The Demons Gotta Go

Hey folks, thanks for stopping by. I’d like to ramble a bit about a particular video game I’ve been playing. Oh hell, there’s no point in drawing this out. I’ve been playing GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon.

If you’re scratching your head at this point and wondering what the heck that is, don’t worry – I went through a similar query almost ten years ago, when I first stumbled upon Getsu Fuma. For the quick answer: GetsuFumaDen was an action/hack and slash game made by Konami in 1987. It never released stateside, which mostly explains why I and my fellow Americans scratch their heads when they hear about it.

But wait – if GetsuFumaDen never released stateside, how the heck do I know what it is? Well, I love Castlevania. Konami, despite their recent slip-ups, will forever be thanked by me for bestowing the awesomeness of Castlevania on the world. While Castlevania took off like a leaping flea-man, er, a rocket, GetsuFumaDen stood alone, as though it was waiting for hell to be unleashed upon the world, ready to swing a sword at monstrous demons with deadly precision … but first things first.

For what was to be his final official Castlevania game developed for Konami, Koji Igarashi pulled out all the stops and delivered a multi-generational, time-bending tour-de-force that featured protagonists from almost every Castlevania game. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair freaked me out at first, but only because I didn’t understand how the game worked, or how fun cooperative games could be. I’d spent most of my life getting lost in solitary endeavors, traipsing through huge worlds and downing the forces of evil on my own. So when a co-op Castlevania game came out, I was real confused.

Until my friend invited me to play the game with him over Xbox Live, that is. I soon got the hang of cutting monsters to ribbons with my friend, and my brother, and any random folks who joined our sessions. It turns out that teamwork can be fun, and rewarding.

We played the shit out of the game. We harmonized our despairs perfectly, and soon Dracula himself was weeping tears of blood on the floors of Hell.

Grisly melodrama aside, we did commit to the grind, and soon enough we agreed that we wanted more content. Thankfully, Koji Igarashi and his awesome team were working on more stuff, and by the time the game was “complete,” there were 11 stages and even more characters!

The final DLC pack included a mysterious character named Getsu Fuma. The artwork for him depicted a samurai wielding a katana. Yet when I picked this demon-slaying warrior, he entered the stage as an 8-bit sprite. He was shorter than other characters (great for evasion!), and he didn’t have too many bells and whistles – he always used his katana, so I didn’t need to farm for different weapons. What I did have to do was level up his magic attacks, which, when strengthened, also strengthened his katana.

At least, that’s how I remember him. My interest in Getsu Fuma was piqued, and I looked into him … only to discover that GetsuFumaDen came out in 1987, had still not made it to the states, and stood alone as the only game in its “series.” It technically wasn’t even a series. But damn, it sounded cool – a samurai who fights the demonic forces of Hell? It’s everything I enjoy!

So all those years ago, I learned that Belmonts aren’t the only ones who take up arms against the hellish night. Vampire killers and monster hunters come from all sorts of different cultures, and I appreciate all of them.

Which is why, when I saw that a “sequel” to GetsuFumaDen was in the works, I was over the moon. Little did I know that I’d be over an undying moon. The name of the new game, 34 years later, is GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, and it’s fucking rad.

“So what is it, Chris?,” I hear my imagined audience asking in my head, “Is it an action game? A platformer? A hack and slash bloodfest?!”

Yes to all of the above questions. The game combines all the things I’ve loved over my gaming life, as well as some things I’ve grown to love over the past few years. I know I haven’t written about a lot of my recent gaming experiences here, but I’ll use this sentence to proclaim my love for roguelike games.

Whoa, what? Yeah, I’ve become a glutton for punishment. When I finally got a decent gaming pc in the winter of 2019, I downloaded Steam, which has been a window into an ever-widening world of awesome indie games. While looking for something that fits my interests (2D, platforming, action-packed, challenging), I came across some Reddit posts gushing about Dead Cells. So I bought it, and sweet lord, I was hooked. I’ve hopped into Risk of Rain 2 as well, and Enter the Gungeon, and oh my gods how could I forget Hades? My point is, I’ve played a lot of randomized games lately, and uh … they’re strangely compelling and fun.

And GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is a roguelike. Or maybe it’s a roguelite? I don’t really make this distinction too often, but I’m sure there are diehard roguelike fans who would mince these terms … I don’t worry too much. The game features randomized elements, mostly in the form of weapon and material drops, with level layouts changing a little bit each time as well.

The randomness makes the grind extra important; if I’m going to get stuck with a weapon I don’t usually use, it’s ideal for me if I’ve upgraded it at least a little bit. I definitely have favorites: the katana is my favorite primary weapon, and the bombs and guns are my favorite secondary weapons (oh my, I’m bringing modern weaponry to bear on the demons). A lot of the challenge comes down to moveset memorization: if I know what an enemy can do, I can react to it accordingly. If I see three enemies arranged just so, I need to know what they can do so I don’t get clawed to ribbons by a hungry oni and their friends.

I love games like this; the ones that push me to play over and over until I’m almost perfect, slicing and dicing and dodging and living until the end. That’s what Undying Moon feels like right now. It’s got the challenges I love with the aesthetics I crave. I’m gonna play it right friggin’ now.

P.S. The original GetsuFumaDen is finally available in the U.S., for folks who buy the new game in early access; I forgot to mention that the game is still being developed, but I was so stoked to experience it that I bought it anyway. I was gifted with the original game. I’ll be killing 34-year-old demons soon enough.


Elements of Being

Heart of fire,
mind like water,
seeping into everything,
fitting most containers
and remaining itself.

My brain douses my heart.
More often than not,
I overthink
my life into oblivion,
so action becomes tiresome
and I stay inert.

I may need to jump into something –
to leap from a mountaintop
and let inertia carry me.
My thoughts can’t
tarry me,
and it’s time I
let my heart be a lantern.


Something About Stagnation

Hey everyone, I’m here to reminisce and ramble about my youth. If you’re curious about some of the factors that influenced me, read on; if not, that’s cool, and I hope you have a pleasant day.

For the most part, I grew up in suburbia. I lived in various apartments with my family until I was nine years old, when my mom moved us almost all the way across the country to a high desert place called Reno, Nevada. The man who would become my stepdad owned a house in a south Reno suburb, and it was in that house that I would come of age and take on most of the qualities that make me, well, me.

The house was red, like a stereotypical North American barn, and one of my classmates found it hilarious to point this out. I became proud of the house, because it was mine. Sort of. I shared a room with my younger brother and our stepbrother, and despite our lack of bedroom space, we had a lot of cool shit. I had a Super NES back in Florida, and I was beyond stoked when I walked into my new living space and saw a Nintendo 64 in the game room. I say “in the game room” like that’s a normal thing, but I know that a room dedicated to gaming is a luxury. I want to say “upper-middle class luxury” but I’m not sure how these hierarchies and stratifications work anymore.

Anyway, the N64 was the first of our fancy things. The backyard (another fancy thing) featured a few small boulders for climbing, a playset replete with swings and a slide, and an honest-to-goodness trampoline. A fucking trampoline. I’m actually not sure how fancy or expensive a trampoline is, but all my new friends assured me that the trampoline was cool. There was also a hot tub, but over the years, no one maintained it and we had to decommission it.

Later, I would receive the benefits of a modest middle class upbringing, such as a stable internet connection, a computer of my own, and a mini fridge. (It feels weird to say “middle class,” since the middle class is disappearing super fast, but at the time I think we were in the middle class. Things to think about.) With the eventual departure of both my stepsisters (they chose to live with their biological mother), I did receive my own room. I keep saying that I got all these nice things, but it may be pertinent to point out that many of them were handed down from one person to another.

I’m trying to make it sound like I wasn’t a privileged person, and I’m failing, because I was/am privileged. I had almost every popular video game console under the sun, and my voracious appetite for books was never denied – my mom would take me to the book store when I wanted more stuff to read. I stopped going to school for a whole year, fucked up the online class substitutions, and still managed to graduate high school on time. Some of this was hard work, sure, but I can’t help but acknowledge that I’ve received a lot of generosity and understanding.

I’m writing this piece because yesterday, I visited the home of one of my longest-standing childhood friends. We began our friendship because he was a friend of my stepbrother, and our collective connections have remained steadfast throughout the years. My friend’s parents still live in the same neighborhood that we all grew up in, so going to their house is a great nostalgia inducer.

Speeding up a bit: due to my old, tired phone, I missed a few crucial text messages about our meeting. I showed up forty-five minutes early, and when I finally thought to turn my phone off and on again, I realized I had about forty minutes to spare before my friend showed up.

It’s not that I didn’t want to spend time with my friend’s parents; they’re good people, and conversing with them is relatively easy. It’s just that I didn’t want to inconvenience them; they’re magnificent hosts, and I know they wouldn’t have minded if I walked in the house before their son, but I wanted to wait for my friend. The connective tissue that holds me and his parents in the same cosmic space.

Also, I really wanted to see the old neighborhood. When I lived there, I loved to walk around, absorbing what I now know are the hallmarks of people with money to spare: lush gardens, well-maintained yards, a car or two or three in the driveway, dogs in backyards. Lots of lights. Grills everywhere. I never felt weird when I walked through the old neighborhood – another sign I can retroactively chalk up to my privilege.

When my brother and I finally moved out of our parents’ house and into an apartment, I didn’t go for walks nearly as often as I used to. While I can pretend it’s because I didn’t have as much free time as I used to, it’s mostly and actually because I never got used to the apartment landscape. Big numbers of people crammed into small boxes and forced to make do with small spaces? I’m uncomfortable just thinking about it. So instead of embracing my new living area, I stayed inside and festered away with my thoughts.

If you’ve read some of my older stuff, you may know that I moved into a house a few months ago. It’s not my house – I don’t have the money for such an extravagant purchase – but I am once again living in a house, thanks to my brother. You’d think I might be inclined to go on walks again, but the funny thing is, my brother’s house is close to downtown Reno. It’s not in a suburb, it’s in a weird cul-de-sac that’s attached to one of the bigger thoroughfares in the city.

And as much as I’m loathe to admit it, it’s the suburban walks that I miss. While I wended my way through the neighborhood I grew up in, I saw sights that tugged on my nostalgia and covered me in memories. The house that had a ground-floor window that looked in on a kid’s Xbox setup; the place that was in the middle of a remodel but had now been finished; the house where I played Bomberman 64 with a boy a few years older than me; houses that used to have familiar names on them, that are now missing those names (hopefully due to a successful move); the house where I watched the younger child of a family friend; and of course, the house where my longstanding friend grew up.

All these memories tied to houses, all these houses home to stories, pivotal points of growth and departure in their own ways. Despite my misgivings, I attach too much importance to houses.

Or do I? My political beliefs and my ideals fall somewhere on the left, if I’m not mistaken. The far left. Screw it, I’ll claim it: I think and believe like a communist. And an anarchist. A Marxist, for sure. I believe that every person deserves a clean and comfortable place to live, money be damned.

I have very little money of my own, and I hate the corporatized work ethics that have taken hold in the United States. Most of us spend too much time worrying about where our next meals are coming from, and that’s a problem. That’s a failure of the system, though I realize that it’s actually a success of the shitty exploitative system that our greedy elites have set up … but I digress. It suffices to say that I think like an anti-establishment person.

But I live like a coward, holed up in my room in a house my brother bought and waxing poetical about the plights of the masses. I don’t go outside and fight for my beliefs, I don’t garden like I want to, and my dream of sharing books with people languishes on my bookshelf while I play video games.

It’s possible I’m too hard on myself, but the reality is that I wish for a new world, a new and better way of connecting to my comrades, but I have a history of putting my own personal comfort above my revolutionary desires. I hide. I am the white moderate.

And all of these thoughts coalesced because I took a walk through an older, more affluent neighborhood, wherein I used to live, whereby I became who I am, and now I am wondering how to square my ideals with my reality.

I love my friend, and his parents. They worked hard to get the things they have. I’ve also worked hard, in my own way, and I enjoy relative privilege and comfort. This is why, as I float through life, I want to do something to help people. To set up a community library, to grow a big-ass garden and share the literal fruits of my labor.

I think too much. I need to act.


Financial Musings

Is it weird that I’m proud of my wallet?
Not saying I value money above all –
I just really enjoy how streamlined my wallet is.

As an object, but also an extension of myself,
the wallet is pleasing. It holds only what it needs;
would that I could be more like my wallet.
To consciously open myself, and shake out
all the extraneous thoughts and habits, to expel
the effluvia of bygone days.

With more thinking, I suppose I should admit
that my wallet also holds all the hooks
of the corporatist state. My ID, my Barnes & Noble
membership, my voter registration card …
my wallet is actually an arm of the state apparatus.
And I’ve allowed it to dig its hooks into me.


I hope that when I drive through the richer neighborhoods,
uppity folks wonder at the state of my car:
the rumbling of the engine, the always-open window, the
loose sun visor hanging in my face (quite a liability, really).
The age of it – almost twenty years old, my word! – is
the most damning truth. How can that man
be driving through this neighborhood?

I have friends in places much higher than my own.
They’re generous enough to welcome me
on their own turf, but it is all turf.
I hate hierarchies, but right now,
I can’t escape them.
So I drive through them, noting their
wending and winding roads,
and enjoying the places
that should be free and open
to everyone.


Mortal Combat

And no wonder we feel tired;
no wonder we feel gutted;
no wonder we’re lost and unsupported
in this purported fantasia,
beyond the clutches of history.

I laid my head down and said aloud “I’m probably dying,” which is not the truth, for I’m definitely dying, we all are, but I’ll take these lines to explain that when I say “I’m probably dying,” what I mean is that there are factors which affect my overall health either positively or negatively, namely, sleep habits, diet, exercise, mindset, and the like, and for the last two months or so I’ve fallen into a rut that’s expanded into a cave which reaches ever into the abyss, and it gazes back and says “you’re probably dying,” by which it means, the factors that affect my overall health are not great right now, and I believe I’ve hastened my inevitable demise, not to say that I’ll be dying anytime soon, but if I started this life with, say, ninety years, I’m probably down to something like seventy now.

And that’s my bad.
I’ve said for a while
that I need to take care of myself,
but fuck,
it’s hard.
Or maybe,
I’m just a quitter.
Hence, I’m probably dying.


Thank You, Kentaro Miura

In this world, fate will weave the threads of causality into an unavoidable tether. We are tied to people, places, and events, though we may not see things this way. We may tell ourselves that it was always us, and our choices, that we made the decisions that led to our current circumstances. Usually I’m a proponent of free will, but sometimes, the actuation of fate seems strong enough to be real.

Two weeks ago, I was up late as always, wandering through YouTube’s suggested videos and wondering when I’d finally accept that I’ve been depressed and should probably just go to bed. A more consistent circadian rhythm would probably do wonders for me, but I resist consistency with all my being – it’s my way of fooling myself into believing I’m a “creative type,” as though all artists are recklessly unpredictable and unhealthy. That was a strong sarcastic statement, but I think I should spell it out ’cause tone doesn’t always transfer through the written word. Anyway …

I was up late, on YouTube, watching one of VaatiVidya’s ruminations on the Soulsborne series of video games. At some point, a song sprinkled with soft piano and haunting vocals played, and I had a nostalgic flashback – but to what, I couldn’t remember. I just knew I’d heard the song before, and it hit me in just the right way. I looked at the list of featured songs that accompanied the video, listened to each of the original songs that it might be, and couldn’t find it. How strange, I thought to myself at the time. I know this song, it was definitely featured in the video, and yet the list yielded nothing – at least, it didn’t bring me to the song I wanted. I quit my search and went to bed at last.

Last week, I returned home from my weekly Pathfinder 2E session on an uncharacteristic Wednesday night (we usually play on Tuesday but I pushed us back a day), a little earlier than I usually do. I walked past my brother, who was sitting on the living room couch and playing Monster Hunter Rise before he went to bed. Our friend and roommate was down there too. He asked me how the session went, I gave a quick “It was good” or something similar, and headed up the stairs to my room. Habits cling fast – I turned on my computer and hopped onto Reddit. That’s when I saw it – a post stating that Kentaro Miura, the creator of Berserk, had died about two weeks prior.

I furrowed my brow. I grimaced. I felt a quick pain, then walked to the stairs and said “Guys, Kentaro Miura died.” A quick “Who?” followed by my “The author of Berserk.” “Oh shit.” Right? My brother, our roommate, and I are all relatively geeky, in our own ways. My brother still has a fairly sizable manga collection, and I’ve watched a handful of anime heavy hitters. But it had been a while since we experienced Berserk, and I had never read the manga.

I can’t precisely say when I first saw Berserk, but it was probably around ten years ago. My brother’s girlfriend at the time was his high school sweetheart, and they both enjoyed reading manga and watching anime together. I walked into the room while they were watching an intensely violent show – a band of mercenaries was cutting foes asunder, often literally, and the protagonist used his ridiculously large sword to cleave fools in twain. I think I saw a battle, then the political aftermath of that battle, and I just sat down and kept watching it. I was hooked. I didn’t need to start at the very beginning to understand that this man, Guts, loved to fight, and beneath his rough demeanor beat a heart of gold. He cared about his friends and comrades. He fought because he enjoyed it, yes, but he also fought to protect the people he cared about. The Band of the Hawk … ah hell.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but I got to the end of that anime and I was devastated. I didn’t go so far as to read the manga and become a full-fledged fan, but I kept the solitary season of the 1997 show in my back pocket for times I’d want to sound cool. A stupid and shallow thing, when I think about it, but hey – I wasn’t gonna gatekeep myself. I watched the show and I enjoyed it.

Throughout the decade or so since then, Berserk’s influence has reached many of the things I enjoy. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the brilliant man who created what many gamers call the “Soulsborne” series, refers to Berserk with a nigh-religious fervor. Enemies, locations, characters, weapons, armor sets, all these things and more: if they’re in Dark Souls or one of its spiritual successors, there’s a high chance they’re inspired by Berserk. Nearly every D&D campaign I’ve experienced has featured someone asking “Oh, is your character like Guts?” All of us nerds know of Berserk, even if we don’t study it or devote ourselves to it.

I often tell people that my love for horror and philosophical questions stems from Castlevania. I played Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow when I was a teenager, and it led me to all the things I love: vampires, demons, monsters and monster slayers, fancy weapons … I’m sure that The Legend of Zelda is frowning right now ’cause I definitely played Ocarina of Time before Aria of Sorrow, but the fact remains that the Castlevania series is the first I experienced that explicitly addressed demons, their ilk, and their legendary enemies – the heroic Belmont clan!

I’ve gone way off topic, but the previous paragraph is there to lend credence to the following assertion: if I’d known what Berserk was when I was a teenager, I would have eaten it up.

Would I have been able to digest its more mature themes of purpose, self-determination, and perseverance? Shit, would I have been able to handle its mature content? Maybe not. It’s possible I rediscovered Berserk at just the right time. But we’ll get to that, I promise.

Over the years, my brother and I moved out of our parents’ house to live together. Jobs, careers, and relationships have changed drastically, but we’ve struggled onward together. A few years ago, my brother approached me with a shirt. “Do you want this?,” he asked before explaining, “It doesn’t fit me anymore.” I took it and held it out to get a good look at it. It was a red Berserk t-shirt, with images from what I now know is The Golden Age arc. The arc I saw in the anime. Part of me didn’t think I deserved to wear the t-shirt, since I hadn’t read the manga, but I didn’t wanna look this gift horse in the mouth. I accepted the shirt.

I wear the shirt, but sometimes I forget the details that come along with it. Before meeting with friends one weekend, I wore the t-shirt into a liquor store. The clerk said “I like your shirt, man. Is that Golden Age arc?” I replied in the affirmative before adding that I still hadn’t read the manga. “It’s online, dude. Check out [insert name of website that I forgot after we left the store].”

I said thanks for the tip as well as the service, left, and promptly forgot all about the exchange until recently. Being a Castlevania fan, I eagerly awaited the release of the Netflix adaptation’s fourth and “final” season (quotation marks around final because the creators say they’d like to continue the show, but with a different group of characters – works for Castlevania!). When the new season released, people kept saying “Yo, that one fight scene – that’s totally Berserker armor!” Uh, what? I watched the scene and thought “Oh, yeah, her armor and her stance are totally reminiscent of Artorias.” If you’ve played Dark Souls, you know that Artorias is a notoriously awesome boss in the DLC, and if you’ve read Berserk, you know that Artorias is directly inspired by the Berserker armor from the manga.

Yeah, I’ve played Dark Souls but I hadn’t read the Berserk manga. I knew one link in the chain of inspiration for that badass armor, but I didn’t have the full story. Not yet.

Let’s run through the chain of events as I remember them, to get the causality right. First, I play Ocarina of Time as a child (as well as read Redwall), which gets me enjoying fantasy. I later play Castlevania as a teenager, sparking a love of horror and stories with darker themes. Some years later, while I’m still slogging (struggling?!) through college, I watch the second half of the Berserk anime. I feel great sadness, and I avoid the manga. My brother hands me his old Berserk t-shirt, which later prompts a friendly cashier to tell me “You can read the manga online.” Dark Souls happens somewhere in the midst of this chain, and I notice Berserk references more and more. Enough to make the connection to the Castlevania show.

Then, last week, I learn that the creator of Berserk died recently. Kentaro Miura’s name is now etched into my memory, and I read Reddit threads praising the man for his beautiful work. A few commenters state that Berserk changed the way they live their lives, and taught them valuable lessons.

Oh shit. This is my favorite kind of story. This is why I love literature and stories and writing in general – words, and stories in particular, have the power to save us from the ever-encroaching darkness of real life. They can lift us out of despair, and steer our feet back to the paths of righteousness and goodness. If Berserk had such a profound effect on people, and I love powerful stories, then I must read it.

So I finally did what that liquor store clerk suggested – I read Berserk online. Over the course of about five days, I crammed Berserk into my aching eyes. I scrolled over page upon page of beautiful ink drawings – line work that turned illustrations into paintings of sublime skill, character traits shining through simple gestures and expressions, beliefs and convictions poured into sword swings and knife throws and spell setups. I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning, the sun rising outside my window, and I absorbed every. Beautiful. Page.

I essentially crammed thirty-two years’ of work into my brain and heart in a little less than a week. I knew a few of the important plot points thanks to the internet and my curiosity, and I was still touched. No, I was moved. I cried. I cried numerous times throughout the harrowing journey. Lots of sad tears, and some happy tears. Once I caught up with the current state of things, I read more accounts of readers’ Berserk experiences. I read the statements issued by Kentaro Miura’s colleagues and publishers. I cried more.

I have to support this man, and his creation. His art. I looked for copies of the manga – paper copies! – to no avail. Even my usual online retailers didn’t have copies in stock. Eventually I came to my senses and just did a Google search, which led me to a place where I could order one of the beautiful deluxe editions of Berserk. I’m buying them one at a time this time, slowly, with the intent to read the story deliberately – so I may savor each page.

After I ordered my first real copy of Berserk, I went to YouTube to wander through videos again. Maybe take my mind off the weight of the loss we’ve all suffered. But a lot of the content I consume is tied to video games. The Soulsborne stuff, in particular. And we’ve all been hit hard. So naturally, one of the first videos on my feed is by the magnificent Zullie the Witch. It’s a tribute to Kentaro Miura, highlighting many of the connections tying the Soulsborne games to Berserk. In the video, a song plays: soft, persistent piano accompanied by haunting vocals.

It’s that song. The one that filled me with nostalgia without giving me a name. But Zullie, bless them, gave me the song’s name.

Gatsu, or Guts’ Theme, by Susumu Hirasawa. From the 1997 Berserk anime.

I know that I chose to watch the videos that brought the song back into my life. I acknowledge that I’ve made a lot of choices that have led me to where I sit right now, listening to Guts’ Theme on repeat and writing about my experiences with Berserk. It all looks and feels like fate, but I think it’s more than that.

It’s the power of an artistic vision that understands struggle, consequence, and choice. Kentaro Miura filled Berserk with overwhelming troubles, then breathed life and spirit into people who could make the choice to face those troubles – or ignore them. Guts and his comrades could give up in the face of the overwhelming forces that deter them, but they struggle on. Their trials and their growth endear them to us, and we love and root for them. Their powerful stories, brought to life in beautiful detail by Kentaro Miura, bolster us in dark days and remind us that we too may fight the forces that threaten to destroy us – and learn, and fail, and grow in the process.

I could chalk up my string of Berserk experiences to fate, but I want to give Kentaro Miura more credit than that. Berserk is a work of art, and Miura-san is an artist. The sheer popularity of Berserk ensured that it would keep coming back to me, until I embraced it and loved it as it deserves.

I love Berserk. Thank you, Kentaro Miura, and may you rest in the dimension that follows life.


So Many Addenda

Every now and then, I
have to rewrite the rules for myself.
For example:

1. No more than three (3) caffeinated beverages in a day.

That’s a decent start. Should have
gone down to two (2) a day, but
if I can handle just three,
I’ll rewrite the rewrite.

2. Wake up before noon, no matter when you dragged your ass to sleep.

This is a tough one. Five o’clock in the morning
is no mystery to me. Neither is six. The sun is up
before I dream. But I have to try.

3. Floss every day.

Please, just …
take care of yourself, myself.


Yes, I’m a Feminist

I want to speak quietly sometimes,
but I also
want to shout “Shut the fuck up”
when some dumbass
says “bitch” for the fifth time
when we’re playing a video game …
we’re just playing a video game.

I realize I have conflicting ideologies.
That guy is a dumbass, but he shouldn’t say bitch?
Forget all these
casual misogynies, I want to be soft.
When the world revolves around
unfeeling assholes,
I want to feel it all,
and get upset about it.
Let me be the quiet one
who gets pissed about
your white supremacist leanings.
Your patriarchy.
Your insistence that some thing
isn’t racist.
You don’t know.
I don’t know either, but I know
I don’t know.

I’m tired.


Ford This River Always

I am in love with
half the world,
though I’ve only met a few dozen
handfuls of people.

Every one is larger than my clasped hands,
but my heart makes room
for each new soul.
They are the vessels that ferry feelings,
and the rivers and trees
that make me whole.

They are everything at once,
brook and beam and boat,
and for them and myself
I am glad to float.


Transformation Aria

It’s not hard to imagine that one night, you’ll stay alone in your room while outside your door, everything suddenly changes. Or you change. You might not notice it at first, but one morning you’ll look in the mirror and ask “Were my eyes always this shade of green?” Or you’ll look outside and wonder “Was the street always like that?” Infinitesimal shifts in reality will add up to a whole new world. Maybe you’ll trace your life back and pinpoint that night. Maybe you’ll wish every waking moment afterward had been a dream, so you could wake up to the same eyes, and the same streets. Sane eyes, sane streets. But when you realize everything’s shifted, it’s too late. The crack in the universe has yawned too wide.