fear, despair, and apathy within the echo chamber

alan-tang-ZriVXRZbFqk-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Alan Tang on Unsplash

fear, despair, and apathy within the echo chamber

I’m muted snowfall
not a whisper

your dutiful servant
I will comply

you inquire deeper
I offer surface

still, you insist
my voice matters

I demur again
not from shame

I’m muted snowfall
not a whisper

you pontificate, listening
yet never heard
my cries
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #85 – Raising our Poetic Voices, hosted by whimsygizmo. Other poets have contributed here.

So, yeah, someone is harvesting my content for clicks and kicks, and that’s not really ballin’ to me, so I think this just might be my penultimate entry, folks!

seagull-768785_1280

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

So, yeah, someone is harvesting my content for clicks and kicks, and that’s not really ballin’ to me, so I think this just might be my penultimate entry, folks!

“…the moon steals its shine from the sun, and no one ever gets the two confused. Take it as a compliment.” -Art Teacher to Riley, The Boondocks, Season 1 Episode 12, “Riley Wuz Here”

So, yeah, my blog has been harvested without my consent. My online friend who runs the idorun blog was kind enough to notify me.

What does that mean exactly? I’m not entirely sure, but it certainly seems like a type of plagiarism. Go ahead and see for yourself, witness the theft of my hard-earned shine – granted you may be buying the underwear gnomes who run that site another free pair of underpants by clicking the link, but I’m not tripping. The reason will become clear when you continue reading.

My initial response to potentially being plagiarized was a weird sense of pride (“Say, word? My craft is now actually good enough to be stolen from? That’s kinda dope!”) Next, for a moment, I became vexed (“How dare someone steal my intellectual property! I worked long and hard on those navel-gazing ghazals about all those attractive women I wish I had slept with! If anyone should be making money off those self-satisfied missives, it should be me!”)

But the more I thought about it, and the more I learned about it, the less sense it made. It’s never been about the money for me. Sure, I had grand designs as a wide-eyed youngin’, but my learned poetic excursions have been a moderately inexpensive hobby to me.

Let’s discuss my poetic content at face value; For nearly two decades, I’ve been dabbling in online poetry using various media (including a poetry collection I self-published through Lulu). During that nearly-twenty years, my net income from my poetry could pay for a cup of coffee and exactly half-a-haircut.

No one is clamoring to pay for any of my web stuff on the strength of the content, and I get that. But crimes of economics have taught me that people usually steal things for – oh I dunno… some type of profit? If there’s no profit in my words at face value, then where does the profit reside?

My instincts tell me that it must be the site traffic that is somehow fraudulently aggregated to a point where sponsors unwittingly pay the cyberthief a fee for driving clicks their way. Which means that I wasn’t singled-out (I average less than twenty unique views per day; not exactly rolling in Skillshare sponsor dough) but I was harvested along with countless other unwitting blogs.

In fact, if you’re a blogmate of mine hosting your blog on free\public blogs like Blogger or WordPress, chances are high that you’ve been harvested too. Go ahead and check for yourself. Buy those dickheads another pair of undergarments in exchange for knowledge of your own site’s harvesting.

I’m not as special as I thought. Oh well. I’ll get over it.

So I’ve been harvested, and some nefarious entity is probably getting paid in cryptocurrency or some other underwear gnome-economics I don’t know about. Now what? What do I do about it?

Many bloggers are justifiably outraged enough to jump through the hoops of a DCMA takedown. Others have found that the harvesting blog is just an unsophisticated blogroll-type of aggregate that can be foiled by making their copied posts private.

I’m inclined to go another way.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. Perhaps this is the very catalyst I need to shutter this blog for good (as well as my old one over at Blogger). Fighting some damned greedy money-bot trolls over my hobby is not why I got into online poetry. Life is too short, and the absurd time and economics of this make it a non-starter for me.

I will miss the wonderful community we’ve cultivated here, especially my friends at dVerse, Poets United, Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, as well as all of my online friends too great in number to mention individually. I haven’t decided on a switch-off date, but it will most likely be fairly soon.

So, what next then?

Well I’ve been flirting with the notion of hiding all my nonsense behind Medium’s $5 monthly paywall. (I have a free presence there right now.) Again, I don’t expect to be swimming in a pool of money over poetry about some naughty dreams I had, but the economics makes more sense to me now. At WordPress, I bought the domains cosmicrubble.com and mylibidowearsatuxedo.com for $100 annually. Well recently, they lowered their price to $60, assumedly to remain competitive with Medium’s plan.

But here’s the rub; while WordPress’s response to intellectual theft is basically “We’ve already got your money, we’re not being robbed directly, we don’t see a problem here, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”, Medium’s paywall won’t allow for some random yokel to do a drive-by smash-n-grab on my shine, ya dig?

Also, if I develop enough traffic, my $5 monthly fee could eventually pay for itself. Imagine having a secure online presence essentially for free. I know this is beginning to sound like an ad, but I have imagined it. This may sound naive or glib, but I don’t want to think about intellectual theft anymore than I have this weekend. I just want to write about my love of my family, life, and words without worrying about someone turning it into a click for free underpants.

A friend once told me that I’m worth more than I give myself credit for. Well actually, several friends have told me this, including my best friend, the Wifey. I think I’m finally starting to understand what they mean.

For Twilight Comes

20190727_211950

Jupiter, above my backyard, at dusk (Image by author)

For Twilight Comes

The light fades from view, draining sky of its blue
sooner today than yesterday, upon dimming
clouds’ late summer shrug. A youngling’s

paradoxically mature leaves reflect retreating light
greater than majestic firs, but it too will yield
to darkness, youthful promise embraced by

earth’s shade. A confused rooster serenades
our good earth’s face turning away from our day.
He is joined by pampered, overfed dogs,

for the coyote song was forever silenced by
boxy condos where wetlands once came alive
at this hour. After the golden hour became

a greying sliver, the hues bowing-out,
merging with dusk till it is unclear where
one fence ends, and another begins,

all becomes clear and fair as shades of grey
fade to black, leaving only twinkling untouched
overhead, for twilight comes for us equally.
***

Written for Real Toads Weekend Mini Challenge: Let Evening Come, hosted by  Kim M. Russell.

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

banter-snaps-mE_yfvS0TSY-unsplash

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

“What are you doing here?” she asked, pulling away.

“Just holding you,” I murmured drowsily, gently pulling her close.

“This is inappropriate,” she protested, squinting. “And what’s with that light?”

“This is only gratitude,” I replied. “Nothing more.”

“Gratitude?” she scoffed. “I don’t even know you.”

“I know,” I said. “And I don’t know you, but thanks to you, I know a thousand words for the color blue, and so I dreamt I was the moon creeping into your window, spooning you, comforting you with borrowed glow of yesterday and tomorrow, coiling your secrets into the crux of my crescent, never to see daylight again.”

“Oh,” she said. “You doing this for all of us?”

“Yes,” I said. “Now shh!”

And after a pregnant silence, she said, “You know we’re all gone now, right?”

“Yes,” I whispered through tears.

“But take this with you.”
***

#HelpKyoaniHeal

This is a tribute to the victims, survivors, and families of the Kyoto Animation Studio arson/mass-murder that claimed the lives of 34 innocent and brilliant artists. I don’t have any more words to convey my grief and sorrow, but if, like me, you ache to flood the void caused by this act of hate with acts of love, contribute to the GoFundMe setup by Sentai Filmworks. Other ways to help can be found here.

40713796_1563469569560933_r

Written for dVerse Prosery #2, hosted by sarahsouthwest. Others contributed to this prompt here.

Also shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry #488.

#HelpKyoaniHeal

Cosmic Indifference and Crisis of Meh

tomas-sobek-EKNe678ktEY-unsplash

Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

Cosmic Indifference and Crisis of Meh

One day
the sun
will rise
alone,

radiating light
on not a single tree
nor even a blade of grass,
warming a barren earth for no reptile,
nor bird,

nor even a single bipedal mammal
to bend a knee
in humble worship of Ra’s
once life-bringing magnitudes.

I won’t try to tell you how to feel about that
nor will I implore you to stand up and
do something to slow the inevitability,
for even if we collaborate to stem the tide,
it will happen inevitably.

One day the sun will rise alone,
scorching an already sterilized planet,
eradicating every gaudy man-made
monument to ourselves, and we
just may knowingly accelerate
this unavoidable fate
exponentially.

I won’t tell you to save a world that is
well beyond our combined will to save,

for it seems like hubris to even
entertain the notion of saving a world
from the cosmic nature of its
unavoidable demise;

saving our planet, to me, sounds
as ludicrous as saving our lonely sun
from burning though its
finite supply of hydrogen,
and then its helium,
collapsing into a
cooling carbon cinder
of its once majestic brilliance.

But why won’t you think of saving the sun?
We’re wasting its resources, you know.

Why not warm your house with clean coal
and save some of those precious
hydrogen-fused released photons?

I won’t ask you to do that
because that would be utterly ridiculous
and just speed things along and
I greatly prefer slowing things
as much as those
sensible conservationists,

though I won’t ask you to recycle either,
even though it would be rather kind of you
to join me in doing so.

I won’t tell you
to protest Big Oil
and petroleum products

because the cabinet full of pharmaceuticals
extending my lifespan, health and comfort
would compel me to mock my own hypocrisy.

But our planet is dying and
one day the sun will rise alone.

That was always going to be the case,
though we are helping to speed the process
significantly, and with cosmic indifference
bordering perverse zeal.

I won’t sit here and tell you to
get up and go do something about it.

But do get up
and go do something
for me; stand up

and take inventory
of the beauty and wonders
we’ve all taken for granted
from time to time.

If you’re fortunate enough
to experience the ongoing miracle
of waking tomorrow,

go stand outside and listen
to morning wipe the sleep from her eyes,
unfolding her wings, singing all around you.

If luck favors you with a summer rain shower,
let it soak you to your pores
and breathe deeply,
inhaling her perfume.

Observe regal, billowing,
wispy clouds march overhead
towards the horizon,
dissolving from view,
but still existing in both
mystery and memory.

I’m willing to wager that what you see
may cause you to gasp as you tenuously
grasp at your own insignificance,

and maybe, just maybe,
you may find yourself compelled
to preserve some of these moments
a few moments longer.

It’s not much;
perhaps even too insignificant
to make a sliver of a blip
of a microbe of a difference.

But one day the sun will rise alone.
What will you do until then?
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Climate Crisis, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Read other poets’ prompt contributions here.

Where the Rocks Kiss the Sea and the Waves Embrace All

hugo-kemmel-289807-unsplash

Photo by Hugo Kemmel on Unsplash

Where the Rocks Kiss the Sea and Calm Waves Embrace All

Standing on rocky midnight shore, the sound of the Sound beckoned his return to where he began decades ago; his wish, to bookend his life where ancient kinship first drew breath.

He intended to breathe saltwater and snuff-out all that rotten progress.

He’d just wade into the frigid current until the chill melted into warmth, freeing him of the dread of empathy among the specter of cosmic apathy.

Inhaling brine should sever the unending sinewave bouncing between two extremes.

Knee-deep within numbing, moonlit, black-reflected muck, the cold needles through, forcing his breath shallow. Waist-deep, and the current beckons him forward to rejoin infinity and nothingness.

He begins surrendering to uncompromising fate he’s chosen when far away an interrupted cry of a drowning woman breaks him from indulgence. He summons reserve to drag her back to the rocks.

“You’re welcome,” smiled the mermaid he “saved”.
***

Written for dVerse Prosery #1, hosted by Björn Rudberg (brudberg). Others have contributed to this prompt here.

Day 28: She is Born

heartbreak-1209211_1280

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

She is Born

She is born as all are; from their pain.

Their pain is born from fissures
in a ruptured union, leaking black bile,
becoming tidepools of resentment
under moonless night of regret.

Intensity of emotion
has brought her into this world
blind and formless.

After the begging had ceased,
after the demands rose,
floating away as all hot-air does,
after the tears dried and crusted
in corners, after goodbyes
scattered wounded elements
the way all stars fall,

a series of electro-chemical sparks
ignite her coalescence into
nebulous idea,

as hurt, shame, and love commiserate
with introspection, perspective,
and empathy; her formlessness
is shaped into a proto-philosophy,
the light splitting her darkness
is an empty notebook, opening.

Her energy not lost, but transferred
as all pain is, she reclaims herself
after a lost cause, opening, pouring
her dark tidepools onto pages, her bile
shaped into words they wanted to say,

but were too prideful, too shameful,
too fearful to voice to one another
when it may have brought them closer
to joy; their Shakespearian tragic timing
cooling, on paper, appropriately,
into a poem which begins as:

“She is born as all are; from their pain.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 28 prompt: write a meta-poem, or a poem about poetry.

Day 21: Dismantling a Mercedes

luca-santos-3544-unsplash

Photo by Luca Santos on Unsplash

Dismantling a Mercedes

She was beautiful,
long before learning
a self-butcher’s trade.

Long before swinging
lifelessly
from a tree in a park

– her final act completed publicly
after countless private attempts – her end

was pre-assisted
by the animal kingdom.

Nature was a
giant killer hornet colony
nesting in her head.

Nurture was meat
for a Komodo dragon
ignored by farmhands.

She was banished from
purgatory paradise
by serpent-creator.

The meat became her own
expert butcher, carving
fortune from flesh.

A successful vendor,
despite the killer hornets
devouring their share.

But she dared to be
discerning in company of
lurking painted wolves.

Scavengers and hunters
combined to consume her
to the marrow, leaving only
her final act of defiance,

her final words to
the animal kingdom,
a day before her final act;

“Fuck y’all”.

There is no solace
in burying the bruises,
as only the living bruise.

She ended her pain
alone in a park
by focusing its sum
upon her kissable neck,

compressing the noose;
a temporary evisceration
for a lasting peace

that eluded her infested skull in life.

Perhaps not the beautiful ending
a beautiful butcher like her deserves,
but an ending all the same.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 21 prompt: write a poem that “incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.”

I interpret that as “go nuts with abstractions and strange metaphors”, and so I did my best with this tragic tale.

Day 16: Poetry as Visible Steam

maria-teneva-1145320-unsplash

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Poetry as Visible Steam

That iconic church
catching fire
is not upsetting.

Firebombing
less-iconic black churches
is not upsetting.

Random hate crimes
against minorities
is not upsetting.

A murder of another
based on who they choose to love
is not upsetting.

Having a government leader
with no empathy, no tact,
no impulse control, no shame,
no fundamental grasp of science,
not even the service of
an official proofreader
or spellchecker
is not upsetting.

Passing the tipping-point
of human-aided
catastrophic climate change
with a collective shrug
and a doubling-down
of business-as-usual
is not upsetting.

What is upsetting
is the growing numbness
incinerating our
collective superstructure.

What is upsetting
is realizing that faith in humanity
was firebombed decades
before observation,
like a lobster having no idea
they’re slowly being
boiled alive
until there’s steam.

What is upsetting
is our growing detachment
from the humane.

What is upsetting
is catching yourself wondering
what the victim did to provoke
such violent hatred
before remembering
that all they did was
have the audacity
to exist.

What is upsetting
is that a hilariously-terrifying,
poisonous, treasonous,
wood-rot-brained,
dementia-demigod
is executing the will
of a percentage of people
I call neighbor.

What is upsetting is receiving
such an oppressive influx
of terrible things,
that the nervous system
reflexively shuts down
to protect itself.

What is upsetting is knowing that,
even after adjusting cosmic perspective,
knowing that no one is coming
to save you from yourselves,
compelling you to root for the
sweet, sweet probability of a
random extinction meteor.

What is upsetting
is slowly realizing that
nothing is upsetting anymore.

Not even when the steam is visible.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 16 prompt: “write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.” Again, I took license and adjusted the scale, as I’m running dry on mundane topics and I’m a bit sleep-deprived and grumpy.

Also written for Real Toads’ day 16 prompt: “poetry as an insurgent art”.