To Know The Right Way

Oh, to go beyond the grasp,

the tangles that keep reminders alive,

there is the mystery of the mind,

what to turn off, what to feed, what to settle in,

so that moving forward seems a reliable

resolve to the repudiating repulsion of time.

 

Yes, without speaking in tangible terms,

leave it to the eyes to interpret,

disclose, determine in words,

what shall be thought to reserve judgment.

 

When standing on the street,

look into a man’s eyes,

is he relaxed, skeptical, terrible

in this seeming expression on a hot summer day.

 

While sitting in a local cafe,

she buried her face in paperwork,

a bomb goes off nearby and she doesn’t twitch,

for in our world we don’t feel explosions,

we only create war inside our brain,

that is the place we store the fuse, the powder keg,

the nuclear option to saving grace.

 

Oh, the notions of moving forward,

to know the right words,

to recognize complete action,

beyond simple presumptuous fiction.

How can a world determine,

peace,

when locked into the tenets of this

seemingly societal scrutiny,

makes allowances,

to suggest the human condition,

is flawed.

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

Summer Daze Alone

A familiar air,

cloudless sky,

Listen to the sounds of a backyard,

tree trimmers, grass cutters, BBQ-ing neighbors,

listen to the children with innocent screams nearby.

 

He would understand,

their natural allegiance to the land

around them being an open playground,

his own did the same,

decades earlier,

on similar days,

a cloudless sky,

the sounds of summer daze.

 

Yet there is a familiar air,

perhaps we call it the resistance,

we felt it when twelve years old looking out the picture window,

a light rain, yet friends gathering,

and him,

staying inside,

pretending to not exist,

though experiencing all of the psychological trauma,

that associates our lives with the living.

 

He would find himself in that place again,

today,

while the world outside embraced the summer skies,

his mind in a fog,

wondering about time, wondering where,

curious just why he falls into this mental cavern of

indecision,

it is the time he remembers as a boy,

wondering in the moment,

not knowing beyond the day,

yet now, in the quiet midnight,

the same question remains.

 

 

A Silent Decision

Sat in a room tonight, listened to the wonder,

of the world we live in today.

Hard topics, sad outcomes, hopeful realities,

the horrific turmoil in the lives of young women and boys.

 

Earlier this afternoon, I took a student apart,

confronting their need to focus on their academics,

made sure the rest of the classroom knew I was serious,

held out until the very last minute,

felt justified until minutes later,

I realized she suffered from social anxiety & depression.

Who’s the tough guy now?

 

See though these are two seemingly different stories,

they’re really the same,

each one a product of the other,

the initial motives for throwing a young person’s life away,

and the later the end result,

decides just why should we try anymore.

 

Any more and we’ll fall apart and cry,

yet so often we are told not to respond that way,

too many times, we forget the others,

end up in the trapping of silent decision.

When Society Chooses Self

We do pronounce our selves in an elitist light,

Always to suggest ours is the more important route,

Forever drawn by goals to merit personal might

We seem destined to burn, a wrath soon flames out.

 

When lives become the natural course of a purpose,

Seems suddenly we chart a distance toward a freeing

Way of life, that sort that blends in melody – sweet verse.

We touch the sky with certain aptitude while believing.

 

Always a current turmoil seems certainly human design

When to measure reasoning, we cannot forget the blind

Ideal that gives primary focal point its inherent sign,

Suggests our lives are only a temporary quest we remind.

 

Oh to undermine the truer sense of what concludes a life

Is to know no end to the current belief in a selfish strife.

Deep Scars

Always when truth allows,

there is a certain peace,

while in the throes, not readily,

long afterward.

The idea of healing,

perhaps a salve, a wrapping,

the comforting

of a bruised ego,

shall never share the same leverage,

as the damaging nature of

victimizing the human condition,

for personal gain,

personal growth,

personally I’d rather have been

ordained.