Tag Archives: essay

When You Are Raised In An Outline

17 Feb

I was raised in an outline.

No, not under a rock. Yes, I was sheltered, but not quite in that sort of way. Rocks prevent you from seeing the sky or the grass or the wind or the stars or the storms or anything, frankly, that isn’t already under that rock with you.

No, I could see more than that. I knew what else there was. I saw the stars and the storm and the lust and the poverty and the decisions and the choices and the birth and the death and the lifestyle and the beliefs and the very different ways of breathing out there. From my own little prescriptive outline, I could see all these other formats. Most I considered mere variations on the theme and format my limbs were propped up against. While I made my points in A-B-C some other person with really the same main header even if they said it differently was arguing for it as I-II-III. It was all right. We were really writing the same essay. We just said our oh so neat and oh so powerful five paragraphs differently. But we each still had our patterns, our expectations of our personal rise and falls and the great shape that our lives and humanity were supposed to take.

Everything else, the remainder of non-outline chaotic confusion, I just assumed was a deviation. An outlier. Those were not-even-essays where the structure had gone horribly, horribly wrong. They clearly didn’t work. They babbled. Said nothing. Destroyed their own sentences or tripped up their points later. There was no way anyone could consider them valid. There was no structure. No logic. No empathy. No – anything. No, this could not be a sufficient response to what the world, I assumed, expected of us all. This, as my outline out-dolers had told me, was unacceptable.

Imagine my shock and utter confusion when I discovered that these rules and regulations, this structure, this expectation I had molded myself to and excelled at filling – that it was not the norm.

I was the outlier.

I was the deviation.

My expectations were wrong.

The world was easier to get by in than that. It was crueler, more inattentive, it cared not for courtesy or protocol or forethought for one’s fellow humans.

Get your words out on the page; it matters not how.

So many babbling idiots – I understood then why the world so often wrote in blood.

But still – my ink, it glistened so.


A Lover’s Lament

19 Jun

A Lover’s Lament, or “I Am Confused.”

I am confused, dear lover. I am confused how you could choose to throw me away like trash, while I am only just now beginning to slough off the skin of our life together like so many dead cells become love litter. The detritus of memories rots there on the floor, as every day I am forced to trample it underfoot as if it were nothing, and I were not worried in every moment that something will snag and I will trip. Too often, so often, I fall anyway. I am confused, dear lover.

I am confused, dear lover. I am confused how you could not be at every moment distracted, wondering where the new rush of air through one more hole you hadn’t noticed in yourself is coming from. Does not your body ache from the pock marks of so many barbed associations? Are you not left with new emptiness and crevices as the once fertile ground of your soul dries and cracks with a terrible opening groan? Do not you feel as if there are parts of you missing? Are you not spending every waking and sleeping moment searching for where they have gone and how you could possibly, desperately, ever in your life or your death get them back again? Are you not dying from the nothing of where you used to be filled? I tremble every second, wondering if this will be the time when my increasingly paltry skeleton crumbles. Did I not make up just as much of you? I am confused, dear lover.

I am confused, dear lover. I am confused how you could have escaped the shroud of insanity that is slowly settling over me as I see your ghost at every turn. My mind breaks just a little more every time I must exorcise your demons, finding again a phantom that must be released from a particular way of flicking my hand, or tilting my voice, or arranging my face. I do not know whether it is better to slowly tease away where you have interwoven with every fiber of my being in an attempt to salvage what is left of the original cloth, or if I should just cry to hell and remove the stuff of both you and me with a slaughter of tearing, unforgiving attrition. It’s not like I would be left any more frayed than I am becoming now. I am surprised, from the way that your fingers used to interlock with mine, that you are not finding yourself similarly ragged. I am confused, dear lover.

Oh dear lover, I am confused.

Against the Reader

4 May

The public is a cruel beast. Fickle and finicky. They will fight for a hashtag today that they won’t even remember trending this time next week. It’s a short-term gratification like that, when you serve up an endless hors d’oeuvres array of choked-down phrases and coughed-up inanities. You can only fit so much lasting grit in a hundred and forty characters.

The public is a wild beast. Running here and there, grazing from whatever pasture happens to have seeded the greenest virility. Sweet and fresh, even the hardwood trunks must extend new tendrils to grasp any notice. It’s a sort of reversed food chain out there; if you don’t get a bite then you have no reproducibility.

They will rave, the public. Protest is too archaic an art form these days; throw slime or shout your garbled grumbles the loudest and it’s those stitch by stitch tears to rags that will gain you internet power. Meanwhile the authors will hide behind metaphor, saying we said something not what we said. Confuse them enough to ignore you and die dusty encased in the walls of your study; or ply a trickster twist on a trope masked enough to pass for ingenuity and garner your two minutes of fame on a Google headline. Leave the reader shaking and wagging their head – at least then it’s intentional.

There is no refined when even the gatekeepers have become so crude. Taste is torture in a bittorrent world.

Simile is useless. Nobody likes anything.

The public is a cruel beast, you see.


9 Feb

When searching for an image to attend a poem I wrote for another site entitled “The Mechanics of Being a Girl,” I typed in “beauty” as my search query. This image was the very first result.


And I thought, for today’s society, how apt.

The image provided of “beauty” is of something constructed – pulled, plucked, brushed, painted. Beauty is an external to be mâchéd onto the human body, not something intrinsic to be gently coaxed out. The goal is to get the girl’s body to conform to a set of standards, not to showcase the shape and form present naturally. Even the girl’s body itself is a product, wrapped in plastic wrap, packaged like a baked good.

Is this what we have decided beauty is in our Western, “modern” society? Something artificial, encased in plastic and fresh from the factory? I am no stranger to this paradigm – I straighten my curls for the sake of “looking better” (a.k.a. more controlled), I apply all sorts of powders and mouses and glosses to my face with the thinly saving grace of holding that it’s mere fun to use my face as a canvas, a statement that’s true but doesn’t fully own up to the fact that I also don’t think my face is “pretty enough” or even just acceptable enough as-is. If I’m honest with myself, I do constantly compare myself to a preconceived notion of what I “should” look like, every time I look in the mirror. Or get dressed. Or pass by my reflection in the window.

If I’m truly honest, it’s more than a preoccupation – it’s an obsession. I am my own judge and jury, day in and day out, passing rule – usually unfavorably – on the thing that carries me through life. I forget to appreciate the living mass of physical existence that I live in and instead view it as one more rough edge to be buffed into shape by life’s nail files.

I am compassionate towards others. I am compassionate towards animals. Hell, I’m compassionate towards a tree. And yet I am the cruelest I ever get toward my body. I channel my self-hatred towards the corporeal embodiment of myself. Yes, I know that much of this is the result of my own psychological shortcomings, but I refuse to assign the blame completely to nature. Nurture does not come off clean.

I am certain that there is a surprising amount of culpability in something as seemingly simple as a tube of lipstick.

Forget skeletons in the closet. What about the skeletons in your makeup bag?

Everybody’s Drug

6 Feb


Everybody’s got their drug. The coffee-chugging woman waves to the man smoking his first morning cigarette. The pothead passes by the crack addict, whose friends are locked into the heroin-driven pattern of wake up and shoot up.

Everybody’s got their drug.

In a chemically-regulated society, you can pop you pills for happiness, inject beauty and nip and tuck away flaws. Just swallow speed for smarts, or if you’re a purist, merely force down a couple capsules of letters like A and E or D and C before lunchtime for a wealth of health – or at least that’s what the doctors say.

Everybody’s got their drug.

Alcohol is liquid courage. Green tea will calm the soul and curve the waistline. Monsters hide under the bed and under the car seat, tell-tale signs of instant energy. And don’t forget that latte; contentment is just a sip away – at least that’s what the advertisements say.

Everybody’s got their drug.