Day 283: The Man and the Power of Your Lie; ‘Jolt’

I hope everyone had a great Easter, or just an overall generally great Sunday. Another blog has me thinking about lies, ‘what is your lie’, and it reminded me of another greatly narrated and animated poem about the destructive power of a single unchecked lie.

Teacher Grades.jpg

For the uninitiated into the world of public education, this could very well just be a A veteran of hundreds o parent-teacher conferences, fifth grade teacher Sheila Wurtz was prepared for anything.'cautionary tale about letting oneself get carried away with rumor and hearsay, or how one seemingly harmless yet very manipulative lie could create a ripple of disastrous consequences. And if it were only just that, it would still be very powerful, very twisted, and very sinister. I mean, ‘don’t tell dumb, potentially dangerous lies’ seems like a pretty universal and safe to bet on lesson for decent human beings. ‘Don’t be a jerk kid’ or ‘don’t be terrible parents’ could definitely also be derived from even just a cursory reading of the poem. But coming from that field, and having spent time on that side of the desk, the fact that the subject matter revolves around a well-meaning teacher and a student with no sense of consequences, there is a very specific extra jolt that sends a chill down my spine.

I know what it’s like to feel as though everything you’ve worked so hard and so long for can hang so delicately in the balance between the reckless words of one child and the all-too naive and gullible ears of the parents and the eager to please subservience of a timid Blame the Teachersand fearful school administration. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line the public stopped trusting teachers as much as they used to. Suddenly there are now a thousand other voices in the classroom, trying to tell teachers how to do their jobs. Parents, businessmen, politicians, everyone seems to know better than the person who actually trained to educate and spends the most time in the classroom with the students. That this character’s entire career and life has been drastically changed because of the pressure of parents choosing to blindly follow their ‘perfect little angels’ really strikes a personal chord with me. It’s often times these ‘angel children’ who are the most uncontrollable and overall, the least mature. It’s easier for their parents to look at the faults and inactions of their teachers than to reflect on perhaps their own shortcomings as parents or to address any real actual needs or problems their child might have. In my school we had to be extra careful of what we said or did, especially because by high school that kind of school culture is so ingrained into the students, we were constantly being warned that they knew they could cling to any sort of perceived slight and get away with it. ‘F’s became ‘E’s because the ‘F’ had too much of a negative connotation, and if they did receive an ‘E’ for whatever reason (including their own inability or irresponsibility to respect deadlines or requirements), we were required to give them a chance to redo the assignment for full credit, no questions asked.

There’s a Man in the Woods

-poem by Jacob Streilein

There’s a man in the woods.
What a spectacle.
Before the stories started, this school was still respectable.

My students used to skip down the hill to the honeysuckle,
pluck a couple,
and collect their nectar till they picked their fill.

Except one obnoxious kid, Sid.

Who just watched them eat the flowers
while he seethed and scowled
’cause he couldn’t bear to share his sweet treats throughout our recess hour.

I remember Sid saying:
“There’s a man in the woods!”

That’s how the rumors began.
Of course, Sid had spotted him first.

The poor kids. He got ‘em immersed in his spiel
about a serial killer whose gun barrel glint hint said peril.

A visit to the nurse, or worse, a hearse,
waiting just beyond the dale.

The children saw him everywhere.
“Look! Over there!”
“That man had Batman ears! We – we swear!”
“And crazy yellow eyes!”
“We saw something rusty! His shotgun? It must be!”
“I saw a lady’s severed thigh!”

Trust me,
every word I heard was absurd.

Yet each day, Sid would stray down
way past the playground.

Who else was brave enough to save us from the killer’s next plot?

The rest of the lot would stop back at the black top,
sure that any closer they were bound to be found
deep in the woods, left to rot.

I pleaded for the kids to think,
and learn to be mature.
But after a few more rumors doomed my attempts to prove
the school was secure
their fear was undeterred.
And when the buses drove them all home,
the parents finally heard.

Everything just blew up.
I received a wall
of emails and calls
full of shrieks, wails, and all.
From terrified families
who’d heard word of the murderer,
and didn’t like my lack of action at all.

What was I supposed to do? Comb the whole forest?
Yeah, right. Would you?
That means I didn’t care? That’s not fair!
The stories that worried you weren’t true.

Of course I would feel regret,
had there been a real threat
and I ignored it,
and some poor kid got kidnapped
while the kids were napping.

But you couldn’t admit that your
good little kid
would formulate a fib
so you ignored what I said.

Your little angels could never cook up such incredible creations?
“An overactive imagination, maybe, but my kid could never lie!”
How dare I.
Accuse a child of being dishonest?
Just monstrous!

The parents were displeased,
and when the PTA took action,
they dismissed me from the classroom.
Like THEY knew what was best for their kids!

Do you know how difficult it is to get a job
when a bitter mom
slanders your rep
with child neglect
from the outset?

NOW who’s in control of your classes?!

Single file lines!
Single file lines.
Little vile swine,
a killer by the pines.

Really? Are you blind?
Will you find your spines?
Sid. A child decides
to fill our minds with lies
and the next you see
is people treating me
like I’ve committed crimes.

I WAS IN MY PRIME!

Those kids were lucky to have me.

Do you see what you did?!

But I can play along.
I can be good.

Do you hear that, Sid?

There’s a man in the woods.

I hope that was dark enough for y’all. Keep your kids in check. Hahah.

Day 283

Man: 250 Loneliness: 33

Day 280: The Man and the Metre of Spring; ‘Measure’

It is Good Friday for all you Christians out there, which means that Easter is only two days away. For me, Easter has always been the real herald of Spring. It’s when as a child I would spend my entire day running outside hunting for eggs and, as far back as I can remember, I’ve never had a rainy Easter Sunday. Now that we have the Rita’s Ice stores and we’ve grown, Easters are no longer the leisurely events of egg hunting and family gathering it used to be. Still though we go in our absolute Sunday best to mass, then go to our favorite diner for a nice big breakfast, before my parents go off to run the stores, my brother and I go separately to leech some free ice cream, and I make a simple dinner for when my parents get back. I still like to spend some time outside as honestly, Easters have really always been such beautiful days. This year with my new bow and with the range I built in the backyard maybe I’ll just spend some time shooting and enjoying the weather.

xkcd pentameter

Good Friday and Easter have me thinking of Spring, and today’s prompt, ‘measure‘, has me thinking of the most famous poetic measure of all, iambic pentameter. Best described as lines of ten syllables paired in unstressed and stressed syllables. Best exemplified by Shakespeare’s sonnets. (If you’re a lover of conspiracy theories, you should check out the Oxfordian authorship theory, which was the subject of a pretty cool movie, Anonymous. First time I ever heard of this theory was when I was in middle school and read Blue Avenger Cracks the Code. Ever since I’ve decided that this is what I will choose to believe.) It is said that the reason why iambic pentameter comes so naturally to us is that it is the form of metre that most closely resembles our natural breathing and speaking pattern, and that the rhythm mimics our heartbeat. I mean, that sounds like a hell of a lot of patting oneself on the back, so I really don’t buy it.

Anyways, so for today’s poem selection I present Sonnet XCVIII, in which the author continues to lament his long absence from his beloved.

Sonnet XCVIII

-William Shakespeare (supposedly)

From you I have been absent in the Spring,

when proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim

hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,

that heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell

of different flowers in odour and in hue

could make me any summer’s story tell

or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;

nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,

nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;

they were but sweet, but figures of delight,

drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

Yet seem’d it winter still, and you, away,

as with your shadow I with these did play.

For those of you celebrating, happy Easter, and for those of you not, I hope you have some fine weather to enjoy as well.

Day 280

Man: 247 Loneliness: 33

Day 277: The Man and the Dining on Verses; ‘Unravel’

I’ve been on a Japan kick recently, and over the weekend I went to Edgewater, which in my area is a town with a very large Japanese population, to enjoy a nice Japanese lunch, Kimi No Na Wa.jpgdo some grocery shopping, and then watch Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name). If you haven’t yet heard of this anime, and I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t, you should know it is the highest grossing anime film ever, and Japan’s fourth largest grossing film overall. This movie is big, people. If you find the opportunity to watch this movie I would highly recommend it. It started a limited theatre showing in the US on April 7th but was actually released last year. It is a beautiful film, both visually and emotionally. I love that Japan has continued to keep alive the great tradition of hand drawn animation. Most US animated movies have become completely CG, and while it is technically brilliant, it lacks, for me, the same emotion and care. Traditionally drawn animation still reigns supreme in my heart for animated movies. Yes there’s a very special place for films like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke and The Secret World of Arrietty but I don’t leave out Western films too like Lion KingAladdin, and my personal favorite Western animation, Mulan. These are then followed by clay-mation like Studio Laika’s Kubo, Coraline, and Boxtrolls. CGI is fun and the technology is incredible with great potential but I have no real heart for them. Kimi No Na Wa is full of spirit and heart, and its delicate story is enhanced by the subtlety and lightness of traditional animation. I have seen more of Japan in anime than I have in real life, and yet I feel I can speak so much already on the spirit of Japanese landscapes and cityscapes based on how they treat it in their drawings. I won’t lie, there were times during the movie when tears would not stop falling, and the ultimate resolution of the film had me emotionally invested. As the stories and relationships between Taki and Mitsuha tangle, unravel, and come back together, I’ve no doubt you’ll find yourself drawn in as well.

I also got to enjoy a great Japanese meal at Mitsuwa, which is a supermarket chain in the US specializing in Japanese imports and usually has a few stores and a kick ass food court to boot. I always end up over-ordering because there are just too many great choices but I’m proud to say I was able to control myself and stuck just to my kaki-fry (deliciously crispy and light fried oysters), some rice, and miso soup. And a bowl of ramen. Okay, and two onigiri. And some green tea ice cream. Afterwards I did some grocery shopping to make a special bento lunch for myself for Monday. I’m starting a new project at work learning a new system and getting ready to train in the near future so I decided a new haircut and a big lunch would help put me in the right mindset and get focused.

Bento Lunch

One day I will definitely write at length on the culinary traditions of Japan, particularly the ‘5 pillars’ of Japanese cooking. It is a wonderful philosophy that harmonizes taste, nutrition, aesthetic, and Buddhist teachings all in one beautifully delicious package. But as it is National Poetry Month and in the spirit of such, I will instead dedicate this time to trying to capture the essence of food in verse. Poetry and food have always had a deep, visceral connection. There is nothing quite like the appearance, texture, and taste of truly divine food to awaken the poetic muse, and nothing like good poetry to elicit the same hunger in the soul as the thought of food does to the stomach. Some truly wonderful poems have been composed to food: the memories, the experiences, the tastes, the emotional and spiritual connections.

This is Just to Say

-poem by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

 

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast.

 

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold.

Now I’m not saying the next time you’re hungry try to satiate yourself on some Shakespeare. But what I am saying is the next time you have a particularly wonderful meal, or perhaps happen to come upon a particularly beautiful fruit, or find a special memory being formed around food, try to imagine how a poet would capture that moment. Would it be in the satisfying sounds of a meal as you crunch down on crispy crackling or the feeling of sweet wine on parched lips that smile with each sip or in how the secrets of the universe open up in the sweetness of a peach around its dense dark star-like pit. In the spirit of my wonderful bento lunch from yesterday and in honor of Japan’s own poetic claim to fame the haiku, I end first with a poem by Matsuo Basho, the master of haiku from Japan’s Edo period, and then a haiku of my own composition about the joys of office bento.

-poem by Matsuo Basho

Coolness of the melons

flecked with mud

in the morning dew.

Bento Second

-poem by ManVsLoneliness

Office icebox hides

hidden treasure of five tastes,

colors, but one mind

Day 277

Man: 244 Loneliness: 33

 

Day 65 Supplemental: The Man and Challenge Answered; ‘Elegant’

For today’s prompt I decided to stretch out of my comfort zone to honor the efforts and an agreement made between two parties. Please pardon the interruption to your regular broadcast as I attempt something I am very much not good at. Oh and don’t worry, I’m still flying high. This is not meant to be for any particular person.


Unanswered Unnoticed Elegance

Elegant Silhouette.jpg

My words are oft large, clunky, heavy phrases

but you are soft and light.

So how can one as unrefined as I

capture the beauty in my sight?

If I could I would wrap you in miles of dedicated words

but your beauty is one that will not wait.

And so, my love, while I have you here

it is the wild tempest of my head whose thoughts I must abate.

How does one who knows so little of these things

frame the luxuriousness of your hair?

How do I distill in words to tell you plainly

of a love, unrequited, pure, an admiration unaware?

I must find the way to speak, sophisticatedly

to match the feeling of your presence.

I have to shed the formalities, the grandiose

to speak truly to your essence.

Your face is a reflection of starlight

I am absorbed in its beauty.

I have no power when I am in your gaze

your eyes take me to infinity.

You hold yourself with such grace and poise

your slender arms reach out with tenderness.

I see in you a rest, a repose

a cure to a wandering soul’s loneliness.

Your spirit is curious and unrestrained

your words are lifted lightly on gentle fairy’s wings.

I hang on every word you say

of hopes and dreams and wishes and other secret things.

Have I even slightly triumphed to capture your wit or strength or humor

can my superficial words come close to your elegance?

Or am I simply crippled by your touch

or struck dumb by my arrogance?

Of all the things I am most sure

Death, taxes, the setting sun, and the rising sea.

There is none as sure as this:

that you will never notice me.

Elegant Man.jpg

Day 63: The Man and the Sound of Exhaustion; ‘Plop’

Kiki.gif

*plop* is the sound my head will make when it finally hits my pillow

after a day that started too early and yet at the same time too late

after training new blood that nearly boiled mine

after involuntarily fasting and then irresponsibly feasting

after spending the night bringing other’s words to life

after struggling to find a pulse with mine

Squidward.gif

*plop* is the sound my head will make when it finally hits my pillow

after enjoying the writing of others

*plop* was a terrible prompt today

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Day 63

Man: 47 Loneliness: 16

 

Day 54 Supplemental: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Obvious’

Obvious: You can’t lick your own elbow.

Not obvious: Why the first person tried and then asked someone else to.

Obvious: The sky is blue.

Not obvious: The color of the underwear of the person next to you.

ObviousRight and wrong.

Not obvious: The right thing to do.

Obvious: The sun will rise.

Not obviousThe world that it will rise on.

Obvious: Hunger.

Not obvious: What to eat tonight.

Obvious: Fire is hot.

Not obvious: The woman sitting at the other side of the room is too. For you.

Obvious: All things must end.

Not obvious: How do things begin.

Obvious: You’re leaving me.

Not obvious: Your heart.

Obvious: My back.

Not obvious: Your knife.

ObviousI will be stronger.

Not obvious: When.

Captain Obvious.jpg

Day 48 Supplemental: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Eyes’

Window.jpg

They say that eyes are a window to the soul

But a window can be viewed from both sides

So what happens if you have resting bitch face?


 

My friends used to tell me I have serious resting bitch face. Or whatever the equivalent is for a guy. What message does that send to people? It can be useful at times but if I am unaware that I have it, I can’t use it to my advantage by being able to turn it on and off. How do you control something like that? Scotch tape on the edge of my eyes?

But I mean…Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza have great resting bitch faces. So I’m not entirely without some good company.

Aubrey.jpg

Or worse yet, I used to date a girl who said my default face was ‘constipated’.