To help out a buddy who was hosting a poetry slam event in Lexington, I decided to jump into writing and performing poetry. After all, it’s been a year filled with pushing my limits and breaking out of comfort zones, so this just seemed like another opportunity to add a fulfilling experience to my life. And it sure was!
I had already been working on a piece called “Citrine”, based on the girl that I essentially fell head over heels for before she absolutely destroyed my heart this spring, but the main theme of the event was Dada-style political poetry, so I needed to come up with something more topical and save the personal poem for open mic time. My solution was another poem, “Agent Orange”. Although shorter than “Citrine”, I was proud of how quickly it came together to provide a powerful punch.
As far as my performance went – I’d say pretty well, considering that this is the first time I have ever recited poetry to a crowd. It’s definitely not my first public speaking gig, but there is a different dynamic when you’re presenting something you’ve created yourself and have never shared with the world. It was a cathartic experience all around and honestly, I think I’m going to write more when the inspiration hits – that way I’m ready for future events!
Original Piece “Agent Orange” written and performed by Shelby Jones.
Orange but not the lorax
Weak, stupid coward
You have fooled the masses
Sold our future for gasses
Decisions roll like waves
The waters will foul
You know nothing of the havok you have wrought
But my children will
Did your picture book tell you that EPA meant
Annihilate our beautiful state
I’ve never seen a capitalist cower
Behind a nationalist front
But when you are supported by fascists
I’m not sure what you want
I speak for the trees
And the rivers
And the future you have sold
I will live to watch it unfold
Lucky for us you are just one man
The world stops for no one
She will heal her wounds
When we destroy ourselves
I remember the first time I saw her; the girl with the crystal around her neck.
Upturned nose, faint smile, brown eyes behind glass.
NASA shirt, modest mouse, iced coffee to spite the cold
Uncanny, whole, natural beauty & soul
“Good Morning” were your first words to me.
“We’ll See” were your last.
I was too shy to reciprocate.
It took days but I overcame it.
“That crystal on your necklace, what is it?”, I ask
“Citrine”, you told me. “Heat treated amethyst.”
The ambitious plans were made
Unicorn, panda, nicknames stayed
We drank bottles of liquor, watched terrible shows, stories were told;
Time spent with you never grew old
I remember a girl who could fight the world
You’d sit and watch, taking it all in
Nobody ever asked for your voice
But I could always hear it, a call to reason.
You never asked for a hero,
But I saw myself in you;
I tried to share the experience
Of a struggle to find myself and begin anew.
You started to drift away;
“He’s really nice”, you’d say.
“Don’t wait around for me”;
A friend you would never let me be.
Trapped in a past of your own creation
Anchor drawing tight with every strain
The blade I lent you to cut yourself free
Instead was turned against me.
I didn’t realize how little it mattered;
Being upfront and honest
Was the epitome of intensity
But not as painful as your apathy.
It was you who never listened,
You who never cared,
I pushed you to seek more from life, but you prefer simplicity.
I am what you left behind before,
So it is easy to keep running.
I seek the closure that I can never have.
You climbed away and I cannot follow.
And yet you still fight your demons and your past,
the pressure turned that crystal from purple to gold
You are stronger than that citrine you bear
You have been hurt and but the scars will heal
I wanted to be a part of that journey
And now I am left drifting out of your universe
I’ll never apologize for knowing what I want
But I can apologize for thinking you were worth letting in
Good luck with the bed you’ve made
I am sleeping well these days
Now we stand at a distance and we don’t speak;
You’ve hidden your heart behind a new wall, shacked up and weak
I hope for your sake it’s all that you need
Because this lost friendship has haunted me.
I’d like to say this all was a mistake
But we both know that’s not true
What I want can never happen
Until you admit you want it too.
I remember the girl with the crystal around her neck;
She doesn’t remember me.
The citrine glows;
Love is lost, but life still goes.
2016 has been a rough year for everyone. We’ve witnessed the wholesale humanitarian disaster in Syria and Libya while world powers bicker and back proxy warfare, we’ve lost celebrities left and right, and on a personal note, I grew less satisfied with my personal and career growth as the year pressed on. Yes, that problem is the epitome of privilege. I am fortunate to be worried about ‘growth’ when many in this world don’t have a place to call home.
I spent the majority of 2016 working on myself, and seeking a new job that would afford me the free time to pursue my hobbies and business endeavors. While field biology has been a rich and rewarding experience, I have come to understand how valuable my time truly is. I could justify working 80+ hours a week in 2015, a year where I tried to heal my personal hurt with a full work schedule and no time to worry about the past. That was literally tearing me apart. I set a personal goal in 2016 to change my life; to take leaps of faith and in turn build a better man. I am happy to say that although it was slow going, I am feeling the winds of change and I am letting the sails down to catch them.
I’ve met some incredible new people, started a few incredibly promising businesses, and landed an awesome new job – I am now the IT specialist for three departments in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. It’s a position filled with promise and a little bit of stress (but good stress – I am the go-to IT guy, so the buck stops with me!) and with a full-time position comes some awesome perks – better pay, a 40-hour work week, health insurance, 401k match and the like. I am going to be able to build my IT skills and advance my career with the experience I gain here, all while having the time again to pursue my creative and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Yes, 2016 was a hard year for almost everyone – but if you look long enough, I am sure you had some great times too.
2016 at a glance (Highlights)
The Con Bros officially launch – and host a party to rave reviews
Gained the courage to actually get to know and put myself back on to the dating scene (results are mixed, but it’s a start, haha)
Spent three holiday weekends with family that I don’t get to see that often
Cut down on sugars (mostly in drinks) and lost 20lbs, 2 pant sizes, making more conscious food choices (mainly portion control)
Moved by myself for the first time, and found a place that saves me so much money that I can save for a down payment to buy a place in Lexington sooner rather than later (my goal is this is my last rented apartment here)
I am going to learn to rock climb
I am getting in better shape
I am going to start taking more classes (online or in person) to develop programming, IT, and outdoor skills
The Con Bros will host more parties and attend more cons
I will FINALLY get my video editing backlog cleared out
Bluegrass Expeditions will start booking reservations and taking trips in the spring
I will make significant headway in saving to purchase a house in Lexington
Don’t like to talk about politics online, but I am a firm believer that good government protects the rights of all people and doesn’t have the right to tell a responsible member of society what they can and cannot do. Good government doesn’t destroy the sovereignty of other nations and peoples without cause and definitely without a plan.
This country is flawed, yes, but it is a work in progress and it should be ruled by the many, not the few. A choice for Clinton or Trump will only continue the devastation that oligarchical rule has led in our society. The powerful stay in power because the common man fights his fellow man. Fight the power this time. Stop the cycle of violence, abuse, suppression, oppression.
If you are disgusted with the choice between a demagogue and a war criminal whose policy has led to more death and suffering to civilians than enemy combatants, please consider voting for the Libertarian party this fall. It is the only third party choice that will appear on the ballot in every state.
The Green party is a solid choice but the base isn’t as big, yet. I’m advocating for any person considering third party to rally behind Johnson because his base plus all other third party votes could be enough to steal 5% of the popular vote and gain access to federal funds. If one third party breaks through, then floodgates can open and others you might align more with can make it!
I would say the best description of my political philosophy is libertarian socialist – IE I think government should exist to protect your rights, not infringe on them, while balancing economy and equality. Tough to enact, for sure, but can you imagine how much better off we’d all be if it happened?
Finally decided on a format for keeping track of my progress when betting on the races. I’ll just make a quick post as soon as I can after tallying results, that way I don’t put it off and forget forever! (Not that anyone cares, but I like to keep track just to know how much I’ve won or lost overall)