POETRY & PROSE

Nature

cattails cut through ice
in a half-frozen marsh
hidden from the wind

the sun warms my face
as birds lay down beats
for nature’s latest
lo-fi hip hop track

it’s been a quiet winter
as Nature worked in secrecy
no tweets announcing its drop
until it’s released midday
to no fanfare

it’s simply simple simplicity sounds
like their very first album complete
with that signatory Natural hook
of rumbling animal sounds

it’s nothing new, that’s for sure
but you know me;
I’m a sucker for
simple sweets

On Breaking Hearts

As I sit here, questioning my M.O.
I add another heart, broken
I think “How can I change this reckless soul?”
staring at this container, left open

I add another heart, broken
losing track of my count
staring at this container, left open
how could it get to this amount?

Losing track of my count
the pain I’ve caused that can’t be undone
how could I get to this amount
I never meant to hurt anyone

The pain I’ve caused that can’t be undone
why does this keep happening?
I never meant to hurt anyone
to start this cycle, unending

Why does this keep happening?
Am I just a shitty person?
Can I stop this cycle, unending?
or will my past be too great a burden?

But I’m not a shitty person
I’ve just hid from past hardships
but I’ll no longer be a burden
I’ll rip off these old bandages

I’ve just hid from past hardships
of an armed robbery and loving abuser
it’s time to rip off these old bandages
and finally heal this wound with sutures

Of an armed robbery and loving abuser
I will confront and conquer
and finally heal this wound with sutures
turning from victim to victor

I will confront and conquer
and change this reckless soul
I’ll turn myself from victim to victor
and slowly change my M.O.

Loneliness

As I stand in my room,
watching a pool of loneliness
drift through my blinds
like poison gas,
I think:

Researchers say
the perception
of loneliness can kill;
it’s like smoking
fifteen cigarettes a day

I think how rude it can be
sneaking through quiet pleasantness
like the sound of neighbors talking
in thinly-walled apartment complexes

Turning solitude
into solitary confinement,
introspection to isolation,
wonder to withdrawal,
self-loving to self-loathing.

I feel it envelope me
with cold hands
of an abusive lover

It lies to me, saying
I need no one else
before throwing me
onto a poorly-made bed
filled with salt and ice

And as I lie here,
numbness spreading,
I think how

I’ll share my stories,
my fears and worries,
my strange peculiarities,
my unique idiosyncrasies,

And end the cycle
of false loneliness

Elevators

My emotions function
like a faulty elevator
with mislabeled buttons

Most times the buttons
screech upwards to anger
a peregrine falcon seizing
an insignificant insect

It’s common, or so I’m told;
most broken elevator
default to this

Some days they miss
by a few floors
the button for ecstasy
going to a small chuckle
or deep sobs of sorrow
to a single sniffle

on the worst days
the buttons fail
leaving me stranded
In a painfully silent
box


Planes

Walking back home
on a cold winter’s night
I look up at the sky
as a lone plane blinks by

I become a kid again
in my parent’s front yard
watching that jet soar by
beating the speed of sound

I look down to a yard
filled with flickering fireflies
casting a beautiful cascade
of light over fallen leaves

I listen to the crackling wood
as the final flecks of fire
flick off the bonfire
before my parents call me in
for the end of a perfect fall night

I hear a crunch of snow
crinkling like lettuce leaves
crispy under my feet
I’m brought back to the present

my head snaps down
to the road to my apartment
a path lit by dim street lamps
highlighting the occasional
broken booze bottles in gutters

I hear the whoosh of cars
on this street with no sidewalk,
wind whipping through my hair

And I look up one more time
at that night sky, now empty
waiting for the next plane to fly

Just Drive

Today the thoughts run rampant through my head
they’re naughty children with nothing to do
until I decide to take them on a road trip

The drive’s surprisingly quiet and uneventful
as they sit in the backseat with headphones
moody music flowing through their ears
only acting up when I slow down
to park at our destination

As my thoughts and I hop out of the car
I study a deserted landscape of frozen sand
while they run off to play hide and seek,
leaving me with the sound of my heart

I observe a distant power plant
minuscule and insignificant
its smokestacks exuding exhaust
over nature’s beach of ice

And I feel my eyes well up
As I watch the steam drift
lazily towards the sun
before fading away
into soundless
nonexistence

The Day Gravity Breaks

Some nights I stare up at my ceiling, textured with white specks of all shapes and sizes. It makes me think of when I was younger, and I’d lie on my back, pretending the ceiling was the floor. I’d pretend that gravity decided to do a 180 on us, turning us upside down but leaving everything else glued to its spot.

I’d think of how I’d have to be sure not step on any light fixtures. How I’d have to step over the head jamb of doorways when I went from one room to another. How I’d have to avoid any ceiling fans and the dangers they’d bring.

I’d think of how my frustration would build as I’d see everything I want or need, just barely out of my reach. The sink, the food in the fridge, my computer, my bed.

All of them, and many more things, just staring at me, taunting me with how frustratingly close yet unreachable they are. Time would go by as I looked at these things in a state of helplessness, wishing I had some way to reach them.

But then I’d get creative. The fridge and kitchen cabinets would become ladders to climb down to what once was the floor. The sink would become a water fountain. Making bagels in the morning would become a fun game of catch, my prize being a delicious breakfast. And going outside would be my time to pretend like I’m a superhero, using grapple hooks to make my way from one place to another.

It would be different, but after a while, I — and everyone else — would get used to it. None of us would get why the world is the way it is now, but we’d learn that we just have to accept it for what it is and adapt. Our upside-down world would become the new normal.

We’d all still get together with our families for the holidays and other get togethers. Friends would still gather to talk about the latest books or TV shows. Coworkers would still shuffle into their weekly meetings. Things would be different, but we’d all make it work.

Sometimes I still let those thoughts I had as a kid run through my head, playing through impossible scenarios. It’s challenging and just plain fun to see what solutions I can come up with, even if I’d have to work out the specific logistics at some point.

In a weird way, it also makes me grateful for my feet that are stuck to this Earth as they should be. It reminds me that life isn’t any harder than it needs to be. It’s not much, but it’s something.

And, while gravity is still in its right state of mind, know that if the world ever does go topsy-turvy, you can count on me.

Did you enjoy this article or have any other ideas of what to do in an upside-down world? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below. If you’d like to keep up to date with my weekly blog posts and the thoughts sauntering through my head, go ahead and click the follow button on the side or bottom of my website. Thanks, and take care until next time!
– The Poetagraphist

Work That Matters

As of late, I’ve been struggling with my photography as an artist. The last year has been learning how to handle my camera and the basics like how to meter, orienting myself with various technical terms, and other beginner level tasks.

While I’ve still got a lot to learn, I feel at this point that I’ve learned enough to at least progress to the next level — exploring work that matters.

But how can you work towards that? I’ll list a couple of ideas down below, but before I do, I’ll give credit where credit’s due by giving props to this video by The Art of Photography. It inspired me to sit down and write this list and it’s a great channel that I’d recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about various aspects of photography.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

Research The History

You may be thinking,

“Ugh, history.”

I know. It seems boring, but it doesn’t have to be, especially with all the options we have. You can learn in so many ways about the history of photography such as books at the library, articles on the internet, or videos on Youtube. There’s so many sources out there full of history that it’s almost impossible to find an option that you don’t like.

You can learn something as in depth or as little as you want. Maybe you’d rather just flip through a book of compositions and read more about the pieces and artists that confuse or amuse you. Or maybe you want to read all the information you can and know the history down to every little detail.

Whatever option you choose, having the gist of your craft and its history is vital to creating work that matters. You’ll learn how artists in the past pushed their medium, and, more importantly, where we are right now in the world. This is crucial as the only way to push your medium is to understand what has and hasn’t been done.

Imitation: The Sincerest Form Of Learning

So now with your newfound knowledge of history and a handful of your favorite artists, it’s time to pay homage and copy them.

But why?

While it’s important to have done your research and look up a few of your favorite photographers, it’s equally as important to figure out how they got those shots. Find some images you really love, and see if you can get close to something they’ve done. Now, it doesn’t have to be an exact copy, but try to go for the feeling they got in that image.

For example, try to photograph dioramas like Paolo Ventura, use masks like Ralph Eugene Meatyard, dive into conceptual photography like Cindy Sherman, or even capture quiet moments of humanity amidst a chaotic world as Saul Leiter did.

By doing so, you’ll learn various skills that will help you in a variety of settings, and you’ll probably be having a bit more fun doing it than just taking photographs with no thought behind it.
You’ll also learn if you want to continue down that route. Maybe you found the dioramas to be a bit drab, but you found you really have a passion for conceptual portraiture.

From here you can further explore and begin to dive into whatever genre you pick up, honing the skills needed for it and really fine tuning what makes your particular rendition of a genre special.

Stop Taking Easy Shots

What do I mean by this?

When I’m talking about easy shots, I mean the ones we’ve all seen; things like pictures of sunsets, black and white images with one thing in color, and other cliché ideas.

Just because something is pleasing to the eye doesn’t mean it’s work that matters. These are all things that have been overdone ad naseum, and if you’re not imitating something to learn how it’s done, you’re not really pushing yourself or working towards creating something that matters.

Really work with your subject. Consider all the angles you can view it at. Think about what you’re trying to say and why you’re taking a photograph of your subject. It’ll take a bit more time, but you’ll come out with a composition that speaks much more about you and what your view on this world is. You’ll develop a style that will eventually become recognizable to other people.

Sure, you may not get as many likes and attention because you’re not feeding into society’s demands for pretty pictures, but you’ll be much more satisfied knowing that you’re working towards making something unique and worthy of your skill set that shows what you believe in.

Pick A Theme, Any Theme

Even after considering all the angles and working for your photographs, things may still begin to to feel a bit stale.

By this point, you may want to sit down and really hone down a specific subject or idea. It could be something simple, such as only photographing subjects like doors or cars. Or it could be photographing in black and white, looking for more abstract shapes and ideas in the world.

You could even start a project on something you really care about. Maybe you really want to document all forms of American society like Robert Frank had. Or maybe you want to tackle other issues, such as environmental ones like the effects of global warming or social ones like human trafficking.

Take all the time you need on whatever it is; if it’s something you’re extremely passionate about, it could even be a project that you continue for your whole life. You never know where a project will take you, so get started on one and let it take you where it may.

Volunteer

Volunteering your talent is an incredible way to create work that matters, and there are numerous opportunities such as elderly services, animal shelters, and any local non-profits in your area. This article has a few more helpful options as well.

Through volunteering, you’ll get in contact with people you may have never met in your life, learning their stories that may change how you see the world and your place in it as a photographer. You’ll get a lot of practice working with different subjects and in different settings as well.

It’s also a chance to make an impact on people. At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day just a little bit better, but in some cases you may even go so far as making a profound impact on someone’s life.
Now that’s work that matters.

Patience Is A Virtue

Overall, there’s no easy step to making work that matters. It’s countless days, nights, months, and even years of continuous work. No matter whether you’re at the beginning of your path — like me — or further down the road, keep this in mind as you keep working. Be patient and keep striving to find and refine your photographic voice.

Get out there and work hard, but never lose track of why you picked up a camera in the first place.

Best of luck, and happy shooting!

Do you have any other ideas on creating work that matters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And if you enjoyed it, feel free to check out the rest of my site, share it, and Follow my blog for even more content!


The Doctor Is In

I recently went to my first therapy session. While I was a bit nervous, things are already off to a great start and I’m already learning some helpful tips and tricks. Today I’d like to share one tip involving a grounding technique that uses all five of your senses:
You slowly go through the list and label five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Normally I’m a type of person who’s always running around at 100 miles an hour with all sorts of busywork, so it really struck me how this forced me to slow myself down and focus on the minute details.
My favorite part was when my therapist added to tell yourself at the end, “And my feet are on the ground and

I’m Safe”

I just love that. Every time I get to that point I feel a wave of warmth envelope me. I feel relaxed and accomplished to have come back to the present moment and ultimately bring down my stress levels.

Perhaps you may be thinking that stress isn’t such a big deal. You’ve gotten along fine so far, even in a stressful environment, so why add something like this?
The thing is, when you get so worked up, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing all sorts of chemicals that result in physiological changes such as increased strength and blood flow, dilation of the pupils, and a host of other effects that prepares the body for times of crisis.
Unfortunately, when the source of the stress is something like rush hour or a bad day at the office, this really does no good. It’s even downright dangerous if it’s chronic, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, or panic attacks among other things.
In reality, adding a short little exercise like this is more than worth the extra couple of moments you have to take out of your day. If anything, it can’t hurt to try it at least once or twice, right?

So, next time you’re feeling a bit stressed, give it a shot, even if it’s just to humor me. And when you’re done, you can tell yourself:

“I’m Safe”