Firestone Friday – Poem III

The poor cry out;
we close our doors for the noise.

The poor plead;
we slam our windows for the sound.

The poor hope for relief;
we clasp our hearts for the burden.

The poor die.
They should have said something.

 

Strong Language

 

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Dystopian Defense: The Value of Prophetic Literature

All literature has enormous value. Each writing contributes another voice – another unique perspective – to the collective consciousness that provides the foundation for progress, advancement, innovation, and evolution. Our wealth of writing empowers us to pick up where our predecessors left off, creating new ideas and forming new systems.

It can be argued, though, that dystopian literature — writings about an exaggeratedly broken yet disturbingly familiar world — are among the most valuable pieces of expression we have at our disposal. We are all familiar with a dystopian narrative. Who hasn’t heard of the unanticipated rise of Katniss Everdeen? Or of the equally impressive Beatrice Prior in Divergent? Or the harrowing worlds described by George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, and Ray Bradbury? A reader of any of these novels encounters literature that is arguably more striking than any literature encountered before.

Dystopian literature behaves as a fictional prophecy, forewarning us against a world of horrors that we are ignorantly (or, in some cases, knowingly) hurdling toward. And the great power of this prophecy isn’t in the thrill the reader gets when she consumes it; the power is later, when the reader recognizes patterns in her government and in her society that she’s seen somewhere before. With the dissemination of dystopian literature, a society can no longer evolve into a cruel, freedomless nation with an unwitting populace dragging along unquestioningly. Or, at least, the leaders of such a revolution would have to be so creative in their takeover that none of the dystopian authors foresaw their tactics.

Fortuitously enough, every dystopia stands on the same pillars. While the flavors of cruelty might vary, each exceedingly broken world requires the same elements to function. Namely, for a government to strip its people of their every right and freedom, it must first remove from them the access to truth, to education, to liberal speech, and, of course, to literature. Ever notice that in every dystopian novel the oppressed have no access to written word? Books are banned and books are burned. We need look no further than to the dystopian leaders themselves to understand how valuable dystopian literature is: it can and will bring down the very dystopian structure they have erected.

While all writings have earthshaking power, dystopian literature has the nuanced function to armor us against the prophecy it tells. For now we know that when the people in power start to censor our speech, ban our books, or veil our truth, it’s time to stand up while we still can.

What dystopian story impacted your life? What about humanity, society, or government was revealed to you in reading it?

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Poem II

in the spaces between drinks

he repeats to himself

 

 

i’m a good man

i’m a good man

i’m a good man

 

Strong Language

 

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Firestone Friday – Poem II

Regrets come from the corners

and fears drip through the cracks.

Errors with their voices shrill

lurk in their red and black.

Our demons for us crawl

in the light, unseen,

for the horror is our own —

this is Halloween.

 

         – Strong Language

 

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You Can’t Spell ‘Sword’ Without ‘Word’

In our daily lives, we speak loosely, swaying effortlessly in and out of dialects. Our mouths are filled with colloquialisms, slang, humor, and hoards of other speech patterns that make our language seem indirect or common. This is a beautiful reflection of our adaptability — that we can formulate different speech at work, at home, with friends, and even at certain venues. It can, however, allow us to forget that, within this overwhelming wealth of words, all power is hidden.

It is empowering to remember that words create and recreate the world. Armies march at spoken command. Societies operate on the foundations of written law. The beginning of a friendship, the end of a marriage, a religious conversion, and the formation or the fall of a government can all happen at the spur of words. For good or for evil, words transform our lives.

Words are inevitable, undeniable, and unrivaled pathways for knowledge, inspiration, transformation, and, in a ‘word,’ power. How easily we overlook the electrifying potential we all have in our capacity to create words and, thereby, affect minds. Language is so robust that it often trounces reality; what matters is not the truth, but what we believe to be the truth, and that ‘truth’ is delivered through words.

This fills my mind as I read another article about another tragedy. And I am struck, like most readers, with a feeling of staunch helplessness, until I discipline my mind to recall the great power we all have to give life to good in direct response to evil. As long as we can create words, we can change minds. As long as we can change minds, we can change behavior. And, as long as we still have the opportunity to change behavior, we can change it all.

Wordsmith Wednesday – Poem I

                       A stone in your river

                       An ember in your fire

                       A flake in your storm –

                      You consume me.

 

 – Strong Language

 

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A Purpose to Poetry

I suppose it could be argued that poetry seems as a colossal waste of time and a fruitless expense of energy. What does it gain a writer to craft flowery limericks or a reader to encounter an edgy rambling?

Everything. The writer gains everything when she tears wide her heart and permits it to pour freely onto the pages before her. She commands self-expression, a moment of triumphant bravery in giving voice to her thoughts. She gains creative fulfillment, realizing the great power within her to speak design into being. And she finds freedom, bursting, finally, from the parliament of self-defeating doubts.

The reader, likewise, gains everything when he encounters skin-raising poetry. He feels the fire of inspiration stirring within him, motivating him to conquer what is yet unconquered. He finds beauty, an undeniable value to life and its countless expressions. And he finds freedom, with a mind expanded, a heart enlivened, and a soul enchanted.

Food and water might sustain life, but art, in its unrivaled power to unite a universe, is what makes it worth our while.

May our minds flourish with creation, and may our hands never deny its expression.