The New Me
a blue dappled sky in blush
an ache that smarts when it rains
a four-leaf clover, almost trampled
a tumble into broken promises
a present, never wrapped
a heptagon inside a square
a panic room with no doors
a rose, not allowed to die
a swirl of old magic
a secret, realized
found but unmapped
the stars in alignment
the epilogue of hope
the fall into beginning
Strawberry Flavored Soda
and hand it to you
and watch it explode
staining you like blood.
i want to watch your mouth
open in surprise and horror
as you taste
my fruity revenge
i want to hear the hiss
as the sugary carbonation
stings your tongue.
and this time
you won't be able to swat them all away
like you did to me.
i love the taste
of strawberry soda
because it makes me think
of sweet vengeance
that one day,
i'll have the strength to enact
Life a streaming video
a freeze frame
I want to fast forward
to know what's coming
I want a rewind
to play deliciousness again and again.
I have no power to change
streaming simultaneously in my time slot.
I wouldn't mess with the plot written for me
or cast different players in the roles
I'll just savor my own lush twisted dramedy
rewinding the juicy parts
to prevent the ending from coming too soon.
an elborate diorama
in a make-shift museum
in the back room of a Texaco
added on in 1967
before they moved the main road.
with the others
and native village displays
looking for the restroom
and puts a quarter in me
so my life can advance in jerks
three minutes of amusement
they move on to see
what the jackalope will do.
The dumpster burst behind me, the heat wave close on my back, fiery wings wrapping around me. Chunks of flaming garbage streamed past, falling stars in the black alley.
I gripped the pistol tighter until my fingers stung with pins and needles as I ran. Out of the alleyway, back into the madness. The burning cars and store fronts, blazing cocktails rupturing and spewing glass and flame like urban phoenixes. Riot police and mob yelling, gunfire cracking from all around. Yellow, orange, and red, dancing against swaths of black and gray, angry color scorching the innocent night.
“Hey!” a masked man yelled ahead of me, gesturing with a handgun in my direction.
I didn’t hesitate, raising my own weapon and pressing the trigger twice. He dropped, screaming, pistol slipping from his grasp and clattering on the asphalt.
Handy. I snatched up the gun and sprinted on, past the box truck laying on its side in the middle of the road, cargo strewn out behind it like entrails. Fire leaped from its charred sides, reaching toward anything near it. I tucked the new weapon into my waistband as I dodged a woman grasping for me from a small group of rioters exiting through the broken window of a storefront. Black masks obscured the lower half of their faces, eyes burning with fury, drunk on the chaos and anarchy of the moment.
The mask obscuring my own face was beginning to strangle my breath. I wanted so badly to tear it off, to let myself breathe. But that would have been a terrible idea. I can’t be recognizable. You’re eye color is recognizable enough—don’t put your face out their too.
I kept on, making sure to concentrate on staying light on my feet. Just a little farther, and I’ll be out of this mess. Though suppressed at the moment, fear hid in the back of my mind, whispering that I wouldn’t make it.
I ducked into a side street, darkness hungrily swallowing up the dancing light of a thousand fires burning on the main road. A man lay propped against a brick wall on one side of the narrow road. Blood streamed down the side of his head. His eyes, yellowed and bloodshot, followed me as I dashed past. I didn’t have time to avoid puddles. Water splashed over my shoes, soaking my feet and shins.
Yellow-orange erupted in front of me as I ran from the side street, glass and heat bursting away from where the gasoline-filled jar had shattered. Bullets whizzed past my head, striking the brick wall beside me.
“Get him!” the men called, popping off more rounds in my direction.
I dove and rolled. Hard, warm, gritty ground scraped against my bare arms. Bringing my gun around as rounds cracked by, I fired. Once, twice, three times, five times. Three men dropped, yelling and clutching their wounds. The fourth, armed with a crowbar, ran the opposite direction in terror.
They’re gonna leave without you. Squeezing the thought back into my stomach, I shoved myself to my feet and hurried on. Left, right, left, right, straight for three blocks. Past shattered glass, bodies writhing on the streets and sidewalks. Past flaming vehicles with their waves of heat, roving gangs of degenerate scum, and police lines firing tear gas into mobs a hundred times their number.
There it was, a few hundred yards away. Rising above the smoking city, the burned-out cathedral’s blackened steeple stabbed into the smoky, red-orange sky. Above it hovered Aegis’ APC, blue jets aimed downward, guns firing into the streets beneath. Three drones whizzed from her angular sides as I got closer.
Blood and asphalt sprayed from the bullet’s impact, dropping the man jumping from an alley at me. The drone turned, weapon firing another round at a man, clutching a rifle, rushing down the street at me. Empty shells clattered on the pavement, dropping from the drones as they fired again and again on nearby rioters.
The personnel carrier descended slowly, bullets ricocheting off its armored hide. Her guns barked back, cannons blasting away at buildings, autocannons sweeping the streets.
I was close now, perhaps a hundred yards or so away. But the carrier was drawing an increasing amount of attention from the rioters. Staying close to the ground for much longer was too dangerous.
She dove out of nowhere, tackling me to the pavement. I saw stars when my chin hit the ground, pain shooting up into the top of my skull. My palms scraped against the road as I tried to roll over under her.
The girl couldn’t have been much older than me—maybe eighteen, at the oldest. Fury blazed in her eyes, fists raining down blow after blow at my head and neck.
Barely, I blocked her strikes, searching for a weapon—she was too close to me for the drones to risk a shot. The gun in my hand had been thrown out of reach when I fell, but my second firearm dug into the small of my back.
I punched her square in the face. She screamed and cursed, blood streaming from her nose as she fell backward. The girl returned with an even faster rain of blows, catching me a few times in my face, before I could hit her again. “Die, you golden-eyed freak!” She screamed.
A solid connection with the side of her face sent her sprawling off me, dazed for a second. Rage took over, boiling up inside my chest. These people—no, these animals—had terrorized the country for long enough. They’d burned and looted across the nation, completely disregarding the lives of those around them. These animals didn’t care for anyone but themselves and their selfish, slanted agendas.
In their eyes, we were inferior. We were the animals, carrying a stained bloodline from a race of beings they despised. They were terrified of us, terrified we’d rise up and become their oppressors. Terrified of the power people like me held. Terrified of my golden eyes.
It was them who should have been purged from the face of the earth with extreme prejudice, them who should have been hunted down and killed, them who should have had to live in constant fear. Not me. Not my family. At least most of the nation saw us as just other humans, albeit unique, who still had a life. A life with value—a priceless human life. Not some dark group of sleeper agents for foreign governments or sadistic terrorists. Or telepaths destined to become Nazis bent on extermination and world domination.
I was atop her in an instant, knees pinning her arms to the ground, fists raining down blow after blow. She cried out, dark red liquid streaming from her mouth and nose.
The legislation she and other anarchists protested would bring equality—true equality—and protection under law for telepaths and Peace Keeper descendants alike. It must have been nice for someone like her, who never had to fear being slaughtered with her family in the middle of the night by a gang hunting down telepaths with golden eyes. Must’ve been nice sleeping in peace at night, worried only about your crush not texting you back, or a test at school the next day.
I grit my teeth so hard my jaw hurt. Strike after strike blasted through her week attempts to block them with her arms. Patches of black and purple were already spreading around her eyes and cheeks. Much of her face was no longer visible beneath broken skin and streaming blood.
“Alix, let’s go—leave her!” Taz directed through a loudspeaker attached to one of the drones circling overhead. “We’re getting called back to base, the drones are almost out of ammo, and we’ve gotta pull out—there’s a lot of idiots with heavy weapons headed our way. The carrier’s a sitting duck.”
“Fine.” I stood up, the girl groaning beneath me. My vision blackened for a moment. I swayed on my feet as I tried to move, still dizzy from the hits to my head.
Shouts of “Kill him!” echoed down the narrow street, sending more rioters dashing my direction. Bullets streamed from the drones, empty shell casings dropping onto the ground.
I staggered toward the rescuing carrier, brain finally clearing. Spots still danced in my vision. Definitely have a concussion.
Chink, chink, chink. The last spent cartridge dropped from one drone, then another, and another.
"Alix, run!” Taz commanded. “Go! Come on, man, get to the carrier!”
Retrieving the gun from the small of my back, I pulled back the slide. Golden brass glinted in the flickering light. Perfect.
I turned, weapon raised. Bullets whistled past my face and torso as I returned fire, dropping the leader of the charge. The metal bat he wielded clanged against the asphalt. I fired again and again, dropping four more, all the while stepping quickly backward toward the carrier and the deafening roar of its engines and autocannons.
The last man dropped to his knees, a knife slipping from his hands, blood streaming from two bullet wounds in his chest.
The girl forced herself up onto all fours, spitting blood. A hateful gaze seared into my soul as she struggled to her feet. Crimson streams covered her face and neck, more spattered across her arms and ripped T-shirt.
I let my weapon fall, halting my retreat to the APC. Which of us is more wrong? No, no—they started this.
With a cry of rage, she sprang at me. The battered girl halved the distance between us in a second.
You people will never learn. I raised my gun and pulled the trigger.
Her face paled with shock and pain, screaming mouth agape but silent. Her steps halted. She wobbled, tears streaming down her bloodied face. Panting and coughing up blood, she struggled to reach me.
I fired another round, this time into her leg.
With a scream, she dropped to the red-spattered road. Arms flailing, she scrabbled at the pavement, still trying desperately to reach me.
She’ll live. But did you make her hatred worse? Confrontation like this always makes things worse. Chaos breeds chaos, bloodshed creates bloodshed.
I left her and ran the remaining few yards to the carrier. The APC’s iron side slid open, jets firing to lift her, as I dove inside. Glancing over my shoulder, I watched the girl reach out for me, fury replacing the pain in her cries and curses. Hatred, all the way to the last. Stupid. But are we really that different?
After All This Time...
After all this time I spent,
Chasing shadows and smoke
Dodging the spears you threw
While I drowned in my own blood,
I came to realize
Your rotting soul, thinly coated in
Sweet and soured love,
Was only meant to fool me—
Your arms dragged me
Into a dangerous embrace
Closer to your stillborn heart
Wrapping my soul in your lies.
Deeper into the abyss
You coaxed and prodded me
Shoving when I was hesitant
Sliding daggers under my ribs
You never loved me.
I gave you everything—
You took all I could give,
Every pound of flesh and drop of blood.
So after all this time I spent,
I opened my eyes to see
The only one I hate more than me
A word was spoken on
a starry night
Before he woke that
word spoken was taken
away by a moon lit sky,
leaving a twinkle in his eye.
A ‘Perfect Profile’
I wanted to create a ‘perfect profile’ on Prose, so I started quite ‘prepared’, but it took me a bit to realize that not only your profile name and description, not only your writing and the number of credits given to it, but also the motivation behind your likes and reposts do define you a lot. And yeah I know this is short, simple to read and obvious like most of my posts, but they all contain with precision whatever I learnt and I publish them proudly in simple language to make somebody else too realize whatever I felt.
The Death of Poetry: and the rise of the Instapoets
THIS POST WILL UPSET A LOT OF YOU. I expect nothing but your most vituperative dissent in the comment sections. Enjoy.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who takes even a perfunctory glance that their first notice in the artistic discipline, before any else coming from the wide total of its offerings, will be of Poetry, the once solemn figurina of romantic virtue, now molted of her flowers and collapsed, clenching her pale soul between tired gritty teeth. This is not an attention inviting any real doubt; instead, a conclusion which I trust my peers, studied and brimming with the keen intuition of their professed craft, have observed themselves. Indeed, She is a subject over which the sepulcher-lid has slid long before any of us here can be said to have been born—an affair whose example recounted (by Orwell) imparts the same uncontroversy as when it was originally written:
‘There can be no doubt that in our civilization poetry is by far the most discredited of the arts, the only art, indeed, in which the average man refuses to discern any value’
Surely, poetry has come far to fall since the Muses inspired the first blind-man’s tongue to sing splendid verse, ushering his music, from there, along its way on careful course to those heights of the English-speaking Tutored countryside. Reading poetry today, in its pitiful decrepitude, picked and plundered to an unrecognizable incompleteness, one sees a disgraceful mimicry that does not yet approach even parody in its utter lack. She is a fragile heritage now preyed on in imitation by casual passers-by and the ungracious laity so wholly ignorant of any poetic sense; their paltry imitations only good for the recognition that to modern man all art is low art, no more to him than what at bottom is his panem et circenses, unaware and indifferent of Her succumbing to the full drop of dust-bitten disrepute.
If civilization discredits poetry, it is right to do so, for it has waned to a meaningless mockery of the name, bearing none of the likeness to a history so proud and statuesque—and I do not mean a remote history either. But if I were to take this line, I recognize that I would be getting on the wrong side of the problem: civilization does not discredit poetry because the art—as a form and method of composition—is unworthy; rather, poetry has become unworthy because civilization has forgotten how to discern any value from it, and by those means, hold it to the account of its artistic richness.
I am referring to the populist Instapoetry movement that passes as art in a society which cannot be said to have even a cursory familiarity with verse, let alone have been taught its significance in the English classroom. The written is unlike any other art, the more because most uncivilized people do happen to stumble into a gallery then and again or stop to photograph some “beautiful building” on vacation. This is the distinct disadvantage of literature: it cannot be passively observed, and none of its value is accessible on the face of it, as is so with the visual works—it must be read, and painfully at that, to get at what is therein ‘embalmed and treasured up’ (Milton, for the curious). How convenient then that Instapoetry comes in a prewritten masturbational package, neatened of any deeper intelligence and openly glutting the illiterate tastes, made digestible by an absurd reductionism from literary to depictive. By this I do not just mean the ridiculous visual accompaniments underneath every post and printed page—a recriminating fact in itself, for which picture can be more forcefully drawn or excised in evocative shape than the one composed in poesy?!—but I am also inciting the very method of the forgery, which takes reading to the closest shores of seeing, whereby one has less so to read and study the words than he has to simply look and see them—and this last part can be done with a thumb in your mouth for additional comfort.
Punctuation without any conscious sense, scarcely used effectively, if ever properly; too often invoked against itself to abortive or gaudy hyperbolic ends. A dissolution of the capital letter for the sake of it, because it is novel and naughty: this is not a reinvention of the rules for a definite poetic purpose that uplifts and elevates the technique, unassimilable from the nature of the lines themselves—rather, it is titillation and amateurish posturing. Meter? Never counted or considered, unless it be that one in the remembrance of a popular nursery rhyme—maybe the only proper pasteurization left for our diet of Milk and Honey. Metrical feet trampled about the page unawares, for no discernable reason, strewn together in incognisance;
sometimes at the beginning, other times at the end,
or perhaps starting new lines arbitrarily. In the unmeaning amusement of being rid of any endowed structure, (remember that ‘modern’ in today’s terms is a blank refusal of any formal institution whatsoever) do the Instapoets unwittingly forge the trammels to their own poetic freedom. Not to mention the pathological addiction to the swear word (Fuck, shit, crap etc.) as the favorite of all their flash; more so (and this is impressive) than their repetitive vomiting of depressive sexual encounters and self-motivational gall. Swearing to provoke interest or depth, which compacts a majority of the cases, is a cheap recommendation for actual poetic accent, forgoing hard-won sophistication for the lowest pandering to an audience who, if they are so impressed, is not worth the loss in integrity to relate to. These are the primary characteristics, according to my own abilities to see into the matter, that give the essential quality to Instapoetry, an anti-poetic force of the kind severe in its unconsciousness and monomanic in the aesthetic reproduction of the cultural masses.
“Art is subjective! There is no way to measure good from bad.” I hate to have to say that whoever avows this short-sightedness immediately betrays there having no acquired sense of what art actually consists of. The more one is steeped in the voluminous manuscripts of the classical oeuvre, to take from it according to his particular wont, yet absorbed by the effort in translating its consummate lesson, the more he cultivates a sensibility about art itself, attaining quickly the sensitivity to a high and low manner, to a great and poor style. And if by a lengthy effort to that end, does he come into his long-awaited expertise, calling on for confidence in his chosen artistic field the many labours and hours of investigation that compelled him, for his prize and due reward he will have the distinct pleasure of walking into any bookstore in America to see before him under Arts and Letters a miserable corner of Shakespeare (the only sole survivor) crowded out by the protruding belly of those shelves, in endless supply, of a “poetry” no better than the vining paroxysms of a pubescent diary.
What does this all have to do with the English classroom? The English classroom is perhaps the last bastion against the increasingly absorbing program of ‘democratic education’ whose focus is both industrialization and specialization, aspects particularly designed to cull the scientific intellect. Instapoetry is but a taste of what will happen to the arts if we continue in this way, where there is increasingly no societal value left for things other than the technologic. In many ways, the English classroom is lashed into submission by this mechanisation of culture, but too does it enable it by failing a proud protectionism over its singular monopoly of training and teaching the mind to think: no other subject, especially at the highschool level, can make this claim for itself. It should not be embarrassed of its esoteric achievements, and the seeming irrelevance of which it is accused of from a world whose majority will always be ignorant of its utmost importance. The living tradition begins in the English classroom, but it is a fragile teaching that requires an even stricter discipline in a time when any thought worth holding must be shown to be able to be turned to some economic account.
On this platform I’ve heard the criticisms of the modernised mind: picking through the lines; analyzing every word; scrutinizing the meaning of a passage and dissecting it for tone and timbre—that these activities in some degree tire out the study of English. But these are the happiest instruments of literature and critical analysis, the ones which transform a poem to the immortal embers deposited deep at the bottom of the soul; these are the very tools of one’s enlightenment, whose applications are endless and need have no sense of shame about themselves. There is a limitless joy in wrapping both hands around a poem and forming such an intimacy with each and ever word, to touch its essential texture and fabric—for what you are actually feeling is in fact the very allusive substance of life.
This is not a comment on English teachers, to be sure, nor any specific English classrooms across the millions in this country. If anything, it is an invocation to the teachers and classrooms that know the fundamental value of their subject, and who are right in their fear of its dying in our culture so hideously against its own illumination, to cloister the dim flame of life in their delicate custody, and with their gentle care, alight the wick in the minds of precious youth, so that they may carry it forward into the darkness of all their working days.
Picking a favorite proser is so hard, because I love everything you guys do. Danceinsilence's 3 Evils series is amazing. TaiSensei's Tainted Sky is amazing as well. Then there's Mnezz, who always is so kind and supportive to everyone as well as writing some incredible pieces. There are so many ways to excel in Prose, and everyone here finds their niche and owns it.
BUT... of course I wouldn't be entering this challenge if I didn't have an answer. So, after much deliberation, my favorite Proser must be...
Taki is the author of River's End. The world building in this series is incredible! The characters are so full of depth, relatable, and the plot is an emotional rollercoaster! And the cliffhangers!!! By God, the cliffhangers! There were twists... there were turns... there were mysteries, and betrayals... and there were aliens!
What more can you ask for?