Bedtime Poems – Wishful Thinking

Sometimes

I swim upriver sometimes,
Just to test the current against me,
Just to see if it’s a trickle
Or a Flood. Sometimes it is just a stream.

I speak my mind sometimes,
Just to see who I can anger, of course.
They pulse and quiver with their rage,
And I just brush them all off.

I cheat a little bit sometimes,
Just to make sure I’ll pass.
I make all the right moves and
When I don’t, I make sure nobody notices.

I cry a lot sometimes,
Just to let my confusions drain out of me.
They rush out and rejoice in the open air;
They swirl around me before silently bidding me goodbye.

I lose my temper sometimes,
Just because I can’t bear the invisible barriers.
I try time and time again to break free from Restraints,
But every time, there is another Obstacle, another Problem, another Betrayal.

I feel alone sometimes,
Just because I think nobody understands.
My soulmate is nowhere to be found, and
I pine for a companion sometimes.

I flirt with boys sometimes,
Just to reassure me of my Self.
I try to attract them with Personality first,
But even with looks added on, I fail every time.

I pick fights sometimes,
Just because it’s frustrating when people don’t see it my way.
I don’t mean for them to escalate, and I don’t mean to Hurt.
Still, sometimes that’s exactly what happens.

I let things spin out of my control sometimes,
Just because it’s easier to blame another for my misgivings.
Just because I’m not sure that I am always right,
Sometimes I pass a decision onto somebody else.

I gaze out at the stars sometimes,
Just because each sparkle is a different possibility.
I gaze out and dream of the perfect life,
When I remember who I am and what I will always be.

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Song of Myself – Whitman Imitation

I am the unspoken heavens,
They who try to understand me know me not,
I am indescribable, unattainable, forever out of reach,
He who tries to capture me is left clinging to spirits.

I can follow the wind, breathe with the wind, flow with the wind,
I can breeze through the streets, caressing and tousling hair as I swish by,
I am sweet and wanted, untainted and pure,
and prefer sugar to spice.

I am a child of the summer, and the hot calming breeze washing over
the beachy sands turns eyes in my direction,
You’ll watch me, you must see, although you may not believe it.
For who would believe  that I am a child of the wind
And would rather fly than swim?

I am waiting by the dock for you now, waiting
for you to come in with your fish.
Was the catch big? Or were you unable to tame the beasts
of the sea? I am waiting, patiently, for you to come to me.

I am in the city, over the country, in the small almost-frozen lakes
of the early winter season. I brush by leaves,
painting a picture of my beauty, impressing my soul into all that I have touched.
I gust into your mind, creep into your thoughts, and effuse your senses with my being.


Observation/Reflection: Walt Whitman’s prosaic style of poetry astounds me – how is it that he is able to narrate a story in such lyrical form? I envy his skill (and experience, of course – had I been writing poetry for as long as he had, I may have had a better grasp of his meter and rhyme), and feel that "Song of Myself" is a very masterful piece. There are beautiful lines all over the verses, and it truly is written in a reverential tone. When I tried to imitate this style, I think the hardest part was figuring out how to sound this reverent without sounding as though I was also trying to sound old-fashioned. I kept reading his poetry out loud and then reading mine, and finding huge discrepancies that I simply couldn’t get rid of initially…I hope that by refining it here and there, I’ve been able to properly imitate his style. 

How To Spend A Day In The City

Pick a day. Preferably a Friday or a Saturday.

Once you’ve picked out your day, you’re going to need to make me a promise. Promise me that you’ll read and follow me – it’s for your own good after all. We’re going to start our day by forgetting that we are college students. Homework, study groups, recitations, professors, and midterms no longer exist. We’re now simply ourselves, young adults eager to explore the world and have a bit of fun while we’re at it.

Because of this liberation, you’ll see the world a little differently. We’re not going to Union Square to get to UHall or Palladium, or even to our pesky Beginner Level II Spanish class. Why is only that level of Spanish on 13th Street anyway? Today, our trek to Union Square, made interesting because we’ve opened our eyes to the random homeless people we encounter, including that one crazy person who was singing ahead of us for about a block. Now be ready with your MetroCard, because our destination is the Uptown 4-5-6 line. Grab the first train that comes and hop in. Our first stop is 86th Street.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once we get there, I’m going to give you some freedom, but remember, take pictures. Take a lot of pictures; you’ll cherish the memories later. Once you’ve explored your favorite exhibit, (Or done as I did – close my eyes and select a random wing. Explore said wing thoroughly) it’s time to head out – time for lunch perhaps? Pick a location you would otherwise never catch yourself in. And again, take pictures. Perhaps later, you might fancy turning it into a scrapbook?

Have we finished eating now? I ate at a small little European bistro café – something I’ve wanted to do for a while. What did you eat? Now that we’ve eaten, we’re going to head over to our next destination. Making our way slowly back downtown is the goal, but our next stop is Central Park. At Central Park, I’ve prepared a checklist – a scavenger hunt of sorts.

1. Find a talented musician and give him change; I know you have some left from lunch
2. Take a carriage ride. If you don’t want to pay, you can shadow a carriage and take pictures. Observe nature at its most innocent.
3. Find a body of water with nobody around it but you. Relax.
4. Sunbathe. Or look up at the clouds. Mull over your thoughts.
5. Find a quiet place – sing as loudly as you want. Take a picture of the sight.

Did you have as much fun today as I did? I’m sure by the time you complete this checklist, it’ll be quite late – almost time for dinner? I do hope you were smart and walked downtown rather than uptown all this time. The last part of our adventure is approaching, because it is now time to find a subway station we can take back to the NYU dorms. We’ll slowly adjust ourselves back into a dreary reality devoid of the spontaneity of stress-free freedom. I’m going to trust that you can figure out how to get back home – it is part instinct after all.

Go to a dining hall. It’s softer than heading straight back to your unkempt dorm, where binders, textbooks, and literature lay lined up, awaiting their completion. Our tasks can wait a little longer, so let’s listen to our stomachs first instead.

The sun’s set on both our day and liberty – we must now acknowledge the strings that come with college. As you trudge back to your dorm, don’t be quite so downcast, because underneath all of the tedious homework and tests, you know you can live in anticipation of another vacation. Don’t worry – the next time you can spare a few hours of freedom are what you have to look forward to. Such adventures are the true vacations of college kids. They compose some of the invaluable tidbits of life – a life that must be spent outside of simply studying.

– – –

Observation/Reflection: After a raging illness, one that lasted approximately a week, I was ready to get out of the dorm building. I hadn’t attended class, and the cold, gusty days outside were but a story to me – I’d heard about the days, but hadn’t experienced them. So this weekend, I promised to myself that I was going to recuperate, and do it properly – by having some fun. I took the bus down Madison Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum, and after exploring the entire medieval wing, (which was indeed a random selection) I treated myself to food not from an NYU dining hall. The trip in Central Park was certainly very refreshing, because getting away from the strain of college was imperative. One of the things that I’ve noticed in my semester here is this: students here are often so immersed in their extracurricular activities and classes that they fail to step back, take a deep breath, and say to themselves: “Holy crap, I live in New York City now.” Because it’s when you allow yourself to enjoy your surroundings, free of both stress and guilt, that you realize just how endearing this island is. It has an immeasurable amount of crazy things one can do to relax and get away from college life, and we honestly need to take better advantage of the city. NYC isn’t just here for its nightlife, and clubbing should not be the only means of a retreat. So I treated myself to a genuine day of fun, and then went home later that night and studied, this assignment itself being a part of that productive evening. Nature is a truly invigorating inspiration, and my trip. But back on topic – How to Date a Brown Girl was one of the more blatantly humorous pieces we’ve read. But best of all – it “kept it real” and didn’t try to confuse our senses with flowery, verbose writing. Because of that, one was attached to the narrator, and found the story all the more compelling. This trait is present in very few pieces of writing, and is one that I hope to embody in as much of my future work as I can.

George Saunders – Highlight Reel

I make no distinction between what pleases me and what might please a reader. That is, if I feel the reader will be pleased by a thing, I simply want to do that thing. Period. I don’t care much about anything but being entertaining – with entertainment, I hope, being defined as “ultimately interesting.” Everything matters. Suffering is real. Death is imminent. On the other hand, if he wants to go deeply into himself, subjugate his own pettiness, discover some big truths about life – there’s no way he can lose.

Realism is nonsense, when you think of it. As soon as I start writing, things start to unfold around some central moral vector, and that’s that. If you’re going to have some really crazy things happening, you have a better chance of being believed if you jump off from some believable ground.

We are walking corpses. Murderers walk. The dead don’t really die.

We’re not slaves any more to ideas of “the real” or, for that matter, to ideas of “the experiment” – we’re just trying to make something happen to the reader in his or her deepest places. There’s something about the normal approach that makes me scared and sick. Just put everything together that feels like it came out of the same aesthetic suite of ideas.

That’s the theory, anyway.

All good fiction is moral, in that it is imbued with the world, and powered by our real concerns. It is instructive, it feels that way, but instructive in a deep way, and in a way that does not flow from a writer’s desire to instruct. Rather, it flows from the writer’s confusion. Our approach is preventing us from reaching into the more profound aspects of our experience, especially as we get older and less jaded and the checks start rolling in and the grandkids have grandkids and we see that life is not so angry after all, at least not all the time. Life came brutally knocking at our door, and now we are reconsidering the venture.

Of course you are the most important thing, of course you exist separate from the rest of the world. The Cross Old Man has at last admitted that writing can be taught. You don’t do what we usually do, which is convince with language. So it changes the nature of the challenge.

How much of the brooding cynical nature of our art-fiction is meaningful and how much of it is just limited technical ability and/or sloth? I think there are deep truths about our time that are dark and scary. That, to me, is art’s highest aspiration: to show that nothing is true and everything is true. To work as a kind of ritual humility and ritual celebration, of all that is. So I say, anything that gets us going. There is no Real Life – there is no objective reality. There is just your version of it, and it has to be in your language.

Hence the constant necessity for new voices.

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Observation/Reflection: George Saunders is unique – very creative. A simple reading of his work left me perplexed, but intrigued. “My Flamboyant Grandson” is just strange enough to keep me interested and wondering – it poses just the right amount of questions into its validity. It is, as Saunders himself later tells Ben Marcus, a fantastic story delivered in a believable way. There is no fantastic opera – the story is cast demurely, and so, is swallowed with a tad more ease. His storytelling isn’t cliché, and he isn’t afraid to plunge into dark and scary worlds, portraying them with enough whimsy to bring them out into the light. The world Teddy lives in is severely oppressed – depressing even – and yet, Saunders is so ingenious at displaying the glory of Teddy’s survival and his grandfather’s efforts that the oppression isn’t as dreary and all-encompassing as it otherwise would have been. He writes without unnecessary flaunts of his style, and so, his writing is just naturally ‘likeable.’ I am no exception to this rule, and loved his work immensely.