Poetry

Fishes and the Crab, or, A Song for Saxony

She walks in beauty, like, oh fuck,
I’ve just quoted Byron,
and he was not a nice man,
a damn good writer but not
nice,
mistreating women all over,
and now
he’s overtaking this poem,
and I didn’t want that to happen,
but for real, she

She makes me want to treat everyone better.
To wrap us all in gentle warmth, like a sweater.

I want to slither into her heart and
let my love course through her body,
not like a poison,
but a panacea,
she makes me wish I was
a miracle snake,
with fangs dripping honey
and nectar and
sweet words
to heal her, and everyone,
I want to shed my skin in her presence
and watch it keep unfolding
until it covers everybody, every body,
every pulsing throbbing beauty of a person on this planet,
I want to enmesh humanity
and caress them with my disguise,
until I’m naked and I feel with my eyes,
I drink in all the people
and I smile a little
and the world is okay,
at least for a night,
my bite

My bite is addictive, narcotic, erotic,
my erratic fears and worries
leave with my skin,
and my teeth
are now the only blankets I need,
I wrap her in them,
I touch her entirety
with nibbles,
I shed bitterness and hold sweetness,
to pass it through her skin
with the dental work of yesteryear,
my bite was corrected long ago
and now I’m erected for her, so
I think of what my teeth can do,
and run it through
my mind toward
a snake that’s undulating from my pelvis,
and I feel this,
I feel every shake and tremor of desire
like a fire,
I am a kernel of corn
and she is popping me into being.

I want to pop, and not stop,
I want to become bubble wrapped infinitude,
so she can touch me
again and again,
and I gasp every time,
and when it’s over
we reach for each other
and I remember
there is more

There is more than this room,
there’s a world out there
waiting for my arms,
and I arm myself with words and hugs,
because I remember that I care,
she reminds me that I care
about the planet
and the people on it.
There’s probably a sonnet or two
that describes my feelings better than I have,
but I’m doing my best
to transfer heat from my chest
to this page
for this age,
my brand new age
of flowing emotion,
and this motion,
I never want it to stop,
it’s outward and inward all at once
and I’m sending thoughts like letters
to her mailbox,
and I want to send other things
that I find within myself,
she spots my feelings on my shelf
and she asks

Where did this come from?

and I don’t
mind
answering.

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Poetry

The Sunshine State Isn’t Everything

I’ll say one thing about Florida:
water pressure.
Let me say another thing:
palm trees, greenery,
sopping wet scenery,
beaches everywhere
where people are too beautiful,
disregard for human health,
stupid wealth,
the funniest billboards I’ve ever seen,
river queen, bugs aplenty,
whole cakes in diners,
expanding Shriners,
cemeteries groping for the living and the dead,
red hats on heads,
let me leave,
can I stay,
is this grief,
my family,
everybody spreading ’round the country like a –
don’t say that –
but it’s true,
if I want to hold everything that’s dear to me,
I’d need to be
a supersonic bird,
or the soil,
or a world.

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Uncategorized

The Cards Know Things

There’s a lot going on in my life right now. I’m sure most people can say something to this effect, but I’m really feeling it lately. To make this post sort of short and accessible, I won’t go into heavy details, but two of my friends got married last weekend; I was a part of the wedding as a bridesman. Okay, damn it, I love sharing details, so I promise I’ll post about the wedding a little later. For now, I just wanna give a quick flyover of my life.

Work is unstable. My current job is only guaranteed until November, at which point, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m not great at looking for work. Hell, to be honest, I’m in the burgeoning anti-work camp. I don’t mind labor, to build and make things that are important to me, but schlepping it for other people is a bit harder to justify … don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoy what I’m doing right now, and I hope I can do it beyond the end of this month. Anyway, that’s my quick summary of work: things are up in the air, and my job is quite the opposite of secure.

Then there’s the social life. I mentioned my friends’ wedding. My old friend Jack Jones, whom I’ve known since 1998, married my new friend Alyssa, who’s known Jack since they had a spectacular first date and bonded over metal music, Lord of the Rings, and all the nerdy things that have shaped Jack’s life over the years. It’s like they’re made for each other, and their bond is fantastic. I was blessed with the privilege of standing on Alyssa’s side of the aisle as a bridesman, to help round out each side (the couple moved to Reno, which brought Jack back home and thrust Alyssa into a new place … so Jack has a lot more family and friends who are readily available to join his wedding party, but I digress, this is a parenthetical for Christ’s, I mean Chris’s sake). To summarize the wedding extravaganza, I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, and I danced my legs into Jell-O. It was a fucking lovely time, and I’m sitting here wishing it could have lasted longer, even after I spent the last few nights exhausted after the festivities and falling asleep almost as soon as I hit the pillow.

Okay, but this post isn’t supposed to cover the wedding … I’ll get to that. This post covers other, darker subjects. On top of my work life being highly unstable, there’s some holdover drama from some decisions I made … I suffered some pretty severe burnout over the last half a year or so. It was a struggle to even turn on my work laptop most days. I actually stepped back from doing any work for a few weeks. I don’t think I kept an accurate record of time, to be honest.

What I do know is that, I spent a whole week of my work absence diving into a video game. As in, I spent a disgusting amount of time playing that game. For a whole week – seven days in a row. I spent a whole week binging the game, then I purged it from my system. I played it less and less over the next two weeks, until I stopped playing it completely. I know how it sounds … I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to video games, or at the very least, I go through addictive phases. Binging and purging is a cycle followed by folks who are not very healthy, emotionally or mentally. I was binging and purging video games. I have been for a long while.

I mention this episode, in brief, because I fear that I upset some people who are using it against me now. And, well, they’re not in the wrong … I made life hard for most of my colleagues when I just stopped showing up to work. They suffered, a lot, because of my cowardice. And yes, that weeklong binge didn’t help me come back to the fold … but it’s not like I spent the whole summer binging games. It was one week. One extreme week. I like to believe that my gaming habits are more leveled out now.

But, the thought that people may be leveraging that extreme week against me is a frightening thought. So yesterday, October 4th (a Monday), I decided to take a day to recuperate from the stress and the anxiety and the sheer joy of the big wedding weekend. I wanted to ignore the shit mounting against me. But I also wanted to get more in tune with my spiritual side. So I picked up my deck of Tarot cards and asked “What can I expect today?”

I shuffled and drew the top card: The Tower, upright. Oh fuck.

The Tower signifies violent change, not always harmful, but a big paradigm shift; at the time, I just thought “Oh, maybe it’s just all these different stressors combining to push me a certain way. Change and all, right?” I was so wrong.

I checked the bottom of the deck, because some people believe that the bottommost card reveals another aspect of your answer, sometimes your mental or emotional state, or a deeper level of understanding – it all depends on the question and the answer.

The bottommost card was another significant and moody card: the Five of Cups, reversed. Typically, the Five of Cups represents regret, disappointment, and failure. Pretty spot-on, considering all the shit I’d been going through as far as careers, finances, and dreams were concerned … I’d messed up, and I continued to mess up. But wait, the Five of Cups was reversed … so I consulted the guidebook that came with my deck, and got these buzzwords: news, alliances, affinity, ancestry, return, false projects. Huh, okay. I wasn’t sure what to make of it all, but I had some errands to run. I stopped by the bank, then headed to Jack and Alyssa’s house: they left for Hawaii on their honeymoon, and I was watching their cats and plants while they were gone.

I got to their house and took my sweet time. I checked on the kitties, gave them some good scritches, and made myself a cup of coffee. Then, in the relative peace of their dining room, I pulled out my journal and my pen to write down my thoughts and feelings regarding the last four or five days. I found myself laughing while I relived all the great moments from the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding itself, all the smiling and crying and dancing, and the joy that came from such a great group of friends … then my phone rang.

I don’t like it when my phone rings. I don’t like talking on the phone unless I really know the other person. This caller was my aunt. From my dad’s side of the family. She had never called me before. We’d texted a little bit a few years ago, but that was it. I hadn’t seen my dad since I was nine years old.

I knew why she was calling.

I ignored the phone call and continued recording the joys of the recent past, hiding my current and near-future sadnesses in the pages of my journal. I took refuge in the smiles, and laughs, and dances of the weekend. I felt my phone vibrate about an hour later, and saw a text from my aunt. It just read “Call me when you get a chance.” I continued writing.

When I finally finished jotting down my impressions of the wedding festivities, I packed my shit, said farewell to the kitties, and drove to buy gas. My car was running dangerously low on fuel, and I needed to go to Jack and Alyssa’s place every other day to take care of things. I also needed to head to work at some point, if I even had a job still. I was also fucking hungry, so I pulled into a Del Taco drive-thru and ordered some eats.

When I pulled into the driveway at home, I saw that all our lights were on in the living room and kitchen. When I opened the front door, I heard my brother’s voice. It was strained, and he was talking on the phone. I knew he was talking to my aunt.

I knew why she was calling.

When my brother said ‘bye to my aunt and hung up, what I said was “It’s Dad, isn’t it?” In my brain what I said was “Dad’s dead, isn’t he?” Alex responded “Well, Dad’s dead.” He proceeded to explain how Dad had stopped taking medication to protect his heart, and, whether it was intentional or not, his heart gave out. He slumped forward in his seat at his apartment and died. His roommate was in the room with him. I can’t even imagine how fucking traumatic that is.

Right now, I’m not exactly speaking with my siblings. I made some comments last night that upset my brother, and my poor sister was sort of in the middle, and this is what I know: I’m sad about this, and I’m sad for me, and I’m sad for what we’ve lost, and I’m sad for my relatives, and I’m sad that I’m never brave enough to answer the phone, even when I know why the other person is calling.

I want to attend the funeral and pay my respects to my dad, despite having not seen him since I was nine years old. He was a human being, he was struggling, and he did the best he could with what little he had. We’re all in the middle of figuring out what happens next – when the funeral happens, how we all get there, how long we’ll be away. I’ll have to ask our roommate to take care of our cat. There’s a lot that’s up in the air.

But there’s one thing I know now: my Tarot cards know things that are happening, and things that are coming. The Tower, and the reversed Five of Cups, they have everything to do with the death of my dad, and the changes I and my family will undergo because of it, and the eventual moving on that we’ll all do in our own ways. Those cards told me what to expect, and I didn’t know how spot-on they were.

This is why I believe there are powers and forces beyond my sight and comprehension. There’s stuff out there that I don’t understand. I embrace it and try my best to learn about it.

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Poetry

It’s Our Car, Baby

Y’see,
if I’m driven,
then I’m just
a car.
A vehicle, a
vessel.
I don’t want to live like that,
I want to be
in control.
(At least some of the time.)
So I’d rather be drivin’.
Let’s take turns
at the wheel.
We’ll switch off:
driver <–> shotgun navigator.
I’ll smile
and share the ride
with you.

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rambling

There’s Always Time for Grime

Howdy folks! I’d meant to write this, well, almost a month ago. That’s ’cause a sweet game called Grime released in early August, and I’d been waiting a long time to play it. I’ve been surfing, rather, diving into Reddit way too often throughout the pandemic, and thanks to my Reddit obsession I see a lot of posts regarding video games. Games that look really cool. I usually glean enough info about games from trailers and developer updates to decide whether they’re worth a shot, and well, this interesting game called Grime kept coming up in the Metroidvania subreddit. That was the first indicator that I’d enjoy the damn game: it’s a Metroidvania, which is just a portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania, which are both series that involve platforming and action-packed encounters and diligent searching to find all the hidden items, and … I could go on forever, but if you’ve read any of my past stuff, you may have picked up on my love for Castlevania, and my appreciation of Metroid. Or maybe you didn’t, ’cause like, I’ve been writing a lot more poetry lately.

Sorry for mansplaining (me-splaining?) Metroidvanias, but I want it to be known that I have a preferred game style, especially these days. Every now and then I go out of my way to play something a little off my personal path, but during these times of heightened stress and tough living, I’ve fallen back on my favorite gaming sub-genre to fill my heart and soul with joy. Which means I’ve been playing a lot of Metroidvanias or roguelikes, ’cause action-packed challenges tend to make me happy. And I found Grime on the Metroidvania subreddit, as I mentioned before. So it had that going for it.

The other thing it had going for it was its unique aesthetic: Grime looks frigging awesome, but also pretty weird. You explore and fight as a statuesque humanoid with a blackhole for a head. You read that right: you have a blackhole for a head. So you’re a statue-person whose head is a blackhole, and you’re slapping the shit out of funky rock creatures and bone-monstrosities and clay bastards and … well, I shouldn’t spoil all of it, actually. This is my weird way of saying that the game looks interesting, in a way that pulls at me … much like a black hole, oh damn. So I got pulled in by the established sub-genre and the unique look.

But here’s the best part about Grime: it was so mysterious beyond the developer updates and rampant speculation that I knew almost nothing going into it. I didn’t know how long it would last, what kinds of mechanics I’d be utilizing, which weapons I’d use to destroy my foes, or what the story would offer … I just knew it all looked cool, and I wanted to learn more. So I put the game on my wishlist, and the moment it went on sale, I bought it. And I played it. And I … eventually became a weird mix of impressed and disappointed.

I was impressed most by the deep lore and emotional pull (there it is again) of the game. The story isn’t spoonfed to the player, but pieced together from item descriptions and area names and NPC dialogue; so the game borrows some storytelling techniques from Dark Souls, and the devs use those techniques well. I want to say quickly that I realize Demon’s Souls was made before Dark Souls, but I think the latter is the one most gamers recognize. So I use it to refer to indirect modes of world-building and storytelling. Anyway, Grime took me a much longer time to finish than I thought it would, but by the time I beat the game, I was nearly in tears. It was an emotional journey, and the game does a great job of layering details and realizations until you have a formidable sense of scope – the world before you is intricate, and your place in it is meaningful.

Another great aspect of the game is its control. Not just the actual controls, but the way your blackhole-headed character runs, and dodges, and swings their weapons – it’s all finely tuned and it feels great. My only small gripe with this is that it took me part of a second playthrough to really appreciate the finer grains of combat, mostly ’cause I made some strange choices with my character build (oh yeah, I forgot to mention: you also level up and allocate statistics in Grime) … long story short, I thought I’d be a badass and ignore health improvements. So my character had base health, and I died in, like, two hits. Sometimes even just one hit. It made combat difficult, but in my second playthrough, I actually leveled health and combat became a much smoother dance. It feels good because any mistakes you make, any losses you suffer, are literally in your hands: none of the fights felt unfair, except for maybe the final phase of one boss … but they fixed that in an update, huzzah!

And that brings me to my small list of disappointments. Grime was lovingly crafted by a rather small development team, and this means that it has some rough edges. One thing I noticed: my first playthrough took FOREVER because, er, I couldn’t fast-travel as often as I wanted. What I’m saying here is, there weren’t enough fucking fast-travel locations in the game. So there weren’t enough shortcuts. And uh, despite the character feeling great in combat, they really don’t move fast … at all. So running from one part of the world to another takes a long time, and without a robust fast-travel system, the game’s length is padded by unnecessary foot travel. Thankfully, the devs added a bunch of new fast-travel spots in updates since the game released, and this change has brought the game much closer to perfection!

Yet more gripes (Grime gripes?) exist. When I really enjoy a game, I take the time to unlock all the achievements to really dig into the experience and do everything that I can. I want to show my respect to the developers and spend as much time playing the game as it takes to really complete it. But there were some achievements for Grime that were legit unearnable because they were glitched, or, in the most egregious case, because the devs forgot to place one item in the game. Naturally, all these glitches and missing items have been fixed, so I now have all the achievements! But you can imagine my dismay when I discovered that I spent a ton of time scouring the game and wondering what the hell I did wrong only to learn that it wasn’t my fault at all. I was pretty pissed at first, but I got over it, and things are much smoother now. I have to give the devs a lot of slack, ’cause they’re a small team.

AND, most importantly, Grime is really good. Like, super enjoyable, and it just feels great to play. The music is fantastic. The sound effects are masterful. The combat is super refined, and the story/lore is just top-notch. I felt something while playing the game, and that says a lot. That’s why I feel so funny mentioning all the rough edges: as of now, they’re mostly sanded off and fixed, but for some reason, I want to record the initial troubles I had. It may not be fair to the state of the game now, but I kind of want to acknowledge what can happen when a stellar game suffers frustrating bugs, and how awesome it is when the creators address their game’s problems and bring it closer to perfection.

I had a great time with Grime, and I encourage everyone to get sucked into its gravitational pull.

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Poetry

Book Smarts

“You’re so literate”
she told me,
with stars in her eyes,
as though reading is the pinnacle,
and I felt like
the whitest man,
a most colonial man,
as if books didn’t only get me dreaming,
and thinking, and never doing.
The day I harvest my own tomatoes
while I listen to a hand-built radio
is the day
I’ve finally learned something useful.

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Poetry

Meat Grinder Blues

They are not always the boots of empire;
sometimes they are the stocking/stalking feet,
sometimes they are the padded heels,

the
unsaid thoughts,

the quote facts and figures unquote,
history mangled by white pages,
neighbors estranged by zoning laws,
nature deranged by droning saws.

And now this:
vacation.
And now this:
self-care.
And now this:
libations.
And now this:
underwear.

Now this
money-drenched hellhole.

The world has been turned into a sack of coins,
politicians, the burglars:
purloining all our futures
for just one more vacation home.
How many homes do they need?
How many homes have they destroyed?

We cry, we bleed, we …
How many nights will we lose

restful sleep
for empire?

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