The Black Cape

 

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(The Absinthe Drinker, Pablo Picasso, 1902)

 

The Black Cape

The thick cloak of black and wool

Splayed outward to the darkening skies

Undulating in the wind

A hawk’s eye, targeting my vulnerability

The kill is yours…I have no where to run

No refuge offered–the guardians are all asleep

Lay  upon my weakened bough…

Not for comfort or warmth

We know better–you and me–we have danced this dance before

Do I open my eyes, or shield myself from the horror

Is one better knowing, or hiding?

Either way, there is no mercy

Only bloodshed of the heart, wreaking havoc on my humanness

It is no wonder I have become invisible, unable to see the light that once burned fiercely inside

I think they called it innocence, now downgraded to wisdom…if you can get there without surrender

The land mines are many, a direct hit, few too many times

Pieced together, scar tissue binding the shreds

Bearing similar shape, preservation restored

But at what price? A scarecrow without a brain? A tin man without a heart?

I have learned the drill: cower and recoil

Time has no clock; pain has no limits

The darkness will be eventually be lifted, but not before retribution has been paid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Coffee

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(Coffee, Richard Diebenkorn, 1959)

Night Coffee

 

The dark brew gurgles

Froth a sin of my delight

I smile in secret

Am I wicked for the indulgence?

Quiet is the night, under no scrutiny

My desires are uncaged

Let out to air

Imagining the impossible

Pondering the what ifs

It’s just a moment or two

My retreat from drowning

My escape, if you must know

The mere pleasure tied to my kindred

Destiny fooled for a moment

Or at least, suspended

Whilst I sip, submit and succumb to the seduction

 

 

 

 

 

Dreamweaver

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(The Kiss, Edvard Munich, 1897)

Dreamweaver 

Do you not see that we are tied by one string?

Our love shrouded

Woven in the fibers of the heavens

Lost at first breath

Shades of grey, but not forgotten

You see in your mind’s eye

I am as real as you

Flesh within your grasp

Our breath as one

Lips upon lips, hand into hand

Your body enraptures me

I fold into you; sanctum

You embrace with all that you are–all that I need

All that I am returned unto you

I want to scream, “Wake up!”

But it is I who dreams

My tears wet upon my cheeks reminding me

There is no one there

Just darkness

 

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(Love and Pain, Edvard Munch, 1895)

 

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Tormented soul

Why do you suffer?

Why do you swim around in the mud only to sling it towards those that stretch out their hands?

You do not see the light

Draped in blackness of your own making

Breathing is heavy, eyes wide, mind panicked

Casting  doubts on your saviors

 

Taint all that is good-all that you are

Doubting God’s perfection; your sin of Eve

Breathe in the payote of the damned

Cradle in their claws

Comfort for a price, I warn

They do not give so freely

Your soul is payment

 

Mark this moment; the stopping of time

The last touch of my skin

Our hearts pressed against each other

My tears choking

You’ll mourn this moment, this life I so freely gave you

Mocking my worth; stamping on my sacrifices

All for self love

 

What was my sin; my debt to repay?

Has God no mercy of the price I have already paid?

I  humble myself because of you–before God–the lessons I am to learn

Cursing my path to damnation; your road to perdition

I weep, will continue to weep, and will always weep

For you are not just mine to give, but mine to give up

I set you free…

 

 

 

 

Family Reunion

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(Hip, Hip, Hurah, Peder Severin Kroyer, 1888)

Family Reunion

They, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers…

All that were, all that are no longer

Lives come and gone

Woe is the tale of stories so splintered and marred

How meaningful it all was

It is with no regret that they have parted

They gather with you; for you

Still

 

Moments not lost on your glories…your heartaches;

Joys abound, sorrows reverberate

Time is not detached, nor space relevant

They muse…laugh at our naiveté, our innocence–

Chiding, ‘Children among the old and young’

Their jest a mere advantage from the heavens

They mean no harm…only love

Unconditional

Purer than running water; more bountiful than the cosmos

No judgment lingers; nothing unforgiven

Only hope for your happiness

For your journeys

 

Here they say:

“Gather among you, few and plenty

Keep all that we were; make all that you should be

There is no reason, no purpose to not reach beyond

The limitations set forth that we all bemoaned; misjudged

You will learn, you will teach

You will live forever from generation upon generation

With the lessons we have handed down

Family is family is family

Soul to soul to soul

We are connected; we are one

Live, breathe, know…

Death is no ending, life is no beginning…

The cycle is never broken, only continued.”

Freedom Writers or Censorship?

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(This article is the original version of the article I wrote for  OCWriters.network called, Freedom of the Pen…an American right?)

Freedom Writers or Censorship?

“As long as there have been books, there have been people trying to suppress them—government, business interests, and individuals bent on imposing their moral or religious views.” – The Authors Guild

Freedom Of Speech is granted under the Constitution. It is what defines us as a nation. The Pew Research Center reveals that Americans are more tolerant of free speech than any other nationality. It is proud legacy!

But are writers being granted the same freedom of the pen?

The publishing industry has always been the social justice warrior for free speech, fighting for the freedom to express ideas, no matter how bold or popular. But within the current political environment, there has been a brewing climate to ban certain books, boycott writers, vilify speech, and condemn those with whom the publishing industry disagrees. A groupthink mentality has been mobilizing, monitoring the creativity of writers, and limiting, if not silencing, the ability to express individual ideas freely, openly, and honestly.

Most notably is Milo Yiannopolis and the controversy around his cancelled book, Dangerous. It has been pulled by Simon & Schuster because of growing backlash of the controversial personality, and the development of a resurfaced video of Yiannopolis criticizing age-of-consent laws. Added chastisement came from fellow writers, like Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist. She pulled her book with S&S, saying, “Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege.”

Thomas Flannery, Jr, Yiannopolis’s agent, was berated and verbally chastised by his fellow industry comrades for his professional relationship, prompting him to write, In Defense of Milo Yiannopoulos’s Book. One only has to read in the comments section the vitriol towards Flannery, or get the sense that banning writers is an ‘acceptable’ business practice.

MIT Press never thought Communism For Kids, a ‘fairy-tale’ book that teaches children about the ‘misery of capitalism’ and where ‘dreams come true’ with a ‘different kind of communism,’ would cause so much controversy. But an outcry from a faction of conservatives had not only criticized MIT, but according to Alex Green’s article in Publisher’s Weekly, “the author, Bini Adamczak, has received ‘hateful communications,’ some of which have been ‘blatantly anti-Semitic.’”

Scholastic originally defended a children’s book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, against scathing backlash from some groups who claimed the book “…presented young readers with an offensively sanitized version of the institution of slavery.” This book was notably condemned because of the fact that it was written, illustrated, and edited by a diverse group of people of color, including Andrea Davis Pinkey, who is black and a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Caving to pressure, the book was pulled from publication.

Should history not teach us a lesson?

Some of the greatest books of our times like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway were considered inappropriate and too “influential” on readers, and were detrimental to societal standards. Yet, we survived those books. In fact, our society gained from those books. Books are the means to not only educate, inform, and entertain, but also to challenge and allow people to explore ideas beyond their own limitations. At what point do you limit this and at what price?

Freedom of speech is vital to exchanging and evaluating ideas. Steven Pinker points out in his article, Why Free Speech Is Fundamental, “We come up with ideas about the nature of reality, and test them against that reality, allowing the world to falsify the mistaken ones.” Without the freedom to express ideas, good and bad, hateful or not, offensive or agreeable, we lose our ability to rationalize, question, or even wonder about the world around us. In effect, we lose or freedom of thought, let alone the freedom to express ourselves.

Does free speech have limitations?

The French philosopher Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom to express does come with limitations. The opportunity to express hate or offend others is always at play. Ken Greenfield warns, “That protections of speech will inevitably be over inclusive. But that this is a cost we must bear.” For with free speech comes the freedom to ignore it or speak out against it. And to punish it is the slippery slope that can lead to the loss of freedoms all together.

Competition of thoughts and ideas is what maintains a well-informed populace. We must be careful of this new era of censorship, no matter what side of the political spectrum a person stands. Political climates change. What offends us today will not necessarily offend us tomorrow. History has shown us that. What makes us move forward is the ability to create, express, and exchange ideas, along with the capability to assess and evaluate. Let us not fall prey to limiting that basic freedom.

Crown Upon Thy Heart

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(Lamia And The Soldier, John Williams Waterhouse, 1905)

 

Is it enough to just love?

To cloak my body in the air in which you breathe?

To dream of what may be possible; to mourn of what may never be?

Every waking hour, every last thought, every part of me…

is connected to your essence

Even if I am but a shadow of your reality

 

Love is not for the selfish, for the hoarders of heart

Nor for those who wish for something in return

To be in this world, knowing you are in it, is but a prayer

Whispered in the ears of the angels

We are souls of pasts uninterrupted, only parted by time and circumstance

A cosmic force for which we have little understanding

 

It is not unknown the cruelty of the universe

She wreaks havoc on the petty, the unbelievers, the forgetful ones

Her darkness descending upon hearts at birth

Leaving those to cry unto the heavens for their lost ones

Oh, how she taunts me!

Clear seeing, I am granted…Clear knowing, I am cursed

 

I am not forsaken by God, or by you

Love cannot be broken, nor can it be destroyed

Only tempered if one understands this

My love for you will not be deterred, nor will it be corrupted with sorrow

So, yes, my love, it is enough…

if that is all I am granted