Monday, October 15, 2018

Abolish Columbus Day Because We Hate America?

Last week, I came across this video talking about Columbus.  I shouted at the television through the entire thing.  Though I'm far from a historian, the blatant misinformation and conclusions bother me to no end.

So, let's dive in:

"Columbus Day.  The day where progressives indoctrinate your children into believing Columbus to be Satan incarnate, the USA to be his evil spawn, and the Native Americans to be pacifists."

Documents detail that Columbus was not an excellent person.  This great country has done plenty of bad things, and few people say every Native American was angelic.  But, let's keep going with the false absolutes.

Goes through the different possible or past names for Indigenous Peoples Day. He will do this multiple times in five minutes.

Yes, he's acting aggrieved because language and terminology changes.  Think of how childish this is.  He even uses two-spirited, which doesn't mean what he thinks.  But, why research anything?

"This whole charade has become an exercise in hating Western civilization."

Not all of it.  Maybe just the negative parts.  You know, slavery and genocide.  They aren't confined to the West, but we shouldn't celebrate our atrocities.

"...he was the greatest navigator of his age."

Hmmm... are you sure about that?  Because he thought he was finding a shortcut to India (which is why Native Americans were called "Indians").  Sounds like a boo-boo, not a stroke of stellar genius.

"...the first person [Columbus] to cross the Atlantic from the continent of Europe."  

Leif Erikson sends his love.

Asks people to comment below if you know Columbus' ships.  Says professors can't.

He's a sarcastic little beezum.  I'd wager professors are no different in that particular fact than most other people but... ignorant liberals, amirite?

"There was never a government policy for Indian extermination [genocide]."

I can't say for certain if he's wrong.  But, there were plenty of other acts:  Forced removal, forced integration, etc.  These would ultimately get rid of them in one form or another.  So, while there might have been no document somewhere with "KILL THEM ALL" stamped on the cover, the end result would be similar.  Again though, I'm not a historian.

"The Native Americans were mostly wiped out through infectious diseases that the settlers had inadvertently brought with them." 

Some of it was inadvertent, some was intentional.  And, even though there is dispute over whether smallpox blankets were given, there is still enough evidence to suggest certain instances of disease were intentionally spread.  Government-sanctioned illness.

Brings up the death toll at Wounded Knee for Natives and settlers.  Says it's not genocide.

It wasn't a battle.  It was a massacre.  Mass graves.  Full stop.
Funnily enough, the US military was trying to disarm them and the Native Americans didn't want to be disarmed!  You'd think our gun-loving host would have agreed with them.  But, nope.  He now reframes it as a battle.

Says the Natives often gave as good as they got.  When saying this, he then uses the word "massacre".  Says it's not the way genocide is supposed to work.

Native Americans fought because they saw what was happening.  Just because there were battles, doesn't mean the end goal wasn't annihilation. War is often part of extermination.  So, if you fight for your land and your people and actually kill some of the interlopers, it's impossible for said interlopers to plan genocide?  What?

Says Native Americans killed each other.

And?  People do crappy things.  No one has cornered the market on evil.

Native Americans burned down forests.

Sure!  To clear land for building, to promote new growth, etc.  Many of those were controlled burns.  Shame on them!  They definitely hated their environment.

"...and hunted species to extinction."  Shows cartoon of a buffalo hunt.

When I was young, I remember seeing piles of dead buffalo in grainy, black and white photographs along railroad tracks.  Because of commercial hunting.  Because the military was trying to starve out the Plains Tribes.  I thought it was a disgusting waste.  But, since I'm not a historian, perhaps this Smithsonian article will give better insight.  Indigenous people were careful not to deplete their resources.

Mentions a tribe killing seals.

No one is saying Native Americans were vegans.  No one says they didn't kill animals.  Quite disingenuous to add this to "animals Natives almost killed to extinction".  Certain species of seal are extinct because of humans.  True.  The killing of hundreds of seals at a crack came from people like plantation owners in the Caribbean (who weren't Indigenous). Is there a biologist in the house?

Says there were two tribes on the islands where Columbus first stopped.  One was peaceful and lived in fear of the other.  The other tribe practiced cannibalism.

It's almost as if there are/were good and bad Native Americans!  This... blew... my... mind.  I didn't know that a specific race can be good and bad!

Some tribes sided with settlers to rid themselves of threats.  Mentions Cortez.

First, didn't some of the Natives think Cortez was an actual, living God?  If someone came up to you and presented like Jesus or Mohammed or your God/prophet of choice wouldn't you follow?  I mean, if everything about them was spot-on and life hadn't jaded you, the strong possibility is there.

As far as certain tribes banding together with settlers to defeat an opposing tribe, it happened.  Because you believe yourself to be an ally with the winning team, you also think being treated as an equal and sharing in the spoils is part of that.  After WWII, we didn't shove people from England onto Wales and build our cabins in London.

"This whole Indigenous Peoples Day charade is about teaching your children to despise Western civilization."

Or to, you know, grant people an opportunity to shed some light on dark things.  To honor people nearly wiped out by war and not-inadvertent genocide.  To tell our kids:  We're a great nation built on some very shitty decisions.  To show our kids what greed does, what not seeing other people as human because of our differences can do.

Saying negative things about America doesn't mean you don't love it.  Pointing out its flaws doesn't mean you don't think its great.  But, we must always strive to be better.  Part of that is remembering what we once were.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Horror Story (Fiction or...)

In the early 80s, a young family who'd fallen on hard times took temporary refuge on a relative's farm in a trailer across from the "big house".  The mother, father, and two little girls were grateful for the shelter at first.  It was cramped, but it wasn't the tight fit that jangled nerves.

Knocking, coming from inside the walls, kept them awake at night.  It was often freezing inside the trailer, though the furnace was inspected and found to be in perfect shape.  Shadows flitted in their peripheral vision.  The parents became so frightened, they decided something needed to be done.

The father's mother came in one sunny afternoon and blessed the place with holy water.  She went through each room, water and crucifix in hand, casting out negative influences.  After she finished, the furnace kicked on and the trailer finally became warm.

While ghosts/strange happenings weren't uncommon on the farm and its buildings, nothing sinister or scary occurred for years onwards.  Then, around the turn of the millennium, knocking again started in the walls.
By 2001, the father's sister and her three children had lived in the trailer for about a decade.  They all heard the knocks, but they attempted to ignore them.  

"Just tell them to go away.  Don't invite them in," the mother said.  And the children (who were two young adults and a teen) agreed.

One night, the mother's six-year-old nephew was there when the knocks came.  One... two... three.  A pause.  And again, one... two... three.  A slow repeat.  The mother and her children told the nephew at various points to ignore the knocking.  He looked at his teenage cousin (a girl) with glee and shouted, "Come in! Come in!"

The knocking stopped abruptly.

If you want, I'll continue the story next week.  I don't want to keep going if no one finds this interesting.  I know it's written as a regular post and not a short story.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Winning Contests Based on the Popularity Vote

In the age of the Internet, a new type of writing contest emerged:  The contest of popularity. Besides the traditional contests with a final judge or panel, contests based on popularity become a free-for-all voting system where the public rules.  It sounds almost democratic... everyone gets a say.  But, is it fair?

Contests where the public votes for their favorite poem or story post every entry they receive for viewing.  So, if two hundred people enter and only three win, the remaining writers have lost "first rights" to their pieces just to be considered.  Most literary magazines and contests require submissions be previously unpublished, and the saleability decreases merely because a writer wanted a shot.
The biggest problem though, is what part of the greater public actually votes.  Sure, some voters will be patrons of whatever website hosts the contest, but most of the people voting will be brought in from the networks of the writers themselves.  It goes from the "best" piece winning to whoever can convince the largest number of people to get involved.  For fledgling writers who don't have a strong platform, it nearly guarantees defeat.

Some people will argue that not everyone who is told about the contest by one writer will definitely choose that writer's work.  Maybe not.  But, how likely is it a fan, friend, or family member will make a decision based soley on which pieces they believe the best?  Anonymity won't solve the issue because a writer can still inform others which poem or story is theirs.

If a contest insists on using the public vote, it should be a separate category or only count as a percentage of a larger whole.  Let writers create their masterpieces instead of campaign for them.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Former Dream of My Own Literary Magazine

I used to dream of running my own literary publication.  I'd spend hours thinking up names, whittling the focus, and pondering fonts.  Money (and a few other things) prevented it from ever being anything more than a fantasy.  Eventually, I let it go.

But, though it's gone, the memory remains.
Potential names:

Creature Comforts
(My county's name) Literary Review

Types of work accepted:

Poetry (of course) with visual art and a smattering of flash prose in all genres.  Each piece will leave the reader with some type of hope or light, regardless of the subject/genre.


The "magazine" would have a website, but people would receive an actual object.  Each issue would be individual cards in a small box with artwork on one side of each card and text on the other.  Or a series of postcards sent out at various times.

My favorite idea was a small booklet with perforated, thick pages one could tear out and use as bookmarks like these.  Something beautiful that was also practical.  The website wouldn't hinder sales of the publication even if it had entire issues on display.


Whimsical without childishness.  It's difficult to pin down because individual works act as their own experience, but there would be a touch of sweetness and magic.  The font would be something readable but also better for people with dyslexia and I'd research braille as an addition.

Most literary magazines are stuffy because they try to present themselves as "serious literature".  They become homogenized in look and tone.  I didn't want that.
I don't dream much anymore but, though I still have a couple goals I fight towards, I get a bit wistful remembering what I used to let myself think of having/doing.  At least it was a lovely diversion.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Light Paradox (Old Poem)

If I could pause in the happenstance
Freeze midstep, a cryogenic deer
Under nature’s floodlights
And scent the moments
That alter everything

I would, purposely
Bump into more people
Dance until tired
Go left, not right

Just for the sharp sweetness
Of realization soaring
Through my synapses
And the sound of Destiny
Pacing restless in Free Will’s cage

The poems I share on this blog are often old and/or I dislike them.  I'd share the few I'm happy with and are current, but then I couldn't submit them to literary magazines.  

Some may ask why I share work I find inferior or doesn't represent who I am as a poet in the present.  One, I'm unknown and obscurity grants me a perverse freedom.  Second, this is like giving you a random tour of my past and what I thought about.  

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Urge to Withdraw Submissions

My finger hovers over the mouse.  I breathe, hesitate, count slow in a monotone, and close my eyes.  The screen asks, "Are you sure?"  And I know I'm not.  A twitch, a feather-light movement, starts near my mouth.

I think a lot about withdrawing every submission I have sent right now.  It began last week, and has increased significantly each day.  Rejections flood my in-box, but that isn't new.  I feel like I'll always be stuck where I am-- a feeling as familiar as my chronic pain.  I don't know (for sure) what's causing the change.

Exhaustion, maybe.

Life is uphill.  I have wheels with zero traction and I'm slipping.  I lost my hope somewhere-- perhaps it's at the bottom of the hill I climb.  I'm trying to have it airlifted to my location.  All lines are busy.

It could be my sense of self-preservation is in overdrive.  I find out I'm in remission, only to find out something else could be cancerous the very next day.  Other stress scratches at the window like a tree branch.  Or a ten-foot monster disguised as an oak.

My life is making me a bit irrational.  At least I realize it.

I saw this motivational poster on Facebook that said:  Be proud of yourself, you have survived 100% of your bad days.  Sounds like success to me.

This month is a new month.  Today is the newest day you'll experience.  The mystery of all the good that can happen with another chance in front of you should be exhilarating.  If it's not today, maybe it will be tomorrow.  The only way things will never get better is if time stops.  It hasn't.  It's going.  I'll keep going, too.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Are Instagram Poets "Real" Poets?

I came across this article recently, and I'm not the only one.  On Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and forums the old debate flared again:  Are InstaPoets actual poets?  A fair number of people respond with a resounding "no".

The argument against Instagram poetry can be summed up like this:

1.  It's too simple.
2.  It blends in other elements (like graphics and self-help).
3.  It won't bring more readers to other/real poetry.

The last point is the easiest to push aside.  If all poetry is supposed to open the door for readers to find other poets, no one is a real poet.  Poetry is losing its readers, and poets have bemoaned that fact for ages.  Why are we asking InstaPoets to shoulder something we (in the "superior" community) haven't accomplished?  It's malarkey.
Then again, maybe they are helping the poetic landscape.

The point where Instagram poetry is discounted due to other elements is also trash.  Putting a poem with a piece of visual art isn't real poetry?  They best not tell any poet-illustrator, collaborative artist exhibit, or ekphrasis writer.  Poetry isn't meant to motivate you or help you in some way?  Do the people spouting this dreck even read poetry?  A good poem can change (or even save) a life!

Art is subjective, so "quality" will always be dependent upon who is critiquing it.  Are the pieces on Instagram not technically poetry?  Some of them.  I've read work in literary magazines editors classified as poetry but I didn't.  Does that mean the work isn't legit?  As far as complexity goes, does every poem have to contain seven layers of meaning... minimum? Poets often drive readers away because they try for intellectual/deep and land in obscurity/condescension.

The naysayers of Instagram poetry believe it's a fad doomed to fall fast.  Why all the animosity?  Something as brief as a footfall shouldn't matter.  Could the reason be... envy?