Random memory

Her eyes felt like cigarettes, weighing on my lungs with every inhale. Her voice was like smoke, thick and muffled in the dark bar. “One day you’ll be like us,” she kept saying. “One day you’ll understand.”

Maybe it was her intense gaze, maybe it was the gin in my system, but I could not wrap my thoughts around the optimism of her statement. She seemed to speak of this promising Utopia, where all things connect where they are supposed to connect, and painlessly break away whenever it was time.

She spoke so simply, as if I were a child; but to me it sounded so foreign and strange, like ancient tongues. As if she believed that if her deity favored me like she believed it did, I should understand.

“Why don’t you have a drink?” she taunted. She threw her head back and laughed, “you think I’m 21?”

I shrugged. Truth be told, I didn’t care how old she was, or about the lies she had been trying to feed me for the last twenty-five minutes. She seemed frustrated I was not lapping them up like a grateful dog, marveling at her wisdom.

“Nineteen, baby. Girls like us…well, you understand. We do what we want, and society lets us, and loves us for it. One day you’ll understand.”

This is what I could not wrap my mind around. The only interesting thing about thing about this girl was she was accompanied by interesting people. She was not captivating and addictive, like she tried so hard to seem; instead she was suffocating and harsh. She looked much older than nineteen. At a glance, she seemed attractive, but the longer I looked at her the more apparent the bags under her eyes became, and signs of prolonged drug and alcohol abuse became obvious with her stained teeth and bleached white skin that hugged her bones much too tightly.

Is this what I’m supposed to aspire to? To be an already washed-out nobody at nineteen, known by everyone in a bar that had seen its glory days thirty years prior? To live in the shadows of the wannabe rockstars and climb the almost non-existent social ladder using their fruitless fame?

Did I say any of this? No. Let her live in her misshapen Utopia. I do still question, however, do the bags under my eyes resemble hers? Was she so far off?

The Truth of You and Me by Annie Benson

It’s strange how much I used to loathe the dark. As a child, I really thought there were monsters hiding that only became visible once that lightswitch turned off. As a teenager, the hours I laid in bed alone thinking about how one day I’ll have this, one day I’ll have that were torment. Teasing my young mind with dreams of grandeur that were always one step ahead of me.

Then, in my young adult life I was taught to fear the dark, but as a rebel youth, I embraced it. I danced in the streets with nothing but the moon to protect me. I slipped in and out of drunken stupors singing with strangers and meeting some of the greatest individuals. I did drugs and I was drugged, I flirted and I was harassed, I waged a war with the night.

Then you came along.

In the beginning, in the darkness, we shared our firsts. First adventure, first drunken night, first kiss. In the dark, on my roof, a bottle of 10 dollar whiskey between my thighs, you looked me in the eyes and told me you were falling in love with me.

In the dark, you told me that it was forever. In the dark you asked me to be your wife.

At night, when we lay next to each other, drifting in and out sleep, I’ve told you my insecurities. We have talked about pain and we have experienced the greatest happiness.

The truth is, you are my dark. You are the moon, constantly changing, but still constant. You are the uncertainty and you are my reckless faith. You consume my dreams and build my dreams. You are my abandon and my responsibility. You are my refuge and you are my home. You are safety and you are fear.

Never have I wanted to accept defeat to the night, but the war is over. The battle has been won. I know it is hard. The night is cold, the night is terrifying, people hide in the dark, waiting to trap. You are the stars, watching me.

I understand the night now, better than I understand the day. The day holds normalcy, and little more. Sunlight can be warm and it can be harsh. We may both adore the sunlight, but we can’t embrace the sun.

We carry the moon like two children who can be reborn, and each night we are.

Samizdat [самиздат] &A Closing Thought by A.Page

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The last true art form is that of the written word.  When all is silenced, that which is naturally silent prevails.  Language is the force that binds us together.  Not only do we use this medium to interact with our nation, but as a platform to communicate and expand throughout the world, touching many cultures and human beings in just a few words.  Combining these two elements is a key step in forming a universal awareness, equipped with a set of sympathies for those we can’t ‘understand’.

It is by this empathy and desire to expand that when one is heard, another will struggle to understand.

When The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics rose in 1922, nearly 85% of the population was illiterate.  It soon became the government’s mission to educate the people.  In fact, anyone who could read or write was immediately hired as a teacher.  Khrushchev pushed accessibility, making it clear that education was essential to their society.  Shortly after this period, a newly educated people were ready to rise against an oppressive government.

Post-Stalin era, Samizdat [самиздат] began circulating and reproducing forbidden texts using grassroots methods.  Friends and colleagues alike spent hours with carbon paper copying the content by whatever means available: by hand or by typewriter.  Eventually as success and likeness came about other methods were introduced.  These copies were hidden in plain sight.  Passed on from a friend, hidden inside accepted literature, or even just strewn about.  Even the one thing intended in language (understanding) was lost and soon numerous typos, nondescript covers, and partial copies became common among the 200,000 readers across several nations.

Their brand of literature infiltrated the Soviet government, its peoples, and many other nations oppressed by police states.  Each circulation, release, and essay became a prized part of clandestine act.

The message was rounded, observing the many different religious and cultural paths of The Union. Samizdat [самиздат] stands today in history as an essential group of political and social dissidents that helped reform the oppression of The Soviet Union.

As we stand before challenging events and are slammed with propaganda, whether it be from Russia, Syria, North Korea, or even The United States: Take the time to think.  What are you reading in the news?  Do the things you read lead you to assume a tone towards those people?  Did stereotypes enforce your speech?  Your opinion?

The conflicts of today are within government buildings, the riots they ensue are simply an adverse reaction to medication.

Do not let any opinion lead you to form a generalization.  No two people are the same, regardless of geographic location.

Samizdat [самиздат] is symbol of this acceptance. Publishing things you (as a single unit) may not agree with and treating them with respect in order to educate the people, to help them understand one another.  To represent each person as they are- a person!

Go forth and communicate!

 

 

Prigov stalin detail final_3

 

NAKED//BARE// By Kenneth Lee Averiett

When I said I wasn’t with another girl the January after we fell in love for the 3rd time,

It’s because it wasn’t actual sex.

In the February that began our Radio Silence, it was actual sex.

I hate this cantankerous nature you wear so well,

I screamed at myself on the way home,

For poems I write about you still.

I made a scene.

I think about you each morning,

And roughly every 5 days.

I still believe you’re there.

I still masturbate to you.

When it got really bad,

I would put another coat of mop water on the floor of the bar,

To make sure you were asleep when I got to my side of the bed.

You are the only person to whom I’ve lied,

KNOWING…

I was telling the truth…

I miss the way your body wraps around my face like a cave we are both lost in.

I remember when you said being with me is like being alone with company.

My friend Sarah wrote a poem about pink ponies.

I’m scared you’re my pink pony.

Her’s is dead. It’s really sad. You’re not dead.

You live in Akron, or Cleveland, in a neighborhood, or wherever.

You are a shadow my body leaves on other girls.

I have a growing queue of things I know will make you laugh & I don’t know where to put them.

I pretend that you are dead.

If you had asked me to stay,

I would not have said no.

It would never mean yes.

Home

I’m jealous of the flame. It burns bright with passion, then simmers out beautifully with grace. Flames have integrity. It brings warmth to whomever it touches, mesmerizes the eyes, fills the soul, provides refuge in the dark. Fire gives, and fire takes away.

You’ll find no flame here.

No, there’s no jealousy here. No desire, no dancing in the moonlight, no passion, no warmth, no…you’ll find no flame here.

Here is where you’ll find the forgotten shards of glass, waiting patiently for the unlucky soul who will shatter it completely. Here you’ll find lies in the jagged reflection, here you’ll find a quick pain for every mistep. Mistrust and fear is what you will find here on every corner.

You will find no flames here, just everlasting glass. It will attempt to sparkle and shine like a glimmer of hope but please don’t be mistaken. No flames.

The Betrayal of My Pen by A.Page

I found myself

Drifting into space,

Filling empty glass jars

With bountiful lace.

Yet I lacked that confidence,

To give my words prominence

And broke

A once solid promise.

I threw my pen straight to the ground,

For a stick of lead I’d found.

Tried to write-

Then set it down.

Held back a severe frown.

What led me to this stick of grey?

I could not rightly tell or say!

Perhaps an air of strong regret,

A devilish mistake I could not let,

Stain my page,

Contain my rage,

Or throw the sheet over my cage.

‘Armed Mutiny’ by Annie Benson

In this day and age it is very easy to only see what is going on outside one’s front door. Unfortunately, this is a world inhabited by billions of front doors. Ukraine has been a hot spot for news in some circles, but not in all circles, and that raises some cause for concern. Everyone knows about the riots, but how did they begin? Here is the back story. The name you should know, the name that has been cursed by every Ukrainian protester: Viktor F. Yanukovich.

He has been the president of Ukraine for the last four or so years. He is from the Eastern, Russian-speaking part of Ukraine, in Yenakiieve. Despite his Russian influenced upbringing, he has sought for a middle ground between the western part of Europe and his Russian neighbors. His intention in January 2013 was to integrate Ukraine with the European Union with political and trade agreements, while also joining Russia’s Customs Union. In March 2013, when Yanukovych published a decree telling the government to prepare to sign the agreements, it was perceived that was still his intention. This is why in November, when the President refused to move forward on the agreements with the EU, protests erupted in Ukraine.

The Ukraine is still behind the Western world, but to Russia, Ukrainian territory is quite an asset. Russia’s Black Sea Naval Fleet is located in Ukraine; Along with crucial pipelines that carry their natural gas to other parts of Europe. Ukraine heavily relies on this neighbor country for business and trade: A western ally this close to home was extremely threatening to Russia. They pressured Yanukovych heavily not to sign the agreements.

In the beginning, the protests were calm and lighthearted. In the words of New York Times journalist David M. Herszenhorn: “Ukraine has been known to be a ‘Peaceful Pluralistic Society'”. In December the protests seemed to calm down. Yanukovych spoke about his recovered intentions of signing the agreement with the EU, but simultaneously accepted a hushed 15 billion dollar bailout from Russia along with large natural gas discounts. In mid-January the government issued amnesty to the arrested protesters if the occupation ended, but only days later the Ukrainian Parliament signed extremely harsh anti-protest laws which included illegalization of any ‘slander’ of the government. This ‘slander’ included any opposition to government at all. It also illegalized the use of helmets or bullhorns,as well as any grouping of five cars or more. The editor of the Kyiv Post, Katya Gorchinskaya said “Welcome to the new police state. We call it Little Russia.” The protesters demanded immediate amnesty, the resignation of Yanukovych, and a new constitution. Independence Square remained occupied. On February 18th the Parliament speaker rejected all of the changes the protesters wanted and sparked violent opposition in Kiev leaving many dead. February 20th was the bloodiest day for the protest thus far, snipers blending in as protesters and police ruthlessly firing at the people without restraint. At least 88 people are dead and hundreds wounded in Independence Square. In recent days things have been moving incredibly fast. President Yanukovych was ousted out of office. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government resigned from office. Protesters were optimistic until recent reports of Russian occupation.

Many protesters fear that Yanukovych was just a face to the atrocity and that he was just a puppet to the larger empire, Mother Russia. Their fears may be correct, but Russia had denied any involvement in the occupation of Sevastopol Airport and Simferopol Airport. Yanukovych went missing after he was asked to resign but has recently resurfaced in Russia. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page “I consider what has happened to be an armed invasion and occupation in violation with all international agreements and norms”.  Many of the places said to be occupied by Russia are proudly flying Russian flags, but Russia still denied any involvement.

Days ago, President Barack Obama gave a speech on Ukraine that basically warns Russia. He says: “The Ukranian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future. Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.” Those are incredibly powerful, if not threatening words. To destabilize means to undermine or subvert so as to cause unrest or collapse, which perfectly explains what Russia has been doing. He then goes on to target Russia specifically saying “Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world”.

That did not scare Russia. In-fact today, March 1st, Putin said “In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory (in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) … I submit a proposal on using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the normalization of the socio-political situation in the that country.” Russian Parliament has also hinted it will ask Putin to remove Moscow’s ambassador from the United States. The pro-Russian invaders have used force to take over Crimea (a mostly Russian-speaking province), and the Ukrainian flag has been replaced by a Russian one in Kharkiv.

New riots have emerged in Crimea and other primarily Russian-speaking provinces in Ukraine. These are led by pro-occupation protesters and they are waging a deadly battle against pro-Ukraine protesters. Taras Denysenko in Kiev tweeted earlier today “Is it safe to say we are now at war with Russia?” The UN has held an emergency meeting in New York today: No reports have been made yet of their plans to intervene.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

:220px-Nathaniel_Hawthorne_statue_-_Salem,_Massachusetts
Nathaniel Hawthorne is often associated with a cringe and a memory: Reading The Scarlet Letter in high school.  However, there are so many more aspects to Hawthorne than a book you never read:

He was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4th 1804 to Nathaniel Hathorne and Elizabeth Clarke Manning.  His father died of yellow fever in Suriname leaving his family to find refuge with the maternal side whom Hawthorne lived amongst for ten years.  During this time, Hawthorne displayed varied degrees of odd behavior. Simple injuries often translated into long periods of time bedridden, even after doctors dismissed his symptoms.  As he neared adulthood his uncle, Robert Manning put Nathaniel in college despite his objections.  Often he would complain of his loneliness and desire to return home.

It was during his time in college that Hawthorne began to write (at least with the intent of sharing with others).  He published locally several essays and poems and soon found himself amongst friends: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Jonathan Cilley, and Horatio Bridge.  It is believed that during this time much of his family’s history was revealed to him:

 His  great-great-great grandfather William Hathorne first established the Hathorne name in America with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and become known as a harsh jude and magistrate.   His great-great grandfather, John, was left in history as the only judge not to repent for the cruelties of the Salem Witch Trials.  

In 1825 Hawthorne graduated and shortly after added the “w” in his name in order to disassociate from his ancestors.   He attained a job with the Boston Custom House and released ‘Twice Told Tales’ which cemented him as a writer locally. He fell in love with Sophia Peabody after failing to court her sister Elizabeth and took numerous jobs in prospect of marrying Sophia. After a year of working at Brook Farm to save money Hawthorne married Sophia and moved to The Old Manse.  Soon after, the pair began having children: Una, Jullian, and Rose.

It was during their upbringing that Hawthorne became the “Surveyor for the District of Salem and Beverly and Inspector of the Revenue for the Port of Salem”.  Hawthorne felt trouble by this position and often wrote to Longfellow that “I should be happier if I could write.”   Soon his wish was granted as political spoils left him out of a job.  The couple and their children moved from The Old Manse to a small red farm house in Lenox.  It is here that Hawthorne became the corresponding secretary of The Salem Lyceum.  The Scarlet Letter was published and ushered in the most lucrative time in Hawthorne’s career.   Though known to be pathologically shy, Hawthorne acquired many admirers.  From poets, to politicians, to gardeners.  Herman Melville even dedicated Moby Dick to Hawthorne noting: “In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne.”

After many years of happy marriage, career success, and authorial soul-searching Nathaniel Hawthorne died on May 19th, 1864 while touring The White Mountains.

His books border on surrealism and cement the human condition into fine print.

“I have not lived, but only dreamed about living.”

Selected Works:

Untitled by A.Page

Fresh Page Accompanied by Cigarette

Getting started can be the hardest part.

How hard is it to accept-

That the craft you so need can feel at times, so harsh?

Sitting down to an instrument

Piano or paper.

The Musicians tones are angered,

Though the notes sweet.

Hear the aggravation of fumbling fingers,

Witness the strength of the mountain.

Consuming light, burning heavy

And white; What will you write today?

See the light to to your eyes,

Witness the heat of the sun.

That’s all she wrote.

Untitled #2 by ‘Bones”

Where do we go from here?
We’ve come to a point where all our shouts and cries go unheard.
Drowned out by the cacaphony of the daily grind
Made to work and slave and labor for minimal, diminishing returns.
The men on the horses, guns drawn, aimed at he who attempts to stand,
He who is dissatisfied with the hum-drum monotony of work-sleep-repeat.
Lost and gone is the time when self-sufficiency was enough to ensure ones survival and comfort.
Before the wants of few outweighed the needs of many.

A progressive collective of creativity and commentary.