Around We Go
Joy! Splendid baby
Breath, warmth, feeling only love
What promise you bring
Just let me do what I want
Haikus are stupid
Endless pursuits, wanting more
So much for promise
How to love and want enough
Now I’m falling up
So many goodbyes
No one left to eulogize
What now? Close your eyes
To Be a Word
I am a word. My creator needs help, but I fear I am not the best word for the job. She has deep pain and suffering, but I hardly express that. My primary purpose is to garner approval from friends. My adapted goal of pleading for help is barely perceptible. I am usually deployed with a drunken breath, or am otherwise unrecognizable beneath a thick cloak of sarcasm. I have entered neighboring ears from every angle, but can only produce smiles where sympathy is needed. The fireworks drown me out tonight. Hopefully, I can try again when it's more quiet.
Reflections of the Future
The fluorescent bulbs above Nick’s bathroom sink washed over the contours of his face as he studied his reflection in the mirror. He started into his own eyes for a few moments as is he was trying to place a familiar face in his memory. Deeper and deeper he searched for full recognition of the visage staring back at him. The third bulb from the left flickered and went out. Slowly, the face in the mirror aged, becoming wrinkled and weathered. The eyes dulled, eyebrows creasing and collapsing upon them. His cheeks sagged, drawing the rest of his face downward into a fixed scowl. Eventually, Nick was peering into the eyes of a much older version of himself.
Facing this elder specter, Nick’s mind exploded with fears and doubts. His mind became mayhem. Questions were flung in all directions within him like shrapnel on a battlefield. What would his future-self think of him currently? Would he like what he saw in the mirror fifty years from now? Was he ready to watch himself age one day at a time until he ran out of days?
The dark bulb came back to life and Nick’s reflection returned to normal. He turned the lights off and left the bathroom. Two questions continued to haunt his mind. Why must the past keep getting longer? Why couldn’t the future give the present any time?
A stunt pilot has decided to attempt the most legendary, mythical, dangerous stunt ever imagined. No one has ever achieved this before; no one has ever dared to try. They say it’s impossible. He says it can be done, and he’s the one to do it.
He gets in his plane, starts the engine, and takes off. He makes sure to gain the altitude and velocity necessary for this trick. He checks the readings on his control panel: perfect conditions. He breathes in and begins the trick. Soon, he is in the midst of a breathtaking sequence of twirls, spins, loops, rolls, and dives. To his amazement, he completes the stunt flawlessly.
When he lands the plane, he expects to find a cheering crowd to greet him and congratulate him. It seems that nobody cares, or they didn’t notice. He finds everyone gathered in a circle farther down the runway. He rushes over to them and asks if they saw the trick. They apologize and say that they missed it. They were distracted by a mother duck and ducklings walking across the air strip. They ask if he can do it again. The pilot gets back in his plane and does the trick again. He has now completed an impossible stunt twice in one day.
On his drive home he notices great billows of smoke pluming in the air. He decides to check it out and finds a house ablaze. He slams on the brakes and gets out of his car. A woman is standing out front crying. She tells him that her baby daughter is still stuck inside. He tells her not to worry, and sprints into the burning home. The heat is agonizing, the smoke is suffocating and blinding. Somehow he manages to find the baby girl and bring her to safety. The mother is relieved and grateful, but is still sobbing. The man asks her if he can do anything else. She tells him that her pet cat is still trapped in the fire. Again, he battles the flames and the smoke, and just barely makes it out alive holding a trembling orange cat.
When he finally gets home, he immediately finds his wife and gives her a kiss.
“You won’t believe the day I’ve had,” he says.
“Where’s Ralphie?” She asks.
“How should I know? I just got home.”
“It was your turn to pick him up from band practice.”
For Whom We Are Strong
Searing pain flared in Ruth's knee with every step. Her body screamed at her to stop, begged her. But she refused. She knew that wasn't an option. She had to finish this.
"You okay, Mom?" Liam asked from his chair in front of her.
Ruth looked down at him, and the pain in her knee vanished. Instead, all she felt was love in an unfair world. Running a marathon was his dream, not hers. Thanks to his recent ALS diagnosis that dream had become impossible.
"I'm fine, honey," Ruth smiled.
"Push yourself, Mom," Liam encouraged. "And, well, push me too."
The Ideal Taunt
Obsessed with nothing
Stumbling endlessly on a loop
Feelings are numbing
Unable to find a troop
Eyes travel with nowhere to land
Heart stays out of it, indifferent to plans
Feet remain fixed, awaiting command
A better version of me
That knows what he wants
The ideal me
A vision that haunts
Alone on the sea
as a dilettante
A horse strolled riderless down an empty street. Old lampposts hummed on dutifully, illuminating a forgotten town. If the dust could talk it would hardy be able to remember any stories it might tell. People used to flock to this quaint, rustic town in the hillsides every summer. The area offered a variety of enjoyable activities and natural attractions. It seemed everyone came for a different reason, but always at the same time, and never permanently. Gradually, the visitors slowed until they stopped coming entirely. The allure had run out. The geographic beauty that the land boasted could not compete with whatever had replaced it. Businesses closed down, and the few year-round residents moved away. Without any human supervision, the land was left to its own designs. Sometimes, the greatest art requires total secrecy.
We Can Do Better
To start, I really don't see climate change as a political issue. There is no ideological or cultural war to be won here. To think otherwise is to evade the issue.
Some climate advocates may come off as overly self-righteous, pretentious, and condescending in their efforts to do what they believe is right. Additionally, the idea that we need to save the planet only to keep it habitable for humans can be seen as arrogant in that we assume the Earth exists only for us, and that without us the Earth would just be a random rock in space. However, the argument that because the Earth itself will still physically be here after humans are extinct, making any concern regarding climate change unwarranted, is lazy and selfish. It is selfish because it ignores every other organism on the planet that suffers from man-made pollution, as well as future generations that will have to find ways to survive. That kind of detached attitude of, "whatever happens happens" is not a justifiable excuse to pollute ourselves into an early extinction. I would say that it's possible to care about the Earth and Humanity at the same time.
In terms of actions that be taken to curb climate change, I feel like most of the responsibility (and ability) falls on major corporations to adopt more sustainable practices. Although, a general shift in the public's habits and climate consciousness needs to happen as well. Daily, personal choices are also important. Being more conservative with electricity at home, driving less, using re-usable shopping bags and containers instead of plastic bags, and cutting back on meat production are all significant choices that can integrated easily into your daily life.
As proof that progress in this area is possible, the hole in the ozone layer has been slowly repairing itself and is projected to return to normal by 2045. This recovery is thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which prohibited chemicals that are harmful to the ozone layer from being used and produced.
Good Guy With a Gun, or, the Bernhard Goetz Debate
The following is a text message conversion between two Northwestern University sociology graduate students. Emilio Aguilar has been sent back to 1984 as part of a groundbreaking time-travel research project. His classmate and research partner, Kaitlyn Pierce, remains in 2023 to record their correspondence.
The date is December 22.
Emilio: HOLY SHIT KP. I don't even know what I just saw.
Kaitlyn: what??? what happened?
Emilio: I was just on a subway in NYC and some dude pulled a gun and shot four people. It was kinda like that scene in Joker. I got a video. I'll send it to you.
Kaitlyn: dude wtf??? thats nuts! are you okay?
Emilio: Yeah I'm good. That was crazy though.
Kaitlyn: good. just looked that up. there was some guy named bernhard goetz that did that exact thing. pretty sure thats what you saw. was he about to get robbed by some teenagers?
Emilio: I mean, yeah maybe they would have. Or maybe they would have just tried scaring him. They had only asked him for 5 bucks when he pulled the gun.
Kaitlyn: im reading some more about it. people were calling him a vigilante and a hero
Emilio: What? He's a maniac.
Kaitlyn: he was acquitted of attempted murder and assault charges and only served 8 months in prison
Kaitlyn: oh, plus a 5000 $ fine
Kaitlyn: easy to call someone a hero crime fighter when crime is high. crime rates in nyc were way higher in the 80s. i just read this article that said there were 5 murders a day there in 1984
Emilio: Damn. It's a lot better these days right? At least per capita
Kaitlyn: oh yeah. theyre way down the list for violent crime in 2019. that was all i could find right now
Emilio: Yeah, so if someone did that today they would for sure get charged with murder and be seen as criminal.
Kaitlyn: im with you on getting charged but i think ppl would be pretty divided on the whole self-defense thing still. but thats mostly bc ppl dont wanna admit guns lead to gun violence
Emilio: The context of everything has so much sway on people's moral compass. Crime rates are high so someone that kills criminals is hailed as a hero. But if crime was low, shooting three people on the train suddenly seems hard to cheer for. Which is why I think the public reaction would be different in 2023.
Kaitlyn: i get what you mean. there arent a lot of shootings bc there are a lot of bad ppl. there are a lot of shootings bc theres a lot of guns to be shot. thats like the one constant variable with places that have higher rates of gun violence
Emilio: And that goes to the self-defense thing. I'm not sure if the guys he shot were armed, but if you think everyone should have a gun you can't shoot people and then say "I felt threatened because I saw a gun on his waist."
Kaitlyn: i just found a quote from goetz when he confessed where he says he would have shot them over and over again, but his problem was that he ran out of bullets. he would have gouged their eyes out with his car keys too. ill send the video of his confession
Emilio: Yikes. That goes a little beyond self-defense to me
Kaitlyn: lol is there such a thing as preemptive self defense?
Emilio: Hahah I think that phrase was added in recent revisions of both Wisconsin's and Florida's legal codes.