The Door

The door brought with it a bristling

Wind, summoning a slight whistle.

And I sat and watched, two fingers caught between

Worn pages of a chapter. Who knew then what it might have

Took to blow those pages shut, never to be opened again.

 

Breeze followed close behind, an aroma

Of burnt trees and pine touched carefully

On the senses of the past. A time ago when a young lad,

Same of look, but youthful flourish, gallantly danced

Down the befallen crest of the estuary

And sung a tune of naivety.

 

The fire, next to my half empty glass,

Crackles soft, like the rustling of leaves,

Diminishing breath rusted still.

And the wind, that breeze, does burst forth,

Again, chilling me bare. A reactionary shiver

Produces, hairs stand straight as a twig, full of

Purpose. And I remember a time, long ago,

Of a winter so stark, and a boy so young.

Posted in Creative Writing, Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Star Realms

unnamed

This fun little deckbuilder game was recently recommended to me.  Safe to say I’m completely addicted now (yes, I did buy the physical copy and the app).  Go check it out.  No dropping hundreds of extra dollars for better cards or spending hours having to build a deck — I’m looking at you, Magic the Gathering.  Everyone starts with the same cards and you take it from there, making every game an equal chance for both participants.  Also, it’s easy enough to learn and has a speedy play structure.  And if you’re willing to cough up a little extra for two starter decks you can play with up to four people!

Now ride, my fellow compadres, to the local game shop or local amazon store!  Pick up your copy today and have an out of this world experience (yay puns!).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Matchbox Twenty – Mad Season

Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The University of Oklahoma’s Racism Problem isn’t about Race

Oklahoma made headlines again and, as you might expect, not for good reasons. A group of SAE fraternity members from the University of Oklahoma were secretly filmed singing a racist chant, proclaiming they would hang an African-American person from a tree before letting them be a member of the fraternity. Following behind the Michael Brown shooting and the subsequent rise of racial tensions in Ferguson, MO, the video undoubtedly lead to nationwide outrage. Once again, the issue of race incited national discussion. Many voices have chimed in: from news reports, newspaper articles, personal blogs, Twitterings, and Facebook fights. A unified front took form, clearly dividing the line between the good and the bigots. The fraternity was shut down. Fraternity members were expelled. And once again all was well in the kingdom.

But is the right issue being discussed in lieu of these events? Or have we merely slapped duct tape on a leak when what we really need is a new pipe. Was the fraternities’ act horribly racist? Yes. Did they deserve to be shut down? Absolutely. But racism is only a cog in the wheel of a broken system. I’m tired of it. I used to play it off as “Oklahoma being Oklahoma,” but it’s getting increasingly difficult to dismiss. I’m no longer mad at the Sooner State, my home, and a place I’ve spent the majority of my life. I’m sad.  Sad to see the clear lack of any social progress for future generations. This recent event has made that evidently clear. If progress is to be made we must start by admitting there’s a problem. And there’s a huge fucking problem.

Oklahoma currently ranks 48th in education. On top of that, the state is currently attempting to pass a bill that would discontinue the teaching of AP US History in high schools across the state, arguing it focuses too much on “what is bad about America.” The United States has done amazing things, it has also done atrocious things, and both are equally important to learn. If we don’t allow classes to teach the shortcomings of America, we choke off all possibility of open debate and discussion. You can’t learn from a singular point of view. Without multiple perspectives, kids wouldn’t be taught to think about solutions to the problems our country faces. There would be no room to challenge, to question right from wrong. A diversity of perspectives garners a wider spread of understanding, allowing people from all walks of life to step into another’s shoes.  We need the teaching of unbiased, quality education to keep the seeds of prejudice from growing.

Abridging public education hinders social equality and can be especially detrimental when met with extreme religious conservatism. Religion, in the right hands, can be a good thing, providing a guideline for leading a moral life. However, religion, much like an opinion, is subjective, not absolute. Members of the same religious affiliation can have varying interpretations of its teachings based on different life experiences. That is why a seventy-year-old white male will interpret the bible differently from a twenty-five-year-old African-American woman. By indoctrinating religious beliefs into law, we establish subjective notions as truth. Kids living in a society with laws barring gay marriage, or laws allowing private and government businesses to decline service based on religious beliefs, grow up with a skewed view. It teaches the same lesson White kids were taught pre-Civil Rights Movement; they are superior. Many grow up inherently believing they are entitled to certain privileges that others aren’t or shouldn’t be. People may not ever directly tell them they do, but actions carry a heavy weight. That’s why the increasingly blurred line between separation of church and state is dangerous. Governmental laws should implement equality for all, and enhance betterment for each individual. By implementing laws based on religious beliefs we are allowing and, whether we agree or not, accepting open discrimination. Without stronger efforts to rid the artifacts of previous legislation that discriminate based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, we ultimately keep deeply rooted prejudice present.

Does this mean all Oklahomans are uneducated bigots? No, of course not. The problem is we don’t hold the true perpetrators accountable. Frat boys who shout racist chants aren’t the real enemy. These boys are a product of the system, the puppets strung along by its master. Expelling a few students from the University doesn’t solve the problem. Solving the problem means stopping it at the source and, in this case, you need not look further than those who hold political office. These are the people who propose and enact law. These are the people who would rather focus on narrowing our beliefs than broadening them. These are the people who are frightened of an informed electorate for fear of exposing their true colors. Sally Kern is a Republican from Oklahoma who currently sits in the House of Representatives. She recently introduced a bill that would force those who believe in same-sex relationships to undergo conversion therapy. She also made claims that the “homosexual agenda” was destroying the nation and posed a bigger threat than terrorism. Sally Kern thinks people who have homosexual beliefs are a bigger threat to the country than those who would openly kill thousands. She ran unopposed in 2014.

So when I say the University of Oklahoma’s racism problem isn’t about race, I mean it isn’t solely about race. Continued racism, sexism, and prejudice stem from an overall systemic problem; a state run by people who think they are entitled, armed with their religious affiliation as proof, and fueled by the support of an equally ignorant electorate. By sustaining a failing educational system and ramping up a religious agenda, Oklahoma keeps the true bigots in power. We fail as a society if we idly stand by and let it continue. Too often I hear complaints about the actions of people like Sally Kern. Too often these complaints are followed by inaction. Keep talking. An open and honest discussion is vital, but it mustn’t stop there. After you’ve talked, do. As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It starts with being a better-informed electorate (myself included). Knowledge is something to strive for, not to belittle. Take the time and learn about who is running our country. Don’t stop at just the President; know your state representatives, too. Know their beliefs and how those beliefs affect their policies. If they support open intolerance, challenge them, don’t let them run unopposed like Sally Kern. Call their offices and file complaints. But most importantly, use your precious right to vote. Only 36.4% of the eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterms and Oklahoma had the 7th lowest voter turnout of all fifty states, coming in at just 29.8%. The greatest voice we have over these politicians is our ability to vote. If you don’t vote, don’t complain. It takes action to challenge and change long-held ideologies. It isn’t a battle won overnight, but with time, patience, and persistence we can pave the way for a better society.

Posted in Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Poem 9.1

The valley shakes
Rocks fall
Water ripples
And, in the end, it takes

Blindsided
The roads traversed
The hours wither
The fool, love blinded

In games of pain
Come cries of joy
Seasons drift
Madness contained

Uproarious howls
Bring cold winters
And hot summers
Blood drips from the beast’s jowl

Swallowing you whole
In you fall
Down, down, down
From the pit you call

Surrounding darkness
Always looming
You look around
For light, ever blooming

Posted in Creative Writing, Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Shadow

On a dank evening, while walking a desolate street, I came upon a figure standing in the shadows.

“Why are you standing there?” I asked.
“I stand here because I am hiding.”

Though I did not see him well I could tell the man was trembling.

“Hiding from what? There is nothing here but me.”
“Ah, but it is you I hide from, for you are the devil.”
I looked on incredulously. “Me, the devil? Nonsense. As you can see I am no devil. I have the skin of a human, the hair of a human, the eyes of a human. I feel pain like a human. If you cut me, I bleed like a human.”

I drew a small knife from my pocket and ran the blade along my arm, wincing as the skin cut with upmost ease. The liquid was warm and ran fresh.

“See. The devil does not bleed, yet I do.”
“You do not fool me,” snorted the man. “What you have shown is nothing more than an illusion.”
“If you think what you see is an illusion then I offer my hand.  Touch it.  You will find it is as real as the ground upon which we stand.”

I raised my arm towards the man, plunging it into the darkness. For awhile I felt nothing. Then a shaking hand met mine, never lingering for more than a few seconds before it was gone again.

“What did you feel?” I asked.
“A hand,” he said.
“And if I were the devil, wouldn’t you agree my skin would be hotter than anything you could ever imagine? Speak true.”
“Yes. I suppose you’re right.”
“Tell me, what did it feel like?”
“Ice.”
“Then I can’t possibly be the devil, can I.  I am but just a man.  Please, come now, let me take you home.”

I put my arm once again into the shadow and this time felt the man’s hand firmly grasp mine.  As he emerged I could see he was very of thin frame. His clothes were veiled in layers of dirt and dust and his head had but one small patch of hair. In the garish light I saw him for what he was. This was no man. He was a skeleton in skin.

“How long have you been here in the shadow?” I caught myself asking.
“Centuries,”  he exhaled.  “Time has no meaning in the dark.”
Softly, I whispered, “It’s okay. You’re safe now.”

I pulled hard, drawing the man close.  He was weak, but eventually pushed away.  As he stumbled back he saw the ruby stain that had formed around his heart.  Tired, grey eyes gazed long into mine before finally closing, the body hitting the stoney ground with a thud.  Blood trickled from the wound, finding its way deep into the stone cracks. I took the knife and wiped the blade clean, letting gravity do the rest.  By the time the knife hit the ground the man’s body was gone, vanished, except for his clothes.

I stripped naked, the night air causing my body to shiver.  The stone was cold and rough under my bare feet.  I bent down to pick up the man’s clothes and, without realizing, put them on.  They felt heavy, like an anchor sucking me down, far into the ocean depths.  Suddenly the shadow—that pit of emptiness—began calling to me.  I couldn’t resist.  I stepped in.

And the street was once again empty.

Posted in Creative Writing, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wooden Heart – Listener

Every year, like clockwork, this video finds its way back into my life and am continually shocked by the utter power it has over me.  We are moved in a variety of ways.  For me, it’s always been the great trifecta: movies, music, and writing.  I think this video resonates so strongly because of its effective use of all three.  It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of the beauty found in struggle.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment