I have been blessed with not experiencing much death amongst my close family and friends for most of my childhood. It wasn't until about two years ago that death really began to creep into my life. "Lucidity" was written in light of the beginning of my experience with death. While as a Christian I have hope through death, my first taste of it left me very put off. There really is no beauty in death. It is perhaps the one thing in this world that is pitch black, with no good residing in it at all. This is one of my favorite poems that I have written. Part of that is because I like the sound and flow, but I also like the deeper messages. You’ll have to read my footnotes to get more of those, but I essentially bring up questions of the basis for truth and human value on materialism, and the purpose of life if death is not defeated.
My response to "Cynicality is "Acts and Dogs." It's a play on words, obviously. It is also why I entitled the last poem "Cynicality" rather than "Cynicism." It's a play on the phrase "Curiosity killed the cat," and rather becomes "Cynicality killed the act." The argument is essentially that cynicism is not an appropriate viewpoint, though for different reasons than one might think. I never argue that optimism or action will fix the problems the cynic points out. In fact, altruism rarely fixes systemic issues - at least not in the immediate future. But what altruism does is to change an individual’s heart - the individual performing the good act. Were I to embrace cynicism - poverty, racism, and the like may be no worse off than if I embrace optimism and altruism. But I would be worse off as a moral being if I were to throw off those things. Hopefully I desire to do good and please my Heavenly Father, and I trust that he will use my obedience to him and his values to change this broken world and these immovable hearts, beginning with my own.
I remember having a conversation in college that revolved around poverty or some sort of undefeatable social ill. I essentially asked "what's the point of helping when we're never really going to change anything?" I think it's a good question to ask, but I think it's a terrible place to end. How one answers this question is the crossroads between cynicism and realism. I prefer to think of myself as a realist, not a cynic, which is why tomorrow I will explore my response to this poem. I entitled today’s poem "Cynicality." I know that the correct word is "cynicism," but I changed it to "cynicality" for reasons I'll explain tomorrow.
The last seven days focused on the topic of love. Over the next seven days, I want to explore darker matters. "History's Humor" begins this section with a little dark humor. One day in class, after a string of plane crashes in the news, I had a student make an inappropriate joke about one of the events. Another student made the comment "too soon, bro." It really made me wonder why - if human life is so valuable - it would ever be “too soon” to make jokes about someone's death. It seems like such jesting should never be ok. Yet we do it all the time. Here is my cynical approach to death, and the joke that will be played on us all – our forgottenness.
I wrote "Time's March of Madness" a few anniversaries ago. It centers around the concept of time - a concept with which I've always had a fascination. Movies like Donnie Darko and Butterfly Effect have always drawn me in. But for as weird as time might be, our normal experience of time is really a pretty depressing thing. James calls our time on earth a vapor. It is fleeting. We know that our time is limited, and the older we get, the faster it seems to go. In this poem I talk about how frustrating it is that moments never last longer than a moment. You cannot hold onto now, as it quickly becomes the past. But at the same time, I temper this with explaining how frustrating life would be if we were stuck in the now. The passage of time creates a blank canvas that not only wipes away ill, but leaves room for the creation of good. Unfortunately, time will also wipe away the good. But that's why we are left with memories. Time allows us to create a future while memories allow us to savor the past.
I saved "My Music" for April 6 since today is Catalina's birthday. This poem is largely about my birth into romantic love. During early adulthood I had not pursued love much, if at all. It became something I thought might never happen for me. But Catalina changed that. "My Music" is metaphorical in that I speak of how my heart seemed like a desert and Catalina caused new life to spring forth in that barrenness. However, it is also real, in that Catalina loves music, and particularly loves singing. Her outward expression of joy and love through her singing brought happiness and love to me as well. She is my muse and my music.
"Perspective" was my fourth sonnet attempt, and it is one of my favorite sonnets I wrote, partly because I think the thoughts are good, but also largely because of nostalgia. I wrote this while I was in Mexico and Catalina was back in Georgia. There were a lot of unknowns during this time and the distance just made things harder. This is my musing about my desire for us to be together. It is also a musing about time and how teasing our experience of time is in that good times seem fleeting while bad times seem to linger.
I wrote "Thar Be Four" for our fourth anniversary, though I don't think I ever shared this with Catalina. It's kind of a weird one. I thought I'd slip it in here on the fourth day of April to keep with the theme. This poem is similar to "Irish for More," which I shared earlier this year. It is a poem read in an accent - a pirate's accent. There are many pirate allusions and it's meant to be a pretty silly thing filled with imagery and double entendres. But at the heart, it also has a serious point. It's a story that tells of me - a little fish in a big pond - finding Catalina. I obviously don't think this was luck or coincidence, but it is amazing when you think of the scope of things. But when we were four years into our marriage, I thought about what time would do to the treasure of our relationship. This amazing treasure we had - us - was something that time had buried. When something gets buried by time, it loses its luster in the mind, just as one’s memory of a buried treasure’s beauty and location dulls with time as well – at least, that’s what I imagine burying treasure would be like. Never done it, though.
All relationships experience the loss of luster as they grow farther and farther from their inception. I wondered to myself - what would time do to our beautiful relationship? I concluded that our treasure may haves seasons in which it seemed faded, it was safe because it had already weathered time. Four years seemed like it had established our relationship, ha ha. But my true assurance came because I knew where our treasure was buried - in the safest place it could be - in two hearts brought together and sustained by almighty God. The vows on our wedding day that acknowledged our commitment and our God – were more than just simple words we said to each other. They are our treasure map – assuring us that no matter how deep our treasure is buried or how faded it may be in our memory, we can always get back to the heart of the island where it is buried.