Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mara Netto

This is my great-great-aunt, Anna Schwiebert. Her maiden name was Otten, born in Germany. She, like myself, was a writer of poetry and fiction. She wrote under the pen name "Mara Netto." My family has kept many copies of her original work, mostly unpublished, but several years ago my grandmother (her niece) from Oceanside, NY mistakenly sold several of her manuscripts at a garage sale. 

As a writer, losing something you have created is like losing a piece of yourself. These manuscripts not only represent Anna's life work, but her memory. I never met her, but her genes are a part of me, so I feel like I have also lost a piece of myself. I want to get these manuscripts back. For Anna. 

Let's see how far this goes. I ask that you please SHARE this post with others. Maybe the person who has these manuscripts or knows the person will see it and return them to my family. 

They will be typewritten, either bound or paper-clipped and slipped into manila folders, with the title and the author's name typed on the front, with the page count in the top-right corner. Most were written in the 1930's. 

Anyone with information can either email me at OR call me at (631) 587-9195. My name is Steven. 

Thank you so very much. As an artist and a writer, this truly means everything to me.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

(The Secrets We Keep)

I have a secret.
One that I think a lot of people walk around with, but are afraid to admit. Especially men. 
I’m heartbroken. 
Not the atypical, storybook kind of heartbroken. The “pit of your stomach, anxiety for breakfast, spend all day thinking about them, and go to sleep with a sigh” kind of heartbroken. The kind that consumes every waking moment (and sometimes sleeping). 
But that’s not my secret. 
My secret is… that I love it. 
I’ve spent years in this state. Finding every thought somehow connected to a face, a feeling, a moment. To a pair of lips, and eyes, to a smile, to a laugh, to a list of memories. To a girl I told I loved.
She is in every breath, every neuron that fires, every smile flashed. Every fleeting moment of my life, she is there. I can’t stand it, but I can’t let it go. I love her too much.   
We live in a culture where not being able to get over someone is seen as a crutch, a flaw, something that somehow makes you weak. You’re not allowed to be heartbroken because that means you’re too sensitive, too emotional, too soft. 
But what if that feeling is supposed to be there? What if that feeling is right? Nothing worth fighting for in life is easy, right? Why are we so swift to snuff something just because it hurts so much? Maybe it hurts so much for a reason. Maybe its real. 
We were together once. Me and the girl I love. We had a falling out. The worst kind. I won’t go into details, but it was (and is) beyond my heart and mind’s ability to comprehend. The situation that followed.
I spent so much time trying to resolve it, trying to fix it, to make sense of it, and it became so exhausting that my heart and my mind seemed to make a truce that there was nothing they could do about it. So they let it be, hoping it would solve itself.
But it didn’t. It just became a part of life, a part of the day to day. And I know there are others out there who have one of their own. Who have tried to wrap their brain around it, but can’t, so they just swallow it down and let it become a part of them.
I tried to snuff it. The love I had admitted to her. The promise I had made to her. The promise to always love her. But when I made that promise, I made it to myself too. And I have to keep it. I want to keep it. For her. 
The more I strip away the sense, the logic, the reason, the what I deserve, the “right,” the stronger the feeling gets. It can’t be just something ingrained in my psyche. It can’t be just emotional leftovers. It’s beyond that, beyond me; it’s pure. 
It’s a choice. All of this is a choice. I refuse to break that promise, the promise I made to her, the promise I made to myself, to always love her. I refuse to be the one to give up on it. It’s not a selfish choice made “for the sake of keeping a promise.” It’s not a selfish choice made for the sake of setting an example to the world, to say I’m somehow better. Because I’m not. 
I believe in this feeling. I believe it is real. I know it is. As distant as we are from each other, this feeling is still so strong. No matter what has happened, across time and space, I will always love her. And as painful as it is sometimes, I love that I love her. 
I have a secret, but I don’t want it to be a secret anymore. I want people to know that what I feel is real, that love is real, that no matter what they’re going through, no matter the pain, that it’s ok to be heartbroken. It’s ok to keep a promise. It’s ok to hold onto love.
I know there are other people out there who are sitting on something. Something they don’t know what to do with. Something they love more than anything, as much as it hurts. I know there are others like me that believe in the power of a promise, who know that love is not a choice, it’s a responsibility.  
I wonder how many people are walking around out there heartbroken… 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sorry, not Sorry

I don’t typically share personal subjects publicly on the internet, but I feel it important that this be said. I find it unnecessary that it has to be confronted, but I feel I currently don’t have a choice. I must address this as a point of empowerment, not only for myself, but for others. 
I am not gay. I am NOT a homosexual. I am a straight, heterosexual, biological male who goes by the personal pronoun of he. (There will be some who read this and still doubt; I cannot speak for them).
Recently, I have had to explain my sexual orientation more often than I see necessary. I don’t understand why it is so imperative to some that it needs to be clarified verbally (while others no doubt stay silent and choose rather to speculate in their own heads than confront me). Why is it so important? Why is it always, “Are you gay?” and not, “Are you straight?” As if one is more unacceptable than the other. I think it reflects something jarring about our culture in general. But rather than lecture you all on what I feel is ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ I will apologize instead:
I’m sorry my demeanor does not conform to your general standards of masculinity; I’m sorry I choose not to treat a woman’s body like an object; I’m sorry I think more with my heart and my mind than my dick; I’m sorry I speak to people with respect, affection, and in proper English; I’m sorry I’d rather wait for someone I think is worthy of me than settle for something less; I’m sorry I love myself.
I’m thin, but I’m not weak; I value intellect and compassion over wealth and reputation; I have a big heart and I’m not afraid to express it; I strive to preserve my inner child and not overlook the opportunity to respect another’s perspective. 
These may not conform to your standards of hetero-masculinity, but they certainly do not disqualify me from my God-given integrity. I speak for anyone who has struggled, knowing who they are, what they want, and are happy inside their skin, but constantly seem to be challenged by a humanity that wants to throw it into question. I am a straight man, who is proud to support the LGBTQ community, because, however miniscule, I have been subject to the stigma, solely because of the person I am.
I choose to rage against the standards, the norms, the misplaced morality, the ignorance. I stand in earnest solidarity and ask: What the fuck does my Godamn orientation have to do the air you breathe?!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autism As A Kind of Selflessness: The Human Condition

This past Friday, I had a wonderful conversation with my colleague Maria Iliou as she hosted the blogtalkradio program “KEYS 4 The Human Condition” (sort of an ironic coincidence to appear on this blog), which, along with her other program “Human Potential,” deals with autism advocacy, the autistic experience, and autistic rights. Friday’s program dealt mainly with the needs of autistic individuals in the American school system. Also on the show that evening was Rose Guedes - who has recently released a chapbook called “Heart of a Womanchild” - who made me aware of something worth noting about autistic experiences.

I was speaking on behalf of my own experiences with PDD, when Rose (herself an outspoken “Aspee”) began to talk about how autistic individuals (and I speak generally and invite others to share their thoughts) often experience situations and moments objectively, reserving subjectivity for later or not at all. This was reflected in my own experiences and was mirrored in conversations I have had with others, who talk often of “hypersensitivity” to social interactions, images, emotions, every day experiences, or moments. This would also explain the unique abilities of savants who seem to be able to reproduce or grasp concepts in their entirety, as if they naturally capture the world in an objective sense, like a photograph. This, to me, seemed precisely reversed to how most of us approach the world: We project subjective opinions, perceptions, emotions, understandings, etc. onto situations and can only perceive things objectively as an afterthought, with the aide of things like logic, reason, and perspective (which, once more, reminds me of the Local Gems anthology “Perspectives: Poetry Concerning Autism and Other Disabilities”). This revelation sparked a conversation between myself, Rose, and Maria that, for me, seemed to illustrate something that can better how all of us approach the world.
We’re not all savants, and we’re certainly not all autistic, but the autistic experience of the world does seem to reveal a lot about how humanity as a whole approaches life day to day. We judge each other and the world around us almost constantly, projecting ourselves onto the things we perceive. Of course, prejudice, racism, sexism, oppression, and ostracization are naturally not objective. Indeed, they are quite the opposite. Yet, they exist, they are prevalent, and they are subtle. Though we may not outrightly express it - as prejudice and the like have become culturally damned - the thoughts still persist, changing from overt to covert properties of society. Such judgements are subjective and do not represent the reality of things. Ironically, it seems, reality is constantly tainted by warped fantasy.
Is it possible to learn to see things, to see one another and our world, objectively? Is it possible to pause our precognitive judgements, our subconscious evaluations and authentications about reality, to see the beauty in things, the uniqueness in things, to experience things as they are? Can we see ourselves for who we are and not what we want each other to be or not be? In a kind of grand irony, autism - a term developed from the Greek ‘autos,’ which means ‘self’ - seems to create a natural selflessness, an ability to see that transcends the eye or the “I” it is a part of.
Your challenge: For one day, try to halt your judgements, refrain from opinions, step back, and see everything for what it is; try to lose yourself in the process; challenge yourself to find the purest kind of acceptance. Report back what you uncover about yourself and the world around you.               

Friday, August 16, 2013

Humbleness: Why I Am Weak/Strong

Humbleness is a virtue.

It can be maintained while still adhering to confidence and self-love. Our importance is personal, both in the grand scheme of things and our relationships with others.
"How can humbleness be maintained if everything depends on you? Shouldn’t that inevitably lead to a sense of grandiosity?"
Reality is projected outward from within; you shape your world. In this regard, you are responsible for the world and everything in it. And yet, remember, so is everyone else. The opinions and beliefs that shape your way of looking at the world are yours and no one else’s, while those that shape the worlds of others are likewise not yours. Be humble, for we all live in the world together, a world colored in by the way we see things. It makes us weak, but it also makes us strong. Build your world up, but ensure it does not encroach on the world of others. Do not hold it too high nor let others tread upon it. Have a sense of humor!

Worship it and let it worship you…

Why I am weak –
         I am weak because I think I’m strong.
My Atlas dislocated both his shoulders
In an attempt to hold my world higher 
Now my providence is a porcelain rain
Shards of former confidence to nourish 
Weeds I swore I cleaned from gardens
         I gleaned in dreams I never had
My Atlas is a double amputee
         And I hold his burden now.
Why I am strong –
         I am strong because I know I’m weak. 
My Universe is spinning 
Around angels dancing on the head of a pin
Now my chaos is gluing wings together
Parachutes of humbleness to cup
Breeze-gulps I gather up and cherish
         The fairish wisdom I needed to fly
My Universe is smiling at me
         Because I make it laugh.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Enough Is Enough: The Gates

This is a call to arms.

There are dubious activities taking place right beneath our noses. Now is critical; this time and place in history is imperative. The globalized world, with technology that allows for nearly infinite knowledge (a digitized Library of Alexandria), is somehow no less ignorant. Humanity as a whole is richer than ever before, and yet the majority still starve and the minority revel in ever more lavish absurdity. All hail to the almighty dollar!
We can’t go green because there’s not enough green to go around. The democracy of American was founded on the belief that wealth is a deserved possession of all, and yet we live amidst a world where some hoard while others scrounge. The middle class is shrinking as the people with the money get power, manipulating us - even the information we are exposed to - into a false sense of control. Freedom isn’t free. 
Politics offer no solace. The common man is too busy bearing the weight of others’ revelry to organize. A unique population of people need to be the ones to change the world: Artists. Musicians, philosophers, painters, logicians, poets, bards, writers, actors, and even scientists need to band together and take back morality, take back the bastardized ethics of the modern world. Why artists? Because we transcend the hustle and bustle, the ho-humness of modernity. The desire to create is one of good, of love, of aesthetic beauty, and our craft is more important than the fickleness of wealth and the bribery of monotony. We have to be the ones to fix this. 

This is a call to arms for artists and the infinite strength of their creations: FIGHT!!!
The Gates
Bight my finger and chew on my soul
Determined to toss my bones in the hole
Better save your money up
Because there’s gonna be Hell to pay
When I spit fire
And rise from my grave  
Maggots in my eyes and dirt under my nails
With dusty black lungs, quick to inhale
You can push the barrel deep into my temple
Blow my mind out the other side
It means so much to be nothing at all
Because I broke the mold when I dropped the ball
I was the first to scream “FUCK YOU" in the face of dismay
I was the last to breath life into all the decay 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Recipe For Happiness

Just breathe.
Whatever it is… it will be alright.
It will pass.
All that matters is this moment.
Right now.
All that ever was… is now.

Too much of our life is spent worrying. About who we are, where we’re going, what to do. It is a burden that has been bequeathed to mankind ever since the conquering of evolution, for we are still perpetually tethered to our animal nature. There is worry all around us, about petty things, trivial things – superimposed synthetic obligations irrelevant to the achievement of happiness. We live in an externalized, globalized world in which the self is tossed to the wayside in favor of ephemeral boon. We hold onto contentment for a brief while, until something else perceived as worthy of our worry comes along to take it away from us. Most people spend all their lives trapped in this cycle of worry. These people think life is a bitch… but a dog is a man’s best friend.

There is a key to escaping this madness, to freeing one’s self from the maelstrom of being, a formula for the achievement of contentment. It is not a simple formula, but it is far less complicated then the chaos of life. It will protect you from the hardship of existence and keep you safe in the arms of positivity. Think of it as a recipe for happiness. We will need a list of ingredients:
  • 1. It starts with a realization. Fourteen billion years ago, our universe burst forth out of nothingness. Soon (in the cosmological scheme of things) light began to pervade the nubile universe, impregnating it with simple atoms like hydrogen and helium. These simple elements coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies in which the heavier elements like carbon, oxygen, and phosphorus were synthesized. Perspective here is essential. This means that you arebillions of years in the making. The atoms that compose your body can be traced back to these primordial wombs. Furthermore, every few years the atoms in your body are cycled out and returned back to the Earth, into the clouds, animals, trees, and oceans. Atoms from these, likewise, are incorporated into your own body. All of this is to say that you are the Earth; you are the universe and everything in it. You have touched distant worlds and are intrinsically connected to everything. You matter. You are bigger than you could possibly imagine.   
  • 2. Yet, remain humble, because we are also incredibly small. Just like you, everything else is composed of the same pervasive elements. You are never alone, because structurally we are all the same. Flowers, fish, mountains, seas, we are all one race of universal inhabitants. We inhabit ourselves. Set this idea aside for now. It will be important for later.  
  • 3. What makes us unique are our experiences, our memories, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our regrets. Combinitorially, there has never been nor ever will be another you. Even identical twins, who’s DNA is exactly the same, possess vastly different personalities. Indeed, the atoms that compose their respective bodies are not the same and the random mutations present on their skin, the freckles and beauty marks, battle scars of existence, attest to the fact that they are their own person. The blue prints are the same, but the materials are dissimilar. You own your personhood; the self is entirely yours, so long as you recognize the face staring back at you in the mirror. You are in control of the person you are and no one can claim ownership of that but you. No one. Together, these two facts attest two others.
  • 4. You are perfect and beautiful. This is undeniable. The atoms that compose your body at this moment are present nowhere else in the universe. Your experiences, your memories, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your regrets make you you. You are perfect because you have never before been proposed and never before realized. There has never been nor ever will be another you, therefore you are a perfect example of yourself. You cannot be flawed because there is nothing to compare your imperfection to. You’re perfectly imperfect. Likewise, you are beautiful because beauty cannot be determined by an aesthetic comparison. Because there is nothing to compare it to, your beauty is also perfect. You are perfectly beautiful. Because the atoms are constantly cycling out of you, you are constantly being reborn, your perfection and beauty replaced with perfection and beauty. Your uniqueness is perpetually becoming and being realized in the same instant. The idea of beauty as in the eye of the beholder is only a state of blindness. Beauty can be found in anything and everything. So long as you seek to recognize it, it will be found. 
  • 5. Because we each own ourselves, our beauty and perfection is likewise our property. No one can lay claim to it but you. Other’s opinions on the matter are, essentially, meaningless. You will always be perfect and beautiful, but should you see imperfection or find yourself not beautiful, you have two choices: To change what vexes you or accept it as it is. Many people fret over their regrets and mistakes, things that have happened in the past that cannot be changed. These events contribute to one’s uniqueness, but many see these as flaws in one’s character. In such instances, because you cannot change them, they must be accepted as they are, embraced as a part of you, and used to better your present state; we learn so that we may improve ourselves. No matter how helpless a situation may seem, there is always the opportunity to learn from it. You may not be able to change what happened, but you can change your actions to better the future. As for changing yourself, there are many routes to improve something about yourself, but sometimes the easiest is simply changing the way you see yourself. It is one thing to get healthy, but it is another to try and change the way you look because of how people see you. Before taking any action, always ask: “Am I doing this for myself or for others? Am I doing this to make myself happier or to make others happy?” Always choose the route that preserves your contentment and leads to the achievement of the next ingredient in this list.
  • 6. Having truly grasped the previous five concepts, no good recipe would be complete without love. We are taught on television, in movies, in music, in literature, that love is something found between two people and once our other half is found, happiness can be achieved. It is a sad irony that we continuously search for love outside ourselves, when it needs to be found within us first. Someone else will come along later. The happiest relationships are those in which both parties love themselves completely and each other equally. Love of the self is the strongest foundation you can build. It will protect you from all of life’s hardships and any danger to contentment that comes your way. Once fortified, it is stronger than diamond and gentler than silk. It is like an endless reservoir of positivity, enriching your life and guiding your choices. Learning to love yourself is one of the greatest lessons of life, one that many people go without learning. To achieve it requires discipline and the revelation of the previous five ideas. It should be your ultimate goal. If ever you are sad, ask: “Do I love myself?” Continue to question, wonder if you love yourself completely, challenge it, until the answer “Yes” is grasped with certainty and confidence. That endeavor will direct you, communicate to you what you need to do to better yourself. No matter what, love will keep you safe.   
  • 7. To return to the second ingredient, because we are all made of the same elements, and typically share in similar experiences of heartache, hope, and regret, show kindness and compassion to all things, for they too struggle. Do not look on others with zealous desires of means to an end, but seek to find the beauty, perfection, and love within them. Having a secure foundation of love, founded on the realization of your uniqueness, beauty, and perfection, will guide your actions and will steer you towards goodness, truth, and happiness. Every action should be done in the pursuit of truth and honesty. We all share in our being – having been gifted with the opportunity to exist. We exchange building blocks so that we may build ourselves anew. Every moment is an opportunity to start over. Every inhale is laced with possibility and every exhale infested with your love, such that we each control our reality. You have the power to change the world – all you have to do is change the way you see it. There are opportunities for love, for beauty, and for perfection all around you. Finding them and letting them enrich your life requires looking within and finding happiness and positivity within yourself.  
Realize that we are all one in our possession of existence. Bigotry, ignorance, and hatred are the externalized shortcomings of the self. Learning to look on yourself with positivity, contentment, love, beauty, and perfection will give you the ability to look on others with the same light. We must strive to create a species that lives this way; a humanity of goodness; if every man, woman, and child can be taught to love themselves, everyone will learn to love everyone else and see them for who they truly are. We are united in our struggle in life, but life can be a beautiful experience if we realize we are all in this together, every one of us, every last atom in this incredible universe.

Many find peace and contentment in the arms of an omnipotent God, while others find the same fulfillment in the presence of a purposeless universe. Conversely, many continue to struggle to find happiness, even with the guidance of religion. Regardless if you are Christian, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, Wiccan, or Muslim, this recipe can be applied by anyone. Goodness is independent of creed, culture, and race. The desire to find happiness is universal. The acceptance of God’s love is no different from the acceptance of your own. Given that all religions or spiritual speculations contain similar if not identical trends in doctrine, subject matter, or ritual, it seems that within all of us is a sliver of God; that a part of every human being is divine and that this is what has led to the development of religion. As with all faith, belief must begin within. Worship yourself before you worship anyone else.
Om mani padme hum. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Hand You're Dealt: If I Looked Like What I've Been Through

Don't hate the hand you've been dealt. It is your gift, your plight, and it is up to you to use it to better yourself and the world around you. Greatness lies on the outskirts of suffering. Struggle is the guarantee that the direction you are going in is the right one. Nothing grand is achieved without effort. You are in control of your destiny; you can get out of this mire, this bog that imprisons you. The chains that bind you are figurative for a reason.

I have seen men claw their way back from the brink of self-destruction. No string of bad decisions is beyond repair. We all struggle - often through similar situations, experiences, and tragedies. Telling your story can empower others to tell theirs, to create a network of support, to provide an example of how you can save yourself and others from the demons that haunt each of us. Remember... there is always someone who will miss you in the end. No one is forgotten and evil is always conquered by good. Always.

After being diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, I grew up among a lot of kids with dubious futures. Many have gone on to lead beneficent, productive lives. We are survivors. You are a survivor. We each carry the battle scars of our own personal civil wars, but we don't always wear them with pride. Our medals, our purple hearts, hide just beneath the skin - the silent aggrandizements of our perseverance. Own your struggles. Use them to make you stronger. To make us stronger.

What would you look like if you looked like what you've been through?

I must stress that I do not condone self-harm. Please never hurt yourself. Seek help.

If I looked like what I've been through
I'd have the face of a woman
and a man
contorted into a kind of in-between
delicate and masculine
with eyes that pierce and lips that tempt
with a jaw of glass that slices like obsidian
and a brow that collects beads of sweat
where ideas fall to their deaths

If I looked like what I've been through

my face would be scarred with age 
ancient memories tucked under my tongue 
to escape is archaic speech 
wisdom exuding, 
bleeding through childlike curiosity 
a fascination 
that hints at an old soul
inside a young heart

If I looked like what I've been through
I'd have a heart where my brain is supposed to be
I'd have a brain where my heart is supposed to be
and they'd constantly be switching
thinking, feeling
fighting for what is right
neither able to decide who is winning 

If I looked like what I've been through
I'd be dressed in a three piece straitjacket
with cufflinks
dressed to the nines in a canvas tux
with the images that cloud my mind painted on
a metaphor for my artistic fervor
my former affliction replaced with a brilliance
no less insane

If I looked like what I've been through
I'd have cuts so deep in my wrists
my hands would bend back as if attached with hinges
I'd have bible pages rolled up and tucked inside the veins
unfinished poems
dollar bills
that I'd unroll from time to time
to remind me
to hold on

If I looked like what I've been through
my blood type would be ink
and you would see it coursing
in sentences and verses
just beneath my skin

If I looked like what I've been through
my skin wouldn't be able tell you what race I am
but you would still judge me
I'd have the misplaced morality of a Christian
the pantheon of a Hindu
the hope of an atheist
and the history of a Jew

If I looked like half as much as I've been through
I'd only be half a person
an incomplete masterwork
a magnum opus
loaded only with dummy bullets
I wouldn't have half the passion
that bleeds like beads of sweat from my gaping pores
in rivulets of syntax
that I dab with looseleaf paper
to preserve
what I've been through

If I looked like what I've been through...
you wouldn't even see me
you would only see the things that make me me 
but they are not me
I am so much more than what I have been through... 
I am infinitely stronger  

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Long Island Poetry Scene: The Jackal and the Ghost

Long Island is arguably one of the most vibrant artistic locations on the face of the earth. I am confident in that statement. It is almost as if anyone who passes through New York City on their trek towards the "fish-shaped Paumanok" is somehow laced with an untraceable level of inspiration that slowly seethes until it unwillingly incorporates them into a culture of artists, poets, writers, musicians, and everything in between. It is infectious - a beautiful blight.   

Last night, I had the honor of being a part of Bards Day, an annual event celebrating the release of the yearly anthology Bards Annual 2013, which included my poems Tete-a-Tete and I Am Thankful, published by Local Gems Poetry Press (the one's who released by book Death By Active Movement) in association with The Bards Initiative. I was honored with the Up-and-Coming Poet Award at the ceremony and am truly humbled by that gesture. Seeing so many people gathered at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington Station, NY, I could visually see everyone who had come to be a part of my extended poetry family. Not only poets - all expressive people on this Strong Island of ours are part of the collective effort to make this world better and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We are a hellbroth of many different people, juxtaposed to each other like brilliant contradictions. 

There is a revolution coming and us artists need to be the ones to organize it, to drive it home, to take back this great nation of ours, and to unite the globalized world under a canvas of culture, community, and equality. Language does not separate us, beliefs, traditions, we are a oneness bequeathed with being, this existence, together striving to make it more than what it is. That is the burden of the artist and we can help each other carry it. Long Island seems to carry more weight than others, but this is a call to all expressive peoples everywhere - 


The Jackal And The Ghost

This is a shot in the dark
A road with no signs
A blind man’s pointing finger
A sentence without an end
This is a depth nothing can fall to
A hole no one can dig
This is a thought you can’t have
An heir you can’t breathe
This is a sight you can’t behold
A picture of nothing
A tree without roots in a world without gravity
This is a baby’s dream
This is a number you can’t count to
A hunger you can’t crave
This is a journey you can’t take
A trap you can’t escape
This is a knot that can’t be untangled
A well you can’t well
Decadence you can’t taste
A kiss you can’t feel
A peace that lays waste
A future you can’t make
A past you can erase 
This is a blasphemy
A virtuous sin
A fleeting permanence
This is a split second glance
With no one else around
This is evidence
This is all the leafs in autumn
All the seeds you blew away
All the toys of childhood
All the games
These are all the jokes told
All the laughter
All the tears
All the boys and girls you’ve desired
All the fears
This all the preparation
This is all the grace
This is all the building up
The tearing down
The waste
This is the paper in the morning
The painting of a room
The doodles on a chalkboard
The gazing at the sky at noon
The trying and the buying
The regret and the hope
These are the nicks and scrapes
The jackal and the ghost 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Your Burning Bush: The sweetness of the fruit

This past Friday, I had the incredible honor of seeing and meeting poets Saul Williams and Aja Monet (with a performance from jazz musician Daniel Carter afterwards) at The Velvet Lounge in East Setauket, NY, official home of The Muse Exchange. It was one of the most reassuring events I have witnessed in a long while. Not only did I get to revel in the beauty of some of the greatest poetry and spoken word in the world, but it reaffirmed my commitment to the art of writing, of spoken word, and the goals I foresee fulfilled in this silly life of mine.
Your art is your gift to the world. Your gift to yourself. It has been given to you for a reason. Its yours. You made it. You packaged it. You delivered it. It isn’t something otherworldly, it is very real, and divine. It is your own divinity, a piece of God birthed within you. Your Holy Ghost. Your burning bush. Don’t snuff it - embrace it. Listen to it speak to you and carry its message to reality. 
There are moments of certainty in this life when we feel something, sense something, know something with certainty, and we exist in that moment for a fleeting eternity. Some call it inspiration, but it is your divine craft speaking to you, the echo of its whispers. It is only afterwards that we begin to question it. Don’t question it! Accept it into your heart and mind, and fulfill the prophecy of its realization. Be confident in your ability. If the want is great enough, it will carry you to achievement.
I experienced something divine on Friday and I felt it as we became one. One in a realm of words. My challenge to you is to listen to the voice of your gifts and accept the divinity of your craft. No matter what that gift is - love it, nurture it, cradle it in your arms, and bequeath it to the rest of the world. 

The sweetness of the fruit
vindicates the rind,
while self lies at the root
and love germinates the vine.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Getting The Message: Strabismus

"When you get the message, hang up the phone." ~ Alan Watts 

I recently met a man who decided to get healthy and lost over 200 pounds using LSD. Yes, you read that correctly. Lysergic acid diethylamide. Now, I'm not saying that dropping acid is the next big fad diet, but it certainly was a revelation for me. (Did anyone else find it ironic that "diet" is in the name?)

The man's argument was that taking LSD allowed him to reach a higher power and allowed him to reconnect with himself, giving him the peace and confidence within to free himself from an unhealthy lifestyle. What was brilliant about his experience was that he used it to frame an argument for why people abuse drugs and why it can be so damaging. When you get the message for the first time, it is an incredible experience - life changing, mind blowing - like learning you were adopted or your sister is actually your mother. The problem is, like most knowledge, once you know, you can't unknow. Once you get the message, have the experience of receiving it, you can never achieve that experience again. Yet, people yearn to, they want to have the same experience, and this is how they fall into an abusive pattern of drug use. The man's argument was, once you get the message, use it to better your life, use the knowledge for your benefit, instead of trying to get the message over and over again.    

Now, for a long time, I was hugely against drug use. Any drug use. In fact, I am proud of the fact that I have never taken any recreational drugs. But as I've looked into the use of drugs, particularly psychotropic drugs, I've reconsidered my position on the matter. In my opinion, if something enriches your life, if something makes you better, happier, more successful, helps you achieve your goals, to love yourself, than no one can take that away from you, no matter what that thing is. So long as it is used responsibly, as long as you control the message, the knowledge it imparts to you is yours and yours alone. Use it, don't abuse it.          


I am that blistered opus,
The third eye of a segregated sky
Spilled across the sclera of a wall-eyed dream;
A seed sown into a vein, halfway to the heart,
Screaming for sunlight,
Biting at the bulbs that flicker a bit higher.
I am that patchwork nowhere
Constructed of drought-ridden hopes,
Sucked up through a straw
Protruding from the partially realized lips of a fetus,
A wormhole with exists in boilerplate dimensions,
Furnished with names unpronounceable.
I am a you
That was a me 
That we can't remember;
I am the remainder of a number that no one counted on,
A queue in a cumulonimbus maybe
That was never called.
I am the organelles,
The will-o'-the-wisps that occupy cages of quanta,
Keeping the corners warm
To numb the conscience of a crestfallen chromosome.
I am amness,
Being in the act of becoming,
The has-been of a yet-to-be.
I am when;
I am now;
I am only a memory
Searching for a mind to be cherished in.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Alma Mater: The Significance of Education

I recently graduated from Stony Brook University. Though I may be the minority, I speak candidly when I say that I have sincerely enjoyed nearly every minute of my time there. There have been trials and tribulations, but they are all part of the education I received. As a transfer, commuter, and working-class student, working an average of 30 hours per week, yet still managing to find time to volunteer at research labs and hospitals, I am blessed to feel so connected to the university. How is this possible? It's all about where you put your passion.

I think identifying with your studies is incredibly important for anyone seeking higher education, although the practice should be instilled as early on as possible. And I don't mean simply liking your studies for career purposes. Taking ownership of your studies, learning to instill a sense of connection to the education you are receiving, is important for securing happiness and positivity throughout your college (and school) career. It is also an important life lesson.

It's simple, really: We all take classes we don't want to; we all get stuck with that one course we absolutely dread. However, no matter how pointless and cumbersome the class may seem, you're guaranteed to learn something new and interesting. It is inevitable. And that very fact makes it not a waste of time. If you approach the class actively seeking to learn something you hadn't learned before, you will feel more engaged, more connected, and more interested in the subject. This goes with life, too: If you are stuck at a job you hate or in a situation are obligated to be in, either change it or make the best of it, and that's a matter of attitude. Make it matter. Make it worth it. Take pride in it and put your happiness into it instead of waiting for it to give it to you. In life, you have to make your own happiness. 

I have met hardworking men and women who never finished high school with a larger intellect than some of the kids I've met in college. It's all about where you put your passion. Every experience is a learning experience and if you approach life with curiosity, with a sincere desire to learn, and to own your education, your life will be enriched. It's not about the diploma on the wall - its about the vibrancy you impart onto your life and the life of others. You are your education.