Pounding with all my strength
Looking to shatter the barrier
And dive into the space beyond
Born into existence with a surge of raw power, twelve suns drink the empty void dry of endless night. Blinding radiance, awakening at its most pure, its most primal. A vast cataclysm of beginnings and endings, all alive and dead in an instant, in the blink of an unimagined eye.
A good friend and I are working through an interesting exercise: creating our own personal manifestos. These aren’t the manifestos that you may be familiar with, those that deal with divergent political or social philosophies. Our manifestos are being built to help us focus ourselves on a daily basis. They are meant to be a tool we use to evaluate our lives over time and stay true to those things we believe or strive towards. While working on my manifesto, I came across this article over at The Art of Manliness. While very informative and helpful, the author also references the famous poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley. I am always struck by this poem and will strive to find a place for it in my manifesto or, at the very least, in my daily affirmations of self. Here is the poem text for your reading enjoyment:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
Its quiet in here. A quiet that fills my ears with a roaring so intense I feel as though I’ll surely be deaf from its static sound. I feel the blood rushing through my veins, pounding behind my eyes. I’m scared. Something is down there. Something is waiting for me. Waiting for the right moment to strike. The right moment to rend both body and mind. What is down there? From where does it come? How long must I fight my fear before sleep overtakes me and I awake with this memory as a half forgotten dream? There must be something there! This can’t be a conjuring of my own mind. I can’t be doing this to myself, can I? I have nothing hidden. I have nothing lurking in the recesses of my mind. Nothing dark. Silent as the absence of sound around me now. Thick and hungry as my pulse. I’m not afraid…of myself?
One of the best ways I’ve found to inspire myself to write is by trading prompts with others. I enjoy finding something unique to stir the creativity of another. Brainstorming has always been one of my favorite activities and feels very pure in this format. Running with the spark of text provided by someone else is equally intriguing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m interpreting their words and trying discover what meaning might be within. Other times it is as if the words were lost somewhere in my own head and it took the insight of another to bring them to light.
Another component of prompt sharing that I find particularly rewarding is learning about someone else through the exchange. You get a rare opportunity to see something of that person’s intrinsic creativity; their view of the world as seen through their eyes. I’ve shared prompts with many people but the person I enjoy writing with the most has been my mother. Many times we share a similar tone or quality in the prompts themselves if not in the resultant writing. I’ve found that some of my most creative writing has been found in prompts we have exchanged. I’ve always appreciated that shared creative inspiration regardless of how divergent the outcome, which in itself is something to deeply appreciate and respect.
A few prompts are sitting in my inbox right now. I’m looking forward to what they prompt on this blog.
Street corners and headlights flash
like lightning from the heavens
Rumbling engines and construction hums
like far away storms in the mountains
People flitting about from building to building
as honey bees seethe through their hives
Concrete and gravel coat the earth
as hard as the stone in the rocky valleys
The city teems with life as…
I wake up dead from a nightmare of congestion
Once to feel the pulse beneath the skin, the flow of blood rushing from our straining hearts. Twice to feel the tears slide from your eyes, mixing with mine over sighs and shallow breaths. Thrice and done and the world clouds over, shuddering and still again.
The piece below was written as a quick reaction to a now forgotten poem a professor read in a class I attended. Whatever the words, the imagery it conjured was of me watching my father find his name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
The professor picks two poems
The class hears them as he speaks
With one my interest mildly sits
the other raises my level of awareness
while catching me off guard
I’m gone from class and sit in myself
as I was many years ago
My father with that worn Air Force parka and black bandanna
the sign “Another Viet Vet for peace” forgotten at his side
And I see it, I see his name
his whole self reflected in my father’s eyes.
Original Piece: To Whom I May be Concerned About
A letter to someone from the past.
Why couldn’t I save you? Why couldn’t I have helped? What is there left to say? I know. Remember. Remember the gazebo in the park on that perfect day. Fall leaves circling around us. The crisp breeze lifting your hair. And the colors. Oh the colors. Like a landscape painted just for us.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Will you dance with me?” I asked
“But there’s no music.” You said
“There is always music…you just have to listen…”
I don’t have many clear memories of him. He was sort of a peripheral member of the family in my young eyes. In fact, the only times I really saw him were at family gatherings like birthdays, holidays and the like. What I do remember of him was money, fitness, beer and loud laughing. I remember him saying vulgar things at the dinner table that made the kids laugh, the parents look uncomfortable and the grandparents frown. In the later years of my youth I heard the darker stories from my parents regarding his lifestyle. The divorce came and went and he faded out of the larger family’s life.
I saw him recently at a funeral. He seemed fragile, depleted, sad. Attempting to display a front of calm compassion and support came across as nervous confusion. He looked like a puzzle piece that arrives at the table only to find a more compatible piece has taken its place. I remember speaking with him briefly. I remember overhearing his nearby conversations with relatives. I can’t seem to recall any of the words however. All that comes to mind is thinking “He is shorter than I remember him”.