Where is the Poetry?

      This past week I’ve been burying myself in my readings, and privately writing in my journal flash fiction and poetry. None of which I plan to publicly publish here, for a lot of it I feel is unfinished and needs refining. Although, when I do read whatever clutter of words I have mustered to a friend they tell me it’s fine.

      I’m not sure why but I’ve been quite cynical about things lately, mostly about poetry. For a while now, I felt the art was being unappreciated by both writers and readers. I’ve seen great writers (on WordPress and Tumblr) go undetected, and lesser writers on Instagram get praised. Then again I am measuring their “greatness” through hashtags, at sign mentions, emoji comments, and number of likes.

      I was beginning to hate the current state poetry was in. The stuff I was reading on Instagram felt generic, lifeless almost, and yet people loved it. They would tag their significant other, as if those were the only words that capture their feelings. The subject this poet wrote, who I will not mention, was love. I’m okay with love. Love and I have a good standing, but if you’re going to talk about love make me feel something.

      I know what this looks like: a hate message from a lesser know poet to a well-known poet. But stick with me there is a light at the end of this intolerable tunnel.

      It didn’t help that, around the same time my cynicalness kicked in, I started to feel more and more alone. Not alone in the I need a significant other of the opposite sex, but in the I need to find a group of poets and artist in my community type of alone (Maybe it does help, considering the the book I’m reading dives into that subject matter, but I’ll save that discussion for another time).

      Those two factors are the reason I’ve been so reserved. Instead of calling my friends to see if they would like to grab a cup of coffee or go to the bar with me, I venture out on my own. With me I carry a satchel that contains a notebook and pen, for when the rain of inspiration fall on me, and a few books to read in between the droughts. The solitude has open the door to some of my most interesting writing, I think. Despite the fact it’s a hole I wish to crawl out of and into an other filled with other poets.

      On the night of  March 8, the thought of “poetry is dying” immediately faded away, and was filled with a flickering flame of hope. I went to my traditional coffee shop for my nightly dose of writing fuel. The place was holding an event for International Women’s Day. It was a poetry reading. I walked in at the start of the event. I decided to stick around and listen to their words. I fell in love. I remember writing a poem about it the moment it ended. I remember wanting to buy their books and all of them a beer, but I was broke.

I remember the shock to the heart their words delivered to bring poetry back alive in me.

I guess the question here is: am I being too harsh?

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Dear February,

Dear February,

         There are people who love you and there are people who love to hate you, but no matter what it is it’s always in the condition of love. As for me, I’m in between, and I don’t care. Your month felt more than one day less, despite it having been Leap Year. 

         I don’t remember much about you; other than you, making feel a little more alone. However, I did find the courage to talk to someone new. Giving what your month represents, you would love her.

         Though my heart aches for we have never actually met. Our conversations has never extended over the walls of chatrooms and comment boxes.

So tell me Master of Love, why connect us but build a barrier between her and I.

         Believe it or not, I didn’t spend Valentine’s Day alone. The day was spent with a cup of coffee, cigarettes, and a friend. We talked about lovers past, and the scars that they left that we must carry. The question of the night: Will we ever heal?

I read three books this month:

Midnight in Mexico – Alfredo Corchado
A Bright Moon for Fools – Jasper Gibson
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

         Also, I started getting into philosophy, for my own curiosity (and to keep my brain thinking). March looks uncertain but promising.

Note to self: Write more poetry.

Footnotes: The Great Gatsby

bfz5ovh9ecolxdr1f3j00fka2.534x800x1      What can I say about The Great Gatsby that hasn’t already been insightfully discussed? It’s one of those books that are mandatory to read in school. The school walls know more on the subject than any being, and if you listen carefully you can hear them whisper the knowledge of the past, adding to the well-known conversation in literature class.

      The Great Gatsby was a book that linearly loomed in my room for years. I read it once mindlessly in high school. I tried to read it again for my own enjoyment, but I never got half way or half way of half way. It’s a slim beast, and I mean that in a positive manner. If you wanted to, you can read Gatsby in one sitting, but Gatsby is too great of a book to be skim through.

      It tells the story of Jay Gatsby, through the eyes of Nick Carraway, and his love and his obsession for a girl he dated for a month five years back, Daisy Buchanan.

      Simplistically, The Great Gatsby is a love story, but it is also entails the dangers of chasing the American Dream or rather the wrong dream, and notes the lack of empathy from the aristocracy. It takes place in New York during the Jazz Age an age where “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” as the New York Times noted. To F. Scott Fitzgerald, that was the American Dream in the 1920s.

      Fitzgerald was a poet I see that now. He wrote beautifully. He wrote about the ugly inners of the rich, but describes them as lovely diamonds. Look at the way he painted Daisy’s voice, “I looked back at my Cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.” In this way, you fall in love with a character’s façade that masks their immoral personality.

      I lovingly envy the way Fitzgerald wrote. If I could, I would copy The Great Gatsby word per word in my notebook. The words easily roll off the tongue from the beginning of the novel, “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” Listen to it. It’s poetry but not in the form that a poet writes a poem, it’s lyricism.

      As I reflect on the emotions Gatsby has encompassed me in, I ask myself is the American Dream now so different from the American Dream back then? The answer, I think, is no. We are all trying to get a little more drunk and little more richer. Enough is never enough. For Gatsby it wasn’t enough for Daisy to just love him, but she had to say she never loved Tom. For Tom one women isn’t enough. As Nick says the closer we get to our dream the further away they seem, but that doesn’t matter cause, “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther,” and maybe one day we will be satisfied.

Outlook: A Bright Moon for Fools

81q0jyPS7tL     I can describe book number 5 in my challenge as a happy accident. I went to Half Price with the intensions of finding a book for my friend. Instead, I left the store with a book in hand intended for me, and absolutely nothing for my friend. It was the first book I saw on the first shelf I looked through. I read only the description, and was immediately sold on whatever adventure awaited me in the pages.

     A Bright Moon for Fools is Jasper Gibson’s debut novel. It’s a humorous read that pulls strings of emotions. One page will have me laughing the next will leave me agitated another will have me heartbroken.

     A Bright Moon for Fools tells the story of Harry Christmas, a drunken cynical unlikeable man – think Ignatius J. Reilly – who runs away to Caracas, Venezula with stolen money and a broken heart. He runs to Caracas to escape his problems, to escape his past, to escape The Rot; but everything finds its way back to him in some form.

     Gibson’s novel tries to tackle some dark serious themes in a light manner that had me doing some self-reflecting; themes of alcohol addiction, the question if our choices matter to the final outcome, and themes of abuse to oneself and others.

     The novel reminds us no matter how far you travel, whether it’s from England to South America, you can never truly escape who you are or the things you have done. For example, William Slade, the stepson of a former ex-lover whom Christmas stole money from, makes it his mission to assassinate Christmas to bring honor to his stepmom. Then there is Judith, a romantic English women Christmas meets at a coffee shop. Her naiveness seduces Christmas to lie and steal again, which got him in this situation in the first place. All while the memories of his dead ex-wife, Emily, haunt him.

     At the end of the novel, you’ll become a inner-moral judge, asking yourself what is right and what is wrong; how can one action be justified and the other can’t. Christmas and Slade, the two main male characters, both use women for their personal gain. Where Christmas spiritually abuses a women with lies and false intentions, Slade physically abuses them, taking advantage of their bodies. Gibson writes Christmas as the lesser of two evils, allowing you to cheer for him even tho you know what he does is wrong. It make Christmas more tolerable that way.

     A Bright Moon for Fools is not for everybody. If you enjoy dark humor then you’ll enjoy A Bright Moon for Fools. There is a moment where an innocent character is defiled and from that moment on the laughing will stop, a somber cloud will linger, and the beauty of Venezuela gets a little gray. Yet, despite all that, you will keep turning the pages just to see if everyone turns out alright in the end.

Tent City.

He laid in bed
in the same place
everyone throws their garbage,
underneath the bridge of I-45.
All he wanted was change
but the world gave him
dimes, quarters, and tokens.

I looked at him as I crossed
the underpass, heading to
job number two,
and he looked at I.

I dropped him a five,
and so desperately wished
I was him
as he did with I.

Outlook: Midnight in Mexico.

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      In the plaza of Coyoacán people gather. A man and women dance to Juan Gabriel as they slowly fall in love. A man pushes a grill selling tacos and tequila. Kids run around cheerfully playing. In the center of the plaza lies a fountain with a statue of two coyotes in the middle. One coyote is leisurely sitting and waiting, the other is mindfully standing on all fours on guard. Out in the distant the volcano Popocatépetl erupts, but it’s not ashes on that fall on the beautiful people of Coyoacán. Instead, thick tears of blood fall from the sky painting the town red, and drowning the people in a sea of blood. There I stand heartbroken.

      Midnight in Mexico evokes a spiral of emotions as Alfredo Corchado takes you down a journey through the history of the Mexican cartel and it’s bond to the future of Mexico. After receiving a death threat, Corchado sets out to find out why his country wants him dead in this memoir/history novel.

      I read this book in hopes to understand my heritage, to get a grasp of my culture, and to learn the history of my people. In the end, I was stuck between being hopelessly hopeful and cynically uncertain that Mexico can be great. Continue reading