep.

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