The only thing I know for sure is that all the philosophers were wrong. Death is not pleasant nor something to not be feared, death is cold. Dante was right by setting the 9th circle of hell in ice because torment is not burning eternally it is being gnawed by frost’s relentless bite.
The slow thawing was when I regained conciousness. Not some half-assed pediatric conciousness but Jungian conciousness, acute awareness and wisdom. The reverberations of life permeated my body as waves of sensation crawled across my frame. It was like being stabbed over every inch of my body.
As I began my slow journey outward I began to sense more and more. My eyes adjusted to light as if they had been hibernating and needed to relearn how to see. My body began to shiver from the cold as my feeling bagan to return. Torents of sound richotcheted around my brain like bullets colliding isnide of my skull.
It took a few minutes to relize I was not alone. I truly think that for a few minutes I beleived I was the only man alive, blissful minutes. The men who stood around me were tall, but I had no great claim to perception of height because when I looked across the room I saw a drinking glass stand seven feet tall.
“His irises are uneven and they keep unfocusing,” one of the doctors said. But to my untrained ears it sounded like a hoard of racoons clawing through trash,
My sight remained tinged for a few minutes but soon my senses began to dull. The heightened state of conciousness, however, did not leave me.
It was days before I could remember why I had gone into the cryochamber. Peices of the complex puzzle of life formed in my mind and slowly conected. The yound boy who would one day become Adolf Hitler. My mother who carried me a few years to early so that I would have to serve in one of the biggest blood bathes known to man. The mother of a future German soldier who would throw a hand grenade near me in such a precise location that only a few shards hit my frontal lobe leaving me wounded but not dead. The years of trying to find expieremental surgeries to remove the shards and finally my retreat to the cryochamber.
If even one of those peices had been altered slightly, it would have changed my future and subsiquently made a blemish in the overall history of mankind.
I was under constant surveilance, as if I were in the Soviet Union and not the United States of America, in the facility.
I was given a small room, which resembled a hotel with plad curtains and a TV. The TV I was given was like I remmebered: small, boxy and black and white. They told me a lot had changed but if the TV were a symbol for how much things have changed then not much seemed to have shifted. This beleif was soon destroyed as I eyed the mini fridge (that is what I was told it was called.) The shelves were decked with food that I did not recognize.
As I was inspecting my room for clues of what the future meant for me, a doctor entered my room.
“I assume that knocking is a foreign concept in 2019,” I said sarcastically to the doctor. His only response was a shameless chuckle which infuriated me.
“I do apologize for that, but I am very eager to be talking to you. There are only a handful of people who have been frozen for as long as you have and survived.”
“Please get to the point of why you are here I wish to sleep,” I said with a hint of distaste.
“Yes of course. We have given you scheduled times that you may leave with an assistant so that you may begin to familiarze yourself with the world,” the doctor said.
“If this TV is any indication of what this world has become then I will not have to familiarize myself with much,” I responded.
“Oh. That is not what televisions look like now. We have tried to decorate your room in a manner which fit your time period. Televisions are very large now.” My superiority wavered at this. Up until this point I hadn’t thought much about the advancments of human technology because I had beleived it hadn’t advanced too much.
“Well I guess we will see how I can handle it,” I say incredulously, “Now please leave.”
The doctor swiftly got up and drifted out the door.
The first thing I noticed, when I left the facility, was that cars had advanced so that they looked like sharp wasps instead of fluid worms. They moved faster and vibrant colors splashed across each one. Even the dull greys and browns were glossy and colorful.
The second thing I noticed, as we drove into the suburbs of New Jeresey, was the ammount of people. I was told that we were still leagues away from any actual city, but swarms of people choked the streets. They were all different colors, mixing together like choclate powder in milk. Like ants, they all flowed from there dwellings and recreation centers clogging the world.
We eneded at a park in New Jeresy outside of all city limits. The grass had seemed to dull in the years since I had seen it. The clouds were darker as if they had been pumped with gasoline (I later figured out that was the case).
I envisioned my world, my life in the fold of this gargantuan monster of planet. I was enveloped in the claustrophobic feelings which were created from the sheer ammount of people I had seen.
The park itself seemed so uncomfortably unsanitary that I retreated back to the car. The trees were the only thing which hadn’t changed all too much. They stood like sentinals of time unhindered by its flow.
It reminded of a story I had been told when I was young. It went a little like this, “One day a strong storm swept across a forrest leveling many trees. As one of the trees fell, it landed next to a little fern which had not fallen. The tree, while laying there, asked the fern ‘how is it that I have fallen and you have not?’ The fern responded, ’Dear friend, the wind is proud, for this reason we ferns bow to it whereas you trees stand steadfast. You would not have fallen if you had shown humility.”
I found myself seeing the planet in the same way. The advancments made by human kind were just the steadfast stubborness of the tree and one day soon, I am convicned, we will follow that fate.
Exciting News & PoetsIN
Long time no post. I’ve been absolutely slammed but while I have a minute or two, I thought I’d check in and let you know what I’ve been up to and let you all know about some exciting opportunities.
Some of you will remember the Letters from Prison Portal here, where Paul and I would visit prison, teach writing workshops, and post their pieces here. This is where PoetsIN was born. Paul and I realised that writing was a form of therapy and the prisoners were reporting astounding results.
After parting ways with Prose, we tailored our groups further with an emphasis on rehabilitation, mental illness, and suicide prevention. We began to measure the outcomes of each session, and over a set period of time had evidence that what we do worked with 99% of the service users. To put this into perspective, CBT in the UK via the NHS works in 48% of the cases they work with. If CBT doesn’t work, the service user is given no other therapy. Talking therapy such as counselling is no longer provided on the NHS because that was only successful 29% of the time, which is way below the threshold of success the NHS will work with.
With our 99% success rate we went to the UK Charity Commission. Wrote our governing document, recruited 5 trustees, filled in a ridiculously long application form to register as a charity, and submitted it. Then we waited.
Whilst we sat thinking of all the things we could’ve included in our application but didn’t, and worrying about all the things we may have done wrong, we carried on with our groups. Expanding them and trialling new techniques and measures of capturing data to ensure maximum impact. We got such good feedback from the prison directors that we were offered a grant from a trust for $50k - before we were even a charity - which is unheard of. Visit www.poetsin.com/testimonials to see what people have been saying about what we do.
Four months passed and we finally received our answer. We’d done it! We were a charity.
Since then we have won three awards. We were named Mental Health Heroes 2017 alongside Talia Bennington, Mental health workshop provider of the year 2018, and Nonprofit of the Year 2018. We have also employed some faces you may recognise. The lovely Karen, who used to design Prose images, the badass Lish, and we’ve just hired a wonderful fundraiser, Pippa. MilesNowhere and Amanda Cary have also joined the family and have been vital to PoetsIN, and my own personal sanity.
We are now a week away from launching online writing therapy groups that people can access from wherever they’re located, along with in-community groups external to prisons across certain parts of the UK to begin with.
We also have a growing Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/poetsin) that is full of old faces from here and new faces from beyond, along with a website that has mental health and writing blogs galore.
We’ve opened our own publishing company, PoetsIN Publishing, that offers the best royalties EVER and any royalties taken by PoetsIN Publishing are all ploughed back into the charity to reach more people who need our help. The best thing about the publishing company is that we want to publish poetry. Many traditional publishers don’t. We do. We are publishing print and eBooks, and have already accepted submissions that will be released this year.
We have a current challenge running for an anthology. Our first anthology open submission call was a huge success and will be published within the next month - we’re just putting the final touches to it. The current submission call is on the topic of addiction, and you are all more than welcome to submit! The more the merrier. Visit this link to submit https://buff.ly/2EdHxwe
Those of you in the UK should come down to our huge all day fundraising event in Camden, London 28th July. It is being held at the iconic Nambucca venue that has housed Oasis, Blur, and many more. We have a full day of amazing lineups from spoken word poets, comedians, and acoustic and indie music. All acts are donating their talents and time to us for free along with many companies who have donated prizes that we will raffle and auction off at the event. We also have a Skydive coming up in September, more details about that can be found on our social networks.
There have been people that doubted Paul and I - along with our mission - but our determination, skills, and experience have served us well, built our confidence, and given a much-needed lifeline to those that truly needed keeping safe.
Setting up a charity is far harder than setting up a business, and if we can do that, you guys can do anything. One word, one poem, one story at a time.
Paul and I both hope you’ll join us elsewhere on the interwebs but in the meantime, write on!
#PoetsIN #PoetsINPrison #Charity #NPO #Publishing #WritingContests #GetPublished #Poetry #InsideOut
Patterned days of love and luxury
Every night of turns and tosses
Modern anxious things, small and stupid
I declare myself alone when I should just speak my mind
But I do have wishes and they are simple
Bring me the sweet morning
Let me rest on the grass,
Soak the morning in and fall away to the past
Take me from these days
Between times and phases and changes
Bring me moments of wonder
Give them light
Let them comfort me
Cast away the evenings and their evils of the mind
Leave the tilting earth, twisting ground
Show me moments of beauty
Wrench me from the chaos
Cut me from the dark
Bring me my sweet morning
Snow covered tracks
Recede in time
Come to haunt my mind
Lost love once fueled
By blood and brine
And salty tears-
Both hers and mine
Now my recall
Runs true as rails
I ride this train
( Image excerpted from Instagram, @epinscirex https://instagram.com/p/BCdgbgKKN_F/ )
Empire Builder (a Tribute to William Carlos Williams)
so much depends
a silver passenger
glazed with rain
moving slowly along
Jessica Wright has wanted nothing more than to be a writer. For years, she worked extremely hard, doing grunt jobs at small tv stations and local newspapers. She'd been working on the same novel for almost four years, sending it out to publisher after publisher. It was only when she began to give up on herself, that someone took a chance on her and her skill.
Three years later and she's one of the best selling authors of her time. Life is good. She works with people she's come to call friends, she's in a stable and loving relationship and she's on the verge of releasing her newest novel. But then, weird things start to happen.
Bodies of women begin turning up all throughout the city of Brentwood. She pays it no mind, though she's been having really weird dreams about her girlfriend being killed in all sorts of ways. Frank Albane, the Chief of Police and current father figure to Jessica, takes his job seriously and vows to put an end to the murders, along with Daniella Santiago, who just happens to be the lead prosecutor and the girlfriend of Jessica Wright.
While working the case, the Chief starts to notice little things, minuscule things that no one else could ever catch on to. He works endlessly alongside Daniella to bring this case to a close and catch their unsub.
When the last victim get away, she immediately calls the Brentwood PD and the message is relayed to Chief Albane. He takes it upon himself to question her and that's when he realizes why things seem so familiar...he's seen this before. Back in the station, he mulls over the evidence, spending countless house piecing things together until a light bulb clicks: he knows this because he's read it. And he read it in Jessica's first draft of her very first novel.
When he brings Jessica and Daniella up to speed, Jessica shuts down. Her entire world begins to fall apart. With Daniella having worked day in and day out on the case, Jessica turns her attention elsewhere and accepts a dinner invite from Christina James, her assistant. As they are enjoying the night, Christina begins to say the right things at the right times and one thing leads to another until they are interrupted and Jessica realizes the mistake she's just made. Now, she has to fight to bring herself back, fight for her relationship and fight for her innocence because how could one person know something that you've only shown to a handful of people? There are murders happening that mimic her very own writing. She's become the number one suspect.
Fighting for all that she's lost, Jessica has to step out of her very comfortable life and step into the world of a killer; a person who has become hellbent on ruining everything she's built for herself. And soon, those dreams become a reality when she's told that the latest of the unsub's victims is Daniella. Scared out of her mind, she runs to Chief Albane, who tries to reason with her and when that fails, he agrees to let her go through with the plan. With all the bravery she has in her, she steps out of her cookie-cutter life and into the unknown and vows to make it out alive.
'It came from the deep,' they said, shaking their heads at the memory. Most didn't not wish to keep it.
Others simply wept, for the drowned child they had seen. A gremlin boy who had taken their own children without hesitation; skin so grey and lifeless, eyes the color of mud.
His hair hung in black clumps.
Rising, dead in the water.
We met a Shaman at the southernmost end of a deserted landscape. An arid, parched, and desperate land, it was; starved with a foreboding quietness under the blistering sun. We had been riding west for long, among specters and shells and soulless wanderers; along scorched, cracked paths and dusty shops, abandoned.
It seemed, for a while, that our heading had lost meaning; that we’d strayed beyond anything of any lasting consequence. We’d near forgotten why we left our home. And then we strayed south, away and far from the center of this region.
There was a storm in the mountains, far north. It clouded the horizon ahead and the thunder thundered out far enough to resonate over the galloping.
Tysun signaled me to stop for water with his gloved hand. We had been riding so long that the horses had begun to heave and sort of weep, you know. We stopped off at a nearby trench and drank, looked on to our landing as we quenched.
The rest of the ride was trying. We had come to a point, in stride, at which the pony knew more than I did about where we were headed. Damned near kicked I off once we landed. Good horse, that one. Strong lady, she was. Just grand, really.
We arrived at his home and he greeted us with a drink he didn’t explain. We drank it. It was like a strong tea that tasted of hot cinnamon. It helped us to stay awake.
His hair was white-gray and long and his form was lean and lithe. Skulls and medallions of all faiths adorned his frame. Some were familiar but some were strange and an unearthly long black feather hung from off his unruly mane. He didn’t tell us a name but he stared at us long when we entered the front room of his domain. After a while, he smiled warmly.
We followed him through a house that was unkempt but more like a studio. He left us awhile in the kitchen with a steaming kettle that had emanated a hypnotic steam while he went to a basement area to gather our things.
I was going to ask him if all of the tall paintings were his but then I figured that they must had be, this far out near the foot of the mountain range. They were, in style and form, all quite the same.
Spent, we stood at herb, fire, and song for many a day. The number had become obscure. We had needed supplies and rest.
He wore an image of a man with a hat and coat on his chest in many colors of ink, so as to challenge the array of his garden out back. His skin was a pure and oily light brown, lean and sweating in the sun so as to magnify the visage.
The man gazed at the world with a pipe on a bench, among alleged other members of his tribe that were vague, in what looked as a clear meadow of poppies of an immeasurable range of colors. He claimed it had spoken of the virtue of pondering, measuring, communing, and receiving at every level. And such had been his trade.
We paid for our things and returned to the path that led us back to our land.
The wind had been still enough in those days that our trek was still stamped out in the sand.
The Other Body
catching sight of you
while I dressed
this might have been a moment
when I’d have said,
“you’ve seen better days”
each glimpse of you
sparking the same
sometimes spoken aloud.
another cement block in this
barrier between us
until we are strangers
connected only by this wall
made of cold concrete
and nothing more
but I cannot live
without arms to hold me
and legs to carry me
this heated spirit
this holy heart
I cannot live without you
I know this now
that we’ve reached midlife together
when our days end
we will be married even then
bone to dust
disappearing into the earth
naked as we began
The wretched space emerged from soulless nights and a wincing truth that coldly crept inside. Scattered emotions lacking veracity refusing to merge into one solid fragment of absolute understanding.
Loveless kisses twinkling like festive decoration, fleeting displays of temporary, seasonal magic, interpreted by the observer as beautiful, yet soon to be returned to their unlit cardboard box.
Nonsensical elongated disconnection, a destiny drained of graceful desire. Withered sadness dispersed upon a perceived, integral, structural necessity. Eroding.
Vessels navigating through darkness unexpectedly guided by the glow of a lighthouse. Unseen rocks illuminated, shattering boundaries of familiarity. The light enchanting charters of life... for the living.