Archive for November, 2012

Every year the politicians travel to Ohio. They shake our hands. They kiss our babies. We make a huge deal of it. We pack auditoriums just to catch a glimpse of them. We pay thousands of dollars to have a dinner with them. We sound like political maniacs defending them to our friends and family. We circulate their political agendas over the internet. They tell us how important we are to the country. They win the election and we never hear from them again. At least, not until the next election when we fall for it all over again.

I watch this series of events every election. And every election I get angrier cause we always get duped again. I tried looking up some statistics for Ohio, but the jabberwocky tied to these statistics is frustrating. This is probably intentional. I was able to gather the following paragraph before completely losing my mind.

We are 7th in the U.S. for gross state product but we are 30th in gross state product per capita. This means a few have a lot and a lot have little. But as an American, you become used to the wealth disparity. The lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. is in Nevada at 3%. Ohio has an unemployment rate of 7% and 12% of Ohio’s population is living below poverty.

I’m not going to weigh people down with an entire essay of incomprehensible statistics, but there are a few dishonorable mentions like the crime statistics, the number of prisons, and the level of education. Look them up. It’s heart wrenching. We had a race riot in Cincinnati during 2001 that I didn’t even know about. And we clap when they proudly announce that unemployment has gone up .85%? They don’t say that the unemployment statistics they quote on national television only include those people who are applying for unemployment benefits. Think about how many people never apply because they believe they are ineligible. Imagine what that number really is.

We Ohioans live with all of this crap on a daily basis. Yet, we still welcome these politicians with open arms when we should be chasing them out of town. ABC news said that Ohio has helped decide every presidential election over the last century. We are the heart of it all and we do have so much heart. We deserve so much better.

We’re all dopamine fiends in this society.

Being all that we can be,

By any means necessary.

Heroin chic and dead sexy.

Seeking that next big hit of brain candy.

Journeys that scorch a path of misery.

Tracked by the authorities.

We make our discovery so easy.

The celebrities and wealthy make it on T.V.

But for those drowning in poverty,

Eventually incarceration will be the recovery.

Left finding divinity in the jails of the city.

Washing away the identity.

Cleaning it up with courtroom divinity.

Whoever said individuality was a necessity?

Selling the soul for AA serenity.

Enroll in some lame second-rate state therapy.

Drop out;

Spoon fed;

Social worker dime-store psychology.

Antipathy;

Apathy;

Who needs empathy?

When all you want is some sympathy.

Vicariously feeding this voracious machine.

Tired of these community college degrees.

Just there for a check, judging me.

How about a little authenticity?

Let us see both their arms bleed.

Cuz’ I’m not buying the dreams,

These counsellors are selling so desperately.

So many laughing.

So few helping.

Everyone is suffering.

While someone’s profiting.

Many may try

To pick the locks that she lay

And though I seem lost

I follow signs to lose my way

Yet, I do have one key

To dead bolts so complex

Never cease

My desperate attempts

For she is my forever

My beautiful phoenix

Reduces me to ashes

This queen of many suns

Her obsequious servants

Are like collapsing stars

Gravitating to her warmth

A physiology generating

A scent so intoxicating

I ponder further descent

I give this devil her due

For I know her ends

But I am dulled to the abuse

She weighs heavily

Upon my ascent

A Few Words of Thanks…

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Prose
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This Thanksgiving season, I’d like to drop a few words of appreciation to those kind souls that have helped me feel appreciated here on WordPress. I’ve been writing for a long time.  As a writer,  you have people in your life who show an unwavering approval for what you are doing no matter what it may be. God bless them, but this approval is often empty. It stems from the undying loyalty that comes with friends and family. Kind of like a child drawing scribbles on a piece of paper and his/her mother hanging it on the fridge for everyone to see. When I hit the teenage years I just wanted somebody to actually read something that I wrote. The few that did would often reply with a simple, “Oh, that’s really good.” Comments like that would frustrate me even more than them not reading it at all. I’d wonder what they liked about it, if anything. To me it felt like they were just paying me lip service. I’d ask, “What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it?” “Ah, that one thing…” they’d respond. Then I got into college. I was blessed with a wonderful english professor that adored my work. I wish that I was in a better frame of mind at the time, in order to properly utilize the advice that he gave me. Then trouble came and incarceration soon followed. This was an easy environment to appear intellectual in. All this stuff just got into my head and inflated it. I felt my writing skills needed no work. I thought that my profound writings were worth millions and I just needed the right person to read them and I’d be on my way. That obviously did not happen. Fast forward a few years to the miracle of internet blogging. I’ve tried a few other sites before I landed on WordPress. Three to be exact. I must say that is by far, the best grouping of supportive artists that I’ve ran across. On other sites, I wouldn’t bother myself with reading other people’s blogs, only to be upset that no one was reading mine. I’m an idiot sometimes. What can I say for myself except that writing is a constantly developing process that grows with you over the years. I’m just grateful that I’ve finally found a nurturing home filled with like-minded brothers and sisters. I’ve been so close to giving up the last few years. You guys have given me hope. I love all of you, poets and writers and photographers and musicians and painters and performers. I will fight for your art until my last breath. May you all forever shine…

Saving Messiahs

Posted: November 23, 2012 in Poetry
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Lost in a sea of ambiguity

Vagueness the blanket

That envelopes me

Still and stagnant

Like the womb of being

Waiting to be born

Again and again

Drawn from a dark substance

And cast into a world

Of gravity and balance

Legs heavy and aching

Unfit for standing

For what I believe

Hearing an inner voice

Belonging to the hands

That pull me from the womb

Telling me to walk

Supporting me till I succeed

Guiding me from the warm tomb

Urging me to stay in the fight

I take a lifetime to adjust

I wipe the dirt from the mirror

I focus my sight

And gaze upon

The eyes of my savior

Writing has always been an integral part of my life. I can’t remember when I decided to become a writer. I suspect it came from an infatuation with comic books and Star Wars. I would get so angry sitting around waiting for Lucas to follow up Return of the Jedi, I’d just make up new storylines and act them out with Star Wars action figures. Crazy, I know. I suppose most writers have delusions of grandeur at an early age. The innocent days of childhood. Somewhere my dream of  becoming a storyteller shifted into a much darker realm. Fast forward a couple decades. Years abundant with self-torment, drug addiction, and mental anguish. I used to believe that those were the key ingredients of good writing.

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain, William Burroughs, and Vincent Van Gogh. No wonder I wound up drowning in manic depression, struggling with drug addiction, and living with suicidal tendencies. And to think, I actually strived for the life of the tortured artist. Be careful what you wish for. I thought drugs expanded the artistic vision. Maybe they do in some moderate instances. But it turned into a living nightmare for me. I became so preoccupied with the drugs, I started writing less frequently. I had little time for anything but chasing after the drugs. The addiction consumed everything. It overwhelmed me. I quit high school and college. Forfeited my position at a local newspaper. I have witnessed the depraved evils of mankind. Evils that many authors only imagine in their writings. I have twice survived prison. I’ve slept in cars. I’ve fought with the best of them, or the worst of them, and walked away bloodied and bruised. I’ve seen twenty-eights friends buried as a result of drugs and countless lives left in ruin. Though I may be able to write with a sense of authenticity now, I’m not so sure that I couldn’t have just read about this stuff instead of experiencing it directly. Take it from me, drugs will hurt more than they help your writing.

My memory may be fried, but one thing I do remember is the day Cobain killed himself. Cobain was more than a musical icon to my generation. He was a symbol of contempt for the mundane existence that was being thrust upon us at the time. Some of us didn’t want the life that our parents had. We didn’t want to work our lives away for corporations that cared so little for us in return. We felt abandoned by our parents and a society dictated by corporate greed. Somehow the corporate world still managed to get a stranglehold on Kurt. We watched our superhero deteriorate via MTV as the record label just continued cashing in on his artistic talent. I recall the utter lack of hope I felt when I heard the news of his suicide. He seemed to be on top of the world, adorned with all the money and fame a person could want. If that wasn’t enough for a legend, what hope did the rest of Generation X really have? Some of us surrendered to the corporate world and some of us surrendered to our addictions. I was heaped in with the latter of the two.

Burroughs had to live with the fact that he had shot and killed his wife (accidental or not) while all hopped up on bennys and God knows what else. He was a portrait of the toxicity of narcotics to the human constitution. He was always broke, both financially and physically. Few people could stand being around him more than a few hours. And Vincent, we’ve all heard the stories of Vincent. Supported by his brother Theo. The self-mutilation. His desperate search for the companionship he would never have. The suicide in the sunflowers. It makes one really question this tortured artist gig. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some insane experiences to write about. But this crazy lifestyle has set me way back and I don’t recommend it. Especially after seeing so many intelligent people fall to waste rather than rise to glory. My advice to the up and coming artists: just watch a bunch of R rated movies instead of experiencing this crap first hand. Addiction will definitely hinder you more than it will help you.

So what now? What is one to do after waking up from this malaise to a state of utter devastation? Thank God for blogs I say. Otherwise, I would have little opportunity to express myself artistically. Especially in this age of self-publication where money talks and poverty walks. I used to think I was born to enlighten the world. Then I thought that I was here to burn it down. Now I’m just angry with myself for wasting so much time that I will never be able to regain. When I think of the tormented artists I so admired in my teenage years, I now know how tortured they were. Don’t put yourself in this position.

Killer Poetry

Posted: November 13, 2012 in Poetry
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Back when I was researching the depravity of the human condition, I ran into a very unusual character. This character was also incarcerated in the same institution that I was being held in at the time. Before I get to the meat of this bone, allow me to provide a few details first.

The inmate that this story is about will be called X. The reason for this is to protect the feelings of the victim’s family and I don’t want any part of getting X exposure. When they brought inmate X into the solitary cellblock I did not know who he was or what he had done to get thrown in jail. He just looked like another weird whiteboy with a checker board pattern shaved on his head. Understand, the solitary cell block serves either one of two purposes. The first, is to house the violent and uncontrollable, and the second reason is for inmates that have to be put under suicide watch. I had gotten into a fist fight earlier in the week. At the time of X’s arrival I had another nine days before I was to be released from solitary.

X was a very disruptive man. He screamed and kicked at the guards when they brought him his food. He screamed and kicked when they made him take a shower. He screamed and kicked when they would let him out to make a phone call. He screamed and kicked when they wouldn’t let him make a phone call. You get the point. He was being held in the Trumbul County Jail for manslaughter charges. This is a jail that is used to housing people for mostly petty offenses. Stuff like not paying fines or a missed appointment with the probation officer. Nevermind the crazy haircut, the murder charge along with the media circus that traveled with him made inmate X a potential security risk. Hence, his designation to solitary confinement. He started acting loopy upon his arrival to solitary. Many thought he was setting the stage for the insanity plea he would try to enter further down the road in the court. The crazier he got, the closer they came to putting him on suicide watch. The corrections officers finally cracked on the second day. They made him relinquish his jumpsuit and his sheets. He was left butt-naked in an empty cell. My cell was right above X’s. Our vents were directly connected. I would hear X in the middle of the night, singing one religious hymn after another. My vent just amplified this singing and let’s just say that X didn’t have the voice of the angel. After hours of this torment, his singing finally drove me into a rage. I knelt down to my vent and began shouting obscenities at X. He stopped yelling and said nothing in response. I sat by that vent for an hour. He did not yell back, but after awhile, all I could hear coming from his cell was his weeping. This tossed me for a loop so I backed off and laid on my rack in deep thought. Over the course of the next three days, X and I started talking a lot through the vents. He wanted to learn more about the Bible. I told him that he was in luck because I almost obtained a degree with Theology as my minor. So at night he would read the Bible up to a point he no longer understood. He would then yell the verse up through the vents so I could give him my interpretations. The guards eventually told me the crime X had committed. They called it the most severe case of domestic abuse in the history of Ohio. I can’t say much about the details of the murder without giving it away. But I can tell you that he bludgeoned a woman to death. X told me he loved her. He said he heard voices telling him to smash in her head. He said that she was leaving him for a guy that had a good job. I had no problems with X, but he had some serious issues.

The last night of my solitary confinement was a quite one until I was awoke by screaming and a thumping on the wall. The commotion was emitting from the room below me. By the time I could get up and approach my door window, everything was already over with. A couple inmates, who were also awakened by the fracas, were standing -like me- looking out their widow. I caught the attention of Jack by jumping up and down and waving my hands. Jack looked over at me from his cell. I held my hands up and half shrugged. Jack understood. Jack took his index finger to his temple and began spinning it in circles. I immediately inferred that he was referring to crazy X. When I stepped away from the door my foot kicked a single piece of notebook paper. On this piece of paper were a couple of notes addressed to me and a poem called “The Final Chapter”. I guess this was a part of the plan that he had set into motion earlier that day. I read the poem and wasn’t very impressed at first. The next day I got the “skinny” from a C.O. I guess X just went berserk, saying was hearing voices and they were telling him to hurt himself and to hurt others. After an hour of this, the warden decided it would be prudent to move X to the locked down medical unit on another floor. No other inmate would receive this kind of attentive treatment. But X had become quite the high profile case as of late. Before he left for the hospital he asked if he could slide the poem under my door while I was asleep. They would not allow this, but he did manage to persuade one of the trustees to do it for him. When they finally came to get X, I guess he just started freaking out. I never saw X again. When he returned from the mental ward I was back in general population. I tucked the poem away with all my writings and forgot about it.

Fast forward 3-4 years: I was digging through the “rat’s nest”, my affectionate pet name for the unruly mass of papers and notebooks of my writings that I’ve collected for years. You writers know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I decided to thin out the nest the other day. I hoped to uncover some piece that I could further develop. After a little of this and a little of that, I ran across the poem. I read it again. But I really read it this time. Poetry is an interesting thing. Emotive poetry can give you profound insight into the mind and feelings of the Poet that authored it. So I read it once again with this in mind. I read it with the knowledge of this guys state of mind; what he had done, what he will face for what he had done, and the environment he was experiencing at the time of its inception. Its something. Moments like this are important for art, because it gives us a dynamic example of the relativity between life and art. I did not alter this piece in any way, except for a few spelling corrections.

I did some follow up research on his case. He was found guilty of aggravated murder and gross abuse of a corpse. He was given a life sentence and is eligible for parole in twenty years.

The Final Chapter

The room is illuminated by a single candle

The flame is reflected off this chrome handle

Perhaps I’m a victim of too many memories

One life ripped apart by cold tragedies

My soul knows no peace

Tortured by the demons as I sleep

Nightmares now own what’s in my chest

The dark shadows of life allow no rest

No one could ever understand

I can take no more I’m only a man

The past is a collection of forgotten minutes

I see the world a better place without me in it

So I pop the clip and slowly pull it

The chamber is home to only one bullet

Understand that I fear life more than death

I close my eyes and take my last breath

I clear my mind

Forgive me father for it is time

A small smile cracks my serious expression

Finger now on the trigger and then…