The Collective Unconcious (Poem)

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unsplash-logoRedd Angelo

The wind is howling
at seven thirty in the morning
a bitter wind
shoves it’s way down from the north
I’ve walked the dog, 
dressed in Corpus Christi Coture
which consisted of work out shorts
a hoodie, and a robe
before dashing back inside
and now with a cup of Earl Grey
my dog asleep in the corner
the cat asleep on a chair
I come to the altar of humanity once more
to bear my soul
and write my song
as if I didn’t know the dangers
of being naked
to the bitter winds of the world

Lately, my mind
has not been my own
my body
has been in pain
and I’ve spent countless hours
my arms splayed out at my sides
grasping realities
trying desperately to hold myself together
but the reality of my situation is
that I am in the most danger
when I cannot give myself away
when I cannot imbue a part of my soul
in a book, in a story, in a poem
and set it to sail among the many souls
adrift in the collective unconscious

No children, have I, at my age
that fate wasn’t written on my heart
due in part to a hijacked mind
but I do have family among those
who kneel at the water’s edge with me
and murmur their truth to the stars above
that family, no one could take away
not even death
their truth lives on in stories they told
when they in a living way
took time to kneel beside the ever-flowing river
speaking their truth to the firmament
when they bowed their heads to pray.

 

Hurricane outside, Maelstrom within (poem)

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Flickering lights and uncertainty rolled out in front of us
myself, my family
the wind crashed whistling through the eaves of the house
like an errant train in the dead of night
lightning danced 
Death had come ashore and ghosts were marching to martial music
thundering heels against the coal black night

the telephone rang
in foolish compassion I answered
and a voice from the grave spoke to me
suddenly I felt thirsty, ravenously hungry
and though the conversation was pleasant
my veins began to ache
and my body began to ache
to be possessed by old habits of a foolish youth
spent locked in torment

after we said goodbye
to fight against the desire of anonymity
I flung the doors open to the storm
wind, leaves, and rain rolled inward
when the threat between my ears
became greater than the one that ran screaming through the night

I pulled up shades
threw open windows and breathed in chance
in giant cleansing gulps
hoping against hope that I could exorcise my dutiful mistake
between The Father, and The Son, and three glasses of red wine – the blood
This I did in remembrance
I all of a sudden felt needy
to be possessed by creatures of the veil not far beyond my touch

I watched the storm blow the rest of the night
between flashes of lightning and gusts of wind
the fourth horseman I knew galloped close by
I waited for upon my cross of bones and childrens toys
for the sound of his thundering hooves
my gaze locked in on the shadows beyond the trees

At some point I fell asleep
only to awaken at dawns first light with my mouth
tasting like yesterdays news
and my clothes just barely damp
I rose from my leaf littered bed
my solace sleeping soundly next to me
my protection asleep soundly on the floor

I rose and peered into the stillness with a heavy head
a tongue that cleaved to the roof of my mouth
I noticed the lightening of the sky with the rising of the sun
now that the storm had blown itself away
and though there be no track marks, no bottles laying strewn on the floor
even though I knew the name of the man next to me in my bed
I still felt the shame of a misspent night
and the lingering feeling of poison in my veins

I’m an addict without a habit
no that isn’t true – no, there’s a habit there
and it isn’t in recklessness or immoral lack of judgement
it was in a simple act of compassion
that now, today burns a hole in the center of me
that wracks my body with a guilt even though I never did anything wrong

In the stillness of that morning
I slowly rose up from my sleep as a hangover
thudded mercifully between my ears
and before the rest of the house woke
I stripped down and walked naked into a cold shower
humming, “Precious Lord, take my hand.”
as shakily, shivering from the cold, I washed away my shame
and I climbed back on the wagon

Authors: Get Paid!

Not so much a rant as an observation.

People’s work has value.

If that person punches a time clock, or if that person is a salaried employee, if that person works as a contractor, or if they work for themselves. That work has value. I haven’t said anything wildly out of line there. Sort of a ‘no duh’ statement right?

Why, then, do we have such a hard time paying people what they’re worth?

Or better yet, why do we expect certain work to be done for free?

I’ve seen so many posts in the last couple of years about raising the minimum wage, universal health care, teachers salaries, wallstreet screwing over the little guy videos, antilobbying videos, pay equality in the workplace, and on it goes.

Yet, people are working harder and harder for less and less. I always hear people put it off on bloated corporations like Walmart – but I am starting to think that that isn’t the case.

I am starting to think people believe they are entitled to more, for less.

Well, There is no such thing as a free lunch, is still a valid economic observation.

Someone is paying for that shortfall.

However, it’s not just the consumer at fault. Someone had to have come along and devalued work for a reason. That reason is to jump ahead of the competition. However, take books for an example, someone came in and sold their book at 99 cents and suddenly they have best seller status . Then another one does it. Then another. Soon you have 60,000 plus word novels being sold in their entirety – months worth of work – for the cost of a bag of Doritos at the gas station.

That isn’t the end of the story, now readers who’d been buying up these dollar books now that the trend is set, balk at 6.99 for a novel. It’s not their fault. Why would they?

Then comes KU and for less than a paperback a month, you can read till your head explodes. The author is paid 0.0046 per page. Amazon publishes 3,000 books per day. I was reading other people’s sharing of the blog from the author who announced she was leaving KU. One commenter replied, “I know these people are being short changed BUT without KU I couldn’t read all I want.”

I’d been working for a company for a little while. Was hired in, excited go work for them, excited to work with them, we’d agreed on a salary and I set off – full steam ahead.

I poured everything I had into making this thing work, late hours, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes all nighters. Project after project. I worked as a troubleshooter, liaison, Public Relations, head hunter, you name it.

Yet, before too long the emails started rolling in. At first they were pleasant enough, then they started being a little more curt, then brash, then demanding. Not only was I doing all this stuff over here, now I’m dealing with multiple personalities and that was just from one person.

However, the work was finished. Everything planned out for a year, signed, sealed, delivered. Yet through all this they pay started to diminish before it disappeared entirely.

Yet work remained, maintaining and daily ops work remained, but I couldn’t stay.

I quit.

My time and effort was worth something to me. The work I had done was worth something to me. Yet like the KU lady – the work I had done became something they were entitled to.

Even after three months of not getting paid.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. People are NOT entitled to it. You are ENTITLED to get paid for work you do. Stop selling yourself so goddamn short. Your work has value. Make them pay for it.

This isn’t about money at a certain point it becomes about self respect.

P.S. I think I may have been a Union boss in a former life.

Educated Lamentations

 

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It’s weird these thoughts in my head
words spoken to me in the midst
of stacks of books, reams of paper,
and a student load debt I cannot afford

It’s strange this sacrament placed on my tongue
though bitter to the taste and damaging to the bliss
of ignorance and a sheltered life
where I was shrouded in a perpetual state
of nebulous Christo-centric fundibabble

I was liberated into something hard and bright
naked and irreverent to the soft cushion of church pews
no, this place was hard and harsh and loud
for I was delivered out of my ignorance and handed
into the hands of my own responsibility

It is a place of jagged and haggard edges
and where truthes – while constant and vigilant –
were few and further between than the innumerable angels
supposedly adorning the crown of my head
as I lay myself down to sleep

Liberated but not liberalized
the truth doesn’t care what you believe
nor does it care about the slope of your spine
and the drawing down of your smile and the shadows
etched thick and black around your eyes
as the weight of truth rests upon mortal shoulders

While there are pleasures here in abundance
if you’re lucky enough to find a hand to hold
the process isolates men into their own thoughts
the likes of which not even the warmest hand
can pluck us out of when we wander in too far

Who am I to know the thoughts of a King
Sword drawn in utter defiance of the uncertain future?
Why should I know the memory of the slave trod
underneath by the boots of men of my own race
Where do I stand as I visit the Boot Hill
filled with Christians and Jews and Muslims who died
for a God that never spoke aloud to either?

How did we manage to keep from wiping each other out
when the falcon could no longer hear the falconer?
When does the human race break through the surface and come up for air after it’s self inflicted baptism of fire?

To none of these questions do i hold an answer save for the last one.
What happened to me that put lines on my face and gray hair in my beard?
It’s simple a thing, really, no mystery at all I suppose
I partook of the fruit of the tree of good and evil
or as lay people put it – received an education.

I don’t like myself (poem)

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I don’t like myself
I feel the weight of those words in my mouth
slanderous, murderous, suicidal words
but true words none the less

When someone says they love me
i wonder – god, what’s wrong with them?
something must be, for someone to like me
they can’t possibly be operating with a full deck

I’ve never liked my body, my voice –
well, that’s okay I guess
it’s deep enough to pass for straight
if it weren’t for the hard S on the end hissing
my truth clipped in northern exposure

My mind is as a shattered glass door
painstakingly super-glued back in place
the wind whistles through the cracks and missing pieces
and everything beyond is distorted, surreal, and as
jagged as my tongue

My emotions, God, where do I even start?
If I said, “Is like herding cats.’ would you understand?
Its like many people in a room all talking at once
overwhelmingly present, often unpleasant
and hushes only when someone gets behind the mic to speak

I drink down everything everyone says to me
i roll it over my tongue to try and understand
if they’re right – for I am not sure
and it takes me awhile to run it through the library
of insults and things said about me
with each new one, the methodical search begins anew

Its so bad – I’ll tell you – my image of self
and tho I’ve been married almost four years now
sometimes I wonder if my husband really loves me
or if he stays because people who don’t like themselves
are often amazing in bed.

Industry panic (Poem)

 

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Since when did it become fashionable to impede on someone’s hustle?
What’s up with this?
Can’t you do do that thing on your own?
Can’t you go out and make that green on your own?
You’re like amber bottles lined up with skulls and crossbones

you look good but that shit is superficial – you know what they say…
you’re poison, ally my ass – Et tu Brute?
Ya’ll gotta stop this, it’s toxic
it’s narrow minded, quixotic,
if someone’s got their game on deck
why come along and knock it?
If someone’s got something to say
let them do that thing, why stop it? Myopic

you scared?
You worried someone might tell you
you don’t belong here?
That your words may be gay but ain’t none of it’s queer
And are you worried someone wants to know how you got here?
And are you worried that someone’s gonna wanna know
how y’all managed to get this industry on lock?
so now you gotta knock down someone you’re stressin’ some new cock on the block
worried that someone might come teach you a lesson
on talent -so frantic, you’re actions got you confessin’
who you been all along?
can’t take no heat when someone up and tells you that you might be wrong?

is your goals so lofty, so costly, the money you make – did you come by fraudulently – are you concerned you’re a fake?
Panicked new names are creepin’ in too fast
so now you make a mistake by kissing some ass
Didn’t you get the memo
celebrity is obscurity just waiting to happen
you could be great, you should be great, but you forgot your passion
Did you lose your ability because you were too concerned with fashion?
or is the pool too shallow, here- popularity’s gotta be rationed?

the hustle should be about getting your words out there
the standard used to be publishing, now y’all running scared
with so much static running in through the door
between the critics, the cynics, and the Z list attention whores
who found their fame shit talkin’ those who do
But your losing popularity So now you do, too?

Man, what a cliché this whole thing has turned out to be
Got voodoo queens hexing the whole famn damily
it’s a tragedy, of no less than Shakespearian proportions
you’re standing at the top of the well – tellin’ us what to do with the lotion
you say, it puts it in the basket lest it get the hose again,
How are you pointing out people’s flaws when you ain’t right within?
Come again?

 

Memory (poem)

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chase memory through the wildflowers
down by the stream and across the covered bridge
stand in the inbetween place – between sun and the shadow
and remember the dragonflies alight on lily-pads
florescent blue upon emerald green

Remember the feel of the worn sun bleached wood
as you slipped off your sandal to touch barefoot
and how you jerked it back up quickly with a hiss
but not before you felt the smoothness almost softness of the plank

Remember the smell of the water all around you
as stream fed the pond fed the lake that surrounds
and the smell of sun dried earth and freshly cut grass, drift
as a john deer moans across the path and down the hill a ways

its a Thursday, and you’re playing hooky and its summertime
and your young but not in love and so your burdens are light
and your skin is so much tighter, and your smile is still quick to wrinkle your nose
and easy as the warm day resting now upon your shoulders

Twenty one, maybe, no more than twenty three to be sure
open to everything and everyone around you at this tender age
Not knowing that this moment will be recalled days and laugh lines and gray hairs later
as if you were a dusty camera plucked off a shelf in the hands of someone who needs a smile

And perhaps you’ll only revisit this memory once
then again perhaps you’ll come back again and again
when the smell of cut grass, or the sound of water rushing
reminds you of that in between place when a moment you so quickly barely witnessed yet can recall so vividly
so much so you can almost feel the burning of your foot

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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(Photo by Jacob Owens)

I love to write. I love to create. Most of my writing as of lately has ended up here on this blog in the form of poetry.  Sometimes – like today – I’ll write the occasional ‘think piece’ so forgive me for interrupting your evening.

But I wanted to talk about my other writing. Books.  I am a five time published author.

I recently read a thread (I can’t stop rhyming apparently) where a wonderful young woman I know asked about the expenses of writing a novel. And people began to list them. Editors, formatting, proofreading, cover art, website, word processor programs, fees for organizations, travel expenses, and so forth and that was all self published folks.

Those who had gone the traditional route, while not having the cost of editors etc. brought up contractual pay. A certain percentage for physical books and a certain percentage of ebooks is given to the author in the form of royalties and so on.

And then both mentioned piracy. The theft of e books and the sharing of them on Facebook pages and websites as well as on those Piratebay download thingy.

There is one thing that keeps me writing – and it sure isn’t the money.

It’s love.

I love connecting with my readers whether on here or through a book review for my work.

But an author needs to be paid for their time and effort.

There are those out there who insist that work should be free. I have been posting images off a website called Unsplash.com that offers them for free as long as you cite the photographer who took the photo. Their work is stunning and when I finish a poem I go to that site to hunt for a picture that seems to fit or comes close to fitting what I just finished working on. – and then I share that poem for free.

Even this blog costs me money. Now, I’m not saying I want you to start paying me for this – that’s silly. I chose to share my poetry with the world. Mostly, because I want to grow to be a better poet but also because I feel like someone should try and spark or reignite the love for the written word.

However, a friend of mine and fellow author who read the same thread commented with this:

“I’ve spent three years, off and on, working on a sci-fi novel. Of course, most of my novels don’t take that long, but they do take two or three months. Even if I made a few thousand on one of them (which is pretty good in this genre), I shudder to think what that would work out to as an hourly wage. When I worked in Tech Support, I earned that in a month. Authors don’t get paid enough. Certainly, we don’t get paid enough to keep doing it, if they only reason we were writing is for the money. I can’t really fault readers for grabbing whatever is cheapest on Amazon, but don’t blame the authors if we can’t give all of that work away for next to nothing.”

I agree with that. And I don’t see why other people don’t or won’t.

Art has value. Even in this day an age where technology is king and the market is saturated- content SHOULD always be king. Always.

With Huffpost and online publishers offering ‘exposure’ to writers – that’s the same as piracy and it’s in the same vein of those who complain about the cost of a book.

Another commenter and author stated the reasoning for all of this, perfectly:

I’ve often thought the balking over book pricing stems from the fact that, not only are the arts in general devalued as a matter of course, but people tend to think writing is easy. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “Yeah, maybe someday when I have time I’ll write a book,” and I want to say, “Okay, you have fun with that, let me know how far you get.” Because it isn’t easy. People just think it is. Right up until they try it. Just because a labor doesn’t require a lot of *physical* labor does not mean it isn’t difficult and doesn’t take a ton of skill.

A good author will have decades of writing and learning and honing and reading behind every word that makes it onto the page, and people seem to think that just… I dunno, materializes in the writer’s brain or something. That they didn’t have to *work* at it.

The general atmosphere of today doesn’t help much. Bloggers are expected to hand a piece over to a major website for free because they’ll get exposure. Book pirates think their thefts are justified because they think every author makes Stephen King-King-level royalties. A work of art posted on the Internet is up for grabs.

Historically, we (authors) were the bards and the poets who were offered a seat beside the fire, sometimes right next to the king, and a hot meal and some gold coins in exchange for a story, because those stories were valued, and so were the ways in which they were told. I think that skill is taken for granted today, and so the value of a good yarn told by a talented storyteller is just… not quite where it should be anymore.

Love is a powerful emotion. But should things get bad – love does fade. And I am afraid that until we’ve learned to start appreciating art again we’re going to lose artists to the necessity of having to put food on their table.

You don’t work for free. Neither should we.