What Does a Plagiarizer Write About?

What do I write? Do I even write at all?
Of course I do. I write all the time.
Rarely the day passes when the pen is absent from my hand
or my fingers forgo their meditative hammering.
I am constantly constructing characters,
forming words to attempt communication
with fellow lords in my species.

I write words stolen from a dictionary
that stole them from the mystics.
I recklessly imitate and plagiarize the ancient linguists,
copying their shapes and squiggly lines
and sequencing them exactly as they already have.
Anyone willing to communicate with others
must also be willing to steal shamelessly.

I write checks to keep a roof over my head.
Tiny slips of paper digitized with numbers
meant to represent other slips of paper.
These miraculously keep the walls from coming down.
Ripping off the lords of language,
transferring numbers back and forth every month,
allows me to sleep warm and dry.

[I write what I can’t say.]

I write addresses on envelopes,
dates on papers, my name on the X.
I sign my name over and over and over
until I can’t even recognize it as my own.
There is no longer any identity with that specific sequence of letters
my parents bestowed on me upon birth.
I have been reduced to a series of symbols.

I draw bumps and intersect straight lines
and people can look at them and find hidden meanings.
They discover love and grief among the lines,
hatred and joy draped over each stanza.
My poems of nonsense, the mindless chatter
emerging from my brain and exiting through my fingertips,
awaken souls that on some level understand them.

I blog vulnerable glimpses of my soul,
fragile, glimmering shards
I’m never sure are ready to be exposed.
They tell chaotic stories about life, love, lust,
links, lawns, and the laundry.
Sometimes they talk about my procrastination,
when I get around to it.

[I wrote for those who no longer can.]

I illustrate the gray area,
adding color with black type.
Starkly contrasting the tints of existence,
I can paint life back into the scenery.
Every stroke of the key invigorates,
breathes resurrection into my lungs,
keeping me alive at least until the next moment.

I text short messages that would
make the English language roll over in its grave.
Desecrating how I conveyed my thoughts
rid me of plagiarism and compromised my communication.
No one understands me anymore.
They think they do, but now it’s just an illusion,
a concept of an experience they are never likely to have.

I scrawl lists on random scraps for any occasion:
groceries, the daily to-dos, things to burn.
Modern life can easily be broken down into lists;
compartments that can be managed better
while ignoring the cohesive whole.
I suppose life is a list because we can’t cope.
The loom of the big picture sure is frightening to bear.

[I write to understand and survive.]

I write questions and comments,
sentences, phrases and made-up words.
It’s how I’ve decided to present myself outwardly.
Better than clicks and whistles; I tried.
I also write love letters,
suicide notes, and business memos,
but only for contractual reasons.

I draft my opinions of our wretched society
atop an imagined moral pedestal,
ranting about the antonyms.
The struggles fuel suffering fire.
Must focus; write what needs to be said.
I scribble down frustration and despair so illegibly
I barely remember the pain when I read it later.

I compose eulogies for the suppressed mind,
elegies for the maligned soul.
Whatever for? Why? Tell me why not!
Why not for the invalid ancestors,
their sodden prints melted, buried in the brush?
For future moments and forgotten times?
For nothing whatsoever! For the light and the truth!

[I write to search for my lost sanctuary.]

I write because
my hand keeps making the same motions,
drawing a calligraphy of tidy and clever scribbles.
Unconsciously printing the same blocks
neatly and in a straight line,
for everyone to read clearly.
I must make sure it’s legible or else it is useless.

I record somber psychotic episodes.
Maybe if I keep track of my thoughts,
a pattern will emerge,
then something will make sense.
I must record them but no one can see them.
My naked papers tell the truth,
something no one can seem to handle.

I must write because it saves my life.
The best of me goes into it.
Hopefully it can save other lives.
My words and their own pens fused,
compounded, blasted into orbit
exploding light in all directions,
healing us all at once.

[I write to try and save the world.]

Terrapin Spin

SpiralThis is concrete manifestation.
Harrowing statures are reflecting their towering statistics
in the drones of outdoor lawn equipment.
The turtle asks you for a dime and you have no answer for him.
Nobody has ever paid attention to the floral patterns
encrypted in the layout of this city.
It all points north towards the greater lakes of the western sun,
embedded in the lost races of time
that flash across the sullen skies.

There can be no bang inside the turtle’s mind
if he never believed that a bang could have existed in the first place.
This has kept him underneath the smoldering shelter of the pavement.
He keeps warm during the great extrapolation
of the city’s secret underground industries.
He has survived building plans
worthy of the fairer kings of Egypt.
This being is our idyllic surface
pointing outside the boundaries of our own boxes.

We don’t know our true heroes.
The mud has welcomed the pavement’s stable shell, but it won’t last forever.

{Soon the textbook analysis of the present day will be the only thing we can remember and connect to this time.}

Dissection has been placed on the menu
and is the special which will embarrass the dining car
as we slowly reach our next scheduled stop.
The cards have been inserted in the proper slots
it’s showing a full house that won’t beat the royal flush next door.
We let it happen.
The resources are drowning under their own demands yet,
miraculously,
profit is still a magic word to some.
Only the truly sinister of all individuals could relinquish such devils.

The statistics have never looked as grim and scientific
as they do underneath a garbage can in the Capitol Square.
The trick is finding out which garbage can is the right one.
An optical illusion makes you think
the square has evolved into equilibrium over time,
when it has only crested and fallen back into its own glandular problems.
There is no more room for homeland.
We are distancing ourselves from the center epoch
that defined our connection to the ground.
The rock is cracking
and not a single extension cord in this city will be long enough
to fix the damage.
(We need wireless power lines.)
One more electrocution will surely cause a permanent blackout.
And we’re running low on batteries, too.
They are powering the white minivans
that everyone seems to be driving in the middle of the night
while sirens blare from every direction,
charging towards an anonymous location
translated via satellite to a different, undisclosed location,
right under our noses.
I feel like there is no further we can go without starting over again.
Push the spacebar a couple more times it won’t make a difference.
The gutters will always have leaves in them
and you can never find the perfection of ghosts.

If you can’t find it, it doesn’t mean anything.
If it finds you, it means everything we could ever recreate for ourselves in this chapter of the universe.

The Benefits of Failure

It is hilarious the way things turn out sometimes. We are always told never to fail our classes, but what if there was a very good reason why you failed? I’m not talking about vain reasons like the teacher didn’t like me or I didn’t understand the homework. My reason for failing was something far more fantastic. It took me years before I could finally look at it a different way and realize how valuable it was to fail and retake the class. It gave me a chance to examine my life up to that point and gain some perspective; something desperately needed by a manically depressed teenager at the dawn of the 21st century.

To put it bluntly, my sophomore year of high school was utter dogshit. Most of the reasons why I honestly can’t remember at this point, but I’m sure most of them were forgettable foibles thanks to adolescence. As a result of my selfish descent into depression, my grades started to slip, naturally. By the end of the school year I had failed my English (or what my high school called “Humanities”) class. The reasons for the actual act of failing are twofold: my personal difficulties dealing with my own identity and juvenility at the time, and the 80-something-year-old Skeletor teacher on one final doddering education spree before retirement. Whatever it was I was going through (I swear, it seemed like a big deal at the time), it simply did not conform to the teacher’s disjointedly lethargic and senile style.

For some strange reason, there was a haze over me every time I was in that class. Half the time I didn’t even know if there was any homework. At the time I remember attributing it to the teacher simply not caring anymore, something I recall accusing many people of doing back then. Now I realize it was more than that. There was some outer force tying my hands behind my back and gluing my eyelids shut whilst covering my ears. I felt cornered, powerless to help the situation, kind of how I felt about everything in those days. Succumbing to the spell, I failed English. When the final grade came down from the rafters there was not an iota of shame or guilt about it. There was a time when grades were my life and a failure would have prophesied certain doom, but I had reached a point where I knew they weren’t that important, anymore. Getting an F was like overdrawing your bank account for the first time; now that it’s happened, you know it’s not the end of the world. I simply looked at it and let it go. All that needed to be said was, “Well, let’s do it again.”

The summer had waxed and was beginning to wane when school resumed. I then had to confront the stigma of being a junior in a sophomore English class, which really didn’t bother me. I was already perceived as a hopeless case by many of my peers anyway, why would I care if they spread another layer on top? I was just going to show up every day and do what needed to done so I could get the fuck out of that place before it killed me. Distractions and cute boys in class made it difficult at times, but Huck Finn is much easier to tolerate the second time around, anyways.

About halfway through the semester, the class was given a writing assignment that had not been assigned to me the year before. Write the story of your life up to now in no less than eight pages. That’s an ambitious request for a group of teenagers in a college town somewhere out on the Illinois prairie. These kids are 15, going on 16; what is there to write about? How are they going fill eight pages with tidbits of their lives? Failing that, how am I going to fill eight pages with my own tidbits? It’s not like I had an interesting upbringing. I certainly didn’t want to dispel some ugly truths about the past. Sitting in class holding the assignment in my hands, I suddenly wished the paper would grow until it was big enough to pull over my head and hide me. I felt extremely vulnerable at the mere thought of having to expose the details of why I am the way I am. No one else needed to know. I was not about to put my life under the public microscope to be analyzed by 3rd rate psychology professors from the community college.

In the couple days that followed, my mind involuntarily drifted to past memories. Feelings long thought lost suddenly shuddered me, flooding my thoughts with quick glimpses of my own history. I reminisced about the family trip to Canada, the only true vacation we ever took. I relived the frightening wonder I felt staring at the Hale-Bopp comet as it silently streaked across the carbon paper sky. The pain from having my head slammed in a sliding van door thumped back into my brain. I started to think about how these various experiences have affected me. Maybe there was something interesting in my personal archives, something I could learn from. Plus it would be nice to write an actual story for a change, instead of the unhinged, abstract, stream-of-consciousness nonsense I usually write. I resolved to take a good look inside and behind me, confident that writing down some of the calamity would help the healing.

I reached as far back in my memory as I could. It’s daunting looking back and seeing so many locked doors and there’s only a couple keys that you’ve kept. My first memory ended up being one I technically don’t remember; it has been told to me so many times I have simply constructed the memory in my head. I was 2 or 3 and liked to suck on the index and middle fingers of my right hand. One day I’m out in the backyard and mom is mowing the yard. She finishes and walks away, explicitly telling me not to touch the lawnmower. It’s really freaking hot. I know, because I touched it with the two fingers I sucked on. Never sucked those fingers again after that.

The more I perused the dusty microfilm reels tucked away in my temporal lobe, it became very apparent that my most distinct memories are ones involving pain or embarrassment. Some negative action or emotion is always depicted in some form. The most traumatizing ones are under lock and key, of course, and are being reserved for my analyst. But I realized how much I focus on the negative and unpleasant things in life, consciously and unconsciously. I always seem to see what is wrong with the picture, instead of enjoying what is there to see. Since that was how I apparently saw the world, that had to be what I wrote about.

I proceeded to pour out a series of lamenting anecdotes portraying my struggles with depression, alienation, self-injury, and self-identity. Horrifying school days with children teasing and ostracizing, torturous nights watching blood trickle from a freshly cut wound, the miracle that I let myself survive to tell the tale. Leaving little room for analysis and merely presenting the cold truth, I conveniently omitted certain events I found too shameful or psychotic. I didn’t want a high school paper to land me in the booby hatch. The story simply depicted a teenager’s reflection of his journey through the minefield of life. There was some reflection done for the sake of the grade; it was supposed to be an autobiography, not an encyclopedia entry.

After some introspection and mad hammering of computer keys, I had composed a nine-page confession. It felt like a confession to me, printing it out neatly on letter paper in green ink since the black cartridge was empty. Reading it over in reality instead of the fiction of a computer screen, a sense of pride started seeping into me. After revisiting all the events I experienced and realizing that I am still here to tell the tale, it became clear how lucky I am to be alive. An unbiased third party reading my story may think my struggles have been tame and self-centered, that things could have been much worse. And they are absolutely right. But I am still here. I am a survivor, in one form or another. We are all survivors. Each one of us have endured hardship and weathered the storm. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.

When it came time to turn in the story, there was a part of me that wanted to read it in front of the class. Putting it down on paper was good therapy and closure, reading it aloud could have released even more demons from their corked bottle stowed away deep inside, next to my pancreas. Another part of me worried about how I would be perceived after disclosing my story. My ego was adamant that it was all too disturbing for these wise fools and they wouldn’t be able to handle it. I know now that thinking of it that way was very self-absorbed. If I, merely a year older than these kids, had gone through what I considered to be warfare, then I’m sure they had also gone down the wrong fork on their own paths. These people didn’t magically appear in class every day at the simple flip of a switch. They are just like me: imperfect, vulnerable, clueless. Still trying to make sense of this interconnected complexity, trying like hell to find ourselves.

By giving into my own self-centered cycloptic woes, I was forced to learn from my mistakes. Having to retake English gave me the opportunity to take a long look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw, as was per usual at the time. But instead of seeing what I didn’t like and dissolving into a despairing vortex of my own creation, I had resolved to do something productive about it. I no longer had as big an egocentric view of the world. I started taking my life a little less seriously, at least tried to. Through it all, I learned there are consequences to my mistakes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most mistakes are made because there was something missed the first time through. Failure is not contemptible. It gives us the chance to do things over again and learn what we didn’t know before. As long as you have survived, you have another chance to succeed.

Radio Blast

NOTE: This is by no means a new poem. It was written sometime in 2008 but I stumbled across it recently and was dumbfounded at the correlations it speaks of to the recent changes in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and want to share it with you all.

 

Radio Blast

This truly is a beautiful sight to listen to.

Here in this room
is the greatest melding of plastic chains
ever meant for humans to lay eyes on.
This is where we can cultivate the tiny stretch of potential mastery.
Alternating squares are curving around
as caustic howls beg for tertiary advice
looking for their eyesight.
They tell me you cannot write pictures
yet the warnings drastically change under the circumstances.
NO relevant questions are being asked.
These howls are attached to scattered ridges that cannot calm the souls
caught in a dim light scenario.

My radio shows me a picture
worthy enough to show the privileged elite
hiding somewhere among the sound barrier populace.
It could be used to put everyone under surveillance.
With this proponent of new energy we can put microchips in our own brains
and be easily visible for 5 minutes among a spray of stars.
It is a logical radioactive source.

I can make a live studio audience run for the exits during the last hour of the program. You can either move over or slow down. It’s the law.
Violent extravaganzas really can flourish with the right frequency ratio.
All you have to do is seek out the suffering.
A hunger for something better can burn pits
in the stainless steel stomachs of past generations…
Pipes would burst under such extreme pressure.
Hissing telephone wires would sever their ties one simultaneous instant at a time.

All I really wanted was to rebuild the fractal images before my own two eyes,
and now we are exploring further dimensional representation.
What started as a routine traffic stop unraveled
into an unlimited number of calculations
shielding themselves in the hills.
The main argument is we are humbled by it.
Somewhere out there
our view of reality is being isolated from the outside world.
We don’t know how it happened,
but somehow, it no longer fits the environment…it’s losing its meaning.

Your body doesn’t have to break down. That goes against common sense.
Nothing could topple pattern recognition at that rate.
It’s all because the brain is not sensitive to touch.
There is no need to go to that level.

Make more use of reality…
Take a picture for me to listen to…something between the sun and the sky that is fair and balanced…where strangers feel like family and we are the agents of our own destiny.

From here, I can see for miles.

Mindful Sunburn

This is a rambling. Ranting just to say how much I am enjoying this. How can someone rant about a positive thing? All things are possible when your mindful practices end up almost tanning your hide to a crisp. Must run for shade. I have moved so much closer to the sun that it bores shining fire into my soul, setting alight a myriad of interconnected dreams and fears. The trick this time around is not to cope, but to overcome.

I immersed myself for a reason. Swimming in the air among the hazy peaks is just one of the billion countless new experiences unfolding each day. So why am I treating this like the same old thing? I must be coping. The energy was switched on all at once, almost too much to comprehend. Drowning in good vibrations is still drowning. This has been a disjointed beginning, but my head will come to the surface. I will overcome the doubts of the day.

Just sit.

Don’t worry about it. Just sit. Nothing can be done about the pillows in the sandstorm right now. While you wait you might as well just sit. Breathe. Observe. Remember. Like shedding a tear while meditating, it doesn’t mean anything.

There is a reason this happened. There is a reason why I feel this way today. There is a reason why I will be different tomorrow. I don’t think I shall ever need to know why, though I may still find out.

This is for the ancestors. This is for those who have fared far worse on this day than I have. This is for the ones who just couldn’t make it this far. This is for chance occurrences and serendipitous coincidences. For everything that lined up just right to place me where I currently sit.

Saying thank you would mean nothing. To show gratitude I must continue the path I chose. But who’s to say it didn’t choose me? Who’s to say that everything hasn’t led up to this very moment? Of course it has! Everything has always led up to this moment! Every moment! Make them count.

 

I need to write.
I should be writing every day.
Didn’t write yesterday.
Should have, but didn’t.
Should have written about the apples cascading by my window in a quick violent gravitational burst.
Should have serenaded the oil painting sky, confessed to the moon.
There were a lot of things that should have been done yesterday.

Today, I can do anything.
I can express my own soul’s personal injuries.
I can strike through trembling fears and erupted emotions.
I can do this all with a keystroke.
Tapping my fingers really can change the world.
All I need to do is write.

Tomorrow is meaningless if I don’t do anything about today.
Nothing today will still be nothing tomorrow.
But I can be anything tomorrow.
I just have to stop doing nothing today.
I think writing is a good start to something.