Freedoms of speech and press are the unalienable factors of what constitutes a free society. They are what separate the U.S. and other free democracies from the authoritarian leadership principles held by Nazi Germany, Communist China, the U.S.S.R., and the Socialist dictatorships currently in power throughout South America. It’s what gives U.S. citizens the right to criticize our government’s actions, no matter who’s in power, without fear of repercussion or even death. I find it unequivocally revolting that there are those on the far Left in America today, including many Left-leaning poets and writers, who push for these freedoms to be stripped away from our population. Especially after the Liberal poets of the 1950s and 60s put their freedom on the line to fight for freedom of expression against the Conservative consensus culture of Cold War-era America. The idea of supporting censorship in any fashion, I believe, is a slap in the face to great poets like Allen Ginsberg and our recently lost Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who fought for these freedoms for all writers to enjoy. When the only plausible recourse against those who wish to take our freedoms from us is our voices, my words are my weapons in this war, and I refuse to be disarmed.
How do we form bonds with others? How do we ensure our attachments are stable and secure? These poems deal with the power and powerlessness that comes with the need to connect to this world, to one another, to a truth and beauty greater than ourselves.
How do we come to terms with death, injustice, the artistic impulse, family, the past, and — most difficult of all — with one’s own demons? Each of these poems represent a dialogue between the heart and the mind as mediated by the soul, which tries to reach an understanding of life. Isn’t that what the human condition is really all about?
The following poem series describes the grief after a father’s suicide. They are part of a series in which the poet looks back at his childhood, but also to recent years when the poet estranged from his father during his deepening depression and alcoholism. Losing your parent is a hallmark of life, but suicide is not a natural event. At the time, the press announced that 21 veterans died daily in the US.
“Water Striders” addresses the mundane through a surreal metaphor. Focused on the abstract feeling of monotony or depression (or whatever it is the reader can find in it), “Water Striders” juxtaposes this with a fantastical realm, creating a mystical narrative of negative emotionality. Finally, when the protagonist breaks the cycle, the readers are left wondering whether this leads to something better, worse, or just different — we can’t know.
Experiencing love is linked to higher self-esteem, improved immune system, lower blood pressure, and various other health benefits. For many, achieving love is akin to self-actualization: it is the ultimate goal of life and synonymous with true happiness. The desire to attain love can lead to obsession, codependence, and intense fears of rejection. Without love, we feel unworthy. So, what happens when love becomes additive? When a fundamental human faculty is utilized excessively, transforming a healing experience into a damaging one? Is it better to have loved and lost, or better to have never loved at all?
We shed skin, memories, relationships, pieces of ourselves: none of us are immune from the passage of time. Imprisoned by age, are we doomed to years of an insomniac lament of our youth?
“The Moolian Stream” is about missing the company of true friends and loneliness. These have always been true for humans, but for groups such as immigrants and those who find themselves in exile, they are experienced more acutely. The exiled experience cultural isolation as well as existential and physical loneliness. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many others feel increasingly isolated.
How have the conditions of our daily lives changed over the last year? There’s no question quarantine, social isolation, a global pandemic, and political and social unrest significantly alter our daily routines — but these events and situations have highlighted our adaptability and fragility simultaneously. The realization that we control very little of our own lives has come to the forefront for most in the past year; in turn, this realization has spurred the need for action. How do we maintain a sense of control in the midst of overwhelming evidence that we are at the whims of greater forces?
What makes us human? Is it our opposable thumbs, omnivorous diet, and ability to wield tools? Our individual and collective ideological belief systems and Earth-bound nature? What about our ability to empathize and (simultaneously) our inability to and the resulting creation of “us vs. them” group dynamics? Does our violence, domination over nature, technological innovations, and need for advancement make us human or will these traits one day lead to our demise? Are we more human today than we were at the advent of homo sapiens sapiens 125,000 years ago, or less?