Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 15

In the floor lay its substance; in the walls, its tint. Its highlight blossomed in the map on the eighth floor, where the Barkley Regional airport spread near home. The color I’d felt trapped by led me home.

In the basement, its hue grew like a fungus, lichen fuzzing over the walls and floor. I saw it creep along the doors, dirt and the grime of sweaty hands mixing the browns into the gray.

Dirt. Sweat. Grime. The words evoke a sense of disgust, but they’re the product of hard work, of building, of discovering. Is that why the color led me home?

Home, to my father in his shop, black oil staining his jeans and the shine of sweat on his brow.

Home, to my grandmother’s garden and snapping green beans in the living room, tossing the pieces into the old brown bucket. The bucket, not a bucket. It was the only one I’d seen used in that big house with the white pillars.

Taupe isn’t home. But parts of it could be.

Context for this involves the use of the color taupe in Assignment 1. While walking around looking for other instances of the color, I couldn’t find an exact replica, but I found a great many instances of the colors you might mix to result in taupe. The most surprising color I found was on the 8th floor of Patterson Office Tower, in the Geography department; they have a large map of Kentucky on the wall across from the elevator, so of course, I looked for my own little section of Kentucky. I saw the airport I’ve driven past a dozen times, represented in a faded yellow-brown. The fact that I discovered this piece of home on my journey to find taupe—represented, in my Assignment 1, by its utter lack of homeliness or comfort—struck me, and so that’s where this little writing assignment tended.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 403: Post 14

Love Poem:

The taps are a heartbeat
clicking lightly, robins’ wings
beating, thrumming the air
Warmth, full-bodied,
suffusing the air
Touch and sound
flowing into the flesh
softly, tenderly gripping
The heartbeat
Surreal is the room,
lights aflame,
awash in color
Tapping, tapping
Beating in the blood
The pace is
The heartbeat
Love in the sound
arrayed in
the taps

Hate Poem:

Tap, tap, tap
Pain in the beating wings
A death in each sound
Pounding, slamming the temples
Eyes and eardrums throbbing
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Sudden and succinct,
the play of the macabre
smiling in its boney mask
Heat in the limbs
growing to fire
The pace exceeds
the heartbeat,
Tap tap tap
Rushing is the red life
Hard in the soul,
the mind closed off
to erase the noise
The light is burning
The wood beneath is stone
The sound is escaping
in the heat, it beats, it dies

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 13

Titles of Future Poems I Will Write

  1. It Watches
  2. In the Dark
  3. Silently, Silently
  4. Lights Upon the World
  5. In Their Eyes
  6. The Judgment
  7. Fraying
  8. Sinking
  9. How to Hold On
  10. In Undeath’s Grip

Description of Happy Place

Wind whistling, Needles rustling
Fearing the Fall, Exhilarating
in the height
The air is cool
It smells fresh
Pine and sap
Sticky, stains my legs
Sun shining, birds chirping
All is silence in the noise
Contemplation in the movement
Exulting, but quiet
Peaceful and serene
The World Waits
If the sun shines upon
my skin, the wind kisses it
coolly; my hands grip the branches
I am nearer the sky
My mind is light,
burdens lifted
Green is the place where I dream

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 12

“Show, Don’t Tell”


Her face scrunched into a carricature of itself at the sight, the prodigious blisters welling up under the raw skin. She poked at one with her thumb, and it squished slightly inward, igniting a sudden, red pain that shot through the ball of her foot. She looked away, propping the foot up, not wishing to agitate the angry mass any further.


It was a slow decision, made methodical by the prolonged stare. The prize had been climed, but not by me. Not by its rightful claimant. I stood with precision and edged my way forward, my eyes scanning the hands holding the Jenga blocks. “Hi,” I said, shoving down any hint of desire. “Can I play with those too?”


“What.” The word was too flat to be a question. It hung in the air.

“I know,” came the reply.

“I don’t,” I said. “I really don’t. This is . . . ” I took a heavy breath, mentally preparing myself for the words I had to speak. “How in sweet hell is the government so stupid that IT SHUT ITSELF DOWN?”


Her golden eyes hold mine steadily for a second before shutting peacefully in a cat’s contented smile. She rests her head on my knee, tiny beneath her mass of fluff, and minutes pass. Then hours. My knee is screaming in pain at being bent for so long, but in her diminutive snores, she’s just begun to whistle ever so softly through her nose. To wake her would be criminal. It would be sacrilege. My knee can wait.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 11

I remember . . .

“I remember. I dismember.” The lines echo heavily  as the song crescendos. I am hearing it for the first time of many to come; my sister and I have never before seen this opera—a rock opera, the first I’d ever heard of.

We were watching it with her then-boyfriend, sitting on a mattress on the floor, looking up at the small TV screen. I was captivated by the complexities of the characters, though the singer of that line—Nathan—was never one I focused on until years later, when I was at the Governor’s Scholars Program at Centre Campus. My roommate commented on how Nathan’s actor was so impressive, how his voice was so impassioned. I later went back and rewatched the opera piecemeal and out of order, intending to only listen to one song but getting roped into another, and another after that. It was gorey and dark and beautiful.

But the song that stuck with me most, that first night, was “Chromaggia.” Haunting in hues of darkened blue, paled by the gentle snowfall upon the stage, the character Blind Mag stood awash in the light, somehow affirmed even in its brilliance. Her words (Italian, though I didn’t know it at the time) drifted softly up, as did her hands, as did her gaze. Her voice lilted gently, yet powerfully; her eyes were lit from without and within. At that time, I had but one song saved to my computer. After “Chromaggia,” I had two.

I would come back to the opera again as I had that second time, listening to each song as it appeared in the “Recommended Videos” section, rather than in chronological order. Belle would be there, and she would hear the songs, and she would find them fascinating as well, and we would listen to certain songs over again, savoring them. After a few more run-throughs, she would comment that I listened to Nathan’s songs most often. I hadn’t realized, but I knew she was right. The character who had slipped by my eyes on first viewing, my mind valuing but never truly delving into him, sang the song that was stuck in my head for two days. It was bloody, gritty, passionate in a way that frightened: “I remember. I dismember.

My original intention was to include both songs mentioned herein at the bottom of this post, but I feel that they can only be truly appreciated within the context of the opera at large. So, instead, I end with a charge:

If you are not bothered by gore and dark themes, seek ye out REPO! The Genetic Opera. It may not be everyone’s style, but I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 10

For the final post in this set of ten, I’m going to try the “writing without reason” thing again, this time really without a reason. No picking up something else I wrote with a prompt; just straight-up going for it.

And no, brain, we’re not asking a friend what to write. That’s a prompt, dummy. We have plenty of ideas; just pick one and put it down.

Hoo boy. Here we go.

Sometimes, it really is ridiculous what lengths people will go to, to preserve an image. They’ll posture and pout, and lie and shout, and it’s all generally ineffectual if they lack the proper means. Rationality flies out the window then, and it’s all pleading and begging, and begging and pleading. How base. I’d call it droll if that didn’t make me sound like an uptight windbag, though I suppose that by using it I already risk the image. Ah well. What was that skeevy little man saying again?

“…so if you, in your vast eminence, would be so magnanimous as to humble us with the gift of your patronage in regard to the matter of—”

“Spit it out,” I growl. The old fool blanches.

“O-of sponsoring the construction of our university?” he finishes.

I sigh and make a sweeping gesture with my left hand. “Do you see what I see, academ?”

He fumbles to correct me. “In truth, your eminence, I am but a—”

“I see a great palace of bone and obsidian, a wonder of the age,” I continue. “I see a throne crafted of the fangs of dragons, stained red by the blood in which it was held for twenty turns. I see a vast and impressive display of wealth, unmatched by any kingdom since the dusk of the Matriarch’s reign. And sitting in the middle of all of it, right here, is Me.” I cast my yellow eye toward the groveling supplicant. “Do you know why I sit here?”

The milksop hesitates, then appears to decide that not answering would be a crime far worse than answering incorrectly. “No, your eminence.”

“I sit here because I saw myself a pauper, and I disliked the taste the image left in my mouth. I sit here because I imagined a castle of bone and obsidian, with a red throne of dragon fangs, and decided it should be mine. I sit here because I imagined myself an emperor, heir to the Matriarch’s legacy, and conquerer of the realms of humanity. Image, academ, is everything—but only for so long as one can maintain it.” With this, I stand, my height accented by the dais. My robes billow regally, and not entirely by coincidence, as I take one step. Then another. Down from the dais, to within spitting range of the pitiful academic, now visibily shaking beneath the weight of my stare.

“You will have your university, sir,” I speak, “and your debt to me will be paid when you boast the finest institute in the kingdoms; when the furthest reaches of humanity request works from your libraries; and when your academs are envied by all centers of learning, as the berry highest on the vine is desired by even the most decadent of ground-dwelling creatures.” I lean in closely, speak softly, and enunciate each word as if commanding a child. “Now. Get. Out.”

Yeaaaah, I’m not too keen on finding out what this says about me as a person. But hey, I wrote it! That’s good enough for now!

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 9

How would you . . . describe yourself as a writer?

– Dr. Steven Alvarez

I am a writer with purpose. When I am writing for a class, writing a backstory for a character in a roleplay, writing an argument about why I hold an opinion, etc., I can put pencil to paper or finger to keyboard and not stop until it’s done. But when I try to write anything creatively simply for my own amusement or out of a desire to create a story, it fizzles out. It seems that I need to be given a reason to write, much as I’d like to write on my own terms.

– Me

The sense of purpose sounds rhetorical. The rhetorical situation might then apply to the way you strategize how to author texts. With a reason to write though, that could possibly lead to writer’s block. Writing without purpose, that might be the thing for you to experiment with.

– Dr. Steven Alvarez

I am using this response as a reason to write, in order to practice writing without a reason. Yes, I know that completely defeats the purpose. It’s all I have to work with at this point.

Already, I’m having difficulty in deciding what to write, so instead of stewing in my brain, I’m going to write out all the ways in which I’m cringing away from this entire idea. I wanted a topic to focus on, and I thought of using the response I wrote for the prompt in class today. I enjoyed it; I’ve been taking a Rhetoric of Noir class, and when I was assigned a photograph of a kid looking through a hole in a burlap sack, my brain began to work in black and white. The setting was the 1930s, and the kid had been kidnapped by gangsters and was slowly picking apart the burlap she was enclosed in so she could make good her escape. I quite liked my idea to have her focus on being patient, emphasizing her sense of control even in this situation where many would assume she lacked it entirely.

But that was today, while I was in class. When I had a purpose. So when I sat down a few minutes ago to recreate the scene, I couldn’t do it. There was no point; despite not having enough time during class to actually finish putting the scene on paper, it was done. So now I’m fraying at the edges (get it? because burlap?), torn between writing it for the sake of writing it, writing it because I’ve done this great big intro for it, or giving up because there’s no point, and no one cares to read it. Of course, in my rational mind, I think at least someone might be interested—but my self esteem remains adamantly in the contrary camp. So I’m stuck.

Fine. I’m going to rewrite the darn thing. I’m giving myself purpose this time, even if it’s just because I already wrote the big intro and it feels cruel to leave it where it is.

[You're not going to write it as good as it was.
You shouldn't have tossed the paper.
There's no point in writing something subpar.]

Shut up. We're doing this.

[Just walk back to Patterson and dig it out of the trash.]

That wouldn't be writing something new. I wrote the last one
when I had a prompt; this one has to be without it,
or else it isn't writing for myself.

[You're a stubborn ox.]

Thanks. And now I'm going to be using these asides
throughout the entire thing——breaking all sense of flow
and immersion——simply for the sake of berating myself, aren't I?

[You got it, buster.]

I am not quick. I am not fidgety. I am not impatient. The strands of burlap come gradually apart, my fingers shifting along the fraying edges as I breathe steadily against the acrid, metallic odors. The man who is not quiet laughs boisterously, and I freeze—but he lays down a card, and I go back to work. The man who is not tall

[You're stealing that from "Welcome to Night Vale."]

I'm not stealing it. He's not The Man Who Is Not Tall;
he's just a man who is not tall.
And I'm phrasing the entire paragraph in that kind of structure,
so it fits. Shove off.

moves his lips around a frown. The rumbling of the machine steals his words. The man who is not quiet turns his head; his words are scowling. “Shaddap. We ain’t gettin’ paid for that business.” He languidly shoves the head of the man who is not tall. “We gettin’ paid to sit an’ play cards. You wan’ a better deal? Shove off.” Another line of burlap unstitched. I am not enlivened; my movements must be small.

[Alright, you've gotten basically as far as you got in class.
You made a few changes, kept some things the same.
Where are you going now, huh? What's your idea?]

Well, it needs conflict, right? Currently, it's just a bit of
tenseness. Tenseness. Is that a word? Regardless,
it needs something bigger to happen,
so that's what I'm going to make.

[When are you gonna stop?]

I'll stop when I'm darned good and ready.
You know, having your comments written out
makes it much easier to be righteously indignant in response,
which is apparently exactly the fuel I need. Go you, brain.

[(Brain fumes silently.)]

Interruption in the work. The machine stops. My fingers hesitate at the edge of the hole I have created. Do I dare pull it apart? Do I risk a stitch popping? I wish to see, to stretch the seams and look back towards the machine, to know what it is and why it grates so loudly in the room. I wish to know who else is here.

“‘Ey, ye get all them tires aired?” a voice asks from behind me, rough like slag and not half as pretty. The words arch around from the side, the surface directly at my back blocking them slightly. If I am against a wall, then there is an archway to my right.

“You think I’d be turning off the air if I hadn’t?…sir,” comes the reply. Then a smack.

“You ‘member yer place, boy.” The word is a curse in his mouth.

Footsteps from behind. The man who is not tall looks up from his cards. “All finished, then,” he says. “Good. Let’s get her out.”

No. No, no, think. They haven’t looked my way. They don’t know about the hole. I am not panicking. I am not impatient. I pull the threads together, cutting off my vision. I roll the sack forward, pinning the hole beneath me. Gently, gently. The voices blur with each other, and the sharp smell of metal stings my nose again as one set of footsteps approaches.

A soft click. The popping of threads. The pocket knife slices through the bag, leaving me staring into coal black eyes, ringed red and set in a face pocked by burns.

“Well, little missy. It’s time for you to meet the boss.”

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 8

In another WRD class, I was given an assignment: “Why I Write.” With WRD 402 being an autobiographical course, it made sense to include it here. Of course, I did encounter a quandary . . .

I don’t write. I’d like to tell you that I do—and I’d have plenty of evidence to prove such a claim—but I cannot truthfully assert that I write. The source that produced my many papers, essays, and speeches was not me; rather, these collections of ink were written by my professors, who told me to put words on paper, and who received words on paper in response. In several cases, the words I placed impressed me; I was astonished by the flow between the words that comprised my thoughts, amazed at the rampant coalitions formed by my letters, astounded by the intertwining of my ideas and their representations. I dare say I am proud of the works I have completed in this vein. But none of these written assemblages were me, writing. I wrote to please my bidders, to make the grade, to demonstrate that I was capable—and I became proficient at doing so—but this came at the cost of my ability to go beyond. I confess I am unable to write more than ten pages without supreme difficulty; I can assert with confidence that I’ve never ventured beyond twenty.

Yet I desire to do so. Visions of novels and theses dance in my head, my brain rattling with subjects I want to explore, opinions I want to share and have criticized, statements I wish to make about life and thought and perception. Furthermore, I want to condense them cleverly, to sneak them into novels where they will be analyzed and interpreted by those who revel in the subtle manipulations of character and concept. I want to comment on society through fictional regimes and champion the causes of the underrepresented and understated. I want to craft arguments that provoke careful thought while imbuing rhetorical fire. I wish to write, and to write well, and to write with passion and depth.

Yet I do not write. The reasons are legion, yet they are all synonymous: I do not write because I worry that what I have to say will be ignored, misconstrued, or misinterpreted. I do not write because I’m concerned that if I do manage it, the result will not contain the intricacies and complexities I wish to compose. I do not write because I fret over my inability to determine where I should go after ten pages have been assembled. You must see the pattern, as surely as I do: I worry, I am concerned, I fret. I do not write because I fear failure, and despite recognizing this, I have found myself immobilized by this fear. My burning urge to get something, anything­ on paper, if only to practice so that I may improve, is laid waste by my incinerating pessimism that it will all come to nothing. Those assignments given by my professors are frail in comparison, doused by their apportioned expectations: I need not influence the minds of a generation to gain the professor’s approval. Yet if I publish a work—the effort of hours longer and harder than any individual assignment—and fail to make a positive impact in the world, the approval I have failed to gain is my own.

And so I do not write, while I produce my papers and essays and speeches. Despite all my dreams of doing so: I do not write.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 7

A few days after my previous WRD 402 post, one of my friends sent me a YouTube link via Skype.

I found this to be exactly what I was looking for; I was already a fan of Mr. Conover’s show, and through it he held a particular ethos to my mind. I not only enjoyed his humor, but I was also impressed by the opinions his comedy show expressed. I found him to be funny as well as insightful. Thus, I expected something similar of his presentation in this video, and I am heartily pleased that my expectations were met. Now, allow me a small digression.

Just last week, I was talking to a professor about how I couldn’t stand companies trying to appeal to millenials by spouting words that millenials use, (1) because they often use them incorrectly, and (2) because they use them with complete insincerity. They do not understand the comparative weight of each word; they equate the heft of “bae” and “fleek,” and they can’t differentiate between shitposting and philosophical musing. Don’t believe me? Try not to cringe as the Today show tries to discern the truth behind the “if a dog wore pants” meme. But worst of all, they assume that by utilizing these words and concepts, they are making a connection—when in reality, they are only highlighting the fact that they could hardly be further from the mark.

Now let me bring this back around a bit. At the top of this post, I specifically mentioned YouTube and Skype. Why? Because these are the ways in which we interact. In a previous generation, I might have mentioned my good buddy bringing over a VCR tape of a home movie, to similar effect. Does this lack of face-to-face interaction indicate that we are slowly slipping into a morass comprised of people who don’t know how to hold conversations?! No. It means that my friends in Australia, whom I’d never have met without the internet, can talk to me whenever we’re awake simultaneously. Furthermore, I can talk to my friends in Utah and Texas—a point I view as of similar import, since when many consider our age in which distance is no object, they tend to forget how great a distance even a few hundred miles is, and how different the people living those distances apart can be.

And then there’s the unfortunate occurrence of millenials being blamed for existing differently from how some people would expect. “All this transgender stuff didn’t exist when I was young!” No, transgender people still existed; you just didn’t hear about them being transgender. The words used were more hateful than that, and no “respectable” person or organization would provide representation or assistance to them. Thankfully, the cisgender community is now making more strides to make up for this, but we still have a very long way to go. But even the concept of the gender spectrum isn’t “new,” as some would claim; it just seems new to those middle-aged, white, straight, cisgender Americans who didn’t grow up in such a multicultural manner as most millenials. Many Native Americans, for example, have recognized a wider gender spectrum since long before Columbus put down anchor (and for more info on this fascinating topic, the term “two spirit” is a good place to start looking). The problem is that non-native Americans didn’t afford this tradition any weight.

I know I’ve bounced around topics like a pinball, but the main point I’m getting at here is:

  • just because you know of something doesn’t mean you know about it, and
  • just because you don’t know of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Of course, I in no way resent older generations or wish them disrespect. However, I also hope that people of older generations will not resent or disrespect millenials for the same reason—a lack of understanding to bridge the gap.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 6

Humanity has not changed.

Our sense of humor has always been a bit impactful.

Lead sling bullet, circa 4th century BCE, incribed with the word “Catch!”

Public property has always been ripe for a good defacing.

Dominus est non gratus anus rodentum, or: “The boss isn’t worth a rat’s ass!”

Older generations complain about the pace of modern technology.

xkcd, The Pace of Modern Life
But hey, we can sleep when we’re dead. Like these guys are! Er, that wasn’t supposed to sound quite so insensitive…

And people just have to get the perfect selfie.

He was going for duck face, but his lips got stuck an hour in.

So don’t you worry your pretty little head about the “degradation of humanity;” feel no need to pine for the golden days of yore.

We’re there. We’re here. We’re right where we’ve always been.

And we’re still going strong.