The Creature (2015)

The creature born with scaly skin and large eyes said, “I must be a lizard,” and spent her days as lizards do.

All her greens and browns gave her comfort that she belonged.

But alone she would lose her colors, she would start to disappear whenever no one was near, and she began to think she was no lizard after all.

She wandered in search of the place where she really belonged.

She came upon a flock of flamingos who said, “Just look at your pretty pink feathers, new friend!” and she marveled with joy that all this time she’d been a flamingo underneath.

All her oranges and pinks gave her comfort that she belonged.

But alone she would lose her feathers, she would start to disappear whenever no one was near, and she began to think she was no flamingo after all.

She wandered in search of the place where she really belonged.

She came upon a herd of zebra who said, “Just look at your wide, crazy stripes, new friend!” and she marveled with joy that all this time she’d been a zebra underneath.

All her blacks and her whites gave her comfort that she belonged.

But alone she would lose her stripes, she would start to disappear whenever no one was near, and she began to think she was no zebra after all.

She wandered in search of the place where she really belonged.

She came upon a swarm of butterflies who said, “Just look at your gorgeous soft wings, new friend!” and she marveled with joy that all this time she’d been a butterfly underneath.

All her blues and her yellows gave her comfort that she belonged.

But alone she would lose her wings, she would start to disappear whenever no one was near, and she began to think she was no butterfly after all.

And she trembled and whispered to her butterfly friends, “I’m not sure what I am anymore.”

The butterflies cried, “Well of course you’re one of us! But if you’re really not sure, ask the Owl.”

She flew to the top of the tallest tree to the hole where the great Owl lived. “Excuse me? I’ve heard you can help me find out who I am.”

The great Owl replied, “You’re an owl, of course! Just look at your tufts of grey fuzz, new friend!”

But the creature grew hot and exclaimed, “But I’m NOT an owl! I came here to ask for your help because I don’t know what I could be.”

“What you could be? Don’t you know all the things you were?” asked the Owl incredulously. “For in order to know what kind of thing you are, you must remember the things you’ve been.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand,” said the creature. “I’ve been many things. I’ve been a lizard, a flamingo, a zebra, a butterfly, and now an owl, but I don’t know which one was me.”

“Then my dear, perhaps you’re a chameleon. That’s not such a bad thing to be. Chameleons can blend in wherever they choose, and be whoever they wish.”

“A chameleon?” asked the creature, excited. “But are there others just like me?”

And the Owl replied, “No one’s just like you. But there are other chameleons- you’ve met a few.” He whistled through the trees and they came into view- two lizards, a flamingo, a zebra, and three butterflies. “We’re all chameleons, too!”

“Sometimes,” said the Owl, “you get to choose what you’ll be, but deep down you’ll always be you.”

And the creature was happy because then she knew- the best thing she could be was herself, no matter what she looked like.

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A Message from a Furious Teacher

This country is out of its damn mind if the only solution we can come up with to gun violence in schools is “arm the teachers.”

I became a teacher for a reason: to educate. To nurture. To inspire. To take care of your kids, and yes, jump in front of a bullet if I have to. But I shouldn’t have to.

I did not choose to become a cop or a soldier or a security guard. I am not a fighter. I am not a killer. I don’t want that on my hands.

You cling to your right to own guns but you have NO RIGHT to require me to take up arms that I don’t believe in.

I already have given up any chance at wealth to teach your kids. I have given up my free time and half my sanity. I come home exhausted every day, sometimes sobbing over somebody’s kid being abused or neglected or trapped in poverty or bullied because even though I know I’m doing the best I can, I can’t protect your kid from everything.

But now you want me to wield a gun? You want me to put aside my personal beliefs and have that responsibility forced on me too?

You want to ask that of me so I can keep YOUR kids safe?

I’m not the one failing your kids. YOU ARE. If you believe more guns are the solution to school shootings, go buy a gun and keep your kids home. Teach them your damn self. YOU be the one ready to stand in front of a bullet and stop demanding other people do it.

Many teachers already HAVE done it. Teachers lay dead right now from defending your kids. Has that stopped anything? If I kill an active shooter, does that do anything to prevent the next one? You think school shooters will be dissuaded by the chance that they will be killed? They’re suicidal. THEY DON’T CARE.

So don’t expect me to lay down my life for your kids when all you’re gonna say when I’m dead is “she should’ve had a gun.”

No, YOU should’ve done more to make sure YOUR kids weren’t at risk and asked yourself why OUR government doesn’t give a shit enough to do anything, and is content to let TEACHERS continue taking the bullets.

Day 10 – Matt’s Favorite Things

**Today’s poem was written with the assistance of my incredibly mature boyfriend, Matt**

Forcefully
Aerating
Ripe
Tendrils
In the
Neighbor’s
Garden

Big
Orbs
Of
Beautiful
Skin

Pulsing
Lights
And
Yelling
Slurs
To
Assasinate
The
Impending
Online
Nemesis

Day 3 – Becky with the Bank Account

Becky with the bank account
oversees the salt mines,
revving up production
for another fiscal year.

Never ventured down there
but she’s bought a ‘lotta Morton
and she’s born to make the rules
when there’s money on the line.

Becky’s got a hard job
telling all the families
the government’s against them
so they gotta labor more.

But Becky is their saint
’cause she’s the only honest one
who, while sitting on her fortune,
tells the truth and beats them on.

Who would ever stand up to Becky?
The rats!
The ones who have no hope
of getting out of Becky’s mines.

But Becky with the bank account
plays a hard ball
and if the rats don’t fight
she’ll be Queen of them all.

Gone to Hollywood

I don’t even know how I got here, I really don’t. It’s like suddenly catching a glimpse of a dragon on the street- you either stare at it with your mouth open and then tell your friends all about it later, or you snatch hold of it by the tail and see where that sucker goes. I rode, or rather, drove it all the way to Hollywood. It looked like a silver Corolla with a bearded fella eating honey-roasted peanuts in the passenger seat. Dragons can look like anything, really.

Nobody made me stop writing and nothing happened. I mean that nothing happened WHEN I stopped writing just as much as nothing happened TO make me stop. People will tell you that life gets in the way, but I’ll be honest: you just turn into different people. Multiple people, all the time. I was once a bartender who didn’t write, and I was a librarian who did. I was a hipster who wrote sonnets and a math teacher who didn’t. I drove across eight states and didn’t write down a single word of it. I didn’t want to.

I always thought there would be some great longing- if you were born to write you couldn’t last a day without feeling the urge, like missing an old friend. That’s not true, and anybody who tells you that thinks way too highly of themselves. I mean, Netflix is a thing for real and so is Texas barbecue and two-for-one drink specials and indie wrestling and waterfalls. Sometimes you want to write and sometimes you don’t.

The thing about Hollywood is that almost everyone here is forcing themselves to write, all the time. Everybody’s on the grind- they charge you $300 a class to tell you the more you write the better you’ll get. Everyone here is shouting. And when they meet you they say, “So what do you do?” and you’re supposed to say what you’re TRYING to do- trying to act or write or produce or hold a boom mic or whatever. I guess I could get a lot of clout if I said, “Published Author” like some so-and-so. But I enjoy to just say I’m a teacher and watch their wheels spinning while they try to guess how the hell I ended up here.

I don’t even know how I got here, I really don’t. It beats being where I was, and there are a lot of interesting things going on at all hours, so I’m not unhappy here. People always need help with things and they’ll let you join in with little experience- I’ve been pulling lights for improv shows and recording sets and voting at screeners and editing comedy sketches. You can always tag along on somebody else’s dream, especially if your own dream is to stay in the shadows.

Or perhaps I’ll keep playing chameleon for a while, save myself the $300, and find a bigger dream. Who knows.

 

Apocalypse

At the end of the world, Pink Floyd is playing. They planned it this way, the creatures who pity us and are finally doing us the greatest kindness. It’s a lovely shade of pink, our last sky, and getting deeper into mauve so thick you could scoop it like the berry sundaes we spent our whole lives dreaming about. There are cherry-flowers bursting with fire throughout the heavens, raining the smoke of some last-ditch resistance from those who no doubt believe they have something to lose, and even that is beautiful at this moment. I think they put something in our water.

We are an anthill faced with the knowledge that the Queen is dead, and some of us appear to be really worried about that. I know that screaming through the streets is pointless. A group of us has assembled a huddle of lawn chairs, hammocks, and couches on the grassy hill outside the post office. I am sitting on one of those battery-operated Barbie cars like my sister Amy asked for every Christmas until she was 11 but never got. When she was 12 she was dead. I would’ve liked to give her the one I’ve taken custody of now but I know she would’ve wanted it for more than just a seat from which to watch the government try to blow up the moon.

I’m only assuming that’s what’s happening, of course, because they wiped out the internet and cut out all the news feeds from tv. I’m not sure why they think Full House reruns would be necessarily calming to anybody while the world is ending, but that’s all they left us to watch. I’ll find out later about their unfathomably complex algorithm which calculated the average preferences of every human and animal mind in the world and came up with a pink sky, Full House reruns, a Pink Floyd album, and bananas as the most universally perfect end-of-the-world setting. Freakin’ bananas everywhere, they just appeared in boxes all over.

Sandy doesn’t like bananas, she never has. I think of her now and wonder where the hell she thought she was going after she figured out what was happening, after she spit a panicked, “I can’t spend my last moments with you” in my face and ran off. Later I’ll find out that she tried to call her parents in Nebraska but after discovering the cell reception was gone she settled to ride out the end cuddled up with her ex-boyfriend. Later I’ll find out a lot of things.

Later me and Amy and a few of the people from the post office lawn are going to replant some of the trees that got ripped into the sky when gravity reversed. That part of it wasn’t exactly necessary but it made for an exciting finish. Sandy and her ex-boyfriend will be gone along with the government bomb-cannons, but I don’t know that right now. Right now I just know that I am an ant, and everything around me is beautiful, and I’m going to die along with everything else while Pink Floyd plays in the background.

“And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon…”

Thoughts On Spaghetti

Spaghetti is, in essence, the poor man’s hallelujah. It’s the Helm’s Deep of “Don’t tell me how to feed my family, Gwyneth Paltrow.” Yes it is cultured, don’t let anybody tell you it’s not. When your sweetie makes you some spaghetti for dinner, especially during those times when it’s dear, make sure to share some with the dog. When you’re standing in the grocery store aisle thinking, “God why does a thing of parmesan cheese cost so much more than I have?” remember that there is some fancy word for what you’re about to make for your kids, in your last-ditch strength as a parent before you fall dead asleep exhausted, and some ridiculous aristocrat is ordering whatever it’s called. Who cares if they get the parmesan and plus like truffles or something. Nobody has won anything over on you yet. When you scuffle your way into a train car on the check from Grandma’s birthday card, pick your eyes up and notice the people walking or laying on the sidewalk. And hey, when you’re maybe a big-shot one day and they say, “Congrats, Ferguson, let’s go out and celebrate” you better the hell not wince when AJ says he has to get home to his wife who’s pregnant and craving spaghetti. Don’t you be the one that spoils everything with truffles. Spaghetti is the poor man’s hallelujah and nobody asked you to rise above it.