Summer’s Wonder

In simple minutes I was drawn to you,

a walk, a stroll – complimentary blue.

If told to find the cloud in this sweet sky,

One might imagine naysayers do cry.

Soak in an energy drives home our soul

Believe in the elegance in a summer whole.

I do dance in the steaming heat of victory,

to know that Grace offers my humanity.

Oh to wonder the how and why of a universal

atmosphere we could stand to embrace all

A Farewell Plea

If the world turn suddenly brilliant with fire,

what would be the response, a natural desire.

if in armageddon we are selectively defined,

what matters the moments where we wined.

 

While we imagine buildings collapse, lives lost

in this magical spectacle of an embryonic frost,

is the notions of survival even an able cause

when with certainty our lives bely natural laws.

 

There is the element of human nature in us all,

we strive to be real, to connect, to stand tall,

in the midst of turmoil, sadness, a chronic display

of gratitude only arrives when it is judgment day.

 

If that be true, perhaps every moment is a lease,

Oh to recognize the greater value of global peace.

Why “13 Reasons Why” Is Important

13

In the fine arts we are encouraged to go big with our ideas, to allow emphasis on the issue, the illusion, the piece of art being presented on the stage. The purpose is designed to get the point across to the audience, or keep them engaged. The true compliment to an artwork, no matter the venue, is that people continue the discussion beyond the actual event.

Watching 13 Reasons Why, a controversial Netflix series really blew my mind. I felt like I was back in my high school again, experiencing the turmoil that a teenager goes through trying to adjust, fit in, survive the utter chaos of peer rejection and acceptance, all in the same day, every day.

About half way through the series, episode 6, or tape 3 I was riveted to every moment. Watching Clay struggle with the reality of losing his friend was compelling. I watched the behavior of his circle of people, I won’t call them friends, because so often in this period of a teenager’s life it is difficult to define who a true friend is. 13 did an excellent job exploring that aspect of high school.

I felt like I was the student in the room, experiencing the pain that comes with pressure and bullying. While the world goes on around a teenager, their internal struggle is never really revealed, and 13 explored that well enough to suggest this is real behavior. I thought all the characters fit the proper stereotypes.

The parents of each character as they unfolded in the show seemed normal. What I mean is they depicted the dysfunction of raising a family, holding a job, keeping up with or losing touch with their responsibility. I think the relationship that tore me up the most was Justin and his mom, I felt his pain as he leaned against the wall and she closed the door on their communication.

The administrators of the school seemed effectively overwhelmed by their task. There was the initial counselor who basically didn’t get tenure and then the new guy came in and gradually established their grounding as a central figure. In the end, it was clear things were beyond his control. Imagine the guilt we feel as teachers when we realize we missed something, that if we had just … we can settle behind the reality that our role in the classroom is to deliver our curriculum. Clearly that was demonstrated in 13 Reasons Why, but at the same time, we could recognize the vulnerability that children experienced around adults that were not involved. Or, if they were, they didn’t have a clue.

As I suggested in the beginning, in order to keep an audience, a piece has to have big moments. In television plot lines are imperative, and this is where I began to lose my direct connection to the characters in 13. Everything that could possibly happen, did, all impacting this small group of peers. Why such a micro-managed focus on the energy of a typical high school? Because the ability to attach pain and suffering to familiar characters helps get the point across to the audience.

If we accepted our buy in to the characters then everything they went through was plausible. Much like the movie Crash years ago where a diverse populace all experienced tragedies and successes within a literal block of L.A., though perhaps not possible, the experience the characters endured was certainly believable in the right context.

In 13, the key to this story is they deal with every aspect of being a teenager – confusion with sexual identity, clear cognizance of sexual preference and the societal scrutiny, the lifestyle of a jock, of a nerd, a geek, an outlier, a weirdo, In every aspect of student or teenager, the experiences seemed real and tragic.

What is an important takeaway is to recognize the behaviors demonstrated throughout this series were pretty spot on for the most part. The story line of the tapes could actually happen, though the possibility of getting through a dozen involved students probably not likely. But, they all maintained their characters with a haunting consistency.

Finally, let’s not forget this is about suicide, and the helplessness that everyone feels with a loss they believe they are responsible for. Even though in the real world we always blame the person who takes their own life. The movie itself defined the act as weak. I found it interesting that the young woman who revealed her cuttings on her arms, suggested she was doing it right, that suicide is a cop out. I’ve worked with cutters in my hospital work, and there was always a distinction between real and attention seeking, vertical and horizontal cuts as so eerily demonstrated in the series.

13 might be perceived as a segment of peers in a typical high school all being responsible for Hannah’s death, but if that is a takeaway, it is possibly wrong. It really is the remarkable telling of a young person’s struggle to define themselves while walking through life in a world of hurt, and having the fortune to play out the process with direct and frightening evidence, ironically replayed in cassettes with haunting truth.

I believe this series, beyond the embellishment and soap opera moments, is vitally important, certainly not for the eyes of children under 12 – not yet, even though we think they’re ready. It is a wonderfully tragic piece to create healthy dialogue, whether the characters are realistic or not. I was moved.

Outside My Head

Dance in pummel of sordid thought,
a barricade decries our pleasantry
instead wreaks havoc selectively.

Oh furrow inside a mindless dream,
play the fool to hide the scream,
a brain has energy of certain matter.

We shadow our true identity
in search of some promised land,
yet, seek it alone, for is travesty.

Only strength of character survive
a constant of scrutiny sewn society
that places a marker on well being.

In the glorious sunshine of summer’s way
my spirit parlay the human condition today

In High School We Believed

Everything

mattered, occurred, became known,

whether we wanted notoriety

or a simple life as a student.

 

Remember walking the halls,

feeling the eyes,

wondering about thinking

that could expose your own state of mind.

 

I remember they told me otherwise,

so I trusted their ideal,

and when the walls caved in

they were nowhere to be found.

 

I remember the rumors,

she was so beautiful,

carried such a wonderful spirit,

no one would understand the hate in mirrors.

 

In high school, we lived many different lives,

some would last a week,

others perhaps a couple of days,

it only mattered if we could find definition.

 

When the word arrived in our mind,

how could we possibly imagine

telling anyone, especially those eyes we were

already afraid of, deathly afraid of knowing.

 

While the world seemed different outside,

internal walls protected our sanity

only when we accepted ourselves in earnest,

if not, we relied upon a mask.

 

Though the transparency, when noticed,

became the final reckoning, we did understand.

always just a little late …

A Prayer For Meaning

eagle

StarTribune photograph

 

Today the battle won for the many,

those lives that fill our hearts with meaning,

the memories of laughter, filled the room,

when so many others were left alone.

 

Today, we do recall our brothers and sisters,

whose names we all know always forever,

the lives of strong, courageous beings,

went before our own to save such freedoms.

 

Today, in our ‘day off’ we must remember,

the many heartfelt thanks to all the members,

our lives are allowed to stand in sunshine,

only because their day off would be eternal.

 

So when we fire up the grill, pop the beverage,

when the favorite t-shirts and celebrations,

take over our country, light up the skies,

know the freedom they fought be not forgotten.

 

Be the infinite matter that defines our lives,

for their strength embolden our false security.

The Dismantling of Society

We have issues, considerable in their enormity.

Fight for our rights, we wish to flee beyond

social constraints, societal mores in ignorance.

 

If I don’t like you I will take you apart with zeal,

but you’ll never see my eyes, never know my face,

I’ll bury you behind the calm glow of my monitor.

 

When we turn on the news we see a familiar tone,

the world is filled with a certain silent hatred.

a seething menace of indecision and indifference.

 

We know how to scare one another with simple words,

the only evidence is the permanence of a passage,

speaks to the ills in order to hurt any select reader.

 

In the process of deciding who to hurt we are the menace,

there’s no need to care about compassion anymore,

so passe when clearly all we want is the ego to survive.