Poetry

Treason

We found each other with a smile

that stirred the primal and divine.

Because your insipid—

choice was in me, I’m on cloud nine.

The breath of love is a fog

that shrouds all rhyme and reason.

I know not yet the origin

of this love that committed treason.

I left my mind cowed and betrayed

and kindled my fire within.

My heart is the drum that I beat

To the sound of our love herein.

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Poetry

Surgery

Our suckled wants
lay exposed on metal,
where surgeons’ tools
reveal their bleeding truth
 
Synthetic light
glares upon open breasts
Her ersatz smile,
pierced by love’s incision
 
Through stagnant days
I see you watching and
waiting for my fear
to end this surgery.
 
Your skin I cut through while
I search for proof.
Will I dig deep
enough to find your heart?
 
Spiritual Musings

Transience

Dusk was settling in and the fireflies began illuminating our vista with intermittent rhythm. I grasp tightly to the aged, shriveled hand nestled in mine and project our souls into the surrounding dance of light. Mindless, unconcerned, and only existent in a reverie of love, we dance; my Miriam and I. Hearts colliding and minds twirling, our projected essences mingle into one. Our earthly shackles have fallen away: the world weariness and diminishing life that constitutes old age. I look into my beloved’s eyes and find, in this moment, recognition. Recognition and Love.

The receding light of day is a reminder of life’s transitory nature. Our bodies wither, ambition dulls, and eventually our minds fade, similarly to the waning strength of the sun. Returning to earth and the wooden rocker on my front patio, I glance over at Miriam’s flower bed nestled against an old magnolia. The forget-me-nots have been invaded by weeds and neglected by their normally devout caretaker. They were her children, the product of her love and nurturing. Now they had been forgotten, wilting and choked with crabgrass.

My thoughts linger on death, the unavoidable destination people shy away from. When a loved one exits this reality and begins the great adventure, why do we mourn? Is it love? Attachment? We can reason and say that dying is a process of nature and something we should cherish as a facet of life itself. But why do we feel a heartache and grief that keeps us awake at night? Why do our hands shake with sadness when we lift a pencil to write? My darling Miriam is physically sound. Her bodily strength ebbs just as surely as mine, however the degradation of her memories—her heart— is a painful realization greater than death itself.

Twilight deepens and the fiery insects emerge in abundance. Long shadows adorn the lawn, stretching to the front steps like fingers probing for a thing almost lost. The day was over, and the sun diminished. Knowing it was time to retire for the night, I clamber to my feet. I offer my hand to Miriam, our eyes meeting in the twinkling light of fireflies. In that moment, I realize some part of her has finally passed on. Confusion and bewilderment replace the recognition I searched for earlier. A lone tear trails down my old face as I understand. Even love can die.

Note: Researchers have discovered that emotions outlast memories. Victims of severe Alzheimer’s are still capable of increased happiness when meeting friends or family. If you are loved one of such individuals, please know that you DO have an effect. Your affection WILL make a difference. And most importantly, love CAN transcend impermanence.

Book Reviews, Classic Reviews, Extended Reviews

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

There are times when the tumultuous emotion of a novel hinders an honest opinion. There are even times when the unexpected twists of an author’s imagining leave the reader with a quiet sense of baffled awe. Combined, these factors may result in a truly interesting review. Being only the second novel by Hemingway I have had the chance to read, A Farewell to Arms has left a powerful, albeit mournful impression.

The story of a troubled ambulance driver during World War I, coupled with a thoroughly depressing conclusion, is classic Hemingway. Various themes including the morbid nature of war, the relationship between love and hurt, and the patterns of human nature can be found in this novel and even recurring in much of Hemingway’s literature. The unemotional male protagonist, Henry, is the the product of these themes, a victim of life’s suffering and its many complexities.

There are aspects of A Farewell to Arms that require a slow mental digestion to appreciate the soul of the novel. Overall, I found the direct and terse prose of the writing a very accommodating feature to Hemingway’s themes. Henry’s mental dialogue quickly gives insight into the persona of the character. He is constantly besotted with various internal conflicts, all of which could lead to a certain self-understanding, but fail to do so as the book draws to a closure. The reader is left unpleasantly perplexed, in an unsatisfying way. This was obviously Hemingway’s intention as an artist; he was a crafting a portion of his spirit into words. The ending of the novel could be likened to the author’s state of mind itself.

One of the most poignant themes or messages of A Farewell to Arms is the terrible price of war. Throughout the plot, readers will notice that Henry is progressively distancing himself from the harsh realities of blood and warfare. With his highly direct method of writing, Hemingway uses powerful imagery in a casual way to provoke understanding within his readers. The pain, brutality, and at times utter chaos of Henry’s situation is seen as a character building (or possibly degrading) force in his life.

A Farewell to Arms was by no means written by someone who fully condemned war, but rather embraced the inevitability of it. Throughout the novel, Hemingway expresses his sentiment that war is merely the product of an already dark and tyrannous world. He accurately portrays the fickle nature of humanity; at times we can be cruel, and at times we can be murderers. However, we are also capable of compassion, integrity, and even nobility, despite society’s frequent attempts to forget or dispel true love. Yes, in a nutshell, A Farewell to Arms can be said to condemn war. However, I believe this sentiment is deeper and much more faceted in the mind of Hemingway.

A second theme prevalent in the novel, and also one of Henry’s chief struggles, is the often correlating relationship between love and hurt. In the beginning of A Farewell to Arms, Henry and Catherine (his newfound lover) find comfort in each other. They find solace from their own mournings and inner demons. This relationship evolves dramatically throughout the course of the book, and soon becomes a driving force in either’s life. Henry becomes torn between this unprecedented love for a woman, and his drive to get back to the front as soon as possible.

Henry understand the importance of his love for Catherine and how meaningful this type of bond can be in times of war. He realizes the emptiness of concepts such as honor and duty in the face of true love. This realization results in a terrific internal struggle. Henry repeatedly must come to terms with the “numb” mentality he adopted during war in order to open his heart for the woman he loves. Henry struggles with openness and sincerity but always manages to make a connection with Catherine.

I believe Hemingway was expressing one of the great morals of life: love in the face of fear, destruction, and tyranny can compel the inner compassion of a person to manifest. There is no force as powerful as love, save possibly fear. Henry is besotted by both, an onslaught of emotional turmoil that rips apart his conviction and decimates his previously held superficial values. The genius of Hemingway is his tendency to be completely realistic. He has the remarkable ability to capture the true essence of human nature.

All in all, A Farewell to Arms is a powerful symbol of the relationship between love and war in a man’s heart. It is an accurate description of the havoc a relationship can wreak on a man’s mentality. This novel is an incredible sentiment to what it means to be human, and the subtle intricacies of the human psyche are portrayed with striking accuracy. Hemingway captured the mutual destruction of both love and war. I could recommend this timeless classic to any reader, just for its invigorating if depressing breath of reality. However, some may dislike the harsh honesty in the authors word’s and cold precision in which he utterly nails human nature. I for one, appreciate this sincerity, this side of the story that only a few of the great classics sometimes expound upon. A Farewell to Arms is truly one of the most powerful pieces of literature when it comes to the effects of war on humanity. Readers should look for the connections and cause & effect relationships in this destructive, yet powerfully insightful novel.

Spiritual Musings

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Relationships are often the focus of emotional speculation and sometimes, unfortunately, derogatory criticism. It it my opinion that this outlook stems from a misunderstanding of the mysterious phenomenon called love and an often one-sided view of relationships in general.

In order to develop the correct understanding of love, one must first dissolve any preconceived notion they might have developed from a worldly source, namely the media and the cultural leaders we call celebrities. Secondly, one must understand the three fundamental components of any true relationship. They are also relevant in the context of friendships.

The most vital component of any relationship is sincerity. One must e completely honest to their partner, but to an even greater extent, themselves. Truth of heart, truth of mind, and truth of character comprise the fundamental pillars of this concept.

Integrity is an often overlooked attribute in the development of relationships. Everyone follows their own moral code; a set of ethical standards. Admittedly, this code can vary drastically depending on the individual, however it is there, all the same. Integrity is the willingness of one to adhere to their own conscience.

The final aspect of an enduring relationship is compassion, an almost indescribable force that seems completely at odds with human nature. Love is founded in the deepest compassion. It is the understanding and caring tenderness that occurs in those completely speechless moments of devotion and spiritual attraction, regardless of superficial factors including personal identity.

You can sum up these components in a simple commandment: Be true. You deserve your honesty as much as anyone else, whether applied to friendships, or a deeper relationship. Cultivating your inner characteristics results in a more powerful outward experience. Too many times have I witnessed individuals falling away from each other because of superficial discrepancies, which are only existent as an effect of inner turbulence and misunderstanding. I have come to the realization that ignorance of the true nature of love often predates the collapse of relationships. My message to anyone, whatever form of relationship you may in, is to find a cure for your ignorance. Take those necessary steps to understand. And most importantly, Be true.

Random Musings, Spiritual Musings

Heroic Humanity

Looking at humanity from a detached point of view can be enlightening, yet quite frankly, confusing. At first glance, we seem to be a selfish and fairly materialistic folk. Consider our vain treatment of appearance and the standards of society we deem so important to adhere to. How about our ineptitude in liking someone for who they are, rather than how they compare to us? Some would consider this human nature, with anything greater being a true anomaly. While I am still a dreamer, one who hopes and believes in a better future, it can be difficult to ignore the grim aspects of humanity.

Despite our seemingly inherent egotistical tendencies, there is a deeper character in most humans. This character finds expression in the facets of life that often go unmentioned or undiscussed. This is heroism, an utterly selfless act of compassion that defies our normal self-preservationist mind frame. It is completely voluntary, often involving a particular risk, and is carried out without need for material gain or recompense. Being a hero is more than doing your duty, or following through with something you have been charged to do. Being a hero is about acting without hesitation or fear for your own safety.

The very basis of heroic humanity is founded in altruism. This principle can become a belief or practice, one of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Coupled with courage and decisiveness, heroism becomes a true possibility. My goal in life is to be a hero, both in the official and unofficial senses. My goal is to inspire, love, and protect those I care about, as well as to do something truly remarkable for a complete stranger on a daily basis.

Humans are capable of suffering, both enduring and inflicting. We are capable of truly horrendous wars, murder, genocide, and hurt. We are unforgiving when it comes to defending belief and tradition. Despite our total lack of appreciation for our shared humanity, we are always in some form of conflict, either internal or external.

Yet, we are also capable of so much more. We can coexist if we find common ground. We can discover what it means to be a hero, and live our lives in betterment of our brothers and sisters around us. It stands evident that there is something within our hearts, something nameless and profound, that has the potential of uniting us in a brotherhood of humanity. This phenomenon is called love; the very clay of creation. From the words of John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

Be a hero.

Random Musings, Spiritual Musings

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?